Happy Friday! Here’s a look at what happened today:

Federal murder charges in 11 Oklahoma cases

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) — Eleven men whose murder convictions in Oklahoma were overturned because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on state jurisdiction in tribal territories have been charged with federal murder counts, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday.

A federal grand jury in Muskogee issued indictments in the cases that had been either reversed by a state appeals court or dismissed by state prosecutors, the department said in a news release. The reversals and dismissals were based on the McGirt decision, which found Oklahoma lacks jurisdiction for crimes committed on tribal reservations in which the defendants or victims were tribal citizens.

Those charged include Devin Sizemore, 26, whose conviction and life sentence for the drowning death of his 21-month-old daughter was overturned April 1.

State appellate court rulings overturning criminal convictions based on McGirt have led to a dramatic increase in workload for federal prosecutors who must retry the cases in federal court. 

To read more, click here.

Captain America Kickapoo grass dancer in Marvel

The Marvel universe is celebrating the 80th anniversary of Captain America next month by introducing a new mini-series called “The United States of Captain America.” The series has an Indigenous touch in issue #3 and will be written by Marvel writer Christopher Cantwell and largely drawn by Dale Eaglesham, with supplements by additional artists and writers.

In the case of issue #3, Joe Gomez, a character from the Kickapoo tribe, is a grass dancer and construction worker for his community. Gomez’s outfit is a combination of Gomez’s recognition of Captain America and what the mantle stands for and a personal honor for his Kickapoo traditions as a grass dancer.

Marvel contributor Darcie Little Badger, Lipan Apache, told Indian Country Today that the character is one of five people in the United States who are inspired by Captain America. Other characters include a gay teen and a Black woman. Little Badger says Gomez is one of the people Captain America and other characters like Bucky Barnes visit and team up with in a way that involves each person’s specific community.

Read more of the story here.

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Bid to build luxury camping site east of Flagstaff rejected

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Coconino County Board of Supervisors has rejected a bid to construct a luxury camping site with more than 770 lodging units east of Flagstaff.

The proposed Two Guns Resort was also slated to include water parks, a pet resort and drive-in theater among other amenities.

KNAU reports that at a public hearing Wednesday, supervisors questioned developer John Gunderman about a lack of evacuation plans as well as fire department services.

The Two Guns area doesn't have a fire district and the city of Winslow declined to provide fire emergency services for Gunderman's development.

Gunderman said he was in talks with Navajo Gaming officials about using fire services from the Twin Arrows Casino, but no official agreement had been reached. Supervisors also expressed concern that Gunderson had not conducted an archaeological survey of the area.

According to KNAU, the Hopi Tribe has submitted a letter of opposition to the luxury camping site project.

Spokane's North Central High to replace Indians mascot

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The Spokane Public Schools board has approved retiring the North Central High School Indians mascot, plus a name change at Sheridan Elementary and new mascot to replace the Braves at Garry Middle School.

The Spokesman-Review reported the changes were unanimously approved on Wednesday.

The changes at North Central and Sheridan had been in the works since last year, with widespread school and community support for both.

In all three cases, the district will move forward with students, staff and community members to find a new name or mascot.

The Indians and Braves mascots run afoul of a new state law that bans the use of Native American mascots. Sheridan Elementary is named for 19th Century Gen. Phil Sheridan, who was quoted as saying "the only good Indians I ever saw were dead."

According to the new law, North Central and Garry have until the end of 2021 to choose new mascots. These changes would include the removal of old symbols from gym floors, reader boards and other surfaces.

The procedure will be slightly different at Sheridan. The district will solicit new names from patrons, then form a screening committee to review the suggestions and recommend three finalists for board approval.


From social media:

The latest:

  • A financial lifeline during COVID-19: The economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has hit Indian Country particularly hard. Entrepreneurs are turning to small, local lending institutions in a region that's often outside the reach of traditional banks.
  • Filling a financial gap in Eastern Oregon: While employment by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation drives an economic engine, tribal members and reservation residents lack access to traditional banking. Nixyaawii Community Financial Services is working to bridge that gap.
  • House GOP elects Trump defender Elise Stefanik to No. 3 post: Stefanik replaces Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was among 10 House Republicans who voted this year to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol riot.
  • More representation in dolls: A workshop to learn how to make traditional hide dolls.
  • WATCH: The healing efforts of Indian Country: On this weekend edition of Indian Country Today, we hear from Native leaders who sum up COVID response, as well as repatriation efforts in California. Plus how creativity heals in a pandemic.

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We want your tips, but we also want your feedback. What should we be covering that we’re not? What are we getting wrong? Please let us know. Email: dwalker@indiancountrytoday.com