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Renata Yazzie remembers being around three and making up songs on the piano. One of them was about an elephant with cluster chords, which are at least three adjacent tones of a scale played at the same time.

“It kind of sounded like banging on the piano,” she said.

Her mom, a classically-trained pianist, would play and Yazzie would listen.

“We always had a piano in the house. My parents tell me that as soon as I could walk I was crawling up the stool and playing the piano,” she said.

She would try to learn how to play a song by ear and first learned “Joy to the World.”

Her mom enrolled her in piano lessons at four, which she would take for six years. She would shortly move to the Navajo Nation and wouldn’t take classes again until college.

Now, Yazzie is nearing her graduation day in May, receiving a graduate degree in music from the University of New Mexico with a focus on musicology and piano performance, perhaps becoming the first female Navajo citizen to achieve that. READ MORE Kalle Benallie, Indian Country Today


The Colorado River has been named the most endangered river in the United States.

The 1,450 miles long river is the sixth longest in the nation and passes through seven states in the Southwest; including providing water to 30 federally recognized tribes.

Daryl Vigil, Jicarilla Apache Nation, was on the "ICT Newscast with Aliyah Chavez" Tuesday and said drastic measures need to be taken now before it becomes too late.

“I think we're seeing you know that the current structure of governance that manages the law of the Colorado River is at collapse and it has been at collapse for a while in terms of water allocation,” Vigil said. “And if we don't take extreme measures in transforming the complete system, and include tribal sovereigns as a part of that process, you know, we're going to be in a real dangerous place in terms of the potential for not being able to deliver water to folks.”

Watch the full interview here.

HONOLULU, Hawai’i — In November a massive military fuel facility spilled 19,000 gallons of mixed water and fuel, and contaminated drinking water for 93,000 people near Honolulu.

The spill set off a cascade of other events, and now the people of Honolulu have been asked to cut their water use by 10 percent. Native Hawaiians are concerned about the long-term effects of the spill and some would like the military to leave Hawai’i.

The Red Hill Fuel Facility is made up of 20 fuel tanks each 100 feet in diameter, 250 feet tall, and capable of holding 12.5 million gallons, for a total of 250 million gallons. The tanks are situated just 100 feet above an aquifer. They’re lined with steel, encased in cement, and buried 100 feet inside a rock mountain.

That seems sturdy enough but the tanks were built and installed during World War II to refuel planes and ships serving the Pacific region, and critics say they were not well maintained. READ MOREJoaqlin Estus, Indian Country Today

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We meet a Seminole artist on Tuesday's ICT newscast. Her work is being displayed at Florida State University. Plus, the Jicarilla Apache Nation water administrator is breaking down a climate crisis. We also talk with the Osage News editor about new opportunities for Osage citizens.


Monday commenced the 126th Boston Marathon, returning to its traditional spring start for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and more than a dozen Indigenous people are running.

Kyle Sumatzkuku, Hopi, was the top Native runner who finished at 2 hours, 39 minutes and 17 seconds. His pace was 7 minutes and 43 seconds per mile for the 26.2-mile run. He finished eighteen minutes after the first woman to complete the race, and 33 minutes after the winner of the race.

He ran for the first time last year and said to Indian Country Today, “The Olympic team is a long and personal goal for me as I stay on the right path and just shoot for the stars.”

Indigenous runners have long participated in the Boston Marathon for over a century. In 1907 Thomas Longboat, Onondaga Nation, became the champion.

Ellison Myers "Tarzan" Brown, Narragansett, won the marathon in 1936 and 1939, breaking a world record. He later competed alongside Jesse Owens for the U.S. in Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

And Patti Dillon, citizen of the Mi’kmaq tribe, was a three-time runner up and made history in 1981 when she set a then-American record of 2:27:51. READ MOREKalle Benallie, Indian Country Today


  • Read the entire special report series, ‘At the Crossroads’ here

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