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LOWER LAFITTE, Louisiana — The blades of grass are just beginning to push through the thick, marsh mud in Russell Rodriguez’s yard as the mid-October sun beats down on southeastern Louisiana.

A bald eagle soars high above the tall trees. Morning rays glimmer off the rippling waters of nearby Barataria Bayou as it pushes toward the Gulf of Mexico.

It would be idyllic if not for the widespread destruction.

Homes are wrecked, pushed off their pylons and shattered. Fishing boats are upended onto dry land. Coffins washed out of local cemeteries sit cracked open, the bones inside still waiting to be claimed.

It’s more than Rodriguez can take. After decades in lower Lafitte about 65 miles south of New Orleans, he and his wife are leaving their home and their neighbors of the United Houma Nation for higher ground.

August "Cocoa" Creppel, chief of the United Houma Nation in Louisiana, stands near family graves at a historic cemetery built around Houma burial mounds in the town of Jean Lafitte on the banks of Barataria Bayou. The tribe has a long history in southern Louisiana but the devastation caused by climate change is driving some tribal citizens out of their homelands. (Photo by Dianna Hunt/Indian Country Today)

Rodriguez is among tens of thousands of tribal citizens across Indian Country forced to choose between staying in their ancestral lands or moving out to protect themselves from the devastation wreaked by climate change.

Indigenous peoples along coastal areas and waterways across the United States from Alaska to Florida and California to Maine are facing floods, rising sea levels, coastal erosion and increasingly powerful hurricanes. Those in the Southwest and Plains have been hit with unprecedented drought, wildfires, heat, lowered water tables and depleted waterways. They’re all facing loss of habitat and a reduction in traditional food sources for people, livestock and wildlife... READ MORE.Dianna Hunt, Joaqlin Estus and Richard Arlin Walker, Indian Country Today

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This week’s column starts off with some great strides by two Indigenous women in Australia and New Zealand, but tensions continue in Canada, Paraguay and Ecuador.

Coverage around the world on Indigenous issues for Oct. 18-24, 2021. READ MORE.Deusdedit Ruhangariyo, special to Indian Country Today

The dates are finally set. All 574 federally recognized tribal nations will have the chance to take part in the White House Tribal Nations Summit in November.

On Nov. 15 and Nov. 16, tribal leaders will chat with the White House on key issues, policies, and goals for Indian Country.

It will commence virtually after extending it from its original date in October. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in April that officials hoped it would be an in-person gathering, if the pandemic eased at the end of the year. READ MORE. — Kalle Benallie, Indian Country Today

Tribal leaders and Native voting rights advocates testified Wednesday in a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing.

To watch a replay of the five-person panel, click here.

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MISSION, South Dakota – “Anpetu wasté.” The senators and representatives heard these words from one end of the state to the other during six field hearings in October. The Lakota phrase for “good day” prefaced testimony from Native constituents engaged in a quest to attain elections fair to the Northern Great Plains’ largest minority population.

At a powwow on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation, Native voting rights advocates promoted participation in redistricting. (Photo by Buffalo's Fire)

American Indians, who make up that demographic in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana, summoned 20 years of voter rights organizing to defend historic gains during the 2021 legislative district remapping exercise. Native elected leaders and community advocates locked step to crash barriers obstructing tribal representation in state and federal contests... READ MORE. — Talli Nauman, Buffalo’s Fire Contributing Editor

IllumiNative has awarded 13 $30,000 grants to Native community organizations.

The award is part of the nonprofit's second phase of "For The Love of Our People" campaign to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

The funds will support key initiatives and events and allow the organizations to market, incentivize, and promote vaccinations within their community; they are allocated to the following:

The grant winners:

Protect the Sacred
Pawnee Nation
Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa
American Indian Child Resource Center
Native Peoples Action
Native American Community Development Institute
Sacred Pipe Resource Center
Wotakuye Mutual Aid Society
Fort Belknap Tribe
Indian Family Health Clinic
The Stronghold Cultural Response
Notah Begay Foundation
Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center

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The American Indian College Fund and the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition will award 20 scholarships of $3,000 each to descendants of boarding school survivors.

"The scholarship is designed to acknowledge the experiences of boarding school survivors and to allow families to come together and heal," read a news release.

Details about the scholarship can be found here.

Donny Belcourt’s resume speaks for itself.

Belcourt, Chippewa Cree Tribe from Rocky Boy’s in northern Montana, was one of the 13 athletes and two champion teams to be inducted in the Montana Indian Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 9 in Missoula, Montana.

Donny Belcourt, Chippewa/Cree, was one of the inductees at the 2020 Montana Indian Athletic Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy of Jo Belcourt)]

The hall of fame shines on top Native athletes in sports and powwows. The late Blackfeet Nation Honorary Lifetime Chief Earl Old Person was also inducted as a powwow announcer. He passed away less than a week later.

Belcourt was a member of the 1983 state champion cross country team and a Montana state champion Golden Gloves boxer in the 112 pound division.

He attended Billings Senior High School from 1981-1983, Haskell Indian Junior College from 1983-1985, and Oklahoma State University from 1985-1988... READ MORE.Dan Ninham, special to Indian Country Today

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. Email dwalker@indiancountrytoday.com.

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