Indian Country Today

The Washington NFL franchise announced Monday it is retiring its team name and logo, a fight Native activists have been leading for decades.

The franchise is developing a new name and design under the direction of team owner Dan Snyder and head coach Ron Rivera. The team gave no timeline on when a new name and logo will be released.

Washington team spokesman Sean DeBarbieri told Indian Country Today in an email, "We won’t be commenting until the full process has been completed."

Pressure in 2020 began mounting as George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis spurred the crashing of racist symbols of all kinds across the country, including the Washington NFL franchise.

The fight to change Native-themed mascots began in the 1970s and has since been largely led by Native women including Suzan Harjo, Hodulgee Muscogee and Cheyenne. It was carried into 2020 with the help of Amanda Blackhorse, Diné, Crystal Echo Hawk, Pawnee, and many others.

⁠— Washington NFL team kicks R-word to the curb
⁠— Reactions to the Washington team name retirement
Mascots honor an Indian who never was
— ‘Today, we celebrate; tomorrow our fight continues’
— Never say NEVER about social change

Suzan Harjo on the roof of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Indian in Washington, D.C., in September 2019. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

Champion hoop dancer dies from fall

Nakotah LaRance, a champion hoop dancer who traveled the world performing with Cirque du Soleil, has died at age 30.

LaRance, Tewa, Hopi, Navajo and Assiniboine, competed in the annual Heard Museum World Championship Hoop Dance Contest for many years, beginning with the youth division and continuing into the teen and adult divisions. He won championship titles in each competitive category, and won the adult division – earning the title of World Champion – three times, in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

“Nakotah was known for delivering fearless and thrilling performances,” said Dan Hagerty, director of strategic development and planning at the Heard. “His risk-taking in the hoop arena resulted in unforgettable performances, and he will forever remain a fan favorite.”

LaRance also performed on NBC’s “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, which led to some acting roles.

He won a First Americans in the Arts “Outstanding New Performance by an Actor in a Film” award for his performance in Steven Spielberg’s 2005 television series “Into the West.” He also had parts in “Longer Expiration Date” (2006) and "Longmire" (2012).

In 2009, LaRance became a principal dancer with Cirque du Soleil and traveled the globe for more than three years.

LaRance died Sunday while climbing on an old bridge in Rio Arriba County in New Mexico. 

Hoop dancer Nakotah LaRance at the "Hip Hop/Electronic: Indigenous Music & Dance of the Grand Performances" in Los Angeles on Aug. 10, 2018. (Photo by Anderson Gould Jr.)

BIA orders pipeline to shut down, pay landowners 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has ordered a pipeline in North Dakota to shut down and pay $187 million to a group of Fort Berthold Reservation landowners, according to a Buffalo’s Fire report.

“The BIA has determined that a pipeline owned and utilized by Andeavor/Tesoro Pipeline is encroaching on trust lands without an approval right of way, resulting in trespass,” BIO Regional Director Tim LaPointe told Buffalo’s fire.

The pipeline company has been trespassing since 2013, according to the report. Most of the 44 land tracts are owned by individual landowners and the tribe, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, owns 10 tracts, according to the July 9 report.

The owners of those tracts are to be paid within 30 days.

Groups question Enbridge pipeline hearing

Environmentalists contend a state agency held a public hearing on Enbridge Inc.'s plans to reroute a northern Wisconsin pipeline prematurely.

Line 5 runs from Superior to Ontario, crossing about 12 miles of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa's reservation in Ashland County, The Associated Press reported. The tribe sued the company in 2019 to force it to remove the section of line on the reservation. Enbridge is trying to obtain permits to reroute the line south of the reservation.

The state Department of Natural Resources held a hearing on the project July 1.

Environmental groups, including Midwest Environmental Advocates and Clean Wisconsin, sent the agency a letter Saturday arguing the pipeline's route isn't finalized. The groups said the department should hold another hearing and comment period when the permit application is complete and an environmental review is finished.

Department spokeswoman Sarah Hoye said the agency is following the permit process, and a field survey of the entire route is complete. The department’s website indicates it will hold a 30-day comment period after the draft environmental impact statement is complete.

Report: N.D. tribal youth program is sustainable

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A program that allows North Dakota to provide court services to tribal youth is sustainable and beneficial, according to a new report.

Last year, the Spirit Lake Tribe signed the first memorandum of understanding with state officials for a five-year pilot project, the Bismarck Tribune reported. Out of five tribes in the state, the Spirit Lake is the only one to sign an agreement.

The Legislature passed a law in 2019 allowing for tribal juvenile services cooperative agreements to provide services for youth adjudicated in tribal courts.

The law is set to expire after July 2021, but the state Supreme Court will propose that it be extended for two more years, said Sally Holewa, a state court administrator.

So far, six young people have received services after the Spirit Lake Tribal Court started sharing case data with state agencies in February.

The July report acknowledges more time is needed to assess the project and decide whether more resources are necessary. 

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