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These are thorny questions. What do tribes do now with their coal? What about the country? And what’s the best transition plan that will preserve at least some of the best paying jobs in rural communities?

Globally, the stage is set. The United Nations has been clear about the need to “dismantle coal infrastructure” and phase out that fossil fuel over the next eight years.

“The only true path to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity and a liveable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels, especially coal, and accelerating the renewables-based energy transition,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in Australia this month.

In other words there is no possible route to reach greenhouse gas emission targets unless coal is no longer mined and processed. And not every government, or company, is on board with that notion.

There are some 25 tribes that have some form of coal reserves, power plants or mines. On top of that the Associated Press reported in 2012 that 10 percent of all U.S. power plants operate within 20 miles of tribal nations, impacting nearly 50 tribal nations.

The shift away from coal is a big story.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, at a conference on coal transition, called the challenge “unprecedented” and it’s coming faster than anyone expected.

“We would like to continue our role as an Arizona energy generator,” he said, “but through the renewable energy projects that will make our shared clean energy future possible.”

The problem is how does a government unwind its current coal operations – and the jobs that it provides. And just as important: What resources are available to make that transition work? READ MOREMark Trahant, ICT

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President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced the nomination of Patrice H. Kunesh to serve as the Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Native Americans.

If confirmed, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe descendent would work across the HHS, with other federal agencies and nonprofit organizations to advance self-sufficiency in Indian Country through actions like providing funding for projects, training and other assistance to tribes and organizations for initiatives that address language preservation, social and economic development.

In a press release, National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp congratulated Kunesh on the nomination and urged the Senate to quickly confirm her.

“Her extensive experience, partnership, and leadership in championing solutions for Indian Country will ensure that critical language revitalization and social and economic development initiatives promote tribal sovereignty, economic prosperity, and preserve our way of life for the next seven generations and beyond,” Sharp said in the release.

An attorney, Kunesh has worked at the federal, tribal and state level. Her career has included stints at the Native American Rights Fund, as in-house Counsel to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and as a faculty member at the University of South Dakota School of Law. She also recently founded a consulting firm dedicated to promoting culturally-centered Native American economic development.

Kunesh has previously also held high-ranking federal positions with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior. In addition, she also founded and led a Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Native American economic policy research and development initiative, the Center for Indian Country Development. – Chris Aadland, ICT

Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen spent a day meeting with South Dakota’s tribal presidents Tuesday in the first visit ever to Indian Country by a treasury secretary.

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen addresses tribal officials and others gathered at the Sinte Gleska University during a meeting on June 21, 2022, marking the first time a treasury secretary has visited a tribal community. She was joined by Lynn Malerba, Mohegan, who has been tapped as the first Indigenous person to serve as U.S. Treasurer. (Photo by Vi Waln for ICT)

The visit, hosted by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, included stops at St. Francis Indian School, Ojinjinkta Housing Development Corporation, Keya Wakpala Community Garden and Sinte Gleska University.

The visit also included a small wacipi in the evening, with Yellen and Malerba participating in a round dance with tribal officials and others.

“I promised to visit Indian Country and I couldn’t be more gratified to have had this chance to visit with you today,” Yellen said, earlier in the day.

“Treasury and the administration are deeply committed to partnering with you," she said. "We know that the programs the government is now implementing are by no means sufficient to remedy centuries long inequities and injustices, but it’s a start. And it’s a start I think we can build on in the years to come. I am excited to continue this journey with you as even deeper partners.”

Malerba, a lifetime chief of the Mohegan Tribe, will be the first Indigenous person to serve as U.S. Treasurer and the first Indigenous woman to sign U.S. currency. A Cherokee Nation citizen, Houston Benge Teepee, served as Register of the Treasury from 1915-1919 and signed U.S. notes along with the U.S. Treasurer. READ MORE Vi Waln, special to ICT

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Mohegan citizen to become the US Treasurer

In this Wednesday edition of the ICT Newscast, President Biden has appointed a Native woman as the next US Treasurer. We’ll introduce you to the newest member of the ICT newscast team, and a history lesson from a Yakama elder.

Watch:

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing Wednesday afternoon to discuss the findings of a recent report on federal Indian boarding schools and legislative proposals stemming from the report.

The hearing included testimony from Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, tribal leaders and experts, who talked about the report’s findings and how to address the needs of Indigenous communities affected by the boarding school era.

Wednesday’s hearing followed a May 11 release of a report from the Department of the Interior on the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, which detailed hundreds of deaths and the abusive and harsh conditions Indigenous children faced at more than 400 schools across the U.S. and its territories from 1819 to 1969.

The report so far has resulted in proposed legislation, which the committee will discuss on Wednesday, to establish a federal “Truth and Healing Commission” to further investigate the boarding school era and its effects.

A House of Representatives subcommittee held a similar hearing on the report after its release in May.

A recording of the meeting can be viewed here. – Chris Aadland, ICT

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From the Cherokee Nation:

From the Native Organizers Alliance:

A thread from ICT’s Pauly Denetclaw on today’s Senate boarding school report hearing:

Other top stories:

  • GLOBAL INDIGENOUS: university repatriates sacred Warlpiri object, a retired priest is charged decades after residential school assault and more.
  • Despite the Supreme Court already weighing in, tempers flared at NCAI’s mid-year convention over the definition of tribes and Alaska Native corporations.
  • A group of investors is asking the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to consider effects to Indigenous people when it begins enforcing rules on climate change.
  • This year’s Bush Fellowship class includes six Indigenous peopleThe two dozen recipients of the $100,000 grant will spend the next one to two years pursuing education or other learning experiences to help them reach their goals of fostering large-scale change in their communities.

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. dalton@ictnews.org.

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