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As voting-rights advocates in Indian Country look to boost Indigenous representation in politics, some say redrawn political maps in Oregon will dilute the power of many Native American voters to elect the candidates who best understand their communities.

At issue is how the state legislative maps, finalized in late September, were drawn for some Oregon tribal communities. Tribal advocates who submitted maps or worked to increase engagement with the process in Indian Country say the new districts will make it nearly impossible to elect candidates representative of those communities at a time when voter-engagement efforts were beginning to make that a possibility.

In Washington, the redistricting commission revised some maps after its initial proposals prompted pushback from tribes and voting-rights advocates.

The criticism comes as groups in Indian Country have been trying to ensure that the nationwide redistricting effort leads to voting districts that are more fairly constructed or allow Indigenous voters more power in electing candidates they believe will best represent them. Redistricting happens only once every 10 years following a U.S. Census effort. READ MORE. Chris Aadland, Indian Country Today and Underscore.news

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GENOA, Neb. — Researchers say they have uncovered the names of 102 Native American students who died at a federally operated boarding school in Nebraska.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the discovery comes as ground-penetrating radar has been used in recent weeks to search for a cemetery once used by the school that operated in Genoa from 1884 to 1934. So far, no graves have been found.

The Genoa school was one of the largest in a system of 25 federally run boarding schools for Native Americans. The dark history of abuses at the schools is now the subject of a nationwide investigation.

Margaret Jacobs, co-director of the Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project, said some of the names identified so far might be duplicates, but the true death toll is likely much higher.

Jacobs said that many of the children died of diseases including tuberculosis. Some other deaths such as a drowning were reported by newspapers at the time.

When the school closed, documents were either destroyed or scattered across the country. Locating them has proved challenging for both the Genoa project and others working to gather information on the schools.

Many of the names linked to Genoa were found in newspaper archives, including the school’s student newspapers, said Jacobs, who also is a history professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. — The Associated Press

The National Native American Hall of Fame welcomed its 2021 inductees with a ceremony earlier this month in Oklahoma City.

Joy Harjo inside the Library of Congress building. (Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress)

Poet Joy Harjo and noted military nurse Marcella LeBeau were among the eight to be inducted.

The event was held at the First Americans Museum.

To see the full list, click here.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A new National Park Service grant will help Mississippi State University assess human remains found at a historically significant late prehistoric Native American mound near campus and return them to their descendants.

The $90,000 grant is part of a larger $1.9 million in federal funds dispersed by the National Park Service through 11 grants across the U.S. supporting the transportation and return of cultural items.

Since 1990, federal law has required that institutions like museums and schools that receive federal funding return human remains, funerary objects and other sacred items to their Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian descendants.

Located in the Black Prairie region of northeastern Oktibbeha County, Lyon’s Bluff is a large Native American mound and village complex a few miles from Mississippi State University.

Throughout the process, the university team will consult with all Native American nations who have cultural and historical connections to Mississippi, said Shawn Lambert, principal investigator and an assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures.

Lambert said the process will strengthen tribal collaboration and develop a better understanding of Mississippi’s cultural heritage.

Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures faculty member Anna Osterholtz said students will be able to see the process unfold from start to finish and “experience the benefits of ethical cooperation.” — The Associated Press

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Lee Francis IV shares Indigenous representation and imagination through comic books. Plus, an update on seven Alaskans stranded at the Yukon River.

Watch here:

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Two University of Kansas students have been charged with stealing part of a Native American art exhibit that also was vandalized while displayed outside a campus museum.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Samuel McKnight and John Wichlenski were charged Wednesday in Douglas County District Court with theft of property of a value of at least $1,500 but less than $25,000.

The exhibit, titled “Native Hosts,” by artist Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, is installed outside the Spencer Museum of Art.

It consists of five aluminum signs that name Native tribes who historically or currently inhabit the region now called Kansas. On each sign, the colonial name is printed backward while the name of the land’s original occupants is printed forward.

Charging documents filed against McKnight and Wichlenski say the artwork heist happened around Sept. 29. The stolen panel was recovered the next day, officials said previously. — The Associated Press

SHIPROCK, N.M. — A body found Friday in a Shiprock canal is that of a man who disappeared after being detained by police while highly intoxicated over two weeks earlier, the Navajo Nation Police Department said.

Jevon Descheenie, 21, disappeared Oct. 25 after being seated on the rear step of a transport van outside the police station in Shiprock while the officer who had detained Descheenie went to a nearby police vehicle to get gloves to clean up that vehicle’s passenger compartment where Descheenie had vomited, a police statement said.

“When the officer returned to the rear of the transport van, Descheenie was gone,” the statement said.

Police notified Descheenie’s relatives and searched the area but could not find him, the statement said.

It said Descheenie was handcuffed behind his back when he disappeared but didn’t say whether he was still wearing them when found. It also wasn’t clear whether there was any indication how Descheenie died or how long his body was in the canal.

Tribal police spokeswoman Christina Tsosie said Saturday the incident was under investigation by the FBI so she could provide additional information.

FBI spokespeople did not immediately respond to an emailed request for additional information. — The Associated Press

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RAPID CITY, South Dakota — On the far western reaches of Rapid City, South Dakota, lies a small, hardscrabble hill with poor, shallow soil and a deep and troubled history. A century ago, the United States operated an Indian boarding school nearby and, recently, researchers identified the hill as the final resting site for some Indigenous students who died at the school and were buried in unmarked graves.

A community-led effort to build a proper and respectful monument to the students got a major boost Monday, Nov. 15, when it received a $100,000 donation from a national organization, Monument Lab, that is working to reimagine public monuments in the country.

“This is great news,” said Raine Nez, Sicangu Lakota, who is a member of the Remembering the Children organization in Rapid City. “This support from Monument Lab moves us closer to the day we can finally honor these ancestors who may have thought they were forgotten.”

The Remembering the Children memorial would be the first large-scale installation in the country honoring students who died at Indian boarding schools. READ MORE.Stewart Huntington, special to Indian Country Today

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