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The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country

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It’s our roundup of all the big news coming out of Indian country:

• Cobell Settlement to Begin Paying Out by Christmas: The checks are soon to be in the mail. Those long-awaited words for many in Indian country came from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar when he announced this week that the federal government was set to release funds designated for the approximately 350,000 Indian class members affected by the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement.

• South Dakota Tribes Charge State With ICWA Violations: A consortium of tribal directors of Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) programs on Sioux reservations in South Dakota accuses the state of violating the provisions of ICWA, according to a new report they have prepared and will send to Congress.

• Tribes Fight to Regain Traditional Cultural Property Designation for Mount Taylor: Five New Mexico tribes are fighting ranchers and special-interest groups over an 11,300-foot, snow-capped peak about 80 miles west of Albuquerque. Mount Taylor, a sacred and cultural site for the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Acoma Pueblo and Laguna people, is an extinct volcano designated in 2009 as a traditional cultural property under state law.

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• Tribes Reach $9 Million Goal and Purchase Sacred Site of Pe' Sla: In a historic culmination of events leading up to the Pe’ Sla purchase deadline of November 30, the Great Sioux Nation, or Oceti Sakowin has managed to raise the $9 million necessary to secure the sacred land in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

• Chris Wondolowski, Kiowa, Wins Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Player Award: By a landslide, Chris Wondolowksi, Kiowa, has won Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Player Award. This caps an incredible season for Wondo, as he's known, in which he also won the Golden Boot as the league's top scorer. The San Jose Earthquakes star led the squad to the Supporters' Shield, presented to the club with the best regular season record. Wondo's 27 goals ties the all-time MLS record for a season set by Tampa Bay's Roy Lassiter in 1996.