Indian Country headlines for Friday

From left, Cindy McCain, Sen. Kamala Harris and Joe Biden visit the American Indian Veterans National Memorial at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Indian Country Today

Stories we're following on Oct. 9, 2020: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris meet with tribal leaders, announce tribal plan in Phoenix, Alaska tribes sue over a proposed road, Washington teachers prepare to teach Native American history, and much more

Native vote could play serious role in Arizona come Nov. 3.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris met with five tribal leaders Thursday during a visit to Phoenix:

  • Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez
  • Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis
  • Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr.
  • San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler
  • Hopi Tribe Chairman Timothy L. Nuvangyaoma

The roughly half-hour meeting took place at the Heard Museum. Biden and others also toured the museum's American Indian Veterans National Memorial, which features several sculptures by acclaimed Native artists.

Nuvangyaoma told Indian Country Today that the meeting needs to be a “stepping stone” to a larger conversation, not just a photo op with Biden and Harris.

“Today was a pivotal point in them finding some time,” he said. “It could have been a lot of organizations they could have met with, and they decided to meet with us, which I think is pretty huge.”

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Biden-Harris campaign announces tribal nations plan

Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr., Gila River Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler and Hopi Chairman Timothy L. Nuvangyaoma met with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the Heard Museum, Oct. 8, 2020. (Photo by Carina Dominguez, Indian Country Today)
Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr., Gila River Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler and Hopi Chairman Timothy L. Nuvangyaoma met with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the Heard Museum on Thursday. (Photo by Carina Dominguez, Indian Country Today)

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris released detailed plans Thursday to uphold federal trust responsibilities by addressing health disparities, restoring tribal lands and providing economic opportunity for tribal nations.

The 15-page plan says a Biden administration will build on efforts made by the Obama administration, “which were instrumental in rebuilding trust, good faith and respect for the tribal-federal relationship.”

The plan was released prior to a meeting Thursday with tribal leaders in Arizona.

At the forefront of the plan are goals to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship between tribal nations and the federal government by reinstating the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, a space for tribal leaders to meet directly with the president and his staff to address issues in their communities.

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Athabascan, Iñupiat tribes sue over proposed mining road

Several tribes have filed suit in federal court in Alaska over a proposed road that would extend from Interior Alaska 211 miles west to the Ambler mining district, which is rich with copper, zinc, silver, gold, and lead. The new road would open remote wilderness to traffic from Anchorage, Fairbanks and the lower 48.

The Tanana Chiefs Conference, which represents 37 Athabascan tribes in Interior Alaska, filed suit Wednesday, along with five Koyukon Athabascan and Kobuk Iñupiat tribes in Northwest and Interior Alaska.

The tribes said they depend on the land, fish and wildlife, and their tight-knit communities for “for their very identities, spirituality, intergenerational learning, social cohesion, and sense of purpose and meaning. Diminishing or destroying such historic properties is tantamount to diminishing or destroying the communities themselves and their fundamental identities as Tribes and Indigenous peoples.”

First Chief of the village of Huslia Carl Burgett, Koyukon Athabascan, said, “This road could change life in our region more than any other single decision in history, and yet the people most affected by it have lately been left out.”

Washington schools prepare to teach tribal history

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — A school district in northwest Washington state has started to make plans with the Samish Indian Nation to fulfill a statewide initiative to integrate tribal history and culture into various subjects taught throughout grade levels in the district.

The Since Time Immemorial curriculum, which was developed in 2015, has been integrated in districts throughout the state and tailored to the nearest tribes, the Skagit Valley Herald reported. For the Anacortes School District, about 80 miles north of Seattle, the closest tribe is Samish.

For other local school districts, the closest tribes are the Upper Skagit for Sedro-Woolley, the Sauk-Suiattle for Concrete, the Swinomish for Mount Vernon, and the Samish and Swinomish for Burlington-Edison, officials said.

Anacortes School District Assistant Superintendent Becky Clifford said the district wanted to bring in local, place-based education into the curriculum, which could include building relationships with natural resources such as salmon and the learning about the legal standing of tribal treaty rights.

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Watch: The future of Native business

Unemployment numbers are up and businesses are down in this pandemic. The economic impact is being measured in many ways. And the question many are asking is what is the future?

On Thursday’s show, Chad Marchand, Colville Confederated, vice president of the National center for American Indian Enterprise and Development, attempts to tackle that question.

Plus, Indian Country Today intern Kalle Benallie tells us about a new feature Pinterest has created to report offensive Native costumes this Halloween.

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Photo Courtesy of Pinterest

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