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The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, April 16, 2017

No justice for Loreal Tsingine, and the Trump-Kushners' sweet real estate deal with the owner of a mining company in Indian country.
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Small pipeline victories, some sports milestones, and a sweet real estate deal wrapped up in a mine. These and other stories were big in Indian country during the Week That Was, April 16, 2017.

WAITING FOR JUSTICE: A full year after 27-year-old Diné mother Loreal Tsingine was shot to death by police for allegedly carrying scissors, no criminal charges have been filed, despite community demand for an investigation into the Winslow Police Departments’ conduct in Tsingine’s murder.

SUPREME COURT WATER FIGHT: The Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency are taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ water rights encompass both surface and groundwater assets, including the Coachella Valley aquifer. Aqua Caliente has long been concerned about dropping levels in the 65-mile-long aquifer, which lies beneath its 31,500-acre reservation in and around Palm Springs. The tribe also expressed its opposition to the agencies’ plan to pump untreated Colorado River water into the aquifer.


WATER WATER ISSUES EVERYWHERE: Meanwhile, on the U.S.–Mexico border, finessing water cooperation regarding the Santa Cruz River system is quite delicate.

INTERVENERS UNITE: The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota are among dozens of individuals and entities given permission to testify about the Keystone XL pipeline’s route through the state during public hearings this summer before the Nebraska Public Service Commission. The pipeline, rejected in 2015 but revived by President Donald Trump, still faces many hurdles.

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TRESPASSING: Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a U.S. District Court ordered a natural gas pipeline operator to cease operations and remove the pipeline located on original Kiowa Indian lands Anadarko.

NO WAY, NO HOW: The Tk’emlúps and Skeetchestn Indian Bands, collectively known as the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwepemc Nation, conducted their own environmental survey of a proposed open-pit mine in their territory near Kamloops, British Columbia. The potentially precedent-setting review, founded on First Nations��� laws and traditions, centered on their cultural perspectives, collective knowledge and long history, and including the impacts to spirit and culture, found that the mine was environmentally and culturally unsound, and rejected it.

RESOURCE EXTRACTION AFTERMATH: In the What Could Go Wrong department, the question arises: What’s left for Indian country after a resource extraction operation packs up and leaves? Mark Trahant painted a picture of what the “lucky” community must contend with: at best, a small, toxic dumpsite, and at worst, a major cleanup, or even a massive Superfund site. And those jobs? Gone with the company.

RESISTANCE IS NOT FOR SALE: The firestorm surrounding an ill-conceived Pepsi ad that appeared to take a lighthearted approach to activism did not even touch upon the biggest parallel of all, this one in Indian country: Standing Rock and NoDAPL. “Missing from this greater conversation of real-life parallels is the largest movement to take America in the past 12 months: The indigenous struggle in Standing Rock and the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline, where numerous times, a drink of water was offered to police, and yet, refused,” wrote Sarah Sunshine Manning. “Our resistance is not for sale.”

DIVESTMENT DEMANDS: The push to get entities to remove funds from companies supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is escalating, and it moved to the Big Apple with a campout before a Wells Fargo office in downtown Manhattan, in a call for New York City to pull its funds.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE…: Presidential daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are sitting pretty in a D.C. townhouse rented to them by a mining magnate who is suing the federal government for the right to build a massive mine opposed by Minnesota tribes. The company swore there was no conflict.

HALL OF FAME: The University of Nevada–Las Vegas will induct its record-setting three-point specialist Gwynn Grant (Hobbs) into its athletic hall of fame as the Navajo point guard who played from 1991–95 has her name in the school record books 21 times.