A lot of news out there. Thanks for stopping by Indian Country Today’s digital platform.
Each day we do our best to gather the latest news for you. This is our last Wrap of 2021. Have a happy holiday season.
Okay, here's what you need to know today:
A Massachusetts tribe’s long-disputed reservation was reaffirmed by the Biden administration on Wednesday.
The decision by the Interior confirmed the status of the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe’s Reservation, Tribe Chair Brian Weeden said in a written statement.
The decision means the tribe’s reservation has remained in federally protected trust status since the reservation land was first placed in trust in November, 2015.
“This is a momentous day for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, for indigenous communities across the country, and for defenders of justice,” Weeden said.
The decision follows a key victory for the tribe in February, when the Interior Department withdrew a Trump administration appeal that aimed to revoke federal reservation designation for the tribe’s land in Massachusetts. READ MORE. — The Associated Press
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The federal government is investigating the Nooksack Tribe of Washington for potential civil rights and other violations as the tribe proceeds with evicting more than 60 formerly enrolled citizens who had been among hundreds disenrolled.
The tribe is set to begin evictions on Dec. 28 of the 61 former tribal citizens and two of their children who are enrolled, who live in 21 federally funded homes on Nooksack tribal land. They are the last of a group of 306 who gained national attention when they were disenrolled from the tribe in 2018 and still lived on tribal lands.
The tribe says the former tribal citizens must vacate their homes because a tribal policy change in 2019 prohibited non-tribal citizens from living in tribal housing, and that the homes in question are needed for Nooksack citizens.
The group’s lawyer, Gabe Galanda, still contests the legitimacy of the disenrollments. READ MORE. Chris Aadland, Underscore.news and Indian Country Today
Attorneys for a Louisiana oil and gas company have asked a federal judge to reinstate a drilling lease it held on land considered sacred to tribes in the U.S. and Canada.
The long-disputed energy lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area near the Blackfeet Reservation was canceled in 2016 under then-U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. That decision was upheld by a federal appeals court last year.
But now Solenex LLC — the company that held the lease — is making another run at getting a court to restore its drilling rights. In court documents filed Thursday, company attorneys argued that Jewell exceeded her authority and the lease should be reinstated.
The Badger-Two-Medicine area near Glacier National Park is the site of the creation story of the Blackfoot tribes of southern Canada and Montana’s Blackfeet Nation.
Interior Department spokesperson Tyler Cherry declined comment on the case. — The Associated Press
New Mexico’s largest electric provider is appealing a recent decision by state regulators to reject a proposal to transfer its shares in a coal-fired power plant that supplies customers in New Mexico and Arizona to a Navajo energy company.
The Public Regulation Commission voted earlier this month against the proposal, saying Public Service Co. of New Mexico didn’t specify how the lost power would be replaced. Commissioners also had concerns about investments that the utility sought to recover through bonds that would be paid back by customers.
PNM filed its notice of appeal with the New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday. — The Associated Press
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Today we welcome National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp and ICT’s Deputy Managing Editor Dalton Walker.
The new owners of the shuttered Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas want to rehire hundreds of former employees who lost their jobs when the property closed in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cynthia Kiser Murphey, general manager of the off-Strip property now owned by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, told Nevada casino regulators last week she hopes to bring back up to 600 of nearly 1,200 former workers when the off-Strip resort reopens in the spring. No date has been announced.
Kiser Murphey said the property was recruiting through community agencies, job fairs and an online portal that started Friday at palmscareers.com, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
Hard Rock Entertainment, owned by the Seminole Indian Tribe in Florida, announced last week it is buying operations at The Mirage from MGM Resorts International for nearly $1.1 billion. It plans a guitar-shaped hotel at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. — The Associated Press
Arizona state Sen. Jamescita Mae Peshlakai has resigned to take an Interior Department position in President Joe Biden’s administration.
Peshlakai, who was the state’s first Native woman senator, resigned midway through her third two-year term in the Senate. She previously served in the state House. Her district includes much of northern and eastern Arizona, including the Navajo Nation. — The Associated Press
It was a landmark year for Indian Country. Filled with trailblazers, innovators and firsts, the year's most popular stories also told stories of survival, resilience and loss.
Indian Country Today’s story with the highest readership was about the Shawnee tribes’ official return to the Great Serpent Mound in their homelands of Ohio. READ MORE. — Indian Country Today
- Miss Louisiana takes Choctaw roots to Miss USA: Tanya Crowe competed for the title just miles from where her family was relocated in the 1800s.
- GLOBAL INDIGENOUS: Encroachment, enlightenment and eating well: Coverage around the world on Indigenous issues for Dec. 13-19, 2021.
- Yaquis celebrate heritage, culture — and tamales: The Pascua Yaqui Tribe celebrates food and culture the first Saturday of December.
- Texas powwows bring massive Indigenous community together: 'A lot of people like me didn’t grow up in the traditions, but as we’ve gotten older, this is what we’ve chosen to do.'
- ‘A Tlingit Christmas Carol’: Looking at the holidays from an Alaska Native perspective.
- The Native American population increasing by 87 percent says more about whiteness than about demographics.
- Guest perspective: Free press, diversity and the digital age.
- Montana Native-owned businesses receive $320K in grants.
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