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The Canadian country music scene was shocked by the sudden death of Cree singer/songwriter Shane Yellowbird, whose childhood dreams of being a rodeo cowboy turned to performing when he began singing to help his stutter. He was 42.

An outpouring of praise for Yellowbird came from country music performers, fans and others across Canada. Yellowbird died April 25.

“It’s a sad day in the Canadian country music world as we’ve learned that Cree country singer Shane Yellowbird has passed away at the age of 42,” Pure Country 93 radio station in London, Ontario, posted to Instagram.

Blues singer Crystal Shawanda, one of Canada’s top Indigenous artists who came on the music scene soon after Yellowbird’s debut in 2007, posted a photo of herself and Yellowbird on Instagram. READ MORE.Miles Morrisseau, Special to Indian Country Today

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The University of Rhode Island has established a scholarship program that this year is helping 15 citizens of the Narragansett Indian Tribe pay for their educations, the university announced Monday.

(Related: New program will pay for Indigenous students’ higher education)

The Narragansett Undergraduate Scholarship stems from a 2017 proposal that the university's American Indian/Native American Advisory Council submitted to then-President David Dooley seeking tuition waivers for undergraduate students.

The council said that URI is a land grant institution on the traditional homelands of the Narragansett Nation, and waiving tuition for tribal members would be an important step in creating opportunities for Indigenous students.

"Acknowledging and respecting the original inhabitants of the land the university occupies is an important part of our mission and our values and I am pleased that we are able to honor and support members of the Narragansett Nation in this way," current URI President Marc Parlange said in a statement.

The university awarded $175,000 for in-state tuition and fees to this year's recipients. An additional 15 to 20 students are expected to benefit during the next academic year.

"The Narragansett Tribal scholarship gave me a sense of acknowledgment and recognition of not only me but all Narragansett students, our history, and our future presence on campus," senior animal science major Laurel Spears said. — Associated Press

In March 2021, Tiberius Newbill, Inupiaq, had just graduated preschool and was celebrating his 5th birthday when his mother got a call from the hospital.

He had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia.

In the following months, several rounds of chemotherapy at Seattle Children’s Hospital failed to wipe out the cancer. After a clinical trial involving chemo and immunotherapy he was well enough to have a bone marrow stem cell transplant in November. The closest thing they had to a match was with his father who shared 5 out of 10 gene markers. But the cancer came back after 80 days.

Now, Tiberius is undergoing another round of chemo. The goal is to beat back the cancer so he’s well enough again for another transplant – if he can find a match. READ MORE. Joaqlin Estus, Indian Country Today

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, or UNPFII, concluded its 21st session on Friday, calling on governments, courts, and U.N. agencies to implement mechanisms to support and protect Indigenous peoples’ lands and lives. It also recommended that Indigenous peoples be given more opportunities to participate in the U.N.’s General Assembly process through "enhanced participation" – a move that could elevate the forum to a level on-par with member states.

The forum is one of the few official venues where Indigenous voices are reliably heard at the U.N., but its role is constricted by a structure that only allows UNPFII members to make recommendations to other U.N. bodies, like the the Economic and Social Council or UNESCO. Indigenous nations, communities, and peoples are classed as non-governmental organizations, and cannot vote or speak to U.N. bodies without an invitation, including the General Assembly.

“A basic, first step for enhanced participation would be the United Nations recognizing that tribes have a right to be here and have a right to be able to attend,” said Geoffrey Roth, a Standing Rock Sioux descendent and UNPFII member. READ MORE. Joseph Lee, Grist

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On Tuesday's ICT Newscast, we meet an Anishnaabe artist and the Niskíthe Prayer Camp in Nebraska hopes to save sacred land. Plus, the latest from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Watch:

The Biden administration is awarding millions of dollars to help expand internet access for dozens of tribes.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration made the announcement last week. The nearly $77 million in awarded grants is part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.

These funds cover internet use and adoption projects to upgrade things like healthcare, education, and social services. — Indian Country Today

New Mexico officials have released a draft plan to address an ongoing education lawsuit brought by underserved K-12 students, and education advocates and tribal leaders are expected to comb through the document in the coming days.

The New Mexico Public Education Department says it’s looking for feedback on the plan, which is intended to address a 2018 state court ruling that has dominated education policy and funding discussions among state lawmakers ever since.

In 2018, the court concluded the state has fallen short of its constitutional duty to provide an “adequate” education, at least to some 70 percent of K-12 students, including Native Americans, English learners, and those who come from low-income families or have disabilities. The court said students had unequal access to qualified teachers, quality school buildings, and other lessons that engage them tailored to their cultural background and needs. — Associated Press

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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. managingeditor@indiancountrytoday.com.

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