Indian Country headlines for Thursday

A 1970 celebration at Taos Pueblo. Governor Quirino Romero shows a picture from the meeting in the White House cabinet room and holds the cane given to the pueblo by Richard Nixon. It is now known as the "Blue Lake Cane." Council Secretary Paul Bernal stands next to the governor. (Agnew family photo)

Indian Country Today

Stories we’re following on Dec. 17: Fifty years ago Taos Pueblo youth fought for return of Blue Lake, Children of Russian Mission village in Alaska suffer when post office closes, Inuit board game teaches cooperation, Georgia senators defend Braves team name, Lie of the year was denial of COVID-19, Vaccine rollout in California faces equity issues and more

Blue Lake ‘fight was never given up’

There is a familiar narrative that surfaces when our young people take on a cause that results in a shift of public policy.

Fifty years ago Gilbert Suazo Sr. was in such a youth society representing Taos Pueblo. Their mission was the return of the sacred Blue Lake. Suazo serves on the Taos Pueblo Council and is a former governor.

“Thinking back,” Suazo recalls, “I realize now how complicated that would have been. It’s almost impossible for it to have happened with the opposition that was there. And thankfully we didn't think like that at the time, all we were interested in was we were going to get that land back one way or another.”

Read more.

Russian Mission post office closures cause food insecurity for children

The community of Russian Mission in Alaska is without a post office since the postmaster resigned and the office has closed. Now, families who rely on shipments of baby formula through the federal WIC program, are struggling to feed their children.

WIC is a federal program that helps provide nutrition for young children.

According to tribal administrator Olga Changsak, the tribe has used funds from its bank account to purchase an expensive emergency freight order for formula with a store in Aniak.

The tribe is also working with the Federal Emergency Agency and the Salvation Army which brought 120 pounds of baby food and formula to Russian Mission via cargo plane.

These costly efforts, however, are temporary stop gap measures until the post office can hire a postmaster.

“I think I should write to Santa and ask him for a postmaster for Christmas,” Changsak said.

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Inuit designed board game Nunami hits the shelves

Thomassie Mangiok’s game, first created from cut-up cereal boxes is now ready to be sold worldwide.

Mangiok, an Inuit artist, created Nunami, the first Inuit board game. The name means, “on the land.”

Although Nunami is a game of strategy, its goal it not to beat one’s opponent or control the land but to learn how to work and live together.

Mangiok says he was inspired to create the game by watching his aunt play Chinese checkers as well as time spent on the land and the exploration of outer space.

Nunami is now available on Amazon and Nunavik’s co-op stores.

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Loeffler, Perdue defend Atlanta Braves name-though team had no plans to change

Georgia Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, now approaching an election runoff for their seats, announced that they “adamantly oppose any effort to rename the Atlanta Braves.”

There has been no major push to rename the team so it’s unclear why the Senators issued the statement except as a proactive measure after the Cleveland baseball team announced it is dropping the Indians name and mascot.

The Braves have, however, been criticized for fans' displays of the “Tomahawk Chop.”

According to Braves leaders, the team is continuing to listen and collaborate with the Native American community.

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PolitiFact reveals choice for ‘2020 Lie of the Year’

PolitiFact, a fact-checking website owned by the Poynter Institute, has released its “2020 Lie of the Year” and it’s coronavirus-related

This year’s lie is the downplay and denial of the coronavirus.

“Every year, PolitiFact editors review the year’s most inaccurate statements to elevate one as the ‘Lie of the Year.’ The ‘award’ goes to a statement, or a collection of claims, that prove to be of substantive consequence in undermining reality.”

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Whose lives matter most? California’s vaccine rollout faces tough questions of equity

Officials in California face some tough racial justice and equity issues in creating the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, people of color and the poor have been devastated by the virus. Advocates are pushing for greater access among more vulnerable populations including prisoners and Indigenous peoples living in remote areas.

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Traditional manoomin (wild rice) from Spirit Lake Native Farms on the Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember)
Traditional manoomin (wild rice) from Spirit Lake Native Farms on the Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember)

An online guide to shopping Indigenous this holiday season

Looking to shop from Indigenous artists and small businesses this holiday season? Here is a list of sites where you can find these products online.

Newscast: First vaccine, easy; second is a challenge

In 2014, Seneca citizen Dean Seneca went to Sierra Leone in West Africa to help in the fight against the Ebola pandemic. Today, he's the CEO of Seneca Scientific Solutions. He shares his perspective about the vaccines coming to your local health facility.

Plus, national correspondent Mary Annette Pember talks about the state recognized Lumbee tribe of North Carolina and why the tribe’s run at federal recognition might be highly problematic.

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