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A Hia-Ced O’odham woman was found not guilty Wednesday on federal misdemeanor charges stemming from an incident that occurred along the border wall construction on her tribe’s ancestral land.

In September 2020 Amber Ortega and Nellie Jo David rushed to Quitobaquito Springs, “without hesitation” to protect the sacred area from border wall construction in southern Arizona.

Hia-Ced O'odham woman Amber Ortega, left, was acquitted of federal charges. Her and Nellie Jo David, right, were arrested in September 2020 after holding ceremony at Quitobaquito Springs while border wall construction attempted to tear through the area.  (Photo by Carina Dominguez, Indian Country Today)

“They called it a protest but what we were doing was far beyond that we were answering a call that came through from our ancestors. The timing wasn't calculated. We were there. We had been there and it was without hesitation,” Ortega said.

Both women faced what they said were trumped-up federal charges for praying at the site which they had been doing long before construction reached the spring.

David said the legal system purposefully wanted her to “have such a traumatic experience that it's going to scare other people that even think of doing the same thing we did.”

For that reason, David took a plea deal last year while Ortega was waiting on the acquittal that was announced on Wednesday. READ MORE. Carina Dominguez, Indian Country Today

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On Dec. 6, the Seattle Kraken hockey team took to the ice for warm-ups wearing specially designed jerseys inspired by traditional Karuk basketry, while more than 200 invited members of the area’s Native American community watched from the stands.

A jersey inspired by traditional Karuk basketry and designed by Indigenous artist Fox Spears, a citizen of the Karuk Tribe, hangs in a Seattle Kraken player’s locker. (Courtesy of the Seattle Kraken)

The Kraken, the National Hockey League’s newest team, wore the unique pre-game jerseys as part of the franchise’s Indigenous People’s Night game, which included an on-ice performance from about 20 people of the Muckleshoot Canoe Family singing group.

It wasn’t the only time the team has recognized Indigenous people and the tribal nations that have inhabited the area for time immemorial.

While other NHL franchises are also attempting to engage with Native American fans and tribal communities — including the dedication of game nights to Indigenous people — the Kraken have been taking more concrete steps toward engaging with the region’s tribal leaders and others in Indian Country to make them feel like they’re part of the team’s community and to amplify the voices of Indigenous people. READ MORE. – Chris Aadland, Indian Country Today and Underscore News

The winter Olympics are just about to start but there’s plenty of other athletes that Pawnee and Euchee citizen Brent Cahwee is following, including the connection to the NFL playoffs. Cahwee, our go to Indigenous sports analyst, co-founded the website NDNSPORTS.COM. He joins the show with more on the Native athletes he's keeping an eye on.

WATCH:

Lots happening in and around Indian Country when it comes to Indigenous arts and entertainment talent and Native pop culture. Here is the latest Indigenous entertainment news: READ MORE.Indian Country Today

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We’ve got it all Indigenous for you this week. From politics, tribal leaders past and present. Even films and a graphic novel.

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Former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze are two of the first four board members of a new nonprofit foundation created to help leverage public and private funds to conserve, protect and restore land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The other two board members for the Foundation for America’s Public Lands who were named Wednesday are Maite Arce, who founded the Hispanic Access Foundation and Stacy Leeds, is a professor of law and leadership at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will name another five board members in the coming months, the agency said. Board members will serve staggered terms of four and six years.

Congress authorized the Foundation for America’s Public Lands in 2017. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service have similar foundations. — Associated Press

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