FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ A Phoenix-based company that was eyeing the Little Colorado River for power generation is floating a new proposal that would rely on groundwater rather than surface water to make electricity.
Pumped Hydro Storage LLC recently applied for a preliminary permit for a project adjacent to the river on the Navajo Nation. Manager Steve Irwin said the shift was in response to overwhelming criticism that building dams on the river would disrupt the habitat of the endangered humpback chub.
Approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would allow the company three years to study the site in Big Canyon west of Tuba City but doesn't authorize land disturbance. The commission approved preliminary permits for the Little Colorado River sites east of Grand Canyon National Park last week.
But Irwin said he won't pursue the dams on the river if the Big Canyon proposal moves forward. Documents filed with the federal government estimate the project will cost between $10 million and $20 million for studies, tests, surveys and maps, and to construct four earthen and concrete dams that would hold back groundwater.
The proposal to move water between upper and lower reservoirs to generate power when the demand is high would need the blessing of the Navajo Nation. Tribal President Jonathan Nez has said he would not support development without the approval of nearby Navajo communities, spokesman Jared Touchin said Tuesday.
Tribes, environmental groups, Grand Canyon National Park, state and federal agencies and others had asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deny the preliminary permits for the Little Colorado River dams or impose requirements on the company. The commission said those requests were premature because the company isn't in the licensing stage, which could be several years down the line.
Environmental groups said they're concerned the new proposal could deplete natural springs and disturb the remote, pristine region.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would take public comment if it accepts the company's request for a preliminary permit. The permits secure an applicant's priority for hydropower development.
Report: Child Disparities Highest in US South, West
By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) _ Childhood disparities around malnutrition, graduation rates, and early deaths are worst among rural, black-majority counties in the American South and isolated counties with Native American populations, according to a new report.
Those inequities put these populations more at risk for the novel coronavirus, the report by Save the Children concludes.
``The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America's Kids'' report released Tuesday found that children in the most disadvantaged counties die at rates up to five times of children in the same state. Children in those counties also are 14 times as likely to drop out of school and are three times as likely to lack healthy food and consistent meals, the report said.
Using federal data from 2018 and examining more 2,600 counties and their equivalents, the report found that about a third of the 50 worst counties are majority African American and a quarter are majority Native American.
The counties and census areas of Kusilvak (Alaska), Todd (South Dakota), Madison (Louisana), Carson (South Dakota), and Bethel (Alaska) were the five worst-ranked, the report found. Todd County lies entirely within the Rosebud Indian Reservation and Madison Parish is 61% black.
``These are just stunning statistics,'' said Mark K. Shriver, senior vice president of U.S. programs & advocacy at Save the Children. ``Children growing up rural areas, for instance, are more likely to die before their first birthday at a rate to 20% than in large urban areas.''
The inequality comes from the lack of early childhood education, health care, and job training options in those areas, the report said.
So far, children in some of the poor counties cited in the report live among the areas hardest hit by COVID-19. New Mexico's McKinley County, which sits on the Navajo Nation _ a tribe suffering amid the pandemic _ is ranked near the bottom in child hunger and graduation rates.
According to the report, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico are the lowest-ranked states for these childhood disparities.
New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire earned the highest marks.
Save the Children recommends states and local governments invest more in early childhood education programs.
The report comes more than a half-century after the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy _ Shriver's uncle _ embarked on a tour across the country to highlight the nation's most impoverished regions. Kennedy visited Mississippi and South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and was transformed by the hunger and inequality he saw.
It also comes more than a half-century after President Lyndon Johnson's Kerner Commission report, which sought to examine urban poverty and riots across the nation.
Former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris of Oklahoma, the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission, said he's not surprised by the report since the number of U.S. residents in poverty has grown in 50 years.
``And most of that growth in poverty has been among children,'' Harris said from his home in Corrales, New Mexico. ``This is a great unfairness in our system.''
Associated Press journalist Russell Contreras is a member of the AP's race and ethnicity team. Follow Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras
Alaska Native Group Sues Neiman Marcus Over Coat's Design
By RACHEL D'ORO
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ An Alaska Native cultural organization is suing luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, saying the Dallas-based company violated copyright and American Indian arts protection laws in selling a knit coat with a geometric design borrowed from indigenous culture.
In the federal lawsuit filed, Sealaska Heritage Institute maintains the retailer falsely affiliated the $2,555 ``Ravenstail'' coat with northwest coast native artists through the design and use of the term, Ravenstail.
The plaintiffs say the Ravenstail term and style has been associated for hundreds of years with Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribes. According to the lawsuit, the coat also mimics a Ravenstail coat created by a Tlingit weaver nearly a quarter century ago.
Sealaska attorney Jacob Adams said the case is part of a larger movement to recognize the rights of indigenous people to their cultural items.
``For a very long time, they've been seen as kind of resources that anyone can use,`` Adams said. ``And that goes beyond inspiration to outright violation.``
Neiman Marcus representatives did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. It is unclear if the coat is still for sale. It did not appear in a search on the retailer's website.
Nieman Marcus has 43 stores throughout the U.S., none in Alaska.
Sealaska says it discovered the retailer was selling the coat in 2019. Adams said the garment was still being sold last month.
According to the lawsuit, Neiman Marcus violated the Indian Arts and Crafts Act that requires that products marketed as ``Indian'' are actually made by indigenous people. The Juneau-based nonprofit works to preserve and enhance the culture of southeast Alaska's Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribes.
Sealaska also says the Neiman Marcus robe violates the copyright of Clarissa Rizal, a late master weaver who created the Ravenstail robe in 1996. When she died in 2016, her family obtained the rights to the robe, Adams said.
Last year, Rizal's heirs registered the robe with the U.S. copyright office, the lawsuit says. The copyright was then exclusively licensed to Sealaska, the lawsuit says.
Plaintiffs seek an injunction prohibiting Neiman Marcus or parent companies from selling the coat, as well as unspecified compensatory, punitive and other damages.
Blackfeet Work Together to Feed Kids in Time of Coronavirus
By HOLLY K. MICHELS
Lee Newspapers of Montana
BROWNING, Mont. (AP) _ The sound of school bus horns carried on the wind through the neighborhoods in and around this small rural town on the eastern edge of Glacier National Park, a clarion call to the community's children and families that breakfast was ready.
``I know they have kids here, I just gotta wake them up,'' said Nicklo Crossguns between beeps as her school bus idled outside a home. ``Come and get your breakfast!''
Crossguns, a school bus driver, was making her regular circuit Tuesday morning as the warming sun of a bluebird day barely made a dent in the deep snowdrifts along her route. Normally 80 kids, three to a seat, fill her bus. But this day it was all but empty, except two front seats _ one carrying a box full of brown-bagged lunches and the other a crate of kid-size milk cartons.
On the second day into a minimum two-week school shutdown ordered by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, an extraordinary measure meant to stave off as much as possible the spread of the coronavirus in the state, Crossguns turned from child-transporter to meal-deliverer, moving block to block watching small hands pull back window curtains and familiar faces peer outside at the sound of her yellow bus.
Districts around the state are adapting to feed the children who depend on their school for much more than an education. A waiver from the USDA allowed schools in the state to transition to their summer meal programs, offering grab-and-go options to keep students from gathering in a time of social distancing.
Stephanie Blackman, who normally cooks for children at Browning Elementary, knows well what a meal can mean to her students.
``What I keep in my mind is a child who came in once and said, `I'm so glad it's Monday. I didn't eat all weekend,''' Blackman said.
Browning Public Schools are keeping children fed and providing certainty in an unsettled time through a volunteer force of school employees on leave from their jobs, like Crossguns and Blackman, and community members who are ready to work as long as needed to get meals to kids.
Blackman filled brown paper sacks with warm soft pretzels, cheese, hard-boiled eggs and bananas in the empty school cafeteria, a radio pumping out upbeat music as she worked in the dark because the door to where the light switch is located was locked.
Finding volunteers has been a bit of a challenge as families adapt to children being out of school and try to follow social-distancing guidelines, but that didn't deter Blackman and her crew.
``We'll get it done,'' she said.
By 8:30 a.m. they'd made 300 breakfasts, then turned around to put together another 300 lunches for the students who would normally be filling the seats at the long lunch tables Blackman converted to a work station.
The process is not new for Blackman, who honed this skill during the 2019 blizzard that covered Browning in 4 feet of snow.
``We've served a lot of sack lunches and we've made a lot,'' she said.
Volunteer Laura Hall, who also works at the school, said the community has come together before and knows how to take care of each other.
``In my experience we've always been having each other's backs,'' Hall said. ``When you deal with a crisis, you help each other. It's natural. Our kids are going to be fed and we're going to feed them.''
This time, though, a pump bottle of hand sanitizer placed prominent at the end of the lunch table hammered home the message that dealing with a pandemic feels a little different.
Across the street at Napi Elementary, Philip Sure Chief was 200 ham-and-cheese sandwiches through the 500 he needed to assemble.
Sure Chief knows firsthand kids are struggling to navigate an uprooted schedule.
``They're already bored out of their minds,'' he said of his own children, ages 14, 10 and 6. His oldest, a freshman in high school, was looking forward to a track season that might not happen. It's hard to explain to the youngest why visits with friends are off the table, while his middle daughter has been FaceTiming her friends.
It took just shy of an hour for Crossguns to distribute her 30 meals, including the 7-mile drive to Starr School.
``We took routes yesterday that we know and it worked well. We know where the kids are,'' Crossguns said. ``We're pioneering it. Yesterday I had kids saying, `My bus driver's here!' They were all happy.''
Students and their families found out about the program through a mix of posts on Facebook, the Browning Public Schools' website and the benefit of living in a small town where everybody knows everybody. Throw in Crossguns' cheerful honking and one boisterous pup who howled along, and people got the word.
Cherie Bear Medicine came at the sound of the bus to collect meals for her four grandchildren. She heard about the deliveries on Facebook.
``I appreciate it, it helps a lot,'' Bear Medicine said. She's trying to keep her grandchildren occupied while following social distancing recommendations. ``We just go with the flow.''
A photo of one of Crossguns' daughters, a senior in high school, hangs above the windshield visor on the bus. The daughter was on the basketball team and played in the state tournament in Billings until it was canceled just before the finals.
Though Browning was playing for third place, Crossguns said her daughter ``still thought she'd get one more game.''
Generally, people in Browning are taking the precautions seriously. Like other communities around Montana, the Blackfeet Tribe issued orders closing bars, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about limiting gatherings of people, and urged restaurants to move to take-out or delivery only. The tribe also authorized leave for its employees to be able to adapt to students out of school and put into place a curfew, among other measures to prevent spread when the virus is assumed to arrive in this remote town.
Some think that might not happen until the summer, when people generally flock to this part of the world in awe of the Rocky Mountain Front and Glacier National Park.
``I think now we're pretty isolated, but come summertime we're not,'' Sure Chief said. ``It'll probably get here through tourists.''
Still, people are being cautious. Anyone who was at the state high school basketball tournament in Billings wasn't allowed to help package lunches. The senior meal program, which encouraged congregating, moved to grab-and-go options and home delivery. Also, on Bullock's order, the nursing home was closed to visitors.
All but one entrance at the Blackfeet Community Hospital was closed to the public. Employees screened anyone entering for symptoms and asked about their travel history. Hospital employees and administrators were not allowed to talk to reporters without permission from Indian Health Service's headquarters.
James McNeely, the public information officer for the Blackfeet Tribe, said the tribe is confident in the hospital's ability to respond to the community's needs. Administrators have been working with the tribal and Glacier County officials to implement a disaster preparedness plan.
``We're going to get through it as a tribe, as a community, as a nation, as a human race, because we all have to work together,'' McNeely said.
Navajo Company Reaches Immunity Deal with US for Coal Mines
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) _ A Navajo tribal company has reached an agreement that would allow the U.S. government to enforce environmental laws at two coal mines in Wyoming and one in Montana.
Navajo Transitional Energy Company has agreed to a limited waiver of sovereign immunity, the company announced Tuesday.
