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Updated: 10 hours 31 min ago

Trump Administration Cuts Food Stamps to Almost 700,000 Adults

11 hours 12 min ago

Published December 5, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced on Wednesday it will eliminate benefits for 688,000 adults who currently participate in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP.

The announcement comes three weeks before Christmas. The new rule will make it more difficult for states to waive requirements that adults with no disabilities must work at least 20 hours per week or else be eliminatd from SNAP.

“We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand, but not allowing it to become an infinitely giving hand,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press release. “Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work.”

Anti-hunger organization leaders fear the new rule will hurt low-income individuals who cannot find steay work. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) worries the new rule will negatively impact seasonal workers in northern Michigan who have a difficult time finding employment during the off-season.

The USDA says these steps will save nearly $5 billion over five years.

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Navajo Nation and University of Arizona Sign MOA to Create the Navajo Law Fellowship Program

11 hours 45 min ago

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez following the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement to establish the Navajo Law Fellowship Program with University of Arizona and Arizona Board of Regents officials in Tucson, Ariz. on Dec. 3, 2019.

Published December 5, 2019

TUCSON, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez was joined by Miss Navajo Nation Shaandiin Parrish as he finalized a Memorandum of Agreement with the University of Arizona at the James E. Rogers School of Law on Tuesday, which establishes the Navajo Law Fellowship Program with the overall goal of increasing the number of Navajo law school graduates and creating pathways to legal careers.

President Nez said the new fellowship program is an investment in the future of the Navajo Nation, and also empowers young Navajo people to determine their own future and creates another pathway for Navajo students to come home and give back to their communities.

“This MOA is intended to empower our Diné students — to bring them home to the Navajo Nation to help our people through this partnership with the University of Arizona. I am thankful to the University for working with us to create this new opportunity,” said President Nez. 

Under the terms of the MOA, the Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance and the University of Arizona will partner to match financial aid awards to Navajo law school students who are part of the fellowship program.

In addition, first-year law school students will receive academic advisement, information, and an overview of the Navajo Nation legal system and legal career possibilities within the Navajo Nation. They will also be placed in a summer honors externship that may include rotations through selected Navajo Nation law offices, court locations, legal aid offices and other placements.

Second-year students will be offered a course on Navajo Nation law and the legal system. The summer externships will build on the first-year experiences and include a workshop that helps to prepare for the Navajo Nation Bar Exam. Third-year students will participate in a workshop that prepares them for the Arizona Bar Exam and Navajo Nation placement following the exam.

“This is a great partnership and a great opportunity to foster the development of more Diné professionals. Our Nation has a great need for more legal expertise to help move us forward in many ways whether it be securing water rights, the protection of our women and children, or other important matters,” said Vice President Myron Lizer.

As part of the program, the Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance will also provide additional funds to cover a portion of fees for students who are admitted to and attend the Pre-Law Summer Institute at the University of New Mexico and fees for the state bar exam application and the Bar Review course necessary to help prepare for the bar exam.

During the visit to the campus, President Nez also met with Navajo students who are part of the Navajo Nation Future Physicians’ Scholarship Fund program, which was established under the former administration.  

The agreement with the University of Arizona College of Medicine is designed to help more Navajo students pursue careers as physicians. The program currently provides financial aid to seven Navajo students for the costs of tuition and academic support to help them earn a medical degree from the University. 

“Our Nation is working with IHS to construct several new hospital facilities in our communities including Dilkon, near the city of Gallup, and we’re working to develop more so we need more health and medical professionals to return home and help our people,” stated President Nez.

He also met with University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins to discuss how to develop more partnerships to benefit Navajo students and to develop stronger support from the University for all Native American students by creating a senior level position to advise the University on Native American issues to help students, providing academic advisors for Native American students, more financial assistance, and more to improve retention and graduation rates. He also delivered a letter from the Native SOAR student organization outlining concerns and recommendations from the Native American student body representatives.

The Office of the President and Vice President thanks Native SOAR, Native American Law Students Association, University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins, James E. Rogers School of Law Dean Mark Miller Regents Professor of Law Rob Williams, Assistant Vice President for Tribal Relations and Government & Community Relations Karen Francis-Begay, and Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance Department Manager Rose Graham for your support.

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Watermark Art Center in Bemidji Exhibit Opening: Akinomaage – Teaching from the Earth

11 hours 45 min ago

Published December 5, 2019

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Watermark Art Center will hold an opening reception for “Akinomaage – Teaching from the Earth” December 6 from 5 to 7 p.m., with photographer and author Vern Northrup speaking at 6 p.m.

Vern Northrup

Interpreter, educator, learner are three words that describe the lens Vern Northrup (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) looks through when photographing the world. Akinomaage, Teaching from the Earth, is the Ojibwe word for what Northrup seeks to do with his photography. As an interpreter, educator and learner, Northrup wants to gain knowledge from the earth.

Using only the camera on his smart phone, Northrup captures the setting of where he grew up, creating a nostalgia for those familiar with the area, and a curiosity for those who aren’t. He uses photography as a tool to educate both himself and the viewer about the rhythm of nature, the preservation of tradition, and the relationship between resilience and sustainability. Northrup recognizes the ability of the land to act as a narrator and uses photography to reveal the story in landscapes. “Akinomaage” will run from December 6 through February 28 in Watermark’s Miikanan Gallery. Watermark is free and open to the public. 505 Bemidji Avenue N. in Bemidji, Minnesota.

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CBD Gummies: What Are They & What You Need to Know When Purchasing For the First Time

11 hours 45 min ago

Published Decemeber 5, 2019

You may be wondering what all the hype over CBD gummies is all about. Or you may already know that CBD is a powerful supplement that can reduce inflammation, anxiety, and chronic pain, and help you get a better night’s sleep.

If you are ready to learn more about the way CBD works to balance every system in your body, and what to look for when you make that first purchase, this article is for you. If you are just looking for the best CBD gummies around, then click here:

How Do CBD Gummies Work?

The endocannabinoid system is a recent discovery in the medical field. Despite the fact that we only became aware of its presence about 25 years ago, the endocannabinoid system is present in every animal, and it has probably been an evolutionary part of development for thousands, if not millions, of years.

The endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. It is a network of neuroreceptors, neurotransmitters, and enzymes that act as a messenger to every other system. When something happens to throw the body out of balance, the endocannabinoid system kicks in and brings the body back to baseline.

Scientists believe that the endocannabinoid system being out of balance leads to numerous physical and mental health complications. It’s like having a broken control panel. If this system does not function properly, then it cannot tell the other systems in your body how to function properly.

The CBD in CBD gummies helps bring balance to the endocannabinoid system itself. It opens up blocked neuroreceptors and neurotransmitters, and aids communication between systems again. CBD has been shown to have anti inflammatory, analgesic, antiseptic, and neuroprotective properties, all a result of the balancing effects of the supplement.

What Are the Different Kinds of CBD Gummies?

You may be overwhelmed with all the options for CBD gummies on the market today. The CBD gummy industry has exploded over the last year or so, because of the recent legalization of industrial hemp. Since then, new CBD gummy companies have been opening for business on a daily basis. In addition to the endless flavors and varieties, websites and packages have designations like CBD isolate, broad-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum CBD. The first thing you need to decide when choosing which CBD gummies to go with, is which kind of CBD you want.

CBD Isolate Gummies

Hemp contains dozens of cannabinoids including THC. The extraction process for CBD isolate removes all other cannabinoids and leaves you with pure CBD. CBD isolate is the only kind of CBD that is completely free of THC.

CBD isolate gummies are a good choice if you are hesitant about any exposure to THC, are very sensitive to it, or you are regularly tested for drugs for any reason. It is also a good choice if you are looking to use high doses of CBD without being intoxicated by THC.

