Indian Country headlines for Thursday

In this November 2019 photo, Shane Morigeau, left, then-attorney with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, speaks with Attorney General William Barr at the National Bison Range in Montana. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Indian Country Today

Stories we're following on Nov. 19, 2020: Salish and Kootenai man appointed to Montana state Senate, new Oglala president faces challenges, battling our erasure in voting data, and much more

Indian Country Today

Shane Morigeau appointed to Montana Senate seat

Despite losing his bid for Montana state auditor earlier this month, Shane Morigeau’s political career in the Treasure State continues on.

Earlier this week, the Missoula County Commission unanimously voted to appoint the Salish and Kootenai man to serve the remainder of state senator Nate McConnell’s term, who resigned shortly after the election to take care of his children, according to the Missoulian.

Morigeau will serve through Dec. 31, 2022 and was one of three candidates to be considered for the position.

Before his run for state auditor, Morigeau served two terms in the Montana state house of representatives and told the Associated Press he is no stranger to the state legislature in Helena.

Share this story

SUPPORT INDIGENOUS JOURNALISM. CONTRIBUTE TODAY.

New Oglala president talks COVID, long winter

Kevin Killer, newly elected president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. (photo courtesy Kevin Killer)
Kevin Killer, newly elected president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Killer)

A longtime South Dakota state legislator and other newly elected leaders face challenging times.

Kevin Killer has lots of experience negotiating with powerful politicians who outnumber him.

Prior to his Nov. 3 election as president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Killer served in South Dakota’s state Senate and House for 10 years as a Democrat in Republican-controlled legislatures.

“Since Republicans were in the majority, I really learned how to listen during my tenure in the House and Senate,” said Killer, 41.

He hopes to bring the same qualities of respect, patience and ability to work with others to his role as president.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s government is made up of a 20-member council that includes a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Council members serve two-year terms and represent nine districts on Pine Ridge, one of the country’s largest reservations.

Killer beat out incumbent President Julian Bear Runner and takes office in the first week of December.

He begins his term just as the tribe struggles to protect its citizens from spiking COVID-19 infections. Tribal leadership has clashed with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and other state politicians who, so far, have not mandated any restrictions, lockdowns or mask requirements.

Both North and South Dakota are suffering some of the worst outbreaks in the country.

Challenging our erasure in voting data

I Voted - Native Vote _ IllumiNative
(Photo courtesy of Illuminative)

One of the biggest problems for traditional researchers is their inability to find Native peoples, said Crystal Echo Hawk of IllumiNative

Native Americans are not a monolithic population. That makes them a challenging group to appraise especially for non-Native pollsters and researchers.

These manifest truths emerged as some of the most important takeaways from the presidential election.

Media estimates regarding Native American voters were all over the map.

The Navajo Times reported that 97 percent of voters in three counties overlapping the Navajo Nation voted for Democrat Joe Biden.

However, according to information on Arizona’s Secretary of State webpage, about 58 percent of voters from those three counties voted for Biden.

According to the Latino Decisions Election Eve Survey, 60 percent of Native Americans voted for Biden.

The Associated Press’s VoteCast survey reported that 52 percent of Native Americans voted for Republican President Donald Trump.

Some media including Indian Country Today reported that counties in which reservations are located showed more than 50 percent support for Biden and noted that in some states such as Arizona, Wisconsin and Nevada, Native votes may have influenced the final outcome.

CNN, however, chose to ignore the Native American vote altogether and simply lumped them into a catch-all category entitled “something else” in its reporting.

Unfortunately, most mainstream polls and data sets either sample a tiny portion of the population or follow CNN’s example of erasing Native Americans.

Massachusetts school takes steps toward new mascot

The shadow of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., is cast on the backdrop during the Oneida Indian Nation's Change the Mascot symposium, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Washington, calling for the Washington Redskins NFL football team to change its name. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A shadow is cast against the backdrop during the Oneida Indian Nation's Change the Mascot symposium on Oct. 7, 2013, in Washington, calling for the Washington Redskins NFL football team to change its name. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

A Massachusetts high school that recently voted to get rid of its Native-themed mascot has narrowed its list of potential replacements.

Hanover High dropped its previous nickname, the “Indians,” in August. The school is among several in the state that have decided to change their Native American-themed team names this year.

The Patriot Ledger reported this week that the six finalists for a replacement Hanover mascot are the Hawks, Huskies, Hornets, Anchors, Wolf Pack and the United.

The list was chosen by a 20-member mascot committee, which is now asking students, alumni, faculty and residents to submit ideas for a logo.The committee expects to have final mascots paired with potential logos next month.

Community members will then be able to vote on the new mascot.

Saving the sanctuary for Pine Ridge’s four-legged relatives

IMG_0929
Kevin Red Owl, III, caring for a few of the nearly 40 animals he's caring for in his home after White Owl Sanctuary, the only animal shelter on Pine Ridge, burned down.  (Photo courtesy of Kevin Red Owl)

Nearly 50 animals are now staying in Calvin Red Owl III's home. On today's newscast he talks about the devastation of losing the sanctuary to a fire, and national correspondent Joaqlin Estus shares the latest on how Alaska is faring in the pandemic.

Calvin Red Owl III was advocating for animal welfare rights in a district meeting when he heard dogs barking, alerting him to the fire that broke out at the White Owl Sanctuary. He's Oglala Lakota and the founder and operator of the first and only animal shelter on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He's now caring for 49 animals in his three bedroom home, where he lives with his three sons. Red Owl III has an autoimmune disease and is only working with one volunteer to care for the animals, to limit his chances of contracting COVID-19.

"Well, now what's next for the shelter is we're trying to find homes for all 47 animals that we have. And we are trying to rebuild as quickly as possible because the winter months are here and there's lots of animals that need rehoming here on the reservation.

For additional information about the White Owl Sanctuary click here.

Joaqlin Estus:

Because of the state’s geographic isolation, COVID came late to Alaska and the numbers crept up pretty slowly which is good because Alaska has fewer doctors than a lot of other states. 

"What's going on right now is the rate has been rising for six weeks and it jumped 18 percent on Monday. And those new cases in another week or two as the disease progresses, some of those people are going to be going to the ER and needing help. So the area in the state that's hardest hit is southwest Alaska, an area about the size of Oregon. It's 85 percent Yupik and Athabascan."

State and tribal officials are asking people to take steps to lower the rate of infection as hospitals are on the verge of being overwhelmed. If resources become scarce, health professionals will have to decide which patients will get the recommended level of care.

ICT Smartphone Logo

Our stories are worth telling. Our stories are worth sharing. Our stories are worth your support. Contribute $5 or $10 contribution today to help Indian Country Today carry out its critical mission.

Comments

News

FEATURED
COMMUNITY