NOT GUILTY: Native Journalist Jenni Monet cleared of #NoDAPL related charges

Update: This article has been corrected since it was first posted.
Jenni Monet, Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico, has been found not guilty of criminal trespassing which had been elevated to a class A misdemeanor weeks prior to her court date.

According to the Bismarck Tribune, South Central Judicial District Judge Thomas Schneider said journalist Jenni Monet complied with law enforcement orders while reporting on the demonstration and he doesn’t believe she knowingly broke the law.

Monet is an independent journalist who spent several months in North Dakota covering the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Monet reported for several media organizations throughout the protests at Standing Rock including Indian Country Today prior to its transfer of ownership. Other bylines by Monet are in association with The Center for Investigative Reporting, Yes! Magazine, PBS Newshour, High Country News and other outlets.

Monet, who was arrested while covering protests of the Pipeline in North Dakota, told Indian Country Today how she felt regarding the verdict.

“Judge Schneider, in delivering a not guilty plea, showed amazing courage to stand up for press freedom, the truth and every American’s right to know. While the verdict is a win for journalism, it’s also a reminder that the First Amendment belongs to all Americans including the hundreds of water protectors who faced arrest for speaking up in defense of honoring the Treaties,” said Monet.

She was detained and arrested on February 1 even though she had presented her Yes! Magazine press credentials to law enforcement officers.

Monet wrote in Indian Country Today about being denied a phone call and was detained for more than 30 hours. She also said that she and other Native American detainees were subjected to strip searches while other non-Native detainees were not.

Monet was awarded Columbia University’s Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award and the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation’s First Amendment Award in 2017.

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Former Senator Mark Begich jumps into Alaska governor race, creates a three way contest

Former Alaska Sen. Mark Begich jumped into the race for the governor of Alaska Friday. That means there will be a three-way contest this fall with a Democrat and a Republican, challenging Independent Gov. Bill Walker.

Begich picked as his running mate Debra Call, Dena’ina, a member of the Knik Tribal Council. She is the sixth Native American to run for the office of lieutenant governor and will compete with Alaska’s current office holder, Byron Mallott. Mallott, Tlingit, is also a Democrat.

Mark Begich will run for Alaska governor in the Democratic primary, according to his planned running mate

— KTVA 11 News (@ktva) June 1, 2018

Call told KTUU in Anchorage that she would run on team Begich. She said she had not met Begich before his invitation on Thursday.

Begich’s entry into the race will make a complicated November. A three-way race means it’s unlikely that any candidate will receive support from a majority of the state’s voters. Four years ago, Mallott was the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor but he stepped down from that call in order to run with Walker on a fusion ticket. The Walker-Mallott ticket had narrowly defeated the incumbent governor Sean Parnell by a little more than 2 percentage points.

A court ruled earlier this year that Walker could seek the Democratic nomination as an independent, but Begich’s entry into the campaign puts and end to that idea. Walker and Mallott will go straight to the November ballots as independents, provided that they get enough signatures from voters to qualify. Walker told the Associated Press that he has no interest in a destructive primary.

Walker told the Anchorage Daily News that independent voters are the majority. Four years ago he said he was the  little-known candidate who defeated the incumbent. “Now I’m sitting here as an incumbent,” Walker said. “We climbed that mountain before, and I’m comfortable with where we are.”

Mark Begich served in the U.S. Senate until he was defeated by Sen. Dan Sullivan in 2014. He has also been the mayor of Anchorage and is the son of the late U.S. Rep. Nick Begich Sr., who disappeared during a campaign flight in 1972.

Debra Call has been an Alaska Native leader in many capacities. She has been president of the Knik Tribal Council, with a membership in the Matanuska-Susitna area of over 4,000. She was also president and CEO of the Calista Heritage Foundation and is the former vice president of operations/HR at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Call has an MBA from Washington State University.

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter

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Native American Journalists Association gives top awards to Mary Pember and Mark Trahant

This Thursday morning, the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) has selected Mary Annette Pember as the recipient of the 2018 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award and Mark Trahant as the recipient of the 2018 NAJA Richard LaCourse Award.

According to NAJA, Pember was nominated by the NAJA-Medill selection committee for her lifetime of service to journalism and many years of dedication to NAJA as a longtime member and leader of the organization. Trahant was nominated for his Native elections coverage, and dedication to NAJA as a lifetime member and leader of the organization.

Here are details of the award and recipients as released by NAJA:

Mary Annette Pember named the 2018 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient by NAJA.

Mary Annette Pember

Mary Annette Pember is an independent journalist focusing on Native American issues. In her writing and photography she has covered subjects including the high rates of sexual assault among Native women, sex trafficking, health, impact of historical trauma on Native communities and environmental challenges on Native lands, federal policy issues as well as cultural and spiritual topics.

She is a past president and executive director of NAJA, and winner of several industry awards and fellowships from the International Center for Journalism, Women in Communications, The Associated Press, University of Southern California Annenberg School of Journalism, the Carter Center, The University of Maryland and others.

She is an enrolled member of the Red Cliff Band of Wisconsin Ojibwe tribe and currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her family.

A $5,000 cash prize will also be presented in partnership with the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University located in Evanston, Illinois.

Dr. Patty Loew will present the award on behalf of Medill during the NAJA Membership Luncheon and Business Meeting on Thursday, July 19 at the 2018 National Native Media Conference in Miami.

Members of the selection committee, including past winners, will present the award to Pember who will be a featured speaker for the event.

Mark Trahant named the 2018 NAJA Richard LaCourse Award recipient by NAJA.

Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He was appointed to lead the digital enterprise on March 1.

“Even though ink has been replaced by pixels, the task remains the same – to publish an informative daily account that’s comprehensive and adds context to the stories missing from the mainstream media,” Trahant said. “We have so many stories to tell. Our mission is simple but important: Solid, factual reporting. Great writing. Photography that inspires and records. Provide a real service to readers across Indian Country’s digital landscape.”

Trahant was recently elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He also hosts a weekly newsmagazine on FNX, “Wassaja.”

Trahant had been a professor at the University of North Dakota and the University of Alaska Anchorage. He has also taught at the University of Idaho and the University of Colorado.

Two recent projects of note: Last summer Trahant extensively chronicled the impact of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid on the Indian health system. He said he had planned on writing a book that summer, but instead wrote 85,000 words on health care in his blog. He has also been collecting information and lists about Native Americans running for elective office, with his data often being cited as a story idea among mainstream reporters.

Trahant reports and comments on events and trends on Facebook, Twitter (@TrahantReports) and other social media. He does a weekly audio commentary for Native Voice One.

He’s been a reporter for PBS’ Frontline series. The Frontline piece, “The Silence,” was about sexual abuse by priests in a Alaska native village. He also has been editor-in-residence at the University of Idaho in the spring of 2011 and again in 2012. He taught courses on social media, the American West and editorial writing. In 2009 and 2010 Trahant was a Kaiser Media Fellow writing about health care reform focused on programs the government already operates, such as the Indian Health Service. He was recently the Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Trahant is the former editor of the editorial page for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer where he chaired the daily editorial board, directed a staff of writers, editors and a cartoonist. He has also worked at The Seattle Times, Arizona Republic, The Salt Lake Tribune, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, the Navajo Times, Navajo Nation Today and the Sho-Ban News. Trahant is a citizen of Idaho’s Shoshone-Bannock Tribe and former president of the Native American Journalists Association.

The award will be presented during the 2018 National Native Media Awards Banquet on Saturday, July 21 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami. Trahant will be the featured speaker and has chosen to donate the accompanying $500 cash prize back to NAJA to benefit the 2018 Native American Journalism Fellowship.

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Kinder Morgan Woes – Trudeau: First Nations have no veto power; Tribal opponents declare war

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced Tuesday that the federal government will purchase the Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline — a controversial pipeline that runs from the Alberta oil sands to the country’s pacific coast — for $3.45 billion (C$4.5bn).

See related coverage: Canadian Government announces it will purchase Kinder Morgan Pipeline for 3.45 billion

The announcement, which caused a flurry of activity on social media and outrage from protestors on the ground, was also met by comments from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who gave an interview to the Financial Post stating First Nations people did not have veto power to block projects that cause environmental concerns.

Though the Canadian government recently adopted a United Nations resolution recognizing the right of Aboriginal groups to “free, prior and informed consent” on economic projects in their territories, Trudeau told the Financial Post that “Ottawa doesn’t recognize the unconditional right of First Nations to unilaterally block projects.”

“No, they don’t have a veto,” he said of the three major nations — the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh — who oppose Kinder Morgan.

Trudeau outlined that there are dozens of tribes along the Kinder Morgan Pipeline route who have signed more than $300 million in economic benefit agreements. He also acknowledged that protesters have the right to voice dissention, but they must do so within the letter of the law.

“…We’re a country of rule of law. We’re a country where we have processes for consultations. We have regular elections. We have ways of protesting to make your feelings heard, and that is all par for the course and that will happen… And that is something that is important in our national discourse as a country,” Trudeau said to the Financial Times.


More than 5,000 people protested in Vancouver on November 19, 2016 against a Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion that would triple capacity.

One First Nations opponent to the pipeline is Kanahus Manuel, from the Secwepemc Nation. Manuel, whose territory has 518 km of Kinder Morgan Pipeline running through it, says she feels the agreement of the Canadian government to purchase the pipeline is a declaration of war.

“They are declaring war on our people because we have said no. We have said no, no passage. You cannot bring this pipeline through our lands,” she said to IPolitics. “I’m willing to go into a death, with my death song, into battle against Kinder Morgan right now.”

Manuel, who was arrested at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest at Standing Rock, isn’t alone.

