Indian Country Headlines for Friday

Indian Country Today

A look at the headlines around Indian Country for July 10, 2020

Indigenous news has been nothing short of a huge celebration in the past week. Just pass us some more coffee so we can keep up.

Here’s a look at what everyone is talking about this morning:

Supreme Court ruling 'reaffirmed' sovereignty

In a decision being hailed as a win for tribal sovereignty, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a large portion of eastern Oklahoma remains a reservation.

In the 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court said Congress never explicitly “disestablished” the 1866 boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word," according to the majority opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Gorsuch was joined in the majority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The court decision was being celebrated by many in Indian Country. Here's a look at what people are saying.

The decision was hailed as a win for tribal sovereignty. It doesn't, but it also raised questions, about its implications. Here's a question and answer of what the ruling does and doesn't do. (One thing it doesn't do is change land ownership.)

Q&A: What does McGirt ruling mean?

Biden celebrates tribal sovereignty, self-determination upheld by SCOTUS

Late Thursday, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement on the U.S. Supreme Court's Decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma. It reads as follows:

"The United States of America was founded on the notion of equality — for all. We've always strived to live up to that ideal, but never — even at our founding — fully lived up to it. Throughout our history, this promise has been denied to Native Americans who have lived on this land since time immemorial. We have inflicted great harm on our Native peoples, who have lost their lands, their rights, and their lives. 

"In a critical decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal government's treaty responsibilities to protect homelands in Indian Country. Instead of opposing the tribes, the Trump Administration should work with tribes and the state of Oklahoma to ensure public safety and justice for victims of crimes. 

"As President, I will build on the important government to government relationship the Obama-Biden Administration forged with Indian Country and work closely with tribal leaders to engage in robust tribal consultation across the entire federal government. I am proud to stand with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and all of Indian Country in celebrating tribal sovereignty and self-determination, which has been denied to them far too long and far too often."

Last of 20 treaty defenders arrested at Mount Rushmore released from jail

On Monday, July 6, NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen, Oglala Lakota, was released from jail. He was one of 20 people arrested on July 3 during a visit by President Trump to Mount Rushmore. Tilsen, 38, of Porcupine, South Dakota, is charged with second-degree robbery and simple assault, both felonies, for allegedly stealing a police officer's shield, and three other charges.

Tilsen released the following statement: “I was arrested for engaging in a peaceful protest on land that belongs to my people, the Lakota people and Oceti Sakowin. ‘Mount Rushmore’ was carved into stolen land, our sacred Black Hills, by a KKK sympathizer, and we demand that the U.S. government return this land to its rightful owners. The charges against me are false and driven by white supremacy.”

“NDN Collective is calling on Pennington County to drop the charges against Nick Tilsen and every land and treaty defender arrested on Friday, July 3rd,” said Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications. “We also call on members of Congress to close Mount Rushmore immediately and open an inquiry into returning these lands back to the Lakota people."ndnsports

In 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the 1886 Fort Laramie Treaty that guaranteed the Black Hills to the Lakota and Oceti Sakowin people. The court ruled the tribe was owed money for the value of the land at the time of its taking plus interest. The Lakota have not accepted the settlement, which is now valued at more than a billion dollars.

Mascot talk

Residents in Durango, Colorado, are torn between whether a two-story-tall Native American should be removed or stay, reported by The Colorado Sun. Two petitions have been battling online with approximately 10,000 signees that split down the middle.

Also, ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter said the Washington team is “planning to have no Native American imagery,” according to his sources.

Which Native athletes are signed to teams

The coronavirus pandemic may be raging around the country, still colleges and universities are signing athletes to teams.

If you want to know the latest news about which Native athlete has signed a letter of intent, you can check NDNsports. For 20 years this web based group has closely followed Native athletes in sports such as baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, and running, to name a few. Brent Cahwee is the co-founder and he joined us Thursday to talk about the number of Native athletes who are competing in sports at universities across the country.

WATCH: Native sports: From the 'rez to the pros

Weekend entertainment

Here is what we’re watching and listening to this weekend:

  • “More Than A Word” documentary directed by John and Kenn Little, Standing Rock Sioux. The documentary is streaming for free in July.
  • The Hot Dish” podcast between Senator Heitkamp and Jodi Archambault, a strategic advisor for the Bush Foundation and former Special Assistant to President Obama for Native American Affairs. 
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