Broad-Spectrum CBD Gummies

Broad-spectrum CBD gummies are for anyone who wants to get what’s known as the “entourage effect,” without exposure to THC which can make you feel lethargic or dizzy. The “entourage effect” is the combined effect of all the cannabinoids contained in hemp. Broad-spectrum CBD’s extraction process keeps all the cannabinoids except for THC.

Though some packaging for broad-spectrum CBD gummies makes claims that the product is free of THC, it does still contain a nominal amount. Including other cannabinoids makes it impossible to completely remove all traces of THC. Because of this, you could still fail a drug test. A normal dose of broad-spectrum CBD does not usually contain enough THC to make you intoxicated, but higher doses will expose you to more THC. This increases your chance of intoxication.

Full-Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD is made with the whole plant. Though industrial hemp used to make CBD only contains 0.3% THC or less, it is enough to cause you to fail a drug test. But if you are not worried about your exposure to THC, then full-spectrum CBD gummies can get you the full, unadulterated “entourage effect”. Just be careful, they may make you drowsy.

How Do I Know If My CBD Gummies Are High-Quality?

Let’s cut through the noise of all the packaging and attention-grabbing graphics on CBD websites. There are some basic quality-markers you need to know before you make your purchase. These quality-markers are not just a measure of whether you are getting a good product or not. They are also a measure of the safety of your CBD gummies, so these are an essential part of your consideration.

Organically and Domestically Grown Hemp

Hemp grown in the United States is absolutely a must. Some companies source their hemp from other countries that may not have strict regulations on their agricultural practices. This can lead to hemp grown in polluted soil, irrigated with polluted water, and sprayed with dangerous pesticides and fertilizers. The USDA has some of the strictest farming regulations in the world. So if the hemp used to make your CBD gummies is domestically-grown, this is a safer option.

Even with hemp grown in the United States, however, you can still end up with CBD extracted from plants that have been sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers. Because hemp absorbs everything in its environment, this can lead to higher concentrations of these chemicals in your CBD. If you ensure your CBD gummies are made with certified organically grown hemp, you are protecting yourself from exposure to harmful chemicals.

CO2 Extraction Process

Some extraction processes damage the integrity of the CBD’s potency and purity by using higher temperatures and adding solvents to the mix. A CO2 extraction process requires no solvents or additives, and it uses lower temperatures. This way, there is more control over the end result, which is the purest most potent form of CBD available.

Third-Party Lab Results

Third-party lab results let you know that what is on the label is accurate. When companies send their product out to be tested by a third-party lab, you can be confident about what you buy.

Final Thoughts

Once you have decided whether you want CBD isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum CBD gummies, the next step is making sure your gummies are the highest quality available. Lower-quality gummies can be mislabeled or contain harmful chemicals not represented on the packaging.

Verma Farms CBD gummies set the example for how all CBD gummies should be made. The hemp used to make your CBD gummies should be organically grown in the United States. The extraction process should be free of solvents, maintaining the integrity of the CBD being distilled. And finally, you should be able to easily find third-party lab results verifying the potency and purity of your product. Now that you know what you are looking for, get out there and shop!



The post CBD Gummies: What Are They & What You Need to Know When Purchasing For the First Time appeared first on Native News Online.


Gov. Inslee Names First Native American to Washington State Supreme Court

December 4, 2019 - 8:30pm

Future Supreme Court Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis has more than 20 years of judicial experience, including five years on the Whatcom County Superior Court. She spent years working with tribes, and is uniquely familiar with the challenges that tribal and rural communities face. (Photo courtesy of AJ Barse)

Published December 4, 2019

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee helped usher in a historic day for the Washington State Supreme Court when he appointed Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis as the first Native American justice Wednesday in Olympia, Washington.

Montoya-Lewis, 51, has more than 20 years of judicial experience, including five on the Whatcom County Superior Court. She spent years working with tribal communities in Washington and elsewhere, and is uniquely familiar with the challenges that tribal and rural communities face. She also worked on issues to protect children from exploitation, and received the Children’s Advocacy Center Community Leadership Award in 2018.

“Because Judge Montoya-Lewis is Native American, many will focus on the historic nature of this appointment,” Inslee said. “And it’s entirely appropriate to do so. But I want the record to show that Judge Montoya-Lewis is the kind of exceptional judge I want serving on the highest court in our state because she is the best person for the job.”

The governor said Montoya-Lewis embodies intelligence, courage, compassion, temperament and fairness — qualities that every judicial officer should possess.

Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis answers questions from the press after Gov. Jay Inslee announced her appointment to the Washington State Supreme Court. (Office of the Governor photo)

“Whether we spoke to the lawyers who practiced before her, or the judges who reviewed her work — we’ve heard one thing over and over: that she’s exceptional,” Inslee said. “Some even used the word ‘superstar’. Everyone kept telling us she is the best trial judge they’ve ever had.”

Attorney General Bob Ferguson attended Wednesday’s announcement at the Temple of Justice.

“I was honored to attend today’s historic announcement,” Ferguson said. “Judge Montoya-Lewis is a respected jurist who will be a tremendous addition to the court. She also brings a unique perspective on issues facing rural and tribal communities, and I know she will serve our state well.”

Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Richey said he fully supports Montoya-Lewis’ appointment.

“Throughout my career as a prosecutor, I have had the distinct pleasure of being in front of many judges,” Richey said. “While they all have strengths in certain areas, Judge Montoya-Lewis has — without a doubt — set the bar for excellence. I am thrilled Judge Montoya-Lewis is going to be our next Supreme Court Justice.”

Montoya-Lewis said she was honored to join the court and that she looks forward to continuing her lifelong commitment to justice in this new role.

“I have served as a judge for 20 years, in tribal courts and in Superior Court, and I know the struggles and challenges that land people in front of our hardworking judges at every level of our judicial system,” Montoya-Lewis said. “I bring each of the stories I have heard over my career to being a Supreme Court Justice and I hope to honor and serve the people, my colleagues, my ancestors, and my family with the integrity and honor each of them have shown me over these many years.”

Montoya-Lewis takes Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst’s place when she retires from the court in January.

“I’m very excited to have Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis taking my place,” Fairhurst said. “She follows a long line of wonderful justices to serve in Position No. 3, including Chief Justice William H. Williams, Justice William C. Goodloe and Justice Charles Z. Smith. I’m thrilled to welcome our first Native American to serve on this court. I only regret that I won’t be able to work with her.”

The Supreme Court elected Justice Debra L. Stephens from Spokane to serve as the incoming chief justice.

During Inslee’s seven years in office, he has addressed the longstanding historical inequities of the state judiciary composition. He appointed women to about half of those judicial vacancies, and judges of color to about a quarter of the vacancies to build a judiciary more reflective of the people that it serves. The governor’s last State Supreme Court appointment was Justice Mary Yu in 2014.

Inslee praised Montoya-Lewis, saying she will bring new stories, new voices, and the kind of fresh perspective the state needs to represent Washington communities across the state.

“Judge Montoya-Lewis brings intellectual humility, courage of conviction, and a personal commitment to improving access to justice for all of our communities,” Inslee said. “I look forward to her professional mark in our state history and on our state’s highest court.”

Montoya-Lewis is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Isleta and a descendant of the Pueblo of Laguna Indian tribes, and will be the only Native American Supreme Court judge in Washington. She has served as chief judge for the Nooksack Indian Tribe, Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, and Lummi Nation Tribal Court. She taught for more than 12 years at Western Washington University.

