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Big news out of Colorado

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis rescinded a 19th century proclamation that called for citizens to kill Native Americans and take their property, in what he hopes can begin to make amends for "sins of the past."

The 1864 order by Colorado's second territorial governor, John Evans, would eventually lead to the Sand Creek Massacre, one of Colorado's darkest and most fraught historic moments. The brutal assault left more than 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne people — mostly women, children and elderly — dead.

Evans' proclamation was never lawful because it established treaty rights and federal Indian law, Polis said at the signing of his executive order Tuesday on the Capitol steps.

(Related: More opportunities, less Colorado barriers for Natives)

"It also directly contradicted the Colorado Constitution, the United States Constitution and Colorado criminal codes at the time," the Democratic governor said to whoops from the crowd… READ more.

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Bridge disaster diver returns medals in Line 3 protest

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A former U.S. Navy diver who helped efforts to search for bodies in the treacherous waters of the Mississippi River after the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007 has returned his awards to protest the Line 3 oil pipeline.

John Miller, 39, a native of Monticello who now lives in Hawaii, asked Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to stop construction on the pipeline replacement project until lawsuits challenging its approval play out in court, the Star Tribune reported. He spoke at an event Monday evening near the site of the bridge disaster, which killed 13 people and injured 145 others.

Earlier Monday, Miller returned a commendation ribbon and pendant he received for his service, as well as a certificate of commendation from then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He said he grew up fishing and hunting and wants the pristine lands in northern Minnesota left alone for generations to enjoy.

Opponents say the new Line 3 will risk oil spills in waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice, and exacerbate climate change. Enbridge says the new pipeline, which replaces its aging current Line 3, is a safety enhancement that will restore its original capacity and ensure reliable deliveries to Midwest refineries... READ more.

US energy official to visit New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The head of the U.S. Energy Department is scheduled to visit New Mexico as the Biden administration looks to promote its renewable energy initiatives.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will be accompanied by Democratic U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich for the two-day visit. They are expected to meet with local leaders and organizations about the state’s push for more renewable energy and efforts to lower costs as utilities face a mandate over the next two decades for providing emissions-free electricity to customers across the state.

A roundtable discussion Wednesday in Albuquerque will focus on how transmission projects could unlock New Mexico’s potential to develop more wind and solar power.

They will then travel to the Farmington area Thursday, where another discussion is planned on creating opportunities for the local workforce, which includes tribal members from the neighboring Navajo Nation. The region is preparing for the closure in the coming years of two major coal-fired power plants and the mines that feed them… READ more.

Granholm was in Alaska on Sunday and Monday. The visit included meeting with students and alumni of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage… READ more.

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School on Navajo Nation to stay remote after radon exposure

RED VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — A return to in-person classes at a Navajo Nation school will be on hold indefinitely because of unknown radiation levels, likely caused by decades of uranium mining.

Cody M. Begaye, spokesman for the Navajo Nation Department of Diné Education, said the presence of radioactive hotspots inside Cove Day School in Red Valley near the Arizona-Utah border recently came to the department’s attention. It’s one of dozens of schools operated by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education.

The Navajo Nation Council’s Health, Education, and Human Services Committee met with other agencies, including the BIE on Monday to discuss why they were not discovered earlier.

While it’s not clear how high the levels are, they were enough to concern tribe officials.

Cove Day School serves students in kindergarten through third grade. The school’s 44 students and 13 staff were already working remotely when classes resumed earlier this month... READ more.

Blackfeet Tribe issues mask rule as virus spreads in Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Blackfeet Reservation implemented a mask mandate on Monday after 18 cases of COVID-19 were identified in recent days.

Blackfeet Tribal Business Council voted to open the east entrance of Glacier National Park on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Blackfeet Covid-19 Incident Command Facebook)

The mandate comes even though around 90 percent of reservation residents are fully vaccinated against the virus. In addition to a mask requirement, the tribe announced that its offices would be closed to the public.

The tribe also suspended non-essential travel for tribal programs. The travel restriction does not apply to tourists.

The Blackfeet Reservation has allowed tourists to return this summer after last summer it closed to visitors to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The tribe’s announcement comes as Montana is experiencing increased spread of COVID-19, with several hot spots including Flathead Valley on the western side of Glacier National Park... READ more.

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#ICYMI The election that ended termination

Fifty years ago this week the federal government’s experiment with termination was crushed at the ballot box on the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington state.

Termination was a policy that was designed to end the United States government’s role in Indian affairs. It would have abrogated treaties, eliminated federal funding, and “freed the Indians” from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And as a bonus, the wealth generated by millions of acres of land and the reward from rich natural resources would be up for grabs.

One side wanted to kick the BIA out and sell at least some of the reservation for a lot of money. The other side wanted to support the tribal government, and to get more financial help from the federal government.

That was the debate Colville voters had to resolve on May 8, 1971... READ more.

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