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The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, June 4, 2017

A senseless murder, invisible Indians, and the nonpartisan, warming climate during the Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, June 4, 2017.
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Paying tribute to our fallen warriors, a tragic death and a clueless piece of so-called art all highlighted the Week That Was before June 4, 2017. Read on for the latest tales from Indian country.

FALLEN WARRIORS: In honor of Natives who have been killed in battle, ICMN pulled out a tribute from the archives by A&E and Pow Wows Editor Vincent Schilling.

INVISIBLE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: As Confederate statutes were pulled down in Louisiana, Carolina Castoreno mused about the fact that Native Americans were barely mentioned in the remarks about the suffering wrought by the same racism that led to the statues—and in close proximity to the name of the man largely responsible for the murder of thousands. In the same vein, the public debate over comedian Kathy Griffin’s bloodied Trump head completely lost sight of the routine depiction of Natives in just such a matter, noted Amanda Blackhorse. Where’s the disgust there?


ARTLESS: A two-story gallows structure based, in part, on the hanging of 38 Dakota men in Mankato, Minnesota, was taken down and will be burned after public outrage at the racially and historically insensitive reenactment of a horrific day that should never have happened once, let alone twice. Dakota elders will oversee the dismantling and later the burning of the painfully controversial piece of artwork. Even the decision to get rid of what was supposed to commemorate the grand reopening of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis drew at least a bit of satire, from ICMN commentator Tiffany Midge.

HOMEGROWN TERROR: Such ire comes with good reason, as the homegrown terror threat on the right is increasing, pointed out guest commentator Arie Perliger. She was referring to the murder of Richard Collins III, an African-American student just days away from graduating Bowie State University, by a white racist.

CASE IN POINT: Though it is not yet being called racially motivated, the death of 20-year-old Quinault citizen Jimmy Smith-Kramer at the hands of an enraged white man who deliberately backed over him and a friend with his pickup truck bore striking resemblance to the deaths of two men stabbed by an enraged white man on a train. A suspect was arrested in the case on the Quinault Nation on second-degree-murder charges. Smith-Kramer was celebrating his birthday when he was killed. His friend Harvey Anderson, 19, was hospitalized but later released.

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ONE STEP FORWARD … ETC.: Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II expressed gratitude at the not-guilty verdict rendered by a jury for his arrest last August 12 on disorderly conduct charges during protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Meanwhile, oil began flowing, as the tribe vowed to continue its court fight against the approval of the 1,172-mile-long, $3.8 billion pipeline.

DIRECT ASSAULT: In what one indigenous environmentalist termed a “direct assault” on Native peoples worldwide, President Donald Trump announced the U.S.’s departure from the painstakingly reached, historic Paris Climate Agreement. The entire world condemned his move, except for a handful of Republican advisors. Lending credence (as if it were needed) to the adage, “Ice doesn’t care about Republicans or Democrats; ice just melts,” Climate News Network reported on the many ways in which the world’s vanishing glaciers put millions at risk.

CHILD WELFARE: A new study found that Native American babies are far more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDs, than Hispanics, whites, and Asians, with African-American babies also at significant risk. In 2013, more than 175 out of every 100,000 Native and black babies were victims of SIDS, as compared to 84 white, 49 Hispanic and 28 Asian babies. In 1995, there were more than 235 cases of SIDS per 100,000 births in Indian country, according to the study.

ONLY CHRISTIANS NEED APPLY: In passing a law that will enable adoption services to refuse adoptions to non-Christians, Texas has created a situation that could wrest adoptable Native children from their heritage.

SALMON WIN IN COURT: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to consider the State of Washington’s appeal of a ruling that it must replace culverts that block or hinder fish migration. It marked the end of a 15-year fight to restore and protect Northwest salmon resources.

TOLD YOU SO: The Huaca Prieta archaeological site, in the Chicama Valley on the north coast of Peru, is 200 years older than previously thought by Western archeologists, according to new information from ongoing excavations. This of course is not news to Indigenous Peoples, who know their history goes back much further.

HOME AT LAST: The Ancient One, a long-ago member of the Coleville Tribe, was returned to his home 5,000 years after his death. Kennewick Man’s remains were finally interred at a ceremony with the Colville, Umatilla, Yakama, Wanapum and Nez Perce tribes after a 20-year effort to bring him home.