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Juneteenth is largely celebrated in the United States as the emancipation of African Americans from chattel slavery. June 19th, 1865 is the day that African Americans in Texas learned that over two years prior the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

Last year, President Joe Biden signed into law Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

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The first Native American Two Spirit powwow in South Dakota is happening in Sioux Falls this week. It’s a string of LGBTQ+ events that Monique “Muffie” Mousseau and her wife Felipa De Leon didn’t think would happen 20 years ago.

“We’re pretty honored and we’re really excited, and to bring awareness to acceptance and integration throughout the entire state,” Mousseau said. “Times have changed and we cannot continue the hate and the shame because it’s not healthy.”

The Oglala Lakota citizens founded Uniting Resilience, a non-profit organization that spreads awareness and education about Native Two-Spirit LGBTQ, in October 2020.

It is “the first and only two spirit (registered) non-profit in the state of South Dakota,” De Leon said.

Their organization, Sioux Falls Pride, the Transformation Project, the Multi-Cultural Center of Sioux Falls and Two Spirit Nation are partnering with the South Dakota Urban Indian Health for Thursday’s Two Spirit Wacipi.

Mousseau and De Leon are emceeing, for the first time, the powwow.

“We love June. I wish it could be 365 days of celebration. I look forward to when we don’t just have one month of celebrating,” Mousseau said. READ MOREKalle Benallie, ICT

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Lawsuits making their way through the courts will deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to tribes for treatment and prevention of opiate drug abuse.

Two settlements against the three largest pharmaceutical distributors and a manufacturer will provide about $503 million to tribes and tribal health organizations to lessen the opioid epidemic in Indian Country.

Hundreds of other lawsuits are in progress.

It’s not too late for tribes to join and take part in the settlements from manufacturers and distributors of opioid drugs.

Kevin Washburn, Chickasaw, is one of three trustees responsible for managing and deciding how much settlement money goes to which tribes. Washburn is dean of the University of Iowa College of Law.

“Since 1999, more than 600,000 people have died from opioid abuse in this country and in Canada,” Washburn on Thursday told the general assembly of the National Congress of American Indians at its midyear conference in Alaska. READ MOREJoaqlin Estus, ICT

Canadian police said they arrested a 92-year-old retired priest for a sexual assault more than 50 years ago at one of Canada's residential schools for Indigenous children.

Royal Mounted Police Sgt. Paul Manaigre said Friday that police arrested retired Father Arthur Masse for the assault more than 50 years ago. Manaigre said the victim was 10 years old at the time and it happened between 1968 and 1970 at Ford Alexander residential school in Manitoba.

Manaigre said there is no time limit to report a sexual assault. Masse has been released on conditions and is due to be in court next month.

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their Indigenous languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.

The Canadian government apologized in Parliament in 2008 and admitted that physical and sexual abuse in the schools was rampant. Many students recalled being beaten for speaking their languages. They also lost touch with their parents and customs.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Canada late next month to apologize to Indigenous groups for the Catholic church's role in the schools. — Associated Press

State officials on Thursday gathered in Farmington to announce a $32 million settlement with the federal government after its contractors caused nearly 1 million pounds of heavy metals to flood into the watershed serving parts of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation seven years ago.

On Aug. 5, 2015, contractors for the Environmental Protection Agency were monitoring seepage in the abandoned Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado. They excavated an area above a mine opening, and the bedrock collapsed, releasing 3 millions gallons of waste into a tributary of the Animas River.

The water, tainted by tailings from gold mining that ended in the 1990s, flooded the Animas River watershed and turned its waters bright yellow. The tailings contained heavy metals like cadmium and lead, plus other toxic elements like arsenic, iron and copper.

The governor said the community around Farmington suffered in major, measurable ways while the plume floated down the river. Farmers couldn’t irrigate. No one used the river for recreation or fishing. Few tourists visited.

“This community declined because we didn’t have access in the way we needed to,” the governor said at the news conference. “This announcement today… means that we’re investing through the community.”

The EPA will also pay the Navajo Nation $31 million, according to the Nation’s Department of Justice.

“When the spill occurred, we went to the Gold King Mine site and saw firsthand the impacts to the land and water. The Gold King Mine blowout damaged entire communities and ecosystems in the Navajo Nation,” President Jonathan Nez said in a news release. “This important settlement reflects the U.S. EPA’s recognition of the suffering it caused the Navajo Nation and our people.” — Source New Mexico

During a typical semester day, Anton Treuer teaches three Ojibwe language courses on the hour at Bemidji State University.

At 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., the classes are held both in person and virtually. It’s part of his mission to keep the Ojibwe language, or Ojibwemowin, alive and working in the community.

It’s a mission that is at the heart of the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School on the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation in northwestern Wisconsin, where Treuer also serves as a board member.

“Niwiidookawaanaanig ningikinoo’amaaganinaanig da-nitaa-ojibwomotaadiwaad ge-mino-bimaadiziwaad,” according to the school website. “We help our students speak Ojibwe with each other in order to know and live a good life.”

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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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