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The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, June 11, 2017

Standing Rock Sioux lauded for bravery, a Trump budget axe and Blackfoot in a major movie: all this and more in Indian country the week of June 11, 2017.
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Natives advance in Hollywood, Indian programs get slashed in Washington, and a video game gets called out for lack of historical accuracy. All this and more in Indian country during the Week That Was, June 11.

YOU HAD ME AT ‘NAPI’: Wonder Woman cleaned up at the box office and in A&E Editor Vincent Schilling’s heart, as Eugene Brave Rock’s character “Chief” introduced himself to the lead character, played by Gal Gadot, as Napi, the Blackfoot demi-god who is known as a trickster and a storyteller. In another twist on superheroes, the latest X-Men movie will have Blu Hunt, who is part Native American, portraying Cheyenne Mutant Danielle Moonstar. And Martin Sensmeier, known for such movies as The Magnificent Seven, will play the lead role of Montford Johnson in the upcoming Indian country film by Chickasaw Nation Productions, The Chickasaw Rancher.

“IT’S A WHITE THING”: A classic video game is receiving flack for its portrayal of Natives. The Oregon Trail, designed in 1971 to encourage students to learn about 19th-century history, contains many images considered to be stereotypical in Indian country. One of its original creators now wants to reimagine it with a Native American perspective.

TURNING THE DAPL TABLES: What if the 300 tribes supporting Standing Rock had pooled resources and hired TigerSwan, the counterterrorism group that conducted aggressive surveillance and deployed military measures against unarmed water protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)? Peter d’Errico asked that question in an op-ed. So did ICMN, but TigerSwan did not respond to an e-mail asking whether the company would have accepted the assignment.

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COURAGE UNDER FIRE: Meanwhile, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe received an award for bravery in the face of TigerSwan’s assault from the Wallace Global Fund, a progressive investment house, think tank and grant-making institution, for “unyielding advocacy for people and the planet” in the fight against DAPL. The award ceremony in Midtown Manhattan, before a roomful of potential investors, included the announcement that Wallace would invest up to $1 million in renewable energy projects, to be led by the Standing Rock Sioux.

BANDWIDTH BUCKS: Mohawk Networks LLC has received a $6.4 million grant through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $500 million “Broadband for All” initiative to bridge the connectivity divide, the gap between Internet haves and have-nots, which it will use to deliver broadband to residents of Akwesasne and many surrounding communities.

SLASHER BUDGET: Even as the U.S. Department of the Interior promised not to slash land acquisitions on behalf of tribes as part of the budget proposed by President Donald Trump, the White House proposed vast cuts to Indian-related programs across a wide swath of federal agencies. This caused former assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, who served under President Barack Obama, to take issue with a Trump administration claim that its fiscal year 2018 budget would not harm tribal land acquisitions at Interior.

AND JUSTICE FOR ALL: Or at least this one. Kirk L. Bigby, 63, pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder of Marcus L. Roberts, a father of five, days before the trial would have begun. Bigby had shot Roberts after an altercation at the Bluefin Bay Resort’s annual Christmas party in Tofte, Minnesota, in December 2015.