Protecting future generations

Three new laws in Nevada are bringing change for tribal citizens. Stacey Montooth Executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission explains. ICT reporter Kolby KickingWoman spoke with Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo about broadband in Indian Country programs and how tribes can apply.
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Three new laws in Nevada are bringing welcomed changes for tribal citizens.

One bill will grant free college tuition to Native students, another will end the use of Native mascots and the third will end the so called “sundown sirens” which were used historically to signal all people of color to leave town after dark.

Governor Steve Sisolak signed all three bills into law at the historic government run, Stewart Indian School, which was open for 90 years.

Joining us Monday to talk about these bills and the impact on tribal citizens is Stacey Montooth, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission.

One Billion dollars is being allocated for broadband in Indian Country.

(Related: Indian Country receives broadband ‘down payment’)

ICT reporter Kolby KickingWoman spoke with Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo about the program and how tribes can apply. 

A slice of our Indigenous world 

  • Some residents of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in eastern Arizona are being evacuated due to a fast burning brush fire. 
  • In Nevada, tribal citizens are celebrating three new laws that will bring positive changes to education and history.
  • The U.S. Army is returning the remains of ten Native American children to their families.
  • Some Northern Arapahos in Wyoming are getting help with past due rent. 

Some quotes from today's show 

Stacey Montooth

“My charge is to improve the quality of life for the 27 tribal nations bans and colonies, as well as the 50,000 urban Indians who make Nevada their second home. And for me, the best method for improving the quality of life is education. And often that means reaching non-Indigenous people. We were absolutely overwhelmed at that outpouring of support for AB 88, which was sponsored actually by a legislator from southern Nevada. Howard Watts actually represents a district in Las Vegas. Now, I know you're in Arizona and similarly have a large state. So we're talking about a seven hour drive from where this law, the idea for this bill draft request was initiated to again about a seven hour drive away from where the sirens were taking place. So this was an issue that all Nevadans were talking about.”

“Currently, we believe that there are four public schools, a junior high and three high schools within the state of Nevada, which use Native American imagery likeness. Sometimes even, you know, pseudo pan Indian, these songs to promote their athletic department. And so what the state of Nevada has done again, assemblyman Watts from Las Vegas, he wrote a law which requires any public school, which has a mascot that uses native imagery to have a transition plan so that that school can move from using, our culture as a way to make certain that they can move forward and change all of their monikers, their language, their wordmarks. Now, I think what's different about what's happening in Nevada is we also have a provision in the law, which requires that the school district have consultation with the appropriate tribal nation that is based on proximity. And so in a nutshell, what the lawmakers in Nevada have done is tell the school organizers that they have to have permission to continue using that Native American mascot.”

Gina Raimondo

“We engaged in meaningful, robust tribal consultation to get to this point. And also, about a month ago, convened with a group of leaders from the Navajo Nation. So I can personally hear from them. And I would say yes, it was robust. It was significant, but I would also say this is just the beginning. So the nature of this initiative is that my department is today launching a 90 day process for applications and we are inviting folks to reach out to us so we can provide technical assistance. So certain communities will be maybe better positioned immediately to apply for this. Others may not, they may need additional help, additional technical assistance. And so we are totally committed to providing that assistance, helping people prepare their applications. We're totally committed to make sure that each of the recognized tribes receives some funding. And so I think 13 hours was just the beginning and at the end of these 90 days, I suspect there'll be many, many, hours if we do our job right.”

“This is just the beginning. I mean, President Biden's jobs package, which he has before Congress now calls for a hundred billion dollars, which is the amount that we believe is necessary to make sure that every American has access to high speed, quality broadband. This is a down payment on that. This is a billion 25% of the billion will be used exactly, as you said so that at every single recognized tribe will receive up to $500,000. However, we encourage all of the tribes to also apply for more money. And those grants will probably be much larger and they can be, it's not enough. I'm not going to pretend it's enough, by the way, half of households on tribal lands don't have access to broadband, which is frankly heartbreaking. So there's just so much work to be done. And this is the beginning and we just encourage everybody to come forward in the next 90 days to participate in the process.”

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Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

Kolby KickingWoman, Blackfeet/A'aniih is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is from the great state of Montana and currently reports for the Washington Bureau. For hot sports takes and too many Lakers tweets, follow him on Twitter - @KDKW_406. Email - kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

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