Minnesota Legislature, Supported By The Mining Industry, Votes To Weaken Water Standards

Water is life? Not so much in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Legislature, supported by the mining industry, voted to weaken water standards for sulfates in areas where wild rice grows. Wild rice is the essential Ojibwe food. The Senate voted Monday to withdraw the water standards that have been in place for a decade by a vote of 38 to 28.

The Associated Press reports that senators also voted to add $500,000 for restoration work to the bill, which passed the House 78-45 last week, so the legislation will have to go back to the House before it goes to Gov. Mark Dayton. The governor has not publicly said whether he’ll sign or veto the measure.

Last month when the bill (without the restoration funding) was before the House, Rep. Peggy Flanagan spoke against weakening the water standards.  “If wild rice no longer exists, we no longer exist,” she said. Flanagan, White Earth Ojibwe, is a Democrat-Farm-Labor candidate for Lt. Governor. “This is our home. We can’t go anywhere else. So if manoomin goes away, we go away. Maybe that’s the point.”

A powerful moment in the #mnleg House debate is worth remembering today. Thank you to @peggyflanagan for her leadership on protecting wild rice from pollution.

— MCEA (@MCEA1974) April 30, 2018

Mining companies, as well as Northern Minnesota communities, complained that the standards were too stringent and expensive. Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, told Ag Week that he worked with representatives from mining areas that are the focus of the bill. He said the bill will “continue to protect wild rice” while allowing mines to remain working.

PolyMet Mining Corporation has proposed a copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lake. The mining permit has not yet been issued, but under the old rules, the company would have had to treat the open pit mine and tailings indefinitely to remove sulfate from the water. According to the Star Tribune that would have cost the company about $1 billion. “Without a sulfate standard, the cost would be significantly less,” the Star Tribune reported.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency had already said it would bring together scientists and policymakers “to determine an alternative path forward.” And other critics have said that an outright repeal of the water standards could violate the federal Clean Water Act.

One problem is that the old water quality standard was not enforced. “Up until now, the standard has maintained that sulfate should not enter wild rice waters in higher quantities than 10 parts per million,” according to a blog post from Honor The Earth. “The new proposed rule would make a different standard for every lake and wetland with wild rice – an unbelievably complicated and costly rule to implement.” That is the rule that the Senate proposed be withdrawn.

The Minnesota Center For Environmental Advocacy, in addition to their outward support of Flanagan is also asking Gov. Mark Dayton to veto the bill, stating in a tweet, “Protect Wild Rice! Tell @GovMarkDayton to VETO #mnleg bill to strip protection for MN’s state grain, despite clear science that sulfate pollution is a problem.”

Protect Wild Rice! Tell @GovMarkDayton to VETO #mnleg bill to strip protection for MN’s state grain, despite clear science that sulfate pollution is a problem. Take action and join me:

— MCEA (@MCEA1974) May 1, 2018

An op-ed by Kevin Dupuis, president of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, and Kathryn Hoffman, CEO, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, in the Star Tribune, called the legislation ‘a sell out to the very identity of Minnesotans.’

“Wild rice waters in Minnesota cannot go unprotected indefinitely. Sulfate regulations cannot be delayed or weakened. Tribes and environmental advocates might be the most vocal protectors of wild rice, but we know that the great unifier of Minnesotans is our water. Water is who we are,” wrote Dupuis and Hoffman. “It is not too late. Minnesotans — lovers of wild rice, lakes and all waters — we must unite to protect our very identity.”

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Center For Native American Youth Seeks Fellowship Applicants Ages 18-24: May 6 Deadline

As part of the Generation Indigenous initiative, or Gen-I , the Center for Native American Youth is launching a new fellowship for youth ages 18-24 titled “The Gen-I Movement Builders Fellowship” or “Gen-I MBF.”

The fellowship is a six-month leadership development program that aims to strengthen the voice and role of Native American youth in social justice movements. Over the course of six months, five fellowship recipients will gather for two in-person meetings, two virtual meetings, and one Fresh Tracks training expedition.

According to the Center for Native American Youth, the Fellowship is not a full-time commitment, but active and engaged participation during in-person and virtual convenings is required.

At the end of six months, fellowship recipients will have a small “Innovation Fund” which they will jointly use for a project aimed at strengthening the voice of Native youth in social justice movements.

The goals of this new fellowship program according to the Center for Native American Youth are to: 1) Educate broader social justice movements about our tribal communities, our challenges, and the strengths Native people can bring to the movements; 2) Develop strategies together to strengthen the voice of Native youth in broader movements and promote their contributions; and 3) To inspire other Native youth to take action on the issues that matter to them.

DEADLINE EXTENDED! Gen-I Movement Builders #Fellowship apps are NOW DUE SUNDAY MAY 6 at 11:59 PM PT! #NativeYouth activists ages 18-24: Apply to contribute your Indigenous perspectives to broader social justice movements! #GenIMBF!

— Gen-I Native Youth (@genindigenous) April 30, 2018

Applicants for the Gen-I Movement Builders Fellowship must meet all the following criteria:

Be a Native youth between the ages of 18 and 24 by May 1st.
Have demonstrated civic engagement and advocacy for their community and/or Indian Country.
Be strong, talented leaders, but not necessarily well connected outside their community.
Be interested in advancing their advocacy and activism by connecting to broader social justice movements.
Be able to participate in the full Fellowship programming over six (6) months.

A complete application includes all of the following materials, which must be submitted online to CNAY by 11:59 PT on Sunday, May 6:

The Gen-I Movement Builders Fellowship Application submitted by the applicant.
Requires brief written responses to multiple prompts, a resume or CV, and optional supplemental photos and videos.

An Adult Recommendation Form.
This form should be submitted by a mentor, teacher, or employer over the age of 25 who can comment on the applicant’s leadership qualities, commitment to community, and motivation for participating in the Fellowship.

A Peer Recommendation Form.
This form should be submitted by a peer who is 24 years old or younger and can comment on the applicant’s leadership qualities, commitment to community, and motivation for participating in the Fellowship.

For more information about the Gen-I Movement Builders Fellowship, click here.

For questions, contact Bettina Gonzalez at (202) 736-3554 or

About CNAY

The Center for Native American Youth believes Native American youth should lead full and healthy lives, have equal access to opportunity, and draw strength from their culture and one another. CNAY focuses on the resilience of Native youth and supports them through youth recognition, inspiration, and leadership; research, advocacy, and policy change; serving as a national resource exchange; and by developing strengths-based Native youth media opportunities.

Learn more at

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#NativeVote18: Arvina Martin Challenges Wisconsin Status Quo With Bid For Secretary of State

Election seasons have themes. There are campaign biographies and stories that seem familiar. One such theme is a younger candidates who is challenging the status quo. Sometimes it’s in the form of a third-party bid, such as Eva Reyes-Aguirre’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in Arizona. She’s running on the Green Party Ticket.

And this week in Wisconsin, Arvina Martin, Ho-Chunk and Stockbridge Munsee, challenged the way things are by running against a long-term incumbent in her own party, Democrat Secretary of State Douglas LaFollette. LaFollette was first elected Secretary of State in 1974.

According to The Associated Press, Martin (and the incumbent) must now collect 2,000 signatures in order to compete in the Democratic primary.

Martin was elected to the Madison City Council last year. She told the Cap Times before her swearing in:  “I think about my tribe — the Ho Chunk people have lived here forever — so it really kind of hits me in the chest to know that this is quite possibly the first time that a person from at least the Ho Chunk Nation will have been part of the decision making process.”

And the same goes for the state of Wisconsin.

Then this particular office has an interesting history. Ada Deer, Menominee, was one of the first — if not the first — Native American woman to run for a statewide office in 1978. Deer ran for Secretary of State twice, first in 1978 and then again in 1982. By 1978 LaFollette had gone on to run for another office, but in 1982 he ran in a four-way primary challenging the then-Democratic incumbent Vel Phillips. LaFollette won the primary and Deer placed second. He has been in that office ever since.

There are now ten Native candidates for statewide offices and two candidates for Secretary of State.

Erik Rydberg, Pomo, is a Green Party candidate for Secretary of State in California.

One other election note: Idaho may be the most conservative state in the U.S. There are no elected Democrats either statewide or holding federal office. Yet this week a campaign to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot was successful.

“This initiative would bring health care coverage to those who need it the most, and it will allow Idahoans to decide what we want in our healthcare system, no matter what politicians in Boise or Washington, D.C. do,” Emily Strizich, a co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, said in a statement. “These are moms and dads who work hard in jobs that don’t provide health coverage, and people who are nearing retirement who have lost their jobs.”

