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The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, April 2–9, 2017

A beloved pow wows emcee walks on, federal budget gives chump change, and DAPL marches on, in Indian country the week of April 9.
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Some major accolades, an uplifting vote for love, and a beloved pow wow emcee walks on. This and more over the past two weeks in Indian country.

OSAGE NATION SAYS ‘I DO’: Only a few dozen federally recognized tribes have amended their laws to approve of same-sex tribal marriage, and the Osage Nation became the latest of them to sanction the union, with the measure getting 52 percent of the vote—though only 1,123 out of 15,000 registered Osage voters cast a ballot.

TRUMP ADMIN SAYS ‘I DON’T’: Meanwhile, over in Trumplandia, the Affordable Care Act replacement lay in ruins, leaving open the question of what’s next for Indian health. Trump’s budget of proposed cuts could shortchange Indian country infrastructure. The proposed border wall “would destroy a lot of families,” protesters told Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona. The wall would run through the . Trump’s reinstatement of coal, on the other hand, gave

HOLDING STRONG: Trump’s latest attempt to ban Muslims from Turtle Island’s shores was met with a challenge from non other than the only Native Hawaiian federal judge, Derrick Watson—one of just two federal judges with indigenous heritage out of 1,352 active and semi-retired jurists (the other being Diane Humetewa, Hopi).

HOT AND COLD COAL: Trump’s lifting of the coal ban, meanwhile, had mixed results for tribes. And the Northern Cheyenne Nation sued against it .

A GORSUCH ‘I DO’: The Republicans confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice, a move that many in Indian country applauded. Commentators noted Gorsuch’s deep knowledge of Indian law and the fact that it far outshines that of any other potential candidate.

DAPL AND PIPELINE WOES: With the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) almost up and running with the denial of the latest appeal, and now Keystone XL potentially in the works, pipeline protests are erupting nationwide throughout Indian country, such as against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Meanwhile, the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has called the United States to account for the actions that led to permitting construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline to resume despite protests from the American Indian community and a flawed environmental review process. The U.S. didn’t bother to show up for the hearing before the international community. And back in the U.S., many water protectors were left at spiritual loose ends as they tried to adjust to life back home.

PIPELINE VICTORY: In a pipeline victory of another sort, the Big Pine Paiute Tribe won an important battle in its five-year struggle with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to repair a broken water pipeline that had cost the tribe half its irrigation water during a deep drought and caused more than $1.26 million worth of losses during 2015 and 2016. So moving was the case they presented, that one commissioner offered to pay for the repair out of her own pocket.

ACCOLADES WELL DESERVED: Independent journalist and Indian Country Media Network contributor Jenni Monet won Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s prestigious Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award for her coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline standoff near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation in North Dakota. And ICMN’s own editorial cartoonist, Marty Two Bulls, was an Herblock Prize finalist—among the highest accolades for drawn commentary. He spoke with ICMN’s Vincent Schilling about the line between fine art and commercialism. And outside journalism, federal Indian law expert Robert A. Williams received the Federal Bar Association Indian Law Section’s Lawrence R. Baca Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Federal Indian Law—nominated by his own students.

ON THE BRINK: The Yurok and other tribes are reeling from the most catastrophic fisheries collapse in Klamath River history, with just 11,000 coho salmon returning this year to the river forming the California-Oregon border.

SAD FAREWELL: Renowned and beloved pow wow emcee Hammond Motah, known throughout the U.S. and Canada for his bold sense of humor, knowledge of traditional protocol for multiple tribal nations, and a generosity of spirit, walked on at age 75.