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It’s been roughly one year since President Joe Biden was sworn into office. His approval ratings hit a historic low at 39 percent in January, inflation in 2021 rose to the highest it’s been in four decades, and the COVID-19 omicron variant has surged, causing another wave of hospitalizations across the country.

The Biden administration continues to deal with push back from Republicans and a few conservative Democrats for his two biggest legislative priorities, the Build Back Better Act and the federal voting rights bill.

This is the larger context for how the Biden administration is doing, but it looks a little different for Indigenous communities.

“I don't think this is where the Biden administration wanted to be one year in and I'll say that for mainstream America,” said Holly Cook Macarro, Red Lake Nation, a partner at Spirit Rock Consulting and a regular political contributor on ICT Newscast with Aliyah Chavez. READ MORE. — Pauly Denetclaw, special to Indian Country Today

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Native American advocates welcomed the announcement Wednesday that Washington’s pro football team will now be called the Commanders, ending a yearslong fight to get rid of a name many deemed racist.

Josh Silver, who founded Rebrand Washington Football in 2015, with two other longtime fans to “undo the damage” of the team’s name, said the group collected 11,000 petition signatures calling on the team to change its “very demeaning” name.

(Related: Washington's NFL team: The Commanders)

Holly Cook Macarro_Segment_02-02-22

“This was the name of a team in the nation’s capital, symbolic of our racist past,” in a country that still struggles against racism today, Silver said.

But the only mention of the past by team officials Wednesday was to talk about the team’s legacy – not its former name. Snyder made no mention of the name’s history, focusing instead on the team’s next chapter.

“As an organization, we are excited to rally and rise together as one under our new identity while paying homage to our local roots and what it means to represent the nation’s capital,” he said. — Cronkite News

The New Mexico Legislature advanced a bill Wednesday that would increase the minimum salaries of some fluent Indigenous language speakers who teach the languages to children in schools but are not state certified teachers.

The instructors who speak Navajo, Zuni, Keres and other Native languages work for school systems at non-teaching jobs for which they are paid much less than teachers despite the work that they do teaching languages to students.

About 100 people in New Mexico have Indigenous language certificates approved by their tribes and administered by state education officials. The bill would provide state funding to cover those certificate holders with minimum salary protections of middle-tier licensed teachers.

The measure could double or triple instructor salaries from the local minimum wage to a teacher salary that currently stands at $50,000, but is expected to be raised to $60,000 by the Legislature this year.

The House Education Committee advanced the bill Wednesday in a 9-1 vote that included Democratic and Republican support. — Associated Press

West Hartford has become the latest Connecticut town to scrap Native nicknames for its high school sports teams.

The Board of Education voted after two hours of debate Tuesday night to stop using Warriors as the nickname at Hall High School and Chieftains at cross-town rival Conard High School.

The town changed the school's logos in 2015, after a petition from students. At the time, the board voted to keep the nicknames.

Last year, state lawmakers passed legislation that would prevent towns whose schools use Native American names and images from receiving any allotment of revenue from the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund. That’s an account that’s funded with the state’s 25 percent share of slot machine revenues generated at the two casinos owned and operated by the federally recognized Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes.

West Hartford is scheduled to receive grants of just under $28,000 from the fund in both the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years.

West Hartford’s school board plans to choose new nicknames by June. — Associated Press

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'Incredible' Indigenous scholars

Coming up, more on the number of Natives working at Arizona State University. Plus, a new show looks at the impact of Indigenous knowledge.

Watch: 

In New Mexico, a site with images dating back 8,000 years was spray-painted with racist slurs and symbols.

On Jan. 18, officials from the Bureau of Land Management discovered that vandals had struck 10 petroglyphs. The La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs were defaced with spray-painted images of pentacles, swastikas, and racial slurs.

Those damaging cultural sites could face felony charges and penalties of up to two years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

The All Pueblo Council of Governors released a statement: “We renew our call for all entities, including federal and state agencies, and the New Mexico Congressional Delegation to take swift action to protect and preserve the Caja del Rio, in consultation with Pueblos and tribes.”

In December, the organization passed a resolution affirming the historic importance of the area as a significant cultural landscape. — Indian Country Today

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