Indian Country headlines for Wednesday

Indian Country Today

News we’re talking about: President’s son opposes Alaska mine; millions of evictions expected; missing and murdered Indigenous women office opens in Rapid City, South Dakota; and more

President’s son opposes massive copper-gold mine project in Alaska

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted opposition Tuesday to a massive copper and gold mining project that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the final stages of deciding whether to permit.

Trump Jr. commented on and retweeted a message from Nick Ayers, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Ayers had posted: “Like millions of conservationists and sportsmen, I am hoping @realDonaldTrump will direct @EPA to block the Pebble mine in Bristol Bay. A Canadian company will unnecessarily mine the USA's greatest fishery at a severe cost. This should be stopped and I believe @POTUS will do so!”

Trump Jr. retweeted the post, adding his own comment: “As a sportsman who has spent plenty of time in the area I agree 100%. The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with. #PebbleMine”

United Tribes of Bristol Bay said the comments from Trump Jr. show "just how valuable Bristol Bay is to the nation."

"People on all sides of the political spectrum agree on this basic truth: Bristol Bay is a national treasure that needs to be protected from threats like the Pebble Mine," Executive Director Alannah Hurley said in a statement. "It’s time for the EPA to veto this project and protect this world class fishery."

Last week the corps issued a final environmental impact statement for the proposed mining project near the Bristol Bay watershed area in Alaska.

Native candidates win primaries

All four Native candidates running for office in Kansas won their primaries Tuesday, including one who is the presumptive winner of a state House seat, and will become Kansas' youngest sitting legislator, after no one filed to run against her in November.

Twenty-six-year-old first-time candidate Christina Haswood, Diné, won her primary with 70 percent of the vote. 

"It's still surreal," Haswood said Tuesday night. "I just want to thank my voters for supporting me in this important election."

Christina Haswood, Navajo, beat out two other Democrats and faces no Republican candidate to represent District 10 in Kansas' House of Representatives. (Photo courtesy of Haswood campaign)
Christina Haswood, Navajo (Photo courtesy of Haswood campaign)
Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, is seeking a second term in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk (Photo courtesy of Davids campaign)

Also in Kansas, Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, ran unopposed in her bid for a second term in Congress, and will advance to the general election.

She will face Amanda Adkins, former chairwoman of the Kansas Republican Party, in November. 

In Kansas’ 86th district, Stephanie Byers, Chickasaw, won the Democratic nomination for a state House seat. If elected in November, Byers would be the first transgender woman in the state’s Legislature.

Ponka-We Victors, Tohono O’odham and Ponca Tribe, currently serves in the Kansas House as the only Native legislator. She won the primary Tuesday in her bid for a fifth term.

For more results from Tuesday's races, CLICK HERE. 

Wave of evictions expected

The nation has 30 million unemployed amid Congressional uncertainty over whether to extend the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits. That has put some 23 million people nationwide are at risk of being evicted, according to The Aspen Institute, as moratoriums enacted because of the coronavirus expire and courts reopen. Around 30 state moratoriums have expired since May, according to The Eviction Lab at Princeton University. On top of that, some tenants were already encountering illegal evictions even with the moratoriums.

Experts predict the problem will only get worse in the coming weeks. The federal eviction moratorium that protects more than 12 million renters living in federally subsidized apartments or units with federally backed mortgages expired July 25. If it’s not extended, landlords can initiate eviction proceedings in 30 days.

The Eviction Lab ranked the top 100 cities where high eviction rates are expected. The ones in Indian Country include: Tulsa, which is ranked 11th with an expected 7.77 percent eviction rate; Oklahoma City in 20th place with 6.19 percent: Tucson in 25th place with 6.03 percent, and Albuquerque ranked 45th with a 4.72 percent eviction rate.

Feds open Rapid City office for missing, murdered Indigenous cases

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Federal investigators on Tuesday opened an office in Rapid City dedicated to cases of missing and murdered Native Americans, particularly women and girls.

The office will be one of seven created by President Donald Trump as part of the Operation Lady Justice Task Force. The initiative aims to develop protocols for law enforcement to respond to missing and slain Native American persons cases and to improve data and information collection.

The Rapid City office will be staffed with special agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and will coordinate efforts by local, federal and tribal law enforcement personnel to solve cold cases.

"Today, our shared presence, especially during these difficult times, is a demonstration of our commitment to keeping the national crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans a top priority,” said Administration for Native Americans Commissioner Jeannie Hovland, of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe.

Other offices will be located in Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Tennessee.

First Nation community approves code to manage own land

The K’atl’odeeche First Nation in the Northwest Territories, Canada, passed a custom land code to manage their own land, according to APTN News.

In late July, citizens of the reserve near Hay River voted to approve the code, which allows the band to manage their own resources and economic development without federal oversight from Indigenous Services Canada.

The code was approved by 144 of the 153 voters, according to the report.

Chief April Martel told APTN that her reserve is the first in the Northwest Territories to pass a land law.

Free webinar on American Indian tourism partnership with National Park Service

Sherry L. Rupert, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association CEO moderates a panel discussion on how tribes can benefit from American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association’s unique partnership with the National Park Service. The talk also features insights from celebrated visionary Johnpaul Jones, who shares his experience in incorporating Native Values in modern architectural design.

While much has been written about European expansion into Western North America, far less has been chronicled about the Native American communities that continuously inhabited California and Arizona long before the route became known as the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

Naomi Torres, Anza Trail superintendent, will share the partnership underway with American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, which is slated to result in educational webinars, a guidebook to tribal tourism attractions along the trail, and a map of original Native names for key locations along the trail.

Elders to Alaska Native corporation: 'It is your responsibility to ensure our cultural survival'
Indigenous people are used to overcoming obstacles in stressful situations and COVID-19 has created another opportunity to prevail. In Alaska, where they've had recent outbreaks, Native entities are structured differently from the lower 48.

In today's Indian Country Today newscast Rosita Worl, Tlingit, explains how Alaska Native corporations are handling the pandemic and explains why they were created in the first place under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.

Worl is the president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute and she says Indigenous resiliency gives her faith for the future. She's looking forward to a new art campus under construction in downtown Juneau right now.

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