As a tribal entity, NTEC normally would be able to claim sovereign immunity and avoid being taken to court. That would prevent government agencies from suing the company to enforce environmental laws at the coal mines it bought following the bankruptcy of Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy in 2019.
NTEC's limited waiver of sovereign immunity agreement with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement would allow the federal agency to enforce laws including the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act at the three mines, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.
NTEC has been operating as a contract miner since purchasing the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Wyoming and the Spring Creek mine in Montana but seeks state permits for the mines.
NTEC agreed to a limited waiver of sovereign immunity for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality on Feb. 13. Sovereign immunity talks with Montana officials are ongoing.
The company also seeks bonding for the mines after the Navajo tribe in November refused to financially back bonds to help ensure the mines' cleanup should they close. Cloud Peak's $370 million in bonding for the mines remains in place for now.
Jerry Craft, Kadir Nelson Win Honors for Children's Books
By HILLEL ITALIE
AP National Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Jerry Craft's ``New Kid,`` a graphic novel about a 7th grader's struggle to adjust to a private school with little diversity, has won the John Newbery Medal for the year's best children's book. ``New Kid'' also received the Coretta Scott King Award for an outstanding work by an African American writer.
Kadir Nelson won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for his illustration of ``The Undefeated,'' a poetic tribute to African American history, featuring the words of Kwame Alexander. ``The Undefeated'' was also a runner-up for the Newbery prize, won by Alexander in 2015 for ``The Crossover,`` and won the Coretta Scott King prize for best illustrated book.
The prizes were announced by the American Library Association during its annual mid-winter meeting, held this year in Philadelphia.
Other winners include A.S. King's ``Dig,`` named the outstanding young adult novel, and Colson Whitehead's novel ``The Nickel Boys,'' cited as one of 10 books for adults that appealed to young people. Lifetime achievement prizes were given to Kevin Henkes, whose books include ``Kitten's First Full Moon,'' and Steve Sheinkin, author of such historical works as ``The Port Chicago 50`` and ``The Notorious Benedict Arnold.``
Carlos Hernandez's ``Sal and Gabi Break the Universe`` was the Pura Belpre Author Award winner for an outstanding Latino writer. Rafael Lopez received the Belpre illustrator prize for ``Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln.`` American Indian Youth Literature awards were given to ``Bowwow Powwow: Bagosenjige-niimi'idim'' and illustrator Jonathan Thunder for best picture book and to ``Hearts Unbroken,'' written by Cynthia Leitich Smith, for best young adult book.
Some writers from the outside book world also were honored. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor won the Schneider Family Book Award for books that ``embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.'' Her book, ``Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You,'' illustrated by Rafael Lopez, was inspired in part on her battle with diabetes.
George Takei of ``Star Trek'' fame shared a prize for best young adult literature by an author of Asian Pacific background. He, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott co-wrote ``They Called Us Enemy,'' a graphic memoir based on Takei's being held in a detention camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.
Taos 'Earthship' Community Highlights Sustainable Living
By VIDA VOLKERT
TAOS, N.M. (AP) _ It's 29 degrees in Taos this early morning in late December when Kate Noonan walks out of EVE to start up her car.
EVE stands for Earthship Village Ecologies, a self-sufficient three-story building made with empty cans, bottles and used tires that resembles a modern cathedral because of its complex structural form. It includes high ceilings held by a partial fan-vaulted wall decorated with colorful mosaics, pillars and a stair case leading to three different levels.
EVE's most unusual feature is perhaps an open space at the end of the upper level with a toilet at the center.
EVE is still under construction. When finished, it might house 25 people who will also work and grow their own food in its greenhouse and gardens. At least, that has been environmental architect Michael Reynolds' goal when he started planning and designing this building at his Earthship community in Taos more than a decade ago.
``We are talking about building a building up with things that you throw away. Over the years I ended up developing these points that I'm responding to, and they are what every village, town, city, tribe has to deal with,'' Reynolds said. ``They are in fact the issues that all of humanity is having to address. And they are not doing a very good job of it. And, therefore, we have dumps, sewage pollution, endless problems because we are not addressing these issues and we can't expect the government and corporations to address them.''
Reynolds was referring to the need for comfortable shelter, catching rain water, producing food and energy with the sun or wind, and disposing of garbage and sewage. He added, all of his buildings are self-sufficient and address these issues, and EVE would be the first to house a large number of people and address these issues and ``economics'' because the occupants will live and work at this building.
EVE has also been Noonan's home for the past 3 1/2 years.
As her vehicle warms, Noonan, 38, walks back inside EVE.
The temperature stays at 40 degrees inside the building even though there's no furnace, or electrical or gas/propane heaters inside.
The building is heated by the sun and thermal mass technology. Technically, earthships are enclosed within three walls made with used tires filled and covered with dirt, and plastered inside. This feature makes them look like bunkers, or as if they were buried underground, but they are above ground. The tires are an important component on these buildings because when the sun heats up the tires, they radiate the energy inside the building.
Ideally, when EVE is completed, the temperature in the interior rooms should not go below 60 degrees even on cold days like this. Until then, Noonan heats up her room at night with a wood stove. At the time, she is the only occupant.
``This is an experimental earthship. The temperatures are all different in the old models,'' she says walking along an indoor garden where a tomato vain is climbing over a fence and geraniums she planted a few years back are in full bloom. ``The new earthships are awesome. The temperature stays in the 70s.''
And that temperature applies for the buildings during the summer as well, as it is the case of the simple survival earthship across the street where a banana tree grows in the greenhouse at an average temperature of 40 degrees this cold day of winter, and where the main living room stays at 60 degrees.
The simple survival earthship is used to house guests, students or anyone interested in renting an earthship and experience offgrid living.
Noonan, who is originally from Michigan, moved to Taos in 2013 to take part in an internship with the Earthship Biotecture Academy, which Reynolds founded in 2011 to teach sustainable architecture to students from around the world. As part of the academy, students get to work in partnership with other nonprofit organizations on disaster relief or humanitarian projects building homes or community buildings based on the earthship concepts and teach local populations about the potential for sustainable technologies.
After her four-week internship, Noonan took a job with Reynolds' academy as the student housing caretaker, but the job is about to come to an end. In a week, she will move back to a city.
``It has been interesting _ a huge social experiment for me personally,'' Noonan said. ``I've been taking care of student housing here for 3 1/2 years now and we have 20 or 30 new people every month and all those people are like, `I'm building an orphanage in Mexico. I'm building a community center in Puerto Rico.' You know, they are carpenters and plumbers and electricians _ just awesome.''
The group of students who participated in the academy in November also had the chance to work at Zuni Pueblo helping build the veterinarian clinic, a partnership between Earthship Biotecture Planet Earth, Reynolds' nonprofit, and the Zuni Tribe.
In December, the students helped erect the clinic's interior footings and set up electrical wiring and plumbing.
The first phase of the Zuni Veterinarian Clinic was completed with donations and grants amounting about $180,000, which included funding from the Recycling and Illegal Dumping Fund and the American for Native American.
Students are scheduled to return in the spring. When completed, this will become the first sustainable vet clinic in the world built with recycled material.
``We get all kinds of different people here. It's not just the one group of people that's like, `We are gonna eat dirt and live off roots and carry water.' It's not just extremists,'' Noonan said. ``The thing that I noticed, like attracts like. So, every group comes with some common denominator. They all have something in common. That and, it's like sometimes we get middle age men and they all have trucks and tools, and they are like, `I got this, I got this.' ``Or sometimes we'll get a group with a bunch of college students who are excited about something. It's interesting,'' she continued. ``Groups have a similar feel to them, and sometimes they would have their birthdays close together, and they didn't know each other before they met at the academy. I think its a scientific thing that synergies attract, so they wind up booking at the same time.''
Noonan, who is about to complete her tenure working for Earthship Biotecture, will be moving into an apartment in the city.
``I'm moving to a very conventional apartment to save money for when I can build my own earthship. I'm so scared that I'm not going to be able to sleep in the apartment because there's this hum (from appliances and furnace), like the hum of my car right now.''
Spokane Tribe Finally Wins Compensation for Grand Coulee Dam
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ The Spokane Tribe of Indians will finally be compensated after some of their ancestral homelands were flooded by the giant Grand Coulee Dam seven decades ago,
The U.S. House approved and sent to President Donald Trump a bill that sets up yearly payments to the tribe based on a similar system for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, who also lost land when the dam and its reservoir were created.
The Spokesman-Review reported the Spokane Tribe will receive $6 million a year for 10 years, and $8 million a year after that. The money will come from revenues of the Bonneville Power Administration, which sells electricity generated by Grand Coulee and other federal dams in the Northwest.
Trump is expected to sign the bill, the newspaper reported.
Washington lawmakers tried for more than a decade to win compensation for the Spokane Tribe. This year it passed the Senate in June and the House on Monday evening.
The Spokanes and Colvilles both had reservation land flooded by the reservoir behind Grand Coulee.
The Colvilles in 1994 got Congress to approve a lump sum payment of $53 million and annual payments of $15.2 million from BPA revenues.
Michigan Tribe Awarded Grant for e-Cigarette Education
HANNAHVILLE, Mich. (AP) _ An Upper Peninsula nonprofit organization is supporting a program that educates young people in the Hannahville Indian Community about the dangers of e-cigarettes.
The Marquette-based Superior Health Foundation awarded an $11,518 grant to the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan for the Anishinaabe E-cigarette and JUUL Health Education Project.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for children and young adults.
Health educator Kelly Hansen of the Hannahville Indian Community says JUUL products also pose risks. JUUL is a battery-powered e-cigarette that generates a nicotine-laced aerosol.
Hansen says the tribal project will use a curriculum called ``Catch my Breath'' to provide teachers, parents and health professionals with information about e-cigarettes and help children make wise choices.
US House OKs Protections Near Historical Park in New Mexico
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Walls of stacked stone jut up from the canyon floor, some perfectly aligned with the seasonal movements of the sun and moon. Circular ceremonial subterranean rooms called kivas cut into the desert, surrounded by the remnants of what historians say was once a hub of indigenous civilization.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park is at the center of a decades-long debate over how to manage oil and gas development in a sprawling area of northwestern New Mexico that is dotted by sites tied to the park but that lie outside its boundaries.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation prohibiting drilling on the checkerboard of federal land that borders the park. The measure also calls for terminating existing non-producing leases in the area and suggests more studies and protective measures be taken to address health, safety and environmental effects on communities and tribal interests.
Federal land managers have been deferring interest by the oil and gas industry in parcels within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius of the park to address the concerns of environmentalists and Native American leaders. The legislation would codify that practice, essentially establishing a buffer around the park.
U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, a New Mexico Democrat, is among the sponsors. He remembers first visiting the park years ago when he was in his 20s.
``There's something incredible, magical, spiritual that you feel as you walk up to Chaco, touch those stones that have withstood the test of time and you think of all the people who came before us. It's emotional,'' Lujan said.
He said he is confident the legislation will have bipartisan support. He pointed to the willingness of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to defer drilling leases around Chaco while regulators prepare a new management plan for the region's resources. Bernhardt's decision came earlier this year after touring the world heritage site and meeting with leaders from the Navajo Nation and New Mexico's pueblos.
Similar legislation to create a protective zone around Chaco is pending in the Senate.
The campaign to curb drilling in one of the nation's oldest basins has spanned at least three presidential administrations. In recent years, concerns expanded beyond environmental impacts to the preservation of cultural landmarks.
The oil and gas industry has been operating in the San Juan Basin for nearly a century. Industry representatives have said existing federal laws and policies require extensive environmental and cultural reviews before drilling can happen and that any sites designated as culturally significant as a result are respected.
Tribal leaders and environmentalists have praised the legislation, saying it would better protect irreplaceable sites beyond the park.
The measure calls for withdrawing nearly 500 square miles (1,280 square kilometers) of federal land holdings, preventing future leasing of mineral rights.