At a press conference at the Assembly of First Nations on May 2, Squamish Nation council member Khelsilem, echoed Manuel’s sentiment, stating, “Our people are willing to put our lives on the line.”

The opposing sentiments have Canadian politicians concerned. Nathan Cullen, a Canadian federal politician, told IPolitics he was worried the plan could escalate tensions between the government and opponents of the pipeline.

“I think rather than make things the same or better, it’s made things worse,” he said. “That’s my concern, is that this is Mr. Trudeau ramping up the tension and picking a fight that I don’t think I can win… I have faith in people who are peacefully protesting because they’ve been able to do it for this long, but Mr. Trudeau has just turned the temperature up dramatically.”

Not so fast Justin Trudeau

In a challenge to Trudeau’s statements regarding First Nations have no say in environmentally-based decisions and federal policies, the Indigenous Rights Bill (C-2-62) has just passed in House of Commons.

As just reported in the CBC, the Indigenous Rights Bill (C-2-62) which is aimed at ensuring Canada’s laws are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, has earned the approval of the House of Commons. The bill was voted on and won by a margin of 206 to 79 and is now en route to the Senate.

A First Nations New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Romeo Saganash told the CBC he believes his legislation is the most important bill Parliament has considered in a long time. He says Canadians believe it is now finally time to formally recognize that Indigenous rights are also human rights.

Saganash, who spent 10 years in a residential school, said to the CBC that rather than spend his life being bitter about that forced experience, he set out to reconcile with the people who put him there — and he says his bill reflects that same spirit of reconciliation.

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#NativeVote18 Candidates look for party nominations in elections set for Tuesday

Voters in eight states go to the polls Tuesday to select their party’s nominees. There are #NativeVote18 candidates on the ballots in California, New Mexico, Montana, and South Dakota.

California and South Dakota both have unusual election twists.

California voters will pick the “top two” candidates regardless of party to go on to the November ballot. That process often eliminates third party candidates and it could even result in matches where two Democrats or two Republicans face off in November instead of one from each party. A huge concern about a “top two” primary is that the primary turnout is quite low and yet the results eliminate voter alternatives in November. Independent voters are especially unlikely to participate, for example.

Erik Rydberg, Pomo, is a Green Party candidate for Secretary of State. In that job he says he would protect and improve the election process. “Independents are the majority of registered voters in America,” he writes. “I will make sure all county registers are thoroughly trained in assisting Independents and all registered voters on which ballots they need to vote for the candidate they want.”

James Ramos is a San Bernardino County Supervisor and the former chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Ramos is in a three-way race for the California Assembly in the 40th district running as a Democrat. “I was born and raised in this community,” he says in his campaign materials. “As a tribal leader, a business owner, a community leader and as a County Supervisor, I have worked to make it a better place – targeting corruption and bringing transparency to the County Board while balancing the budget and creating a reserve.”

Ramos has raised serious money in this campaign, more than $500,000. “I am proud of the strong showing of support from throughout the Inland Empire,” he said in a news release. “What makes me most proud is the support that I’m getting from friends, neighbors and constituents who know me and trust that I am the best choice for the Assembly.”

Another candidate for the California Assembly, Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Wintu, is in a four-way primary for two slots. She is running as a Democrat and faces another Democrat, plus one Republican and one independent.

South Dakota also has an unusual primary format. Democrats and independents can vote in the Democratic primary, but you must be a registered Republican to vote in that primary.

Candidates for the South Dakota legislature face voters in a June 5 primary. However candidates for statewide office must campaign for support from party delegates. These delegates decide on the nominee at the state convention on June 15 and 16 in Sioux Falls. Thus Tatewin Means will have to win a Democratic nomination for Attorney General among party activists, not voters.

In South Dakota Senate District 1 there are three Democrats running for the seat, Allison Renville, Hunkpapa Lakota, and Thomas Bisek and Susan Wismer. Renville recently posted on Facebook: “I went to ceremony where we were told to ‘do what we can to ensure a good life for ourselves and our people.’ Those words have really stuck with me, and I hope our people can see the importance of participating in the June 5th primary. It’s our time as allies to stand up and rise to the occasion, we must change from the inside out. I believe that change begins with a seat at the table … together we can accomplish anything we set our minds to, let’s do this!”

Faith Spotted Eagle, Yankton, is running for the South Dakota House in district 21 against two other candidates. Spotted Eagle is the only legislative candidate in the country who has received a vote for President of the United States in the electoral college.

She recently told The Mitchell Republic that she finds common ground with her constituents in the district. “The rural nature of South Dakota is so enduring … We have something so old-fashioned good.”

There are also contested primary races in District 27, a district that includes Pine Ridge. In the Senate, a long time legislator, Jim Bradford, is being challenged by Red Dawn Foster. That seat has been held by Sen. Kevin Killer. (Foster’s Facebook includes her picture with Sen. Killer.) On the House side there are three candidates, Nicole Little White Man, Peri Pourier and Margaret Ross. All the candidates are Oglala Lakota.

In District 26A, the district that includes Mission, Rep. Shawn Bordeaux is challenged by Troy “Luke” Lunderman in the Democratic primary. Both men are Rosebud and no Republican is on the ballot, so the winner of the primary will win the election.

New Mexico voters will narrow down candidates for Congress. On the Republican side, in the 2nd congressional district, Gavin Clarkson, Choctaw, is competing against three other for the GOP nomination. Clarkson was recently endorsed by the Coalition of Large Tribes.

Clarkson said he is “gaining traction among non-Indians for the elimination of dual taxation in Indian Country.” He recently told The Las Cruces Sun-News that his plan could mean an additional $2 billion in economic stimulus for the state.

In the state’s 1st congressional district, the action is on the Democrat’s side. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, is locked into a tight race. The most recent polls were within the margin of error with nearly a third of voters undecided. This week one of Haaland’s challengers, Pat Davis, dropped out of the race and endorsed Haaland. He told KOAT TV that it’s “not my year” and that he hoped to bring progressive voters together.  “Progressive voters were undecided between Deb and I, because we both can bring so many of the similar characteristics to this race,” he told the station. “I think we make a good team from city council to Congress and that’s the message we’re telling them.”

In the Northwest corner of New Mexico, voters will pick the region’s member of the Public Regulation Commission. The agency regulates utility companies, telecommunications, pipeline safety, and transportation. The incumbent commissioner from District 4 is Lynda Lovejoy. She is being challenged by Janene Yazzie and Theresa Becenti-Aguilar. All three candidates are Navajo.

There is a contest primary for the New Mexico House in District 13. Incumbent Patricia A. Roybal Caballero, Piro Manso Tiwa, faces two challengers. The district includes Albuquerque. Democrat Doreen Wonda Johnson will also face Kevin Mitchell in the District 5 primary for the second-straight election cycle. Both candidates are Navajo. There is no Republican in the race, so the winner will most likely be elected in November.

New Mexico has a closed primary. So voters must be registered members of the party in order to cast a primary ballot.

Montana also has its primary on June 5. The state began early voting in April and this cycle as many as three-quarters of the votes are expected to come from mail-in ballots. Nearly one hundred thousand people have already voted. The Montana primary process is open, so voters can pick a party ballot before voting and there are three choices, Democrats, Republicans and the Green Party.

There are more #NativeVote18 candidates running in Montana than any other state, 18. Most will not face a primary contest.

However in Billings, Jade Bahr, Northern Cheyenne, is running in a contested primary. She recently told The Billings Gazette: “As I have been out knocking doors in House District 50, I have met a lot of young families. Many struggle with the cost of childcare and some can’t afford to send their kids to preschool. Publicly-funded preschool is the reality in 45 states. Pre-K improves educational outcomes and booms local economies.”

In Great Falls, Garrett Lankford, Little Shell Chippewa, is running in a three-way race for the Democratic nomination. And in Missoula, Patrick Weasel Head, Blackfeet, Gros Ventre, and Assiniboine, is in a four-way race for the party nod. And Matt Bell, Nakoda and Aaniiih, is challenging an incumbent legislator.

Nationally there are 102 Native Americans running for state legislatures, another 15 running for Congress, and 16 campaigning for state offices. This week marks the high water mark for candidate totals.

June 5 primary #NativeVote18 (Some candidates did not have there tribal affiliations listed)

California Secretary of State Erik Rydberg Pomo Green California State Assembly Caleen Sisk Winnemem Wintu D California State Assembly James Ramos San Manuel Band D Montana State House Jade Bahr Northern Cheyenne D Montana State House Eldena Bear Don’t Walk Crow D Montana State House Barbara Bessette D Montana State Senate Susan Webber Blackfeet D Montana State House Sharon Stewart-Pergoy Crow D Montana State House Rae Peppers Crow D Montana State House Keaton Sunchild Chippewa Cree Tribe D Montana State House Matt Bell Nakoda and Aaniiih D Montana State House Bert Pezzarossi D Montana State House Tyson Running Wolf Blackfeet D Montana State House Patrick Weasel Head Blackfeet, Gros Ventre, and Assiniboine D Montana State House K. Webb Galbreath Blackfeet R Montana State House Marvin Weatherwax Jr. Blackfeet D Montana State House Garrett Lankford Little Shell Chippewa D Montana State House Shane Morigeau Confederated Salish & Kootenai D Montana State House Jonathan Windy Boy Chippewa Cree D Montana State House Adrian Owen Wagner Blackfeet Green Montana State House Bruce Meyers Chippewa Cree R New Mexico Congress 1st Deb Haaland Laguna Pueblo D New Mexico Congress 2nd Gavin Clarkson Choctaw R New Mexico State House Alexis Jimenez Comanche D New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Lynda Lovejoy Navajo D New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Janene Yazzie Navajo D New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Theresa Becenti-Aguilar Navajo D New Mexico State House Georgene Louis Acoma D New Mexico State House Patricia Royball Caballero Piro Manso Tiwa D New Mexico State House Doreen Wonda Johnson Navajo D New Mexico State House Derrick Lente Sandia & Isleta Pueblo D New Mexico State House Kevin Mitchell Navajo D New Mexico State Senate John Pinto Navajo D New Mexico State Senate Benny Shendo Jemez Pueblo D New Mexico State House Nick Salazar Ohkay Owingeh D New Mexico State House Anthony Allison Navajo D New Mexico State House Sharon Clahchischilliage Navajo R South Dakota State Senate Allison Renville Hunkpapa Lakota D South Dakota State Senate Alli Moran Cheyenne River D South Dakota State House Faith Spotted Eagle Yankton D South Dakota State Senate Red Dawn Foster Oglala D South Dakota State House Peri Pourier Oglala D South Dakota State House Margaret Ross Oglala D South Dakota State House Nicole Little White Man Oglala D South Dakota State House Shawn Bordeaux Rosebud D South Dakota State Senate Troy Heinert Rosebud D South Dakota State House Troy “Luke” Lunderman Rosebud D South Dakota State Senate Jim Bradford Rosebud D South Dakota State House Tamara St. John Sisseton Wahpeton R

