The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, May 21, 2017

The Comey firing resonates, a blood for oil scandal is exposed, and other stories gripping Indian country during the Week That Was, May 21.
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More Trump administration antics, shedding light on hidden stories, and a pile of steaming ... nuclear waste. All this and more in the Week That Was in Indian country, May 21, 2017.

TRUMP ADMIN: The firing of FBI director James Comey came as no surprise to Indian country, given the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s long history of destruction with Native people, Gyasi Ross wrote. Alex Jacobs likened the upheaval to a burning bag of poo on the White House porch. Will Trump step in it? Is it a matter of if or when? Not so fast. Steve Russell warned of a possible downside of impeaching Trump. Think line of succession. Duane Champagne wondered whether Indians will survive Trump at all.

SPEAKING OF LEAKS: As the White House springs leaks left and right, so do the pipelines. The Dakota Access Pipeline spilled 84 gallons, or about two barrels, of crude in a containment area as it was readied for operation. It was a red flag for those who oppose the project, given the fears about water supply, even though this was cleaned up immediately and did not threaten any waterways. In other DAPL news, a judge dismissed the civil case that the Energy Transfer Partners’ subsidiary had filed against Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II and several tribal council members last August. But there are bills to pay, and as Ruth Hopkins noted, the feds are looking to foot the bill for ETP’s militarized response to the project’s opposition in North Dakota.

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SORCERER’S APPRENTICE REDUX: Just as the broom in the classic German tale multiplied into new water-fetching brooms when the sorcerer’s apprentice tried chopping up the initial one to stop them, so are anti-pipeline encampments springing up across Turtle Island in the wake of Standing Rock. One such encampment, by the Ramapough Lenape Nation in New Jersey, is being told by the town of Mahwah that its tipis are illegally placed, and must be taken down.

GENERATING HOPE: The Navajo Generating Station is fighting for survival and looking for options. As the U.S. Department of the Interior held listening sessions, discussions swirled about the possibility of generating the same amount of power via solar energy. But while that would replace the electricity, it would not create the same number of jobs.

NUCLEAR OPTION: While in some quarters nuclear power is considered, the downside of that is becoming apparent in California, where a nuclear storage plan being floated at San Onofre beach has not included any tribal consultation.

SO MUCH FOR FUNDING: Residents of Alaska scotched a proposal for a state income tax that would have provided core services in rural communities, Alaska Native leaders said after the tax was defeated.

THE MUSICIAN YOU NEED TO KNOW: Nahko Bear is a hip-hop, folk and rock musician who considers himself a citizen in service to the planet. ICMN caught up with him for an insightful interview with this bright light of Indian country.

BLOOD FOR OIL: Mainstream media calls Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (Doubleday, 2017) a true-crime drama. But Native Americans simply call it life under colonialism in Indian country. The new release by New Yorker writer David Grann covers two-dozen sensational murders of Osage Indian men and women between 1921 and 1926—a widespread conspiracy that involved white people marrying into wealthy Indian families and killing them for profit. “Killers of the Flower Moon brings shattering resolve to a story that resonates now,” wrote Ojibwe author Louise Erdrich. “As Native Americans fighting to protect resources on the remnants of our lands, we confront the same paternalism, hypocrisy and greed that destroyed Osage lives and culture in the early 1920s.” ICMN contributor Alex Jacobs spoke with Grann to learn more about what drew him to the story, and how the reporting unfolded.

MAKING AMENDS: The Jesuit-run St. Francis Mission plans to return 525 acres to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe—land that lies within the boundaries of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, but held by the mission since the 1880s. “It is a significant return of land,” Rosebud Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Russel Eagle Bear told ICMN contributor Sarah Sunshine Manning.