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Two Indigenous women will represent not only their home states but also their tribal communities at the Miss America and Miss USA pageants in coming weeks.

Miss North Dakota USA SaNoah LaRocque, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, will step into the spotlight first at the Miss USA pageant on Monday, Oct. 3, at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada.

Rachel Evangelisto – the first Indigenous woman ever named as Miss Minnesota – will compete in the Miss America pageant in December at the Mohegan Sun, which is owned and operated by the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut. A final date has not yet been set for the pageant.

“My two biggest goals for Miss America is to … have a blast and … make Turtle Island proud,” Evangelisto, Standing Rock Sioux, told ICT in an email. “It’s with immense gratitude that I get to shine a light on Indian Country as a whole and I really just want to make my people proud.”

LaRocque, too, knows the spotlight will be on them.

“As Native people, we are not just individuals but members of a larger community by which we must do well,” she said. READ MORE — Dan Ninham, Special to ICT


Leonard Peltier’s name has become a story that reflects other stories. One narrative describes Peltier as America’s longest political prisoner, serving more than 46 years in a federal maximum security prison. In that telling, Peltier has become a humanitarian and a 78-year-old Turtle Mountain elder who has been incarcerated for far too long.

There is a long list of people, tribes and organizations that have called for Peltier’s freedom. The former prosecutor in the case. Members of Congress. Amnesty International USA. Pope John Francis. The Dalai Lama. The National Congress of American Indians. Dozens of tribal nations, including Peltier’s own tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. And, as of this month, the Democratic National Committee.

That’s one version. A contrary account casts Peltier as the lead character for the crimes committed by the American Indian Movement during the Wounded Knee era, including internal community violence, and he is described as a remorseless murderer.

That last story is still promoted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on its website. But Peltier is not in prison for murder. The government could not justify a murder case, so it switched gears and today Leonard Peltier is Inmate #89637-132 serving at the United States Penitentiary, Coleman, in central Florida, on charges of “aiding and abetting” the murder of federal officers, plus a seven-year sentence for an escape attempt. READ MORE — Mark Trahant, ICT

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Colorado and three other Upper Colorado River Basin states have, for the first time in history, embarked on a series of formal meetings to find a way to negotiate jointly with some of the largest owners of Colorado River water rights: tribal communities.

The states, which include New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, began meeting with six tribes several weeks ago, according to Rebecca Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board who also represents Colorado on the Upper Colorado River Basin Commission.

The tribes are the Jicarilla Apache Nation in New Mexico, the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Paiute Tribe in Utah, as well as Colorado’s Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, based in Towaoc, and Southern Ute Indian Tribe, whose lands lie in and around Ignacio.

“We have four Upper Basin states and the six Upper Basin tribes, 10 sovereigns, in the room together saying that the table that is set is not the table that works for all, and we are going to create our own table. They are really focused on solutions and being part of the burden and part of the success,” Mitchell said.

The six tribes are among 30 tribal communities in the seven-state Colorado River Basin, which, combined, have paper water rights to roughly 25 percent to 30 percent of the river’s flows, more than 3.2 million acre-feet of water. READ MOREFresh Water News

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Long before the misty peaks along the Tennessee-North Carolina border were called the Great Smoky Mountains, the tallest of them was known not as Clingmans Dome but as Kuwohi.

In Cherokee, it means “the mulberry place.”

On July 14, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council in Cherokee, North Carolina, unanimously passed a resolution proposing the original Cherokee name for the mountain just over the North Carolina state line be restored. The effort is gaining momentum with support from surrounding governments.

For the Eastern Band, the mountain is culturally, historically and spiritually important, and the name Kuwohi goes back thousands of years, according to tribal citizen Lavita Hill, who with fellow tribal citizen Mary “Missy” Crowe drafted the resolution passed by the tribal council. Hill works as a treasury specialist for the tribe in Cherokee.

"Cherokee people have occupied these mountains for well over 10,000 years,” Hill said Thursday in an email. “For over 10,000 years, Cherokee people called the mountain Kuwohi.” READ MOREChattanooga Times Free Press


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