This is big and Reclaim Idaho did this with volunteers working in every county. The organization said its founders traveled the state in Medicaid Mobile, a 1977 camper van purchased for $1,500 “emblazoned with the words “MEDICAID FOR IDAHO.”

The expansion of Medicaid would benefit the Indian Health system in Idaho serving five tribes because it would add additional revenue directly to the clinics. It would also make it easier for patients to get insured care from outside medical partners.

In 2016, Medicaid covered over 76 million low-income Americans, incl. about 12 million who were newly covered by #MedicaidExpansion in 32 states. More than 4 in 10 enrollees are kids. The elderly & people w/ disabilities account for one in four enrollees.

— Kaiser Family Foundation (@KaiserFamFound) May 1, 2018

Medicaid expansion could also have an implication for the governor’s race in November. (Paulette Jordan, Coeur d’Alene, is in a May 15 primary for that race.) The ballot measure could draw attract new voters who see the benefits of the public health insurance program.

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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First Nations Leaders and Delegates To Gather for AFN Special Chiefs Assembly

Hundreds of First Nations leaders, Elders, women, youth and other delegates are set to gather May 1 & 2, 2018 for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) on Federal Legislation taking place at the Hilton Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec.

Delegates will examine and discuss federal legislation that is being proposed or underway that impact First Nations. The SCA will feature dialogue and discussion on the legislation, and delegates will hear directly from federal cabinet ministers and federal party leaders. As an AFN Assembly, resolutions relating to federal legislation can be put forward for decision and direction.

The agenda is being finalized. Current highlights include:

Tuesday May 1, 2018  

The SCA Grand Entry takes place at 8:45 a.m.
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Opening Address at approximately 9 a.m.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Honourable Carolyn Bennett (following National Chief Bellegarde’s Opening Address)
Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Mélanie Joly

National Chief Bellegarde SCA Press Conference at 12 noon.

Speeches by Federal Party Leaders, beginning at approximately 2:45 p.m.
Conservative Party of Canada Leader the Honourable Andrew Scheer
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May
New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh
Plenary discussion on federal legislation and related resolutions follows.

Wednesday May 2, 2018

Presentations by federal cabinet ministers starting at 9:00 a.m.:
Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada
Bill Blair, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada and to the Minister of Health
Plenary discussion on federal legislation and related resolutions follows.

A provisional agenda is available on the AFN website at

The main plenary of the SCA will be webcast on the AFN website at

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow the #AFNSCA on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

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#NativeVote18: ‘100+ And Growing’ Native Candidates Seeking Early Votes in Primaries Countrywide

It’s already time to cast ballots in the 2018 election season — a cycle with more Native Americans running for Congress or to lead state governments than ever before. The first election tests are in Idaho, South Dakota and New Mexico.

Paulette Jordan, Couer d’Alene, is looking for those early votes now in her bid to be the first Native American woman to lead a state. She is currently touring all of Idaho’s 44 counties before the May 15 Democratic Primary for governor.

Jordan told the Idaho County Free Press that she’s the only rural candidate in the race and spoke about her vision for Idaho that included resource development, better education, and clean affordable renewable energy.

As voters begin casting their ballots, Jordan is earning a lot of national media. BuzzFeed News described her candidacy this way: “In Idaho, any Democrat running is a long shot. But Paulette Jordan — who, if elected, would become the first Native American to serve as a governor — doesn’t mind the odds, and isn’t heeding calls to let an older, white, established candidate take her place.”

“She’s not intimidated by calls, such as those from her opponent, that she should bide her time,” wrote Anne Helen Petersen. Jordan answered: “People say, well, not this time. But my grandmothers were always at the forefront. They’d say, we make the difference we want to see.”

Early voting begins in Idaho’s largest county, Ada, on Monday. There is no specific early voting program for the five tribal nations in Idaho, but any resident can apply for a mailed absentee ballot next week. Idaho citizens can also register to vote at the polls to vote using a current state driver’s license.

This is particularly important for Native American youth who might not have yet registered to vote. According to data from the Native Vote project of the National Congress of American Indians, there are more than a million Native Americans who have not registered to vote, more than a third of the total population.

Primary elections are an odd fixture in American politics. Any small dedicated group of voters, such as Native Americans, are better positioned to win a primary election because the turnout is so low.

In Idaho’s last primary election only 22 percent of voters turned out for the primary — and most of them were Republican voters. There is an even smaller universe of eligible voter turnout, just under 15 percent. And remember, in Idaho, eligible voters can register to vote at the polls.

South Dakota is another state where absentee, or early voting, has begun. The primary is June 5. But South Dakota Democrats will pick their statewide candidate at the party convention on June 15 and 16. This means delegates, not voters, will pick the statewide candidates.

Campaign Photo

Tatewin Means is running for Attorney General of South Dakota.

Tatewin Means, a former Attorney General for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is running for South Dakota Attorney General against former U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler.

This race is similar to the Jordan race in Idaho because South Dakota Democrats are faced with a choice of a picking an establishment candidate or a younger Native American woman who has the potential to bring new voters into the process.

“I am an atypical candidate,” Means told KOTA News. “I am an indigenous woman. I am a single mother and this is my first political campaign. And so that brings a fresh perspective to a criminal justice and law enforcement system that doesn’t typically have that point of view at the table.”

While the Attorney General race is not on the primary ballot, there are several races for the state legislature that are contested by Democrats.

In the district that includes Mission, State Rep. Shawn Bordeaux, Rosebud, faces a challenge from first time candidate Troy “Luke” Lunderman, who is also Rosebud.

Voters in Pine Ridge will also have to sort through challengers. There are three Oglala candidates running for a House seat in District 27, Nicole Littlewhiteman, Peri Pourier, and Margaret Ross. And two Oglala citizens are running for the state Senate, Jim Bradford, and Red Dawn Foster.

Faith Spotted Eagle (photo via Facebook)

Faith Spotted Eagle, Yankton, is also in a three-way race for House seat 21. She faces Anna Kerner and Brian Jorgenson.

Spotted Eagle brings to the race an extraordinary badge: She’s the first Native American to ever receive a vote for president in the electoral college. But her legacy in Indian Country runs much deeper. She is a leader involved in many issues, ranging from culture to education, and opposition to both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

There may be no better example of a race where the outcome could be shifted by Native American voters in the primary. She told Talli Nauman of the Native Sun News that she needs a record number of Native American voters in the primary. “It should be an interesting time, but for sure we need a record turnout of registered native voters … May 21 is the deadline for registering to vote in the primaries. Anyone 18 years or older can complete a voter registration form at the county branch of the State Auditor’s office at no cost.”

Campaign photo

Allison Renville, Hunkpapa Lakota, is running for the South Dakota Senate. “I love my community, I’ve journeyed far and across the country but my spirit is here in District 1, South Dakota.” She says she’s running to build on the legacy of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential candidacy.

Sisseton Wahpeton citizen Allison Renville is also in a three-way primary for the South Dakota Senate. She faces Thomas Bisek and Susan Wismer.

Eligible voters in South Dakota have until May 21 to register — and can vote now by absentee ballot.

“The importance of early voting isn’t really pushed out to reservations and Natives across the state. It’s a detail perhaps left out to enable stagnancy within disenfranchised communities, but were hoping to see that change this election cycle,” Renville told Indian Country Today. She said early voting makes it easier for people not to miss out on casting a ballot because of such things as a schedule conflict.

“Our state has a real chance at setting precedent for what this country’s election will look like in 2020, so it’s crucial to show the world how important the Native vote is. We are going to need everyone turning 18 by November 6th and up to register to vote, encourage everyone you know to vote for all of our candidates statewide,” she said. “Early voting is for our convenience and it’s up to us to make sure we engage and participate in every way because they’re not expecting us, together we can do this.”

Native Americans, roughly 9 percent of the population of  South Dakota, are significantly underrepresented in state government.

A congressional candidate in Utah won his party’s nomination for the third district over the weekend without a primary. James Singer, Navajo, earned 77 percent of the delegate vote and will face the winner of the Republican primary in November. Singer is running in the district that includes Bear’s Ears monument as well as Ute Mountain and the Navajo Nation.

New Mexico’s voters can cast ballots beginning May 8.

Campaign Photo

Former New Mexico Democratic Party Chair and candidate for Congress Debra Haaland.

Democrat Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, is one of six candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in Albuquerque. This promises to be a close race, but Haaland easily won support from the state Democratic Party’s delegates at a pre-primary convention.