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New ACLU of Montana Report: Exclusionary Discipline in Montana’s Schools Pushes Students Out at Alarming Rates

December 4, 2019 - 12:08pm

Published December 4, 2019

Indigenous Students Face Highest Disparities in Out-of-School Suspensions and Arrests

MISSOULA, Mont. — According to a new ACLU of Montana report, students in Montana lost more than 18,000 days of school during the 2015-2016 school year because of out-of-school suspensions. During the same school year, students were referred to law enforcement agencies from school or a school-related function 1,121 times and were arrested at school or a school-related function 326 times. Students of all ages — including elementary school children — were suspended, referred to law enforcement, and arrested.

“Education is a civil right, and all students must be given equitable opportunities to learn,” said Caitlin Borgmann, ACLU of Montana Executive Director. “The data is extremely troubling and shows too many students in Montana being denied this fundamental right.”

Indigenous students faced the highest disparities: they lost nearly six times the rate of instruction and were arrested more than six times as often as their white peers. The ten schools with the highest rate of days lost because of suspensions were located either on a reservation or in a town bordering a reservation. Indigenous students in urban areas also experienced disparities in days lost. Indigenous female students had the highest school-related arrest rates among all students — they were arrested at 12 times the rate of white female students. Public schools on reservations were more likely to have a law enforcement officer (LEO) at school. Montana’s use of exclusionary discipline and police in schools is especially harmful to Indigenous students because of the legacy of colonization, historical trauma, and overincarceration of Indigenous people.

“Indigenous students bear the brunt of Montana’s failure to provide an education to all students,” Borgmann said. “Montana has failed to adequately address the harms of its colonialist legacy. Indigenous people in Montana remain disproportionately impoverished and imprisoned. Denying Indigenous students their right to an education only serves to perpetuate this unconscionable legacy.”

Students of color and students with disabilities also experienced disparities in days lost, referrals, and arrests. Black students were referred to law enforcement at a higher rate than any other race and lost nearly three times as many days of instruction as white students. Latinx students lost 1.5 times the rate of days as white students. Students with disabilities lost twice the rate of instruction and were arrested twice as often as students without disabilities.

Other main findings of the report include:

  • Montana’s schools have higher school-related referrals and arrests than the national average for all students.
  • Schools with LEOs had double the days lost, nine times more arrests, and four times more referrals than schools without LEOs. Schools with LEOs also had lower graduation rates.
  • Schools with higher rates of days lost had lower graduation rates.
  • Students lost days of instruction due to out-of-school suspensions at about half of the schools in Montana. Arrests occurred at 33 schools, but nearly half of the total arrests occurred at two schools: East Middle School in Great Falls and Flathead High School in Kalispell.

The data in the report, and other studies from across the country, provide evidence that students who are suspended or who have interaction with law enforcement are less likely to graduate. When students are pushed out of school, they are less likely to be employed and more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system. Montana has disproportionate incarceration rates for Indigenous people and the school arrest data meet or exceed these trends for the next generation. For instance, Indigenous females were 12 percent of the 2015-16 Montana student population, but 62 percent of the female school-related arrests. Indigenous people comprise about seven percent of the population in Montana, but Indigenous females were 34 percent of the women’s state prison population in Montana in 2015-2016.

“When young people have access to education, they are more likely to thrive,” said Kirsten Bokenkamp, ACLU of Montana Communications Director and co-author of the report. “Relying on out-of-school suspensions and law enforcement in schools doesn’t just harm students and their families, it also harms our communities. This report should serve as a wake-up call for Montanans who care about the success of young people and the future of our state. Montana’s schools must move away from failed student discipline models and instead embrace restorative justice and other research-informed methods for supporting students while effectively managing student behavior.”

The report lists all of the schools in which school-based arrests occurred in the 2015-2016 school year, the schools with the highest rates of referrals to law-enforcement, as well as the 50 elementary, 50 middle, and 50 high schools with the highest rate of days lost due to out-of-school suspensions.

The report also found that many schools in Montana do not meet the recommended ratio for school-based mental health staff, including counselors, psychologists, social workers, and nurses. The ACLU of Montana recommends that schools meet the recommended ratios for mental health support staff as one way to support teachers and ensure that students are more supported and have better outcomes.

“We need less police in schools and more mental health support staff to address the needs of students in a proactive and supportive manner,” said Dr. Laurie A. Walker, Associate Professor at the University of Montana School of Social Work and co-author of the report. “Schools with social workers have better graduation rates and lower exclusionary discipline outcomes. Schools that meet the recommended ratio of one social worker per 250 students have seven times less suspensions and half as many arrests than schools that do not meet the recommended social worker to student ratio. In contrast, the schools with law enforcement officers that do not meet the recommended support staff ratios have the highest number of arrests.”

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • Limit exclusionary discipline for all students.
  • Ensure that codes of conduct for students eliminate subjective and vague language that leaves the door open for biased implementation.
  • Ban the use of exclusionary discipline for students in sixth grade and below.
  • End permanent and routine policing of schools.  Limit law enforcement presence in schools to issues involving serious criminal law matters, where there is an imminent threat to students or teachers.
  • Implement programs that increase interaction between teachers, administrators, and Indigenous families and communities, including creating opportunities to learn about and understand Indigenous people and communities and increase culturally relevant programming and curriculum.

The data analyzed in the report is available through the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, Civil Rights Data Collection, and the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

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Impeachment Hearings of President Donald Trump are Underway in Congress

December 4, 2019 - 10:18am

U.S Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, making his opening statement.

Published December 4, 2019

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee began formal impeachment hearings against Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States on Wednesday morning.

The hearings come on the heels of the release of the House Impeachment Inquiry, a 300 page report from the House Intelligence Committee, released yesterday.

“The impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection,” Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee wrote in the 300-page report.

Read the House Intelligence Committee report here

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Nez-Lizer Administration Continues Commitment to Meeting with Navajo Utah Chapters

December 4, 2019 - 12:01am

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez meeting with chapter officials and residents at Tółikan Chapter on Dec. 2, 2019.

Published December 4, 2019

TÓŁIKAN, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Division Directors from the Nez-Lizer Administration met with the Navajo Utah chapters and Council Delegate Charlaine Tso on Monday, at Tółikan Chapter where they listened to concerns and recommendations from officials and residents and provided updates to local residents.

Monday’s meeting served as a follow-up to a meeting held in Mexican Water on Oct. 4, where President Nez gave his commitment to meet with the Navajo Utah chapters on a regular basis to maintain communication with the residents and officials.

“For our administration, it’s important that we go out to the communities and be among the people to truly understand the issues and to help us assess how we can help to empower our people. During our campaign, the Navajo people told us that they wanted to see Division Directors out in the communities,” said President Nez, who represented Utah chapters as a former member of the Navajo Nation Council.

President Nez said he will present a plan that will address potential budget shortfalls in the coming years for the Nation that is similar to the Permanent Trust Fund Income Five-Year Plan that was approved in 2016. Rather than prioritizing funds from the interest earned annually from the Permanent Trust Fund principal, the Nation would prioritize those funds to ensure that direct services are funded in the Comprehensive Budget before projects.

He also stated that he will request more funding for the Navajo Nation Division of Community Development to provide more technical expertise to complete over $300 million worth of infrastructure and community development projects that were funded in previous years. He noted that when the projects were funded there were no funds allocated to hire additional workforce to work on the long list of new projects.

“The Division of Community Development is in need of more resources and more workers with expertise to complete the projects that are designated to each of the 110 chapters,” said President Nez.

Division of Community Development Executive Director Dr. Pearl Yellowman said she is currently reorganizing the division in order to secure an adequate number of project managers to oversee ongoing projects. She also encouraged the chapters to submit applications for Community Development Block Grant funds to help with local projects, which are due in February.

