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New details have emerged about an orphan who was the youngest and only Native designer of a state flag.

Benny Benson, designer of Alaska's flag, Seward, ca. 1927. Courtesy of Alaska State Archives.

A recently published paper shows Benny Benson was aged 14, not 13 as previously believed, when he won a 1927 contest for school children to design the Alaska flag. And he was Unangax̂, not Alutiiq.

The age error stemmed from a birth certificate issued when he wanted to join the military and gave a birth date that had been assigned to him at the orphanage. Russian Orthodox Church records showed his actual birthdate was a year earlier.

His race apparently was assumed to be Alutiiq because he lived and died on Alutiiq homelands. Territorial and census records show he’s Unangax̂. READ MORE.Joaqlin Estus, Indian Country Today


Officially one year in office, Deb Haaland celebrated her “impactful” year Wednesday as the first Indigenous person to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visits the Grand Junction Air Center Complex on Friday to discuss her agency's response to wildfires and the Bureau of Land Management headquarters move to Grand Junction on Friday, July 23, 2021, in Grand Junction, Colo. (McKenzie Lange/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via AP)

In a phone call with reporters before an appearance at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, pointed to the $31 billion that has gone into Indigenous communities and other big wins for Indian Country under President Joe Biden’s administration.

“This has been a big first year of the Biden-era administration for Indian Country specifically,” she said. “There were some incredible moments that will be part of our collective memory for generations to come.”

The impact ranged from an infusion of pandemic funds into tribal communities to an Indian Boarding School Initiative that is creating a comprehensive report on the federal boarding school system in the U.S. READ MORE. Pauly Denetclaw, Special to Indian Country Today

A massive reservoir known as a boating mecca dipped below a critical threshold on Tuesday raising new concerns about a source of power that millions of people in the U.S. West rely on for electricity.

Lake Powell's fall to below 3,525 feet puts it at its lowest level since the lake filled after the federal government dammed the Colorado River at Glen Canyon more than a half century ago — a record marking yet another sobering realization of the impacts of climate change and megadrought.

It comes as hotter temperatures and less precipitation leave a smaller amount flowing through the over-tapped Colorado River. Though water scarcity is hardly new in the region, hydropower concerns at Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona reflect that a future western states assumed was years away is approaching — and fast. READ MORE. — Associated Press

Navajo Nation leaders gathered in Window Rock on Thursday for a prayer service to remember all of the lives lost to COVID-19 since the first case was confirmed on the Navajo Nation two years ago.

The three branch chiefs also issued a proclamation recognizing March 17, 2022 as “Navajo Nation Day of Prayer.”

There have been 52,754 COVID-19 cases reported and 1,657 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the Navajo Nation Council. — Indian Country Today

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Coming up on the ICT Newscast: From Hollywood to Washington, Indigenous women are making a difference. We visited with actress DeLanna Studi and the National Endowment for the Humanities' new chair Shelly Lowe. Plus, an incredible hoop dancer gears up to defend his title at the world championship

Watch here:

A federal appeals court panel on Wednesday reversed a decision that rejected a land swap aimed at allowing a road be built through an Alaska national wildlife refuge that is an internationally recognized habitat for migrating waterfowl.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the decision back to U.S. District Judge John Sedwick in Alaska for further consideration. Nine environmental groups had sued to stop the swap on the Alaska Peninsula.

Sedwick blocked an agreement that would have allowed the Interior secretary and King Cove Corp., an Alaska Native village corporation, to exchange land in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in the Aleutians East Borough to build a long-sought gravel road that would allow King Cove residents access to an all-weather airport in nearby Cold Bay for medical transports.

David Bernhardt, who was an Interior secretary under then-President Donald Trump, agreed to the land swap and environmental groups sued. The Biden administration joined King Cove Corp., the Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove, the Native Village of Belkofski and the state of Alaska in seeking the reversal of the district court’s ruling. READ MORE.Associated Press


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