Indian Country headlines for Tuesday

Indian Country Today

We’re watching the Navajo Nation president at the DNC, election results from Alaska and Wyoming, a Navajo man on federal death row and more

Navajo Nation president speaking at the Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention kicked off Monday and continues through Thursday with its lineup of speeches and virtual gatherings. 

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez is one of 17 keynote speakers on Tuesday’s “Leadership Matters” program.

The convention airs from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. EDT from Monday to Thursday. Indian Country Today will stream the convention at IndianCountryToday.com. You can also watch it on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as ABC, CNN, CBS, NBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, and MSNBC. Find the convention schedule on the DNC’s website.

The convention’s Native American Caucus Meeting takes place Tuesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT.

Native candidates running for public office in Alaska and Wyoming today

At least 17 Native candidates running for various offices in Alaska and Wyoming will have their primary elections Tuesday.

They include the first Native person in Wyoming to seek a congressional seat: Democrat Lynnette Grey Bull, Northern Arapaho and Hunkpapa Lakota. 

Wyoming voters also can expect to see three other Native women on the ballot: Republican Affie Ellis, Democrat Andi Clifford and Valaira Whiteman.

In Alaska, two Alaska Natives are running for Congress, and about a dozen others are vying for legislative seats. 

Ray Sean Tugatuk, Yup’ik, is running as a Democrat for Alaska’s sole U.S. House seat, and Edgar Blatchford, Inupiaq and Yup’ik, is running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate.

Follow Indian Country Today for the election results.

Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, Cherokee Nation, tests positive for COVID-19

St.Louis Cardinals pitchers Ryan Helsley, Cherokee, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to multiple reports.

CBS Sports reported Helsley's positive test on Aug. 7. He was placed on a 10-day injured list on Aug. 15, which allows the team to temporarily remove players from the active roster while keeping them on the 40-man roster

The Cardinals drafted Helsley, 26, in 2015.

Major League Baseball postponed the 2020 season earlier this year. The league decided to implement a 60-game regular-season that started at the end of July with no fans in the stands. Since the start, multiple players have tested positive for the coronavirus causing some games to be postponed.

Navajo death row inmate seeks Supreme Court review of case

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Attorneys for the only Native American on federal death row are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision regarding potential racial bias in the case.

Lezmond Mitchell is scheduled to be put to death Aug. 26 at a federal prison in Indiana where he's being held. He lost a bid in the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to interview jurors.

The appeals court said Mitchell, who is Navajo, failed to show any discrimination occurred among the jury and pointed out several safeguards that were in place.

Mitchell appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court late last week.

Mitchell's attorneys say his trial was tainted by inaccurate reporting, a largely white jury and prosecutors inappropriately referencing Navajo religious beliefs and culture. Most federal districts within the 9th Circuit allow attorneys to contact jurors after the trial ends. Arizona does not.

"This is an intolerable disparity in the death-penalty context," Mitchell's attorneys wrote in court documents.

Mitchell and an accomplice abducted Alyce Slim, 63, and her granddaughter in 2001 and planned to use Slim's vehicle in a robbery. Prosecutors said the two fatally stabbed Slim and slit the girl's throat. Their beheaded, mutilated bodies were found in a shallow grave on the Arizona portion of the Navajo Nation.

The tribe objected to the death penalty, a position that typically is honored by the federal government when Native Americans commit crimes on tribal land.

But Mitchell was convicted of carjacking resulting in death - a crime that carries a possible death sentence no matter where it happens, meaning the Navajo Nation had no avenue to object.

California fairground building renamed to honor Me-Wuk Indians

A Mother Lode Fairgrounds building in Sonora, California was renamed to honor the Me-Wuk people.

Local reports say the main John Muir building was renamed Me-Wuk Tribes of Tuolumne County building in partnership with the Chicken Ranch Rancheria Me-Wuk Indians of California and the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians.

In July, the Sierra Club apologized for racist remarks against Black and Indigenous people its founder, naturalist John Muir, made more than a century ago. Muir founded the club in 1892 and is called the “father of our national parks.”

Watch: Ak-Chin Indian Community Chairman Robert Miguel

In March as the coronavirus spread across the country, tribal leadership started shutting down enterprises and telling its people to stay home. Now, they are slowly reopening. Indian Country Today newscast guest Robert Miguel, chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community, shares details about his community.

The Ak-Chin Indian Community is located 35 miles south of Phoenix, Arizona. It has a population of 1,100 tribal citizens and a land base of 22,000 acres.

Reporter Aliyah Chavez also joined the newscast to talk about the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

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