I’m the only one in my race who hasn’t written myself a big check and I’m the only candidate talking about taking big money out politics. I will not accept contributions from corporate PACs, and I will fight to overturn Citizens United. Watch our ad. @StopBigMoney #nmpol #nm01

— Deb Haaland (@Deb4CongressNM) April 27, 2018

A recent poll by Public Policy Polling showed Haaland tied for the lead with Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, at 15 percent each, while nearly half of the district voters remained undecided. This looks to be an incredibly close primary.

Haaland has already pulled off one important feat. She’s raising significant money — some $260,000 — mostly from small donors and tribal nations. If elected, she would be the first Native American woman in Congress ever. “I’m the only one in my race who hasn’t written myself a big check and I’m the only candidate talking about taking big money out politics,” she recently tweeted. “I will not accept contributions from corporate PACs, and I will fight to overturn Citizens United.”

Further south, in the second congressional district on the Republican ticket, Gavin Clarkson, Choctaw, is in a four-way contest. He’s one of the few Native Americans running on the GOP ticket who has a primary. He campaigned on support for President Donald J. Trump and “draining the swamp in Washington.” He recently told the Los Alamos Monitor Online:  “I’m the only battle-trusted swamp warrior in the race.”

The New Mexico deadline for voter registration is May 8.

Two last election notes:

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

(The National Congress of American Indians is the owner of Indian Country Today and manages its business operations. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently as a digital journalism enterprise.)

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Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne, Sr. Dies At Age 92

President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez and the 23rd Navajo Nation Council have offered condolences and words of honor to the family of Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne, Sr., who died April 21st at the age of 92.

“Code Talker Hawthorne is highly respected,” President Begaye said in a release. “He was not only a hero and a warrior, but also as a true spokesman who worked on behalf of the welfare of the Navajo Code Talkers consistently. It is a privilege to have known him and I extend my condolences to his family, his fellow Navajo Code Talkers and his comrades.”

Navajo Nation

President Russell Begaye with Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne, Sr.

Hawthorne was born in Ganado, and resided in the community of Tsé Si áni, also known as Lupton, Ariz. Hawthorne was 17 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. After attending Camp Pendleton for several months for training, he was first shipped to Guadalcanal, which was then secured by the Americans. Later, he fought in the Battle of Okinawa. During World War II, he served with the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific Theatre. He later served in the Korean War and was promoted to corporal.

Hawthorne was vice president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association.

“We acknowledge Navajo Code Talker Hawthorne’s service to our nation and to the United States of America, as well as the sacrifices of his family,” Vice President Nez said in the release. “One of the projects he worked hard for was to create a museum for the Navajo Code Talkers – we will continue working on this in his honor and in honor of all Navajo Code Talkers.”

“The Navajo Nation Council offers our appreciation and prayers to the family of Roy Hawthorne, for his countless contributions and distinct service for our Navajo people and our country.” stated Speaker LoRenzo Bates.

Hawthorne is Kinłichíí’nii or Red House People Clan and born for Bilagáana, the White People.

Navajo Nation Council offers condolences to the family of Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne, Sr.

— NavajoNationCouncil (@23rdNNC) April 23, 2018

In September 2015, Hawthorne and Code Talker Samuel Holiday returned to Camp Pendleton where the Navajo Nation Council honored them along with Major General Daniel J. O’Donohue, who served as the Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division, for their honorable service in World War II. The event marked the first time the two had returned to Camp Pendleton since enlisting with the Marine Corps.

During the event at Camp Pendleton, Hawthorne was presented an honorary coin from the Marine Corps. He spoke during the event and recalled the challenges that he and his fellow Code Talkers dealt with when leaving their homelands and in battle.

“When I was inducted into the Marine Corps and I raised my hand and swore allegiance to the United States of America, and I became a Marine, that’s when I became somebody. That’s when the whole world realized it wasn’t true that the Native Americans were non-achievers. That they were achievers,” Hawthorne said in a videotaped interview. “That’s what makes me very proud of the fact that we were chosen to do this specific task. And so we did.”

Council Delegate Raymond Smith, Jr., who represents the community of Tsé Si áni on the Council, also extended condolences to the family of Hawthorne and recalled him as a humble person, who sacrificed for his people and his country.

Code Talker Hawthorne was preceded in death by his wife, Jayne Hawthorne. He is survived by five children and 13 grandchildren.

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25 Under 25 Youth Leaders In Indian Country Announced

UNITY has announced the third class of its “25 Under 25 Native Youth Leaders” national recognition program that honors Native American and Alaska Native youth. The program, which launched in 2014 and is awarded every other year, recognizes and celebrates the achievements of Native youth leaders under the age of 25, who embody UNITY’s core mission and exudes living a balanced life developing their spiritual, mental, physical and social well-being.

“So many of our Native youth are doing amazing work in Indian Country. UNITY’s 25 Under 25 program is one way of recognizing these young leaders and acknowledging the passion they have to improve their communities. There was an overwhelming amount of applications from outstanding youth leaders across the nation. We offer our congratulations to the honorees and wish all nominees the very best,” said Mary Kim Titla, Executive Director for UNITY.

The 2018 Class of “25 Under 25 Native Youth Leaders” are:

  • Katherine Carmain, 16, Rosebud Sioux, Texas
  • Sapphire Carter, 24, Chippewa Cree, Montana
  • Shasta Dazen, 24, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Arizona
  • Nancy Deere-Turney, 23, Muscogee Creek Nation, Oklahoma
  • Jay Fife, 18, Muscogee Creek Nation, Oklahoma
  • Ashleigh Fixico, 21, Muscogee Creek Nation, Oklahoma
  • Frederick Gipp, 24, Apache Tribe, Oklahoma
  • Tristan Joe, 18, Navajo Nation, New Mexico
  • Maddie Lamb, 19, Muscogee Creek Nation, Oklahoma
  • Vonica LaPlante, 17, Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara, North Dakota
  • Jayden Lim, 16, Pomo, California
  • Faith Long, 19, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina
  • Xavier Medina, 19, Pascua Yaqui, Arizona
  • Elwood McClellan, Jr., 18, Iowa Tribe, Oklahoma
  • Audri Mitchell, 19, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Arizona
  • Tashoni Morales, 18, Yachi-Tokut/Te-Moak/Western Shoshone, California
  • Maritza Nuglene-Gomez, 18, Inupiat, Alaska
  • Lauren Shelly Pina, 18, San Carlos Apache, Arizona
  • Savanna Rilatos, 20, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Oregon
  • Lance Sanchez, 23, Tohono O’odham Nation, Arizona
  • Mariah Jordan Sharpe, 20, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Arizona
  • Kellian Staggers, 17, Navajo Nation, New Mexico
  • David Warmack, 16, Tohono O’odham Nation, Arizona
  • Jazmine Wildcat, 14, Northern Arapaho, Wyoming
  • Sky Wildcat, 22, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma

Unity Inc. website

UNITY has announced the third class of its “25 Under 25 Native Youth Leaders” national recognition program that honors Native American and Alaska Native youth.

The honorees will be recognized in front of peer youth leaders at the National UNITY Conference, which takes place July 5 – 9, 2018 in San Diego. In addition to the recognition, honorees will be offered the opportunity to receive hands-on learning experiences designed to build on their individual achievements. Applicants were judged by an independent committee who scored applications based on the strength of the application, nomination form, resume, supplemental information, and potential to impact Native America.

The National UNITY Conference is expected to attract nearly 2,000 attendees from across the country, representing Tribal and urban communities. The 5-day conference will focus on Native American and Alaska Native youth leadership development and feature renowned keynote speakers, youth trainers, more than 25 workshops, fitness activities, exhibitors and Native American vendors, a Career & College Expo, the UNITY Gala, and much more.  Click here to register now.

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Tribal Education Department’s National Assembly Hosts First TEDNA Regional Conference

During April 10-12, 2018, the Tribal Education Department’s National Assembly successfully hosted their first Regional Conference in New Buffalo, Michigan, hosted by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. The conference was geared toward “Education Sovereignty and Data.”

The Education Sovereignty and Data theme focused on research and development strategies and how tribal education departments can productively organize and analyze their education data. Conference workshop presenters and attendees spoke and discussed issues such as: tribal consultation, data quality, tribally endorsed digital badging, tribal language accreditation, and data analytics.

The Regional Conference keynote speakers included BIE Director Tony Dearman, Mark Trahant, Joyce Silverthorne, and Dr. Martin Reinhardt. The attendees from the conference were from the northeast region of the United States, and had traveled from Oklahoma, Alaska, California, and Arizona.

