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Players settle in at the blackjack tables at Ho-Chunk Gaming Black River Falls in Wisconsin on Feb. 9, 2022. Tribes are now weighing how to diversify their economies beyond casinos. (Photo by Ilana Bar-av for Wisconsin Watch)

Jackpots, left and right. That’s what Brent White Eagle most vividly recalls of reopening the Ho-Chunk Gaming Casino in Madison, Wisconsin, after the pandemic forced a closure that lasted more than two months in 2020.

Verifying each jackpot kept the former slots department supervisor on his toes as a skeleton crew of his colleagues adapted to pandemic life — installing plexiglass dividers between slot machines and covering shifts for staff who felt unsafe returning to work, he said.

Despite fewer gamblers on the floor, visitors made larger bets that triggered big prizes.

“There were quite a few nights where it was just off-the-wall jackpots. It was constant running for all of our employees,” White Eagle said. “The secondary maintenance that we had to attend to didn't get done at all.” READ MOREMario Koran, Wisconsin Watch

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A former Navajo Nation vice presidential candidate announced Monday that he is seeking the tribal president's post.

The announcement from Buu Van Nygren, 35, comes a month before the deadline for candidates to file. He's the first to publicly announce his candidacy.

The primary election is Aug. 2. The top two vote-getters move on to the November general election.

More than a dozen people typically run for president of the Navajo Nation, which has about 400,000 tribal citizens.

Current Navajo President Jonathan Nez has not said whether he'll seek reelection but is expected to.

Nygren and his wife, Arizona state Rep. Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, rode on horseback into Window Rock where he told a small crowd about his plans to improve the Navajo Nation.

Nygren's first language is Navajo, and he's from the Utah portion of the reservation. His father was Vietnamese.

Nygren recently resigned as the chief commercial officer at the Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority to run for tribal president.

Nygren was former Navajo President Joe Shirley's running mate in the 2018 election. The two lost to Nez and current Vice President Myron Lizer, who now is seeking the Republican nomination for Arizona's 2nd Congressional District.Associated Press

The Potawatomi Fire minor-league basketball team came out strong in the home opener on March 19, 2022, at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma, defeating the Little Rock Lightning 123-93. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation formed the new team, which is the first tribally owned sports team in Oklahoma and one of only a handful of professional teams owned by tribal nations in the U.S. The tribe invested heavily in the venue as well, with new dressing rooms, changes to the scoreboard and Jumbotron, and a new court. (Photo by Rachael Melot, courtesy of Citizen Potawatomi Nation)

SHAWNEE, Oklahoma – It was three days before the first game and the newly crowned Potawatomi Fire players were shooting baskets, talking with reporters and hamming it up with fans at FireLake Arena.

While other players posed for selfies and shot videos for Instagram, a group of players, including Mustapha Traore, took a break from the action.

"Excited to play on the team to get some exposure, just trying to put myself back out there - basketball purpose," said Traore who hails from Philadelphia. He said living in Shawnee was definitely a change of pace.

"Out here there's nothing but land and basketball." READ MOREAllison Herrera, KOSU Radio

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A man accused in the beating death of a woman on the Red Lake Indian Reservation was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison.

William Jones IV pleaded guilty last year to one count of second-degree murder for the 2019 killing at the victim's house in Ponemah, located on the north side of Lower Red Lake.

Authorities say Jones, 24, repeatedly assaulted the woman by hitting her and throwing her against the wall. At one point the victim's head was struck and she suffered a brain injury.

The woman remained in the house unconscious for two days and Jones made no attempt to contact emergency personnel or render first aid, prosecutors said. Jones' mother arrived at the home two days after the assault and called for help. The victim died in a Fargo, North Dakota hospital 16 days after she was beaten.

This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the Red Lake Tribal Police Department and the FBI Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force. — Associated Press

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In Oklahoma City, a seven year old Kickapoo boy had his hair cut off by two other students while at school.

Andreas Garcia is a first grader at Del City Elementary Schools and his hair was cut, without his permission, right before spring break.

His father Jamil Garcia says it took over three weeks for the family to receive Andreas’ hair back from the school, in a plastic bag.

Jamil called the school immediately after the incident but was told they could not do anything until after spring break.

Gracia says that he feels like the school's leadership is just trying to sweep this under the rug.

The parents did have a meeting with the administration of the school and were offered an apology. According to the family, officials at the school said they would be sending out a flier to others at the school educating on the incident.

They also plan on an Indigenous educator to come and speak to the students on Indigenous people’s day.

The family still wants to pursue a case and will not be allowing their son to return back to this school. — Kaitlin Onawa Boysel, Indian Country Today

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