Indian Country Headlines for June 24

Indian Country Today

A look at headlines from around Indian Country

Indian Country Today

Read up on Obama raises $7.6 million for Biden; Native American Journalists' Assoc. calls for end of Native American mascots; Arizona Indigenous call for end of Columbus Day; New Mexico hospital to be investigated for alleged racial profiling; Oklahoma University to award scholarships in honor of Osage ballerinas; Lummi work to bring killer whale home

Barack Obama raises $7.6 million at fundraiser for Joe Biden

Former President Barack Obama warned Democrats against being “complacent or smug” about the presidential race at a grassroots fundraiser Tuesday for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, calling on viewers to learn the lessons from 2016 and not take the election for granted.

Biden, who appeared virtually alongside Obama at the event, said it raised a record-breaking $7.6 million from more than 175,000 individual donors. Trump’s Dallas fundraiser earlier this month raised north of $10 million for the campaign, Republican National Committee and the Trump Victory Fund.

NAJA, other associations demand end of race-based mascots in media

The Native American Journalists Association demands that all media outlets stop using racialized sports mascots.

The National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association and Society of Professional Journalists have joined NAJA in its push to discontinue race-based sports mascots, according to a June 23 news release.

NAJA asks news outlets to include “clear policy development and implementation, that clarifies the harm they cause, and the practical editorial methods to avoid their use on all platforms.”

“We encourage our non-Indigenous colleagues to refer to SPJ Code of Ethics, the AP Stylebook and NAJA for guidance when presented with an editorial choice to publish or broadcast racialized sports mascots,” read the news release.

Arizona Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus calls for end of Columbus Day

On the same day President Donald Trump visited Arizona, the state’s Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus called to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day nationwide.

The caucus, made up of three state senators and three representatives, said “we are in a moment of historic social upheaval and demands for justice.”

“Just as we see the Black Lives Matter movement toppling monuments to the Confederacy, it is also time to topple the monument to Christopher Columbus and replace October 12 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Arizona and the United States,” according to a June 23 news release.

New Mexico hospital under review over profiling allegations

The findings of a recent survey at a women’s hospital in New Mexico are headed to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights after allegations of racial profiling were raised. The civil rights division will determine if any practices of the Lovelace Women's Hospital in Albuquerque violate federal regulations.

The hospital denies that extra scrutiny was given to pregnant Native American patients amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit some tribal communities in the American Southwest particularly hard. In New Mexico, just over half of the cases are among Native Americans.

State officials called for an investigation after New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica reported the allegations of several clinicians that pregnant Native American women were singled out for COVID-19 testing and separated from newborns after delivery while their test results were pending.

Such an investigation could take several months.

New scholarships named for Osage ballerinas

The University of Oklahoma School of Dance is offering two new scholarships in honor of Osage ballerinas Maria and Marjorie Tallchief.

Priority for the two $40,000 scholarships will be given to Native students or students with demonstrated socioeconomic disadvantages, according to an Osage News report.

Maria Tallchief was the lead ballerina in numerous ballets by choreographer George Balanchine, and won acclaim in Europe at a time when American dancers were considered second rate. Her younger sister Marjorie Tallchief performed with several ballet companies and was known for her versatility.

Fort Defiance man gets prison sentence for fatal stabbing

PHOENIX (AP) — A Fort Defiance man accused of a fatal stabbing has been sentenced to 17 ½ years in federal prison.

Prosecutors said 25-year-old Lodi Gene Bitsie II was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.

Bitsie previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the April 2019 incident on the Navajo Nation reservation.

Prosecutors said Bitsie argued with the victim before punching him and then stabbing him in chest with a large knife.

They said the victim died from the stab wounds.

Sacred duty: Bring home killer whale Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut

Research by leading NAGPRA experts agree there is a strong case to be made that Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut qualifies for return under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Lummi Nation Elders in Washington are leading the fight to bring a killer whale at a Miami aquarium home to Puget Sound.

In 1970 dozens of whales were captured in the Salish Sea and sold to aquariums across the country. Of those whales that were kidnapped, only one remains alive today and lives in an aquarium in Florida. Now two Lummi Elders are leading the fight to bring their relative home.

Tah-mahs (Ellie Kinley) sent a letter to the Miami Seaquarium on July 27, 2019, putting them on notice they were going to sue if the business didn't release the whale back to the Lummi people.

Grant Wilson is the executive director and directing attorney for Earth Law Center, which is representing the two women.

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