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Donald Trump Jr. to headline Native coalition launch

President Donald Trump’s campaign is launching the “Native Americans for Trump Coalition” on Thursday with an Arizona event featuring Donald Trump Jr.

The gathering at the rodeo grounds in Williams, west of Flagstaff, is free and open to the public. Doors open at 12 p.m., and the event begins at 1:30 p.m. MST. Registration is required, according to coalition information online.

Michael Woestehoff, Navajo, who regularly blogs about gains for Indian Country during the Trump administration, indicated he will attend.

Woestehoff writes in his blog that Native American accomplishments with Trump include:

  • Signing the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act;
  • Creating the Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives;
  • Awarding over $273.4 million through the Justice Dept. to improve public safety and serve crime victims in American Indian and Alaska Native communities;
  • Signing a bill granting federal recognition to six Virginia and one Montana tribe — the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan and Nansemond, and Montana Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

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Call for investigation into border wall dispute

The Tohono O’odham Nation has condemned state law enforcement for using tear gas on citizens Monday near the U.S. border, and a Democratic congressman is calling for an investigation.

Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona has called for an investigation into the Arizona Department of Public Safety's use of tear gas on protesters who blocked traffic near a border crossing.

The roughly two minute video of the incident was posted Monday online. The video shows the state’s Department of Public Safety officers in riot gear, gas masks and helmets with shields as protesters chant in the background. The troopers, armed with wooden sticks, then move toward the protesters, who begin to disperse after officers start firing projectiles.

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Tohono O'odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. talked about the impact of the border wall on his tribe at the 2020 DNC Native American Caucus Meeting. (Screenshot)

University of South Dakota relaunches Institute of American Indian Studies

Since 1990, South Dakota has celebrated Native American Day on the second Monday of October each year. The Volante reports this year the University of South Dakota celebrated by announcing the revitalization of the Institute of American Indian Studies.

The University’s Indian studies institute was established in 1955 then discontinued after losing funding during the 2088 financial crisis.

The revitalized Institute will be directed by Elise Boxer, assistant professor of Native American studies in the department of history at USD. In addition, Damon Leader Charge, assistant program coordinator of biomedical sciences at USD, will be the director of tribal outreach.

(Photo by Jimmy Emerson, Courtesy of Creative Commons)

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Former South Dakota lawmaker leads in Oglala presidential primary

Former state lawmaker Kevin Killer is in the lead in the primary race for Oglala Lakota Nation tribal council president, according to unofficial results released Wednesday.

Killer got 660 votes, followed by John Yellow Bird Steele with 413 votes, KILI radio reported.

The current president, Julian Bear Runner, is in third place with 363 votes.

A number of challenge votes still need to be verified, but the final count should be finished by Friday, according to a source who was involved with the election process but was not authorized to speak publicly. Challenge votes are those for whom complete voter identification may not have been available.

Citizens chose from 81 candidates to fill 20 council seats plus offices for president and vice president.

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In this photo from Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, Rep. Kevin Killer, D-Pine Ridge, attends Gov. Dennis Daugaard's State of the State address on the first day of the 2014 legislative session in Pierre, S.D. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Chris Huber)

High court lets stand decision ordering surgery for transgender prisoner

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a federal court decision ordering the Idaho Department of Corrections to provide medically necessary gender confirmation surgery to Adree Edmo, a transgender woman.

As a result, the judgment that the Constitution requires the state to provide that care – issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho and affirmed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – is final.

Edmo filed suit in 2017 after the Idaho Department of Corrections and its for-profit medical provider, Corizon Health, denied Edmo surgery despite their own diagnosis of her gender dysphoria and her clear and urgent need for surgery. Edmo’s gender dysphoria was so severe that she attempted to self-castrate twice while incarcerated.

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Edmo received surgery in July of this year and is now housed at a women’s prison for the remainder of her sentence.

(Related: In a first, transgender inmate receives court-ordered surgery)

“So much pressure and inner turmoil is gone,” said plaintiff Adree Edmo. “I feel whole and connected in myself. The surgery itself was literally life-changing. I’m extremely grateful that I finally received the treatment.”

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Fighting American racism in Indian Country

As the Tahlequah Daily Press reports, the Muskogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band will host the virtual program “Fighting American Racism in Indian Country: Black Creeks Lives Matter Too” via Zoom on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CDT.

The guest presenter will be Dr. Carla Pratt, dean of Washburn University School of Law, who will speak on the Freedmen “Black Indians” plight for justice and equality in Indian Country.

Before she joined Washburn Law, Pratt served as associate dean for diversity and inclusion at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law and law professor. Pratt also served as an associate justice for the Supreme Court of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Fort Yates, North Dakota.

For links to join the webinar, visit

L.A. council member calls for resources for Indigenous homeless

Los Angeles county council member Mitch O’Farrell is proposing funding to meet the needs of Indigenous communities, including improved outreach, services, and housing.

Native Americans are four times more likely to be homeless compared to the general LA population.

O’Farrell wants the county to hire a consultant to come up with recommendations to improve assessment methods to ensure all Native Americans are counted in the annual homeless survey; improve cultural sensitivity amongst homeless services providers to address the specific needs of Native Americans; and make recommendations to fund housing locators and housing navigators to ensure homeless Native Americans are being sheltered and housed.

“The City and County have taken major steps to address the long-standing issue of homelessness in Los Angeles, however the Native American community is being left behind when it comes to housing and supportive services,” said O’Farrell in a statement. 

The motion will be heard by the Los Angeles City Council in the coming weeks.

Councilmember O’Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte Nation, is the first Native American to serve on the Los Angeles City Council.

The Los Angeles region is thought to have the largest concentration of homeless persons in the country. In its biannual census of 2005, the County counted nearly 90,000 homeless persons living in the county at any given night. A quarter of a million are expected to be homeless at any time of the year. A 50-block area in downtown Los Angeles called Skid Row has a homeless population as large as the homeless population of San Francisco. Hollywood and the city of Santa Monica also suffer from visible homelessness. To combat homelessness, public and private service providers launched a new initiative called Bring LA Home, a program that would build 50,000 housing units for homeless persons and end homelessness within 10 years. (Photo by St Stev courtesy of Creative Commons)

'Parched' exhibit explores H20 in US Southwest

Water, in all its complicated cultural and spiritual forms, is the subject of a new exhibit at the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, Arizona.

In a unique approach, curator Julie Comnick took a group of artists on a “Water Science 101 boot camp” in January 2019, pairing them with a variety of geologists, conservationists and activists to get different views of water.

“The idea was to take them on a field trip and give them ideas for artistic and visual interpretations,” Comnick says.

The result is "Parched: The Art of Water in the Southwest," where nine Arizona-based artists created works that were informed by the scientific and cultural experiences they gained on the field trips. The art flows with ideas of water in the area's natural, cultural and political landscapes.

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Parched artwork by Klee Benally, Ma'ii No. 4 / The thief (Photo courtesy Coconino Center for the Arts)

Watch: COVID-19 survivor: 'Take care of each other'

On April 16, Indian Country Today first spoke with Meskwaki police officer Vern Jefferson, who had just been released from the hospital after battling COVID-19.

Jefferson shared an update on how his recovery is going.

“Overall, I'm not too bad,” he said. “I'm still making improvements. I still attend physical therapy and what they're doing right now is trying to work on my breathing.”

Plus, Indian Country Today national correspondent Mary Annette Pember talks about voters who support President Donald Trump and other stories she’s written.

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