Indian Country headlines for Friday

Indian Country Today

News we're talking about: Diné Pride Week, new toonie coin, North Dakota tribe's mask order, census awareness through song, and more

Indian Country Today

Navajo Nation to recognize ‘Diné Pride Week’ 

The Navajo Nation will recognize “Diné Pride Week” as a recurring celebration every third week of June.

Navajo Nation Council Speaker Seth Damon is scheduled to sign legislation at a socially distanced event in front of the council chamber in Window Rock, Arizona, at 9 a.m. MDT Friday. The event will be livestreamed on Vimeo, Youtube and Facebook.

According to the legislation documents, Diné Pride Week is aimed at recognizing and honoring the LGTBQ+ community, including two-spirit people.

The resolution states: “The Navajo Nation stands behind LGBTQ+ members and will continue to uplift all people, both young and long-lived, in their pursuit of basic civil and human rights.”

Attendees will include resolution co-sponsors Nathaniel Brown and Carl Roessel Slater, along with Alray Nelson, executive director of the group Diné Pride, which is dedicated to celebrating and honoring Diné LGBTQ+. 

Royal Canadian Mint features Haida artist

A 1988 painting of a grizzly bear by Haida artist Bill Reid is a new toonie in Canada.

The Royal Canadian Mint launched the new $2 coin this week with 3 million in circulation, according to the CBC.

The piece of art is known as Xhuwaji, Haida Grizzly Bear.

Reid helped popularize Northwest Coast style Indigenous art, according to the report. He died in 1998.

Three tribal officials in North Dakota face criminal charges

Three men with ties to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation face conspiracy and federal programs bribery charges, according to a Justice Department news release.

Randall Jude Phelan, 55, Delvin Reeves, 52, and Frank Charles Grady, 52, were charged with one count of each allegation in the District of North Dakota. 

Each is accused of accepting bribes and kickbacks from a contractor providing construction services on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. It wasn’t immediately clear if the men had attorneys who could comment on their behalf.

Phelan and Grade were representatives on the Tribal Business Council and Reeves was a tribal government employee, according to the news release.

Blackfeet author talks new book, ‘The Only Good Indians’

Listen to Stephen Graham Jones, Blackfeet, talk about his new book, “The Only Good Indians.”

The story follows four Native men and a vengeful spirit.

Jones was a recent guest on NPR. To listen, click here.

Ojibwe singer helps bring awareness to the 2020 Census in Duluth

Lyz Jaakola, Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe, is part of a music video created by the city of Duluth, Minnesota, to help bring attention to the 2020 Census. The song, “Let it Shine,” is sung in Spanish, English and Ojibwe by several artists.

City officials hope the grant-funded video increases census participation.

North Dakota tribe orders masks after COVID-19 spike

Tribal leaders on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in North Dakota are requiring residents to wear masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, a rare move in a state where face coverings have not been mandated despite a sharp increase in overall cases.

The reservation is primarily in Benson County, which according to The COVID Tracking Project has seen the state's most new cases per capita in the last two weeks. Area public health workers are worried about the trend after seeing the number of positive tests jump from 16 to 70 since the middle of July.

Allen McKay, administrator for the Lake Region District Health Unit, which covers Benson, Eddy, Pierce and Ramsey counties, said the increases in Benson are "basically coming from Spirit Lake," although he doesn't yet know the reason for the spike. He hopes that a mass testing event scheduled Friday in Fort Totten will provide more clues.

Oneida tribe wins closely watched Wisconsin legal fight

A federal appeals court on Thursday sided with the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin in its fight over a village's authority to require a special events permit for an apple festival, in a case that could have wide-ranging impacts across the U.S.

While the lawsuit on its face was about whether the tribe needed a permit for its annual Big Apple Fest, the underlying issue was tribal sovereignty. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's ruling in favor of Hobart, saying "the Village lacks jurisdiction to apply its ordinance to the Nation's on‐reservation activities."

The tribe had support from the state of Wisconsin, the U.S. government, the National Congress of American Indians and the Indian Land Tenure Foundation in its appeal of U.S. District Judge William Griesbach's 2019 ruling.

Watch: Indigenous struggles, Indigenous resilience

Indian Country Today’s latest newscast features Sharen KickingWoman, Gros Ventre and Blackfeet, and Crystal Pardue, Chumash. Both work for the ACLU.

Across the country the American Civil Liberties Union works with Native communities on a range of disparities. They do this work through Indigenous Justice programs. Among some of the issues they are tackling right now are voting rights and education.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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