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Lawsuits in Indian Country: education and wild rice

Lawsuits in Indian Country include a case affecting Native children in public schools in New Mexico. Plus, a lawsuit involving wild rice out of Minnesota.

Many states around the country have constitutions that guarantee children a quality education. In New Mexico, that’s exactly the case and it is what prompted a Navajo mother to ask why her children weren’t receiving that.

Wilhelmina Yazzie noticed her children were having frequent substitute teachers, and educators who asked for help purchasing classroom supplies. She joined other plaintiffs in the landmark Yazzie-Martinez education lawsuit. 

A judge ruled in 2018 that the state was failing to provide a sufficient education to four groups of at-risk children, which included Native students. Preston Sanchez, Pueblos of Jemez, Laguna and Diné, is an Indigenous justice attorney at the ACLU. He represented Wilhelmina Yazzie at trial and joins the newscast to discuss what changes have been made since the judge's ruling. 

A number of global communities including the White Earth Band of Ojibwe have created their own laws protecting the rights of nature. Recently, the nation has chosen to sue the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in the name of wild rice.

It’s believed this is the first such case undertaken by a tribe in the United State. ICT correspondent Mary Annette Pember, Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe, tells us more about the unique lawsuit.

A slice of our Indigenous world 

  • The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is fully approved by the U.S. government and now some agencies are requiring employees to get vaccinated.
  • An investigation is starting at a former government run boarding school for Indian children in Utah.
  • In Washington, the Suquamish Tribe is raising objections about a boat launch and now the Army Corps of Engineers is blocking that launch.
  • Food seems to be at the center of every Native gathering. Shirley Sneve has this report from Minnesota. 

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.

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

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