Division of Economic Development Executive Director JT Willie reported that his staff continues to work to empower chapters to conduct their own business site leasing and to stimulate their local economy by initiating their own taxes and other initiatives that provide revenues to grow and develop communities.

Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency Executive Director Oliver B. Whaley also provided updates on uranium mine cleanup efforts. He also encouraged community members to dispose of their waste at transfer stations to avoid penalties for illegal trash dumping and to keep their communities clean.

Several other Division Directors provided reports including Division of Natural Resources Executive Director Dr. Rudy Shebala, Division of Human Resources Executive Director Dr. Perphelia Fowler, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Office Executive Director Christopher Becenti, and representatives from the Division of Transportation.

President Nez also spent the majority of Monday’s meeting listening to concerns and recommendations from chapter officials and members from the communities of Mexican Water, Navajo Mountain, Oljato, Dennehotso, Red Mesa, Aneth, Teec Nos Pos, and Tółikan. Many of their issues are related to road projects, school bus routes, emergency services and public safety, power line projects, broadband, chapter facilities, waste disposal, and more.

“The Nez-Lizer Administration thanks for the Navajo Utah chapters, residents, and Council Delegate Charlaine Tso for working together and moving their communities forward. We are committed to supporting your initiatives and to empowering your communities to complete projects that benefit your local residents,” added President Nez.

Council Delegate Charlaine Tso, who represents several Utah chapters as a member of the 24th Navajo Nation Council, also offered her continued support for her constituents and their projects.

The next regional meeting with Utah Navajo chapters is tentatively scheduled for March 6 at 9:00 a.m. at Teec Nos Pos Chapter.

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Chilean Delegates Deliver Indigenous Peoples Caucus Opening Statement at COP 25 Plenary

December 4, 2019 - 12:00am

Vairoa Ika Guldman    Photo Credit: David Tong

Published December 4, 2019

Rights Safeguards and Redress Mechanisms Key Priorities for Negotiations

MADRID, SPAIN — As state governments around the world open this years’ 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25), representatives of the Rapa Nui and Mapuche Indigenous Peoples of Chile delivered the Opening Statement of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus. The statement, which was developed by Indigenous representatives from the seven socio-cultural regions of the world, emphasized the need to include rights safeguards and redress mechanism to build upon human rights commitments, including respecting, implementing and upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples as defined in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and as affirmed in the Paris Agreement and Paris Decision. This year’s key agenda items include negotiations around finalization of the Paris Rulebook for full operationalization of the Paris Agreement by overcoming key disagreements and controversies regarding article 6 which addresses market and non-market solutions to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Indigenous Peoples maintain that Parties should uphold human rights commitments, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples, as the minimum standard for creating meaningful pathways for addressing climate change impacts. The states are in disagreement, with some sharing this viewpoint as a key component for honoring the Paris agreement, while others consider finalizing negotiations of the article an achievement in itself even if it contains no mention of human rights or the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Meanwhile, states are also in agreement about the enormous importance and contribution of Indigenous knowledge systems and traditional ecological practices in informing pathways to mitigate, adapt and reverse the impacts of climate change that threaten ecosystems and biological diversity across the globe.

This is the full statement developed by the Indigenous Peoples Caucus, the as-read version was shortened in order to fit within the two-minute allotted time given to the Rapa Nui representative, Vairoa Ika, who delivered the statement.


Iorana Korua, greetings to all, I am Vairoa Ika Guldman of the Rapa Nui people belonging to Polynesia.

Indigenous knowledge is invaluable, sacred and collective. It has been transmitted and protected for generations. This knowledge includes indigenous health systems, which for Indigenous Peoples includes physical, emotional, spiritual and socio-environmental components. However, in Chile, as in many parts of the World, indigenous health systems have not been recognized, guaranteed or financed by the States in the same way non-indigenous health systems have. Indigenous health is important, as it seeks the healing of the individual, the community, the environment and its biodiversity, which currently are being threatened by the effects of climate change.

It is important not only to talk about adaptation and mitigation, but to deal with the root causes of the disease created by unsustainability and injustice.

States and companies should support and finance sustainable projects and initiatives in indigenous territories. They must develop ways to compensate for the extraction and devastation of ecosystems and natural resources.

It is unfortunate that we cannot hold this event in our territories, but we express our solidarity with all Indigenous Peoples who are fighting [even risking their lives] against injustice, permanent colonialism, and oppression. We also express our support to the indigenous sisters and brothers and to the defenders of human, environmental and territorial rights in Chile, Latin America and throughout the world.

As Indigenous Peoples, we turn to this COP for protection of all lives, both material and spiritual.

We are here for our daughters and sons, grandchildren and all our future generations, but also for theirs.

Our carefully balanced ecosystems have been damaged by the continuous attacks on our territories, lands and resources, which has had a negative impact on all our Peoples.

It is scandalous that ONCE AGAIN the most recent emissions disparity report has confirmed that emissions continue to rise.

But we will not stand by idly.

Indigenous Peoples have been pioneers in the care and healing of our Mother and Father Earth and we will continue at the forefront, leading you on the right path.

We have been doing our part since time immemorial, and it is time for you to do your part.

That is why we call on governments to give full force to human rights, including the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and safeguards and reparation mechanisms on issues that are the subject of debate such as: the Koronivia Dialogue on Agriculture; Article 6; the NDCs; and the protection of our oceans. Finally, we call for the adoption of the work plan of the Facilitative Group in the Platform of Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples.


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Heard Museum Launch of New Exhibition Series with Maria Hupfield

December 4, 2019 - 12:00am

Published December 4, 2019

PHOENIX — The Heard Museum is pleased to announce the opening of MARIA HUPFIELD: Nine Years Towards the Sun on Friday, December 6, 2019. This solo exhibition of Canadian/Anishinaabek artist Maria Hupfield will feature more than 40 works by the conceptual performance artist.

The exhibition, curated by Heard Museum Fine Arts Curator Erin Joyce, will take place throughout several exhibition spaces and range in content from performance, sculptural installation, video and document. The works on view will be activated through movement, sound, memory, documentation and collaboration. The exhibition will function as a living archive, which will continually replenish itself with content throughout its five-month run.

Ahn Kaa

The exhibition plays with notions of a continuum of culture, entering into conversation with thematic elements from major movements and artists within the 20th century art historical canon. Engaging materially, formally and often conceptually with the practices of artists like Robert Morris, Jimmie Durham, Joseph Beuys, and Claes Oldenburg, Hupfield focuses on the act of space making within the postwar art landscape through disruption, reimagining thematic elements of their work in our present-day postwar environment. She subverts functionality of object by using materials which render their original intention or usage inert and can be seen in object such as Jiiman, 2015 where Hupfield constructed a traditional hunting canoe from gray industrial felt. Additionally, the exhibition engages with material investigating the impact and residue of colonial occupation of Indigenous lands. Hupfield builds on the work of artists who precede her and have made space and held space in the field of contemporary art; artists such as Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Faye Heavyshield, Simone Fonti, Rebecca Belmore, and the Brooklyn performance art community.

MARIA HUPFIELD: Nine Years Towards the Sun will retool the museum space as a laboratory, as a performance venue, and as an archive that prioritizes and makes space for diverse bodies. The body is a major element to the work of Hupfield and is heavily represented in the exhibition; from wooden structures that suggest the form of the body to items meant to be worn on the body, it is an active reminder of the artist and of indigenous peoples in North America.

“Museums need to acknowledge and remedy the lack of space given to women artists in the global art community, and furthermore the lack of space given to women of color within that framework,” said Joyce. “The women selected for this series are incredible, dynamic artists, and should be celebrated. It is not just about showing their work to make up for the lack of space given to their sex, but because their work is important and engaging with critical dialogues – it is about de-ghettoizing their work and their bodies.”

