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Douglas Ray Stankewitz has lived for more than 43 years in a roughly 4-by-10-foot cell on San Quentin Prison’s Death Row.

He was sent there in October 1978 to await execution in the gas chamber for the murder of Theresa Graybeal, 21, in Fresno, California. Although his death sentence was later overturned, he remains housed in a Death Row cell, which is safer, he says, than the general prison population.

Now 63, the Monache man from Big Sandy Rancheria has never wavered in his claims that he is innocent.

“I’m not guilty. I am innocent, and I was framed, and the physical evidence proves that,” said Stankewitz, who embraces the nickname that he has come to be known by in prison, Chief.

A correctional officer checks a car entering the main gate of San Quentin State Prison on July 9, 2020, in San Quentin, Calif. A group of legislators, advocates, academics, and public health officials gathered at San Quentin State Prison to discuss a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility that has sickened more than 1,400 inmates with six deaths. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

In a series of phone calls from San Quentin with Indian Country Today, Stankewitz doesn’t deny he has a criminal history. But he said he didn’t kill Graybeal. And he thinks he was low-hanging fruit for investigators and the prosecutor. READ MORE.Richard Arlin Walker, Special to Indian Country Today

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Organizers of an Indigenous sugarbush ceremony broken up by Detroit police last week say their apology for the incident didn’t go far enough and are pushing for bigger changes.

On Friday, Feb. 18, more than a dozen police officers broke up an Indigenous sugarbush ceremony led by the Detroit Sugarbush Project at the city’s nearly 1,200-acre River Rouge Park because, police said, the group didn’t have the proper permits.

Members of the Detroit Sugarbush Project in River Rouge Par. (Photo courtesy of Antonio Cosme)

Organizers of the project – a partnership of several different area groups, the city and Indigenous leaders to educate youth and the community about the traditional Indigenous practice of tapping sugar maple trees for its sap to make sugar or syrup – had gathered Friday night with community members, including children and elders, to celebrate the beginning of the sugarbush season. READ MORE.Chris Aadland, Underscore.news and Indian Country Today

Kansas' top public school administrator was suspended on Friday after attempting to step down over an offensive remark about Native Americans at a recent public conference.

Education Commissioner Randy Watson’s resignation was announced Friday by Jim Porter, the chairman of the State Board of Education. The elected 10-member board appoints the commissioner to run the State Department of Education and called a special meeting to deal with Watson’s remark.

But the board unanimously rejected Watson's resignation and suspended him for 30 days, without pay.

The board's decision came a day after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, three Indigenous state legislators and the chair of one of the state's four Native American nations called on Watson to resign. READ MORE. Associated Press

South Dakota Senate Republicans rejected a proposed resolution on Wednesday that would have commended the state’s LGBTQ and Native American Two Spirit community, offering no explanation and hearing no opposition testimony.

Democratic Sen. Reynold Nesiba brought the resolution to state that the “Legislature recognizes the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community for its collective efforts to secure true equality for all.” It would have had no force of law.

Lawrence Novotny, a member of the Brookings Human Rights Commission, told lawmakers on the Senate State Affairs committee that the resolution was a chance for them to send a message to the LGBTQ community that they are welcome. He argued that has become a pressing need, pointing to high rates of depression among LGBTQ people in the state.

However, every Republican present in the Senate State Affairs committee on Wednesday rejected Nesiba’s resolution. — Associated Press

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Today on the ICT Newscast, legislation passes in North Dakota and New Mexico benefiting Native education. We honor Ira Hayes and student athletes. Plus, Russia invades Ukraine, and an Indigi-genius on nutrition.

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Lost 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:

We now know when “Killers of the Flower Moon" will be available to watch, at least according to one report. READ MORE. — Indian Country Today

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