However, passage would not mean development comes to a halt. Most of the land within the protection zone belongs to the Navajo Nation and individual tribal members who would retain their sovereignty and property rights.
Still, many allotment owners are concerned their holdings will be landlocked if the federal parcels are off limits. That would mean millions of dollars in lost revenue for some families on Navajo Nation, which has struggled for years with high rates of poverty and unemployment.
Environmentalists, archaeologists and Pueblo leaders from elsewhere in New Mexico for years have called for a drilling moratorium. Pueblo leaders say their cultural ties to Chaco are still strong. Some also have concerns about pollution from increased drilling.
Some leaders met with Lujan last week while in Washington, including E. Paul Torres, chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors.
``We need the buffer zone for sure,'' Torres said. ``The oil wells are getting dangerously close to Chaco right now and that's what we do not want to see.''
Alaska Native Leader Peratrovich Commemorated on $1 Coin
By ALEX DeMARBAN
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ A young Alaska Native woman left an impression on Alaska's territorial Senate in 1945, delivering a speech that led to the passage of the nation's first anti-discrimination law.
Now, the late Elizabeth Peratrovich is leaving her impression on a $1 coin.
The U.S. Mint unveiled the design of the coin Oct. 5 at the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood convention in Anchorage. The 2020 Native American coin will go on sale early next year.
The coin will feature a portrait of the late civil rights leader _ composed and graceful, her hair in tight rolls _ above words that highlight her legacy: ``Anti-discrimination Law of 1945.'' An image of a raven, depicting her Tlingit lineage, soars near her.
``The coin will be a lasting tribute to Elizabeth Peratrovich and her relentless efforts to tear down the wall of discrimination against Alaska Natives,'' said Patrick Hernandez, acting deputy director of the U.S. Mint. ``Perhaps Elizabeth was like the raven, crying out until the darkness of discrimination was dispelled.''
The coin will teach the world about Peratrovich's brave acts and ``what Alaska was like'' and wants to be in the future, said Gov. Mike Dunleavy, speaking after the coin's unveiling.
``This is history in the making,'' said Dunleavy, who on Saturday also signed a bill that establishes November as Alaska Native Heritage Month. ``There will be people not just in Alaska, not just in this country, but in this world that will understand what this courageous woman did for all of humanity.''
Peratrovich and her husband, Roy Peratrovich, championed the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act depicted on the coin.
During the World War II years in Juneau, they were appalled by the ``White Trade Only'' signs they saw outside public establishments, said Jackie Pata, a Tlingit and former executive director of National Congress of American Indians.
Leaders of the Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood, the Peratrovich couple traveled to Alaska communities, building support against discrimination, Pata said. They sought help from from territorial Gov. Ernest Gruening, who signed the bill into law on Feb. 16, now Elizabeth Peratrovich day.
At the age of 33, Peratrovich uttered her memorable testimony after a territorial senator suggested that people ``barely out of savagery'' shouldn't associate with ``whites with 5,000 years of recorded civilization.''
``I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind the gentlemen with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind them of our Bill of Rights,'' she answered.
Elizabeth's passionate testimony changed the vote, Pata said Saturday. The bill guaranteed equal access in restaurants, hotels and other places nearly 20 years before Congress approved the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
``That small woman who stood there in that Legislature, had more power than those she stood amongst,'' Pata said.
Later, Elizabeth fought for health care and educational rights, and for Alaska Natives to become part of the National Congress of American Indians, Pata said.
The Native American coin program, the result of an act passed by Congress in 1997, honors a Native American person or tribe each year. One side always features Sacagawea, the Lemhi Shoshone woman who assisted the Lewis and Clark expedition.
The Mint worked with Alaska Natives to help design the Elizabeth Peratrovich coin, officials with the agency said.
It can be spent or collected, and will be produced at the U.S. Mints in Denver and Philadelphia, said Michael White, a spokesman with the U.S. Mint.
A roll of 25 will cost $32.95, a bag of 100 will cost $111.95 and boxes of 250 will cost $275.95, White said.
Peratrovich died in 1958, at age 47.
``Even at this moment, she is still speaking,'' said Paulette Moreno, grand president of the Alaska Native Sisterhood.
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com
Indian National Rodeo Finals To Be Televised On Ride TV
For the first time, the Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR) will be televised, with RIDE TV carrying the Championship Round live from South Point Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, October 26. Showcasing the action from previous rounds, RIDE TV will also air five one-hour INFR highlight shows in December on dates to be announced.
The 44th annual Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR) will once again take over the South Point Arena October 22 - 26, 2019. More than 400 Native American athletes from 50 tribes in the U.S. and Canada will compete in the Major and Junior-Senior events. PBR (Professional Bull Riders), which represents INFR’s media rights, brokered the deal with RIDE TV, the nation’s first and only television network dedicated exclusively to equestrian sports, culture and lifestyle.
“INFR is honored to join forces with RIDE TV and RidePass to host the first INFR to be carried on live television,” said Donna Hoyt, General Manager, INFR. “This has been a vision and goal for some time. We have a great media partnership with PBR, and it has made this vision a reality for our members. We are excited for INFR professional cowboys and cowgirls to have the opportunity to be on national TV as well as RidePass, the leading western sports digital network.”
“We are really excited that our great partnership with the PBR has led us to the INFR,” said Craig Morris, President, RIDE TV. “RIDE TV continually strives to put the highest quality rodeo content on the air, and this is no exception. The INFR is something that is so special and unique; we believe RIDE TV viewers are really going to love this iconic event.”
All 10 rounds of the INFR will also be carried live by RidePass, the PBR’s western sports digital network. “In representing INFR’s media rights, PBR is proud to bring another rodeo to television, increasing coverage of the sport to meet fan demand while creating new fans,” said Sean Gleason, CEO, PBR. “Natives have a rich history in rodeo and bull riding, and we will continue to work to showcase these great athletes and tell their stories. RIDE TV has been a great partner of PBR in carrying the red-hot PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, and we’re excited about their new INFR programming.”
ABOUT INDIAN NATIONAL FINALS RODEO (INFR)
The Indian National Finals Rodeo, Inc. (INFR) has been an important part of Indian Rodeo tradition and culture for more than 40 years. Since 1976, INFR has become the premier arena where champion American Indian cowboys and cowgirls compete against each other in the sport of professional Indian Rodeo. The INFR, which has more than 3,000 members representing 12 regions from the United States and Canada, sanctions more than 20 Tour Rodeos and close to 100 region rodeos annually, culminating at the Indian National Finals Rodeo held in Las Vegas, NV. October 22-26, 2019 and awarding more than $1 million in cash and prizes. The INFR is more than just rodeo in leading the way with diabetes awareness and suicide prevention campaigns. The nonprofit 501 c (3) organization also awards college scholarships to Native rodeo athletes. For more information visit www.infr.org
About RIDE TV
RIDE TV is 24-hour, high-definition television network dedicated to showcasing equestrian sports, culture and lifestyle. RIDE TV delivers high-quality programming to audiences across the nation. From live sports and documentary series to feature films, RIDE TV is the premier destination for equestrian content. To see where RIDE TV is available near you, visit www.RIDETV.com/Watch
PBR is the world’s premier bull riding organization. More than 700 bull riders compete in more than 200 events annually across the televised PBR Unleash the Beast Tour (UTB), which features the top 35 bull riders in the world; the PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour (PWVT); the PBR Touring Pro Division (TPD); and the PBR’s international circuits in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. PBR’s digital assets include RidePass, which is home to Western sports. PBR is a subsidiary of Endeavor, a global entertainment, sports and content company. For more information, visit PBR.com, or follow on Facebook at Facebook.com/PBR, Twitter at Twitter.com/PBR, and YouTube at YouTube.com/PBR.
Group Finds More Prehistoric Artifacts at Illinois Dig Site
WILMINGTON, Ill. (AP) _ A group conducting an archaeological dig in northern Illinois has found pieces of broken pottery, projectile points and other artifacts dating to the 1600s.
Two University of Notre Dame professors have been leading summer volunteers on an exploration at the Midewin (MID-ee-win) National Tallgrass Prairie. The project at the Middle Grant Creek Site is revealing how people of the Oneota culture lived in the area four centuries ago.
Earlier this month volunteers digging in a 6-foot-deep (1.8-meter-deep) pit found projectile points made of rock that would have been used for hunting. They've also found painted pottery and needles made from bones, which were likely used to weave mats from tallgrass.
The group is gathering evidence to reconstruct the environment and ecology of the last prehistoric culture of the upper Midwest.
Georgia-Based Church Group Returns Land to Native Americans
ATLANTA (AP) _ A Georgia-based church group has returned sacred land in Ohio to the Wyandotte Nation.
The United Methodist Church Global Ministries transferred the deed during a Sept. 21 ceremony and procession, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported .
``This is monumental,'' said Billy Friend, chief of the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma.
``I think when our ancestors left, they always thought that someday they would be back and, of course, that never happened,'' he added.
The land had been held in trust for 176 years by the ministries group, based in Atlanta.
The land is about 3 acres (1.2 hectares). It includes a stone church that dates to 1824 and a cemetery in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.
Native American lands across the country were often taken by the government or settlers. The Wyandotte Indians were forced from their land by the federal government under the Indian Removal Act and relocated to Kansas and, later, Oklahoma. Friend called this forced removal ``our Trail of Tears.''
At the Ohio site, students, tribal members and elders have visited to gain a connection to their ancestral land and history, Friend said. The Wyandotte Nation includes more than 6,600 tribal citizens. Most live in Oklahoma.
The link between the Methodist ministry and Native Americans has gained significance over the years, said Thomas Kemper, general secretary of the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries.
It's a history that contains both admirable and regrettable chapters ``that give context to the expanding opportunities we have today to be in ministry with Native American communities,'' Kemper said.
Archaeologists Race Clock as They Uncover Colonial Fort
WINDHAM, Maine (AP) _ Archaeologists are racing the clock to dig up the remains of a fort from the 1700s.
The Maine Historical Preservation Commission says Province Fort was built during the colonial era to protect settlers from Native Americans who opposed their encroachment in what's now Windham.
The remains were covered by a road and archaeologists have a narrow window to check out the site during a road widening and repaving project.
Archaeologists have found bases of chimneys, walls, bottles and pottery.
Archaeologist John Mosher said he and others were worried that there was nothing left at the site. But he said what they've found has been ``absolutely amazing.''
Tribe At Center Of Pipeline Protests Launches Solar Farm
By DAVE KOLPACK
CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) _ The American Indian tribe at the center of tumultuous protests against the Dakota Access pipeline unveiled a solar farm that came about partly due to the tribe's fierce opposition to the oil pipeline's environmental impact.
Located just 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's solar project is meant as a first step toward clean energy independence and a way to power all 12 of the reservation communities in North Dakota and South Dakota. It also shows that the protests that began in 2016 and ended in 2017 weren't for naught, even though the pipeline began carrying oil more than two years ago, said Cody Two Bears, the project leader and executive director of Indigenized Energy, which promotes energy within the Sioux Nation.
Two Bears said the solar project ``pays tribute to everyone who's come to Standing Rock and all their hard work and tireless dedication toward protecting our people and land.''
The project has 1,000 panels covering about three acres of wide-open prairie near Cannon Ball, with plans to expand to 10 acres.
A night of Native American dancing, music indigenous foods and gift giving was kicked off by actress Shailene Woodley, a loyal protester who was returning to the reservation for the first time in two years. She tearfully hugged and greeted dozens of people when she arrived at the solar farm and told the group afterward that they are ``sharing their wisdom'' with the rest of the world.
``This is the beginning of something incredibly massive that I don't think anyone of us can began to fathom at this moment,'' she said.
Presidential hopeful and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard rode into the farm on horseback.
Woodley visited the protest camp several times where thousands of people lived for months and sometimes clashed with law enforcement. More than 700 people were arrested during the protests.
Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, an executive with the economic development entity of Nebraska's Winnebago Tribe, which began dabbling in solar energy a decade ago, said the national interest around the protests should translate into promotion of renewable energy.
