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Three challenges to the status quo

Crystal Echo Hawk joins the show to tell us how her organization IllumiNative is tackling injustice in Indian Country.  Plus Senator Jamescita Peshlakai updates us on a new law that will honor Arizona's Navajo code talkers. And Brian Bull tells us how tribes are faring in the Northwest.

Native representation in the media is challenging. From actors donning headdresses to athletic teams refusing to give up their names, an organization is providing education to the public about the history of oppression and stereotypes. Crystal Echo Hawk, who is Pawnee, is the executive director of IllumiNative. She joins the newscast to speak on changing the narrative about Native peoples on a mass scale. 

There are only three states in the country that have a paid holiday honoring Native Americans and Native Hawaiians. Senator Jamescita Peshlakai, who is Diné, tells us how her work in the great state of Arizona is helping honor Native veterans.

Brian Bull, Nez Perce, is an award winning journalist.  In his 25 years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. He'll be discussin how tribes in the Northwest are dealing with COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • Fans of Cleveland’s professional baseball team will no longer be allowed inside the ballpark wearing Native American headdresses or face paint.
  • The Montana House votes down a bill that would have made it easier for Native Americans to vote.
  • The city of Ashland, Oregon is starting a new tradition.
  • Citizens of the Kaska Nation in northern British Columbia are raising alarms over a proposed mine in the Yukon.
  • A new film is hitting the screen next month called Alaskan Nets.

Find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast

Crystal Echo Hawk:

"With that we found some really key findings that invisibility is one of the greatest challenges that we face that the majority of the American public knows little to nothing about us. Some aren't even sure if we still exist. And what little they think they know is really driven by false narratives and really toxic stereotypes that we see showing up in pop culture and media, and one of the biggest culprits K through 12 education." 

"We founded IllumiNative once we published the research in 2018 to really be a vehicle to translate that research into action. It's been exciting to see people in Indian Country take that data and really, within their own communities, in their own institutions, really fight to say enough is enough. No more stories without us and to really show people who we are in the 21st century."

Jamescita Peshlakai:

"I have been writing legislation to introduce a Navajo code talker day here in the state of Arizona for a couple of years. I was in the house in 2013 and we did have legislation back then, but it was never a successful until this year. And I have worked many years to lobby for support in the legislature, both in the House and the Senate and it got to the governor's desk and he signed it. So I'm very happy about that."  

"It was really important to educate all my colleagues and really all of Arizona and anybody that would listen about the contribution and how historic it is for our state, because the Navajo code talkers are from the state of Arizona and the reservation does go into New Mexico and Utah. Hopefully the other 49 States and us territories, because this was indeed a worldwide, courageous and impactful sacrifice our Navajo code talkers."

Brian Bull:

"One of the more recent stories, this is a big development for Oregon, and that is that the state now has the first tribally run and operated opioid recovery clinic in Salem it's Capitol. And the tribe that is running it is the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, which has contended like so many communities, the opioid problem for many many years, has been very distressing for a lot of families, a lot of individuals." 

"There is a sense of urgency ... There was a CDC study that came out a few years ago that showed that between 1999 and 2015, there was a more than 500 percent spike in opioid related deaths for Native people. And that is the worst hit group by the opioid epidemic. And they also have a study out by the American journal of drug and alcohol abuse that show that Native people were twice as likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol than the general population and three times more likely to die of an overdose."

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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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