Indian Country headlines for Wednesday

(Photo: Democratic National Convention Native American Caucus)

Indian Country Today

Stories we're following: Indian Country reacts to Biden's choice of Kamala Harris, Native candidates advance to November, Eastern Oklahoma Muscogee (Creek) tribe names long-term policy team and more

Indian Country reacts to Joe Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris as running mate

Prominent figures, tribal leaders, tribal citizens and those who work in Indian Country were quick to celebrate and criticize presidential candidate Joe Biden’s selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as a running mate.

Harris, 55, a California Democrat and former presidential candidate, is a first-term senator, and former California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco. She is Black and of East Indian descent.

(Related: Kamala Harris’ record in Indian Country dates 10 years)

Reactions include congratulations on Biden's pick of a fantastic partner, an excellent choice of a fierce, brilliant woman and the need to “do all we can to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

Others noted Harris had opposed California tribes on gaming, water, and jurisdictional issues, and sought to shrink the boundaries of the Colorado River Indian Tribe’s reservation. Harris said last year at the Native forum that the land-into-trust issue in California doesn't express her own views. 

Native legislative candidates advance in Minnesota

Minnesota will have five Native American candidates in state legislative races come November.

Democratic candidate Heather Keeler, Yankton Sioux, captured the Minnesota House, District 4A primary on Tuesday with 66 percent of the vote.

Keeler received 1,877 votes, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State Office. She moves on to face Republican Edwin Hahn in November’s general election. Hahn received 844 votes Tuesday in an uncontested party race.

In other Minnesota primary races, two Ojibwe women qualified for a runoff for city council in Bemidji and Cloquet. 

Absentee ballots in Minnesota postmarked by Aug. 11 and received by Aug. 13 will be counted, meaning Tuesday’s results could change.

For more results from Tuesday primaries, CLICK HERE.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation names commission appointees on comprehensive, long-term change

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is taking a look at ways to shape policies for a better future. Principal Chief David Hill has announced appointments to a Mvskoke Reservation Protection Commission. This comes in the wake of a July U.S. Supreme Court ruling that reaffirms tribal jurisdiction over tribal lands unlawfully taken by the state of Oklahoma.

Hill Tuesday appointed experts, professionals and authorities to serve on the commission to plan for the long-term and recommend changes to policies impacting everything from governance, judicial affairs, legal and regulatory matters to violence against women, economic development, and Indian child welfare.

“Our goal has always been to build a better future for all of Oklahoma by working with tribal, state, county, municipal and federal partners, as well as the business community,” he said.

Justice Andrew Adams, the Chief Justice of the Santee Sioux Nation of the Nebraska Supreme Court and past chair of the Federal Bar Association Indian Law Section, commented on his appointment to the commission.

 “We stand united in the belief the jurisdictional clarity brought by the recent Supreme Court offers all citizens of Oklahoma – tribal members and citizens – a unique opportunity to build a safer and more prosperous future," Adams said. "I look forward [to] working with other members of this commission on engaging in outreach and constructive dialogue with our government partners at all levels.”

Oglala leader asks citizens to boycott Sturgis, Rapid City

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner is asking tribal citizens to boycott Rapid CIty and Sturgis for the rest of August.

The call for a boycott comes as the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally takes place at the Central States Fair in Rapid City later this month. Bear Runner said COVID-19 remains a threat to citizens.

“As a leader of the Great Lakota Nation, I will not sit idly by and allow the spirit of this virus to infiltrate the border of our homeland,” Bear Runner said in a news release.

Travel to Sturgis and Rapid City is considered non-essential travel and those that go could be issued a 14-day quarantine order. Only essential travel is allowed off-reservation.

The tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe have checkpoints on main tribal roads and leaders of the Cheyenne River said motorcycles traveling to Sturgis would not be allowed to pass through. A message left with a Cheyenne River spokesperson on Tuesday went unreturned.

The annual motorcycle rally attracts thousands to western South Dakota from out of state.

The Rez Riders Indian Motorcycle Club posted a large group photo Monday on Facebook at Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills, wearing red in honor of missing and murdered Indigenous women. The club is based out of southern California and supports Native riders across the country.

Tribal inventors of lacrosse ask to be allowed in international competition

Eight National Native American organizations, including a six-nation tribal confederacy, are asking that the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team be allowed to compete in the 2022 World Games. The organizations wrote to the International World Games Association to ask that it reconsider an earlier “incorrect determination” that the team is not qualified to compete.

In the request, the authors said, “The Haudenosaunee—a confederacy of six Nations: Seneca, Onondaga, Mohawk, Oneida, Tuscarora and Cayuga—invented the game of lacrosse and revere it as a medicinal game gifted from the Creator. … It is fundamentally unjust that the Nations who gifted the Creator’s Game to the world are being denied the opportunity to compete on the world stage and in our ancestral lands.”

(Related: Iroquois Nationals competing in World Games ‘just makes sense’)

As for credentials, the letter stated the Iroquois Nationals are a member in good standing of World Lacrosse and have been recognized as a member nation by the Federation of International Lacrosse since 1987. The team has placed among the top four competitor nations.

“Tribal Nations, including the six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, have endured centuries of attempts to erase our governments, traditions, and identities.” The Iroquois Nationals are a symbol of the strength and resilience of all of Indian Country said the letter.

The letter was signed by representatives of the United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund, National Congress of American Indians,National Indian Gaming Association , Native American Finance Officers Association, Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, Native Americans in Philanthropy, The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development and the National Council of Urban Indian Health.

Healing through humor with Tatanka Means

Actor and comedian Tatanka Means reflects on healing with laughter in a Native way amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Means is arguably one of the best-known Native actors and comedians in Indian Country. In early 2020, he had a jam-packed schedule filled with comedy gigs, acting jobs and engagements as a motivational speaker.

When COVID-19 hit, Means had all of his plane flights, and gigs canceled. But he pressed on.

The actor has recently appeared in the HBO series “I Know This Much Is True”, the feature film “Once Upon A River” as well as the Netflix series “The Liberator." He's still going strong, and shared a laugh with producer and host Patty Telehongva as he described how he's coping with the pandemic.

The answer is healing through humor.

In addition to words from Means, Indian Country Today intern Kalle Benallie talks about her latest articles.

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