Indian Country headlines for Wednesday

Indian Country Today

News we're watching on July 29, 2020

Indigenous Peoples Day in the nation’s capital

The council of the District of Columbia unanimously voted to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day permanently, announced one council member during a council meeting.

“Among many other things, the D.C. Council just unanimously and PERMANENTLY changed #ColumbusDay to #IndigenousPeoplesDay in the District of Columbia,” tweeted D.C. council member David Grosso on Tuesday.

Indigenous director Taika Waititi nominated for an Emmy

Māori director Taika Waititi received an Emmy Award nomination for “Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance” as IG-11 in chapter 8 of “The Mandalorian.”

The nominations for the 72nd Emmy Awards were announced Monday and recognize new programs and upcoming talent.

“The entire planet is buzzing about me being nominated for my robotic acting,” Waititi tweeted. “Guys, there are other nominees outside of the coveted Voice-over Character category. Ugh, it can't be all about me ALL OF THE TIME!”

Waititi won an Oscar in February for “Best Adapted Screenplay” for “Jojo Rabbit,” where he dedicated his award to Indigenous kids all over the world and likely did the first Indigenous land acknowledgement for the award show. He directed “Thor: Ragnarok” and is set to direct “Thor 4.”

Jimmy Kimmel will host the 72nd Emmy Awards on Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

A California tribe regains a piece of Big Sur

Land taken by Spaniard missionaries 250 years ago is returning to its original owners, the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County in California.

“It is beyond words for us, the highest honor,” said Tom Little Bear Nason, Esselen tribal chairman. “The land is the most important thing to us. It is our homeland, the creation story of our lives. We are so elated and grateful.”

Located 20 miles south of Monterey and 5 miles inland from the ocean, the 1,199 acres of land features endangered steelhead trout, old-growth redwoods, oak woodlands and meadows along scenic ridge tops.

Tribal leaders say they plan to use the land to reinvigorate tribal culture, conduct traditional ceremonies and teach the public about their culture and history. They will build a sweat lodge and traditional village, but do not plan to build permanent homes or businesses on the property, Nason said.

New York City to re-examine old city seal showing Native in breechcloth.

The seal dates back to 1914 and features a Native in a breechcloth holding a bow next to a settler. 

"It's the kind of thing a commission should look at carefully and decide if it still makes sense for the 21st century," de Blasio said Monday at his daily news conference.

Joe Baker, the co-founder and executive director of the Lenape Center, says the Native American man on the seal is “cartoonish” and that the seal ignores the history of violence and destruction inflicted on Indigenous people by settlers, according to the Associated Press.

Mackenzie Bezos gifts millions to American Indian Graduate Center

The American Indian Graduate Center received a $20 million donation from MacKenzie Bezos.

The organization is one of the country’s largest providers of college scholarships to Native students and provides individual scholarships ranging from $250 to $30,000 annually.

“One of the greatest gifts a person can give is access to education, and this gift will provide that for thousands of Native scholars and transform the landscape of higher education for Naitve people,” Executive Director Angelique Albert said in a statement.

To learn more about the American Indian Graduate center, visit www.aigcs.org.

WATCH: Indian Country's seat at Joe Biden's table

The presidential election is 98 days away, and will be unique due to COVID-19. Campaigns will be handled differently to work around no public gatherings and restricted polling sites. It's a challenge to reach Indian Country in any election and especially so in the age of the coronavirus.

Clara Pratte, Navajo, was hired as the tribal engagement director for the Joe Biden campaign. She served as the chief of staff for Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and she led the tribe's D.C. office. Pratte also founded Strongbow Strategies, a firm that handles IT and cyber security support, emergency management among other things.

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