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Alaska’s ranked-choice system could boost Indigenous voting

Alaska’s move to a ranked-choice voting system starting with the 2022 elections will give voters a stronger voice in final election decisions and could shift the power base from partisan fringes to moderate voters.

The new balloting system will eliminate partisan primary elections, boosting the chances for middle-of-the-road candidates such as Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican who has faced challenges from the right wing of her party.

“More choice, more voice, and more power to voters,” according to a statement by the nonprofit Alaskans for Better Elections on its website.

“Our new ‘Alaska Style Elections’ will change how we elect our leaders and can encourage politicians – regardless of party – to work together on solutions that represent the will of the people,” the organization stated. “After all, elections are for voters, not politicians.”

Tribal leaders in Alaska said the new system could increase participation among Indigenous voters by making them more aware of the process. Tribes are working with the state to help spread the word about ranked-choice voting and how it will work… READ more.

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Health professionals declare Line 3 a public health crisis

Health professionals and Indigenous activists held a day of solidarity in St. Paul, Minnesota, and other U.S cities on Aug. 17 calling for an end to the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 project.

They describe shutting down Line 3 as a critical health protective measure. In St. Paul, a delegation of health professionals delivered a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office calling on the Biden administration to revoke permits for Line 3.

Indigenous water protectors and health professionals gather at Mears Park in St. Paul, Minnesota on Aug. 17, 2021, calling for end of Enbridge Line 3 construction. (Photo courtesy Chris Trinh / Indigenous Environmental Network)

Authored by members of Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate, the letter cited the United Nations recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report declaring climate change as a health crisis, noting that burning tar sands oil to be carried by Line 3 would exacerbate the problem... READ more.

Montana communities evacuate as wind push wildfire

FORT BELKNAP, Mont. (AP) — Authorities ordered evacuations on Tuesday among remote communities in north-central Montana as strong winds propelled a large wildfire toward inhabited areas.

A mandatory evacuation covered the former mining town of Zortman, which has about two dozen people, and the Pine Grove area on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, according to tribal officials.

Law enforcement officers planned to go door-to-door asking residents to leave, the Phillips County Sheriff’s office said on social media. Evacuees were told to go to the old National Guard Armory in Malta, about 45 miles away.

The evacuations came as the Pine Grove Fire northeast of Hays burned across 31 square miles of timber and short grass by Tuesday afternoon. The fire was first reported Monday… READ more.

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California measure to make Native American Day a paid holiday

Native American Day in California is one signature away from becoming a reality.

This week, the state Senate unanimously approved the measure that grants judicial employees a paid holiday on California Native American Day.

Assemblymember James C. Ramos, Serrana and Cahuilla tribe, has been pushing for the law for more than 20 years.

If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the bill, California Native American Day will be celebrated on the fourth Friday in September.

National Park Service awards grants to Indigenous communities

The National Park Service has awarded $569,086 in grants for 12 preservation projects to support the protection of Indigenous cultures.

“Through these competitive grants, the NPS is able to work with American Indian Tribes, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities to help preserve their cultural heritage and connect people with traditions of the past," said NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge in a statement.

For a list of grant awardees, click here.

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#ICYMI Family traditions drive 'Chickaloonies' comic

Dimi Macheras’ love of storytelling is rooted in his Chickaloon family traditions.

His grandmother, who was a respected elder and clan grandmother of the Chickaloon Tribe, told traditional Ahtna Athabascan Ya Ne Dah Ah stories to him and his cousins in Alaska when they were children. He never forgot them.

“She would tell these stories using different voices and act out the characters and their movements using her hands,” said Macheras, a citizen of the Chickaloon Tribe who now lives in Seattle... READ more.

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