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Legislature approves bill seeking Billy Frank Jr. statue

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A measure to honor the late Billy Frank Jr. with a statue at the U.S. Capitol cleared the Legislature this week.

On a 44-5 bipartisan vote, the Democratic-led Senate approved the bill that seeks to replace Washington’s Marcus Whitman statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection with a statue of Frank, a Nisqually tribal citizen who championed treaty rights and protecting the environment.

The House approved the measure last month. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature, the Associated Press reported.

(Related: Billy Frank Jr., 1931-2014: ‘A Giant’ Will Be Missed)

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Navajo Nation confirms first case of B.1.329 variant

On Tuesday, the Navajo Nation announced the first confirmed cast of the COVID-19 B.1.429 variant on the reservation.

The person who tested positive for the B.1.429 variant has recovered and contact tracing has been completed, according to the Navajo Nation. The variant is known to spread from person to person at a greater rate.

The variant was first identified in the state of California and has since been detected across the southwest U.S., according to the Navajo Nation.

This is the second COVID-19 variant of concern that has been identified on the Navajo Nation. The first case of the U.K. variant found in the western portion of the Navajo Nation on March 30.

(Related: UK variant of COVID detected on Navajo Nation)

Her second vaccine dose

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Nation, received second vaccine dose on Monday at her tribes' urban office.

Flanagan has been an advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine. She lost her brother to the coronavirus last year.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan received her second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine through White Earth Nation’s urban office on April 5, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Katie Howie via the Minnesota Office of the Governor)

“When I received my second dose of the Moderna vaccine at the White Earth Urban Office, I held my brother Ron’s pocket watch to honor his memory and all those we have lost to COVID-19,” Flanagan said in a statement. “As we see more and more Minnesotans getting vaccinated, we are getting closer and closer to ending the pandemic. White Earth has done a tremendous job vaccinating folks from the tribe, but also from across the region and surrounding communities.”

Mesa Verde National Park designated as dark sky park

CORTEZ, Colo. (AP) — The Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, known for preserving ancient cultural sites, has been designated the 100th International Dark Sky Park, park officials said.

In a statement Monday, the park said the certification would help foster astronomy-based recreation and tourism while improving energy efficiency and reducing operational costs in the park related to outdoor lighting, the Cortez Journal reported.

The designation will also help highlight spiritual and practical connections held by Ancestral Puebloans with night skies and stars, officials said, though it does not carry legal or regulatory authority.

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