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The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, February 17, 2013


It's our weekly roundup of the stories that mattered most in Indian country:

• LAND DISPUTE: The Poarch Band of Creek Indians blocked access to the sacred Hickory Ground by a group of traditional Creek Indians who planned to hold a prayer ceremony on Valentine’s Day for their ancestors buried there. Instead the group prayed in a nearby parking lot joined by pastors from local churches.

• MILLS MEDALS AGAIN: President Barack Obama honored a number of civilians with the second-highest civilian honor, the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, and among the 13 recipients was Indian country’s own Billy Mills.

• ANNUAL ADDRESS: NCAI President Jefferson Keel delivered the 2013 State of the Indian Nations address. Keel addressed such topics as violence against women and immigration reform, and ended with words of praise for the late Senator Daniel Inouye. "He knew that America was at her strongest when all of her governments worked together to advance our security and prosperity," Keel said. "When all her people were thriving. He understood that a sovereign people are a strong people, contributing in turn to a strong United States."

• CAP SCRAPPED: The Atlanta Braves have announced that the team won't be wearing hats featuring the "screaming Indian" logo in the upcoming baseball season after all.

• VAWA PASSES SENATE: Rejecting attempts to politicize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a wide majority of the U.S. Senate voted February 12 to once again pass tribal provisions in an overdue reauthorization of the law that would allow tribal courts to have jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians on reservations.

• SAME NAME, DIFFERENT OUTCOME: The Oneida Nation announced it will buy new uniforms for a Cooperstown school that has voted to drop its Redskins mascot. Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins appeared to be addressing concern over the team name by sharing the opinions of high school football coaches and players who take "pride" in it.

• AN INDIAN ABROAD: Sonny Skyhawk, Rosebud Sioux, an accomplished actor and activist, has been asked by the U.S. State Department to serve as a Cultural Ambassador representing Indian country around the world.