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2012 Retrospective: September

A look back at September 2012 from Indian Country Today Media Network.
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Take a look back at September 2012's biggest stories from the pages of our weekly magazine, This Week From Indian Country Today.

Cry, Wolf
The decision by the state of Wisconsin to allow hunters to kill wolves for sport has outraged local tribes and is part of a larger, more destructive and misguided campaign against wolves throughout the West. The natural cycle of life relies on predators to keep things in balance, so what happens to all of us if wolves become extinct?

Mohegan Sun Signs Deal With Atlantic City Casino
Mohegan Gaming Advisors (MGA), a subsidiary of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, has signed a management contract and investment agreement with Atlantic City, New Jersey–based Resorts Casino Hotel, said a MGA press release. MGA plans to buy a portion of Resorts and manage its day-to-day operations, including its accounting and marketing, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We intend to implement many of Mohegan Sun’s operational philosophies and proven successful concepts which will improve the guest and employee experience,” MGA President Gary Van Hettinga said in a statement.

Mohawk Ironworkers Protest Tex-Mex Hires
A protest that began on August 30 by some 75 members and supporters of the Local 440 ironworkers union against hiring practices by Alcoa has, as of press time, entered its second week at the multinational firm’s Massena Operations building in Massena, New York. The demonstrators are arguing that Alcoa should be employing more local union ironworkers to repair one of its buildings, instead of relying on cheaper labor from elsewhere. “We’re protesting because this company from the south hires people from Mexico and Texas,” alleged Mohawk ironworker David Rourke, referring to the San Antonio–based CCC City Group, which is overseeing repairs to the Massena West plant’s cast house roof; the roof was damaged in a fire last March. CCC has been doing projects for Alcoa since 1949, according to the CCC website. The two-story building at the center of the clash runs 120 feet wide and 800 feet long. “It’s huge,” Rourke said. “Big money. Big iron. Big man-hours. That’s what this is all about.”

Despite ICWA, Court Rules Navajo Child Will Remain With Non-Indian Guardians
The Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that a Navajo child must remain with the non-Native guardians to whom he is not related, despite a federal law that directs otherwise. In an August 28 ruling, the court upheld a juvenile court decision that found “good cause” to deviate from the Indian Child Welfare Act. The act gives placement preference of adoptable American Indian children first to family members, second to members of the same tribe and third to members of another tribe. In this case, the court found that the bond formed between the 2-year-old child—identified as “Z” in court documents to ensure privacy—and his guardians weighed more heavily than other factors. The court also severed the rights of the biological parents.

Dust in Their Hearts
The worst drought in 50 years has been devastating for ranchers in the Navajo Nation, as well as Natives all over the North American continent. The really bad news: The drought could last for decades, as farmers and ranchers watch their land turn brown and brittle.

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The Little College That Just Keeps On Giving
Fort Lewis College has changed the lives of thousands over the years by offering free tuition to all Native students. But how much longer can it afford to give away its college degrees when budgets are being slashed at all levels of government, from city up to federal?

Passing of a Legend
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Chairman Stanley R. Crooks was remembered by many in all parts of Indian country. Crooks had been the SMSC chairman since 1992, and under his leadership, SMSC prospered and became a model throughout Indian country for unprecedented generosity and philanthropy.

Native Engineer Receives Top Award
Stanley Atcitty, Navajo, has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, given by the U.S. government to scientists and engineers who are in the initial stages of their independent research careers. Atcitty is a principal member of Sandia National Laboratories’ technical staff in New Mexico.

Largest Financial Package in Indian Gaming for Tribe’s Sonoma County Casino
What is believed to be the largest financial package in the history of American Indian gaming has been secured for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria’s planned resort, hotel and casino in California’s Sonoma County. The $850 million financing package was announced by the Las Vegas–based investor Station Casinos, which will manage the facility for its first seven years. The deal includes a $375 million term loan and $450 million of senior notes, a combination of bonds and a development loan, reported the Santa Rosa, California Press Democrat. As part of the package, $25 million worth of revolving credit may be used after the casino opens. The financing, which closed August 22, has a blended cost of approximately 9.6 percent.

Jamie Okuma Wins Third Best of Show
For the third time, Jamie Okuma has won the Best of Show award at the Santa Fe Indian Market. On August 17, at the 91st annual incarnation of the famed venue, she was honored for her quillwork sculpture of a turn-of-the-century Lakota woman cradling her baby. It was familiar territory for Okuma. She won her first Best of Show award in 2000 at the age of 22, becoming the youngest artist ever to take the prize, a distinction she still holds.

Pine Ridge Documentary Completed
Filmmaker Steven Louis Simpson has finally completed A Thunder-Being Nation, perhaps the definitive documentary on Pine Ridge. All told, the film has taken him 13 years to make.

In case you missed it, here are:
January's recap
; February's recap; March's recap; April's recap; May's recap; June's recap; July's recap; August's recap