'Trees are mighty and strong'

Today we talk with Henry Red Cloud who will be planting thousands of trees on the Pine Ridge Reservation with a little help from his friends. And John Tahsuda III joins us today to discuss land into trust. Plus Joaqlin Estus has more on an effort to get Alaska to formally recognize tribes.
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It’s Spring! And after a long winter, folks are getting out and enjoying the weather. Arbor Day is April 30 this year. Henry Red Cloud, who is Oglala Lakota, will be planting 35,000 trees on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota with his team.

John Tahsuda III has worked as the staff director for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and he’s served as a principal deputy assistant secretary for Indian Affairs. Today he talks about the new administration's changes to land into trust.

Many people may not realize that Alaska is home to 229 tribes. And there’s a move right now to get the state to formally recognize them. Joaqlin Estus is our national correspondent based in Anchorage and she joins us to tell us more about this effort.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • Montana's governor is making it harder to reintroduce bison back into areas of the state.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture is extending its free lunch program through the 20-22 school year.
  • North Carolina lawmakers are reintroducing a bill to help the Lumbee people gain federal recognition. 
  • The results of the 2020 U.S. Census have been released and there are some losers, winners and a few near misses.
  • For more than 10 years, Sharon Day has walked with a purpose. Every step she takes is a step to raise awareness for water. National correspondent Carina Dominguez catches up with her.

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

Some quotes from today's show.

Henry Red Cloud:

"Well, over the years with our partnership with TWP, well over the past five years, we have 20 tree planters. Each tree planter planting 200 pine seedlings per day. So it goes by pretty quickly, about 15 days, 16 days. If we don't get any more snow or if it doesn't rain, then we can have it done in about 15 days. Trees are so important that they do so much good things for us. Watershed, wildlife, sanctuary. Taking bad carbon, making good carbon."

"It's something that we all should be doing all the time. And this month, the Ann Arbor day we all should be planting maybe a dozen trees per family. So then we can start protecting, doing our part as human beings to ensure for future generations to have their quality air water, and all the important things that we need to sustain ourselves. A tree is small, but yet it's powerful. It's something that is good for all humanity, all living beings, animals, everybody. So we need to do our part to ensure that trees are being planted yearly, annually."

John Tahsuda III:

"So first off I think it's pretty telling that every new administration that comes in announces something to do with land into trust in their first days in office. So that does for those who don't live it every day that tells you how important land into trust is for tribes and for federal policy for tribes. So and I think you hit it right. I mean, it's important to note that land into trust is understood to be important by every administration when they come in."

"And so we took a look at the process and it made what we thought were a couple of adjustments to the process that would make the system operate better. And so that's something we did. If Secretary Haaland has a better way to go about it, that would be great, but it looks to me like what she's doing is kind of going back to where the system was before we made some changes. And so I'll be interested to see how that works out for them." 

Joaqlin Estus:

"Alaska is, well, it's not that unusual, I don't think. There are 11 States that recognize federally recognized tribes and Alaska is not one of them. So there's a House bill making its way through the legislature that would change that. And the reason that people are pushing for it is that, first of all, there was a lawsuit in 1999 and the judge ruled that Alaska tribes should be recognized by the state of Alaska."

"So that's the law, but policy is set by the legislature and by governors. And that changes a lot over time and especially from one governor to the next. So people would like to see that to have a standard state policy that they can count on through various administrations. And getting state recognition, people hope would do that."

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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

Carina Dominguez, Pascua Yaqui, is a correspondent for the Indian Country Today. Twitter: @Carinad7, Instagram: @CarinaNicole7.

Joaqlin Estus, Tlingit, is a national correspondent for Indian Country Today. Twitter: @estus_m Estus is based in Anchorage.

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