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It’s been a full news week already with the election of Mary Peltola, the first Alaska Native elected to Congress and the first woman to represent Alaska’s U.S. House of Representatives.

Catch up on the other headlines around Indigenous nations below.

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Democrat Mary Peltola, Yup’ik, has been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making history as the first Alaska Native elected to Congress. She is also the first woman to hold Alaska’s only U.S. House seat.

It was a special birthday for Peltola, who turned 49 on Wednesday.

Peltola won a special election to fill the remaining months of the late Congress member Don Young’s term of office. Young held the seat for nearly 49 years. Peltola’s win came after businessman Nick Begich was eliminated as the 3rd place finisher and the ballots for him went to voters’ second choices.

“I’m honored and humbled by the support I have received from across Alaska,” Peltola said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing Don Young’s legacy of bipartisanship, serving all Alaskans and building support for Alaska’s interests in DC.” READ MORE. — Joaqlin Estus, ICT

(Related: What is ranked-choice voting?)

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There were a handful of people waiting outside the Department of Diné Education building. Some stood under the cottonwood trees others sat on the red brick planters. It was a nice cool day in the capital of the Navajo Nation. Through the glass doors, another three people sat on chairs outside the room where the Navajo Nation presidential election recount was happening.

A sign on the wooden door said the room was at maximum capacity.

Rosanna Jumbo-Fitch, one of the 15 presidential candidates, stood just behind the yellow caution tape that kept recount observers a couple of feet away from the ballots, election staff and temporary recount workers. She kept her hands in her pockets as she diligently watched, walking back and forth along the tape, as the counts from Western Agency were underway on Tuesday.

This was day two of five for the recount. A recount of this size has never been done before. READ MORE. — Pauly Denetclaw, ICT

Amid historic drought in the Colorado River Basin, the Gila River Indian Community is taking a drastic step to protect their own water resources. In a statement last week, Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis announced the tribe — located just south of Phoenix — would stop voluntarily contributing water to an important state reservoir. “We cannot continue to put the interests of all others above our own when no other parties seem committed to the common goal of a cooperative basin-wide agreement,” the statement reads.

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Since 2021, Lake Mead, a crucial water supply for the region, has been boosted by voluntary water contributions from the Gila River Indian Community and the Colorado River Indian Tribes. The Colorado River is a crucial source of water in the West, supplying water to 40 million people across seven states and Mexico. For years, tribes and communities in those states have received river water based on a complex allocation system, but last week, the federal government announced historic water cuts that will force Arizona, the most impacted state, to reduce water withdrawals from the Lake Mead reservoir by 21 percent next year. Lake Mead’s levels are currently at a historic low of about 27 percent capacity. READ MORE. — Joseph Lee and Brett Marsh, High Country News / Grist

The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks has begun the process of repatriating sacred objects and ancestral remains that belong to Indigenous communities that were found weeks ago on the school’s campus.

At a news conference Wednesday, school President Andrew Armacost said in November 2021, the university formed a UND repatriation committee to develop policies on the process of returning Native artifacts to tribal lands.

In late February and early March, the committee found a significant number of artifacts on campus, including ancestral remains. Armacost noted that the records of what is in possession of the university is incomplete but there are more than 250 boxes of artifacts and the number of ancestors “can be measured in the dozens.” Wednesday’s statement and news conference were the first public statements issued since. READ MORE. — Kolby KickingWoman, ICT

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On the Thursday edition of the ICT Newscast, we’re following the developments at the University of North Dakota where the remains of around 70 Indigenous ancestors are being held. Plus, more on the economic impact of sovereignty in Oklahoma, and meet an Oglala man who takes the bull by the horn.

Alaska is trying out a new voting system.

While it’s relatively untested, early indications are that it can be difficult to use ranked choice voting to its greatest effect.

The system is used in only one other state, Maine, but has been used in municipal elections in San Francisco and New York.

The situation in Alaska is further complicated by the fact that two elections are overlapping.

A special election is underway to fill the last two months of the late Don Young’s term. Alaska’s sole Congress member died unexpectedly in March. Another election will be held for the position’s next two-year term, which starts in January. READ MORE. — Joaqlin Estus, ICT

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