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Almost $300M to go to tribes for public safety, youth support

The U.S. Justice Department has awarded more than $296 million in grants to American Indian and Alaska Native communities to improve public safety, serve crime victims, and support youth programs, among other things.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced the funds Wednesday in Telequah, Oklahoma, where he met with Cherokee Nation tribal leaders. He told them additional resources are also planned to help address an increase in criminal cases following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt vs. Oklahoma.

Those funds will be used to hire four federal prosecutors who are expected to be cross-designated to be able to prosecute criminal cases in federal and tribal courts, Barr said.

The McGirt ruling said Congress never explicitly disestablished the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reservation. By extension, that decision also applies to the Cherokee Nation, said Cherokee Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. Since the ruling, dozens of defendants convicted of crimes within the traditional boundaries of Oklahoma-based tribes have asked to be retried in federal or tribal court.

“The Cherokee Nation is committed, as it always is, to accepting these challenges head on…” Hoskin said. He said the tribe will continue to seek resources to add staff to its court system staff, attorney general’s office and marshal service.

For lists of grant awards, click here, and here. For more information, visit: Office of Justice Programs, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), and COPS OFFICE.

Dine’ College marketing director is finalist for national award

Established in 1968 on the Navajo Nation, Diné College was the first tribally controlled community college in the U.S.

Established in 1968 on the Navajo Nation, Diné College was the first tribally controlled community college in the U.S.

George Joe, Dine, is one of seven national finalists for the National Council on Marketing and Public Relations Communicator of the Year Award.

Joe is Dine’ College marketing and communications director on the Navajo reservation.

According to Jennie McCue, National Council on Marketing and Public Relations district 6 director, the final winner will be presented with the award in March 2021.

The Dine’ College Marketing and Communications department is also a finalist for four additional awards with the Council in the categories of brochure, novelty advertising, special event and wild card. These awards will be announced by the end of September.

The National Council for Marketing and Public Relations is the primary professional organization representing marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges.

Iowa park to honor Meskwaki woman

KWWL is reporting an Iowa park will be renamed to honor a Native American activist.

“The park will now be named after Jean Adeline Morgan Wanatee, who was born on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama in 1910 and passed away in 1996. She was an advocate for Native American and women's rights and was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1993,” said KWWL’s Andrew Pearce.

Wanatee was the first woman elected to the Meskwaki Tribal Council, where she served for eight years. She was also a Meskwaki language specialist and a resource for the Smithsonian Institute.

Some 50 years ago, the park was named “Squaw Creek Park.” A Native American person told the Linn County Conservation Board that name is a derogatory racial slur. Board executive director Dennis Geomaat said the board wants to create a culture of inclusion and it's never a wrong time to do the right thing.

In a letter Judith Bender, Chair of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, wrote:

"The Meskwaki Nation applauds your willingness to make changes that honor people through the use of their name, and not diminish them as human beings through the use of derogatory terms. Especially, we thank all who have championed this name change to honor one of our own.”

Retiring college administrator: ‘I loved every minute of it’

The Great Falls Tribune reports the longtime head of a tribal college is retiring. Carole Falcon-Chandler began working at Aaniiih Nakoda College in 1992, when the tribal school on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation had just two buildings, reporter Nora Mabie wrote.

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Aaniiih Nakoda College President Carole Falcon Chandler (standing at table) and Minerva Allen, an ANC board member (seated) at the naming ceremony.

Aaniiih Nakoda College President Carole Falcon Chandler (standing at table) and Minerva Allen, an ANC board member (seated) at the naming ceremony.

Now it has a cultural, training and technology centers, a maintenance shop, carpentry building, greenhouse, garden, playground, and language immersion school.

After serving as the dean of students for eight years and college president and CEO for 20, Wednesday, Sept. 30 was Falcon-Chandler's last day.

Falcon-Chandler was a fierce advocate for tribal colleges. She worked to increase opportunities for students and faculty and to infuse Indigenous culture and tradition into the college experience at Aaniiih Nakoda. The college was also renamed on her watch from Fort Belknap School to one reflecting the tribal nations of the Fort Belknap Indian Community.

Falcon-Chandler also established the associate of science in nursing registered nursing degree program in 2016 and the bachelor of science in Aaniiih Nakoda Ecology, the college’s first baccalaureate program, in 2020. 

Indigenous woman records insults by hospital staff before death

The coroner’s office in Quebec, Canada, is investigating the death of a 37-year-old Atikamek woman, who before she died, recorded Joliette hospital staff using disparaging and condescending remarks as she pleaded for help, according to the Montreal Gazette.

Joyce Echaquan, a mother of seven, recorded two women at the hospital calling her stupid and saying she's only good for sex and would be better off dead.

She was hospitalized on Monday after experiencing stomach pains. She recorded a live video on Facebook for about seven minutes, screaming for help and saying she was being overmedicated. She died soon after. Her family said she had long suffered from heart disease.

First Nations communities across the province are holding vigils for Echaquan. One is expected to take place in Montreal on Saturday. A support fund has also been established for Echaquan’s children.

Man sentenced for killing on Red Lake Indian Reservation

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A man accused fatally beating and strangling his wife and leaving her on the side of a road on the Red Lake Indian Reservation has been sentenced to 16 years in federal prison.

Jeremiah Kingbird, 39, of Ponemah, pleaded guilty in October 2019 to second-degree murder for the January 2019 killing.

Authorities say Kingbird and his wife were driving to their home after a night of drinking when they began to argue and got into a physical fight. Kingbird beat his wife in the head and strangled her before leaving her on a road in Redby.

The victim was found hours later and died at the hospital in Red Lake.

Watch: Aboriginal Peoples Television Network turns 21

A television network launched in Canada 21 years ago became the first Aboriginal network in the world. Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) signed on the air on September 1, 1999 in Winnipeg, Canada. Through the decades, it has created its own television series and newscasts.

Network CEO Monica Ille, Abenaki of Odanak, shares some of the network’s history. She said the network generates children and youth programming, documentaries, dramas, variety, and news, and the way it approaches content is significant.

“What’s important is that we have our stories. We have a way of telling our stories. It is unique to us. The fact that we could decide what we want to share brings diversity. It brings something new to the media landscape. As you communicate with people, hopefully stereotypes start to fall and you start to appreciate one another,” Ille said.

The network's News and Current Affairs Executive Director Cheryl McKenzie Anishinabe and Cree, remembers when she first started at the network, Indigenous voices were not being heard. “And if they were being heard, it wasn’t always in the context we would put ourselves in, not in the way we would describe ourselves, with the ‘why’ we would put behind the issues we were covering.”

News and Current Affairs Executive Director Cheryl McKenzie, Anishinabe and Cree, of Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. (Screenshot of Indian Country Today newscast)

McKenzie said traveling to communities and putting the perspectives of youth, elders, and community members, bringing Indigenous perspectives to the national dialogue, has had an impact.

Plus, national correspondent for Indian Country Today Dalton Walker joins the newscast to talk about the judicial system and Native Americans who are running for seats on the state Supreme courts.

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