Indian Country headlines for Monday

The Iroquois Nationals during the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Indian Country Today, File)

Indian Country Today

News we’re talking about, including the Iroquois Nationals, the first-ever Virtual Indian Market, the Mashpee Wampanoag land case and a North Dakota tribe’s mineral rights battle

Indian Country Today

Iroquois Nationals push to play in World Games

The most popular Indigenous lacrosse team on Turtle Island may be inching closer to competing on the sport’s highest international stage.

The Iroquois Nationals were left off the list of teams invited to the 2022 World Games because they didn’t meet the eligibility criteria.

But a recent wave of support for the powerhouse lacrosse program, which represents the Haudenosaunee people, appears to have caught the attention of World Games organizers.

The 2022 World Games, the International World Games Association and World Lacrosse issued a joint statement last week confirming they are “working in partnership to explore whether it is necessary to change the format for the lacrosse competition.”

The statement didn’t mention the Iroquois Nationals by name, but it comes after thousands of people signed an online petition to include the team in the World Games and team sponsor Nike and others voiced support.

Deadline extended for tribes to seek broadband

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Federal Communications Commission is giving tribes another month to apply for a band of wireless spectrum that would help them establish or expand internet access on their land — far less time than what tribes had sought.

Tribes pushed to be first in line to apply for licenses for the mid-band spectrum that is largely unassigned across the western United States and can be used for fixed or mobile internet service. The licenses once were reserved for educational institutions.

The tribal priority window opened in February and was set to close Monday. It's now been extended to Sept. 2.

Tribes and tribal organizations had asked the FCC to push the deadline to February, or at least 90 days out as tribes struggle to respond to the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the Karuk and Yurok Tribes’ Klamath River Rural Broadband Initiative has received an additional $10 million from the California Public Utilities Commission to install more than 100 miles of fiber-optic cable in a rural part of Northern California, according to a release.

Joseph L. James, the Yurok Tribe’s chairman, said the project will facilitate “substantial progress in many different areas, ranging from public health to education and economic development to public safety.”

Inaugural Virtual Indian Market kicks off

The well-known Santa Fe Indian Market has moved online because of the pandemic.

The inaugural Virtual Indian Market kicked off Saturday and lasts until Aug. 31.

The event features programming such as online coffee chats with artists, panel discussions and virtual art demonstrations. Attendees will be able to virtually “booth hop” to visit various artists in their studios.

Weekly art auctions will take place throughout the duration of the program, with the ability to preview the artwork submitted for judging starting Aug. 8.

Details on the Virtual Indian Market: https://swaia.org/

US appeals ruling in Mashpee Wampanoag land case

HYANNIS, Mass. — The Interior Department is appealing a federal judge's ruling that blocked it from rescinding a reservation designation for land belonging to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts.

The Cape Cod Times reports the appeal was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District on Columbia.

In June, a federal judge stopped the federal government from rescinding its reservation designation.

"The Secretary's action, unfortunately, is consistent with this Administration's constant failure to acknowledge or address the history of injustice against our Tribe and all Native Americans, and its utter lack of interest in protecting tribal lands," Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement.

Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman Cedric Cromwell. (Photo by Cedric Cromwell, Facebook)
Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman Cedric Cromwell. (Photo by Cedric Cromwell, Facebook)

Mineral rights on hold following tribes' lawsuit

BISMARCK, N.D. — A U.S. Department of Interior opinion rolling back an Obama-era memo stating that mineral rights under the original Missouri River bed should belong to the Three Affiliated Tribes has been put on hold by a federal judge until arguments can be heard in the case.

The memo filed May 26 by Daniel Jorjani, solicitor for the department, said a historical review shows the state is the legal owner of submerged lands beneath the river where it flows through the Fort Berthold Reservation. 

The tribes argue three previous federal opinions dating to 1936 have confirmed their ownership of the Missouri River riverbed, including a 2017 memo by former solicitor Hilary Tompkins.

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation sued the government last month.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Friday that no oil and gas royalties in dispute will be paid until the court resolves the issue. Final documents in the case are due by mid-October.

New scrutiny for Trump’s public lands agency pick

William Perry Pendley’s history of attacking Indigenous people is getting new scrutiny as senators prepare to make a decision on his nomination by President Donald Trump to lead the agency responsible for managing the country’s public lands, The Intercept reported.

Pendley has held the position of acting leader of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management for over a year under a series of temporary orders that Democrats alleged were an attempt to skirt the nomination process.

Confirmation hearings are expected in the coming weeks.

Pendley is a former property rights attorney from Wyoming and longtime advocate for selling federal lands. For years, he led the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a right-wing group that has fought multiple high-profile cases favoring private property rights in the West, according to The Intercept.

“In court and in his voluminous writings, Pendley attempted to undo protections for sites considered sacred to tribes; fought Justice Department efforts to support Native voters’ rights; argued in favor of toppling key legal precedents that uphold treaty rights; and made statements about Native identity and religion that Indigenous scholars and attorneys call deeply offensive,” the site reported.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock alleges Pendley’s “extreme, unpopular views on public lands” threaten to harm Montana’s natural resources by placing extractive industries above conservation. 

Trump administration officials called the suit “nonsense.”

Billy Mills on winning gold, healing ‘broken soul’

Fifty-six years ago, a young Lakota runner shocked the Olympic world when he came from behind to win the 10,000-meter race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Today, Billy Mills remains the only American to win the gold medal in this event.

He had planned to travel to Japan this year to watch the 10,000-meter race, but then the pandemic hit and postponed the Olympics.

Mills was a guest on Indian Country Today’s newscast Friday. He talked about his personal struggles as he trained for the Olympics and what it meant when he took the gold.

"It seems like it just happened,” he said. “And the reason why, I etched into my mind, my body and my soul starting about two years before the Olympic games, that one moment in time, and it is so powerful there today, simply because I didn't seek to win a gold medal. All I wanted to do was to heal a broken soul."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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