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter

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#NoDAPL Water Protector Michael “Little Feather” Giron Sentenced to 36 months in prison

Michael “Little Feather” Giron was today sentenced to a 36 month federal prison term

pursuant to a non-cooperating plea agreement, becoming the first Water Protector arrested in relation to the DAPL pipeline resistance at Standing Rock to be sentenced to a substantial prison term and the first of the federal cases to conclude.

The Water Protector Legal Collective told Indian Country Today that the use of fire to commit a felony was dismissed and both sides recommended a sentence of 36 months for the charge of civil disorder.

Though “Little Feather” Giron received 36 months, the judge did have the authority to go as high as 60 months. Little Feather has been incarcerated since March 9, 2017. He will be credited with time served during the past 15 months.

“The sentence imposed today reflects the judge’s recognition of the positive changes that Little Feather has made in his life due to his time at Standing Rock. It is an endorsement of all the progress and this new chance he has for a spiritual life in connection with his ancestors and his relatives,” said Little Feather’s attorney Peter Schoenburg.

Little Feather is from the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation. He was raised in Santa Barbara, California.

During the Standing Rock encampments, he served as Akicita — or those selected to keep order — in service to elders and the camp community. During the hearing today six witnesses spoke passionately about how valued and missed Little Feather is in his family and community.

Little Feather’s wife Leoyla Cowboy said: “The Standing Rock movement lit so many spirits on fire all over the world – inspired by the youth and the prayer camp that grew into the largest gathering of indigenous nations in history. It was a pivotal moment that called many of us, from youth to elders, to become active in our communities, rekindle relationships with family, go back to school, stay sober – taking steps to carry this work forward.

“We are so grateful to finally be able to start counting the days until Little Feather will return home to his family and community and we appreciate all the amazing support we have received.”

“The legacy of genocide and broken treaties has shown us that when indigenous people stand up to protect the water and the land from the colonization of resources, we will always be met with repression and violence. This struggle continues.”

The Water Protector Legal Collective provides on-the-ground legal representation and coordination for the Water Protectors who were engaged in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

For more information visit  

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Interior and Park Service: $60 Million in Historic Preservation Grants to States and Tribes

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service (NPS) today announced $48.9 million in historic preservation grants for U.S. states, territories, and partnering nations, and $11.4 million for historic preservation grants to 175 tribal historic preservation offices.

“The Department of the Interior and the National Park Service are committed to preserving U.S. and tribal history and heritage,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Fees collected from drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf help fund important conservation tools like these grants. Through valuable partnerships we are able to assist communities and tribes in ensuring the diverse historic places, culture and traditions that make our country unique are protected for future generations.”

Administered by the National Park Service, these funds are appropriated annually by Congress from the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). Since its inception in 1977, the HPF has provided more than$1.8 billion in grants to states, tribes, local governments, and non-profit organizations. Funding is supported by Outer Continental Shelf oil lease revenues, not tax dollars, with intent to mitigate the loss of a non-renewable resource to benefit the preservation of other irreplaceable resources.

“The National Park Service works closely with states and tribes to preserve our nation’s diverse history and cultural heritage,” National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith said. “These grants help promote historic preservation at the community level, including funding much needed restoration and maintenance to these special places.”

The HPF grants fund preservation programs at state offices and ensure support of local preservation with a required 10% pass-through to Certified Local Governments via competitive subgrants. Examples of state and local work accomplished with this annual funding include:

  • After Hurricane Matthew, the Georgia Historic Preservation Division coordinated an agency-wide initiative to train employees on the national Incident Command System and as a result, assumed a leadership role following Hurricane Irma in conducting agency-wide after-action reviews for regional incidents, and piloted a report on historic preservation response that was distributed to Georgia policy makers.
  • The Montana Historical Society leveraged National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, state, and private funding to overhaul its statewide geodatabase of cultural resources, which now holds over 59,000 historic and pre-contact sites and 37,000 survey and cultural resource studies. The data will speed the review and compliance process associated with federal projects.
  • The Massachusetts Historical Commission completed a historic context focused on resources associated with Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans in the city of Boston, which has led to National Register listing these underrepresented resources in New England.

The HPF grants fund tribal preservation programs and assist Tribes in the preservation of their cultural heritage and promote the protection of historically significant sites. Examples of tribal efforts and accomplishments with this annual funding include:

  • Funding for the annual Cultural Hualapai River Monitoring Trip by the Hualapai Tribal Historic Preservation Office in Arizona supports education outreach programs. Each year the trip engages youth and elders to monitor vegetation, archaeological sites, and traditional cultural places, and discuss traditional ecological knowledge about the Grand Canyon.
  • The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians Tribal Historic Preservation Office in Wisconsin is working on a site monitoring schedule and developing a management plan for 31 historic maple sugarbush sites where Ojibwe families moved each spring and camped for the production of maple syrup.
  • Four partner Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, the Narragansett Tribe, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), the Mashantucket (Eastern) Pequot, and the Mohegan, collaboratively consulted with federal agencies on federal undertakings where ceremonial stone landscapes were in danger of impacts. The result was submission of a National Register of Historic Places draft nomination entitled “Indigenous American Ceremonial Stone Landscapes of the Northeast.”

For more information about the National Park Service historic preservation programs and grants, please visit

State Historic Preservation Office Grants

State   Amount State  Amount Alabama  $     858,103 Montana  $     817,809 Alaska  $  1,062,416 Nebraska  $     818,251 American Samoa  $     399,210 Nevada  $     775,515 Arizona  $     895,168 New Hampshire  $     640,455 Arkansas  $     783,535 New Jersey  $     967,486 California  $  1,579,932 New Mexico  $     820,716 Colorado  $     925,024 New York  $  1,436,726 Connecticut  $     763,826 North Carolina  $     969,074 Delaware  $     541,155 North Dakota  $     705,578 District of Columbia  $     538,039 Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands  $     414,877 Florida  $  1,082,678 Ohio  $  1,162,212 Federated States of Micronesia  $     429,730 Oklahoma  $     866,119 Georgia  $     953,493 Oregon  $     903,609 Guam  $     413,040 Palau  $     249,048 Hawaii  $     591,360 Pennsylvania  $  1,242,810 Idaho  $     760,515 Puerto Rico  $     666,772 Illinois  $  1,203,263 Rhode Island  $     595,644 Indiana  $     958,392 South Carolina  $     790,910 Iowa  $     884,264 South Dakota  $     730,843 Kansas  $     877,307 Tennessee  $     887,274 Kentucky  $     848,523 Texas  $  1,408,576 Louisiana  $     864,288 Utah  $     804,018 Maine  $     735,596 Vermont  $     590,381 Republic of the Marshall Islands  $     249,048 Virginia  $     935,975 Maryland  $     831,006 Virgin Islands  $     419,485 Massachusetts  $     959,479 Washington  $     965,815 Michigan  $  1,170,481 West Virginia  $     732,959 Minnesota  $     986,092 Wisconsin  $     995,082 Mississippi  $     773,236 Wyoming  $     713,890 Missouri  $     978,892         Total  $48,925,000

Tribal Historic Preservation Office Grants

Tribe           Amount Absentee Shawnee Tribe


Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians


Aroostook Band of Micmacs


Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians


Bay Mills Indian Community


Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria


Big Pine Paiute Tribe of Owens Valley


Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians of the Big Valley Rancheria


Bishop Paiute Tribe


Blackfeet Nation


Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe of Indians


Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians


Bridgeport Indian Colony


Buena Vista Rancheria Me Wuk Indians of California


Burns Paiute Tribe


Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma


Cahuilla Band of Indians


Catawba Indian Nation


Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria


Cherokee Nation


Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes


Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe


Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation


Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana


Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma


Citizen Potawatomi


Coeur d’Alene Tribe


Colorado River Indian Tribes of the Colorado River Indian Reservation


Comanche Nation


Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Nation


Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation


Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation


Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation


Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw


Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Indian Community of Oregon


Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation


Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon


Coquille Indian Tribe


Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana


Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians


Crow Creek Sioux Tribe


Crow Tribe of Indians


Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians


Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians


Eastern Shawnee of Oklahoma


Elk Valley Rancheria


Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians


Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria


Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe


Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa


Forest County Potawatomi Community


Fort Belknap Indian Community


Fort Independence Indian Community of Paiute Indians of the Fort Independence Indian Reservation


Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes


Gila River Indian Community


Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa


Ho-Chunk Nation


Hoopa Valley


Hopland Band of Pomo Indians


Hualapai Tribe


Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska


Jena Band of Choctaw Indians


Jicarilla Apache Nation


Karuk Tribe


Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of Stewarts Point Rancheria


Keweenaw Bay Indian Community


Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin


Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians


Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians


Leech Lake Band of Chippewa Indians


Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians


Lower Sioux Indian Community


Lummi Nation


Makah Tribe


Mashantucket Western Pequot Tribe


Mechoopda (Chico Rancheria)


Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin


Mescalero Apache Tribe


Miami Tribe of Oklahoma


Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians


Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians


Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut


Morongo Band of Mission Indians


Muscogee (Creek) Nation


Narragansett Indian Tribe


Navajo Nation


Nez Perce Tribe of Indians


Nooksack Tribe


Northern Arapaho Tribe


Northern Cheyenne Tribe


Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potowatomi


Oglala Sioux Tribe


Omaha Tribe of Nebraska


Oneida Nation of Wisconsin


Organized Village of Kake


Osage Nation


Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma


Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma


Pala Band of Mission Indians


Passamaquoddy Tribe


Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma


Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Pechanga Reservation


Penobscot Nation


Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians


Pinoleville Pomo Nation


Pit River Tribe


Poarch Band of Creek Indians


Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians


Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma


Ponca Tribe of Nebraska


Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe


Prairie Island Indian Community in the State of Minnesota


Pueblo of Acoma


Pueblo of Isleta


Pueblo of Jemez


Pueblo of Laguna


Pueblo of Pojoaque


Pueblo of San Felipe


Pueblo of San Ildefonso


Pueblo of Santa Ana


Pueblo of Santa Clara


Pueblo of Tesuque


Pueblo of Zuni


Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe


Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma


Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa


Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians


Reno Sparks Indian Colony


Rosebud Sioux Tribe of Indians


Round Valley Indian Tribe


Saginaw Chippewa


Samish Indian Nation


San Carlos Apache Tribe


Santee Sioux Tribe


Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe


Seminole Tribe of Florida


Seneca Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma


Seneca Nation of Indians


Sherwood Valley Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians of California


Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians


Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation


Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate


Skokomish Indian Tribe


Spirit Lake Tribe of Fort Totten


Spokane Tribe of Indians


Squaxin Island Tribe


St. Regis Mohawk


Standing Rock Sioux Tribe


Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians


Stockbridge-Munsee Community


Suquamish Tribe


Susanville Indian Rancheria


Swinomish Indian Tribal Community


Thlopthlocco Tribal Town


Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation (Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara Nation)


Timbisha Shoshone Tribe


Tohono O’odham Nation


Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation


Tunica-Biloxi Indians of Louisiana


Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa


Twenty-nine Palms Band of Mission Indians


United Auburn Indian Community of the Auburn Rancheria


Upper Sioux Community


Ute Mountain Ute


Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)


Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California


White Earth Band of Minnesota Chippewa


White Mountain Apache Tribe


Wichita and Affiliated Tribes


Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska


Wiyot Tribe


Wyandotte Nation


Yankton Sioux Tribe


Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation


Yurok Tribe


Total              $11,485,000

The post Interior and Park Service: $60 Million in Historic Preservation Grants to States and Tribes appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Join AMERIND Risk & NAIHC in San Diego for Educational Networking Forum

Excitement is building for the annual powerhouse event co-hosted by AMERIND Risk and the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC.) Join leaders of Native strong organizations and representatives in Tribal government, business and housing from across the nation at the 2018 AMERIND Risk | NAIHC Annual Convention & Trade Show in San Diego, California!

Join AMERIND Risk & NAIHC in San Diego for Educational Networking Forum

Register now to partake in three days featuring dynamic speakers, educational training sessions and unparalleled networking. Act now: The combined event is just around the corner, May 30 – June 1, 2018. The host hotel is sold out, but registration is still open. Please view hotels within the host hotel vicinity.

“AMERIND Risk looks forward to the upcoming joint annual convention as we chart new directions in this dynamic environment. We look forward to seeing you in San Diego!” said Derek Valdo (Pueblo of Acoma), AMERIND Risk CEO.

From training sessions on “AMERIND Loss Control” to “Cyber Liability” and “Commercial General Liability,” AMERIND Risk will cover relevant and trending topics of concern in Tribal government, business and housing. AMERIND experts educate your team on insurance procedures in “Understanding your Claims Process” and “Understanding your Managed Housing Underwriting Process,” as well as tackle critical safety matters in the “Active Shooter” response session.

Teaming up with the NAIHC makes accessing critical updates and information about Tribal housing easier and fun.

Tony Walters, Executive Director of NAIHC, emphasized: “This years’ meeting is important, as our members will determine NAIHC’s priorities for the next two years as they elect a new Board of Directors Chairperson. Additionally, as Congress has increased funding for Tribal housing programs for the [first] time in nearly a decade, it’s vital that our members get exposed to new successful projects and best practices through our breakout sessions.”

AMERIND Risk | NAIHC Annual Convention & Trade Show attendees are also encouraged to participate in the NAIHC Golf Event Fundraiser at Sycuan Golf Resort in El Cajon, California, on May 29.

AMERIND Risk and NAIHC would like to thank all sponsors of the AMERIND Risk | NAIHC Convention & Tradeshow, including premiere sponsors Tribal Business Journal, Wells Fargo, BOK Financial, Fannie Mae and the Cherokee Nation, and additional sponsors: AARP, Freddie Mac, Travois and Virtus.

Please contact Nancy Harjo Serna for any questions on sponsorship or exhibitor opportunities 505) 404-5000 or or visit

About AMERIND Risk: Tribes Protecting Tribes. AMERIND Risk’s purpose is to create affordable and sustainable insurance products and services for Indian Country. AMERIND Risk was founded 31 years ago in response to the lack of services in rural Tribal communities. AMERIND Risk is the only 100% Tribally owned and operated insurance provider committed to Indian Country. AMERIND provides property, liability, and workers’ compensation insurance for Tribes, Tribal governments, Tribal businesses, as well as individual property coverage and employee benefits. AMERIND Risk is also helping Tribes obtain state of the art broadband connectivity, through its AMERIND Critical Infrastructure (ACI) division. For more information, visit

About the National American Indian Housing Council: The NAIHC is the only national organization representing the housing interests of Native people who reside in Indian communities, Alaska Native villages, and on Native Hawaiian homelands. The NAIHC is composed of 271 members representing 463 Tribes and housing organizations. NAIHC promotes and supports Native housing entities in its efforts to provide culturally relevant, quality, affordable housing on behalf of Native people. For more information about NAIHC, go to

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Canadian Government announces it will purchase Kinder Morgan Pipeline for 3.45 billion US

The Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau has just announced to reporters that they will purchase the Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline — a controversial pipeline that runs from the Alberta oil sands to the country’s pacific coast — for $3.45 billion (C$4.5bn).

The pipeline expansion will triple the capacity of pipelines in place to ship oil extracted from Alberta to the Canadian Rockies to nearly 890,000 barrels a day. The expansion would also create a seven-fold increase in the number of oil tankers in an area already subject to environmental concerns.

“The federal government has reached an agreement with Kinder Morgan to purchase the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, and infrastructure related to the Trans Mountain expansion project,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters at a press conference.

“So our message today is simple: when we are faced with an exceptional situation that puts jobs at risk, that puts our international reputation on the line, our government is prepared to take action,” he said.

The pipeline has already received tremendous opposition from protesters to include indigenous residents in Canada. Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs told The Guardian in December 2016. “The marches and rallies will intensify. It will become more litigious, it will become more political and the battle will continue.”

“Let’s be clear,” said Caitlyn Vernon of the Sierra Club of British Columbia. “Prime minister Trudeau has picked a fight with British Columbians by approving Kinder Morgan – and it starts now. The Kinder Morgan pipeline will not be built. Not on our watch.”

In addition to previous opposition, there have also been protests on the ground as well as online by concerned indigenous voices.

Matt Rahson’karaké:tas‏, Mohawk, @ThunderingElk on Twitter, was one of those opposing voices. He wrote on Monday, “Brian Mulroney and Robert Bourassa learned the hard way – maybe it is time we remind Junior Trudeau just how dangerous it is to advocate for a future of drinking oil-laced water, or toxified food, and land that can’t be safely used by humans after repeated spills.”

Brian Mulroney and Robert Bourassa Learned the hard way – maybe it is time we remind Junior Trudeau Just how dangerous it is to advocate for a future of drinking Oil laced water, or toxified Food, and Land that can’t be safely used by humans after repeated spills

— Matt Rahson’karaké:tas (@ThunderingElk) May 29, 2018

Trudeau said the approval of the project was the best option for all Canadians. “This is a decision based on rigorous debate, on science and evidence. We have not been and will not be swayed by political argument, be they local, or regional or national,” he said. “We have made this decision because we are convinced it is safe for BC, and it is the right one for Canada.”

According to Reuters, Canada will also offer federal loan guarantees to ensure construction continues through the 2018 season as part of the deal with the company, a unit of Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc.

A map of the route from

Though Kinder Morgan has touted publicly it’s 43 mutual agreements with Indigenous groups across Canada, Bonaparte Indian Band Chief Ryan Day told HuffPost Canada the debate over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is breaking down relationships between Indigenous groups.

Bonaparte is one of 17 bands that make up the Secwepemc nation — and for 518 kilometers, more than half of the project’s route — the new pipeline will go through Secwepemc’s traditional territory.

“We are downstream from the pipeline, so it certainly will impact us … However, we’ve kind of left it up to directly affected upstream folks to engage more directly,” Day said to HuffPost.

Bonaparte says because his community is dealing with poverty, Kinder Morgan is a solution to alleviate that poverty.