Hupfield is an Anishinaabe-kwe, and member of the Wasauksing First Nation, located in the Georgian Bay region of Perry Sound off Lake Huron. Known for her sculptural work, film installation and activation of objects through performative gestural movement, Hupfield creates work that engages time as a medium, spanning across different scales and moments. The projects reject the essentialization of Indigeneity, the commodification of Nativeness, and fetishized exoticism, replacing it with a reclamation of agency in representation, accountability, storytelling, and solidarity building. Her work unsettles stereotypical and harmful notions of Native peoples in Canada and the United States and intervenes with new histories and meanings. Hupfield pays special attention to the meanings and stories of objects, how they are read, how and where they are used and what their impact is on cultural environments.

MARIA HUPFIELD: Nine Years Towards the Sun opens to the public Friday, Dec. 6, 2019 and runs through May 3, 2020 at the Heard Museum. The opening day includes an exclusive performance by Maria Hupfield. For more information please visit



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Flags to be Flown at Half-Staff to Honor Korean War Veteran and Retired Navajo Police Officer Oliver Kirk

December 3, 2019 - 12:01am

Oliver Leo Kirk, Sr., a Korean War veteran and, retired Navajo Police Officer

Published December 3, 2019

WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer issued a proclamation on Monday in honor of Oliver Leo Kirk, Sr., a Korean War veteran and, retired Navajo Police Officer, who passed away on Nov. 28 at the age of 88. Kirk was originally from Ganado, Arizona, where he resided at the time of his passing.

“On behalf of the Navajo people, we offer our thoughts and prayers for the family of the late Oliver Kirk, who served our Nation and our country with great honor and dignity. To his family, we pray for comfort during this difficult time,” said President Nez.

Kirk was an active member of the U.S. Army from March 1953 to April 1955 and also served in the Korean War, where he was wounded in battle and awarded several service medals for his courageous service. Following his honorable discharge, he returned to Ganado and served as a Navajo Police Officer for 34 years.

“Mr. Kirk leaves behind a great legacy for his family, the Navajo people, and our entire country. We owe a debt of gratitude to him and his loved ones for the many sacrifices during his years of service. We pray for him and his family at this time,” Vice President Lizer stated. 

The proclamation orders all flags on the Navajo Nation to be flown at half-staff in honor and memory of Oliver Leo Kirk, Sr. on Dec. 4, 2019. His funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday, December 4, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the All Saints Mission Church in Ganado, Arizona. He is survived by his wife Maggie Jane Kirk. Together they have 13 children and 37 grandchildren. 

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NB3 Foundation Receives Grant from San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to Pilot Indigenous Evaluation Toolkit

December 3, 2019 - 12:00am

Published December 3, 2019

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. —  The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation announced it has been awarded a two-year $167,000 grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to develop an indigenous informed evaluation toolkit that can be shared with Native communities across the country. “We are grateful for the continued support of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and their understanding of the importance of indigenous centered, community-based evaluation in our communities,” President and CEO Justin Kii Huenemann said. In particular, the NB3 Foundation will build on Native-led research and its own indigenous health framework to further develop the Youth Program Evaluation Toolkit. The toolkit will assist community programs in administering youth inventory, parent/caregiver surveys and staff self-assessments. The tools in this toolkit aim to provide responses that better inform staff about youth and parent/caregiver needs. “Essentially, the toolkit is a customizable evaluation guide for youth programs that is meant to center the indigenous voice,” NB3 Foundation Evaluation Specialist Renee Goldtooth-Halwood said. “The toolkit will include our outcome statements based on the indigenous health model and the four core areas of healthy nutrition, physical activity, youth development and cultural connections.” The Foundation will take a focused approach to understand the community partners’ capacity, their values and how best to create an evaluation approach that reflects and supports their community’s needs and strengths. “At the heart of our efforts is to ensure Native youth serving organizations are able to effectively evaluate their programs, measure their defined successes and tell their own stories.” Huenemann said. “We aim to provide supportive tools and methods that empower organizations to own and control their evaluation process.”

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Wisconsin Indian Business Alliance Members Awarded $1.250 Million from Native American CDFI

December 3, 2019 - 12:00am

Published December 3, 2019

LAC DU FLAMBEAU, Wis. — The four members of the Wisconsin Indian Business Alliance (WIBA) have been awarded a total of $1,250,000 in grant funding from the Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA).

“Native Americans face great barriers to accessing capital and basic financial services. WIBA is a coalition of non-profit organizations focused on expanding Native economic development by building the financial sovereignty of Native individuals, families, Native-owned businesses and communities in Wisconsin. This funding will enhance our ability to serve our communities and Wisconsin’s Native Americans,” said Fern Orie, Chairwoman of WIBA and CEO of the Wisconsin Native Loan Fund.

WIBA Members were awarded:

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Saginaw Chippewa and State of Michigan to Begin Co-Management of the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park

December 3, 2019 - 12:00am

Shannon Martin, Director of Ziibiwing, Sandra Clark, Director of Michigan History Center DNR, Tribal Chief, Ron Ekdahl and Sarah Hegyi, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.

Published December 3, 2019

ISABELLA INDIAN RESERVATION — On Monday, December 2, 2019, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Chief Ronald F. Ekdahl was joined by Department of Natural Resources representative Sandra Clark to sign a ground-breaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU will establish the beginning of the tribe’s co-management of the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park, or ezhibiigadek asin (written on stone), with the State of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

This ceremonial signing took place at 10:00 a.m. in the SCIT Black Elk Government Complex located at 7500 Soaring Eagle Blvd. Mount Pleasant, Michigan 48858. This will mark the first state/tribal co-management of a state park in Michigan.

“This partnership is a major step forward in strengthening the authentic interpretation of the Sanilac Petroglyphs site, which speaks to the connections of humankind to nature and the earth,” said DNR Director Daniel Eichinger, cosigner of the MOU. “We hope this collaboration will serve as a model, both within and beyond Michigan, of respectful, inclusive, equitable management practices that protect important historic resources while helping people understand their relationship to them.”

Donated to the State of Michigan by the Michigan Archaeological Society and managed by the DNR since 1971, the petroglyphs are the largest known group of ancient rock carvings in the state. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the park covers 240 acres along the Cass River near Cass City in Michigan’s Thumb region. Stone tools and pottery found on the petroglyphs site on the Cass River floodplain show tribal groups have occupied the area periodically throughout the last 8,000 years. The petroglyphs were likely carved within the last 1,400 years, with some possibly created in more recent centuries.

The tribe and state began discussions about the preservation and stewardship of ezhibiigadek asin (Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park) in 2003. These early conversations about the site involving the tribe, the Michigan Archaeological Society and the state broke down. As the tribe considered how to move forward, in 2005-2010 it joined the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH) Project, an international study of issues related to cultural and intellectual knowledge, how that knowledge is used, who has access, and who benefits. The IPinCH Report affirmed the tribe’s commitment to protect and preserve ezhibiigaadek asin and concluded that it should continue working with the state toward co-management.

“This site is special and sacred to the Anishinabeg. It is a clear indication of the unique origins and history of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. We know our Ancestors were thinking of us when they left the lessons in stone”, explained tribal elder and former Director of Ziibiwing Bonnie Ekdahl. “The MOU creates a relationship that ties us to this beautiful site and marks an important step of acknowledgement and inclusion of the tribe. I am very thankful and proud of the team at the Ziibiwing Center who preserved and carried the vision for over 15 years, and it is especially incredible to know my son is involved with the final step, miigwetch.”

The IPinCH Report also prompted the tribe to engage in conversations about using advanced technology to record the carvings. The petroglyphs are carved in relatively soft Marshall Sandstone. After centuries of natural weathering and decades of recent human activity, some carvings have faded, disappeared or been vandalized.

