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Indian Country Today

Two tribal wins in Supreme Court; Trump to visit Phoenix; Trump endorses two OK Indian incumbent candidates; Primaries in three states; Joint PBS, Santa Fe Indian School broadcast of graduation 

Two tribes win cases before the Supreme Court

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States denied appeals in the cases Cherokee Nation v. Bernhardt and Baley v. United States.

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, a federally recognized tribe in Oklahoma, got a victory yesterday. At issue was the transfer of Keetoowah land into trust status. By denying an appeal by the Cherokee Nation, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the Department of Interior lawfully took the 76 acres into trust.

"Speaking as a tribal member, this is a monumental day for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma," said Chief Joe Bunch in a statement. "We had our highest courts in the land rule that we have the right to land in trust. Keetoowahs can now rest assured that with this ruling, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma cannot fight us or hamper our efforts for growth any longer. This will be the economic catalyst for our tribe moving forward in all facets of government and justice prevailed in this long overdue fight.”

The Klamath Tribes also got a “W” in a water rights case when the Supreme Court denied a challenge from the Klamath Project over water rights and the licensing, conditioning, and developing of a hydropower project.

“This is a tremendous victory for the Klamath Tribes as well as for the other Klamath Basin tribes, the United States, and environmental groups,” the Native American Rights Fund said in a statement. “In this case the Klamath Tribes’ treaty water rights were confirmed once again as the most senior water rights in the Basin; rights which are critical to protect the Tribes’ fisheries and traditional way of life for future generations.”

Trump to mark border wall milestone in Arizona

PHOENIX (AP) — President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Yuma, Arizona, on Tuesday to mark the completion of the 200th mile of the border wall system between the U.S. and Mexico.

The Trump administration has promised to build 450 miles of wall along the southern border by the end of the year, aided by relaxed procurement laws that allow the government to award contracts to construction companies without much vetting.

Construction has continued despite a coronavirus outbreak that's hit the Yuma area hard, and amid opposition from tribes and environmentalists.

Following his border wall tour, Trump will head to Phoenix to speak at a Students for Trump convention at Dream City Church.

Trump tweets endorsement of Native reps. from Oklahoma

On Monday, Trump tweeted endorsements of two Republican U.S. representatives from Oklahoma. Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, and Tom Cole, Chickasaw, are both running for reelection.

“Congressman @MarkwayneMullin is a Warrior for the people of Oklahoma! He proudly FIGHTS for our Border, Infrastructure, Second Amendment and our Brave Law Enforcement. Markwayne has my Complete and Total Endorsement! #OK02” Trump tweeted.

Trump has tweeted endorsements of candidates since before the 2018 general election, hoping to boost the platforms of candidates in his party to his more than 82.3 million followers.

“Congressman Tom Cole is doing an incredible job for the people of Oklahoma! He delivers for our Military, Vets, and Brave Law Enforcement, and he will always stand for Life and the Second Amendment! Tom has my Complete and Total Endorsement! #OK04,” Trump said of Cole.

Oklahoma’s primary election will be held on June 30.

Primaries in New York, Kentucky and Virginia

Three states will be holding their primaries on June 23.

2020 Census: Six tribes, one count and a lot at stake

Every ten years the federal government requires a census count of every person living in the United States. Counting so many people is a daunting task and this year the coronavirus pandemic is making it especially tough to count American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Jessica Imotichey, Los Angeles Region Partnership Coordinator for the U.S. Census talks about concerns of not having an accurate count in Indian Country.

"We have had some challenges due to the coronavirus to COVID-19. So that did put a hold on a lot of our operation. That was particularly difficult in Alaska where you already have remote villages."

Watch the Indian Country Today newscast here.

Santa Fe Indian School graduation to be broadcast statewide in New Mexico


After the coronavirus closed schools in early March in New Mexico, graduating seniors were left scrambling to figure out how to meet exit requirements to graduate.

Some students typed their capstone research papers on cell phones, while one student hand wrote their paper and sent pictures to their teachers, the Santa Fe Indian School reports.

The hard work paid off.

More than 100 Native high school seniors will graduate Friday in a virtual graduation that will be broadcast around the state through an unprecedented collaboration between New Mexico PBS and Santa Fe Indian School, an off-reservation boarding school that is owned and operated by the 19 pueblos.

The event will include pre-recorded remarks from tribal leaders in New Mexico and speeches from graduating students. It will broadcast on Friday, June 26 at 6 p.m. local time on NMPBS Channel 5.3. 

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