Ernie Crey, chief of Cheam First Nation — whose nation of 547 people has an unemployment rate of 14.3 percent — has become a supporter of the pipeline because it will bring a “laundry list” of opportunity for the Stó:lō nation to include monetary support and work experience that tribal members can bring with them to future jobs.

“The benefits and the money that will flow from that will put this community in good stead for generations to come,” Crey told HuffPost Canada.

Crey said environmental groups were misrepresenting the facts.

“If you were to believe some of these green groups and their allies, you would think that Ian Anderson, the head of Kinder Morgan Canada, drove out on to this reserve, found me, rolled down his car window, handed a check to me and said, ‘There you go, chief. Now I do enjoy your support for my pipeline, right chief?’” Crey said.

Coldwater Indian Band Chief Lee Spahan — whose reserve would see a new pipeline built over a drinking water aquifer for his tribe — says he has no intention of allowing the pipeline.

“If we have to, it’ll be our Standing Rock,” he told APTN. “For us it’s not about the politics, but the future of our community and ensuring we have access to clean, safe water.”

Tuesday morning in a release, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released the below statement following today’s announcement by the Government of Canada to purchase the TransMountain pipeline.

“Canada committed to honouring the UN Declaration and the right to free, prior and informed consent. First Nations have different positions on this project but they all agree and insist that their rights be respected, upheld and honoured by the Crown, and that includes the right to free, prior and informed consent. The onus is on the Crown to honour this duty, and that has not yet happened. One step is to bring First Nations together to have this essential dialogue.

First Nations have for centuries used our own protocols and traditional ways to solve problems and broker solutions where we are on different sides of an issue. Canada must work with First Nations and respect our rights regarding our lands and our lives.”

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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#NativeVote18 Not just a political ad – Candidates are changing the very image of Native people on TV

Here’s one way that Native politicians have already won this election: Stereotypes are shattered every time a campaign commercial is produced and aired on television or distributed online.

Native American images are mostly absent from commercial television and then when they do show up it’s the standard character list of drunks, beautiful maidens, stoic (or wise) warriors, and magical medicine men. As Jonathan Joss told Mashable a couple of years ago: “In my career, I have played a drunk, I have played a holy man, I’ve played an Indian on horseback … It hasn’t been until the last 15 years of my career that I’ve been able to wear a nice suit.” Joss played casino executive Ken Hotate in Parks and Recreation.

That’s why political campaign commercials represent an entirely new discourse, one that gives viewers a richer, more complex account of contemporary Native people.

“My full name is Tatuye Topa Najin Win,” Tatewin Means writes in an open letter to South Dakota voters. “I am Sisitonwan Dakota, Oglala Lakota, and Ihanktonwan Nakota. My mother is Peggy Phelps, she is Sisitonwan Dakota. My father is the late Russell Means, he is Oglala Lakota, and Ihanktonwan Nakota.”

Means’ campaign commercial — and this must be a first — has two versions, one in Lakota and one in English. So far both are online. South Dakota does not have a primary for statewide races. Instead nominations will be decided at the Democratic Party convention starting June 15 in Sioux Falls.

Means’ campaign commercial — English Version

Means’ campaign commercial — Lakota Version

But think about a general campaign and imagine the people of South Dakota consuming new kinds of Native American images. This is a story that will help them reimagine their own place in the world because they see a professional Native woman who is clearly qualified for the state’s top legal job. In fact, you could argue she’s more qualified because of life experiences and challenges that another South Dakotan could never have even imagined. Mind. Blown.

Means eloquently makes her own case: “I am running for Attorney General because I know I am the best suited to lead South Dakota in a new direction. I graduated from Stanford University, the University of Minnesota Law School and earned a Masters from Oglala Lakota College.”

Paulette Jordan is also changing the image of a Native American woman in Idaho. She is not using campaign videos in her bid for governor because she has something better, free media. There are dozens of stories by national media. The most recent was on ABC News that said the Coeur d’Alene tribal member “was birthed into politics” by a family legacy, “a quiet and peaceful ranch surrounded by wildlife, bluegrass, and elders who she describes as self-sufficient, full of wisdom and teachings that she has carried along with her in life.”

This is an image Idaho is not used to seeing. Or as Jordan said in her ABC interview: “We’re breaking one barrier after another. I want to inspire (young women) to do more, feel emboldened to take on leadership roles. I want more young women to feel strong.”

Paulette Jordan also appeared on Fox News

Indigeneity is a theme that transcends tribes, and regions, this political season.

Kaniela Ing is running for the U.S. House from Hawaii. His commercial recalls his struggle as a young man working in the pineapple fields where he got his “first calluses” and “first paycheck.”

In the commercial, Ing clearly articulates his Native identity and why it’s important to Hawaii. He also told Mic: “When you’re Hawaiian in politics, they tell you to avoid that part of your identity … Hawaiians aren’t reliable voters. Folks who are reliable voters do not really empathize with indigenous struggles here. So, they say, ‘Don’t use your Hawaiian name. Don’t talk about Hawaiian issues.’ But you know, I’m defying that. I’m gonna do me. Throughout my career, it’s been refreshing for a lot of folks that I’m not running from [my] identity.”

New Mexico Republican Gavin Clarkson, Choctaw, does not have a produced video, but the campaign touts a video with his passionate defense of gun rights. He says the 2nd Amendment does not grant gun rights because it’s a God-given right to defend people and property. “Schools are soft targets, just like airplanes were soft targets. But after 9/11 we didn’t go on a nationwide hunt to ban box-cutters. We put armed air marshals on airplanes and there hasn’t been a single armed hijacking since we put armed air marshals on airplanes.” School shootings, he said, happen in gun-free zones. In the video Clarkson argues that teachers — and he is one — should be able to carry weapons to defend themselves and the students in the classroom. There are four candidates, including Clarkson, running in the GOP primary on June 5.

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See who Gun Owners believe has the Energy to Empower New Mexico and protect their rights…

Posted by Gavin Clarkson for Congress on Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Oklahoma Republican Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, has not produced any videos yet this year. However a potential competitor in his district, Democrat Jason Nichols has one that starts with a reference to his Oklahoma roots and Cherokee citizenship.

This race is extraordinary because there are three tribal citizens running, the third, Elijah McIntosh, Muskogee, is running as a Democrat. He posted a video on Facebook  the day he filed his papers to run.

Indeed, the technology of making a video has changed dramatically, making it easier and less expensive for candidates to tell voters about themselves and priorities. In Washington state, Debra Lekanoff, running for the House, gives a pitch from the shores of the Puget Sound on her morning run. She said she wants to be a voice for everyone who would call that area home. “Life is about choices, my friend. You get up do a good morning run to a little bit of Led Zeppelin, you drink a mean cup of coffee, you wake up your loved ones and send them off in a good way, (and) I made the choice to represent each and everyone of you.”

Rep. Peggy Flanagan, who is running for Lt. Governor with running mate Tim Walz, posted a longer video that outlines policy and an unabashed support for the social programs that made a difference to her. “I am a member of the White Earth Nation of the Ojibwe. I grew up with a single mom,” she said. “You know it’s programs like Section 8, child care assistance act, food stamps, those programs really helped lift my family out of poverty. When I am at the Capitol and I hear people talk about “those people.” I am “those people” and I am an example of what happens when you invest in children, when you invest in families.”

This is an example of a powerful narrative, a challenge to the very idea that government is ineffective. Instead the story is a personal reflection of success.

Flanagan is also a master of social media. She immediately tweeted after President Donald J. Trump told Navy Academy graduates last week that “our ancestors tamed a continent” and that “we are not going to apologize for America. Her response: “Mr. President, I’m an untamed Native woman running for office along with 64 of my indigenous sisters.”

Mr. President, I’m an untamed Native woman running for office along with 64 of my indigenous sisters. #NativeVote18 #SheRepresents #indigenousrising #kwepower

— Peggy Flanagan (Untamed) (@peggyflanagan) May 26, 2018

New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District is going to be close six-way race for the Democratic nomination in the June 5 primary. So campaign ads are already a big part of the picture (including an F-bomb by one candidate attacking the NRA). Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, reminds voters that Congress has “never heard a voice like mine.” That ad also includes support for Standing Rock and the fight against big oil.

Like Jordan, Haaland is also getting national media. The latest is an NBC News piece about former Obama campaign alumni running for office. “I feel like if I hadn’t worked for the president, I would never have had the courage or the wherewithal to run,” she told NBC News, recounting an unsuccessful 2014 bid for lieutenant governor before she successfully ran for state party chair. “I think about him every single day.”

Her latest ad focuses on “women like us.” in a tweet she cites, “women of color, single moms, lesbians & transwomen, military families, & any woman who has ever been assaulted or harassed. Now is the time to be fierce and demand change.”

[VIDEO]: We have released our new ad! I’ve always fought for women like us: women of color, single moms, lesbians & transwomen, military families, & any woman who has ever been assaulted or harassed. Now is the time to be fierce and demand change. #nmpol #nm01 #ruready #befierce

— Deb Haaland (@Deb4CongressNM) May 26, 2018

Sharice Davids, Ho Chunk, is running for Congress in Kansas. She has two powerful ads. In the first, she partners with Chris Haulmark, a candidate for the Kansas state House, they have a conversation about inclusivity and politics using sign language. “Chris and I don’t look alike. Or talk alike,” Davids says in the ad. “But we both know what it’s like to fight through challenges. … And we’re both dedicated to changing and reshaping the conversations that are happening now throughout all levels of our government.”

This ad makes you feel good about what’s possible. (It’s also a fundraising vehicle.)