“We at TEDNA are very excited and content with the successful outcome of our first Regional Conference. We are very appreciative and thankful for every participant of the conference who assisted in helping this event be a momentous one for our organization,” according to the organization’s press release.

The next Regional Conference is planned for Albuquerque, New Mexico,  August 3-4, 2018. For more information visit


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

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May 5th Voted National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls in U.S.

Senator John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Senators Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., among other Congressional leaders announced Thursday that the Senate had passed a resolution designating May 5th as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls, MMIW / MMIWG.

“The epidemic of missing and murdered Native women and girls has tragically affected families and communities throughout Indian Country, including those in North Dakota,” Hoeven said.

“By standing together and raising awareness, we can promote solutions to prevent and combat the exploitation and violence that many Native women face,” he said. “This national day of awareness shines a light on this crisis, commemorates the lives lost, and signifies a bipartisan effort to advance critical protections for Native women and girls.”

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Hoeven recently secured a provision to require a three percent set-aside from the Crime Victims Fund be provided directly to Indian tribes – amounting to nearly $132 million per year for tribal victim assistance resources.

Hoeven has also convened multiple committee hearings on pressing tribal public safety issues, including a North Dakota field hearing on Native youth safety and an oversight hearing on combating human trafficking in Indian Country.

Also making changes in Indian country is Sen. Heitkamp who recently embarked on a #NotInvisible social media campaign that went viral and has been working on legislation known as Savannah’s Act to address Missing and Murdered Indigenous women in North America.

.@SenatorHeitkamp Embraces #NotInvisible Hashtag for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women #MMIW #MMIWG

Heitkamp also works with @NIWRC to introduce #SavannasLaw

via @IndianCountry @VinceSchilling

— Indian Country Today (@IndianCountry) December 6, 2017

Heitkamp told Indian Country Today: “There’s an epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. If we don’t have an urgent, national conversation about the causes and solutions, we’ll never prevent tragedies or get justice for victims.”

“The National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls is an opportunity to raise awareness, like I’ve done with the #NotInvisible campaign and through legislation like Savanna’s Act. It’s impossible to hear the stories and statistics and not be outraged that more action hasn’t been taken, so I urge everyone to take some time on May 5, and every day, to read about Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, Monica Wickre, Stella Marie Trottier-Graves, Lakota Rae Renville, Lindsay Vivier White, and countless others.”

“We owe it to them to not only remember, but take action to prevent these heinous crimes in the future.”

Though there are a multitude of efforts in Canada to create awareness regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls MMIW / MMIWG, to include a national Canadian inquiry, this is the first such legislation of its kind in the United States.

The post May 5th Voted National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls in U.S. appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos Renew Georgia Swarm Sponsorship Deal For Three Seasons

The 2017 NLL World Champion Georgia Swarm is proud to announce that Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has renewed their co-presenting sponsorship of the Swarm for the next three seasons. The three-year deal with the casino also ensures that the Swarm continues to play on Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field during home games at Infinite Energy Arena.

The Georgia Swarm National Professional Lacrosse team has eight Native American players on its roster.

“For the past three years the Swarm have been fantastic partners – not only for our business but also with our community here in Cherokee,” said Brooks Robinson, Regional Senior Vice President and General Manager of Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos in a release. “Their representation on the field and service to our community made this an easy decision!”

“I am so grateful for the relationship that exists between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Georgia Swarm,” Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Richard Sneed said in the release. “Through the Harrah’s Cherokee Resort and Valley River Casino sponsorship, we have developed a true friendship with the team, the organization and the owners. I look forward to continued mutually beneficial success as both the Swarm and the Harrah’s organization continue to grow and prosper.”

How many players does it take to stop this guy…? ?@lyle4thompson | #swarming?

— Georgia Swarm (@GeorgiaSwarmLAX) April 27, 2018

As part of the renewal, the Swarm will keep its patented Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos branding on both their home and away uniforms. This summer, the Swarm will continue to host a youth lacrosse camp on the Cherokee Reservation with Swarm players. The camp is free to Cherokee youth and has featured the Thompson Brothers in year’s past.

“We’ve developed a great relationship with Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians over the past three years,” Swarm Co-Owner and President Andy Arlotta said. “The Cherokee Community has welcomed us with open arms from day one, and we’ve built many close friendships in the process. This partnership has continued to evolve each season; we couldn’t be more excited to be working together again for the next three years.”

The Swarm recently hosted its third annual Native American Heritage Night presented by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on March 24. During its 17-12 win against the New England Black Wolves, the Swarm donned special Cherokee-themed uniforms. The uniforms honored the centuries-old sport of Cherokee stickball.

On Native American Heritage Night on March 24th at the Infinite Energy Arena. Lyle Thompson, Onondaga, celebrated by scoring his 100th career goal.

The Swarm’s final home game of the 2017-18 season at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena is against the Vancouver Stealth on April 28 at 7:05 p.m. ET. Fans can get tickets at or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.

For more information about Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel an enterprise of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, visit their websites.


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

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Native Players, Coaches, and an Owner Making Waves In Professional Lacrosse

Fans of the Georgia Swarm in the National Lacrosse League celebrated Native American Heritage Night on March 24th at the Infinite Energy Arena. Lyle Thompson, Onondaga, celebrated by scoring his 100th career goal.

It was just another night for a professional Native athlete playing the Creator’s Game.

1⃣0⃣0⃣@lyle4thompson | #swarming?

— Georgia Swarm (@GeorgiaSwarmLAX) March 29, 2018

Thompson is among the many Native players currently playing professional lacrosse for the National Lacrosse League. Others making waves and representing their culture — and who were able to give comments to Indian Country Today — are Kyle Jackson, Aamjiwnaang First Nations, and Quinn Powless, Six Nations Mohawk, who both play for the Rochester Knighthawks, and Lyle’s brother Jerome Thompson, Onondaga, also with the Georgia Swarm.

Congrats to @lyle4thompson on scoring his 100th @NLL goal tonight!

Plenty more to come ?#swarming?

— Georgia Swarm (@GeorgiaSwarmLAX) March 25, 2018

The professional league says Native American players and owners make a serious impression on the sport.

The New England Black Wolves team is partially owned by the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut, the Rochester Knighthawks, has a Native American co-owner/General Manager, and the Georgia Swarm, the defending league champs, has eight Native American players on its roster.

In January of this year, The Buffalo Bandits announced the return of the Native American Scholarship, which was presented on Native American Night on Saturday, Feb. 10, when the Bandits faced the Georgia Swarm.

In an interview with Indian Country Today’s Associate Editor Vincent Schilling, several Native professional lacrosse players shared their thoughts on what it’s like to play the Creator’s Game as professionals.

Vincent Schilling: How does it feel to play the Creator’s Game at a national level?

Quinn Powless: It’s a huge opportunity to play in the NLL. I’m happy to be representing my community.”

Quinn Powless – photo by Micheline Veluvolu.

Kyle Jackson: I take great pride in playing a sport that is so tied to my culture. Growing up, I was not integrated into the culture as much as I would have wanted, but throughout the course of my later years my family has dived head first into our culture. Playing the national summer sport of Canada, that was originally created by my culture, is a pretty cool experience. With various Native American nights around the league, it’s a great opportunity for the NLL to showcase the variety within the league. It is not a sport for one particular race/ethnicity/gender or age group. This is a universal game that can and should be shared with everyone.

Lyle Thompson: It makes me proud, part of who I am, proud of where I come from. I feel like for me, being Native American and living it, not just hearing about it or learning about it, growing up living this way with the game being instilled in our culture, it feels like there’s a little bit more weight on my shoulders in how I represent the game, if I have to do that a certain way. But it’s easy because I’ve lived this my whole life. My dad has preached it on the way we’re supposed to play. At the same time, I feel like it’s important for me to spread the game because I want to see it grow because I know where its come, and I want to be a part of where it’s going to go.

Vincent Schilling: In the NLL, there are a lot of Native American athletes, as well as owners. This is different compared to other professional leagues. Does this mean something to you?

Jerome Thompson:  It feels good to know that Native American people, the people who pretty much invented the game of lacrosse, that are able to go out and play this game and show it too. It’s a young game, it’s growing very fast. It’s an honor to be able to show it to kids and we want to help kids get into the sport we grew up playing our whole lives.

Photo by Josh Schaefer/

Jerome Thompson celebrates with the championship cup for the Georgia Swarm.

