Leading climate marches, running for Congress and racking in awards—those were among the big headlines during the Week That Was in Indian country, May 7, 2017.
WRONGFUL DEATH: Trial preparation is under way in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estate of 5-year-old Hoh tribal member Gary Blanton III, which is suing the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the Riverside School District, alleging their failure to follow policies regarding foster-home placement and reporting possible child abuse led to the boy’s death. DSHS and the school district deny the allegations.
OUT IN FRONT: Indigenous Peoples led the People’s Climate March in Washington DC, the second time they have done so but the first time in the nation’s capital—a watershed moment in Indian country. The April 29 march coincided with President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office.
UNDYING NoDAPL: Water protectors crashed the annual shareholders meeting of Citibank, a major funder of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), in New York City and protested outside. Inside, some actually got the executives to listen.
JOURNALISM IS NOT A CRIME: On World Press Freedom Day, Amnesty International USA called for Morton County, SD authorities to drop charges against independent journalist and ICMN contributor Jenni Monet, arrested on February 1 while covering the DAPL standoff out at Standing Rock. Though released, she spent a night in jail, and her rioting and trespassing charges are still pending.
OH NO NOT AGAIN: A Texas stage company is putting on a musical, Quanah, about Comanche Chief Quanah Parker—with nary a Native actor in a lead role. Fast-food chain Sonic Drive-In pulled an insensitive ad depicting General Custer and said they were “deeply apologizing” after backlash from the Native community. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) were on the case, chastising Trump for calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, Pocahontas yet again.
SOUNDS OF SILENCE: Tribal leaders supporting the designation of Bears Ears National Monument, made in December by then–President Barack Obama said they have been trying to meet with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, but that he has not replied. He is scheduled to tour Bears Ears and other monuments this week as he carries out Trump’s executive order to review such designations surpassing 100,000 acres made since the late 1990s.
IN THE ‘WIN’ COLUMN… The influential California Coastal Commission appointed Ryan Sundberg, Yurok, the first Native member in its 41-year history. ICMN contributor Mark Trahant was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, putting him in the company of people like Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein and John Adams. This year, the 237th class, includes philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend, award-winning actress Carol Burnett, chairman of the board at Xerox Corporation Ursula Burns and mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani. Debra Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, filed papers for a congressional run from New Mexico.
UPLIFTING: The 2017 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, while held in a smaller venue than previous years, nevertheless attracted thousands of dancers, drummers and spectators to the annual Albuquerque spectacular, a major event in Indian country.