Today Davids is releasing a very different kind of ad — one that will be talked about nationwide. In this video, Davids, a former MMA fighter, is in the ring and ready to spar. “This is a tough place to be a woman,” she says. “I have had to fight like hell just to survive. And it’s clear that Trump and the Republicans in Washington don’t give a damn about anyone like me or anyone who doesn’t think like them.”

This ad is about defiance. As Davids says:  “One thing for sure, I won’t back down. Because progress is undefeated. We just need to fight for it.”

Politics aside what these women and men are doing on television and social media is remarkable. They are redefining the very image of a Native American in a complex, multicultural society. This is a story missing from drama, comedy and even non-fiction. Yet it’s worth telling, a story about professionalism, shared values, and aspirations. Perhaps there should be a television show about that.

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter

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Quinault Member Jimmy Smith-Kramer Killed in Alleged Racially-Charged Confrontation

Editor’s note: This is a republished article in memoriam of Quinault Member Jimmy Smith-Kramer, killed on May 28, 2017.

Two Quinault tribal members in Washington state were run over by a truck in what Quinault Indian Nation officials believe was a hate crime that resulted in the death of Jimmy Smith-Kramer, who was celebrating his 20th birthday at the time. Jimmy Smith-Kramer was injured on Saturday and died from his injuries on Sunday May 28th.


20 year-old Quinault Member Jimmy Smith-Kramer was killed in an alleged racially-charged confrontation. Smith-Kramer was injured on Saturday and died from his injuries on Sunday May 28th.

“[The driver] was screaming racial slurs and [stereotypical war cries] when he ran over the two tribal members,” states a tribal press release from May 28.

Jimmy Smith-Kramer who lived on the Quinault Reservation in Taholah, Washington was camping at Donkey Creek near the Humptulips River Campground when a vehicle showed up around 1:30 a.m. and began aggressively maneuvering with screeching tires while doing doughnuts.

At this point, specific details are unclear, but the altercation turned serious when Jimmy Smith-Kramer and his friend were threatened with being hit by the truck. The Quinault Nation says Smith-Kramer potentially saved the life of his friend, 19-year-old Harvey Anderson, by pushing him to safety as the vehicle approached. Smith-Kramer died from his injuries at Tacoma General Hospital.

Law enforcement are still searching for the driver, who is believed to have intentionally backed over Jimmy Smith-Kramer and his friend. He’s described as a white male in his 30s with dark hair and a neatly-trimmed beard. The vehicle is described as a white 1990s Chevy. Witnesses say a white female accomplice in her 30s who was overhead attempting to stop the driver, according to KOMO News. They are investigating the case as a homicide and are seeking the public’s help.

“Our entire tribe is distraught over this incident,” Quinault tribal President Fawn Sharp said in a statement. “We work hard to be good friends with our neighboring communities. If it is, in fact, determined that this was a hate crime it will add even more distress and sadness to our loss of this outstanding young man and the injury of another.”

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Law enforcement officials interviewed all the witnesses at the incident location and none mentioned racial slurs, Grays Harbor County undersheriff David Pimentel told the Associated Press. However a statement from the tribe contradicts this.

One witness said a rock was thrown at the truck — though reports conflict on whether it was before or after the truck hit Jimmy Smith-Kramer, and it possibly broke a window, Grays Harbor County Sheriff Lt. Brad Johansson told The Seattle Times Monday. The Quinault Nation, however, disputes the suggestion that the hurled rock prompted the attack by the driver. Though witness statements conflict, the release from the tribe states the rock was thrown “after two men had been run over.”

Facebook / Snapchat

20 year-old Quinault Member Jimmy Smith-Kramer and a friend in a post from Snapchat. Smith-Kramer Killed in an alleged racially-charged confrontation. Smith-Kramer was injured on Saturday and died from his injuries on Sunday May 28th.

“This should be a first-degree murder charge under the felony-murder doctrine, which does not require the element of premeditation,” Sharp said. “Under that doctrine, one can be charged with first-degree murder when during the course of committing a felony, there’s a death, even if under ‘accidental’ or reckless circumstances. There is simply no excuse or defense to this unthinkable tragedy. If it’s a hate crime it could help assure that it would be triggered as a felony or trigger aggravating circumstances at sentencing.”

Sheriff’s officials are following up on multiple tips, according to the Associated Press. The Quinault Indian Nation is offering a reward to a person or persons who personally knew the suspect and are willing to work with law enforcement to testify and help prosecute the defendant(s), according to a press release.

Individuals who have information related to the incident are asked to contact the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office at 360-533-8765.

A GoFundMe account has been set up in Smith-Kramer’s memory. As of Tuesday morning, more than $1,100 has been donated with 1,100 shares on Facebook. It was created as Smith-Kramer was in critical condition. “We are asking for all prayers that we can get,” organizer Makenna Roiko said.

Smith-Kramer is a father of twin toddlers that one Quinault tribal member says are about two-years-old.


Cary Rosenbaum (Colville Confederated Tribes) is a correspondent for Indian Country Media Network. Follow him on Twitter: @caryrosenbaum.

The post Quinault Member Jimmy Smith-Kramer Killed in Alleged Racially-Charged Confrontation appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Weekly Television News Series, Wassaja, hosted and produced by Mark Trahant now on FNX

Indian Country Today editor and award-winning journalist Mark Trahant has worked with FNX / First Nations Experience to create, host and produce the first episode of a weekly news series titled Wassaja.

“The goal of our program is simple, a news magazine for Indian Country, 30 minutes of television, that illustrate Native challenges, as well as our successes,” says Trahant in the opening of the premier episode. “More than a century ago, Elias Boudinot, editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, described his newspaper as a vehicle of Indian intelligence. That’s exactly what we would like to do with Wassaja, convey Native intelligence, by telling great stories, stories about ordinary indigenous people, doing extraordinary things.”

In the first episode, “She Represents,” Trahant explains the meaning and importance of Wassaja, meaning signaling or beckoning.

“Why Wassaja? This name sets the tone for what we want to accomplish, It was the name for two great newspapers from our history. The first Wassaja was published by Carlos Montezuma a century ago.  He wanted his paper to be the freedom signal for the Indians…”

Trahant also goes on to explain the importance of the history of the two Native newspapers including the first by Montezuma and the second published in San Francisco during the 1970s.

Wassaja also looks at the lack of representation by Native American women and how that might be changing.

Trahant profiles two candidates, Debra Haaland and Sharice Davids, who hope to be the first Native American women ever to serve in Congress.

Trahant says he hopes Indian Country will appreciate the reflection of more Native people on TV. “We are so often missing from television. Missing from drama, comedy, and, unfortunately, news. But this show will be different. Our entire focus is the indigenous world and the Native experience,” Trahant said. “I want Indian Country to see ourselves and and learn from our own history as well as from the interviews with today’s news makers.

Next weeks’ program looks at the Kalinago people on the island of Dominica. The island was devastated by Hurricane Maria last year. The Kalinago were one of the first people to encounter Columbus and today face a new threat from climate change.

FNX or First Nations Experience is working to get their channel carried in as many communities as possible across the country. Currently, FNX is carried by 22 affiliate stations broadcasting into 14 states from Alaska to New York and is seen by more than 46 million households across the United States.

FNX is currently available in the greater Los Angeles media market on Frontier FiOS Channel 471, DirecTV Channel 24-2, Time Warner Channel 1272, and over-the-air on KVCR-Ch. 24.2.

You can also watch the premiere episode on Facebook now.

The first season of Wassaja will have ten 30 minute episodes. 

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today.

Here is the link in case FNX is not on the air in your community. If it’s not, call your PBS station and suggest it.

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The Perfect Native American Memorial Day

This Memorial Day article was originally published May 30, 2016.

As a Native American veteran (Akwesasne Mohawk) and a Second Lieutenant of the U.S. Army, there is a special place in my heart for Memorial Day. It is a day for all veterans to reflect on fellow soldiers we spent time with during the service (there is not a much greater bond than the one with military buddies), and to reflect on all those who served, who are serving and, of course, honor all those special service-members who never made it back home.

Memorial Day is a special day for military service men and women, and we appreciate the gestures of thanks from our fellow Americans and feel honored for having served our country.

But sometimes I wish the contributions of our Native American servicemen and women received a little bit more emphasis. 

I realize that our President has changed, and as a former Army Lieutenant I will always be respectful to the office of the President, but I am leaving the article intact and in it’s original form as it was written in 2016.

That said: Here is my version of a perfect Native American Memorial Day.  

As I wake up up in the morning, my small clock radio alarm goes off, playing the latest tunes. Since my alarm goes off at the top of the hour, the radio announcer says:

“It’s the top of the hour on this Memorial Day, and now it’s time for the news. In honor of Memorial Day, I’d like to say thank you to all of our veterans. I especially want to say thank you to the Native American veterans, who served a country whose government once took everything from them. Wow, now that is heroic!”

I smile with shock. I have never heard any radio host say such a thing.

I take a shower, and head out to the local organic coffee shop (yes, they have those). I order a strong cup of coffee and the barista says, “Best Wishes on this Memorial Day, sir.” I respond, “Well, thanks so much, as I am a veteran. I am also Native American.”

The barista responds, “That is impressive, sir, I am currently learning in my college American history class that Native Americans have served in all branches of the U.S.military as far back as the French and Indian Wars, in which they fought with both the French and the English.”

“Yes I know, I am Mohawk,” I say.  The barista responds, “OMG, then your ancestral brothers were fighting their own brothers!”  

“Yes,” I say, impressed that a college is teaching real Native American history to our youth.

“I also learned that Native Americans – both men and women – have served in every military conflict since the Civil War, in huge numbers!”

