Happy Tuesday! Here’s a look at what’s happening today:

Boosting Indigenous creativity

Before the pandemic swept through the American film industry, Noah Watts was booking concerts for his band Nickels & Bones, and auditioning for acting roles in Los Angeles.

But COVID-19 brought those plans to a halt.

The actor and musician, a citizen of the Crow tribe and descendent of the Blackfeet Nation, is known widely for his voiceover work on the video game franchise “Assassin’s Creed.”

Once he learned that the coronavirus could compromise his lungs, Watts, 37, who has asthma, barely left his Billings, Montana, home. And for the next few months, neither did the four guitars standing up along his wall.

Watts is one of more than 225 recipients of a grant from the Natives in Entertainment COVID-19 Relief Fund, created in a partnership between the Native American Media Alliance and Netflix to support Indigenous writers, directors, actors and other industry professionals who lost jobs to the pandemic.

To read more, click here.


Michigan school district drops Chiefs nickname

OKEMOS, Mich. (AP) — A Lansing-area school district named for a Native American leader is dropping its Chiefs nickname, following similar changes at other Michigan schools.

The Okemos school board voted Monday to stop using Chiefs or Chieftains and pick a new nickname in a few years. The switch could cost more than $400,000 to remove the name and image from buildings, uniforms and other school properties, the Lansing State Journal reported.

Okemos is an unincorporated community in Meridian Township. It is named for Chief Okemos, who lived in the area and led the Saginaw Chippewas. He died in 1858.

To read more, click here.

ICT's Mary Annette Pember on Wisconsin Public Radio

Mary Annette Pember, a national correspondent for Indian Country Today, was a guest Tuesday on Wisconsin Public Radio. Pember talked about Indigenous high school graduates and issues some face wanting to wear eagle feathers or regalia at commencement.

(Related: Graduations shouldn't be 'another form' of erasure)

To listen, click here.

From the chapter, "Stories We Love." An eagle feather? When representation of a Native Nation gets in the way of graduation. (Illustration by Tomás Karmelo Amaya, Indian Country Today)

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Sanford hires head of Native American outreach

Scott Davis, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is joining the Bismarck Region of Sanford Health in North Dakota, according to the Minot Daily News.

His role is the leader of Native American community outreach and will oversee tribal specific outreach and work with area tribes.

To read more, click here.

Casting call for Indigenous youth

PoPing Casting, which worked on Disney’s "Mulan" and Warner Brother’s blockbuster hit "The Meg" – is currently searching North America for a 16-year-old Indigenous male and a 14-year-old Indigenous female to star in a series that will be streamed on a U.S. streaming service.

Materials must be sent to opencall@popincasting.com by Thursday, May 27.

For more details, click here.

Committee proposes removal of Civil War memorial statue

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A citizens committee in western Michigan has proposed removing a park statue of a Union soldier and Confederate soldier standing back to back as a slave child kneels between them.

The Garden of Honor Memorial Committee presented its suggestion Monday to the Allendale Township board which could vote June 14 on the statue’s future.

In addition to removing the current statue, the committee also recommended that a replacement statue featuring three Union soldiers — one white, one Black and one Native American — be erected.

To read more, click here.

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