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Anishinaabe core values and stories drive Ajuawak Kapashesit as a storyteller, actor, writer and filmmaker.

Born and raised on the White Earth Ojibwe Nation, of Ashinaabe, Cree and Jewish descent, Kapashesit draws on that knowledge in his latest film, “Language Keepers,” a short documentary now in the works that is set to be released next year.

“I let the stories I was told and things and people I've experienced bleed into my work as an actor, writer and director,” Kapashesit told ICT.

“Whenever I'm approaching or exploring a project, I have to frame it from the perspective of where I come from and what that means to me as an audience member," he said. "That connection to the audience member is crucial for creating something with resonance.”

His work is certainly resonating in the film industry. READ MORE.Dan Ninham, Special to ICT


Baidaj harvesting is a time of celebration and marks the O’odham New Year right before monsoon downpours sweep through the Southwest with the smell of desert rain. The harvest is a cultural pillar to the O’odham people in the Sonoran Desert, however they are growing increasingly concerned about earlier blooms of the saguaro cactus flower and earlier ripening of baidaj, the saguaro fruit.

In the summer heat, the saguaro cactus fruit ripens, turning bright red before it bursts open with its juicy pulp and black seeds on full display. Traditionally, the O’odham celebrate the new year by baidaj harvesting in late June, a vital part of their culture. Families contribute a portion of their harvest to the community’s rain ceremonies – known as Jujkida. It’s a time to reflect, pray and to celebrate the renewal of life.

Tohono O’odham and Akimel O’odham have ancestral knowledge of the desert that’s been passed down generations. It helps them maintain a growing body of observations and empirical evidence that span millennia. In more recent years, O’odham throughout the desert are noting the saguaro cactus fruit is ripening earlier and more sporadically. READ MORE. Carina Dominguez, ICT

President Joe Biden Sunday said he was optimistic that the Inflation Reduction Act would become law. The Senate passed the legislation on Sunday on a 51 to 50 vote and the House will take up the measure this week. It’s a packed bill, a plan to spend $740 billion to address inflation, climate change, infrastructure and taxes.

On Sunday Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie vote.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said: "The Senate is making history. I am confident the Inflation Reduction Act will endure as one of the defining legislative measures of the 21st century.”

The House vote will be complicated stage. Democrats will have to be united on the legislation, even though there are pieces of the bill that many oppose because it’s unlikely that any Republicans will support the measure. READ MORE.Mark Trahant, ICT

A Pinon man has been arrested in connection with the death of a Navajo woman who was reported missing in 2019, according to authorities.

Federal prosecutors said 30-year-old Tre C. James was taken into custody last week on suspicion of first-degree murder and multiple counts of domestic violence.

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Roberta McVickers, an attorney for James, declined to comment Monday when reached by The Associated Press.

Prosecutors said James is accused of fatally shooting Jamie Yazzie of Pinon. She was last seen on the Navajo Nation and reported missing in the summer of 2019.

Yazzie’s remains were found in November 2021 on the neighboring Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona.

James’ next scheduled court appearance is Tuesday in U.S. Magistrate Court in Flagstaff. — Associated Press

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More from an organization strengthening Indigenous governance, And how California's online sports betting measure will affect tribes. Plus, remembering one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers.


Vincent Walker’s love of baseball got him to the first-ever Native American All-Star Baseball Showcase in Atlanta this year as one of the top 50 Indigenous high school baseball players in the country.

But playing in a Major League Baseball stadium before an adoring crowd may keep him going.

“It was honestly a dream come true,” Walker, 18, a citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma who is also of Arapaho and Tonkawa descent, told ICT. “Every day going to the stadium was mind blowing — how big it was and thinking of who all played on that field.” READ MORE. Dan Ninham, Special to ICT

Decades of government policies aimed at forcibly assimilating Native Americans, guided by the notion of “kill the Indian and save the man,” included generations of Indigenous children ripped away from their families and placed in boarding schools, where speaking their language was forbidden.

A typical day of classes at NILI’s Summer Institute includes advocacy for language revitalization, linguistics and other Native language teaching strategies. (Photo courtesy of NILI)

The cumulative result was the severe diminishment and, at times, complete loss of Indigenous languages across North America.

That legacy set the backdrop for the formation of the Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI) in Oregon in 1997. Twenty-five years later, the institute’s work remains as urgent and important as ever.

“We often ask ourselves, ‘How do we address the pain that people have and the shame that they have about language?’” NILI Director Robert Elliott said recently from the organization’s headquarters in Eugene. READ MORE. McKayla Lee, Underscore News


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