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What started as a seemingly routine tribal council vote sparked serious controversy on the Winnebago Reservation in northeast Nebraska this spring.

That vote – which appeared to ban the recognition of same-sex marriage – sparked anger and fear in the tribe’s LGBTQ members and local residents. It inspired a video by a relative of a famed Native activist. The video was viewed by more than a million people and compelled hundreds to write, call, email and march to protest.

And it resulted in something you don’t see much in American politics in 2022.

The tribal council listened to the criticism. It met again. And it changed its mind.

“I feel like it was impactful. And, you know, it may have been maybe difficult to hear for some people. But I feel like that needed to happen,” said Willy Bass, one of the protesters, of the months-long fight. “It was bigger than any single one of us. This is about setting up the future of our tribe, for success, for safety, for equal rights for everybody.”

It started mundanely enough on March 24. READ MOREFlatwater Free Press

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Interior Secretary Deb Haaland joined tribal leaders, community partners and Indigenous youth today to celebrate the launch of the Indian Youth Service Corps

“The Indian Youth Service Corps will provide opportunities for Native Americans and Alaska Natives in public service and workforce development that will also deepen the connection to our nation’s natural and cultural resources,” Haaland said.

Participants will receive work experience, basic life skills, education, training and mentoring.

The Interior is providing $600,000 to the Bureau of Reclamation to establish the program this year. The National Park Foundation will also fund $1 million in the program’s projects, in addition to its 10 other ongoing tribal youth service corps projects.

“The imprint of tribal history and culture is visible across our national park landscapes,” Will Shafroth, National Park Foundation president and CEO, said in a press release. “Supporting the Indian Youth Service Corps engages and connects tribal youth to the care and preservation of sacred places across the nation's public lands.”

The program’s guidelines criteria are participants must be between the ages of 16 and 30, veterans may be up to 35 and majority of the participants must be Native. — ICT

The first Native woman elected to Duluth City Council Renee Van Nett died on June 3 after battling cancer. She was 52.

She was born to Victoria Yellow Earrings and James Van Nett on Jan, 6, 1970. Her Ojibwe name was Mashkiikii Makwa Ikwe, or Medicine Bear Woman.

She had a strong commitment to her Ojibwe culture and spiritual ways. She identified as a “First Nations Indigenous single parent” in her “about me” section of her campaign website.

She was serving her second term on city council, serving the city’s 4th district, but had announced a run for state Senate earlier this year, only to end her campaign just two months later in May.

Van Nett was running for the state senate’s district 8 seat. Her platform was strong in its support of unions. She comes from a union family of iron workers (Local #512) who moved to Duluth to work. Her slogan was, “Not me, we”. READ MORECarina Dominguez, ICT

A biweekly column from Indian Country Today with the latest news from the arts and entertainment world. READ MORESpecial to ICT

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KENWOOD, Okla. – In less than a year, Kenwood Public School formed a robotics team and qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championship

All Cherokee Nation citizens, the Kenwood Public School team qualified for the state tournament in February and then became state runners-up in the VEX Robotics State Championship in March.

Eighth-graders Aaron Smith and Greyson Hansen, seventh-grader Josiah Sapp and fifth-grader Blake Smith represented their small Delaware County community on a big stage against competitors from around the world May 8-10 in Dallas.

Kenwood competed in the middle school division among 78 teams and ranked number 42 at the end of the three-day tournament after competing in 10 matches. They competed in the skills competition where the objective was to score points by making their robots gather and clear yellow balls from a corral, shoot them into a box and hang the robot itself using a built-in hook.

“You have to make sure that (the robot) shoots or pushes,” Aaron said. “If it can push, and not shoot, your objective would be to get it under the bar next to the goal. It gives you two points. If you want to make it hang, it will be an extra six points. If you can shoot, you will aim at the blue box and it will be six points. A high hang will be an extra 10 points. There’s five yellow balls on each side of the corral. If you clear out the corral you get five points, as well.” READ MORECherokee Phoenix

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