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Puyallup Tribe, Washington

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A 13-year-old Gig Harbor boy was recovering July 3 after losing the index and middle fingers of his left hand in a fireworks explosion. He and a 12-year-old friend were riding in a car the previous evening at the "Firecracker Alley" area of fireworks stands on the reservation, said tribal spokeswoman Kari-lynn Frank. The boys were playing with a lighter and lit a firework the 13-year-old was holding, she said. He tried to throw it out the window but it exploded inside the car. Frank said the firework was not purchased on the reservation. She described it as "something we don't sell, something unique." The council said it was "deeply saddened by this unfortunate accident. This is a tragic example of the need for vigilance" during the holiday, a statement said. The tribe indicated it is doing what it can to promote safe, legal use of fireworks, with regular patrols by tribal police through the sales area and a monitored area where buyers could set off their fireworks.

Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, Connecticut (state-recognized) - Hikers on the Appalachian Trail did not step into controversy when they crossed into Connecticut over the holiday weekend. The nation announced June 30 it would not close the two-mile section of the trail, which crosses the tribe's reservation, as threatened. Chief Richard Velky had said the trail would be closed over the July 4 weekend to protest handling of the tribe's petition for federal recognition. The reversal came after Attorney General Richard Blumenthal agreed to meet with Velky this month on the issues that prompted the planned protest. The move would have forced hundreds of hikers and campers traversing the trail on a nearly seven mile detour, largely on public roads. The tribe claims the BIA has been to slow to act on the recognition petition the Schaghticokes first filed in 1994. The chief said he has been told that it could take another 10 to 12 years for the tribe's application to be heard. "The process is broken," Velky said. "Native American tribes should not have to wait years before having their petitions considered." Velky had argued that Interior promoted trespassing on the 312-member tribe's land by routing the Appalachian Trail through the reservation, which was recognized by state government in 1736.