Vincent Schilling: In what ways do you honor your Native American roots as a professional athlete?​

Lyle Thompson: Just the way I present myself and the way I play. I go out and make sure that I play at a high level partly because ever since I was a kid, I’ve been taught to play the game a certain way, but also just because someone new might be watching me, and I personally want to represent the game and I represent more than that. I want to represent myself, and a huge part of that is my culture. Looking at the Iroquois Nationals, there’s a lot of pride throwing on that jersey, and I always use that example just because of the feeling I get when I get the opportunity to play for Iroquois. So I do the same things when playing in the NLL. I’m just proud of who I am. I want to show that and I want to let people know. I do that by the way I present myself.

Jerome Thompson:  I give thanks before every game, before it starts, I give thanks that I’m able to play that game just along with  every other thing that we give thanks for. That’s something that I do before every game, so that’s how I carry it on in that way.

For more information about professional lacrosse, visit the National Lacrosse League website at

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

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Trump Administration Supports Changing Indian Health Programs That Will Sabotage Treaty Rights

The Trump administration is supporting a major policy shift on Indian health programs which could result in a loss of millions of dollars to the Indian Health Service while also sabotaging treaty rights.

A story in Politico Sunday raised the issue. It said, “the Trump administration contends the tribes are a race rather than separate governments, and exempting them from Medicaid work rules — which have been approved in three states and are being sought by at least 10 others — would be illegal preferential treatment. ‘HHS believes that such an exemption would raise constitutional and federal civil rights law concerns,’ according to a review by administration lawyers,” Politico said.

Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed in January that the Health and Human Services contends that tribes are a race as opposed to a separate sovereign government, thus not exempt from Medicaid work rules.

This survey is very insightful. Doctors know that helping individuals rise out of poverty can be the best medicine! #TransformingMedicaid

— Administrator Seema Verma (@SeemaCMS) April 4, 2018

The Trump administration has allowed Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana to institute work-requirements in order to eligible for Medicaid. Other states are in the process of seeking similar requirements where Medicaid participants would have to work some 20 to 80 hours each month in order to continue receiving the health insurance.

Screen capture via 'Families USA'

A graphic on Medicaid expansion by state.

The new policy on Medicaid work requirements “does not honor the duty of the federal government to uphold the government-to-government relationship and recognize the political status enshrined in the Constitution, treaties, federal statutes, and other federal laws,” said Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. “Our political relationship is not based upon race.”

“The United States has a legal responsibility to provide health care to Native Americans,” Mary Smith, who was acting head of the Indian Health Service during the Obama administration and is a member of the Cherokee Nation, told Politico. “It’s the largest prepaid health system in the world — they’ve paid through land and massacres — and now you’re going to take away health care and add a work requirement?”

Medicaid has become a key funding stream for the Indian health system — especially in programs managed by tribes and non-profits. Medicaid is a state-federal partnership and public insurance. The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility, but the Supreme Court ruled that each state could decide whether or not to expand. Since the expansion of Medicaid some 237,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives in 19 states have become insured.

Officially Medicaid represents 13 percent of the Indian Health Service’s $6.1 billion budget (just under $800 million).

But even that number is misleading because it does not include money collected from third-party billing from tribal and non-profit organizations. In Alaska, for example, the entire Alaska Native health system is operated by tribes or tribal organizations and the state says 40 percent of its $1.8 billion Medicaid budget is spent on Alaska Native patients. That one state approaches the entire “budgeted” amount for Medicaid.

Other states report similar increases. In 2016, Kaiser Family Foundation found that in Arizona, half of one tribally-operated health system’s patient visits were covered by Medicaid. And, an urban Indian Health program reported that its uninsured rate at one clinic fell from 85 percent before the Affordable Care Act to under 10 percent due to Medicaid enrollment.

Those Medicaid (and all insurance) dollars are even more significant because by law they remain with local service units where the patient is treated (and the insurance is billed). In Alaska more than two-thirds of those dollars are spent on private sector doctors and hospitals through purchased care for Alaska Native patients. And, unlike IHS funds, Medicaid is an entitlement. So if a person is eligible, the money follows.

A recent report by Kaiser Health News looked at Census data and found that 52 percent of residents in New Mexico’s McKinley County have coverage through the Medicaid.  That’s the highest rate among U.S. counties with at least 65,000 people. “The heavy concentration of Medicaid in this high-altitude desert is a result of two factors: the high poverty rate and the Indian Health Service’s relentless work to enroll patients in the program,” Kaiser reported. Most of McKinley County is located on the Navajo and Zuni reservations.

Kaiser Health News said Medicaid has opened up new opportunities for Native patients to “get more timely care, especially surgery and mental health services. It has been vital in combating high rates of obesity, teen birth, suicide and diabetes, according to local health officials.”

However the growth of Medicaid is resulting in unequal care for patients in the Indian health system. The benefits in some states, including those that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, are more generous. Other states not only refused to expand Medicaid and have been adding new restrictions such as requiring “able-bodied” adults to have their Medicaid eligibility contingent on work.

But the Indian health system — the federal Indian Health Service and tribally and nonprofit operated programs — are in a special case because there is a 100 percent federal match for most services. So states set the rules, but do not have to pay the bill. (Medicaid is often the second largest single item in a state budget behind public schools.)

Medicaid is the largest health insurance program in America, insuring one in five adults, and many with complex and long-term chronic care needs. The Trump administration and many state legislatures controlled by Republicans see Medicaid as a welfare program. While most Democrats view it simply as a public health insurance program.

Work rules are particularly challenging for Indian Country. Unlike other Medicaid programs, patients in the Indian health system will still be eligible to receive basic care. So stricter rules will mean fewer people will sign up for Medicaid and the Indian Health Service — already significantly underfunded — will have to pick up the extra costs from existing appropriations. That will result in less money, and fewer healthcare services, across the board.

A letter from the Tribal Technical Advisory Group for Medicare and Medicaid said American Indians and Alaska Natives “are among the nation’s most vulnerable populations, and rely heavily on the IHS for health care. However, the IHS is currently funded at around 60 percent of need, and average per capita spending for IHS patients is only $3,688.” The latest per person cost for health care nationally is $10,348 (totalling $3.3 trillion, nearly 20 percent of the entire economy).

Screen capture Kaiser Family Foundation

Uninsured rate for nonelderly American Indians and Alaska Natives from 2013-2015.

The tribal advisory group said it is “critically important” that there be a blanket exemption for IHS beneficiaries from the mandatory work requirements.

A report in September by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that the majority of American Indians and Alaska Natives on Medicaid already work, yet continue to face high rates of poverty. It said over three-quarters of American Indians and Alaska Natives are in working families, but that’s a gap of about 8 percent compared to other Americans (83 percent).

Screen capture Kaiser Family Foundation

Income and work status for nonelderly American Indians and Alaska Natives from 2015

The Trump administration’s characterization of tribal health programs as “race-based” is particularly troubling to tribal leaders because it would reverse historical precedence.

A memo last month from the law firm of Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “has ample legal authority to single out IHS beneficiaries for special treatment in administering the statutes under its jurisdiction if doing so is rationally related to its unique trust responsibility to Indians. Under familiar principles of Indian law, such actions are political in nature, and as a result do not constitute prohibited race based classifications. This principle has been recognized and repeatedly reaffirmed by the Supreme Court and every Circuit Court of Appeals that has considered it, and has been extended to the actions of Administrative Agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services even in the absence of a specific statute.”

(The National Congress of American Indians is the owner of Indian Country Today and manages its business operations. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently as a digital journalism enterprise.)

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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Four Efforts To Increase #MMIW Awareness Include A Film, Website, Law And Daily Tweet

The efforts to increase awareness regarding the terrible tragedies of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, #MMIW and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls #MMIWG, are getting an increased boost in exposure due to a new Washington state law, a continuous daily tweet that gets hundreds of shares and retweets daily, a new documentary film titled 1200+ and a new MMIW data website run by a doctoral student.

Thanks to the Washington law and the documentary, new evidence is to be introduced at a state, national and international level, including in the United States and Canada.

These four efforts include the following:

The Documentary Film 1200+

During the United Nations’ 62 session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, there was a film screening of a documentary about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.

The film titled, 1200+, focuses on a region in Canada where the Indigenous community has been tragically impacted by Indigenous women and girls who are victims of violence, kidnapping, sex trafficking and murder. The documentary was created and produced by journalist Sheila North, who is now the Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, and filmmaker Leonard Yakir.

