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The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, June 22, 2014

News stories from Indian country on topics including the Washington Redskins, the Assayii Lake Fire, Te Ata, and President Obama's visit.
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It's our weekly recap of the stories that mattered most in Indian country:

SIGN OF CHANGE: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled six Federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins. Though many observers see this as yet another sign that the writing is on the wall and the team will eventually have to change its name, a lawyer for the Redskins said publicly that there is "no momentum" among Native Americans to change the name, a demonstrably false statement.

THE FIRE THIS TIME: Firefighters are making headway against the Assayii Lake Fire, but not before it gobbled up acre upon acre of sacred land in the Chuska Mountains between Gallup and Shiprock. The Assayii fire on the Navajo Nation had been 20 percent contained by Thursday June 19, as the blaze reached 13,450 acres, and 867 personnel battled the flames, according to InciWeb. But the victory is destined to be bittersweet.

A BETTER PLACE: The Taos Town Council voted to re-name the park in the center of the community from Kit Carson Park to Red Willow Park.

WRONG: Of a total of 1,322 Superfund sites as of June 5, 2014, nearly 25 percent of them are in Indian country.

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ABORIGINAL BALLER: When the San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Finals over the Miami Heat on Sunday night at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, Patty Mills became the first Indigenous Australian player to win an NBA title.

NEW PLAN: In the wake of the visit by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, the White House released an action plan to help strengthen and sustain at least two of Obama’s biggest initiatives in Indian country: Education and Economic Development.

MUST-SEE MOVIE: The Chickasaw Nation is planning to make a film of the life of the groundbreaking entertainer Te Ata, and is holding open casting calls actross the country.

SUE THE POLLUTERS: Hundreds of First Nations plan to take the Canadian government to court over its approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline from the Alberta oil sands through British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean.

PRAYERS FOR PROTECTION: Friday marked the beginning of three days of ceremonies and observances being held across Turtle Island for 2014 National Days of Prayer to Protect Native American Sacred Places.

TEAM CHOSEN: The Iroquois Nationals will return to the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships for the first time in eight years with a line-up that looks like a Thompson family reunion.