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Animating the Indigenous

Award winning director, producer and writer Ian Skorodin joins the show to tell us about his effort to get Natives animating and national correspondent Joaqlin Estus has details on Alaska's Pebble Mine.
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Indian Country Today

LA Skins Fest founder and Choctaw citizen Ian Skorodin is on the show today to talk about a fellowship to get Indian Country involved in the digital effects industry.

Plus our national correspondent Joaqlin Estus has more details on why Southwest Alaskan tribes are celebrating a Trump administration decision.

Some quotes from todays show.

Ian Skorodin:

"Ryan Abramson of the Spokane tribe in Washington has a strong novelist background and he has several visual concepts that he wants to develop. That falls in line with the application process. You have either an animated short film or an animated script or a comic book or visuals with a concept. And over the five day program, we help you develop that into a television series or a feature film that you can then pitch at the end of the lab."

"There's another artist, Kayla Shaggy, who is Navajo, and who was also in our lab this year. She has a comic book. And that's the other thing is we have a lot of comic book artists this year. We're really excited to see that. We're really happy to see a lot of our comic book artists come out and be a part of the lab because we really try to get more exposure for those artists in terms of developing a series, or a feature film, or just giving them more exposure in the enemy animation industry."

"Arigon Starr was an actress, a singer and songwriter, as well as a playwright. And we've always been a very big fan of hers since she was working on Super Indian as a radio play and just kept developing it. We've always known of her artistic background, her as an artist. And so we really had Arigon in mind when we were even formulating the idea for the lab, cause we wanted to try to encourage Native people who are just really taking the initiative and doing these things on their own and trying to give them some kind of outlet where they can expand on that. And so we're just really excited to have so many talented people in the lab this year."

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Joaqlin Estus:

"So the US Army Corps of Engineers did seem poised to give the project the go ahead. It had issued an environmental impact statement that concluded that the project wouldn't have a measurable effect on the Bristol Bay fisheries and wouldn't result in long-term changes to the fisheries health. So this was for a proposed open pit mine in the middle of nowhere. Building it would have involved putting a fuel line and fiber optic cable under Cook Inlet." 

Building port roads, and then the open pit mine itself, which ultimately would be almost a mile deep and more than three miles across miners would dig up hundreds of thousands of tens of earth. Then crush the ore and remove the precious metals. The leftovers soil, the tailings would be heaped up in piles about 700 feet high. So the corps of engineers did determine that the mining tailings would result in significant degradation of the aquatic ecosystem. One of the ways developers can get around federal requirements to protect clean water is to come up with compensatory mitigation measures. Oh, and by the way, the mine would be a gold copper and molybdenum mine."

"So compensatory mitigation measures are when you acknowledge this much land is going to be harmed and you pledged to protect the same amount or more land somewhere else. So the Pebble Mining Company came up with a compensatory mitigation plan, but the Corps said it wasn't enough. There would still be significant impacts and it would not be in the public interest to let the mind go forward. They said the mine, the proposed project was out of compliance with the Clean Water ACT and Rivers and Harbors ACT."

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

Joaqlin Estus, Tlingit, is a national correspondent for Indian Country Today. Based in Anchorage, Alaska, she is a longtime journalist. Follow her on Twitter @estus_m or email her at

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