June is here! We hope you had a nice Memorial Day weekend. Here’s a look at what’s happening today:

Chickasaw one step closer to Agriculture Department role

Janie Hipp could make history by becoming the first Native woman to be the general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On May 27, Hipp, Chickasaw, had her confirmation hearing with the Senate Agriculture Committee. President Joe Biden nominated Hipp in March. She would serve under Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who was first appointed to the position by President Barack Obama in 2009 and reappointed by Biden.

Hipp created the Office of Tribal Relations under Vilsack and served as his senior advisor during the Obama administration. If she is confirmed by the Senate, Hipp would join more than a half-dozen other Indigenous people appointed to high-level positions by the Biden administration.

Janie Hipp, Chickasaw, shown here while serving as director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas, was nominated March 15, 2021 by President Joe Biden to be general counsel for the Department of Agriculture. She is currently chief executive of the Native American Agriculture Fund. She is shown here with Charlie Vig (left), then-chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota.

SMSC Chairman Charlie Vig (left) talks with Janie Hipp (Chickasaw), director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at The University of Arkansas

“I am honored and grateful for this opportunity to serve,” Hipp said in her testimony. “If confirmed, I will work tirelessly to seek access and equity in the conduct of USDA’s programs. I will seek informed and practical solutions to the complex challenges we face in the areas of climate, finance and trade. I will never forget the rural and remote places I grew up in and the infrastructure needs they face. I will bring my broad experiences to bear on the legal challenges ahead. And I will always keep our nation’s farmers and ranchers – no matter who they are – as my guiding light and north star."

To watch a replay of Hipp’s confirmation hearing, click here.


Unanimous: Supreme Court rules for tribes

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Tuesday that a tribal police officer can temporarily detain and search non-Natives on public rights of way that go through tribal land.

The case, United States v. Cooley, involved Joshua James Cooley, a non-Native man parked on the side of Highway 212 that runs through the Crow Reservation in southeastern Montana. Crow tribal police officer James Saylor approached the truck and found “watery, bloodshot eyes” and two guns lying on the front seat of the vehicle.

Justice Stephen Breyer authored the nine-page opinion along with a concurring, one paragraph opinion by Justice Samuel Alito.

To read more, click here.

A woman places children's moccasins as a tribute to all the victims of the residential school system outside St. Francis Xavier Church in Kahnawake, Quebec, Sunday, May 30, 2021. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

Canada: Bodies at residential school not isolated incident

TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it ’s not an isolated incident that over 200 children were found buried at a former residential school.

Trudeau’s comments come as Indigenous leaders are calling for an examination of every former residential school site — institutions that held children taken from families across the nation.

Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in British Columbia said the remains of 215 children, some as young as 3 years old, were confirmed this month with the help of ground-penetrating radar. She described the discovery as “an unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented” at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, the largest such school in the country.

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their Native languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.

To read more, click here.

The Biden-Harris administration marks Pride Month

President Joe Biden issued a proclamation affirming June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month.

"After four years of relentless attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic actions to accelerate the march toward full LGBTQ+ equality," read a fact sheet by the Biden administratio.

To read more about the proclamation and fact sheet, click here.

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Freedmen's effect on Black Wall Street

TULSA, Okla. — In a century-old family story about a teenage aunt who liked to drive her luxury car down the trolley tracks of Tulsa, Kristi Williams still savors a tiny, lingering taste of how different life could have been for all Black Americans after slavery.

On Monday, Tulsans commemorated the 100th anniversary of a two-day assault by armed White men on Tulsa's prosperous Black community of Greenwood, known around the country as Black Wall Street, calling attention to an era of deadly mob assaults on Black communities that official history long suppressed.

In this Monday, June 15, 2020 photo, Kristi Williams speaks during an interview at her home in Tulsa, Okla. Unlike Black Americans across the country after slavery, Williams' ancestors and thousands of other Black members of slave-owning Indian nations freed after the war “had land,” says Williams, a Tulsa community activist. “They had opportunity to build a house on that land, farm that land, and they were wealthy with their crops." (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

But Williams, and other descendants of the freed Black people enslaved by Native American nations who once owned much of the land under Tulsa, say there's another part of Black Wall Street's history that more Americans need to know about.

(Related: Race, sovereignty clash as Congress meddles in tribal enrollment)

It's one that has important lessons for contemporary racial issues in the United States, including the long debated matter of reparations, descendants and historians say.

That bit of the story: where much of the seed money that made Black Wall Street boom came from. 

To read more, click here.

Two Oklahoma tribes consider tribal citizenship for Freedmen

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Choctaw and Muscogee nations in Oklahoma are considering changes to their constitutions that would allow descendants of Freedmen, Black people once enslaved by tribal citizens, to become tribal citizens.

“The story of Choctaw Freedmen deserves our attention and thoughtful consideration within the framework of tribal self-governance,” Choctaw Chief Gary Batton said in a letter posted on the tribe’s website Thursday.

“To be successful, we’ll have to tell the story of why we believe this is necessary and listen to tribal members’ input,” Batton wrote.

The issue of tribal citizenship for Freedmen has long been the subject of litigation for the Five Tribes, known historically as the Five Civilized Tribes: the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee and Seminole nations.

To read more, click here.

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