Indian Country headlines for Tuesday

The L.A. City Council voted on August 30 to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. Meanwhile in New York, a bust to the slave-trader was found decapitated.

Indian Country Today

Stories we're talking about: Republicans pass Columbus Day resolution, U.S. Army Corps throws cold water on proposed gold-copper mine in Alaska, Oglala Sioux Tribe declares emergency over suicides, and more

Republicans approve resolution backing Columbus Day

This year’s Republican National Convention kicked off Monday with 336 delegates gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, six from each state, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories.

Besides formally awarding President Donald Trump the GOP nomination, delegates approved a handful of resolutions, including one that seeks to preserve Columbus Day as a national holiday.

In recent years, cities and states across the country have passed motions declaring the day Indigenous People’s Day.

The resolution states that “men and women who have made historically significant, positive contributions to humanity are universally complex figures,” and encourages the continued public education and celebration of Columbus.

On Tuesday, Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer is among 17 people set to speak at the convention.

Corps: Pebble Mine would have adverse impacts on salmon

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says a proposed gold and copper mine in western Alaska would have unavoidable adverse impacts to Alaska salmon.

The agency shared the finding in a letter to developers released Monday. The corps is giving Pebble Limited Partnership 90 days to come up with a mitigation plan for thousands of acres and nearly 200 miles of streams to secure a key federal permit to proceed. Once filed, the corps said it will decide if the plan is sufficient.

Earlier the Corps seemed poised to give the project a green light, saying it would not have a measurable effect on fish numbers and result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay.”

The letter follows statements by prominent GOP leaders opposing the mine. President Trump faced pressure to stop it from GOP mega-donor Andy Sabin, Bass Pro Shops CEO Johnny Morris and Donald Trump Jr., Politico reported on Saturday.

Workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the village of Iliamna, Alaska, in 2007. The battle over a copper and gold mine near one of the world's premiere salmon fisheries is headed to the ballot in a vote next week that has turned a normally sleepy local election into a national environmental debate. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)
In this 2007 photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the village of Iliamna, Alaska. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)

Tribes seek reversal of Trump decision to open national forest to logging

Nine Southeast Alaska tribes are petitioning the federal government to reverse a presidential executive order opening the nation’s largest national forest to logging.

On July 21, nine southeast Alaska tribes submitted a petition to the Department of Agriculture to commence a rule-making process to create a "Traditional Homelands Conservation Rule that protects the traditional and customary uses and areas of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples in the Tongass National Forest.” This would be the first such rule.

Since 2001, about half of the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska has been protected by a Roadless Area Conservation Rule, issued by the Clinton administration. The rule forbade road construction and timber harvesting in 58.5 million acres of roadless areas.

In December 2018, President Donald Trump issued an executive order increasing logging in national forests by 40 percent, a move Alaska’s Congressional delegation praised.

However, tribes expressed opposition to logging in the roadless areas in comments on the final environmental impact statement, which lays out proposed management plans for the Tongass. Still, in October 2019, the U.S. Forest Service announced its preferred alternative is “no protection” for the Tongass. The agency is expected to issue a final decision soon.

At stake is a diverse forest with hemlock, spruce and cedar, brown bears, deer, moose, and other wildlife, including the world’s largest known concentration of bald eagles, as well as productive salmon-producing streams. By absorbing carbon, the forest also mitigates effects of climate change.

Marco collapses, sets stage for Laura to hit US as hurricane

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As Tropical Storm Marco fell apart, the Gulf Coast turned its attention Monday to Laura, another system following just behind that could grow into a supercharged Category 3 hurricane with winds topping 110 mph and a storm surge that could swamp entire towns.

Still a tropical storm for now, Laura churned just south of Cuba after killing at least 11 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where it knocked out power and caused flooding in the two nations that share the island of Hispaniola.

Laura was not expected to weaken over land before moving into warm, deep Gulf waters that forecasters said could bring rapid intensification.

August Creppel, chief of the United Houma Nation, was worried about the group’s 17,000 members, spread out over six parishes along the Louisiana coast. He took part in a ceremony Saturday at the Superdome in New Orleans that included Native American singing and prayers to commemorate the hurricane’s 15th anniversary.

“We know our people are going to get hit. We just don’t know who yet,” said Creppel, who has been in contact with the Red Cross to get supplies once the weather eases.

The double punch of two storms comes just days before the Aug. 29 anniversary of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, something that isn’t far from Creppel’s mind. He took part in a ceremony Saturday at the Superdome in New Orleans that included Native American singing and prayers to commemorate the storm’s 15th anniversary.

Oglala Sioux Tribe declares state of emergency in response to suicides

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner declared a state of emergency on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota after a recent increase in suicides.

The tribe is reporting nine suicides and 177 suicide attemps in 2020, according to a five-page declaration posted on Monday on the tribe’s Facebook page. Four of the deaths have come in the last two weeks. The victims were between the ages of 14 and 32.

In his declaration, Bear Runner called for the federal government to assist by providing sustainable, consistent and perpetual funding. He also called on the Lakota Oyate to help one another in order to heal the youth.

To read the declaration, click here.

Cherokee candidate seeks to unseat Oklahoma incumbent

A Cherokee man is hoping to return to the Oklahoma Legislature by defeating an incumbent state senator in a Republican primary runoff Tuesday.

June’s primary results for Senate District 17 reveal Shane Jett has a path to doing just that.

Jett received 4,580 votes, or 44 percent, of the primary vote on June 30, compared to second-place finisher and incumbent Ron Sharp’s 33 percent. Sharp has held the Senate seat since 2012. A third primary candidate, Brandon Baumgarten, received 22 percent of the vote and has since endorsed Jett.

Jett and Sharpe are in Tuesday’s primary runoff, and the winner will face Libertarian candidate Greg Sadler in the general election.

District 17 includes Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties in the central part of the state.

Oklahoma state senate candidate Shane Jett with his wife Ana and daughter Raquel, Esther and Sarah. (Photo courtesy of Jett’s campaign Facebook page)
Oklahoma state senate candidate Shane Jett with his wife Ana and daughter Raquel, Esther and Sarah. (Photo courtesy of Jett’s campaign Facebook page)

Navajo Nation reports no new COVID-19 deaths

Navajo Nation health officials have reported a dozen new confirmed cases of COVID-19 but no additional deaths.

That brings the total number of people infected to 9,547 with the known death toll still at 493 as of Sunday night as another 32-hour lockdown on the reservation ended at 5 a.m. Monday.

Navajo Department of Health officials said 91,888 people have been tested for the coronavirus and 7,061 have recovered.

The Navajo Nation lifted its stay-at-home order on Aug. 16, but is asking residents to leave their homes only for emergencies or essential activities. 

Much of the Navajo Nation has been closed since March as the coronavirus swept through the vast reservation that extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. 

Watch: Diné College President Charles M. Roessel

On Monday, Diné College President Charles Roessel is featured on Indian Country Today’s newscast.

Roessel talks about how the tribal college is faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's an amazing time for all of our colleges to try to work together, to try to find a way that we can keep our community safe,” Roessel said. “Our students learn from that they can come back and help build that nation even stronger than ever. And we certainly need it right now."

Dalton Walker, a national correspondent for Indian Country Today, also joins the newscast.

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