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An Apology to Native Peoples of the United States was signed into law in 2010, included on page 3,453 of the 3,475-page-long Department of Defense Appropriations Act.

The language of the law is brief.

Congress recognizes there have been years of official depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of covenants by the federal government regarding tribes,” it states.

Passed during President Barack Obama’s tenure in office, it “recognizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by the citizens of the United States.”

The apology landed with a mysterious, unacknowledged thud and has essentially been ignored and forgotten ever since. No president has ever presented the apology in public nor read its words publicly, as noted by the Washington Post.

Now, former Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, who drafted the apology and worked diligently to get it passed in 2010, is launching an effort to champion the law and convince President Joe Biden to formally recognize it with a ceremony at the White House. READ MORE. — Mary Annette Pember, Indian Country Today

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Fifty years ago, Vine Deloria Jr. offered this prescription of sorts.

Lee Cook, Red Lake Ojibwe, takes the podium at the Democratic National Convention in 1972. He was on the ballot as a candidate for vice president. (Photo courtesy of Holly Cook Macarro)

"In the long run, I think we are on our way back at the same time the rest of American society is going down,” he said in a 1972 interview. “Almost any book you read today on the social movements analyzes the total disintegration of American society. So I look for American Indians to be the winners in the long run. We must recognize it is a long distance run and we’ve got to keep at it.”

Of course, all of our policy debates today have roots in the past – and 1972 was one of those years when so many issues broke through the surface.

This was the year that the termination policy of the 1950s came to a jarring end. House Concurrent Resolution 106 in 1953 called for an end to federal services, reservations, and “full citizenship” for tribal members. The policy was an economic and human rights disaster. More than 100 tribes were terminated, resulting in the loss of more than 1.3 million acres impacting nearly 12,000 tribal citizens. READ MORE. — Mark Trahant, Indian Country Today

The Navajo Nation’s tribal council has voted to send $2,000 checks to each qualified adult and $600 for each child using $557 million in federal coronavirus relief funds.

The council’s vote to send the checks to about 350,000 tribal citizens was approved by Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

Navajo Nation will tap some of the approximately $2.1 billion the tribe is receiving from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act. The payments will be automatically sent to tribal citizens who applied for relief funds under a previous round of hardship assistance payments.

Also, Nez approved $300 checks for tribal residents age 60 and older who previously showed they needed extra assistance. The checks will come from nearly $16 million in remaining money the tribe has from relief funds approved by former President Donald Trump. — The Associated Press

A Native American child welfare advocate will be the keynote speaker in February at an annual conference hosted by Mississippi’s only federally recognized tribe.

Sandy White Hawk will speak at the 10th-annual Indian Child Welfare Act Conference. The event will be held on Feb. 16 at the Silver Star Convention Center at the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians’ Pearl River Resort in Choctaw.

The annual conference began as an effort to educate state judges and social workers on requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act, according to a press release from Mississippi’s Administrative Office of Courts.

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White Hawk, the conference speaker, was removed from her Sicangu Lakota relatives in South Dakota and adopted by white missionaries more than 400 miles from the reservation. She was 18 months old and grew up in Wisconsin with no connections to her tribal heritage.

In 2019, White Hawk’s story was the subject of the documentary “Blood Memory.” The film highlights her efforts to help others separated from the community as children to heal and reconnect with their people, culture, traditions and ceremonies. — The Associated Press

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Tribal Chairman Jordan Dresser looks ahead with what to expect this year while photojournalist Tailyr Irvine has her lens set on recruiting more Indigenous photographers. 

Watch:

A tribe in southern Arizona plans to begin construction on an affordable housing development for its citizens.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is using a low-income housing tax credit award from the Arizona Department of Housing to help secure $8.3 million in private investment. That will mainly fund the $9.6 million development of 27 townhomes on the tribe’s southwest Tucson reservation.

The development is expected to be completed by the fall of 2023, the tribe’s housing director, Keith Gregory, told the Arizona Daily Star. Up to 200 workers will be employed on the project.

The new townhomes are the second phase of a master planned subdivision that launched a year ago. The first phase containing 50 single-family housing units should be done by October, Gregory said.

The tribe manages nearly 700 housing units but still has 1,100 citizens on a waiting list. — The Associated Press

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An Alaska Native nonprofit organization has received a $2.9 million grant to start building a totem pole trail along Juneau’s waterfront.

The Sealaska Heritage Institute said the grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will cover 10 poles though the longer-term goal is to have 30 poles in place.

“Our traditional poles historically dominated the shorelines of our ancestral homelands and told the world who we were,” said Rosita Ward, president of the institute. “It’s fitting that our totems will be one of the first things people see while sailing into Juneau.”

Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian master carvers will carve their poles in communities around the Southeast, teaching apprentices the art. Sealaska Heritage Institute is working on finding funding for the other 20 poles.

Kootéeyaa Deiyí, the trail’s name in the Tlingit language, is part of a long-term vision for Juneau to showcase its Native cultures and heritage. — The Associated Press


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