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Oneida leader's pitch: Stay safe during holidays

Chairman Tehassi Hill tells us more about what steps his tribe is taking to stay safe during the pandemic and freelance journalist Sandra Schulman tells us how one tribe is reclaiming their ancestors.

Oneida nation chairman Tehassi Hill the ways he's trying to keep his people safe during the holiday season.

And freelance journalist Sandra Schulman joins the show to talk about one tribe's repatriation efforts.

Some quotes from today's show

Tehassi Hill: 

"We want to make sure we're keeping a track of the care that the hospitals provide community members, not just for COVID, but other issues, obviously car accidents and heart attacks. Here at Oneida, we do our best to make sure that we're providing opportunities for our community members to stay safe, but also making sure that activities that we provide in our community are done safely and have procedures in place approved by our public health officer to maintain that safety."

"Trick-or-treating during Halloween and Thanksgiving and coming up Christmas and the new year. This is kind of the holiday season. And we're really making sure that for the health and safety our community and the greater community that we have processes and procedures in place to help maintain that safety."

"We've really messaged quite a bit through this entire pandemic to follow the CDC guidelines of washing hands regularly, sanitizing, social distancing, and staying home as much as possible. If you gotta run to town to get groceries, you gotta run town and get groceries but to do it as safely as possible. And again, it's just a repeat message. It's important that we follow these warnings and messaging as best we can as individuals and a community. Cause it's really about public safety and we're not trying to infringe on anybody's personal rights or anything like that."

Sandra Schulman: 

"It's a story that goes back a long time. Over years of donations and acquisitions, remains were being pulled out of Florida and given over to the natural history museum and the Smithsonian about eight years ago. The Seminoles were only recognized as a tribe in 57 and the Miccosukee in 62. So they were saying that these remains had to be part of their ancestors.

"But then the Smithsonian and the museum were saying, they're culturally unidentifiable because they're so old. So eight years of meetings, a big contingent from the Seminoles, including Tina Osceola, she really led the charge. She was the former head of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum, which is a Seminole history museum. They kept going to Washington and meeting with the Smithsonian." 

"Eight years it took and they even drew their Smithsonian affiliation of the museum, which is a very big deal. It's very difficult to get that. And it's very prestigious. So they withdrew their affiliation after years of meetings. And I had done a story in April that wrote about this. They had just come from a big meeting, but the decision was imminent and the decision came through recently that they did win."

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

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