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The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, April 30, 2017

Yet another police shooting death, liquor license wars, among stories gripping Indian country during g The Week That Was, April 30, 2017.
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The Nations gathered, the President finished out his first 100 days, and the disenrollment tide started to turn. All this and the liquor license wars in Indian country during the Week That Was, April 30, 2017.

GATHERING OF NATIONS: The Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque opened with class acts, starting with soul, funk and blues masters GroovaLottos performing at the Grand Entry, and the Nizhoni Girls All-Girl Navajo Band debuting.

LIQUOR LICENSE WARS: The battle over liquor licenses wore on, as a judge reversed a court decision that restored liquor licenses to four beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska, two miles from the alcoholism-plagued, dry Pine Ridge Reservation. First the state Liquor Control Commission denied renewals to the four outlets. Then Lancaster County District Court Judge Andrew Jacobsen ruled that the Liquor Commission acted beyond its scope in denying renewal of the licenses. But hours later, the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office challenged Jacobsen’s order. Since the state’s appeal supersedes the Judge’s earlier decision, it in effect keeps the non-renewal in place. No doubt this will continue unfolding apace.


INDIGENOUS FORUM: It’s that time of year again, when Natives the world over flock to the United Nations for the 2017 session of the Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNFPII). This year, the 16th session, marks the tenth anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It is also the first year that the UN has set aside a special media room for indigenous media, as Jenni Monet reported—a global win for Indian country.

1,360 DAYS AND COUNTING: As the U.S. marked President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office, Mark Trahant cautioned us to brace for another government showdown as he seeks to fund the government, repeal the Affordable Care Act, allocate extra money for Defense, and build a wall on the southern border—“a nearly impossible order,” as Trahant pointed out, especially considering that “the House of Representatives does not have a governing coalition.”

LET IT GO: As tenaciously as Trump holds onto his pique at not winning the popular vote against Presidential rival Hillary Clinton, he also cannot let rest his Pocahontas obsession vis a vis Senator Elizabeth Warren. This time it was at a National Rifle Association (NRA) rally, on the 99th day of his presidency, when he suggested his 2020 campaign might be against “Pocahontas”—clearly referring to the Massachusetts Democrat.

COWBOY PROMISES: After riding into Washington D.C. on horseback (we’re not making this up), newly anointed Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke of Montana attended his first congressional hearing with a promise to stand by tribal communities in Indian country.

HELLISH HEALTH CARE: The rejection of the changes and repeal of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) notwithstanding, its alleged replacement, the American Health Care Act, could still decimate Indian health care, cautions Trahant.

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BASELESS WHINING? Prominent Republicans’ protestations alleging lack of consultation on then President Barack Obama’s designation of Bears Ears as a national monument were refuted when documents surfaced demonstrating that there had been plenty of back-and-forth beforehand. President Donald Trump is preparing to scrutinize and possibly challenge designations made over the past two decades.

CLIMATE MARCH REDUX: Indigenous Peoples participated in some of the more than 250 worldwide marches pushing back against the destructive climate practices of the Trump administration. While it wasn’t quite as big as the People’s Climate March of 2014, there was quite a showing.

ROARING LIONS: Sea lions are gobbling up endangered salmon populations in the Columbia River, consuming 20 to 45 percent of the spring Chinook salmon, which hits the Warm Springs, Umatilla, Yakama and Nez Perce treaty tribes in particular. New legislation in Washington State would legalize culling the massive mammals in order to save the salmon.

HIGHEST PER CAPITA: Once again, a Native death buttressed the statistic that more American Indians are killed in police interactions per capita than any other group. This time it was a U.S. Marine, Ivan Wilson-Dragswolf, 24, shot in North Dakota for allegedly refusing to drop a knife.

DISENROLLMENT DERAILED: The Elem Indian Colony removed the disenrollment option from its book as a first step toward healing “tragic wounds of decades of internal disputes” in Indian country.

FROZEN CUSTER: Fast food chain Sonic Drive-In caught flack for its commercial portraying the known Indian killer General Custer to promote its latest frozen confection, the “Concrete Custard.”

MORE WATER RIGHTS: The Ak-Chin Indian Community has filed suit in federal court to guard its legally guaranteed water rights to its reservation 40 miles south of Phoenix. Relying largely on agriculture, the community supports critical programs with 16,000 acres of crops.

INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE REWRITES HISTORY: A new scientific report showed genetic links between ancient skeletons found in Alaska and British Columbia, and the Indigenous Peoples who live in the area today—yet another instance of science coming to the same conclusions that oral histories had already chronicled. Also of note was a new bombshell study that found anecdotal evidence that humans may very well have populated Turtle Island as many as 130,000 years ago—tens of thousands of years before modern science initially suspected.

DEBUT: In tandem with pow wow season, ICMN’s new bimonthly, Indian Country magazine, came to life with an April–May, 96-page collectible debut edition complete with more than 350 pow wow listings, travel stories and spectacular photography from Adam Sings In The Timber.