Again impressed, as I walk out of the coffee shop, I tip the barista 20 bucks. I look down at the 20 dollar bill, and see a picture of Harriet Tubman, who has replaced the president who started the Cherokee Trail of Tears. I smile yet again.

I drive from Virginia Beach to Washington D.C. and there is no traffic all the way. (Hey, it’s my perfect day.)

I arrive in time to see President Barack Obama paying homage to our Nation’s veterans at Arlington National Cemetery. As the military band plays in honor of those fallen soldiers, as well as to the grave of the unknown soldier, a period of silence befalls the crowd in honor and remembrance. After a short period of silence President Obama returns to the podium.

The President speaks:

“It is fitting today that we make one more gesture of respect, to honor all those Native American veterans who gave so much, who joined the military before they could even legally vote or before they were even considered citizens, to those Native Americans who gave their lives as code talkers. For all of them, this Native American honor song will be played.”

A drum begins to play with the all-too familiar beat of a drum group, and 20 Native voices begin to fill the air. As the drum group begins to play, a long line of jingle dress dancers, Fancy dancers in regalia, traditional dancers and more follow a proud Native American color guard, its flags waving in the wind.  

President Obama calls out, “Will all Native American veterans here today please join the dance!”

And we do, hundreds of us, in various combinations of regalia and military uniforms. The drum beats louder and everyone feels the power in the air — they feel the power of the heartbeat of Mother Earth. They feel the dream, they feel the drum.

The drum plays several songs and at the end of it all the crowd roars with cheers.

When I get home, walk in the door and set down my keys, I flip on the television and see President Obama and the Native veterans on the news.  

My wife comes into the room and smiles, “Happy Memorial Day to my own special veteran,” she says and gives me a kiss.

I smile with pride, having just experienced the Perfect Native American Memorial Day.

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Before it’s over, May is Foster Care Month: Native foster families are needed

In the State of Utah, there are an estimated 130 Native children in state custody. However, with  less than 20 Native foster and kinship homes, many of the children are not able to be placed with Native families.

According to Stephanie L. Benally, Diné of the Red Streak People and born for Bitter Water, there is a great need for Native foster homes statewide and nationwide. Benally is also the Native American Specialist and Foster-Adoptive Consultant at Utah Foster Care.

Utah Foster Care is a non-profit organization that covers the entire State of Utah. Utah Foster Care recruits, trains, and supports foster parents. They work with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services to find foster care homes for the children that come into state custody.

“I have been working diligently to recruit more American Indian foster parents and have partnered with the eight American Indian tribes in Utah and organizations that provide services to American Indian communities,” Benally told Indian Country Today.

“I believe if people are aware of need for safe and loving homes, they may think of becoming a foster parent or help spread the awareness. Studies have shown our Native children do better in a Native home.”

Stephanie Benally, Dine’, the Native American Specialist and Foster-Adoptive Consultant at Utah Foster Care says “studies have shown our Native children do better in a Native home.”

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act, after a 1976 report showed American Indian children were thousands of percent more likely (Utah Native children were 1500 percent more likely) to be placed in foster care than other children.

As of 2012, Native children are still four times more likely to be placed in foster care. Though Native people comprise 1 percent of Utah’s population, they make up 6 percent of all children in foster care. The numbers are similarly out of proportion nationwide.

“They are better than they were, but they’re not where they need to be yet,” said Utah Appeals Court Judge William Thorne to the Salt Lake Tribune, who is a member of the Pomo tribe and serves on the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. “The children are still out of home more often than necessary.”

Thorne supported Benally’s statement in his interview with the Tribune. He said one study found that American Indian kids raised in non-Indian homes were more likely to have a negative view of their own culture, leading researchers to conclude the children were left without positive images of their own heritage.

He also noted American Indian youths have a suicide rate that is 1.5 to three times higher than that for children from other ethnic groups in the U.S. however, the rate is six times higher for those living in non-Indian homes.

“We really need to be thinking about doing things a different way,” said Thorne, especially given the outcomes for children who age out of foster care. They are more likely to be undereducated, to have a mental disorder or post-traumatic stress syndrome and to end up homeless, in jail or dead within two years.”

What can interested families do?

The need for Native foster care families across the country is great. Interested families can do a simple Google search of their state’s name and the term foster care to start.

One agency that sets a standard for other agency’s is Utah Foster Care. They have a specific dedicated web page titled “Native Homes for Native Children.”

On the page they have a dedicated American Indian/Alaska Native Factsheet which has a list of ways families and tribes can help.

For more information visit –

Benally says she is grateful for the support from her colleagues at Utah Foster Care, “They are dedicated and passionate about the work of recruitment and support of foster parents. It is an honor to work with dedicated people in the field of child welfare.”

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20-year-old Muscogee entrepreneur wants to change the way we snack

Denny Dore is a 20-year-old Muscogee entrepreneur with a great solution for carrying bite-sized snacks in a world of cup-holders and backpack pockets. He calls his patent-pending invention, the “Cup Buddy.”

Dore says he was taught by his elders to be a friend to the Earth. As a young child, he ran to catch discarded wrappers that were blowing away in the wind. In his school years, as his mother rushed he and his sister to all their activities, he observed the mess of wrappers and crumbs in her purse. Small snack packs that she bought for them would get crushed and forgotten.

“These things became the inspiration for my startup company, Cup Buddy,” says Dore.

“Eight months ago, my clothing line that I started at 16, went out of business. I knew I had made mistakes, I tried to present it as a big brand before I built a true fanbase. Unfortunately, we all make mistakes and I knew all I could do was learn from mine,” he says. “So, I sat down and started coming up with ideas. Because of how I feel about this planet, I knew we could create a simpler way to snack, without wasting plastic and making a mess.”

Cup Buddy allows you to hold up to three separate snacks, and a spread, all in one container. It’s reusable, dishwasher-safe, and best of all, it fits anywhere. It has been designed to make snacking on the go much more convenient, so it can easily fit in a cup holder, purse or backpack without ever spilling inside.

Cup Buddy has launched a Kickstarter campaign with a funding goal of $40,000. The money will fund the factory tooling and manufacturing so that Cup Buddy can begin production.
“We really feel like this product can make snack time a lot simpler and a lot less wasteful. Funding in the business world is critical to exist, so we’re going to the people and asking them for help to bring Cup Buddy to life.”

Dore has also announced the “Cup Buddy One for One Promise”, which states that for every product sold they will be donating a meal to a child in need. They also plan on partnering with reservations to extend their outreach after they complete their funding.

Denny hopes that Cup Buddy can inspire other young Native entrepreneurs to create opportunities for themselves in the world of business. “Not everyone has opportunities handed to them, sometimes you have to think outside the box and go a different direction than other people. But the opportunities out there are endless if you allow yourself to be creative.” says Dore.

For more information on Cup Buddy visit


Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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The case for a Billy Frank statue in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall

It’s time for Billy Frank Jr. to have a place in the U.S. Capitol.

I can still hear his voice: “I was not a policy guy. I was a getting arrested guy.” Now, of course, the late Billy Frank Jr., is an American hero and to be clear, what I mean by that, he’s not just an American Indian hero. Or even a Nisqually or Northwest legend. His story is important to entire country. No, essential.

Every Frank arrest had purpose. He was making visible injustice and standing firm on the very word of the United States, the principle that treaties meant what they said. But the federal and state governments did not see at that way during the 1970s. So they tossed him in jail. Again. And again. And again.

A couple of decades later Frank convinced the entire establishment of the Pacific Northwest that he was, indeed, right. The same governors and federal officials who were once responsible for Frank’s arrests were praising (and appointing) him. The world had changed and the Northwest was better for it.

“Sixty-five years ago,” wrote Peter Hardin Jackson on Facebook, “The Marcus Whitman statue in D.C.’s National Statuary Hall was unveiled and is still something to behold. It’s also emblematic of a very different era, which doesn’t merit ballyhooing. An overdue corrective would be to replace Whitman with Billy Frank, Jr., who dedicated his life to political reconciliation, tribal treaty rights, and the environment.”

Jackson pointed out this could be done quickly. “All that’s required is a non-fiscal note act of the state legislature, and the launch of a private fundraising campaign,” he said. “What say you, dear people?”

The idea of a Frank statue is exciting. (I’d like to think Washington is unique because it could send two statutes to the hall, yes to Frank and also to Lucy Covington, Colville, who led the fight against termination.)

There are seven Native American heroes now in the Statuary Hall, the most recent addition was Po’pay, representing New Mexico in 2005. The others are: King Kamehameha I, Hawaii; Will Rogers, Oklahoma; Sequoyah, Oklahoma; Washakie, Wyoming; Sarah Winnemucca, Nevada; and, Sakakawea, North Dakota. The hall also features notable “anti-heroes” in Indian Country including Andrew Jackson from Tennessee and Father Junipero Serra, California.

Capitol photo

There are seven Native American heroes now in the Statuary Hall.

There are so many other Native Americans whose stories ought to be included in the national discourse. For example: Alaska should have civil rights leader Elizabeth Jean Peratrovich as one of its representatives. Make that a must.

Congress has honored Frank’s memory at least once by naming the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Washington’s  Nisqually Delta.

In Jackson’s Facebook discussion, attorney Tom Keefe (and a long time ally of Billy Frank) suggested term limits for statutes. He wrote, “New and future heroes are born every day, why should we be forever stuck in the past?”

Joel Connelly of the Seattle P-I wrote about this Facebook exchange Friday.  “A replica of the U.S. Capitol statue sits in Walla Walla, with the missionary depicted as a ‘buckskin clap frontiersman, striding resolutely into the future, a Bible in one hand and saddle bags and a scroll in the other,’ in words of a article,” Connelly said. “But Whitman College has had second thoughts.” The school replaced its mascot, The Fighting Missionaries, with “the Whitman Blues” after the Blue Mountains that loom behind the campus.