``Tribes have always been strong advocates and set the marker to where we need to be on,'' Bledsoe Downes said. ``If there's any good from what happened at the DAPL protest, I hope that it was a catalyst to that.''
Numerous tribes have turned to solar power and other forms of green energy in the last decade as a way of creating jobs and cutting down on energy costs without harming the environment. Bledsoe Downes said the Winnebago Tribe is saving $100,000 a year, money that ``goes back into housing or down payment assistance or tribal roads or infrastructure costs or youth programming.''
Several solar energy nonprofits joined forces to build the $470,000 Standing Rock facility, and those organizations are billing it as the largest solar energy farm in North Dakota. It currently powers the Sioux Nation Community Center and Veterans Memorial Building.
Hayes Barnard, president of San Francisco-based GivePower Foundation, which made the largest donation of $370,000, said the solar farm is a ``testament to the tribe's steadfast commitment to going beyond protesting and inciting real change.''
NC Firm Fires Worker Over Invoice For 'Poka Honas'
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ A Valvoline Instant Oil Change center in North Carolina has fired a worker over an invoice that called a customer ``poka honas,'' an apparent reference to Pocahontas.
The Asheville Citizen Times reports the business's invoice shows the customer's address as Raccoon Trail, a street that doesn't exist in Asheville. A woman who says she's a friend of the customer posted the invoice on social media. She says the customer is a person of color. The newspaper says the customer wasn't available to comment.
Valvoline spokesman Sean Cornett says the service center immediately fired the worker and apologized to the customer. He says the company doesn't tolerate discrimination.
President Donald Trump has called Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren ``Pocahontas'' since she said a DNA test showed she has Native American ancestry.
Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com
Native Hawaiians Say Telescope Represents Bigger Struggle
By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
HONOLULU (AP) _ Walter Ritte has been fighting for decades to protect Native Hawaiian rights, inspiring a new generation of activists trying to stop construction of a giant telescope they see as representative of a bigger struggle.
In his early 30s, Ritte occupied a small Hawaiian island used as a military bombing range. Now at 74, he's still a prolific protester, getting arrested this week for blocking a road to stop construction of the one of the world's most powerful telescopes on Hawaii's tallest peak, which some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.
For activists who say they're protecting Mauna Kea, the long-running telescope fight encapsulates critical issues to Native Hawaiians: the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, clashes over land and water rights, frustration over tourism, attempts to curb development and questions about how the islands should be governed.
It's an example of battles by Native Americans to preserve ancestral lands, with high-profile protests like Dakota Access pipeline leading to arrests in southern North Dakota in 2016 and 2017.
For Native Hawaiians, opposition to the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope isn't universal _ some support the educational opportunities from the project and are facing backlash from those questioning their identity.
Ritte's first taste of activism came during a resurgence of cultural pride and identity that began in the late 1960s and 1970s. He and other Native Hawaiian men hid on the small island of Kahoolawe that the military used for bombing practice. They were arrested, but the U.S. eventually stopped the training.
``We didn't know anything about ourselves as Hawaiians,'' Ritte said of his youth. ``When we got involved with Kahoolawe, we had no language, no history.''
The young people leading the fight against the telescope grew up learning about his experiences and speaking Hawaiian amid an ongoing cultural renaissance. A 30-year-old leader of the telescope protest, Kaho'okahi Kanuha, credits Ritte and the Hawaiian movement for allowing him to grow up rooted to his culture.
``Uncle Walter can talk about not knowing the language and not knowing the history. But he knew how to stand up, and he knew how to fight,'' Kanuha said. ``Because of the things they did, the results were Hawaiian language programs. The results were revitalization of the culture and of understanding and of awakening.''
At Mauna Kea, Kanuha wears a traditional battle helmet as he speaks Hawaiian with protesters and negotiates with law enforcement. Thanks to the movement, he said he was able to learn Hawaiian at an immersion preschool and eventually earn a bachelor's degree in Hawaiian language from the University of Hawaii.
He's fighting a project that dates to 2009, when scientists selected Mauna Kea after a global campaign to find the ideal site for what telescope officials said ``will likely revolutionize our understanding of the universe.'' The mountain on the Big Island is revered for its consistently clear weather and lack of light pollution.
The telescope won a series of approvals from Hawaii, including a permit to build on conservation land in 2011. Protests began during a groundbreaking in 2014 and culminated in arrests in 2015.
Last year, the state Supreme Court upheld the construction permit, though protesters are still fighting in court and at the mountain.
Thirty-four people, mostly elders, were arrested this week as officials try to start building again.
The swelling protest is a natural reaction to the pain Native Hawaiians have endured and the changes the islands have seen, said Glen Kila, program director of Marae Ha'a Koa, a Hawaiian cultural center.
``The pain began when they took people off the land,'' he said. ``And then they took governance and stewardship of the land, like Mauna Kea.''
The battle is bigger than the telescope, said Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a teacher and cultural practitioner.
``The TMT and Mauna Kea is just the focal point. For me it's just a galvanizing element,'' she said. ``It goes back to the role that foreigners played and continue to play in Hawaii.''
From 18th century explorer James Cook's arrival in the islands, to laborers brought to plantations and today's tourism, the telescope is another example of outside interests overtaking Hawaiian culture, she said.
``They capitalize and commercialize our culture,'' Wong-Kalu said. ``They prostitute the elements that make us Hawaiian. They make it look pretty and make it look alluring in an effort to bring more money into this state.''
But not all Native Hawaiians see the telescope as representative of past wrongs.
``My family feels that they're trying to use the TMT to boost their sovereignty issue,'' said Annette Reyes, a Native Hawaiian who supports the telescope project. ``I want sovereignty for the Hawaiian people. I want them to have their country back. But TMT shouldn't be the lightning rod for it.''
Reyes pointed to telescope officials' pledge to provide $1 million every year to boost science, technology, engineering and math education. She said opponents have called her a fake Hawaiian for supporting the project.
For some, it's not just a political issue. It's spiritual for Kealoha Pisciotta, who's long fought the telescope.
``The problem is being Hawaiian today is a political statement,'' she said. ``We have to take political action to practice religion.''
Mauna Kea is a ``living entity'' that ``gives life,'' Kila said.
``So that's a different philosophy from the scientific world, that it's just a mountain that can be used for an observatory. It can be developed. For us, that's sacrilegious,'' he said.
For Ritte and others, the telescope is the latest battle over Hawaiian culture. He spent 11 hours MonDAY lying attached to a grate in the road leading up to Mauna Kea's summit with seven other protesters.
``We protected and saved Kahoolawe from the United States military,'' Ritte said. ``Now we have to save and protect the rest of our islands.''
Presidential Hopefuls to Address Native American Issues
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) _ A presidential campaign event focused on Native American issues is being planned in Sioux City, Iowa, next month.
Several groups are working together to plan the forum on Aug. 19 and Aug. 20.
O.J. Semans of the voting rights group Four Directions says it would be a mistake for candidates to ignore Native American voters.
The Sioux City Journal reports that organizers are working to get firm commitments from candidates to attend.
The event is named in honor of activist Frank LaMere, who died last month after battling cancer. He was a Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska member who fought for a variety of causes. He lived in South Sioux City, Nebraska.
Longtime Nebraska Native American Activist Frank LaMere Dies
Frank LaMere, March 1, 1950 - June 16, 2019
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ A longtime Democratic activist who spent his life fighting for Native American causes in Nebraska has died.
Frank LaMere's son says the 69-year-old died Sunday, June 16, after a bout with cancer.
LaMere was known nationally for his decades-long effort to close four beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska, that were blamed for alcohol-related problems on the neighboring Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Regulators shuttered the stores in 2017.
He also was a prominent critic of the Omaha Police Department's handling of Zachary BearHeels, a mentally ill Native American man who died in 2017 after officers punched and shocked him with a Taser.
LaMere served on the Democratic National Committee from 1996 through 2009 and was a delegate for multiple party conventions. He was a member of the American Indian Movement.
Trump Expresses Condolences After Navajo Code Talker's Death
John Pinto, December 15, 1924 - May 24, 2019
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ President Donald Trump is expressing condolences following the death of New Mexico Sen. John Pinto, a Democrat and Navajo Code Talker, who died last week at age 94.
Trump tweeted Friday, May 31, that he was saddened to hear about Pinto's death. A funeral for the longtime senator, who died May 24, was held Thursday, May 30, in Gallup.
Pinto was a World War II-era Marine who was among hundreds of Navajo Code Talkers - radio men who translated American coordinates and messages into an indecipherable code based on their language.
Trump called them "true American HEROES,'' while also noting Pinto's life of public service.
Pinto served in the New Mexico Senate for more than four decades, making him the longest-serving senator in state history.
WWII Code Talker and Longtime NM Lawmaker Dies at 94
By MORGAN LEE and MARY HUDETZ
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ John Pinto, a Navajo Code Talker in World War II who became one of the nation's longest serving Native American elected officials as a New Mexico state senator, has died. He was 94.
Senate colleague Michael Padilla confirmed Pinto's death in Gallup on Friday, May 24, after years of suffering from various illnesses that rarely kept him from his duties.
After serving as a Marine, Pinto was elected to the Senate in 1976 and represented a district that includes the Navajo Nation for more than four decades. The region is one of the poorest in the country.
"Words cannot express the sadness we feel for the loss of a great Dine warrior,'' said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, using the indigenous word for Navajo. "He dedicated his life to helping others.''
Born in Lupton, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation to a family of sheep herders, Pinto didn't start formal schooling until he was nearly a teenager.
"At the age of 12, I was in kindergarten,'' Pinto told the Albuquerque Journal in a 2007 interview. "I guess I did all right.''
Pinto also recalled that his grandparents told of being forced at gunpoint from their land in the 1860s by the U.S. Army in the forced relocation of the Navajo people on foot to southern New Mexico.
After serving as a Code Talker - a group of radio men who translated American coordinates and messages into an indecipherable code based on the Navajo language - Pinto had to take an English test four times before he was finally admitted into the University of New Mexico's College of Education.
He graduated with a bachelor's in elementary education at 39, and eventually earned his master's, becoming a teacher and a truancy officer in Gallup.
Pinto delved into politics to address the needs of impoverished indigenous populations. The Democrat won a seat in state Senate in 1976 as one of the state's first Native American senators.
An unassuming appearance and manner belied Pinto's political determination that carried him through 42 years in the Legislature. Laurie Canepa, the senior librarian for the Legislative Council Service, said that made him the longest serving senator in state history.
Manny Aragon, the state's one-time Senate president, tells the story of driving to the Statehouse in a January 1977 snowstorm and picking up a middle-aged Navajo man who was hitchhiking in Albuquerque. The hitchhiker was newly elected Sen. Pinto.
"I just thought he was a transient,'' Aragon said.
In the Legislature, Pinto advocated for education reform and anti-poverty programs. Receiving a lifetime achievement award in 2016, Pinto recalled going hungry at times as a child while his parents juggled odd jobs and said the experience influenced his work on issues of homelessness as a lawmaker.
Every year, Pinto would sing on the Senate floor the "Potato Song'' - a Navajo song about a potato, planted in the spring and visited in the summer until it is harvested. Fellow senators, staff and aides clapped along to Pinto's rendition.
Lenore Naranjo, the Senate's chief clerk, says Pinto taught her bits of Navajo language over the decades.
"A beautiful man is all I can say,'' Naranjo said.
Associated Press writer Russell Contreras contributed to this report from Albuquerque.
(Editor’s Note: Mr. Fleming Begaye, Sr., a fellow code talker passed away on May 10, listed below.)
WWII-Era Navajo Code Talker Fleming Begaye Sr. Dies at 97
CHINLE, Ariz. (AP) _ The Navajo Nation has announced that World War II-era Navajo Code Talker Fleming Begaye Sr. has died.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says Begaye died Friday in Chinle, Arizona. He was 97.
The cause of death was not disclosed.
Begaye was among hundreds of Navajos who served in the Marine Corps, using a code based on their native language to outsmart the Japanese.
