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The last official statement by Queen Elizabeth II was to offer condolences to the families of the 10 people who died during the horrific mass killings on the James Smith Cree Nation.

“I would like to extend my condolences to those who have lost loved ones in the attacks that occurred this past weekend in Saskatchewan,” she wrote in a letter delivered to community leaders.

“My thoughts and prayers are with those recovering from injuries, and grieving such horrific losses. I mourn with all Canadians at this tragic time.”

She would be gone the following day.

One of the first Indigenous leaders to acknowledge the monarch’s passing was Okimaw (Chief) Wally Burns of the James Smith Cree Nation.

“Today, we found out the monarch that served Canada has passed,” Burns said at the community’s first press conference after the stabbing rampage on Sunday, Sept. 4.

“She wrote a letter to James Smith Cree Nation on behalf of the monarchy, expressing the condolences to the families, the friends, to the community and to the rest of the world.” READ MORE — Miles Morrisseau, ICT

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The Connecticut Sun of the WNBA are trying to win the organization’s first championship but the team already has a historic first under its belt.

In the late ‘90s, the Mohegan Tribe bought the then Orlando Miracle and became the first tribe to own a professional sports team. The team was later renamed the Connecticut Sun and relocated to Connecticut.

Mohegan Chairman James Gessner said the tribe is very proud to be the first to own a professional sports team.

“We see the Sun as a way to share and amplify our culture and tradition, part of our broader efforts to continually raise the voice of indigenous and diverse peoples,” Gessner said in an email to ICT. “Sports have always been a way to bring people and communities together, and we are humbled to serve as a unifying force for the fans, our tribe, our community, and the State of Connecticut.”

The team name and logo “comes from its affiliation with Mohegan Sun and the logo -- a fiery orange sunburst, a WNBA basketball and a blue ribbon with four white semicircular domes -- is a modern interpretation of an ancient Mohegan symbol,” according to the tribe’s website. READ MOREKolby KickingWoman, ICT

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Thursday plans to release $9 million in rental assistance for Native American veterans, focusing on providing services to those experiencing or at-risk of experiencing homelessness.

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The program is expected to filter the assistance and services through 28 Tribal HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing across the country.

“HUD is committed to serving Native American Veterans by ensuring that they have access to safe, stable, and affordable homes and quality supportive services,” Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said.

The Tribal HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program combines housing services through HUD with clinical services through the VA.

Eligible recipients for the assistance are tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities that had previously received money under the rental assistance and supportive housing demonstration program for Native American veterans in 2015.

“With these funds, tribal communities can help meet the housing needs of hundreds of Native American veterans who deserve our unwavering gratitude and support,” Fudge said. READ MORE Carina Dominguez, ICT

The Department of the Interior, Agriculture, Education and Health and Human Services announced on Friday that the Native Languages Summit will be held on Oct. 4 in Oklahoma City.

The Bureau of Indian Education will host the “Speaking Sovereignty Summit” to support Indigenous communities that are seeking to protect, revitalize and reclaim Indigenous languages. Many of the languages were threatened from assimilationist policies and federal Indian boarding schools. 

“The cornerstone of any culture or community is its language – is how oral histories are passed down, knowledge is shared, and bonds are formed. As part of our commitment to strengthening and supporting Indigenous communities, the Biden-Harris administration is resolute in its efforts to ensuring Native languages are preserved and protected,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said. “The department is proud to help lead this interagency effort to encourage programs and projects to include instruction in and use of Native languages.”

Topics that will be addressed include: mentoring and developing teachers, amplifying family and community engagement, and honoring Native people for their contribution to Native languages within Indigenous communities.

The summit is free and may be attended in-person or virtually. Registration is here.

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ICT’s Indigenous A&E column this week tells of a new exhibit about Cherokee Freedmen, a graphic novel about the Chilocco boarding school and an Indigenous musician who is back on the road. READ MORESandra Hale Schulman, Special to ICT

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