Skip to main content

Boozhoo, relatives. 

A lot of news out there. Thanks for stopping by ICT’s digital platform.

Each day we do our best to gather the latest news for you. Remember to scroll to the bottom to see what’s popping out to us on social media and what we’re reading.

Also, if you like our daily digest, sign up for The Weekly, our newsletter emailed to you on Thursdays. If you like what we do and want us to keep going, support and donate here.

Okay, here's what you need to know today:

Holly Mititquq Nordlum’s face tattoo might not be what you think.

It is a series of lines, designed and inked by Greenlandic Inuk artist Maya Sialuk Jacobsen, on her chin. Two central lines, leading from the center of her bottom lip to her chin, are solid and flanked on both sides by pairs of dotted lines.

It is Nordlum’s first chin tattoo and the design is based on a similar tattoo that her great-grandmother had. The design is a traditional Inuit marking that Nordlum is now working to revive among her tribe. It has relevance, history and deep meaning, she said.

“Our ancestors are a part of us, and they guide us,” said Nordlum, Inuit. “There is a connection to something bigger. I am made up of energy created by the people that came before me. That’s why I make the decisions I make, and I do what I do. When I am making art, I am always looking at where I am, and being an Iñupiaq person on Dena’ina land, and how I balance that.”

Inuit tattooing, while nearly lost, is emerging as a reinvigorated cultural practice, thanks to work by artists like Nordlum.

The practice of Inuit tattooing helps to inform cultural understanding and provide more opportunities to reclaim a tradition.

During colonization and amid the establishment of harmful boarding schools in the 19th and 20th centuries, Indigenous people were once banned from practicing their cultural traditions, tattooing being one of them. More recent generations are looking for more opportunities to learn and share with fellow Inuit people the importance of this practice.

Nordlum said the artform is guided by the culture and history as well as contemporary practices.

“Inuit cultures, along with my ancestors, guide my work,” Nordlum said. “But I am most inspired by our lives today and the way we live in two worlds—one old and the modern urban life.”

Nordlum earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design and photography at the University of Alaska Anchorage and continues her education through a commitment to learning from Elders and fellow artists. READ MORE. — Richard Perry, ICT


LISTEN to ICT’s newscast on the go 

The U.S. Interior Department’s plan to withdraw hundreds of square miles in New Mexico from oil and gas production for the next 20 years is expected to result in only a few dozen wells not being drilled on federal land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park, according to an environmental assessment.

Land managers have scheduled two public meetings next week to take comments on the assessment made public Thursday.

The withdrawal plan was first outlined by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in 2021 in response to the concerns of Native American tribes in New Mexico and Arizona that development was going unchecked across a wide swath of northwestern New Mexico and that tribal officials did not have a seat at the table.

In addition to the proposed withdrawal, Haaland — who is from Laguna Pueblo and is the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency — also committed to taking a broader look at how federal land across the region can be better managed while taking into account environmental effects and cultural preservation.

Indigenous leaders and environmental groups reiterated this week that the broader look would be a more meaningful step toward permanent protections for cultural resources in the San Juan Basin.

The environmental assessment bolsters that argument since it notes that the proposed withdrawal would not affect existing leases and that much of the interest by the industry for future development already is under lease or falls outside the boundary of what would be withdrawn.

The Bureau of Land Management has estimated, based on 2018 data, that not quite 100 new oil and gas wells likely would be drilled over the next 20 years within the withdrawal area. It's estimated that less than half of those likely would not be drilled if the withdrawal were approved.

With only a few dozen wells expected in the area, natural gas production for the area would decrease by half of 1 percent and oil production could see a 2.5 percent reduction.

However, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association argued that even though the withdrawal would not affect leases on Navajo land or allotments owned by individual Navajos, those leases essentially become landlocked by taking federal mineral holdings off the board.

Navajo Nation officials have made similar arguments, saying millions of dollars in annual oil and gas revenues benefit the tribe and individual tribal members Some leaders have advocated for a smaller buffer around Chaco park to be protected due to the economic implications. READ MORE. — Associated Press

The Kansas State Board of Education on Thursday recommended that the state's public school districts eliminate Native American mascots and branding to reduce their harmful impacts on students.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

The board approved a motion making a “strong recommendation” that Kansas public K-12 nontribal schools retire Native American-themed mascots and branding as soon as possible but within the next three to five years at the latest.