According to the Navajo Nation, Begaye served as a Code Talker from 1943 to 1945 and fought in the Battle of Tarawa and the Batter of Tinian. He spent a year in a naval hospital after being wounded.
Begaye later ran a general store in Chinle.
President Donald Trump honored Begaye and two other Navajo Code Talkers at the White House in November 2017.
Native American Group Opposes Draft Social Studies Standards
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Native American education advocates are raising concerns that Nebraska's proposed social studies standards fall short of teaching a comprehensive history of Native Americans.
The newly formed Nebraska Indian Education Association wants the statewide standards that were unveiled this month to better disprove misconceptions about Native Americans and emphasize local tribes, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
The Nebraska Department of Education is seeking public input on the drafted education guidelines.
Derek LaPointe, executive officer of the Santee Sioux Nation tribal council, said Nebraska schools focus on teaching the period of disruption, relocation and war after 1850.
``That's a blink of an eye in the lifetime of the tribe,'' said LaPointe, who's also an organizer for the association.
The group wants schools to teach about tribal sovereignty and Indian science and horticulture. They're also pushing for more instruction about the centuries before European settlement when their civilization thrived.
LaPointe said teachers focus on certain events such as the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 in South Dakota, without considering tragic events that occurred closer to home.
There's ``so much focus on Oklahoma and the Trail of Tears, but we've all had our share of the Trail of Tears,'' he said.
The association formed this year in response to Native American youths' persistent low-achievement rates in Nebraska schools.
Association leader Marian Holstein said teaching about tribal history could help address an identity crisis that many Native American youth face, which has affected children's self-esteem and their academic performance.
``There's never been teaching about our native people, and how intelligent we were,'' said Holstein, who's also a board member of Winnebago Public Schools. ``It's always been the savages, the heathens, that we were less than men. That has trickled down.''
John Witzel, president of the Nebraska State Board of Education, acknowledged that the proposed standards' approach to Native American topics is ``pretty general.''
``We appreciate their inputs, and are going to seek more inputs, and we've got time to make changes, adjustments, revisions, whatever's necessary,'' he said.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com
Mills Could Restore 'Neglected' Tribal-State Commission
By MARINA VILLENEUVE
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ Maine's governor could restore a long-neglected tribal-state commission that saw seats go unfilled under the previous administration.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' spokesman Scott Ogden said she plans to nominate new members of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission ``as soon as possible.'' Such nominations would require hearings and Senate confirmation.
Mills has pledged to address long-tense relations between state government and tribes in Maine after facing criticism for her role as former attorney general in legal action concerning tribal fishing and water quality rights. So far, Mills has spoken out against Native American mascots and appointed a former Penobscot Tribal Council member as a senior adviser.
She has called the inter-governmental commission ``neglected'' and her campaign website promised she'd work to enhance its authority to handle disputes.
``Gov. Mills believes the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission has the potential to improve and strengthen the relationship between the state and Maine tribes,'' Ogden said.
The inter-governmental commission, which dates back to the 1980 tribal land claims settlement, is supposed to have 13 members, including six state representatives and a chair. The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Indian Nation each appoint two members.
But the commission last had a full slate of members in early 2013 and gradually became less operational as slots for state representatives went unfilled, according to Managing Director Paul Thibeault. He said that the commission hasn't been fully operational for several years.
``When state members left for one reason or another they were not replaced and state members with expired terms were not re-appointed,'' Thibeault said.
Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage signed a 2011 executive order recognizing a ``relationship between equals'' among Maine tribes and the state. But the state and tribes later came into conflicts over tribal fishing and other issues, and in 2015, LePage rescinded that order.
He claimed his administration's efforts had been ``unproductive because the state of Maine's interests have not been respected in the ongoing relationship between sovereigns.''
In past years, the commission's focus has ranged from high school mascots to land-use disputes and disagreement over salt-water fisheries involving the lucrative elvers industry. Commissioners also have jurisdiction over fishing rules for certain waters in or near Passamaquoddy or Penobscot territory.
The commission can air out issues and make recommendations, but it lacks the formal authority to resolve disputes.
Thibeault said the first step to bolstering the commission is ensuring it has 13 members as required by statute. Thibeault also estimated a commission with more authority would need another $115,000 in annual funding, doubling the budget, for another staff member or consultants.
Mills has shown a commitment to doing so, Thibeault said. In April, the commission sent Mills a list of potential nominees, he said.
Bill in Congress would Resolve Large Utah Water Rights Claim
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ Federal legislation has been introduced to settle one of the largest outstanding water rights claims in Utah.
The settlement would give the Navajo Nation 81,500 acre-feet annually of Utah's unused share of water from the upper Colorado River basin.
Utah and the Navajo Nation reached the agreement in 2016, but it needs congressional approval.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney introduced the bill earlier this month. Arizona's two U.S. senators signed on as co-sponsors.
The bill would provide the Navajo Nation with $210 million for water infrastructure projects, including wells, pipelines and water treatment plants. Utah agreed to chip in $8 million.
The Navajo Nation originally claimed twice as much water as the settlement includes. Tribes often settle claims in exchange for funding to put the water to use.
Grand Canyon Watchtower to be Maintained as Cultural Site
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) _ Officials at the Grand Canyon say they're expanding programming at a historic watchtower where visitors can learn about Native American culture.
The National Park Service's Intermountain Region signed off on the plan last month.
The Desert View Watchtower near the east entrance of Grand Canyon gives visitors expansive views of the painted desert and the Little Colorado River Gorge. It had housed a gift shop up until 2015 when the Park Service turned it into a cultural heritage site.
The Grand Canyon is planning to add demonstrations, exhibits and opportunities for visitors to interact with tribal members and artists there.
The 70-foot (21-meter) watchtower was built in the early 1930s by famed architect Mary Colter. Stone covering the National Historic Landmark hides the building's steel frame.
Nevada, Utah Tribes Join Protest Against Plutonium Shipments
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ Thirteen tribes in Nevada and western Utah are urging President Donald Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry to suspend any shipments of weapons-grade plutonium to a site north of Las Vegas.
Tribal leaders say they share the state's concerns that they were not informed or consulted about a half metric ton (1,102 pounds) of the radioactive material the government secretly shipped to Nevada over the state's objections last year.
Las Vegas Paiute Tribe Chairman Chris Spotted Eagle says his tribe has two reservations in downtown Las Vegas and the northwestern part of the Las Vegas Valley that sit along the transportation routes that may have been used to truck the plutonium to the Nevada National Security Site.
Energy Department officials confirmed last week they are working with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto to expedite removal of the plutonium from Nevada.
Grant to Help Michigan Tribe Boost Environmental Reporting
BARAGA, Mich. (AP) _ A Michigan-based Native American tribe has received a federal grant to modernize its environmental data reporting system.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded $195,000 to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Baraga.
Regional administrator Kathy Stepp says the funding will enable the tribe to join an online data exchange network.
The network is used by the EPA, state, tribal and territorial partners to share environmental and health information. Officials say it will provide the tribe with better access to a number of data systems including a nationwide inventory of toxic releases.
Tribal President Warren Swartz Jr. says it will help the tribe make well-informed decisions, while boosting openness and public participation.
The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community expects the project to be operational in spring 2020.
Cherokee May Regain Control of Sacred Mound After 200 Years
FRANKLIN, N.C. (AP) _ Ownership of an ancient mound in North Carolina may return in part to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, two centuries after European settlers took the land.
News outlets report the Franklin town council voted this month to move forward with plans to deed control of the Nikwasi Mound to the nonprofit Nikwasi Initiative. The town currently controls the land, but the transfer would split control among the town, the tribe, Macon County and Mainspring Conservation Trust.
Franklin Vice Mayor Barbara McRae says the move is an opportunity to ``reverse that wrong'' by allowing the tribe some representation in the mound's management. Calling the plan ``amazing,'' Cherokee representative Juanita Wilson says nobody would lose anything.
The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources says the mound was built around 1000 A.D.
South Dakota Senate Passes Governor's Pipeline Protest Bills
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) _ South Dakota senators have passed Gov. Kristi Noem's last-minute bills to prepare for potential protests over the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The Senate voted Thursday to send the measures to the House, which was to debate them later that day. The push comes late in session, and critics have panned the administration's lack of consultation with Native American tribes .
The Republican governor's bills would require pipeline companies to chip in on protest-related expenses and create a way to pursue money from those who fund destructive demonstrations. Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, a supporter, says the bill going after protest funders seeks to protect families and communities who would be victims of ``terrorist conduct.''
Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert, an opponent, says he thinks it has ``constitutional issues'' and suspects it will be challenged in court.
New Yellowstone Superintendent Lays Out His Priorities
By MICHAEL WRIGHT
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) _ Cam Sholly didn't expect to be here. Not when he was finishing high school in Gardiner, not when he was clearing backcountry trails after leaving the Army, not when he returned to the National Park Service for good.
He doesn't recall a time when he was aspiring to the top jobs of the agency, despite his family history _ a grandfather who served as superintendent of Badlands National Park, a father who worked as Yellowstone National Park's chief ranger.
But here he is, settled into the superintendent's office inside the 110-year-old administration building at the nation's first national park, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported .
``Becoming superintendent of Yellowstone was beyond my wildest dreams,'' he said recently, sitting in an armchair in his office. ``It wasn't planned.''
Saying it wasn't planned sounds like an understatement. After holding a few different high-level jobs within the Park Service, Sholly became director of the agency's Midwest Region in 2015. He was based in Omaha, Nebraska, and he oversaw 61 park units in 13 states. He thought he'd be there a while.
Then came a controversial reassignment plan, one that resulted in former Yellowstone superintendent Dan Wenk saying he was being forced out of the agency. Sholly was selected to take his place.
He has been here since October. On his second day, he appeared at a field hearing in Gardiner with Republican Sen. Steve Daines. He met with Gov. Steve Bullock, too, and county commissioners and other people with a stake in the park. The five-week government shutdown interrupted his indoctrination, but he's seen enough to get ideas of what can be done better and what he wants to keep rolling along.
He talks of the nobility of the mission of the National Park Service, which is the preservation of natural and cultural resources of the park system. In Yellowstone, that largely means the ecosystem itself. He comes with a rosy view of its state, pointing to the recovery of wolves, grizzly bears and other animals. But he has no illusions that it's invincible.
``It is an ecosystem under threat,'' Sholly said. ``Whether that's climate change, whether that's increased visitation. It's under threat but it is in good condition, and we need to continue to do everything we can to understand and respond effectively to those challenges in the future.''
Sholly, 49, has been mulling a suite of priorities for the park, and near the top of the list is taking care of its staff. Among the top priorities for the near future: employee housing.
``Yellowstone employee housing is, for the most part, as a whole, embarrassing,'' Sholly said.
There are employee homes all over the park, including near places like Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake. There are a total of 445 units, Sholly said, and 60 of them are trailers.
Already in his short tenure he's heard horror stories _ rodent infestations, broken stove burners and more. It's not everywhere, he said, but it's not nowhere, and some of the problems are hitting those who live deepest inside the park.
``These people are in the interior protecting this park in isolated conditions,'' Sholly said. ``The least we can do is do better with housing.''
He comes to this challenge and every other knowing what it's like to grow up in national parks. His father worked in a few different parks before Yellowstone. Sholly has memories of growing up in Yosemite, Crater Lake, Hawaii Volcanoes.
He finished his last year-and-a-half of high school in Gardiner, graduating in 1987. Immediately afterward, he joined the U.S. Army, and he ended up being deployed to Operation Desert Storm in 1990.
Sholly was out of the Army by 1991 and back in Montana. He worked in maintenance in Yellowstone for a couple of summers, his first job with the park service, and he gave college a try at Montana State University. He didn't finish his degree there, instead moving to California to work at Yosemite.
After a few years at Yosemite, he joined the California Highway Patrol. He stayed with the state police force for six years. It also nearly killed him.