In April 2018, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) specialists used terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) along with detailed close-up photographs to build digital models that will document the site and can be used to track changes in the petroglyphs over time. MDOT’s partners in the project included the State Historic Preservation Office (Michigan State Housing Development Authority), the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan), the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Historic Preservation Office, and the DNR’s Michigan History Center and Parks and Recreation Division.

Images and information from the petroglyphs preservation project were featured on the 2018 Michigan Archaeology poster. The free poster is available upon request from the State Historic Preservation Office or at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture Lifeways.

“This culturally significant site will be enhanced through a partnership that this MOU creates.  We are excited to be working alongside the State of Michigan in preserving this unique piece of Native American history. It will also allow for future opportunities for preservation and historical education. This is just another example of the collaboration between our tribal government and the state and we will continue to work together on important issues like these,” Tribal Chief Ron Ekdahl stated,

Guided tours of ezhibiigadek asin (Sanilac petroglyphs) are available in the summer months. Learn more about Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park on the DNR website. To see the 2018 Michigan Archaeology poster featuring the petroglyphs and the LiDAR survey, visit

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Cheyenne River Youth Project Welcomes 150 Community Members to Cokata Wiconifor the Annual “Thanks for Kids” Celebration

December 2, 2019 - 4:56pm

Published December 3, 2019

EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. — On Thursday, Nov. 21, 150 members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe community gathered at the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) for the annual “Thanks for Kids” celebration. Held in conjunction with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Indian Child Welfare program and open free to the public, the evening’s festivities included a home-cooked, holiday-inspired meal as well as traditional Lakota drumming and dancing, a youth art activity led by CRYP’s teen Lakota Arts Fellows and art interns, and family-friendly games.

“We’re so grateful to our family members, friends and neighbors who joined us again this year to celebrate our children,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “Our young people are our heart, our joy, and our greatest treasure. They are the future of the Lakota Nation.”

The evening’s menu featured roast turkey, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, stuffing, fried green beans, corn, cranberry-orange mash, bread rolls, pies, Jell-O, and Executive Director Julie Garreau’s famous bread pudding. Many menu items incorporated produce from CRYP’s organic, 2.5-acre Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) Garden; once again, Youth Programs Assistant Anthony Potter was in charge of the kitchen, with CRYP staff and the Native Wellness teen interns providing valuable support.

Potter and the teen interns also were the powerhouse behind CRYP’s successful Harvest Festival dinner in October, which drew more than 230 people to Cokata Wiconi. According to Garreau, these large community meals provide important opportunities for the interns to learn more about meal planning, using and preparing fresh ingredients, and serving the public — and opportunities for the community to learn more about Native Food Sovereignty and its positive impact.

“Native Food Sovereignty is one of our core initiatives here at CRYP,” Garreau said. “At its heart is our Winyan Toka Win Garden. Through the garden, we demonstrate how we can provide fresh, nutritious, locally grown food to our community; strengthen that community through producing, selling, trading and sharing our own foods; strengthen the connection to our traditional Lakota culture through planting, harvesting, and caring for the earth; and fight the debilitating diseases and health conditions that are related to poor nutrition.”

Education also is critical to the nonprofit youth organization’s Native Food Sovereignty efforts. Earlier this fall, Potter and Finance Manager Crystal Lind traveled to Taos, New Mexico, to participate in the Taos Economic Development Center’s Food Sector Opportunity Project. This program is designed to educate participants on the many aspects of starting, operating and financing a food-based business. 

The duo learned about commercializing food products, food microbiology, how to develop a food safety plan, food business basics, permit categorizing and parameters, good manufacturing practices, product labeling requirements, and marketing strategies for packaging, product design and causes. They also earned graduation certificates for successfully completing the program.

“Thanks to this opportunity, Anthony and Crystal can further develop their leadership roles in our Native Food Sovereignty initiatives and our Social Enterprise initiatives, which include the Keya Cafe & Coffeeshop, the Keya Gift Shop, and the seasonal Leading Lady Farmers Market,” Garreau said. “They also can provide expert instruction to the teen interns in both of those tracks, which helps take their job and life skills to the next level.”

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Holly T. Bird Joins Staff of Water Protector Legal Collective as Co-Executive Director

December 2, 2019 - 4:00pm

Holly T. Bird

Published December 2, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Holly T. Bird (San Felipe Pueblo/Apache/Yaqui/Perepucha) has been named co-executive director of the Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC). Previous to joining the staff as Co-Executive Director, Bird was honored to serve as the Civil Ground Coordinator for WPLC for the Standing Rock / Oceti Sakowin camp.

Prior to being named co-executive director, Bird has served on WPLC’s board, and continues to work as part of the civil legal team for the Dundon v. Kirchmeier litigation. Bird also maintains a private practice in Traverse City, Michigan, concentrating in matters of Native American, family, criminal, civil, probate, tribal cannabis/hemp, employment and business law.

In addition, she has served as an Associate Judge, Chief Judge, and currently, an Supreme Court Justice for several tribal courts. Bird also founded and serves as the executive director for the Michigan Water Protectors Legal Task Force, a project of the National Lawyers Guild. She has presented to the United Nations twice regarding the violations of Indigenous human rights.

A graduate of Michigan State University and DePaul University College of Law, she’s authored the publications: “Jumping Through Hoops: Traditional Healers and the Indian Health Care Act,” (1999) and “Making the Cross-Cultural Case; Educating the Judge about Race, Religion, and Ethnicity” (2004). After law school, Bird was a hearing officer for Chicago Public Schools, and was appointed as a guardian ad litem for the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office in 2000, where she represented hundreds of  children in the abuse/neglect system. Founder of the Illinois Native American Bar Association, she’s credited for using her advocacy to remove offensive sports mascots from several Illinois schools. A mediator, peacemaker, and the very first Native American arbitrator, Bird was awarded the prestigious American Arbitration Association’s Higginbotham Fellowship in 2013.

Bird also serves as a member of the Mindimooyenh Healing Society, a traditional Anishinaabek women’s society based in Northern Michigan. She resides in northern Michigan with her husband, Percy Bird (Grand Traverse Band Odawa), and their four children.

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Sen. Warren Introduces Legislation to Revoke Medal of Honor from Soldiers Who Slaughtered Hundreds at Wounded Knee Massacre

December 2, 2019 - 12:01am

In what is recognized as a disgrace, 20 soldiers who killed hundreds of Lakota men, women and children were awarded the Medal of Honor for their roles during the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890.

Published December 2, 2019

Text of the Bill (PDF) | Bill One-Pager (PDF)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democratic presidential candidate, has joined with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to introduce the Senate companion to the Remove the Stain Act. First introduced in the House by Representatives Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), and Paul Cook (R-Calif.), the bill would revoke the Medal of Honor from the soldiers who perpetrated the Wounded Knee massacre on December 29, 1890, when U.S. soldiers slaughtered hundreds of Lakota men, women, and children–most of them unarmed–on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Disgracefully, twenty soldiers in the regiment received the Medal of Honor–the highest military decoration–for their actions at Wounded Knee.

Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are original cosponsors of the bill.

As the country’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor is awarded in the name of Congress for “gallantry beyond the call of duty.” The soldiers’ acts of violence at Wounded Knee were not heroic, but rather tragic and profoundly shameful. The 101st Congress (1989-1990) adopted a concurrent resolution acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the massacre and “expresse(d) its deep regret on behalf of the United States” for the “terrible tragedy.”

“The horrifying acts of violence against hundreds of Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee should be condemned, not celebrated with Medals of Honor,” said Senator Warren. “The Remove the Stain Act acknowledges a profoundly shameful event in U.S. history, and that’s why I’m joining my House colleagues in this effort to advance justice and take a step toward righting wrongs against Native peoples.”

