Indian Country headlines for Tuesday

Indian Country Today

News we’re watching: Minnesota, other states hold primaries; artists team with educators on Native lesson plans; Microsoft launches Indigenous workers' resource group

Natives seek offices at all levels in Minnesota 

Tuesday’s primary in Minnesota includes at least six Native candidates seeking office or reelection at the local and state level. 

Four other Native candidates for state government have already landed on their party’s ticket for the general election.

Minnesota is home to the highest-ranking Native woman elected to executive office in the U.S., Democratic Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Nation. The historically blue state has come close to leaning red in recent years in national elections.

Wisconsin is also hosting its primary on Tuesday. Tricia Zunker, Ho-Chunk, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary election for Congress. She will face Republican Tom Tiffany for northern Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional seat in November.

Follow Indian Country Today for election coverage.

Artists team with educators for Native lessons

With classroom education in disarray due to pandemic shutdowns, IllumiNative, a nonprofit founded by Crystal Echo Hawk, of Echo Hawk Consulting, and a group of respected Native artists including Bunky Echo-Hawk, Gregg Deal and Jared Yazzie have teamed up to provide art lesson plans for schools featuring influential Native personalities.

The plans create opportunities to showcase accurate and positive representations of Native peoples by illuminating contemporary Native art, voices, stories, issues and ideas in popular culture.

The initiative finds them partnering with the National Indian Education Association and Amplifier, a group that draws from an impressive pool of artists to create digital education tools, lesson plans and resources about Native contemporary life.

The plans will reach more than 1 million students and families learning at home. Resources are available for free and are downloadable from their website.

The new lesson plan and artwork series for educators features six contemporary Native changemakers and their political, artistic, literary and athletic contributions to this country.

Pictured: Images of Joy Harjo (Mvskoke) and Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee) by Native artist Bunky Echo-Hawk (Pawnee, Yakima).
(Image: courtesy IllumiNative)

Program allows some Alaska Native vets to get land

The federal government is notifying Alaska Native Vietnam veterans and their families who are eligible to apply for an allotment of 160 acres of land in Alaska owned by the federal government.

Alaska Natives were allowed to apply for 160 acres of land under the 1906 Alaska Native Allotment Act. Before a new law went into effect in 1971, there was a big advertising push to urge Alaska Natives to claim title if they hadn’t already done so.

That coincided with the Vietnam War, when many Alaska Natives fighting the war probably didn’t hear the plea. In 1998, another act allowed the veterans to apply for their land, but both Alaska Natives and Congress felt the window was too short to apply and an occupancy requirement wasn’t fair.

Last year, Congress passed the Dingell Act, expanding the window to apply for land and removing the occupancy provision.

The Bureau of Land Management and other federal partners have identified about 1,000 Alaska Native service members or their descendants who might be eligible for the program and is in the process of notifying them. The military and Bureau of Indian Affairs are determining eligibility for another 1,200 people.

Veterans or family will have five years to select and apply for land. That window will open sometime this fall.

Microsoft introduces Indigenous employee resource group

Microsoft has announced the launch of an employee resource group, “Indigenous at Microsoft.” 

It’s been a decade in the making as the company coordinated with Indigenous people and employees around the world.

According to the company, Indigenous at Microsoft will work to raise the voice of Indigenous peoples, foster awareness of Indigenous cultures, traditions and values, assist in outreach to recruit and retain Indigenous talent, and share the power of perspective to help shape inclusive technologies.

The goal is to build a self-sustaniing model of empower tribal nations through software and services. Microsoft has provided equipment and software to rural, underserved tribal communities in northwest New Mexico, which opens access to online public services and digital economic opportunities.

The company is also working on technology, such as apps, to help with the preservation of languges such as Cherokee and Māori. Earlier employee resource groups include Blacks, Asians, disabled, families, LGBTQI and allies, Hispanic and Latinx, military, and women at Microsoft.

Native actors join cast of new Peacock comedy

Actor Michael Greyeyes, First Nations Cree, and Jana Schmiedling, Lakota, will join the cast of "Rutherford Falls," a new comedy on the NBCUniversal streaming platform Peacock. 

The show is scheduled to shoot in the coming weeks, according to Deadline.com. Sierre Teller Ornelas, Navajo, is the show's co-creator and producer.

The program is set in a small town in upstate New York and stars Ed Helms. Greyeyes will play Terry Tarbell, CEO of his tribe’s casino, and Schmieding will play Reagan Wells, best friend of Helms’ character.

The show also announced that actors Jesse Leigh and Dustin Milligan have joined the cast.

Newscast covers the first American revolution, in 1680

Monday was the 340th anniversary of Popé's Rebellion, also known as the Pueblo Rebellion of 1680. August 10, 1680 there was a successful Indigenous uprising in the southwest where agricultural practices played a role in the survival of the people. Leader Popé, which translates to pumpkin, was from the summer clan of the Tewa Pueblo and he coordinated the reclaiming of the land with many pueblos and tribes. Together they effectively ended Spanish rule in New Mexico for the next 12 years.

The guest on Monday's Indian Country Today newscast is Matthew Martinez from the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. He is the Deputy Director for the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. He shares more details about the revolt, Popé and the role two young boys played in organizing the rebellion.

Also on the program is our national correspondent Dalton Walker with updates on the primary elections in Hawaii.

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