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Indian Country Today

Phoenix to dismantle Squaw Peak, Robert E. Lee street signs

PHOENIX (AP) - The city of Phoenix officially installed new signs for two streets whose names have long been considered offensive.

Mayor Kate Gallego watched Monday morning as workers erected a new sign for Piestewa Peak Drive, formerly Squaw Peak Drive.

"This is a huge milestone in becoming the city we strive to be and we will continue working hard to ensure every resident feels respected and safe," Gallego said later on Twitter.

Historically, "Squaw" is a slur used to describe Native American women. Piestewa honors fallen Native American soldier Lori Piestewa, who was a citizen of the Hopi tribe and was killed during an ambush in Iraq in 2003.

Officials will also unveil signage for Desert Cactus Street, formerly Robert E. Lee Street. Critics say having a street named for the Confederate general glorifies the pro-slavery Confederacy.

For years, critics have urged the street name changes. But it wasn't until last year's rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and talk of racial reckoning that the issue gained momentum.

The Phoenix City Council approved both new names.

Some residents disagreed, arguing it would force them to change their addresses on personal documents and records.

New Mexico’s Indigenous education advocate faces tough job

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — It may be one of the toughest jobs in Santa Fe.

As the assistant secretary for Indian Education, Lashawna Tso is Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s educational liaison to the state’s 23 tribal governments and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Education.

Her role since getting the job last fall bridges two worlds with centuries of fraught history: war and genocide that lasted until the 20th Century and a combination of indifference and neglect that Native American advocates argue lingers today in funding decisions and educational lesson plans.

“The tribes are depending on me, to make sure that their voices are heard,” Tso said in an interview.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Tso’s position was vacant.

There was no top state official to direct Indigenous education policy and New Mexico’s tribal leaders were left frustrated at a critical time. To read more, click here.

USDA puts brakes on Oak Flat transfer - for now

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Biden administration is pulling back an environmental review that cleared the way for a parcel of federal land that Apaches consider sacred to be turned over for a massive copper mining operation in eastern Arizona.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that it likely will take several months to further consult with Native American tribes and others about their concerns over Oak Flat and determine whether the environmental review fully complies with the law.

The agency cited President Joe Biden's recent memo on strengthening relationships with tribal nations, and regularly consulting with them in a meaningful way.

The USDA and the U.S. Forest Service acknowledged they can only do so much. Congress mandated that the land be transferred to Resolution Copper no later than 60 days after the final environmental review was published. The document was released in the last days of Donald Trump's administration.

To read more, click here.

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More news headlines:

Legalization of marijuana in South Dakota could provide a new, lucrative economic-development opportunity for tribes and tribal citizens who have historically struggled to find prosperity and stability in the state economy.

The arrests brought renewed calls for fighting sex trafficking along the Canadian company’s Line 3 project

Dynamics of Russian Colonialism in Alaska, the first solo exhibition of work by Marlena Myles, focuses on the intersection of immigrant and Native peoples in North America.

Native Hawaiian teacher, cultural practitioner, and filmmaker Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu has been gaining international acclaim for her latest short animated film “Kapaemahu.”

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana is building its health services largely from scratch roughly a year after becoming the United States’ 574th federally recognized Indigenous tribe. Because of the pandemic, it’s doing it on hyperdrive.

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