Indian Country headlines for Monday

Briana Almond, Navajo, is 35 weeks pregnant and due on Nov. 24. (Photo by Dalton Walker, Indian Country Today)

Indian Country Today

Stories we’re following: Birthing center's closure leaves mothers-to-be scrambling; website provides unprecedented look at treaties; spooky-themed film festival highlights Indigenous talent; and more

Obstetrics shutdown catches expectant moms off-guard

PHOENIX — The recent shutdown of inpatient obstetrics services at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center has left dozens of expectant mothers scrambling to seek birthing services elsewhere — and some facing unexpected, steep costs.

Some moms-to-be also say they've received conflicting explanations and unclear guidance on what to do next.

The federal Indian Health Service said in an email Friday to Indian Country Today that the closure is temporary and related to “facility infrastructure, equipment and challenges with staffing.” It did not provide a reopening date for the birthing center, which closed Aug. 26.

“PIMC is working to resume obstetrical services when they can be provided in a safe environment,” the statement read.

The hospital continues to provide prenatal and gynecologist specialty care, and facilitate care for patients near term, the agency said. However, it did not answer questions about how it's advising expectant mothers who rely on its birthing services.

Phoenix Indian Medical Center, Oct. 22, 2020. (Photo by Dalton Walker, Indian Country Today)
Phoenix Indian Medical Center sign, Oct. 22, 2020. (Photo by Dalton Walker, Indian Country Today)

American Indian treaties digitized for first time

For many tribes, treaties are a reminder of promises made — and broken — by the U.S. government over centuries of colonial expansion and exploitation. Treaties are important, too, as binding agreements in legal battles for land and resources.

Thanks to digitization by the U.S. National Archives and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, unprecedented access to hundreds of treaties is now available.

The online collection features 374 Indian treaties housed in a protected area of the Archives and unavailable for use due to their fragility and significance. More than 50 of them are written on large sheets of parchment; several contain drawings and maps.

Those hoping to delve into the trove can use Indigenous Digital Archive Treaties Explorer, a free tool optimized for easily searching and studying the documents.

Film fest highlights Indigenous talent in horror, sci-fi, thrillers

Vision Maker Media is offering a free online option to a spooky-themed film festival just in time for Halloween.

“Nightmare Vision” highlights the achievements of Indigenous talent in the horror, sci-fi and thriller movie genres. The festival features short films and feature length productions from fictional narratives to documentaries.

The Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 event will be featured on visionmakermedia.org, YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook. Viewers will also have the option to watch each film individually via visionmakermedia.org.

Younger generation takes helm at Apache Tribe of Oklahoma

Durell Cooper III became one of the youngest tribal leaders in Indian Country after recently being elected chairman of the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma. He is 28.

Cooper won by 176 votes on June 29, defeating the previous chairman, Bobby Komardly, and previous vice chairman Kristopher Killsfirst.

“I think everybody in our tribe wanted change, change from what’s been going on. We elected retired BIA officials, retired military people, retired workers, but we never tried a young person in office,” Cooper said.

Cooper decided to run for chairman while completing his undergraduate degree at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. Now he’s working on a master’s degree in Indian law at the University of Oklahoma.

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(Photo Courtesy of Durell Cooper III)

WATCH: Battle for fishing rights in Nova Scotia

Who has the right to fish for lobster in Nova Scotia? What are the treaty rights for the First Nations people there? The issue has been heating up recently and the Sipekne'katik people are in the middle of some intense situations with the non-Native fishing community. Maureen Googoo is the editor of Ku’ku’kwes News and she’s from the community that’s in the middle of this fight.

Also on the Indian Country Today newscast, our national correspondent Dalton Walker spoke to several mothers who now face uncertainty and enormous medical bills after the unexpected closure of the OBGYN clinic at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center.

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