“We have a responsibility to tell the true story of the horrific Wounded Knee Massacre,” said Senator Merkley. “We cannot whitewash or minimize the dark chapters of our history, but instead must remember, reflect on, and work to rectify them.  The massacre of innocents could not be farther from heroism, and I hope this bill helps set the record straight.”

“History must reflect that Wounded Knee was a massacre of hundreds of defenseless Native men, women, and children at the hands of U.S. soldiers,” said Senator Harris. “We will never be able to remove the pain and trauma caused by these acts of violence, but we can continue to fight for justice. Revoking these Medals of Honor is one step forward and I am proud to join my colleagues to address our country’s wrongs.”

“While we can’t change history, we can change who we as a nation recognize as heroes,” Senator Wyden said. “The soldiers who attacked and killed indigenous peoples at Wounded Knee were no heroes, and they did not deserve to be awarded Medals of Honor. Revoking these medals is the least Congress can do to recognize the irreparable harm that the U.S. government caused to indigenous peoples.”

“Wounded Knee is part of our history, and nothing we do today can adequately make amends for the merciless slaughter that occurred there,” said Senator Patrick Leahy. “But rescinding the Medals of Honor, which were awarded for conduct that was the antithesis of honorable, is a small step and one that I’m proud to be part of.”

In June 2019, Representatives Heck, Haaland, and Cook introduced the bipartisan Remove the Stain Act as H.R. 3467.

Rep. Deb Haaland

“The Remove the Stain Act is about more than just rescinding Medals of Honor from soldiers who served in the U.S. 7th Cavalry and massacred unarmed Lakota women and children — it’s also about making people aware of this country’s history of genocide of American Indians. Senator Elizabeth Warren understands this, and I’m pleased we’ll be able to have these conversations and move bills forward in both chambers,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

The Remove the Stain Act has earned the support of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the National Congress of American Indians, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, the Coalition of Large Tribes, United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund, Heartbeat At Wounded Knee 1890, the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre Descendants Society, Four Directions, the Native Organizers Alliance, VoteVets, Common Defense, Veterans for Peace, Veterans for American Ideals, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

“Native people serve in the United States Armed Forces at a higher rate than any other group in the United States, and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Merkley’s introduction of the Remove the Stain Act not only shows respect to these brave Native men and women who in some cases gave the ultimate sacrifice for this Nation with their lives, it also brings justice and healing to the Wounded Knee descendants,” said Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

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Maria Tallchief – America’s First Prima Ballerina

December 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Maria Tallchief pictured on the February 1954 front cover of Dance Magazine.
Attribution: Unknown photographer [

Special to Native News Online from The Cultural Traveler

Published December 2, 2019

Maria Tallchief was America’s first prima ballerina and her talent and contributions further raised the profile of ballet in America. She was born Elizabeth Marie “Betty” Tall Chief on January 25, 1925 in Fairfax, Oklahoma, the daughter of a Scots-Irish mother and a Native American father who served as chief in the Osage Nation.

In the documentary “Dancing for Mr. B,” Maria recalls her first dance lesson at the tender age of 3 in the basement of the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, CO. In retrospect, she mused that she was much too young for the physical demands of ballet, and was amazed that her small toes didn’t break under the strain.

From her first dance lessons in 1928, Maria’s parents encouraged her natural talent. In 1933, when she was 8, they moved Maria and her sister Marjorie (who also went on to become an accomplished ballerina) to Beverly Hills, CA, providing them the opportunity to train professionally in ballet.

Maria moved to New York City at the age of 17 to pursue her passion and landed her first position with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. There she first met the famous choreographer, George Balanchine, whom she married in 1946. Despite the end of their marriage in 1952, their professional relationship continued to flourish, with George composing numerous ballets for Maria.

In 1942, after attempts to both Anglicize and Russify her name, “Betty Marie” chose to honor her family heritage and ancestry by keeping her last name intact and officially changed her professional name to Maria Tallchief.

Success shone on Maria, and in 1947 she joined the New York City Ballet as the prima ballerina, a coveted title she held until 1960. Some of her more famous performances were in Symphonie Concertante (1947), Orpheus (1948), The Firebird (1949), Swan Lake (1951), Caracole (1952), Scotch Symphony (1952), and The Nutcracker (1954). Her role in the Firebird secured her fame as one of the world’s best dancers. And her role as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, helped transform this ballet into an American holiday classic.

In 1960, she became the first American to perform at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater. And until her retirement in 1965, Maria’s performances were also televised in the United States.

Maria’s passion for ballet and dance continued well past retirement. She served as the artistic director for the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet during the 1970’s. Together with her sister Marjorie, they formed the Chicago City Ballet in 1981, where she served as artistic director until 1987.

Throughout her life and up until her death in 2013 at 88, Maria advocated for acceptance and opportunities for Native Americans, and was active in Americans for Indian Opportunity and the Indian Council Fire Achievement Awards.

Maria was recognized numerous times over her illustrious career:

1951 – Mademoiselle magazine’s Woman of the Year
1953 – Washington Press Woman of the Year
June 29, 1953 – The Oklahoma State Legislature proclaimed the day as Maria Tallchief Day, and the Osage Nation bestowed upon her the name Wa-Xthe-Thonba, “Woman of Two Worlds,” celebrating her ability to thrive within both the Native American and Eurocentric cultures.
1963 – Named Indian of the Year.
1965 – Won the Capezio Dance Award.
1991 – The Oklahoma State Legislature commissioned Mike Larsen, to paint Flight of Spiritcelebrating Maria, her sister Marjorie, and three other Native American ballerinas. Larsen’s creative vision was to merge the tragic history of Native Americans with the hope and renewal of modern accomplishments.
1996 – Received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors.
1996– Inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
1999 – Awarded the National Medal of the Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts.
2006 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presented a special tribute to Maria Tallchief titled “A Tribute to Ballet Great Maria Tallchief.”
2007 – Maria, her sister Marjorie and three other Native American ballerinas were honored in a bronze sculpture called “The Five Moons” on permanent display outside the Tulsa Historical Society in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Accomplished, transformative, inspirational and pioneering, Maria Tallchief not only helped raise the profile and understanding of ballet in America, she also helped raise the profile of and understanding of the Osage Nation and all Native Americans through her activism, and dance.




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Navajo Nation Office the President & Vice President Received Pushback for Participating in Trump Executive Order Signing

December 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer and his wife Second Lady Dottie Lizer were present in the Oval Office last Tuesday. Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

Published December 2, 2019

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Last Tuesday, President Trump issued an executive order to establish a missing and murdered indigenous women inter-agency task force in which Vice President Myron Lizer and his wife Second Lady Dottie Lizer were present at the signing in the Oval Office of the White House in Washingon, D.C.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty expressed concerns regarding the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President (OPVP) participating in the signing and called for increased transparency between the OPVP and the Missing & Murdered Diné Relatives working group.

Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty

“The MMDR working group initiated work on the missing and murdered issue on the Navajo Nation in March, and we were happy to invite the OPVP to the table and met with them at that time regarding these issues. We have extended several opportunities since then to their office and have not received any consultation regarding the work we have completed on MMDR. We are sad to see that the OPVP continues to leave us out of these crucial meetings with high-level leadership,” said Delegate Crotty.

“On behalf of the 24th Navajo Nation Council, I wish to express a deep concern with the approach the Office of the President and Vice President has taken in addressing the issues of Missing and Murdered Diné Relatives and Indigenous People. Though widely publicized, their involvement has not reflected the best of the Navajo Nation’s efforts to tackle this issue head-on. We will continue to directly consult with the families and communities of missing and murdered Diné relatives and continue to extend the invitation to the Office of the President and Vice President to join us in actively engaging in this ongoing effort,” said Speaker Seth Damon.

