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The Native American Rights Fund celebrated 50 years of legal work.

Around 300 people attended the gala Saturday night in Aurora, Colorado.

The Native American Rights Fund actually turned 50 in 2020 but the pandemic delayed the event. The Denver Indian Singers honored all NARF staff with a song.

Executive Director John Echohawk, Pawnee, told the crowd the first case they took was on behalf of the Menominee Nation which was terminated by Congress in 1954. He said NARF brought about an Indian legal revolution that changed everything for Indian people. — Patty Talahongva, Indian Country Today

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It was the blue ceiling that got me.

Although St. Mary’s Catholic Church is tiny, its vaulted ceiling soars to an unexpected height. It’s an impossible robin’s egg blue or the hue of a blue sky that could never exist. Unexpectedly, it drove my heart into my throat, where it stayed for several minutes. That blue color obliterated journalistic objectivity, placing me back into a wordless, needy childhood.

I realized at last that the ceiling was the same color as the little blue Virgin Mary medal that lived between my mother’s breasts, fixed to her brassiere with a safety pin. That medal would gaze back at me when we laid down in bed together for afternoon naps, at bedtime or just to visit. Those were the times she told me the Sister School stories, her life at St. Mary’s Catholic Indian boarding school and her childhood on the Bad River Ojibwe Reservation in Wisconsin.

The little church is all that remains now of the mission school buildings. READ MORE.Mary Annette Pember, Indian Country Today

In the summer of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country, closing schools, sporting events, restaurants, the cruise industry and even Disneyland. But what impacted Indian Country the most were all the canceled powwows and sacred, traditional Native ceremonies.

No one saw the impact more than Robert Mesta, Yaqui. He is the coordinator of the non-eagle feather program at Liberty Wildlife in Phoenix. Mesta is the person responsible for filling orders from American Indians and Alaska Natives who have requested feathers for religious and ceremonial purposes.

Robert Mesta holds up California Condor feathers from the Liberty Wildlife collection. (Photo by Patty Talahongva, Indian Country Today)

Natives enrolled in federally recognized tribes are eligible to receive the feathers free of charge.

“It was obvious from what we saw around us in the Native American community, powwows were being canceled, gatherings were being canceled and as a result people just weren’t requesting feathers because they weren’t using them,” Mesta said. READ MORE. Patty Talahongva, Indian Country Today

With the thousands of miles of quality salmon habitat in the upper Columbia River, a restored chinook run there could add significantly to the number of anadromous fish in the entire basin.

The tribes of the upper Columbia River Basin — the Coeur d’Alene, Spokane and Colville, along with First Nations in Canada — aim to do just that.

But it’s tricky. Audacious even.

Consider that salmon and steelhead that return to the Snake River are struggling in large part because of the eight dams they must pass. Those eight dams, four on the Columbia and four on the Snake, all have adult and juvenile fish passage facilities. READ MORE. Lewiston Tribune

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We meet our newest hire on Monday's ICT newscast, a political correspondent based in Washington. Plus, a new untitled documentary about the Muscogee Nation and another ICT special report.

Watch:

That was the sound on Sunday as the NBA’s Phoenix Suns aired the game in Navajo. Last week, the organization announced it will partner with Native Broadcast Enterprise.

The game was heard on popular radio stations like KTNN. L.A. Williams served as the host.

She is a popular voice, having started her radio career in 1992. She previously provided play-by-play coverage for other NBA Finals games, the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and the Oakland Raiders.

These stories are part of a collaborative series, “At the Crossroads," from the Institute for Nonprofit News, Indian Country Today and nine other news partners, examining the state of the economy in Indian Country. This reporting was made possible with support from the Walton Family Foundation.

Read the report.

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We want your tips, but we also want your feedback. What should we be covering that we’re not? What are we getting wrong? Please let us know. managingeditor@indiancountrytoday.com.

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