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“Let it exist forever, Ch’u tleix áwé kugaagastee."

The Tlingit phrase serves as a uniting motto for a partnership between environmental scientists, park rangers, hunters, former timber harvesters and tribal council members in Southeast Alaska. 10 years ago, these groups may have been at odds. But today, they are harnessing a combination of Indigenous knowledge and local input to improve the region’s forest management.

It’s only the beginning for these types of community-based programs.

The Alaska Native Regional corporation Sealaska and the non-profit The Nature Conservancy recently donated $20 million to the newly established Seacoast Trust, a fund which will support Southeast Alaska projects like the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership mentioned above. Financial oversight will be conducted by Spruce Root, a Juneau-based non-profit.

The fund aims to promote a new type of conservation — one based on trust and relationships, and centers Indigenous-led stewardship... READ more. — Meghan Sullivan, Indian Country Today


The Supreme Court of the United States will hear two new cases involving federal Indian law.

On Monday, the high court said it will hear the case: Denezpi versus the United States — and another: Ysleta del Sur Pueblo versus Texas.

Denezpi versus Texas comes from a Navajo citizen, Merle Denezpi, who pleaded guilty in the Court of Indian Offenses to an assault charge in 2017.

FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo the Supreme Court is seen in Washington. With abortion and guns already on the agenda, the conservative-dominated Supreme Court is considering adding a third blockbuster issue _ whether to ban consideration of race in college admissions. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Six months later, a federal grand jury in Colorado indicted Denezpi on another assault charge based on the same event. He was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Denezpi is now contending that because he was prosecuted in two courts, he is at risk to the constitution’s “double jeopardy” clause.

The double jeopardy clause says that no person can be prosecuted twice for the same crime.

The Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether the Court of Indian offenses constitutes a federal agency — which would have barred Denezpi’s second prosecution from happening.

The second case, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo versus Texas, involves the regulation of gaming on tribal land and the role of the state government.

The justices will likely hear the oral arguments for these cases next year and can expect a decision by the summer. — Indian Country Today

Seven tribes and three tribal organizations were awarded a grant to support an expansion of the Community Health Aide Program.

Three tribes in Oklahoma, two tribes in California, One tribe in Arizona and one in North Dakota will each receive $669,000. Tribal organizations in Oregon, Montana and Washington will each receive $1 million.

“The Community Health Aide Program is vital to rural and remote communities across Indian Country as the need for access to care in primary, dental, and behavioral health increases,” said IHS Acting Director Elizabeth Fowler in a statement.

To see the list of award winners, click here.

A tireless advocate for the advancement of the Blackfeet people and the preservation of cultural traditions, Blackfeet Nation Honorary Lifetime Chief Earl Old Person has died.

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At 92 years old, he was the longest-serving elected tribal official in America. The tribe announced on Wednesday evening that Old Person died at the Blackfeet Community Hospital after a long battle with cancer.

Blackfeet Nation Chief, Earl Old Person, gives Pearl Jam bassist and Big Sandy native, Jeff Ament, a traditional Blackfeet name for his contribution of a skate park to the community of Browning on June 25, 2015. (Photo by Great Falls Tribune)

Old Person held valuable cultural knowledge and embodied Blackfeet leadership and tradition. With his passing, the Blackfeet Nation said they "have suffered a huge loss."

"A chapter of our history has come to a close," the tribe announced... READ more. — Nora Mabie, Great Falls Tribune

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In May of this year, Chief Seattle Club named Derrick Belgarde as its executive director. An enrolled citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, Belgarde is uniquely positioned to lead the organization, a human service agency in King County that provides basic needs for the American Indian and Alaska Native community, many of whom are experiencing homelessness.

Derrick Belgarde, an enrolled citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, was named the executive director of Chief Seattle Club in May 2021. Belgarde was previously a member of the club, a human service agency in King County that provides basic needs for the American Indian and Alaska Native community, many of whom are experiencing homelessness. (Photo courtesy of The Bellingham Herald)

With a master’s in Public Administration from Seattle University, Belgarde is armed with more than the training and knowledge from his education and work at similar programs. In May of 2009, twelve years before his new position was announced, Belgarde walked into the Chief Seattle Club to get the help that would change his life.

“They asked me, ‘Are you ready? Right now?’ I was half-drunk and hungover, but I said yes and they went with me on the light rail to Thunderbird,” he said... READ more. Natasha Brennan, McClatchy Northwest

The Interior Department will host five listening sessions and invite public comment on barriers in participating in recreational opportunities.

The sessions will take place Tuesday through Oct. 27.

Participants are requested to consider the following topics:

  • What are the barriers to visiting public lands and waters managed by the Interior, including the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
  • How can Interior remove or reduce barriers, for updating policies, practices, or programs that underserved communities and individuals may face when they recreate or attempt to recreate on Interior-managed lands and waters?
  • How can Interior establish and maintain connections to a wider and more diverse set of stakeholders representing underserved communities? What are the best ways to notify and engage underserved stakeholders about recreational opportunities?

To register and for meeting information, click here.


#ICYMI: Top 10 Indian Country stories

Top 10 - October 16, 2021

What you, our Indian Country Today readers, read most. Each week, we list our most-read articles.

  1. Celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day
  2. State renames park at request of Yurok Tribe
  3. St. Mary's Mission: ‘This place is the Devil’

For the full list, click here.

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