One night in August 1999, he and a partner were patrolling south of San Francisco when they started chasing a car going well over 100 mph.
Sholly was in the passenger's seat. His partner was driving, trying to overtake the car. He lost control.
The patrol car hit a guard rail at more than 100 mph, Sholly said, the full impact going to the passenger side.
Extrication took more than 40 minutes, Sholly said. His back and pelvis were broken in multiple places. He was 29.
``It's at that point you kind of realize you want to have other options and alternatives in life,'' he said.
He decided to finish his undergraduate degree at St. Mary's College after the wreck. He stayed with the highway patrol for three more years, until the park service drew him back.
``It was a good chapter in my life,'' he said. ``I think the nobility of the park service mission is a draw. It was something I wanted to migrate back to.''
Yosemite is where the return began in 2002. After serving as chief ranger of operations there, he moved upward. A job in the park service's Washington, D.C. office, then superintendent of Natchez Trace Parkway in the southeast, then back to D.C., followed by the move to Omaha.
Stephanie Adams, of the National Parks Conservation Association, said moves like that are normal for agency employees, and that Sholly appeared to build a good reputation along the way.
``It seems like Cam has built a really strong track record within the park service,'' Adams said.
He joined the ranks of the Senior Executive Service, an elite group of park service employees who can be easily transferred within 60 days notice. Such a reassignment comes with two options _ accept or leave the agency.
His assignment to Yellowstone was reportedly part of a broader shuffle involving seven people in all. At least three people who were asked to accept new jobs, including former superintendent Wenk, retired instead.
The reassignment disrupted Sholly's idea that he might be in Omaha for a few years. While he moved to Yellowstone, his wife and son stayed there. He visits when he can, including while on furlough during the shutdown. They plan to join him here later this year.
Sholly was fully aware of the possibility that he could be reassigned at the drop of a hat when he joined the Senior Executive Service. Such moves aren't uncommon, he said, and he can't say how long he'll be in Yellowstone. But he's happy to be here.
``My job coming in here is to keep the good things going, try to keep good momentum in places where we had momentum going, and work on areas (Wenk) didn't get to,'' Sholly said.
At the time of the reassignments, Wenk cited a disagreement with the Trump administration over bison management. He later said he was told that wasn't the reason he was asked to leave Yellowstone.
Still, it fueled speculation that Sholly would arrive in Yellowstone with orders to significantly reduce the bison population, which was estimated at near 4,500 last fall. Bison are the one animal the park culls, through its ship-to-slaughter program, and some wondered if the Interior Department wanted Sholly to bring numbers down.
No such order was given, according to Sholly.
``Never happened,'' he said. ``Never has happened.''
His vision for the park's bison isn't much different from Wenk's. He said the population is at a place where they can try to keep it relatively stable, with post-calving numbers in the low- to mid-4,000s.
He also wants to see the quarantine program advance. Under Wenk, the park proposed quarantining bison for brucellosis at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in north central Montana.
Certifying bison as brucellosis free allows them to be moved more freely, and potentially released to join other wild herds or establish new ones. The park proposal was meant to help restore bison to other parts of the country and reduce the number slaughtered each year. Many conservationists support it, but some see it as the park domesticating wild bison and caving to the beef industry, which fears the spread of the disease.
The program is running now, but not at Fort Peck. Yellowstone has almost 80 bison in two quarantine corrals now going through what's known as phase two of the process _ months of brucellosis testing and time spent isolated from any wild animals. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also has five bulls it says could go to Fort Peck for the final phase of quarantine, known as assurance testing.
Fort Peck tribal officials want to be involved at phase two, and they have corrals that meet federal quarantine requirements. But state and federal agriculture officials have concerns about moving the bison out of the Yellowstone area without first completing that round of testing.
Sholly said he wants the tribes involved earlier, too, but that he understands the concerns of the livestock officials. Part of the reason he wants the tribes involved at that stage is capacity. His corrals can only handle so many bison at once, meaning only so many bison can be restored to new places if the program is successful.
``We are going to need to determine how do we establish a quarantine infrastructure that can facilitate a larger number of bison to enter the quarantine process and ultimately get put out onto larger landscapes,'' he said. ``It's something that's a work in progress and that we need to think about. It's not a pure National Park Service responsibility.''
Sholly has inherited the issue of ballooning visitation. In 2018, the park counted more than 4 million visits for the fourth consecutive year. The total was more than 20 percent higher than the total in 2013.
Many conservationists are concerned about the growing crowds, and they're wondering how many is too many.
``We certainly are paying attention to summer visitation issues and crowd management,'' said Scott Christensen, conservation director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
Sholly recognizes that it's growing, but he's not ready to jump to a conclusion on how it should be managed. He wants more data on how people use the park. He is sure of one thing _ the park is not considering a visitor cap right now.
Even if they were, he doesn't see how a park-wide number would work with Yellowstone's vast size and its five separate entrances.
``When a huge amount of your visitation is over in Old Faithful and West,'' he said, ``are you really going to say you can't come in at Cody or you can't come in at Cooke City?''
He added that shuttle services in specific areas may be an option, but even those could get complicated.
``I think there's a lot of conversations to have,'' he said.
He is also having conversations about the park's budget, which he said could be managed better. He wants to make sure employees are taken care of, that they have a good work environment. And he's serious about improving housing.
The park is working on a 5-year housing plan, and he hopes to bring in more money for housing improvements. Plans and funding are already in place for new housing at Lake Village. Work on new seasonal housing for concession employees is in its early stages, too.
It's something he sees as a crucial part of his job, ensuring decent living conditions for the people on the front lines of preserving the wild and magnificent for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.
As for the ecosystem itself, he wants to be ready to respond to the challenges of visitors run amok or climate change or anything else. He wants to avoid a situation like what happened to the Yellowstone cutthroat in Yellowstone Lake.
Illegally introduced lake trout decimated the cutthroat population. Numbers fell to 10 percent or less of historic highs, according to the park.
Upon the discovery of non-native lake trout, which gobble up cutthroat, park officials got aggressive. Since 1994, more than 2.4 million lake trout have been killed by gill-netting. They're starting to see declining numbers of lake trout, and Sholly plans to keep the program going for the foreseeable future.
To him, it's both a success story and cautionary tale.
``For me, I think the biggest issue is, how did we almost allow a species like the cutthroat to blink out before we took the actions that we took?'' he said.
Multicultural Education Reforms Advance in New Mexico
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ Bills designed to improve academic achievement among Native American and Hispanic students and to revitalizing local cultural traditions including indigenous languages are advancing at the New Mexico Legislature.
A House panel on Monday endorsed bills that would expand training for teachers of English as a second language and bilingual instruction, while enlisting the help of education cooperatives.
A separate bill would add two administrative posts at the Public Education Department to oversee progress among Hispanic students and better tailor teaching to local cultures.
The bills respond to a state district judge's findings that New Mexico fails to provide an adequate education to students from low-income and minority communities, especially children who speak Spanish or Native American languages at home. A court order gives lawmakers until April to provide solutions.
City Changes Paid Time Off from Columbus Day to Election Day
SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) _ An Ohio city has decided to switch the paid day off previously given to city employees in observance of Columbus Day to Election Day.
The Sandusky Register reports city commissioners in Sandusky recently authorized the change. The shift of paid time off from Columbus Day to Election Day takes effect this year. Columbus Day is on the second Monday of October. Election Day typically falls on the first day of November.
City Manager Eric Wobser said the swap gives employees a day off to vote. He says the switch also was made because Columbus Day has become ``controversial.''
Some places have abolished Columbus Day which critics say honors the mistreatment and colonization of Native Americans while celebrating explorer Christopher Columbus.
Sandusky is roughly 60 miles (97 kilometers) southeast of Toledo.
Information from: Sandusky Register, http://www.sanduskyregister.com/cgi-bin/liveique.acgi$sch=frontpage?frontpage
Lawmakers Want Detroit Fort Site Designated as National Park
DETROIT (AP) _ Two lawmakers are pushing to have the site of a military fort in southwest Detroit designated as a national park.
Democratic state Sen. Stephanie Chang and Detroit City Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez want the city to deed Historic Fort Wayne to the federal government. Nearly 3,000 signatures have been gathered on a petition to support the initiative.
The star-shaped fort was built between 1842 and 1851 and features an 1848 limestone barracks building, commanding officers house, Spanish-American War guard house and a Tuskegee Airmen Museum. The grounds also contain a Native American burial site dating back more than 1,000 years.
The fort is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Chang said in release that as a national park, Historic Fort Wayne would receive ``dedicated funding and resources.''
Chaco Canyon-Drilling - APNewsBreak: US Oil Lease near Sacred Park Pushes Forward
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ U.S. land managers will move forward in March with the sale of oil and gas leases that include land near Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico and other areas sacred to Native American tribes.
The sale comes as Democratic members of Congress, tribal leaders and environmentalists have criticized the federal Bureau of Land Management for pushing ahead with drilling permit reviews and preparations for energy leases despite the recent government shutdown.
With limited staff over the last month, the critics complained that they were locked out of the process because the agency didn't release any information about the sale. They also questioned whether the agency would be able to adequately review the land that's up for bid and whether it would consider protests to the move.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall told The Associated Press in an email that he's concerned about the latest attempt to lease potentially culturally significant land in New Mexico without a more comprehensive plan in place.
``It's a mistake that while critical public services were shuttered for 35 days during the government shutdown, BLM still moved forward with this opaque process,'' the New Mexico Democrat said.
Agency spokeswoman Cathy Garber said officials decided to push back the lease sale by a couple of weeks to accommodate a public protest period that was delayed because of the shutdown. The agency quietly confirmed on its website that it would accept comments starting Feb. 11 and that the sale was scheduled for March 28.
Depending on the outcome of the protests, it's possible for the agency to put off or withdraw nine parcels of land that are within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of Chaco, a world heritage site with massive stone structures, kivas and other features that archaeologists believe offered a religious or ritualistic experience.
Accessible only by rough dirt roads, Chaco takes effort to reach, and supporters say they want to protect the sense of remoteness that comes with making the journey. For tribes, the fight is centered on preserving what remains of a ceremonial and economic hub that dates back centuries.
In all, more than 50 parcels in New Mexico and Oklahoma will be up for bid.
``We cannot help but protest what appears to be an intentional bias in the favoring of oil and gas development over other interests,'' former Acoma Pueblo Gov. Kurt Riley said last week during a congressional forum.
Riley and others said the shutdown exacerbated an already tense situation over the expansion of oil and gas development in northwestern New Mexico.
In recent years, land managers have declined oil and gas exploration on land near the park, creating somewhat of an informal buffer. In early 2018, then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke halted a lease sale over cultural concerns after hundreds of people protested.
The battle over energy development around Chaco, which is bordered by the Navajo Nation and a checkboard of state and federal land, has been simmering for years. Government officials visited the region In 2015 in hopes of brokering a way forward for the tribes and energy companies.
The Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs began working together on revamping the resource management plan for the San Juan Basin, which covers a larger portion of northwestern New Mexico and parts of southern Colorado.
The partnership was meant to ensure tribes would be consulted and that scientific and archaeological analysis would be done to guarantee cultural sensitivity.
Udall argued that the repeated pursuit of land near the park and the lack of a final management plan have resulted in ``a scattershot, shoot-from-the-hip approach.'' He called for the upcoming lease sale to be delayed.
The nine parcels near the park are on the outer edge of the informal buffer zone, but critics say it's possible oil equipment could be visible from some places in the park if those areas were leased. Whether the hum of the equipment could be heard would depend on the direction of the wind. There are also concerns about light pollution affecting Chaco's revered night sky.
Paul Reed with Archaeology Southwest said the informal buffer should be adopted as part of the management plan because scientists have barely scratched the surface when it comes to studying and understanding Chaco.
``Aside from the sites that everyone knows about in Chaco, there are a number of communities that exist within the 10-mile zone that we think need a greater level of protection,'' he said.
