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‘Metrics of economic well-being’ show Native Americans underserved

A new report by the U.S. Congress explores “persistent structural barriers” that limit economic opportunity in Indigenous communities.

“Across metrics of economic well-being, Native Americans are disproportionately underserved, economically vulnerable and limited in their access pathways to building wealth,” according to a report by the Joint Economic Committee, a body that includes both members of the U.S. Senate and House.

“These long standing inequities have left Native communities much more vulnerable than their counterparts to the negative impact of economic shocks and public health crises.”

The report, “Native American Communities Continue to Face Barriers to Opportunity that Stifle Economic Mobility,” was released Friday morning.

The report “puts a lot of the socio-economic conditions of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, in perspective,” said Randall Akee, one of the authors of the report and an associate professor at the University of California Los Angeles. Akee is Native Hawaiian. “And it really does a great job of summarizing a number of different outcomes, a number of different domains, and puts it into a language that's digestible and understandable for, you know, a broad swath of the population so that it's not … caught up in jargonistic-type terms.” READ MORE. — Mark Trahant, Indian Country Today

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A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a judge's ruling overturning a federal agency's approval of Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc.'s plan for a new open-pit copper mine in southeastern Arizona.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the U.S. Forest Service's approval of a permit for the Rosemont Mine project in a valley on the eastern flank of the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson went beyond what is allowed under a federal mining law.

The appellate court cited the planned use of Coronado National Forest land for long-term storage of waste rock, not actual mining, and the lack of valuable minerals on that property.

Hudbay Minerals officials said in a statement Thursday they were reviewing the ruling and would continue to pursue alternative plans for mining part of the Rosemont copper deposit on nearby private lands.

A coalition of environmental and tribal groups challenging the mining hailed the appellate court's decision, the latest in a series of legal obstacles to the project.

"This momentous decision makes it clear that Hudbay's plan to destroy the beautiful Rosemont Valley is not only a terrible idea, it's illegal," said Allison Melton, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Hudbay has another mine project in the works on the western flank of the Santa Ritas. — Associated Press

The Chugach mountains frame Anchorage’s skyline, full of the city’s tallest buildings. Stamped on these corporate buildings: Doyon, Ahtna, Calista, Afognak. All names of Alaska’s Indigenous languages.

The unique buildings belong to the Alaska Native corporations, companies formed in 1971 by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, a complex legislation which permanently changed the state’s legal landscape.

ANCSA’s primary aim was to settle Alaska’s Indigenous land claims. Along the way, it also established 12 corporations that oversaw more than 44 million acres of Alaska Native land. Alaska Natives became the shareholders and executives for the companies, typically enrolling in the one that corresponded to their cultural and geographic background on their ancestral homelands. In addition to portions of their communities’ ancestral lands, the Alaska Native corporations were given approximately $1 billion, and instructed to use the resources to look after the economic, social, and cultural well-being of their people.

Today, these corporations are some of the leading drivers of the Alaskan economy. READ MORE. — Meghan Sullivan, Indian Country Today

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska Senate passed legislation Friday to formally recognize tribes in Alaska, which supporters said was an overdue step that would create opportunities for the state and tribes to work together.

The measure passed 15-0 and will return to the House, which passed a similar version last year. If the House agrees to the Senate version, the bill will go to the governor. If the bill is enacted, its passage would likely bump from this year’s ballot a similar tribal recognition initiative. Initiatives that qualify for the ballot can be bumped if the Legislature passes substantially similar legislation first.

The group behind the initiative, Alaskans for Better Government, said its goal is to “secure State recognition of Alaska’s federally-recognized Tribes, regardless of whether this is accomplished via the legislature or the ballot box.”

Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, a Bethel Democrat, sponsored the bill, HB123.

In a statement that accompanied the measure, she said it “serves as a first step, formalizing in statute that the State of Alaska will no longer deny Tribes’ existence. This provides not only a first step towards stronger relationships between Alaska and its tribes, but also a roadmap for healing, wholeness, and restoration of all Alaska’s people and communities.” — Associated Press 

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis, who has been using a wheelchair because of a bad knee, is going ahead with plans to visit Canada this summer so he can apologize in person for abuse suffered by Indigenous people at the hands of the Catholic church.

The Vatican on Friday announced that Francis will head to Canada on July 24 and visit Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit, a small town in that country's far north. About half the population of Iqaluit is Inuit. The pope leaves Canada on July 29, arriving the next day in Rome.

Last month, Francis made a historic apology for abuses in Canada’s church-run residential schools and expressed “sorrow and shame” for the lack of respect for Indigenous identities, culture and spiritual values.

He said then that he wanted to go to Canada to deliver the apology personally to survivors of misguided Catholic missionary zeal.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis was “accepting the invitation of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities and the Indigenous communities” in making what the Holy See termed an “apostolic journey.” READ MORE. — Associated Press

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