Supporters stressed the board's action was only a recommendation and the final decision on mascots was left to local school boards, adding the decision would not impact districts' accreditation. They said the vote fits with the board's policies on discouraging bullying and encouraging equity, inclusion and justice for all students.

The intent of the motion, supporters said, was to prompt discussions about the racist aspects of the mascots and their negative impact on Native American students.

Board member Melanie Haas said the motion lays the groundwork for those conversations.

“There are districts that aren’t having these conversations, or that are having a hard time with those discussions," Haas said. "So when we take a leadership role at the state level and say this is something you should look at, I think that’s really important messaging that some of those districts need.”

Michelle Dombrosky, the only board member to oppose the motion, said it wasn't a state board issue. She suggested supporters should work to build relationships with local boards and school patrons to promote education about the mascots and branding, which could take several years.

The vote came after a report from an advisory group that included representatives from the four federally recognized tribes in Kansas — the Kickapoo, Sac & Fox, Iowa and Prairie Band Potawatomi.

The report said more than 10,000 American Indian/Alaska Native students attend public schools in Kansas. Studies have shown the racist connotations of Native American mascots harm the students' self esteem and limit how they see their futures, according to the report.

"These practices teach narrow-minded stereotypes that represent American Indians as exotic, warlike people who are stuck-in-the-past, making it difficult for people to understand how American Indians exist in contemporary ways,” the report said.

An exact number of Kansas schools that have Native American mascots was not provided. The Indian Leader, a newspaper at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, reported in 2020 that about 33 Kansas schools had mascots, such as Indians, Chieftans and Braves. READ MORE. — Associated Press

Sign up here to get ICT's newsletter 

The Supreme Court appeared likely Wednesday to leave in place most of a federal law that gives preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings of Native children.

The justices heard more than three hours of arguments in a broad challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act, enacted in 1978 to address concerns that Native children were being separated from their families and, too frequently, placed in non-Native homes.

It has long been championed by tribal leaders as a means of preserving their families, traditions and cultures. But white families seeking to adopt Native children are among the challengers who say the law is impermissibly based on race, and also prevents states from considering those children’s best interests.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh called the case difficult because the court is being called on to draw a line between tribal sovereignty and “the fundamental principle that we don't treat people differently because of race, ethnicity or ancestry.”

He was among conservative justices who expressed concern about at least one aspect of the law that gives preference to Native parents, even if they are of a different tribe than the child they are seeking to adopt or foster. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Amy Coney Barrett also raised questions about whether that provision looked more like a racial classification that the court might frown upon.

“To get to the heart of my concern about this, Congress couldn't give a preference for white families to adopt white children, Black families to adopt Black children, Latino families to adopt Latino children, Asian families to adopt Asian children,” Kavanaugh said.

But none of the non-Native families involved in the case has been affected by the preference the conservative justices objected to, Justice Department lawyer Edwin Kneedler told the court.

Even if there is a court majority to strike down that provision, the rest of the law could be kept in place, Ian Gershengorn, a lawyer for the Cherokee Nation, the Navajo Nation and other tribes said.

He urged the court to uphold the law “that has made such a meaningful difference to so many children.”

Representing the non-Native families, lawyer Matthew McGill called on the court to strike down the law because it “flouts the promise of equal justice under law.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch, a conservative who is a strong supporter of Native Americans' rights, and the court's three liberal justices seemed strongly inclined to uphold the law in its entirety.

“Congress understood these children's placement decisions as integral to the continued thriving of Indian communities,” said liberal Justice Elena Kagan. READ MORE. — Associated Press


What’s trending on social media: 

Other top stories:

  • Left out: Native rodeo group calls on officials to finally include Indigenous voices when planning annual Native rodeo in Arizona.
  • Museum repatriation: About 150 artifacts considered sacred by the Lakota Sioux peoples are being returned after being stored at a small Massachusetts museum for more than a century.
  • New monument: California and tribal officials gathered Monday to break ground on a statue of a well-known member of the Miwok tribe who worked to preserve the tribe’s culture.

What we’re reading:

We want your tips, but we also want your feedback. What should we be covering that we’re not? What are we getting wrong? Please let us know.