Notre Dame to Cover Up Murals of Columbus in the New World
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) _ The University of Notre Dame will cover murals in a campus building that depict Christopher Columbus in America, the school's president said, following criticism that the images depict Native Americans in stereotypical submissive poses before white European explorers.
The 12 murals created in the 1880s by Luis Gregori were intended to encourage immigrants who had come to the U.S. during a period of anti-Catholic sentiment. But they conceal another side of Columbus: the exploitation and repression of Native Americans , said the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame.
It is a ``darker side of this story, a side we must acknowledge,'' Jenkins said in a letter Sunday.
The murals in the Catholic university's Main Building are painted directly on walls. Jenkins said they will be covered, although they still could be occasionally displayed. A permanent display of photos of the paintings will be created elsewhere with an explanation of their context.
``We wish to preserve artistic works originally intended to celebrate immigrant Catholics who were marginalized at the time in society, but do so in a way that avoids unintentionally marginalizing others,'' Jenkins said.
In 2017, more than 300 students, employees and Notre Dame alumni signed a letter in the campus newspaper that called for the removal of the murals.
The president of the Native American Student Association praised Jenkins' decision.
``This is a good step towards acknowledging the full humanity of those native people who have come before us,'' said Marcus Winchester-Jones of Dowagiac, Michigan.
Idaho Company Steals from South Dakota Tribe, Alaska Natives
BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ An Idaho company that sells posters to raise money for schools has admitted to defrauding a South Dakota tribe and at least two organizations tied to Alaska Natives.
The Idaho Statesman reports attorney Scott McKay says its client, All Around Sports, in Boise, and its owner, Chris Hoshaw, have ``reached an agreement with the Department of Justice in South Dakota to resolve the matters set forth in the legal pleadings.''
McKay says the company and Hoshaw ``accept responsibility for these matters.'' He says the company ``has implemented changes to its business practices to ensure this does not occur again.''
Federal prosecutors say All Around Sports devised a fraud scheme that it used between December 2015 and December 2016 to take more than $360,000 from the victims.
Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com
South Dakota County Preps for Keystone XL Pipeline Protests
BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. (AP) _ Officials in a South Dakota county are preparing for the possibility of protests over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline by securing more jail cells.
The Black Hills Pioneer reports that the Butte County Commission approved an agreement last month to use Falk County's jail systems if necessary.
The move comes as TransCanada plans to start construction on the oil pipeline this year. Many environmental groups and Native American tribes have sought to block the project because of environmental concerns.
Butte County currently holds its inmates at the Meade County Jail in Sturgis. The pipeline will also run through that county.
Butte County Sheriff Fred Lamphere says he's concerned that the jail would fill up quickly should civil disturbances occur.
Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, http://www.bhpioneer.com
Murkowski to Revive Bill Meant to Help Native American Women
FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she plans to reintroduce a bill intended to help solve crimes against Native Americans. The bill received unanimous Senate approval after being introduced by North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp but was blocked by the outgoing chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte said he agreed with the intent of Heitkamp's bill, which sought to expand tribal access to federal crime databases, set standards for law enforcement's response to cases of missing or slain Native Americans, and instruct the Justice Department to increase its data collection on crimes against Native Americans.
But he said the bill would have hurt some agencies that have no link to tribal communities because they wouldn't be able to compete for Justice Department grants that the bill sought to create, The Roanoke Times reported.
Goodlatte, a Republican who is retiring after 13 terms in office, said only a limited number of law enforcement organizations are eligible for those funds ``so every other law enforcement organization in America is opposed to it, and the Fraternal Order of Police and groups like that because they're getting a cut in order to do that.''
With the House adjourned until further notice, it appears that the measure known as Savanna's Act will expire at the end of the year. Murkowski, also a Republican, has said she will take up the measure when lawmakers return to Washington.
``It's disappointing that one Republican member of Congress blocked Savanna's Act from passing this year,'' Heitkamp, a Democrat, said in a statement. ``But fortunately, Rep. Goodlatte won't be around to block it in the new Congress. I've talked with Sen. Murkowski about Savanna's Act and I'm so proud that she will reintroduce my bill in the new year.''
The bill is named for Savanna Greywind, a slain North Dakota woman whose baby was cut from her womb.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents the Greywind family, told The Associated Press on Friday that the bill asks for ``a minimal level of accountability'' and the notion that it is too onerous for law enforcement is ``absurd.''
``If that's the case then this bill should be introduced as is and let them come and testify before Congress about why they don't want an incentive for providing the appropriate data that is needed and that this bill requires,'' Allred said. ``Let's see who they are. If there are any they shouldn't be hiding behind some elected official.''
Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoke.com
First Nations Announces Agriculture Biz Workshops
The Business of Indian Agriculture & Business Planning Development
March 12-14, 2019
Do you run a ranching or farming operation in your community and want to move it forward? Are you looking to build a sustainable tribal ranching or farming enterprise? Do you desire to increase your business knowledge and fundamentals of running and maintaining a successful agricultural business?
Have you started to create a business plan and would like a team of professionals to help you finalize it? Or have you been interested in taking that first step in developing a business plan for your agribusiness?
If so, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has a 2-1/2-day, producer-focused The Business of Indian Agriculture training and a Business Planning Development training just for you. These will be held in Denver, Colorado, March 12-14, 2019, at the Hotel Indigo. Participants will receive copies of First Nations’ The Business of Indian Agriculture curriculum and Business Planning Development workbook.
Day 1 & 2: The Business of Indian Agriculture producer-focused training is designed to help farmers and ranchers succeed in managing their businesses. It covers useful topics like how to develop a business plan, how to set up bookkeeping systems, agribusiness economics and marketing, and land use and management. It also covers important topics like risk management, personal financial management, and using credit wisely. The two-day training offers attendees the opportunity to expand their understanding and knowledge of agriculture business and the opportunity to network with other producers.
Day 3: The optional third day of training will provide business planning development assistance through a half-day workshop providing a hands-on, interactive experience with a team of professionals who will assist participants in developing a draft business plan, a whole farm/ranch goal, as well as both financial and marketing plans.
Hotel Indigo Downtown Denver
1801 Wewatta St.
Denver, CO 80202
Please register here: https://cvent.me/Bn2PV
To Request a Scholarship, fill out application here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BOIASA
To Reserve Your Hotel Room, go here.
New Mexico Lawmakers Seek to Rename Columbus Day
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ The state of New Mexico may have celebrated its last Columbus Day.
A legislative proposal to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day has cleared its first hurdle in the New Mexico Legislature with a unanimous committee endorsement.
Sandia Pueblo tribal member and Democratic state Rep. Derrick Lente is preparing a bill for the coming legislative session that renames the state holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October.
He told fellow lawmakers that it is fitting that the tribute to Christopher Columbus be dropped in a state with 23 designated Native American communities.
Tributes to European conquerors are fading or being rewritten out of consideration for Native Americans in many New Mexico communities amid enduring expressions of pride in the state's Spanish colonial heritage.
Pokagon Band Invests $25 Million for Health Services Expansion
DOWAGIAC, Mich. (AP) _ The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is investing $25 million to expand health services in southwestern Michigan.
The project is expanding the Pokagon Health Services' Rodgers Lake campus, the South Bend Tribune reported .
The health service has 2,200 registered members, up from 700 in 2014, said Jason Wesaw, tribal government manager. Tribal members get health care services at no cost.
Keeping members healthy is a priority for the tribe of about 6,000, Wesaw said.
``The life expectancy of a Pokagon is 60 compared to the national average of 76,'' Wesaw said. ``Even Native Americans as a whole have a higher life expectancy than us.''
The 35,000-square-foot health services building currently offers family medical clinic, pharmacy, workout facility, counseling, and optical and dental care, Wesaw said. There is also traditional healing that involves medicinal plants and herbs.
The facility will nearly double in size with the addition of a Pokagon Family Center. It will host the annual tribal meeting, dances, indoor powwows and other large gatherings.
``The big thing for us is expanding our dental,'' Wesaw said. ``We need to have more chairs to meet the demand.''
Money will also be used to install a new water system for the buildings that sit on the 300-acre reservation, as well as to construct a new 30,000-square-foot justice center, which will house tribal court and tribal police headquarters.
``We're combining the two but they're separate, so there's a clear distinction between court and law enforcement,'' Wesaw said.
About 50 police officers from an office south of Dowagiac would move onto the reservation land, he said.
Blackfeet College Building Named in Honor of Elouise Cobell
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) _ The Blackfeet Community College has named its new health science and education building in honor of Elouise Cobell, a tribal elder and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Great Falls Tribune reports the $7.5 million building in Browning is named the Oahtkwii Piiksakii Iikohkon-Yellow Bird Woman Lodge for Cobell.
Cobell led a 15-year legal fight against the federal government over mismanagement of Native trust funds, ending with a $3.4 billion settlement.
President Barack Obama posthumously recognized Cobell in 2016. She died in October 2011.
Officials say they hope the future health care workers and teachers trained in the building will be a step toward improving access to health care and other services on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com
First Native American Women Elected to U.S. Congress
Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico and member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, and Sharice Davids, a fellow Democrat from Kansas were elected to the U.S. Congress during the mid-term elections. They are the first Native American women to be elected to Congress and both have promised reforms, to benefit their constituencies.
Haaland and Davids join Congressmen Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Tom Cole (R-OK), totaling four Native Americans currently serving in the House of Representatives. Rep. Mullin is Chair of President Trump's Native American Coalition and sits on various subcommittees, including House Energy and Commerce, Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, and Health. Rep. Cole is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. His other committee assignments are Defense and Interior.
Davids graduated from Johnson County Community College, earned her law degree from Cornell, and worked as a White House Fellow during the Obama-Trump transition. Haaland is a former Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico and earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of New Mexico. She obtained her Juris Doctor in Indian Law from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2006 and served as the Tribal Administrator for the San Felipe Pueblo Tribe.
Extra Effort Saves Indian Artifacts Threatened by Storm
By ANNICK JOSEPH
PEMBROKE, N.C. (AP) _ The selfless efforts of a local educator helped save rare American Indian historical artifacts that were threatened when heavy rains from Hurricane Florence poured into the Indian Education Program Museum.
``I got a text that the roof was off the building. I jumped in my vehicle during the hurricane and came with my husband,'' said Connie Locklear, director of the Public Schools of Robeson County Indian Education Program. ``We went running in there to salvage as much as we could. We got drenched when pulling all this stuff out. Everything was falling in.''
Her voice cracked and tears flowed down as she spoke of Sept. 15, a Saturday and Day 2 of Florence's visit.
``It was so emotional. It was like you were losing a part of who you are. That is what these artifacts mean to this community,'' she said. ``It's their identity, our identity. It's who we relate to. It's who we are.''
A tarp was placed over a section of the art gallery, adjacent to the main room, which was filled with works created by American Indians from Robeson County.
``You are pulling this stuff out and you think, `This was somebody's grandparent's item over here. Somebody donated this over here.' You want to protect that `cause it means so much. Some of them, we were able to keep and some were damaged.''
Some yearbooks from the 1940s, a school registry from the 1800s and stories written by American Indians were damaged, Locklear said.
``I don't think people really understand, unless you are from this community, when you walk in you feel the people,'' she said. ``This is our history.''
Help came from the state's Cultural Resources Emergency Response Team, which brought in a team with expertise and equipment to clean and repair artifacts. The CREST team is trained in soot removal, photograph salvage, freezing techniques, and textile cleaning, for temporary or long-term conservation and storage, according to Adrienne Berney, an administrator with CREST.
``Most of the objects in the Indian Education Program Museum, we have been able to clean or stabilize on-site. At our next workday, we will finish cleaning some oversized objects and organize archival materials for Digital NC,'' Berney said. ``That is another free service to cultural heritage organizations based at UNC.
``They will send a team down in the near future to digitize photographs and tribal records. Conservators at the NC Museum of History plan to work on two damaged objects, a drum with water damage and a vest with significant mold growth.''
The vest is believed to be more than 100 years old, she said. It is on loan from a private citizen.
Locklear was able to proect many historical pieces by moving them into a room not affected by the rain.
