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Canada grieves after ‘horrific’ massacre in Cree community

The first call came into the Royal Canadian Mountain Police dispatch at 5:40 a.m. on Sunday morning of Labor Day weekend. There was a stabbing at the James Smith Cree Nation.

Within minutes, there were many more calls. By the end of the day on Sept. 4, 10 people would be dead and at least 18 injured from a series of knife attacks and stabbings, mostly on the First Nation reserve and neighboring communities about 135 miles north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

By noon, the central Canadian prairie province – home to more than a million people in a territory almost as big as Texas – would be put under a state of civil emergency amid a manhunt over three provinces for two brothers suspected in the attacks.

As details of the rampage emerged, Canadians – stunned by one of the worst massacres in the nation’s history – grieved along with the First Nations communities.

“My thoughts and the thoughts of all Canadians are with those who've lost loved ones and with those who are injured,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday. “This kind of violence, or any kind of violence, has no place in our country.”

Trudeau said he had spoken with James Smith Cree Nation leadership and with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe to assure them the Canadian government would provide support to the communities. READ MORE Miles Morrisseau, ICT

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For educator Mark Mindt, his KODA character has been by his side since he started working on his education degree years ago.

KODA was also there when he attended tribal college for art and technical skills to market the character.

“KODA the Warrior” is a Dakota comic book superhero created by Mindt. The character is based on Mindt's experiences with a superhero twist. Mindt is KODA’s writer and illustrator and now the fourth edition of the super hero is back.

“I’ve been drawing KODA while working on my bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND,” Midnt told ICT in an email. “After graduating, my first position was as a third grade teacher on the Coeur D’ Alene Reservation in Idaho. It was there that KODA came to life by blending my artwork with stories of KODA’s journey to my students. Their excitement for a new adventure continued to inspire me.”

Mindt, a citizen of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation, is a Tate Topa Tribal School Art Teacher in Fort Totten, North Dakota.

“I returned to North Dakota and enrolled at the United Tribes Technical College and soon graduated with not only an Associate’s Degree in Art/Art Marketing, but also gained the technical skills to create and professionally market KODA in a comic book format,” added Mindt. READ MOREDan Ninham, Special to ICT

ISLE DE JEAN CHARLES, Louisiana — When she was a girl, Theresa “Betty” Billiot would open the back door to a view of cattle grazing in pastures, cotton fields and wild prairie dotted with duck ponds. Now she opens the same door and sees nothing but the rising sea.

“You got to watch where you walk because you might sink,” she said, stabbing a soggy backyard path with her shovel, a tool she uses to both ward off snakes and test the stability of the ever-softening, ever-shrinking land around her home, one of the last still standing on Isle de Jean Charles.

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“If you get stuck, there’s nobody around anymore to come get you out.”

On a February afternoon in 2021, Billiot, 63, was visiting the “itty-bitty trees” she kept planting on an island everyone tells her is doomed. After years of growth, her two dozen oaks and pecans remained more sticks than trees, stunted by floods, storms and salt water seeping in from underground. Spanish moss hung from one oak’s stubby branches, resembling a child wearing grown-up clothes.

“Only that tree has hope for the future,” she said.

Billiot, a widowed grocery worker and citizen of the Jean Charles Choctaw Nation, is one of very few islanders who left and then moved back to this remote ribbon of marshy ground in Terrebonne Parish, 45 miles southwest of New Orleans. READ MORE The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate

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As a young girl, Arlene Juanico would rush to gather the laundry before the explosions started.

When the alarms sounded, Juanico would hustle to grab the clean garments off the clothesline before she was enveloped by dust clouds. But Juanico’s little legs usually couldn’t get her back to shelter in time.

That’s when the yellow-flecked dust — emerging from detonations in the sacred mesa the Laguna knows as Squirrel Mountain — would catch up to her. That’s when it would enter Juanico’s throat, burrowing deep into her lungs.

It’s the same dust she would confront when, as an adult, she worked for the Anaconda Copper Co.

And it’s the dust that would persist in her lungs, kidneys and bones. There, hidden in the dark recesses of her chest, the particles lay until one day decades later a CT scan would show Juanico and people like her why they hadn’t been able to take a full breath 

in decades. They’d get a similar diagnosis — idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis — one mangled lung at a time.

As such, the dangers of one of the largest uranium mines in American history didn’t abate when the dust clouds dissipated.

Today, hundreds of mines lie abandoned across Indigenous lands in New Mexico. So do scores of eroding radioactive landfills meant to bury uranium mine waste. READ MORECapital & Main

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