Canada’s law enforcement claim there are over 1,200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, but  independent reports ascertain the number is in the several thousands. In the documentary, North examines how and why these women and girls go missing.

“We need to raise awareness and bring international attention to the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada,” said Grand Chief North in a release.

“My passion for these women and girls, and their stories, is based on personal experience. Not only am I from a family who has experienced such a loss, I was a young Indigenous woman myself, and I can look back and see all the dangerous situations I was put in while living as an Indigenous woman in the urban environment. Now, as someone with more life experience, I know those dark corners of Canada’s town and cities that need more light, that need more helping hands reaching in, and that’s a big reason I made this documentary.”

“Indigenous families and communities are hurting and missing loved ones right across the country. The focus of ‘1200+’ is the families in Manitoba, which some call ground-zero for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issue,” said Leonard Yakir. “…hopefully awareness and understanding will also bring change.”

According to the filmmakers, the rights to the film are with CTV in Canada to televise the film. CTV provided permission to host an initial special screening in the US. The final version has not yet screened and the producers hope to have it go through the film festivals.

1200+ film trailer on Vimeo

MMIW Database Website

MMIW Database website screen capture

A new Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls database website has been built and is actively maintained by a Southern Cheyenne doctoral student, Annita Lucchesi. According to Lucchesi’s latest database collections, she currently has 2,501 cases in the database, 66% of the cases are murder cases, and 38% have occured in the United States.

“The MMIW Database logs cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people in Canada and the United States, from 1900 to the present,” Lucchesi writes on her website.

Lucchesi continues, “​There are many lists and sources of information online, but no central database that is routinely updated, includes both Canada and the US, and thoroughly logs important aspects of the data, and overall, there is a chronic lack of data on this violence. The database works to address that need, by maintaining a comprehensive resource to support community members, advocates, activists, and researchers in their work towards justice for our stolen sisters.”

Lucchesi writes that she is a survivor of domestic and sexual violence, and is doing her dissertation research on community projects mapping this data.

Visit the MMIW database website here.  For more information about Annita Lucchesi, visit her website.

A New Washington State Law Orders A Study On How To Increase Reporting on MMIW

A new Washington initiative known as House Bill 2951–ordering a study to determine how to increase reporting and investigation of missing Indigenous / Native American women–was recently voted into law.

As described in an article by Crosscut, State Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, has proposed requiring the state patrol to work with tribal law enforcement, federally recognized tribes, urban Indian organizations and the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs to come up with better ways to report and identify missing Indigenous / Native American women throughout Washington state.

“There’s currently no comprehensive data collection system for reporting or tracking missing Native American women,” McCabe said in January. “That’s a travesty and I know Washington can do better.”

A Senate version was introduced in February. Currently, there is no master list of missing Native Americans that could be shared among organizations and government agencies who have up until this law’s passage, have kept their own data.

A Daily Tweet

Since April 08, 2014, Delores Schilling, co-host of the online radio program Native Trailblazers, has been tweeting a daily tweet in an attempt to generate awareness regarding the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada.

Her tweet states: “I have been tweeting this everyday. Will you join me? Over 4200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women – #MMIW.”

I have been tweeting this everyday.

Will you join me?

Over 4200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women – #MMIW

— Delores Schilling (@DelSchilling) April 19, 2018

Each day, due to her nearly 22,000 followers and continuous efforts over the past four years, @DelSchilling’s tweet gets hundreds of retweets and shares. Her tweet often gets support from a plethora of big name celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Ellen Barkin and more.

Though her efforts have been consistently successful in generating awareness, Schilling also gets backlash due to the increased exposure. She has been threatened with violence, cursed at and ridiculed. She says she will not be deterred.


Regarding the Tweet I Tweet Daily:

Please don’t Politicize the Deaths of Relatives.

It is Painful and Disrespectful.

Already, I have a folder with threats, and Racial Slurs in response to a Tweet that is for one reason.

I tweet it for Awareness.

— Delores Schilling (@DelSchilling) February 17, 2018

On April 08, 2018. One of her followers pointed out she had been doing this for four years. In these four years, Schilling has tweeted every day, and has never missed a 24-hour period in that time.

Schilling says, “The families never miss one day of thinking about their missing or murdered loved one, I owe them that time to think about them.”

Graphic by Vincent Schilling

The efforts regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women get a boost with a new Wash. state law and a data website, a continuous daily tweet, and the documentary film 1200+

Disclosure: Delores Schilling is married to Vincent Schilling.

Troubling statistics regarding MMIW / MMIWG

The National Crime Information Database

5,712 known incidents of missing and murdered Indigenous women in 2016

National Institute of Justice

More than four out of five Native women have experienced violence in their lives.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Homicide the third-leading cause of death among Native women ages 10 to 24.

U.S. Department of Justice

Native women living on reservations are 10 times more likely to be murdered than those off the reservation.


See Indian Country Today’s related extensive coverage: 

A Comprehensive Report on MMIW: The Curiously Different Tales of Violence against Indigenous Women On Both Sides of Turtle Island


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

The post Four Efforts To Increase #MMIW Awareness Include A Film, Website, Law And Daily Tweet appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Mark Trahant, Jodi Gillette Host “Standing Rock and the Media” Livestream

Thousands of spectators are expected to attend the 48th annual UND Time Out Week and Wacipi. As part of the discussion during the activities are Indian Country Today editor Mark Trahant, and former presidential advisor to American Indian affairs during the Obama Administration, Jodi Gillette, who participated in the Livestream discussion, “Standing Rock and the Media.”

Watch the video of the event here:

To share the event, as the Livestream concluded noon EST, use the hashtag #StandingRockMediaUND.

The video is still available via link outside of this article at

This week: Standing Rock and the Media at UND.#StandingRockMediaUND #TimeOutWeek
UND Indian Association Time-Out Wacipi (UNDIA) See schedule & speaker here

— UND Indian Studies (@myundais) April 16, 2018

The 48th Annual Wacipi, or pow wow, will end a week of educational events that bring in people from across the nation to enjoy American Indian culture. All events are free.

“The Wacipi Powwow is a wonderful celebration and rare opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture that requires one only to walk across campus,” said UND President Mark Kennedy in a release. “All students should take advantage of the opportunity to broaden their horizons.”

Students who attend the Wacipi, which will take place April 20 and 21 in the Hyslop Sports Center on the UND campus, will be eligible to win a scholarship. A total of $5,000 in scholarships will be given over the two days of the Wacipi.

“A pow wow is a celebration of life,” said the UND Indian Association, in the release, which organizes the Wacipi each year. “It’s a time when people of all ages can gather together to sing, dance, renew old friendships, make new friends and share the beauty of life. The contest portion of the event, with its strong rhythms and the dancers’ spectacular outfits and energy, is a highlight of cultural life in Greater Grand Forks.”

The Wacipi is one of UND’s signature annual events for the public. It’s also an important component of UND’s strategic efforts to foster a more welcoming, safe and inclusive campus climate.

Important discussions

Time Out Week, which is organized by the UND Indian Studies Association, features educational programming and the opportunity to take time out to learn something new.

The keynote speaker is Steve Martin, a UND alumnus who owns KS Energy, a power generation and asset management company in Botswana. He is set to give his talk at 10 a.m. Friday, April 20, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

Educational sessions on the Standing Rock tribe and Dakota Access Pipeline protests were organized by Mark Trahant, Chuck Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism in the UND Department of Communication.

“Standing Rock was an historic moment for the news media,” said Trahant. “Here we had a huge North Dakota story at a time when journalism resources were stretched. What can we learn from that now? How can the press as an institution be better prepared? And how can governments tell their story, too?  We have some great panelists from working journalists to public officials who can help us understand the complexity.”

“Standing Rock & the Media” will include multiple sessions beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday and running throughout the day. A full schedule is below.

Time Out Week events will be held in the Memorial Union Ballroom unless otherwise indicated.

