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Paving the way for more Native people in higher education? That’s what the University of Minnesota hopes will be the case.

The university will offer free or reduced tuition to Native students at its five campuses starting in the fall of next year. The university has campuses in Duluth, Rochester, Morris, Crookston and the Twin Cities.

The school is expanding its cost waiver program offered at its Morris campus, which is the site of a former Indian boarding school.

Jennifer Simon, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, is on the American Indian advisory committee for the University of Minnesota. She's also the director of Indian Education at Minneapolis Public Schools.

"It's a step in the right direction, in my opinion," Simon said. "I think that it will create opportunities for some of our students that would not have had it before. So, I'm really excited about it and you know, it's long overdue, but it's the right move for the U of M."

Incoming freshmen and tribal college transfer students, who are enrolled citizens of one of the state's 11 federally recognized nations, are eligible.

Students with an annual family income under $75,000 can attend the school tuition-free and families who earn up to $125,000 a year will be eligible for tuition discounts of up to 80 to 90 percent.

Lisa Skjefte, Red Lake Ojibwe and 2006 University of Minnesota graduate, is a vice president at the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center. She said this is a step in the right direction.

Skjefte hopes the university will expand the tuition waiver in the future to include Native students from all tribal nations.

"A true win for Native people would be inclusive, to include all of us, and to give this opportunity," Skjefte said. "I just think that the restrictions are made just to limit all the goodness and what that could actually really mean. So it's a good first step and they got a ways to go." — R. Vincent Moniz, Jr.Indian Country Today

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GLASGOW, Scotland — World leaders promised to protect Earth's forests, cut methane emissions and help South Africa wean itself off coal at the U.N. climate summit Tuesday — part of a flurry of deals intended to avert catastrophic global warming.

Britain hailed the commitment by over 100 countries to end deforestation in the coming decade as the first big achievement of the conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow, known as COP26 — but experts noted such promises have been made and broken before.

The U.K. government said it has received pledges from leaders representing more than 85 percent of the world’s forests to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. Among them are several countries with massive forests, including Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the United States.

(Related: Homelands in peril)

More than $19 billion in public and private funds have been pledged toward the plan. READ MORE. — The Associated Press

Indigenous-owned tourism businesses contribute billions to the U.S. economy.

That’s according to a first-of-its-kind study by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and Honolulu-based SMS Research. The study was released at the association’s annual conference held at the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation’s We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort near Phoenix.

“This is the first time that we've analyzed the U.S. Census data for 2017 in order to show specifically the race and ethnicity categories of Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian,” said SMS Research Executive Vice President Daniel Naho‘opi‘i, Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawai'ian).

“We found that coming out of the Great Recession from 2012 to 2017, Native-owned businesses improved about 7 percent in growth, but Native-owned tourism businesses had a growth rate of 19 percent. So tourism does work,” Naho‘opi‘i said. While 36 percent of the Indigenous-owned businesses are in retail, 31 percent are in transportation and warehousing, 21 percent in arts, entertainment, and recreation, and 12 percent in accommodations and food. READ MORE. Joaqlin Estus, Indian Country Today

FORT McDOWELL YAVAPAI NATION — Tourism is back for many in Indian Country and for Nez Perce Tourism, LLC, that means offering tours of its traditional homelands that cross five states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

The family owned business offers an experience that is rich in Nimiipuu values and has earned them five star ratings from Google, Yelp and Facebook. They’ve also been featured in several national publications.

Nez Perce Tourism, LLC, received the Best Cultural Heritage Experience award at the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association conference. Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation hosted the conference in late October 2021. (Photo by Patty Talahongva, Indian Country Today)

Nez Perce Tourism picked up the Best Cultural Heritage Experience at the annual Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards Gala and Silent Auction, hosted by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. The association held its annual conference this past week at the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation’s We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort near Phoenix. READ MORE. — Patty Talahongva, Indian Country Today

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While Anchorage’s mayor questions whether the pandemic is real, CDC data shows Alaska had the nation’s highest COVID-19 case rate on Monday. Alaska’s population of American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with another race is the nation’s highest, at 22 percent. American Indian and Alaska Natives also are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Morgan Krakow of the Anchorage Daily News reports Alaska hospitalizations rose to record levels then leveled off and hospitals still are extremely challenged to provide care. The highest case rates are in Southcentral Alaska — in Anchorage and the nearby Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and in communities on the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage.

Meanwhile, Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson praised national skeptics of mainstream treatments at a gathering in Alaska’s largest city Saturday. Bronson called their findings “the best science available.” The Anchorage Daily News’ Zaz Hollander reports the mayor also had a role in making the summit happen. — Indian Country Today

Former Michigan Rep. Dale Kildee, who represented his hometown of Flint and the surrounding area in Congress for 36 years, died Oct. 13. He was 92.

Kildee, a Democrat, was elected to the House in 1976 after serving a dozen years in the state Legislature. He missed very few votes during his congressional career and was a champion for Flint, where he was born and where he taught Latin to high school students before entering politics. He also was a teacher in Detroit.

Dan Kildee called him an “incredible uncle,” a role model and a political mentor.

He was a founding member of the Native American Caucus, which works to advance relationships with tribal governments and amplify the voices of Native Americans. — The Associated Press

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Charlie Feister, a citizen of the Klamath Tribes, was a runaway from Chemawa Indian School when he was shot dead in 1907 while trying to steal food from a store in Chemawa, Oregon.

A short article in the Weekly Chemawa American student newspaper describing the incident fails to mention that Charlie was 11 years old at the time of his death. Charlie and a friend were living in a little camp in the woods not far from the school.

We know these details today thanks to a combined 35 years of dogged work by SuAnn Reddick and Eva Guggemos who published the results of their research in a public website on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. READ MORE. Mary Annette Pember, Indian Country Today

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