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2011 Retrospective: January

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Cobell’s Final Toll

The long legal battle is finally over, but the hard sell—and low-ball settlement—of the Cobell lawsuit against the Interior Department for its mishandling of trusts leaves many Indians still waiting for justice, while questions and accusations swirl around the high fees paid to Cobell’s team of lawyers.

Dorgan Shares Wisdom

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., shocked the Democratic Party last January when he announced he would not be running for another term.

Nike N7 Inspires Native Athletes

The wisdom of the Seven Generations is a simple philosophy that Nike has taken to heart in creating N7, a division committed to inspiring participation in sport. The fund they’ve created will provide grants and product donations to Native American and aboriginal communities in North America.

Who’s Afraid of The Big, Bad Frankenfish?

The FDA is considering giving approval to a genetically altered “super salmon” that has spurred outrage

from those who fear that it would ravage Native fishing industries, and would infiltrate and destroy the organic salmon population.

Youthful North Is Key to Canada’s Future

With its youthful aboriginal population, northern Canada could be key to the country’s economic future, a leading think tank has found. It said the country’s northern population is overwhelmingly young, with nearly 30 percent under age 15 in northern Saskatchewan, Nunavut and northern Manitoba. This represents “immense untapped potential” that will be crucial to Canada’s success going forward.

Seneca Indian Nation Pursues Hydropower

The Seneca Indian Nation is seeking control of a massive hydropower operation near Warren, Pennsylvania. The move toward economic diversity will also amend a “historic injustice” committed against the Seneca Nation. Prior to the Kinzua Dam’s construction between 1960 and its opening in 1965, the government forced 147 Seneca families out of their homes on 10,000 acres of treaty-protected Allegany territory in a fertile valley, and relocated them several miles away. Their homes were burned and the land was flooded to build the Allegheny Reservoir.

Sacred Rites Heal Traumatized Soldiers

On Fort Carson’s military reservation in Colorado, traumatized soldiers are sweating out painful war memories that often drive veterans to depression, alcoholism and substance abuse. Many vets are finding solace in one of the seven sacred rites of the Lakota Natives, a purification ceremony in which dozens of heated rocks are crowded into the center of an inipi—a circle of saplings covered in hides or blankets—until the temperature climbs to nearly 200 degrees. Water is poured on the stones, and steam fills the room.

Rainforest Action Network Lauds Bank!

The Royal Bank of Canada has earned kudos for requiring clients to document that they have received clearance from indigenous communities before working in the tar sands of Alberta and other environmentally sensitive oil-producing regions.

New Huck Finn Eliminates Offensive Words

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A new edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has removed all mentions of the word “nigger” and replaced it with “slave” and replaced the offensive “Injun” references with “Native Americans.” When the news hit the Twitterverse, the reactions were decidedly negative. One Tweeter, deadwhiteguys, hoped that when the publisher died he’d meet Mark Twain who will “certainly throttle him with a whiskey bottle.”

New Platforms for Ancient Tongues

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe is embracing technology as a way of teaching the Mohawk language to their Native youth, embracing state-of-the-art methods to teach language to the youth through such platforms as computer language centers, Rosetta Stone language software programs and even a game cartridge for use in the popular Nintendo DSi handheld game system.

Read on for some handy holiday potato tips.

The Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team

Iroquois Nationals Honored

The Oneida Indian Nation and the National Lacrosse League (NLL) held a press conference announcing that at halftime of the NLL All-Star game they will be honoring the Iroquois Nationals “for their courage, integrity and character for doing the right thing to protect Indian sovereignty... [and] by demonstrating to the world the continuing relevance of indigenous sovereignty in the 21st century.”

First Native American on State Board

James Ramos, chairman of the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, has been appointed to the California State Board of Education.

Dorgan Releases Damning IHS Report

After a year of investigating horror-filled IHS regional findings, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) released a report aimed at detailing conditions and moving forward. “Our investigation found a chronic state of crisis at the Indian Health Service’s Aberdeen Area,” he said. “It requires urgent and immediate corrective action across a broad front. The federal government has treaty and trust obligations to provide quality health care to Native Americans. This investigation reveals that the health of the first Americans is directly and adversely impacted by the mismanagement of the area. Fixing these problems must be an urgent, national priority.”

Chris Wondolowski, Soccer Star

Chris Wondolowski, the Kiowa native and overnight superstar of the San Jose Earthquakes, led Major League Soccer in scoring this year with 19 goals and pushed his team deep into the playoffs.

Petroglyphs Threatened by Graffiti

Twenty miles west of the neon bluffs of the Las Vegas strip are the red and pink bluffs of Red Rock Canyon that contains pictographs and petroglyphs, and was a part of Native American cultures dating back to the Paleo-Indians of 11,000 BC to the Southern Paiute of 900 AD. Officials are finding graffiti cropping up on rocks, damaging 1,000-year-old pictographs.

Native Groups Sue California Over Fast-Track Solar Projects

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management was so eager to beat a year-end deadline on $600 million in federal stimulus funding that it fast-tracked approval on several solar projects in the California desert. Concerned over the fast-track’s effect on sacred sites and emblematic wildlife, Native American groups are blocking six projects.