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Native advocacy groups are partnering with a California High School to drive up voter registration among Indigenous youth, the groups announced on the national voter registration awareness day. 

The Sherman Indian High School, Las Vegas Indian Center, California Native Vote Project and the National Congress of American Indians will work to increase voter registration and civic engagement among young Native American people, which the coalition said is the fastest growing Native American and Alaska Native demographic group, NCAI said in a press release Tuesday announcing the initiative. 

On a day that also included Interior Secretary Deb Haaland highlighting efforts the federal government is taking to increase Indigenous voter turnout, the group hosted a voter engagement event for high school seniors that included creating political statements using creative resistance art projects and learning about the voter registration process.

The effort, part of the Every Native Vote Counts campaign, will focus on outreach, coalition building and education. The coalition said the Sherman Indian High School was chosen to participate because all of its students attending the school are enrolled tribal citizens from more than 76 federally recognized tribal nations and its emphasis on culturally relevant approaches to teaching. 

“We believe that tribal youth deserve to be heard," said Tammi Tiger, the Las Vegas Indian Center's Civic Engagement Consultant. "After all, they are the voices of the future and it’s important that they understand their power early.”

By voting, youth will have more power to shape their future by helping elect candidates who will work to restore traditional lifeways and strengthen tribal sovereignty, NCAI President Fawn Sharp said. 

"It's important for Native youth to understand their voice is powerful and they can make a tremendous impact on our future," she said in the release. "Young people possess creativity, innovation, technology, and passion that we must encourage them to exercise through avenues such as voting," — Chris Aadland, ICT


Cherokee filmmaker debuts story of survival, cultural revitalization

How easy is it to lose everything? Too easy, as Cherokee filmmaker Christopher Coursey illustrates in his debut film,“The River Woe.”

An original drama about how quickly one can lose it all, Coursey’s short film is made with an all Native cast and crew, including a Cherokee First Language speaker. Set in the present day, “The River Woe” tells the story of an Indigenous man who gets laid off and, with no government or tribal help, must resort to the old ways of fishing to provide food for his family.

Coursey is branching out to make his own films after working on two feature-length films, “Cherokee Word for Water,” and “Wildfire: Legend of the Cherokee Ghost Horse.” He’s also an artist.

“I've been a professional artist for many years,” Coursey told ICT by phone from Oklahoma. “I love to do anything creative. I normally draw, paint and sculpt things, but in an effort to do anything creative, I worked on two major films, and through that, I've just gotten the bug of working on movies.”

Then he became friends with a director, he said.

“I told him I was going to buy some camera stuff and had this short script that I was thinking about trying to do as a hobby or just to learn things,” Coursey said. “He liked my story and he likes my work ethic, so he let me borrow his professional movie equipment and cameras.

Coursey believes that one has to write what you know, and what he knows is the Cherokee Nation.

“I live here in Church County, in Oklahoma, the heart of the Cherokee Nation, so I just started from there with things that I know, and based it around a friend of mine because he had a fishing boat,” he said. “I wrote my script around what I have. We ended up not using the boat, but the whole story spawned from the rivers and lakes here, and I wanted to do something as a Native American story.”

“The River Woe,” produced by Native Fable Movie Productions, stars Marcus Thompson, Danielle Campbell and Marcus Pruitt. It also features Marlene Glass Ballard, a First Language speaker from the United Keetowah Band of Cherokees. Pruitt also co-directed the film.

To read more, click here.— Sandra Hale Schulman, Special to ICT

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SEASIDE, Ore. — A little over a year ago, students at Seaside High School launched a unique tribal history course, with the goal to develop and install a 20 to 40-foot cedar pole on the roadside along the driveway between Pacific Ridge Elementary School, the high school and middle school.

Two cedar logs delivered by Weyerhaeuser are ready for pickup and delivery to Quinault Nation carvers Guy Capoeman and Cecil Capoeman in Washington state. After the logs are finished curing, the Capoemans, known in the area for his welcome poles in the Pacific Northwest, will spend much of the next year working on the project, driven by input from Seaside students in the Native American history class led by Bill Westerholm and Kriste York.

In late August, students gathered at the site to provide a glimpse of the progress and tasks ahead.

“We’ve got a group of kids that are making this into a learning center area, with a real focus on who the Clatsop-Nehalem tribe was in the past, and who they are right now,” Westerholm said.

The area will have seating and benches that will accommodate a class or members of the public, he said, along with a log shelter, a replica of a Native American longhouse. Signage up the slope will provide a historical narrative of the Clatsop-Nehalem tribe, who inhabited the area for centuries, with a replica of the tribal cedar dugout canoe known as “The Dragonfly” and a retelling, in words and pictures, of Native legends.

To read more, click here. —Seaside Signal

On the Tuesday edition of the ICT Newscast, the story of the outstanding baseball player Louis Sockalexis is coming to ESPN. Minnesota invests in tribal relations, and meet the new director of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation 


In a state with the second-most federally recognized Indigenous tribes in the country, California officials and tribal leaders announced an initiative Wednesday to drive up tourism in Native communities.

The initiative, Visit Native California, and its accompanying website are funded by a $1 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Act, which targets public health and economic impacts of the pandemic and was signed into law by President Joe Biden last year. Tribes announced it in partnership with Visit California, the state's main tourism marketing agency.

It's one of the latest efforts to revitalize tourism nationwide after the early stage of the pandemic halted travel — and the spending that comes with it. California lost a projected $72.8 billion in tourism spending in 2020, according to research by Tourism Economics, a data and consulting firm. The goal is to inform tourists about the music, art, nature, and history that have shaped tribal communities for generations. The website will promote locations around the state, including through podcasts, and provide itineraries for travelers.

“This project, this site, it gives my tribe the opportunity, the ability to share our culture,” said Reid D. Milanovich, chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, at a press conference at the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in Palm Springs.

READ MORE. Sophie AustinAssociated Press/Report for America


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