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

Billy Mills and the spirituality of running, Obama hugs a Native baby, and more in Indian country during The Week That Was, July 16, 2017.
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The imminent return of prodigal salmon, some notables walk on, and No. 44 pays more attention to Natives than his successor. All this and more during The Week That Was in Indian country, July 16, 2017.

STILL PRESIDENTIAL: Alaska Native Jolene Jackinsky got the surprise of her life at Anchorage International Airport when she ran into none other than President Barack Obama. He noticed her six-month-old baby, asked to hold her and even posed for a photo.

BRAVERY AND FUNDING: The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe received a courage award created especially for them by the Wallace Global Fund for remaining resolutely opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline’s route past their lands, even in the face of a veritable military-style onslaught. Not only that, but the fund pledged $1 million investment in renewable energy projects, to be spearheaded by the tribe, and the tribe received a direct $250,000 donation.


DE-FUNDING SPREADS: The move away from financing pipelines is catching on, as Dutch ING Bank declared it would not finance four major pipelines. This comes on the heels of its March yanking of $120 million from DAPL out of concerns over violence used against the water protectors.

TESTY TESTER: Trying to extract information on the budget for the Indian Health Service and its effect on Indian country, Senator Jon Tester grew apopleptic with frustration by the end of his question session with Indian Health Service Acting Director Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee. The video of the incident went viral.

B.C. BURNS: Hundreds of wildfires racing across swathes of British Columbia encroached on or threatened First Nations communities. Rather than go down without a fight and lose their homes, many First Nations residents defied evacuation orders and stayed behind, loath to lose everything they owned—though many did, regardless.

ON BEING: Olympian Billy Mills spoke of running as a spiritual exercise while a guest on the podcast On Being, hosted by bestselling author and award-winning broadcaster Krista Tippett.

TIMELY TIPS: With educators starting to turn their attention to syllabi and school planning, Sarah Sunshine Manning came up with several helpful tips for teachers on things they should never say to Native students.

CRACKDOWN AND COMEUPPANCE: The Native art world is beset by fraud, counterfeiting and outright thievery of designs and motifs by non-indigenous (so-called) artists. But that is changing with the advent of court victories against the shysters peddling fake art.

ANCIENT POLLUTANTS? A new study was released suggesting that the health decline of ancient Channel Island Indians off the California coast could have been due to the use of bitumen in utensils and food.

REPRIEVE: The Navajo Generating Station’s lease was extended through the end of 2019, buying another 18 months for the Navajo and Hopi nations to seek economic alternatives to the largest coal-fired power plant in Indian country.

DEPARTURES: Two Tigua Indian icons walked on in the space of a month: T’aikabede (spiritual leader) of the Pueblo since 2010 Francisco Holguin, walked on at age 96. And renowned attorney Tom Diamond walked on at age 94, primarily known for his service to the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. In the music world, Nik Winterhawk Alexander—lead singer and guitarist of the San Francisco–based group Winterhawk, who led his all-Native heavy metal band to opening for big names, including Motley Crue, in the 1980s—walked on after battling cancer.