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FISHING LAKE METIS SETTLEMENT, Alberta, Canada — It was not long after his father died that Blake Desjarlais saw something he had never seen before — an empty wood box.

His mother was at work and winter was coming. He jumped into the truck and drove off. He found a tree that he thought “the old man” would have picked and then he turned to the chainsaw. He had never started it before. He was 12 years old.

“I couldn’t get it going for the life of me,” Desjarlais, a citizen of the Metis Nation, told Indian Country Today. “And then I just took an axe that was in the back of my dad’s truck. And I started hacking away at this huge tree.”

Today, 15 years later, is taking that never-quit spirit to Parliament Hill.

One of Canada’s newly elected Members of Parliament, Desjarlais won office in the Sept. 20 election for the New Democratic Party in the voting district of Edmonton-Griesbach, flipping a seat long held by a Conservative Party member in the heart of Canada’s oil country. READ MORE. — Miles Morrisseau, special to Indian Country Today


Children, ages 5 to 12, are now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19, marking a major event to protect young populations from the deadly pandemic.

U.S. health officials, including a panel of independent experts and the director of the Centers for Disease Control, voted Tuesday to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children. It was not previously offered to this age group.

Children’s doses of the Pfizer vaccine consists of one-third of the dose adults receive.

Full inoculation requires two injections, three weeks apart.

The news has important implications for Native communities, Tlingit expert Dr. Mary J. Owen told Indian Country Today on Tuesday.

“Kids are going to school, and over and over, no matter how well we try to protect them, they're still getting infected there, and then they're bringing that infection back home.” READ MORE.Indian Country Today

Coverage around the world on Indigenous issues for Oct. 25-31, 2021

Around the world this week, India’s prime minister advised the public about Indigenous communities, youth in Australia vowed to fight for inclusion, regulation is threatening Indigenous medicine in Mexico, a First Nation in Canada seeks an apology from Pope Francis and Uganda’s Batwa people learn to survive. READ MORE. — Deusdedit Ruhangariyo, special to Indian Country Today

Oklahoma tribal public safety officials say the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling is strengthening momentum for improvements to public safety infrastructure in their police departments.

The Choctaw and Muscogee nations have hired additional public safety officers and are entering into more cross-deputization agreements with tribal, state and federal agencies.

Muscogee Nation Lighthorse Police gather at the River Spirit Casino in preparation for collaborative efforts with the Tulsa Police Department to respond to citizen demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd. (Photo by Jason Salsman/Muscogee Nation)

Choctaw Public Safety has hired 30 additional public safety officers since application of the McGirt decision on the Choctaw reservation, according to Michael Hall, the tribe’s executive director of public safety. The nation now employs 80 officers to patrol the 11,000-square-mile reservation. READ MORE. Nancy Marie Spears, Gaylord News

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Tribal grassroots groups say the Arizona Corporation Commission has approved a smaller amount recommended for tribal and rural communities to transition away from coal economies.

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The commission is meeting this week as part of a proceedings for a rate increase request from Arizona Public Service Co.

As part of its rate package, APS reportedly had proposed providing the Navajo Nation with close to $150 million in financial assistance, with additional funding earmarked for the Hopi Tribe and Navajo County communities. The communities have relied heavily on revenue from coal-fired power plants and coal mines that have been shutting down.

Navajo grassroots groups said the judge overseeing the proceedings had recommended a minimum payment of $50 million to the Navajo Nation, nearly $1.7 million to the Hopi Tribe and $5 million to Navajo County communities.

But the groups say the commission voted 3-2 Tuesday to reduce the amounts to $10 million to the Navajo Nation over three years, $1 million to the Hopi Tribe and $500,000 to the Navajo County communities.

“It’s disheartening to know there’s a proposal on the table that would provide real support for Navajo and Hopi communities and to be given such token amounts,” said Carol Davis, director of the Navajo grassroots organization Diné C.A.R.E.The Associated Press

Indigenous Stories of Strength, a collection of stories celebrating Indigenous strengths and innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic, is set for Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.

The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health will host a virtual showcase.

Indigenous Stories of Strength includes 16 stories told through video, written narratives, news clips, and photographs, depicting how Indigenous communities in 11 states responded to the pandemic.

To register, click here.

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 80 more COVID-19 cases, but no coronavirus-related deaths for the 23rd time in the past 35 days.

The latest numbers pushed the tribe's totals to 37,043 confirmed COVID-19 cases from the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

The known death toll remains at 1,487.

Based on cases from Oct. 15-28, the Navajo Department of Health issued an advisory for 58 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. — The Associated Press


Thursday, Nov. 4 at 12 p.m. ET, Covering Climate Now will be hosting an Instagram Live discussion with ICT’s Dianna Hunt and Mark Scialla of Al Jazeera English. The discussion will center around their work on climate-induced displacement among tribal nations and communities in Central America.

climate convos - migration (1)

(Read: Homelands in Peril)

Covering Climate Now’s climate migration project aims to bring awareness to climate migration and has partnered with news organizations all over the world to highlight the new phenomenon.

Follow us on Instagram @IndianCountryToday, to listen in on the conversation.

The two fastest Native cyclists are Oneida, and brother and sister.

Shayna and Neilson Powless have been excelling as elite professional cyclists for more than a few years and continue to climb to their own pinnacles. Their multi-athletic journeys took them to being high level performers on the roads and trails. And perhaps, the best is yet to come.

A third Oneida cyclist, Cole House, made similar noise starting nearly two decades ago. READ MORE. — Dan Ninham, special to Indian Country Today

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. Email

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