Indian Country headlines for Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A judge ruled the Dakota Access Pipeline must be shut down and emptied by August 5, 2020. (Photo Creative Commons)

Indian Country Today

A look at the headlines around Indian Country

What a week for Indigenous news. Here are the headlines for today:

Risky Dakota Access Pipeline

The owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline argued that shutting down the project created too much risk.

Even though the National Environmental Policy Act lays out a process, a shutdown now would “have greater disruptive consequences than in the typical NEPA case’ because the pipeline has already been completed.” And, now, “it has been reasonable for Dakota Access, the state of North Dakota, and all the other interested third parties to assume that the ‘risk’ of a shutdown would decrease significantly over time.”

The company’s point: So what if federal rules were violated … now it’s too costly to go back.

In this case the judge wrote: “Dakota Access attempts the same workaround of this principle as was offered last time, and the Court again finds it unavailing.”

The pipeline must be shut down and emptied by August 5.

The court’s ruling also raises another risk … “there is no doubt that allowing oil to flow through the pipeline during remand risks the potentially disruptive effect about which the Tribes are most concerned — a spill under Lake Oahe.”

Judge blocks Montana from enforcing absentee ballot law

A Montana judge issued a ruling Tuesday that blocks the state from enforcing a voter-approved law that restricts the collection of absentee ballots during elections.

Tuesday's ruling from District Judge Jessica Fehr came after the Billings-based judge temporarily halted the Ballot Interference Protection Act two weeks before the June primary election.

The law passed by voter referendum in 2018 limits one person to turning in a maximum of six absentee ballots.

“The Ballot Interference Prevention Act makes it hard for many Montanans to vote. It also is totally unnecessary, as there never was evidence that ballot collection caused any problems in the past,” said Natalie Landreth, staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund. “The Tribes are thankful that the court saw all this and has stopped enforcement of it.”

Nine non-gaming tribal businesses in Michigan added $288 million the state’s economy

The Waséyabek Development Company released the Michigan Non-Gaming Tribal Economic Impact Study that said in 2019, 38 non-gaming businesses owned and operated by the tribes contributed nearly 1,850 jobs with an average wage of $45,664.

The company also presented the study to Gov. Whitmer’s office and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation this week.

Some of the 11 industry sectors of the businesses included construction, finance and insurance, entertainment, and management of companies & enterprises.

The statement said this the first of its kind collaboration between the nine tribes.

Deidra Mitchell, president and CEO of the company and coordinator of the study, said the project highlighted the collaboration between the tribes and how it can be used as “a baseline from which to further grow non-gaming tribal business activity and impact.”

Virtual UNITY Conference continues with second live session Thursday

The United National Indian Youth, Inc. (UNITY) split their annual conference into three sessions after the coronavirus cancelled their in-person event which was supposed to be held in Washington, D.C.

In a normal year, the UNITY conference is the largest gathering of Native youth in the country.

On July 9, the conference will continue its second session featuring singer and songwriter Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, Emmy award-winning filmmaker Kyle Bell and Grammy-nominated musician Radmilla Cody.

Thursday’s virtual session will also include discussions on how the Black Lives Matter movement resonates with Native people. The conference is free and participants can register online here.

Native town hall to focus on Native mascots, Black Hills and Native justice

The Native Organizers Alliance, IllumiNative and NDN Collective are collaborating to host a virtual Native community town hall on Wednesday that focuses on recent developments with Native mascot imagery, Land Back action in the Black Hills and Native justice.

The 90-minute town hall is open to the public and will be presented on Facebook Live starting at 6 p.m. ET.

To watch, visit the IllumiNative Facebook page here.

Today in 1912 Olympian Louis Tewanima won silver

Over a century ago Louis Tewanima, Hopi, won an Olympic silver medal in the 10,000-meter run in Stockholm, Sweden. It was a record setting time of 32:06.6 that remained the United States best for 52 years.

He died years later in 1969 at the age of 87, when he fell off a 70-foot cliff coming back from a religious ceremony at night. His poor eyesight was to blame.

Then in 1974, the annual Louis Tewanima Memorial Footrace was created to commemorate Tewanima’s accomplishments and promote Native health. Its scheduled 5K and 10K foot races were cancelled in April, due to COVID-19 health safety precautions.

WATCH: commUnity film festival features history, activism and stories about Native women

After months of hyped up promotion summertime is usually when movie fans eagerly await the release of blockbusters. This summer COVID-19 is keeping most of the movie theaters closed. Still, there is a way to watch some films, both new releases and old favorites.

Vision Maker Media is hosting its first on-line Indigenous film festival. For five weeks this summer you can watch movies made by American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous filmmakers. Rebekka Schlichting, interim executive director for VMM, gives us some highlights of the film festival.

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