The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, March 25, 2017

Honors to those living and passed on; rebirth and maple syrup in spring and sugar bush, and the surprising history of body art, this week in Indian country.

Spring, sugar bush season and (of course) some excellent basketball during March Madness month dominated this past week, while racism and federal budget cuts churned along business-as-usual in the background in Indian country during The Week That Was, March 25, 2017.

OF SPRING AND SUGAR BUSHES: Spring came on March 20, and sugar bush season was in full swing in Indian country.

ACCOLADES GALORE: Famed Ojibwe writer Louise Erdrich, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction for LaRose (Harper Collins, 2015), for what the organization called a “haunting novel” about the reverberations within two Native families after an accidental shooting. This adds to a long list of accolades from the literary world.

POSTHUMOUSLY SPEAKING: The Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas announced that its 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award will be shared by two Native poets, John Trudell and Jim Northrup, both honored posthumously.

MARCH MADNESS HISTORY: Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig (Ho-Chunk) and his Wisconsin Badgers teammates pulled off an upset of the defending champion, No. 1-seeded Villanova, on Saturday March 19, in the NCAA basketball tournament. The 65–62 win was a historic first for the Badgers and Koenig, as the team made the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in seven years. They are also the only team to make it their fourth straight time. Sadly, due to a last-second shot by the opposing team, Koenig and No. 8 Wisconsin lost on March 25 by just a point.

TRUMPING ALONG: From Mark Trahant’s description, we can only hope that the stingy-sounding new federal budget goes the way of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal. Native housing would be just one casualty of the budget. As the health care bill hung in the balance early in the week, an opinion piece called attention to the potential direct affects on Indian health care, specifically the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

KEYSTONE XL RETURNS: Trump’s granting of the cross-border permit that was a major factor in the defeat of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015 was a warning shot to resistance to the project, led by Indigenous Peoples across Indian country. The International Indian Treaty Council came out strongly against this and the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), on human rights grounds.

DAPL DOUBLESPEAK: While North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum was going on about human waste at the water protector camps, Winona LaDuke pointed out in an op-ed, there was already a pile of garbage and contamination from existing issues in the state.

WATER PROTECTION: Speaking of contamination, World Water Day on March 22 brought attention to wastewater and its uses. Ojibwe grandmothers prepared for the April 19 start of this year’s Water Walks, and Konnie LeMay wrote about the many words for water in Indian country.

21st TERMER: The Swinomish Senate reelected Brian Cladoosby to another one-year term as chairman, his 21st. He has served in the Senate for 32 years, 20 of those years as chairman, and is also serving a second term as president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

COURT VICTORIES: The Gila River Indian Community celebrated the appointment of one of the architects of its historic water rights settlement Rodney Lewis to the board of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, even as the tribe signed an agreement to continue efforts to conserve and store water during a 16-year drought in the Colorado River watershed. And on the child-welfare front, the Goldwater Institute’s challenge to the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was thrown out of federal court in Arizona.

LIFESAVING CLINIC: The Toiyabe Indian Health Project (TIHP), Toiyabe’s new clinic, is nothing short of a lifesaver for this section of Indian country.

JUSTICE SERVED: Kirby Cleveland, 32, Navajo, was charged with murder in the fatal shooting of tribal police officer Houston James Largo, 27, during a domestic call.

CAN’T-MISS EXHIBIT: An exhibit at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library exploring 300 years of tattooing in New York City begins with Native American tattoos and how the Indigenous Peoples of New York influenced the tattoo industry.