After that column, Jackson wrote, so there is no choice “but to draft legislation for the 2019 session. As Billy Frank, Jr. said, ‘I don’t believe in magic. I believe in the sun and the stars, the water, the tides, the floods, the owls, the hawks flying, the river running, the wind talking. They’re measurements. They tell us how healthy things are. How healthy we are.’”

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter

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Memorial Day Tribute: Two-Spirit Cherokee Artist Tony Enos Honors Military with “I Cry”

This Memorial Day, two-spirit Cherokee recording artist Tony Enos is honoring American soldiers and their families who have given the ultimate sacrifice with his new single and music video, “I Cry.”

The song is one of many released by Enos that seek to heal the ails of this world. He had previously released the popular two-spirit anthem of the same name “Two-Spirit.” “I Cry” is a beautiful tribute sung by Enos honoring those who have served and lost their lives, and those who were connected to that loss in life.

Enos gives many reasons for recording his tribute. “The death of a loved one is a heartbreaking tragedy. When that loved one is a fallen soldier who lost their life in combat for our country, it leaves a life shattering scar that defies explanation.”

“I hope it validates their experiences, trauma, and heartbreak. It’s a chance to say I see you, and you matter,” says Enos.

“I Cry,” is a ballad written by Nashville songwriter and producer Thomas Devine, and featuring piano and electric guitar, and emotionally wrought lyrics sung by Enos.

The song tells the story of a soldier who takes the plane ride back to the states with the body of a fellow soldier who has died in battle, and how the experience affects him.

Enos, an enrolled member of the Echota Cherokee tribe, explains his Native connection to the project, “My grandfather was a veteran. Native Americans have one of the highest armed forces enrollment rates, and honoring our warriors is an important part of our culture.”

Enos, a singer, songwriter and producer continued, “I have seen great disparities among our vets during my work in public health and that has definitely informed the love that I wanted to pour into this project.”

Continuing on his platform of activism through music, the Philadelphia born native says he is also taking this opportunity to bring awareness to issues that affect LGBTQ2S soldiers and vets.

Remembering all of our soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice and their families on this #MemorialDay . To our active soldiers and our vets, thank you for your service ??

— tony enos (@tonyenos) May 21, 2018

Enos said, “not a day passes that I’m not grateful for all of our soldiers and vets who have fought for our freedoms. Especially those who have been made to do so while experiencing hate and discrimination.”

Visit Tony Enos online at

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Exclusive Video: Native man removed by police from Hibbett Sports after “weird dreads” 911 call

Back in February, Robert Robedeaux, Pawnee, Ponca, Otoe nations, was shopping at a Hibbett Sports store in Owasso, Oklahoma. While in the store, he was trying on clothes and sending photos to his wife. During his time in the store, an employee called 911 and stated Robedeaux was making them uncomfortable. On the call, the employee says Robedeaux asked if the female employee was working alone, and stated his hair had ‘weird dreads or something.’

When Robedeaux walked out of the dressing room, he was met by three police officers and asked to leave. He filmed himself being escorted off the property by the officers.

While recording the incident, Robedeaux stood outside the door and described what was transpiring. Robedeaux was told he was being issued a trespass order not to return to the store. He was also later arrested on an unpaid parking violation warrant.

In an interview with Indian Country Today, Robedeaux said he was wrongfully removed from the Hibbett Sports store and the staff’s actions were racially motivated.

“I guess there was just a fear inside this person that made them afraid of my ethnicity. I went into the dressing room and when I walked out there were three cops just standing there. The store clerk came up and grabbed the clothing out of my hands and I looked around and I said is there something suspicious or illegal about trying on clothes?”

“It hurt my spirit. I forget that I’m a minority but they reminded me of it,” said Robedeaux.

Exclusive ICT video including the 911 call and Owasso Police bodycam footage

According to Robedeaux, the employee’s reason for calling on Robedeaux has changed, and included him asking if the employee was alone and going behind the counter to forcibly take the dressing room key, a claim that Robedeaux denies.

“The lady has changed her story four times. First she said I took the key behind the counter, so I could let myself into the dressing room. I said absolutely not. I said, let’s look at the video that will show the truth.”

Brett Chapman, Ponca, a Tulsa attorney representing Robedeaux, told Indian Country Today that Robedeaux never asked if the employee was alone. He says Robedeaux asked standard questions about clothing and even asked if she could take a photo of the clothing he had tried with his phone, so he could send it to his wife.

Chapman had also told Tulsa World the matter was similar to the Starbucks incident. “It’s very similar to the Starbucks matter where you have an employee that’s just stereotypically calling the police to remove a patron that she doesn’t want there – a patron of color, and his hair was in the tradition native American style of his tribe.”

Robedeaux says that for months he had tried to contact the Hibbett Sports corporate office but kept getting shunned. He wanted to explain the employee that called was not being truthful.

Robedeaux’s wife, Sarah Knife Chief told Indian Country Today the entire incident has been troubling in a number of ways. She was worried because he was sending her funny pictures at one moment, then let her know police were at the store.

After a length of time, Knife Chief discovered her husband had been arrested and released, and had been told he could never return to a Hibbett store.

“I called to ask what happened from the manager and they couldn’t give me any details. My father and I are physicians in the community, I told her, ‘if you think this is just going to go away it’s not going to go away.’”

Knife Chief says he and her husband tried for months to get a solution from the corporate office. “We called twice a week every week for a couple of months. That’s why I eventually put it on Twitter. I was so offended.”

Racial Profiling comes in many shades. This incident occurred at Hibbett Sports in Owasso, Ok. My husband was asked to leave for the mere fact that he was Native and had long, braided hair in the traditional Pawnee style!

— Sarah Knife Chief (@ChiefKnife) April 19, 2018

Knife Chief posted the video on Twitter and Robedeaux posted it to his Facebook page. Knife Chief’s sharing of Robedeaux’s video has been retweeted over 1,100 times and viewed almost 54,000 times.

After posting the video, Robedeaux says he was contacted by the Hibbett Sports corporate office.

“Within 24 hours of my wife posting this to Twitter, the District Vice President of Hibbett Sports in Oklahoma called me. He said, ‘this recently came across my desk,’ even though I had been calling them for 2 months. He said, ‘Well what do you want?’

“He called the next day and said they were going to keep everything internal and he couldn’t discuss anything which I understood, its policy. He also said I was free to go into the store anytime. I never got an apology and the police are the ones that have the ticket now.”

Robedeaux says he is concerned that even though Hibbett Sports says he can go into a store, if someone were to call on him, the police would have a prior record of trespass. “It worries me because if some other person said I’m trespassing the police will have a record that I’ve done it before.”

A Hibbett Sports spokesperson returned a statement to Indian Country Today.

“As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on specific customer matters or pending litigation. For more than 70 years, Hibbett has been dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming environment to both customers and employees. Diversity and inclusion are embedded in our core values and we strive to provide excellent service to all customers, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, citizenship status, military or veteran status, marital status, age, disability, sexual orientation, or any other status protected by federal, state or local law.”

In an initial statement made to Tulsa World, Owasso Deputy Chief of Police Jason Woodruff responded that

“Officers routinely stop by businesses, especially after dark, to check on employees’ wellbeing,” Woodruff said in a statement, “When resources allow, they are encouraged to patrol in high retail theft areas as a deterrent to potential lawbreakers.”

In an emailed statement and open public record from Deputy Chief of Police Jason B. Woodruff to Tulsa World, “it is commonplace for officers to perform security checks” like the one that occurred at Hibbett.

Woodruff issued a statement in his email about the incident as follows:

“On February 11, 2018, at 7:22 pm, Owasso Police Dispatch received a call from an employee at Hibbett Sports about a man behaving suspiciously inside the store. The man allegedly asked the female employee if she was alone inside the store before taking a large amount of merchandise into the changing room. Indeed being the only employee inside the store at the time; the employee felt uneasy about the man’s questions and asked if an officer could stop by for a security check just to be safe.”

“Officers responded to the store and spoke with the employee about her safety concerns. With no confirmed crime taking place, the officers chose not to make contact with the reported suspicious person but did remain In the area to ease the employee’s safety concerns.”

“Upon exiting the charging room and seeing the officers, the man became upset and began yelling, stating that he hadn’t done anything wrong and demanding to know why the officers were there. An officer attempted to explain that they were simply performing a security check of the business, but the man become increasingly agitated, resulting in the employee asking him to leave the store because he was creating a disturbance. The man exited the store; but remained just outside the door yelling back at the employee /officers inside.”

Since the accident has happened, Robedeaux has since cut in hair in what he calls respectfully mourning the event. He says he is upset since he has been a person that traveled to Standing Rock in support of the NoDAPL protests.

He told Indian Country Today, the Hibbett Sports store has been an issue for other Native people and that some employees are racially motivated. In support of Robedeaux’s claims are a plethora of raced-based complaints on a website that posts Hibbett’s corporate information and is open for comments.

Robedeaux says the entire thing has brought up a lot of issues related to his heritage.

“I was told straight out by one of  the Hibbett store employees that they were going to stop holding the N7 line of clothing because they didn’t want Natives there.”

“When I was a kid in school I told my teacher I wanted to  play the prince in the school play. The teacher said I couldn’t play the prince because I was brown. A lot of people tell me I don’t look Indian. But I has been in Standing Rock. So all said, Yes, I’ve been called the prairie n-word, savage, you name it.”

“I hope this sets a precedent for everyone to make this known, because Native people have been so quiet for so long,” said Robedeaux.

Robedeaux’s attorney Brett Chapman says, “I believe my client and believe that he is truthful and that this is a story that needs to be told fully.”

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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