Delegate Crotty added that after meeting with the OPVP on MMDR during the spring, it spurred their office to join the cause and create a missing persons task force, however it is an internal group that is not open to the public. Delegate Crotty successfully advocated for funding for the task force to hire additional victim advocates and a crime analyst. The status of hiring for those positions by OPVP’s task force is currently unknown.

In March, through the leadership of Delegate Crotty and the support of the Navajo Nation Office of the Speaker, the MMDR working group began developing a strategic plan to support families in addressing missing and murdered relatives. In June, August, and November, the working group held three community forums and established numerous partnerships with grassroots organizations, non-profits, and the Arizona and New Mexico MMIW task forces—who continue to consult and work directly with the MMDR working group.

“The work of MMDR is ongoing and we are incredibly happy that our partnering stakeholders honor our work and consult with us as we all are finding solutions to the missing and murdered crisis. We will continue to work directly with the families because it is our goal to recover our missing relatives and provide justice to our Navajo relatives,” said Delegate Crotty. “We call on President Nez to provide the same courtesy because we are all working towards the same goal—credit does not belong to one entity alone.”

Meskee Yatsayte, founder and volunteer advocate for the Navajo Nation Missing Persons Updates, stated she had hoped President Jonathan Nez would continue monthly meetings as promised with families of the missing and murdered, however he has only met with the group once in August since December 2018.

“The Navajo Nation Missing Persons Updates advocates are now collaborating with Delegate Crotty and the MMDR working group, a wonderful collective of grassroots volunteers. This group has dedicated individuals that are determined to make a change for our Missing and Murdered Diné Relatives, and they have been proactive with families and communities making impactful changes. The OPVP leadership and staff could benefit by attending the MMDR community forums and team meetings, in person, so we can make a difference together,” said Yatsayte.

The MMDR working group is a collective of volunteer members working to establish a data institute to track missing and murdered cases, support Navajo law enforcement, and to provide research on the issue to develop solutions and provide policy recommendations. In addition to the data institute, the working group continues to hold community forums and is developing a community toolkit that would directly aid families who may have a relative that has gone missing.

Delegate Crotty and the Office of the Speaker have supported a candlelight vigil to encourage community members to engage with the effort. Additionally, multiple legislation for MMDR/MMIW have been introduced over the previous months fully establishing the Navajo Nation’s support for state and federal initiatives. The Legislative Branch has devoted multiple public outreach events entirely to spreading awareness of MMDR/MMIW. The Navajo Nation’s support of these issues will continue as it seeks more local and national partnerships through the working group.

For more information on the Missing & Murdered Diné Relatives’ initiatives, please email or call (928) 380-4174.

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NTEC Must Keep Public, Nation Informed, Navajo Nation President Nez Says

December 1, 2019 - 12:02am

Published December 1, 2019

WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said he expects Navajo Transitional Energy Company to keep the public in the loop.

After Nez terminated NTEC’s indemnity agreement two weeks ago, the company sent out a release stating they are maintaining operations and expect to secure all necessary bonds to continue operations without any delay.

“In our assessment of acquiring Cloud Peak Energy, we realized the possibility that the Navajo Nation would not financially back the NTEC with indemnity agreements,” stated NTEC”s release. “We have been actively working with a broker to secure bonding to assure proper reclamation is performed at all the mines without a Navajo nation guarantee. This action would resolve the concerns expressed by some members of the Navajo Nation, but will come at a great cost to NTEC, and thus, the Navajo Nation.”

In August, the Nation and its leaders found out that NTEC had purchased the Cloud Peak Energy mines in Wyoming and Montana and since then this purchase has been widely scrutinized. The purchase was made final Oct. 24.

“If NTEC is able to secure bonds on their own, we expect NTEC management, their board, and their shareholder representatives, to keep the Navajo public apprised,” said Nez to the Times. “NTEC was created with the Navajo people’s money. There still remain unanswered questions related to NTEC’s financial status and other matters that need to be addressed.”

Through other interviews that Steve Grey, NTEC director of governmental and external affairs, has given to national publications he has stated he’s confident that the company can still get the $400 million in bonds. He continued with stating the company has enough potential collateral, including the coal mine outside Farmington, the Navajo Mine.

Navajo Mine is of course why Navajo Nation Council formed NTEC in 2010.

When asked if Navajo Mine will be put up for collateral for bonds, Erny Zah, NTEC communications director, said the company is currently in “active negotiations” and can’t give a comment to specifics.

After terminating the agreements after the Navajo Nation Council failed to act on the issue but instead tabled an emergency bill to terminate the agreement, Nez said NTEC has other options to obtain bonding and putting up Navajo Mine as collateral wasn’t one of the options.

“If NTEC wants to move forward on this they will have to come back to the Council and ask for another indemnity agreement for the mines,” said Nez. “Or they can go outside of Council and get their own bond from a different entity.”

Shawnevan Dale, program supervisor for Risk Management, said during a work session his office manages $1.2 billion of bonding for the Navajo Nation and its entities. NTEC’s portion is $520 million and bonding the Cloud Peak Mine would be another $407 million.

“When NTEC purchased the Cloud Peak mines they bought those reclamation liabilities,” said Dale. “So previous owner Cloud Peak doesn’t have an outstanding reclamation bond.

“There is no debt being owed to any surety company, it is purchased by NTEC,” he said. “When NTEC decides to finish up and close the mine they will ensure reclamation will take place.”

NTEC is spending $15.7 million in cash, signing onto a $40 million promissory note, paying $20 million in overdue accounts payable and $94 million in back taxes and royalties. The costs are part of a deal that comes also with ongoing royalty payments to Cloud Peak that would amount to $7.5 million a year, according to a study done by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

“NTEC executives have dismissed Cloud Peak’s problems and subsequent bankruptcy as being sue solely to its high debt levels,” stated the study. “The company’s troubles are much broader than that: each of its mines faces operation and market issues that will challenge any new owner.”

During an October Naabik’iyati meeting NTEC board chair Tim Mclaughlin told members of the Naabik’iyati committee that purchasing the Wyoming Mines was an incredible opportunity that couldn’t be passed up. He also told members of the committee that the mines run well and they’re not the reason behind the bankruptcy, but rather bad investments were the culprit.
“This was an incredible opportunity for NTEC,” said Mclaughlin. “We will probably never see this type of deal again in the next who knows. It was an incredible opportunity and we took advantage.”

In a September study, NTEC listed the positive attributes for Antelope Mine and Spring Creek Mine.

“The Antelope mine has close to the highest average heat content and lowest average sulfur content,” stated the study.

Spring Creek Mine it stated is uniquely positioned to supply power plants in the northern tier of states as well as export markets in Asia. The export markets have high upside potential for sales.

The Spring Creek Mine was the mine that was shut down briefly in late October after the Montana Department of Environmental Quality denied them a permit, resulting in NTEC to sign a 75-day limited waiver of sovereign immunity with the Montana DEQ in order to reopen.

With NTEC staying mum about current negotiations it’s uncertain how they will be able to acquire the bonds or if they will put Navajo Mine up for collateral. This type of secrecy is what Dine CARE considers conflicting with Diné Fundamental Law.

“NTEC’s purchases of coal mines created a huge financial risk, adding the Diné people with enormous responsibilities for outstanding taxes, liabilities, and royalties as well as hundreds of millions of dollars of reclamation responsibilities” said Carol Davis, Diné CARE Coordinator, “The secrecy created around the purchases of these mines were disrespectful to the values of our people.”

Editor’s Note: This article was first published by the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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