Indian Country Today

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Here’s a look at what’s happening today:

Madam Secretary Deb Haaland

A fierce Indigenous woman is now the caretaker of the nation’s public lands and waters for the first time in U.S. history.

Deb Haaland was confirmed as the nation’s 54th Secretary of the Interior in a 51-40 vote Monday, making her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency.

To read more, click here.

Rep. Debra Haaland, D-N.M., testifies before a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on her nomination to be Secretary of the Interior on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)

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Park service denies 2021 fireworks at Mount Rushmore

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The National Park Service has denied South Dakota officials’ request to shoot off fireworks over Mount Rushmore..

Fireworks returned to Mount Rushmore last year for a Fourth of July celebration that included a campaign stop by then-President Donald Trump. It was the first time Mount Rushmore has hosted a fireworks show since 2009.

But NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost wrote a letter to state tourism officials on Thursday saying the NPS would not grant their request for fireworks again this year.

More than 100 Black hills treaty defenders blocked the road leading to Mount Rushmore last Fourth of July to protest Trump's visit. NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen, Oglala Lakota, was among the arrested.

To read more, click here.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs releases COVID-19 relief guide

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawai‘i, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, released a comprehensive guide and a Frequently Asked Questions document to help Native communities navigate COVID-19 relief resources authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act.

Alaska reports one-third vaccinated 1 year after 1st case

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Exactly one year after Alaska announced its first case of the coronavirus, the state reported that over one-third of its residents over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

To read more, click here.

Bill would reverse Oak Flat land swap

SUPERIOR, Ariz. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva has introduced a bill to keep the U.S. Forest Service from turning over land in Arizona for a massive copper mine.

Grijalva's bill introduced Monday seeks to repeal that provision. The Democrat from Arizona has introduced similar bills in the past related to Oak Flat. It has no Republican co-sponsors.

To read more, click here.

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From social media:

The latest headlines:

  • Native Americans raise concerns about legislative actionThis year's state legislative session in Montana — where Republicans hold at least a two-thirds majority in both Houses and have a GOP governor for the first time in 16 years — has triggered concerns from some Native Americans and their allies who fear they are losing influence and representation.
  • Navajo community steps up for its vulnerableWith residents urged to stay home, tribal workers, health representatives and volunteers have stepped up efforts to ensure the most vulnerable citizens get the help they need.
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