The programming schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, April 17

  • 6 p.m., AISES Family Science Night, Memorial Union Ballroom

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

  • 9 a.m., RAIN presents “Telling Our Story: A Cultural Presentation on the Dakota and Mandan Hidatsa Arikara,” Memorial Union Lecture Bowl
  • 1 p.m., Opening Ceremony & Welcome
    • Remarks by UND President Mark Kennedy, Vice President for Student Affairs & Diversity Cara Halgren and UNDIA/ISA President Hannah Balderas
  • 2 p.m., A Discussion on Human Trafficking” with Ruth Buffalo
  • 3 p.m., #MMIW Awareness Walk by Society of Indian Psychologists
  • 5 p.m Native Youth Leading Youth by Society of Indian Psychologists

Thursday, April 19, Mark Trahant (Communication) presents “Standing Rock & the Media”

  • 9 a.m., Slide show of Standing Rock news stories, video and photographs
  • 9:30 a.m., “A Conversation with Jodi Gillette”
  • 11 a.m., Panel of Reporters
    • Sandy Tolan, LA Times
    • Renee Jean, Williston Herald
    • Jason Begay, Montana Journalism Review
  • 12:15 p.m., Lunch provided by Department of Communication and College of Arts & Sciences
  • 1 p.m., Hagerty Lecture Keynote with Jenni Monet
  • 2 p.m., “Challenges of Communicating the Government’s Story,” Nicole Willis, Standing Rock
  • 3:30 p.m., “What We’ve Learned?” A Townhall and Debriefing with Mike Jacobs
  • 6 p.m., Dream Building and Live Music with Fire Rose Indigenous Recording Artist

Friday, April 20, 2018

  • 9 a.m., Tribal Visit Day – Check in
  • 10 a.m., Closing Keynote with Steve Martin, CEO, KS Energy
  • 11:30 a.m.- 5 p.m., Tribal Visit Day – Campus tour
  • Noon, Northern Plains Indian Law Center Distinguished Indian Law Speaker “Indigenous Governance and Strong Sustainability,” with Grant Christensen, UND School of Law associate professor, Law School Baker Courtroom
  • 1-6 p.m., Visit Greater Grand Forks
  • 7 p.m., Time Out Wacipi Grand Entry, UND Hyslop Sports Center, 2751 2nd Avenue North

Saturday, April 21

  • 1 p.m., Time Out Wacipi Grand Entry, Hyslop Sports Center

The post Mark Trahant, Jodi Gillette Host “Standing Rock and the Media” Livestream appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Who Will Be Our First Founding Member?

From September through February I have heard about the importance of saving Indian Country Today. So many people across Indian Country had the same idea:

What if … What if we all contribute?

What if I step up to make certain Indian Country has solid, accurate, fair reporting?

Is it worth it to save this voice? A national media platform for Indian concerns?  And how much will it take?

Yes. Yes. And the answer is a lot  — or perhaps a few tax-deductible dollars if we all contribute together.

We are building a new Indian Country Today on a public media model. We will have some advertising, but most of our resources will come from members, tribes, enterprises, and non-profits.

We need you.

We thought we would start this process with some fun. We are launching a membership drive and an auction.

The membership drive will solicit help from our “members” as $100 Founding Members, $500 Sustaining Members, and $1,000 for Premier Members.  

Unlike public media we don’t have nifty gifts as a thank you. No t-shirts. No coffee mugs. Just a better news report. We want to use the money to build our news operation, a multimedia reporting platform about what’s going on across Indian Country. We’ll stretch your dollars by partnering with other organizations, and amplify our reporting by letting others repurpose our editorial content.  

We will serve.

Who Will Be Our First Founding Member?

The new Indian Country Today is launching a membership drive
Top bid will be forever known as Indian Country Today’s: “First Founding Member”

Article / Info –

Donate to our campaign here:

— Indian Country Today (@IndianCountry) April 18, 2018

To get us started we are hosting an auction: Who ever bids the most will be designated Founding Member 001. This person will be our First Founding Member.

We will honor them in Indian Country Today and thank them across social media. (And if your bid is not the most … we are still happy to accept your donation.)

If you can’t afford $100, consider sending a few dollars. This is important. We don’t want to leave anyone out. (As we get going, later, we plan on a monthly membership plan that will cost only $10 a month … something to think about.)

If it isn’t possible for you to donate, don’t count yourself out by any means. Please share this message with your friends and colleagues on social media and email. This is important, and your willingness to share this message is more helpful than you might imagine. If you share this with a person who is able to donate, we all benefit immensely.

Indian Country Today is going to be a new kind of journalism (just wait until you see the platform we are building) and we can use your help to get us launched.

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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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Tribal Sovereignty? Yes … But If It Doesn’t Impact Big Donors To The Democratic Party

Tribal sovereignty is one of those phrases that wins near universal support in Congress. Unless, that is, the rights of tribes interfere with a bigger constituent group. Then it becomes “tribal sovereignty, but …”

A bill before the Senate Monday would have recognized that tribal governments have same authority as other governments over organized labor.

The issue goes back to 2004 when the National Labor Relations Board asserted jurisdiction over tribal enterprises — read casinos — even when those operations were tribally-owned and within the boundaries of a reservation.

This was a reversal of some seven decades of labor policy. “As a practical matter the decision invites labor organizations to organize tribal commercial operations, particularly casinos,” wrote D. Michael McBride III  and H. Leonard Court in the John Marshall Legal Review.  

“The decision conflicts with laws promoting the self-government and economic development of tribes, infringes on some tribes’ treaty rights to exclude non-members and departs from well-established canons of construction that favor tribal sovereignty when treaties or laws remain ambiguous or silent. In short, the decision is a major blow to the inherent power of tribes to regulate themselves and to exclude non-members, a basic attribute of sovereignty, whether protected by treaty or not.”

Tribes want this authority back. And the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act would have done just that.  The measure was introduced by Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican. The bills were included in a package that included legislation for White Mountain water rights and a lease for Santa Clara Pueblo.

“It’s a restoration of sovereign status of tribal governments,” that Moran said existed for seventy years. “The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act is simple and narrow.” He said it only exempts tribal government owned enterprises, not those owned by corporations or individual tribal members. “Many of those who have expressed opposition to this bill say, ‘I support tribal sovereignty but …’ If you have to qualify tribal sovereignty to protect your own interests instead of the tribes, then, no, you really don’t support tribal sovereignty.”

This bill would rightfully restore the sovereign status of tribal governments and once again allow tribal governments, elected by their members, to possess the right to make informed decisions on behalf of those they represent. I urge my colleagues to support its passage.

— Senator Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) April 16, 2018

However New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall said he supported the legislation, but called on Republican leaders to do more on Indian issues.  “I wanted a better deal for Indian Country. Indian Country had to wait 10 years for today’s vote. We should have had full opportunity to bring other issues on the table. Housing, public safety, self-determination and self-governance – these are equally deserving of the Senate’s consideration,” Udall said on the floor. “We could have considered legislation that would do more to unite us, than to divide us.”

The House version of the legislation passed last month on a bipartisan 239-173 vote with 23 Democrats joining 216 Republicans to support it. Monday night the Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation. The final vote was 55 in favor and 41.

Not invoked, 55-41: Cloture on the motion to concur in the House Amendment to S.140, Tribal Labor Sovereignty.

— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) April 16, 2018

National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel recently wrote an op-ed in The Hill newspaper where he said the “north star” ought to be tribal sovereignty and the treatment of tribes the same as other government entities.

Congress deliberately excluded from the National Labor Relations Act coverage of public sector employers. As such, state, local, and federal government employers have always been excluded from the definition of “employer. “So, too, were tribal government employers until 2004, when the NLRB arbitrarily decided to interpret the law in a new and unfounded way,” Keel wrote.

“Sovereignty means tribes should be allowed to make their own decisions about their own workforce policies,” Keel wrote.

Keel is the Lt. Gov. of the Chickasaw Tribe of Oklahoma. “The truth is that many tribal nations openly welcome labor unions into the businesses that they own; others choose not to. And a growing number have designed and enforce their own labor regulations. But the NLRB ignores all of this and, instead, forces tribal governments to adhere to the NLRA. Just us. No one else. This is a plain violation of our inherent rights as sovereign nations and governments.”

But on Capitol Hill this legislation has been framed as anti-union measure. A statement by the AFL-CIO, for example, said “fundamental human rights of employees are not the exclusive concern of tribal enterprises or tribal governments.

In fact, the vast majority of employees of these commercial enterprises, such as the casinos, are not Native Americans. They therefore have no voice in setting tribal policy, and no recourse to tribal governments for the protection of their rights.”

Then that’s true of other governments that employ people across borders. A resident of Washington, D.C., working in Virginia. Or vice versa.

The AFL-CIO takes a line of logic that’s similar to that of former Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Washington, that tribes are only member-based organizations, not governments. The union said it may be appropriate for tribes to have governing authority when “the enterprise is mainly comprised of Native American employees, with mainly Native American customers, and involving self-governance or intramural affairs, that may be the appropriate result.

However, where the business employs primarily non-Native American employees and caters to primarily non-Native American customers, there is no basis for depriving employees of their rights and protections under the National Labor Relations Act.”