``She was amazing. I don't know how she did it,'' Berney said. ``It's because of Dr. Locklear most items were salvageable.''
The museum, located at 808 W. Third St. in Pembroke, is more than a building, said Kenneth Clark, the museum's cultural enrichment specialist. He is charged with the upkeep, inventory and description of each artifact housed in the museum.
``We are oral people, we like to tell our stories orally. We want to pass it down. That's what we do, `` he said. ``When, especially children, visit the museum, history is told through objects made by our people.
``Some items that were damaged can, maybe, be reproduced. Fortunately some of those artists are still alive, so we might be able to get as close as we can to what we lost,'' he said. ``Unfortunately some things we can't replace. We've got some baskets that were from an individual that is no longer alive.''
Cleveland Jacobs, a well-known basket weaver, taught children the art of basket-making, he said.
``You look at a piece he made 50 years ago. You can't replace it after he is gone. He passed on his skills. Hopefully we can get as close as we can get to what he made,'' Clark said. ``When he taught the kids how to make these baskets, he taught them their culture and about their history, about being Indian.''
The buiding itself is historical.
``This was the first American Indian high school during the segregation period. It was built to create jobs as part of the `New Deal' in 1939 during the Franklin Roosevelt era after the Depression,'' Clark said. ``It was built for that purpose, then it became a place to educate our people.''
County natives often return with their children to share with them their customs, traditions and the historical events they experienced.
``We got a lot of people coming through here. One guy was in here with his grandchild and said, he was standing right there in that spot when he heard about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy,'' Clark said. ``His grandkid stood there and cried with him.''
Clark has a photo, hanging in his home, of his mother on the front steps of the museum, he said. Talking about that photo brought tears to his eyes.
``This building meant a lot to my mother. I am a part of her. It means a lot to me,'' Clark said. ``Heritage meant a lot to our ancestors.''
Craig Lowry, county school board member, said his concern is to make sure the building is structurally sound.
``It's important to make sure to preserve artifacts and items that we have because, they are one of a kind,'' Lowry said. ``They (children) would lose, to me, part of their identity if these items were lost.
``These items are from 30, 40, 70 years ago, some more than 100 years. Just like everybody has a history, this is ours. Instead of somebody telling you about it. You can see it which is very important.''
Susi H. Hamilton, Natural and Cultural Resources secretary, expressed the importance of preserving the history of North Carolina through relics.
``It's not necessarily the first thing people think of in a disaster, but our cultural and historical treasures are also at risk following events such as floods or hurricanes,'' Hamilton said. ``This amazing team is trained to recover and restore artifacts of every kind after almost any type of disaster. I am so very proud of the vitally important work that they do in protecting our state's heritage.''
Information from: The Robesonian, http://www.robesonian.com
On Exhibit: Washington's Hair, Rib of Woman Killed in 1777
TICONDEROGA, N.Y. (AP) _ A display of Benedict Arnold's hair at Fort Ticonderoga this year proved so popular that curators dug into the museum's vast collection to see what other 18th century curiosities they could find.
Among the items they turned up: locks of George Washington's hair and a rib bone from a woman killed by British-allied American Indians during the Revolutionary War's 1777 Saratoga campaign.
Those artifacts, Arnold's hair and five other items make up ``Pieces of Eight: Curiosities from the Collection,'' a new exhibit opening Friday and running through April at the tourist attraction in the southeastern Adirondacks.
Curators say the rib bone came from Jane McCrea, who was engaged to a loyalist officer when she was killed near Saratoga. It's believed someone took the bone as a souvenir.
Navajo Tech Gets $1M for New Workforce Training Center
CROWNPOINT, N.M. (AP) _ More than $1 million is being awarded to Navajo Technical University to build a training center to help displaced workers from the energy sector develop new skills.
The Metrology and Materials Center at the Crownpoint campus will specialize in industries that include 3D metal printing, machining, robotics and advanced manufacturing.
The funding comes from the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration. Officials there estimate that the effort could attract $15 million in private investment.
U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan says it's important for Navajos have high-tech tools within their communities to train the next generation of workers.
U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich said the center has the potential to bolster job training across the region, which has been home for decades to oil and gas development and mining.
Tribal Official: Medical Marijuana Possession Still Illegal
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) _ A Cherokee Nation official says medical marijuana won't be legal on the Oklahoma-based tribe's property even though the state's voters approved use of the plant.
The Cherokee Phoenix reports Cherokee Nation Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo says the tribe must adhere to its own laws as well as federal regulations, and that Oklahoma law does not apply. Nimmo says possession and sale of cannabis remain illegal under tribal and federal law.
Nimmo says some of the tribe's funding is conditioned on prohibiting the use of marijuana in any form.
Oklahoma voters in June approved use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The state health department is accepting applications from potential patients, growers, dispensaries and caregivers.
Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation to Examine Poultry Operations
By KEN MILLER
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A new council will study the expansion of poultry operations in northeastern Oklahoma as some residents in the region complain of pollution from such facilities.
The Coordinating Council on Poultry Growth will be co-chaired by Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese and Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced the council's formation on Wednesday.
Critics of large poultry operations say the study is a good start, but that more must be done to reduce pollution from waste produced by chickens, which can get into the watershed.
``Talk is cheap; we want to see some action,'' Tahlequah resident Ed Brocksmith, a co-founder of the group Save The Illinois River, a watershed in the area, said. ``These are factory farms we're talking about. (We) see the dust and feathers, chicken feathers in swimming pools.''
Hill said she doesn't know how many birds are currently being grown in the area. But Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry records show about 200 permits have been issued in the past year for new houses that could hold more than a million birds, many with contractors of Simmons Foods.
In statement to The Associated Press, Simmons said it supports creation of the council.
``We care about the communities where our contract grower farmers operate and welcome efforts to address meaningful, science-based solutions, studies and research,'' according to the statement.
Officials with the governor's office, the Cherokee Nation and the attorney general's office say the council is not related to an unresolved 2005 lawsuit filed by then-state Attorney General Drew Edmondson against a dozen Arkansas poultry companies.
Edmondson, the Democratic nominee for governor, said he was not aware of the council until seeing media reports. He added: ``There was no reason to reach out to me. I'm not in elective office.''
The council is to include staff from the Cherokee Nation, the Oklahoma Department of Food, Forestry and Agriculture, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the Grand River Dam Authority, and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.
New Report Sheds Light on Reservation Hospital's Woes
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ A hospital serving the Rosebud Indian Reservation failed to give patients appropriate medical care or ensure their safety, including a man who died in the hospital after being pepper-sprayed and restrained, according to new federal reports.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently released inspection reports that detail why the federal agency threatened to pull critical funding this month from the Rosebud Indian Health Service hospital, The Argus Leader reported . The reports were compiled from an investigation conducted in July.
One incident cited involved a drunken 12-year-old girl who tried to hang herself while left alone. The report found that the patient wasn't property triaged and should've had a monitor throughout her visit. It also found that there was a faulty call button in her room.
Another incident involved a 35-year-old man who was hallucinating while on methamphetamine and died of a heart attack in the emergency room after being pepper-sprayed and restrained.
Hospital administrators said they take the report ``very seriously'' and have submitted an improvement plan.
Employees are now trained to test and monitor call lights every 12 hours and maintain a log of their use. Staff members have also reviewed restraint policies and protocols for treating minors. Employees will review high-risk cases within 24 hours of their occurrence, the proposal said.
The hospital's deficiencies identified in the inspections triggered the federal agency to issue a warning last week that the hospital will lose funding if it doesn't fix the problems by the end of the month. The hospital would be unable to bill Medicare and Medicaid if it fails to enact its improvement plan by the Aug. 30 deadline.
The notice comes more than two years after the hospital was cited for similar shortcomings, which resulted in the seven-month shut down of its emergency room and the closure of the facility's surgical and obstetrics and gynecology units.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com
Stolen Tomahawk Linked to Washington is Back, Displayed
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ A long-missing tomahawk given to a Seneca Indian leader by President George Washington in 1792 will go on display at the New York State Museum.
The Times-Union of Albany reports that the tomahawk given to the Seneca leader Cornplanter was stolen from the museum between 1947 and 1950. An anonymous collector returned the combination tomahawk and pipe to the Albany museum last month.
Meetings between Washington and Cornplanter in the 1790s led to the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, which established peace between the United States and the Iroquois Confederacy.
The tomahawk will be exhibited July 17 through Dec. 30.
Information from: Times Union, http://www.timesunion.com
Minnesota Tribe Seeks Farm Bill Funding
PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (AP) _ Minnesota Native American leaders are part of an initiative to bring more farm bill funding to Indian Country.
More than 30 tribes across the country have formed the Native Farm Bill Coalition, Minnesota Public Radio reported . Minnesota's Shakopee Mdewakanon Sioux Community is leading the effort. The National Congress of American Indians, the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative and the Intertribal Agriculture Council have partnered with the coalition.
``Indian tribes have been either ignored or overlooked or been the victim of policy changes since we can remember, that's just a fact of life,'' said Keith Anderson, vice chair of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
The lobbying effort is an outgrowth of programs to improve health and expand access to health food for Native Americans. The coalition illustrates a long term commitment to giving Indian tribes a louder voice, Anderson said.
``The effort of the Native Farm Bill Coalition represents the very first time such a concerted effort has been made on behalf of all of Indian Country and only Indian Country,'' said Zach Ducheneaux, of the Intertribal Agriculture Council.
The farm bill could help tribes strengthen their agriculture economy by funding projects that add value to livestock or crops produced by Indian farmers and ranchers, Ducheneaux said.
``There's really no part of a reservation community that the farm bill will not impact. Everything from the electricity to the water that you use, the food on the grocery store shelves, the buildings that you're going to house your community activities in,'' said Ducheneaux. ``It's absolutely critical that Indian Country realize how big of a player this could be in their game.''
The United States Department of Agriculture says more than 56,000 Native Americans operate farms and ranches across the U.S.
The new bill is expected to provide nearly $500 billion in funding over the next five years.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org
World War II Navajo Code Talker Dies at 92
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) _ A Navajo Code Talker who used his native language to confound the Japanese in World War II has died.
The Navajo Nation says Roy Hawthorne Sr. died Saturday. He was 92.
Hawthorne enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at 17 and became part of a famed group of Navajos who transmitted hundreds of messages in their language without error.
The code was never broken.
Hawthorne was one of the most visible survivors of the group. He appeared at public events and served as vice president of a group representing the men.
He never considered himself a hero.
Hawthorne later served with the U.S. Army.
He's survived by five children and more than a dozen grandchildren.
A funeral service is scheduled Friday.
Photo Credit: Our Navajo Code Talkers Facebook Page
Navajo Nation approves $2.4 million for veterans facility
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) _ The Navajo Nation has given approval to help fund a veterans facility in New Mexico that will prevent patients from having to travel far for care.
Navajo Nation council members voted 19-0 this week to give $2.4 million toward the construction of a service center for veterans in the community of Thoreau.
The center, which will be about 33 miles (53 kilometers) east of Gallup, will offer physical therapy as well as medical services.
Thoreau Chapter Veterans Committee Commander Lester Emerson says they will work with the state Department of Veterans Services to hire a doctor to be based there.
Emerson says the hope is that veterans will no longer have to make the two-hour journey to Albuquerque for medical services.
The facility also will have a space for events and meetings.
Navajo Nation latest to sue over opioid epidemic in US
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ One of the country's largest American Indian tribes is the latest to sue pharmaceutical companies and drug distributors, alleging their conduct caused the opioid crisis.
The Navajo Nation's lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees.
The tribe says American Indians have suffered disproportionately from opioid dependency or abuse, leading to death, family dysfunction, poverty and social despair.
The tribe says it has helped cover costs of treatment for opioid abuse, and for law enforcement and social services to respond to the epidemic.
One of the defendants denied the allegations. Others say they are working to help combat the opioid epidemic and have reported suspicious orders to the federal government.
Others declined to comment or did not reply to requests for comment.