Indian Country headlines for Friday

U.S. Attorney Timothy Downing makes remarks at the announcement of funding to fight domestic violence in Tulsa, Okla., on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. Three U.S. attorneys announced $8 million in federal grants to combat domestic and sexual violence against Native American women in Oklahoma. (Matt Barnard/Tulsa World via AP)

Indian Country Today

Stories we're talking about: Tohono O’odham officer killed, Alaska MMIW cold case office opens; Kiowa soccer star speaks out against racial injustice, and more

Tohono O'odham police officer killed

A Tohono O’odham police officer was killed Thursday on the tribe's reservation in southern Arizona. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating his death.

Officer Bryan Brown was responding to reports of an armed and erratic driver near one of the Tohono O’odham casinos. He was seriously injured during the arrest and was airlifted to a Phoenix hospital, where he died, according to a news release.

Chairman Ned Norris Jr. said in a statement: “This is a sad day for the Tohono O’odham Nation, and our hearts go out to the family and friends of this fine officer who gave his life in the line of duty. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers."

Missing and murdered Indigenous cold case office opens in Anchorage

The Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, also known as “Operation Lady Justice,” has opened an office in Anchorage, Alaska.

The Anchorage cold case office is one of seven opening across the country. Other offices will be in  Montana, Minnesota, Tennessee, New Mexico, South Dakota and Arizona.

Alaska leads the nation with 300 cases of unsolved missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Arizona comes next, with about 240 such cases.

Last November, President Donald Trump signed an executive order forming the task force. The group is working to meet with tribes, improve response by police and others, look at data collection and research and develop outreach.

Kiowa soccer star speaks on racial injustice

San Jose Earthquakes star Chris Wondolowski, Kiowa, said sitting out Wednesday’s MLS game to protest racial injustice was the right thing to do.

The Earthquakes were one of ten major league soccer professional teams to boycott Wednesday’s scheduled matches to make a statement against racial injustice.

"We don't want lip service anymore," Wondolowski said. "It's time for actual actions to be made, and time for a change."

Alaska Natives protest state lawsuit on subsistence hunting

The state of Alaska is suing over a federal decision to limit caribou and moose hunting at a popular destination for urban hunters.

The federal lands being closed are part of the traditional homelands of the Ahtna Athabascan in South-central Interior Alaska. The region includes moose and migratory routes of the Nelchina caribou herd, which numbers in the tens of thousands.

The state is suing to get the closure overturned. State officials said the laws governing the area do not allow “the federal government to close federal lands to reduce hunter conflict, and the facts do not support a decision to close hunting for reasons of public safety.”

This week tribes and statewide organizations from across Alaska issued a joint statement protesting the state’s lawsuit. 

“Without fail – despite the fact that ‘subsistence’ represents the smallest percentage (0.9%) of the overall ‘take’ of said ‘resources’ (quotes indicate western management terms that are not resonant with Native stewardship) – our access to our ways of life continues to be unjustly over-regulated and excessively enforced,” the Native organizations said.

Indigenous Youth Prayer Run to kick off Sept. 1

Ten Native American runners from across the country are scheduled to start a 360-mile "Running As Medicine," Indigenous Youth Prayer Run from the Bears Ears National Monument to Salt Lake City. The 5-day run starts Tuesday.

Two local non-profits, the Native-led Salt Lake City Air Protectors and the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, organized the event.

The goal is to demonstrate resilience and strength in overcoming issues in Native communities. The issues include COVID-19, race relations, water, electricity and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Runners are affiliated with groups such as the Rising Hearts Coalition, Spirit North, and Healthy Active Natives. Organizers say the Prayer Run will impact indigenous youth by helping them connect with the environment and the community, crucial during the pandemic.

$8 million in grants to Oklahoma to combat domestic violence

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The three U.S. attorneys in Oklahoma have announced $8 million in federal grants to combat domestic and sexual violence against Native American women in Oklahoma.

Grant recipients include the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Pawnee nations; the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma; the Absentee Shawnee Tribe; and the Delaware Tribe of Indians.

Federal prosecutors Trent Shores, Brian Kuester, and Timothy Downing, with Laura Rogers, deputy director of the U.S. Justice Department's Office on Violence Against Women, announced the grants Wednesday in Tulsa.

"A victim's safety and freedom from her abuser should not hinge on the jurisdictional boundaries around the crime scene," Rogers said in a statement. "These new awards continue the Department's commitment to equipping tribal prosecutors with the tools they need to curb domestic violence no matter where it occurs."

The city of Tulsa, Tulsa County District Court, the Native Alliance Against Violence in Norman and the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault will also receive grants as part of the funding.

Newscast: Without reservations: Wash your hands

New Mexico has a colorful way of spreading a strong message. The state's Indian Affairs and Human Services departments partnered with cartoonist Ricardo Caté to create a COVID-19 coloring book for tribal youth.

Caté’s cartoon “Without Reservations” is published daily in the Santa Fe New Mexican and The Taos News. He’s on the newscast to discuss the coloring book with Lynn Trujillo, the Indian Affairs Department Cabinet Secretary.

Also on the newscast is freelance reporter Eddie Chuculate, who talks about his latest article on tribal colleges starting the fall semester.

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