Most Democrats voted to support that logic. Only one Republican voted against the bill, Rob Portman of Ohio. Seven Democrats voted to advance the legislation, former Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine of Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Mark Warner of Virginia.

At least one union official warned Democrats that campaign funds would be cut for those who did support the legislation. Unite Here President D. Taylor told the Washington Examiner that “It is the height of hypocrisy and completely dishonest for Democrats to deny workers their right to have a union.”

But tribal leaders said this is just another example of tribal governments being treated differently than states or cities (a refrain that was heard during the debate on the tax legislation championed by Republicans). A point that Udall made during the Senate floor debate. “Let there be no mistake: Indian Country loses when we give in to partisan rancor. We’ve seen this play out before,” he said. “When the trillion dollar tax cut was rammed through this chamber without any input from my Democratic colleagues, what happened? Indian Tribes were entirely left out in the cold. There was not a single provision for Indian Tribes in a trillion dollar package.”

“This is about governments that are recognized under the Constitution,” said NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Pata, Tlingit. “There is an assumption that workers don’t have rights in Indian Country.” That’s not correct, she said, tribes do lead on workers’ issues including the increase in minimum wage standards.

(The National Congress of American Indians is the owner of Indian Country Today and manages its business operations. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently as a digital journalism enterprise.)


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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Are You A Creative Native? Submit To The Center For Native American Youth Art Initiative

The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) has announced their launch of the first ever Creative Native Call for Art as part of the Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative.

The Creative Native call for artwork is an initiative that supports young Indigenous artists ages 5 to 24-years-old and provides the opportunity to receive national recognition, funding for art supplies, and a $200 prize.

In addition to the overall submissions, there is an additional opportunity for Native youth artists between 15 and 24-years-old to be the cover artist for CNAY’s 2018 State of Native Youth Report. The cover artist will be flown to Washington, D.C. to participate in the reports release event in November.

See related article: Center For Native American Youth Releases 2nd Annual ‘State of Native Youth’ Report

Courtesy CNAY

On November 15th, the Center for Native American Youth at The Aspen Institute (CNAY) released its second annual State of Native Youth report created by Native youth artist 

The Gen-I initiative focuses on removing the barriers that stand between Native American youth and their opportunity to succeed.

Artists who submit an entry to the Creative Native Call for Art will be counted as a Gen-I challenge activity and artists ages 14 to 24 will also be recognized as Gen-I Ambassadors. As Ambassadors, the artists join a network of Native leaders and get continued access to exclusive leadership and advocacy opportunities.

Click here to learn more about the Gen-I Network.

See related article: Center for Native American Youth Releases GEN-I Map to Connect Native Youth

Art Submission and Eligibility Requirements

Art submissions must answer the question: What does Generation Indigenous mean to me?

Submission photos and images will only be accepted electronically through the online Creative Native Entry Form. Submissions will be reviewed by an independent review committee, which will select one awardee from each age category: 5-9-year-olds; 10-14; 15-19; and 20-24.

Examples of submissions can include, but are not limited to paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures, and traditional works such as beadwork, carvings, and baskets. Artists can submit a maximum of three entries. Artists will need to submit separate forms for every entry.

To be eligible, artists must:

Self-identify as Indigenous
Be between the ages of 5 and 24-years-old by the submission deadline
Currently reside in the United States
Provide a signature from a parent, guardian or legal representative if under 18-years-old
Submit a high-resolution image or photograph of an original work of art

Deadline and details

Artists may submit up to three (3) images of each artwork, displaying alternate angles and perspectives. Submissions are due at 11:59 pm Eastern Time on May 9th, 2018.

Click here for a complete list of Rules & Guidelines.

Click here to submit your art.  

If you have any questions, you may contact

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Manito Ahbee Festival Hosting Free Indigenous Music Conference For Native Musicians

The Manito Ahbee Festival, which celebrates Indigenous arts, culture, and music in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, will be hosting the Indigenous-based Manito Ahbee Festival Music Conference as part of its offerings this May 17 and 18 at the Delta Winnipeg Hotel.

At the free conference, industry professionals will sit down with Native American and First Nations musicians and music industry professionals for round-table discussions and one-on-one meetings. Topics will include management, publicity, marketing, festivals, radio and more.

This Indigenous Music Conference gives Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and industry members a free opportunity to learn about how they can take their careers to the next level.

Though the Indigenous Music Conference event is free, Advance registration is required, and space is limited.

Registration opens April 19

More info about the conference here:

The list of industry professionals released by festival coordinators includes the following:

Meet the delegates for the 2018 Indigenous Music Conference!#IgniteYourSpirit

— Manito Ahbee (@manitoahbee) April 11, 2018

Bill Leblanc
Artist, New Leaf Entertainment
Sharing the stage with contemporaries like Run DMC, The Game and childhood heroes Buffy Sainte-Marie and The Guess Who, Rellik’s musical journey has been a dream come true for someone who has overcome adversity and truly flourished.

Billy Simard
Billy Simard won the Manitoba Association of Country Music songwriter of the year award in 1991. In 1999 he also took home the award for Country/Folk Album of the year in the first Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. He was inducted into the Manitoba Aboriginal Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

Charlie Wall-Andrews
Executive Director, SOCAN Foundation
In her position at the SOCAN Foundation, which fosters Canadian music creation by providing grants and awards, she specializes in Corporate Social Responsibility, strategy, revenue generation, and entrepreneurship.

David McLeod
CEO, Native Communications Inc.
David McLeod (member of the Pine Creek First Nation) is the CEO of Native Communications Incorporated (NCI-FM), which operates a Manitoba wide radio network, heard from Winnipeg to Churchill via 57 transmitters and the Winnipeg station NOW Country 104.7 FM.

Elaine Bomberry
Artist Manager, Murray Porter
Elaine is Ojibway/Cayuga, from Six Nations, Ontario. She has worked as a freelance Indigenous Arts activist/promoter/producer for 31 years. For 12 years running, Elaine manages Juno winner, Native blues piano man, Murray Porter.

Emily Smart
Director of Marketing & Publicity, Six Shooter Records
Emily is the Director of Marketing & Publicity at Six Shooter Records (Tanya Tagaq, Whitehorse, etc), and owner of independent publicity company Tire Fire Press (Aakuluk Music, Heavy Bell, Beatrice Deer & more).

Jeff Leake
Director, Music Programming, Sirius XM Canada
Jeff has interviewed the biggest names in entertainment over his 20+ years in radio. Leake made a true impact in the Canadian music industry when he signed on to launch the Canadian indie music channel The Verge.

Julien Desaulniers
Artistic Producer, Festival du Voyageur
Julien is the Artistic Director for Festival du Voyageur, Western Canada’s largest winter festival. Celebrating the Franco-Manitoban culture, the festival features over 150 artists from a huge range of genres and styles.

Kerry Clarke
Artistic Director, Calgary Folk Music Festival
Kerry entered the independent music world through community radio 30+ years ago. She’s the long-time artistic director of the Calgary Folk Music Festival – a 39-year ‘post-folk’ festival that sees daily audiences of 13k.

Michelle Szeto
Artist Manager / Tour Marketing Director, Paquin Entertainment Group
Michelle got her first taste of the industry working in concert production for superstars, Oasis, Celine Dion and more. Today, she manages award-winning artists Donovan Woods & Lindi Ortega.

Stephen Carroll
Manager, Music Programs, Manitoba Film & Music
Before starting at MFM, Stephen achieved international recognition as a member of the JUNO-nominated band The Weakerthans. Stephen was awarded Manager of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards in 2013.

Vanessa Kuzina
Artist Management Associate, Six Shooter Records
Vanessa works closely with artists such as Polaris Prize winner Tanya Tagaq, Juno winners Whitehorse, punk-grass Juno winners The Dead South, Rheostatics and avant-pop newcomer Ensign Broderick.

About CBC Music Indigenous Music Awards presented by Casinos of Winnipeg:
Presented annually by Manito Ahbee Festival, Indigenous Music Awards (formerly Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards) is the world’s premier awards show recognizing the accomplishments of Indigenous recording artists and music industry professionals from around the globe.

About Manito Ahbee Festival presented by Casinos of Winnipeg:
Manito Ahbee Festival celebrates Indigenous arts, culture, and music in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The 13th annual festival is May 16-20, 2018 and features the Indigenous Music Awards, Indigenous Music Conference, International Pow Wow, Indigenous Marketplace and Trade Show, Getting Jiggy With It, Art Expo, Art Challenge, and Youth Education Day.


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

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