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'Rights of nature’ lawsuits hit a sweet spot

What is the “rights of nature” argument? ICT’s Mary Annette Pember explains in one of her latest articles how it ties to Enbridge.

UN climate change report could help bolster tribe’s claims against Enbridge Line 3

The report’s release created the perfect public moment to exert tribal sovereignty and advance the legal theory that nature itself, in this case wild rice, has the right to exist and flourish even in the face of the construction of a massive infrastructure transporting fossil fuel.

The argument recognizes that nature has rights just as human beings have rights; rather than treating nature as property under the law, rights of nature cases contend that nature, rivers, forests and ecosystems have the right to exist, flourish, maintain and regenerate their life cycles. Further, humans have a legal responsibility to enforce those rights… READ more.


Little justice for child sex abuse victims in Indian Country

The convicted child rapist emerged from the tree line without warning, walked quickly past the elders who feared him and entered the Navajo home, where his 15-year-old daughter was feeding her pet rabbits.

A short while later, the 6-foot-3-inch man known for being violent emerged with the girl, promising to return in half an hour. But that was a lie. Ozzy Watchman Sr. was kidnapping his daughter for the second time in six months.

Christine Benally watches her sheep in Little Water, N.M., on the Navajo Nation, on July 7, 2021. After receiving three declinations from the federal government, Benally tried to take her son’s case to the Navajo Nation court, but was told the statute of limitations had expired. (Rylee Kirk / Howard Center for Investigative Journalism)

Family members pleaded with tribal authorities to issue an Amber Alert, but it never came. Nearly two weeks passed before Watchman and his daughter were found on June 30 — not by Navajo police or the FBI, which has the investigative lead in such cases, but by a maintenance worker who encountered the two as they scavenged for food.

Child sexual abuse is among the worst scourges on Indigenous communities in North America, yet little hard data exists on the extent of the problem. Some researchers estimate it could be as high as one in every two children... READ more.

New legislation protects Native voting rights

In a year where state governments have introduced legislation seemingly making it more difficult for people of color to vote, companion bills have been introduced in Congress that will work to protect voting rights for Native communities.

The new legislation introduced Monday afternoon in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate will protect and ensure equal access to the polls for Native Americans, Alaska Natives and all who live on tribal lands.

Congressional Native American Caucus co-chairs Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, and Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, Chickasaw, introduced the Frank Harrison, Elizabeth Peratrovich, and Miguel Trujillo Native American Voting Rights Act of 2021 in the House.

Companion legislation was brought forward by Democratic New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Luján... READ more.

Coronavirus cases linked to tribal event

CRANDON, Wis. (AP) — Several tribes in Wisconsin are urging people to get a coronavirus test if they attended an American Indian event last weekend in Forest County.

The Potawatomi says at least two people who contracted COVID-19 attended the annual Meno Keno Ma Ge Wen Powwow in Carter Aug. 6-8.

Forest County Potawatomi Chairman Ned Daniels, Jr. says the community is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, so all large gatherings and events on the reservation will be postponed until Aug. 30 and all tribal employees will be working remotely until then, Wisconsin Public Radio reported... READ more.

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Who is Bearsun?

A California man, wearing a bear suit of his own creation, has captured the attention of Navajo Nation residents as his cross-country walk to heighten awareness and raise money for five causes traverses tribal land.

Meet Bearsun, a Japanese anime-style teddy bear created by Jessy Larios, who is using the character to spotlight various charities that center on mental health, autism, cancer, disabled community and the environment.

Bearsun is tan with a cream-colored belly, red cheeks and rounded tail, ears and arms. Larios, 33, has worn the suit throughout his walk.

So far, his walk from Los Angeles to New York City has generated donations but his presence in communities on the Navajo Nation has delighted tribal members and residents... READ more.

Tribal broadband summit set

A federal coalition announced the dates for the upcoming 2021 National Tribal Broadband Summit.

The free event is set for Sept. 17, 24 and Oct. 1. The event is virtual. To register, click here.

The summit offers a platform for leaders across the broadband development ecosystem to share best practices, new ideas, and lessons learned from their real-world experience of bringing high-speed internet to tribal businesses, governments, and homes, according to an Interior department news release.

The Interior and the Institute of Museum and Library Services are partnering with the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Service and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration to host the summit.


#ICYMI: Top 10 Indian Country stories

What you, our Indian Country Today readers, read most for the week ending Aug. 14, 2021...READ more.

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