One busy week for Indian Country news

Patty Talahongva

Friday reporter roundtable: Treaty of 1866, A football team searches for a new name, and COVID-19 still rages

It's the end of a busy news week for Indian Country. 

On Monday a court ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline to shutdown in one month. Then, pressure mounted from sponsors and investors to get the Washington football team to change is name from a racial slur. On Thursday the long awaited Supreme Court decision in the McGirt v. Oklahoma case was released. 

All of this news happening while the numbers of positive coronavirus cases continued to rise. Two reporters join us today to talk about these stories and their impact on Indian Country. 

Ramona Marozas is a newscast produce at KBJR-TV, 6 in Duluth, Minnesota. She produces the noon and five o'clock newscasts. Marozas also covers nine tribal governments in her area. 

 Kolby KickingWoman is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. Here are some of his comments on the McGirt v. Ok case: 

“Big news for Indian country. The 5-4 decision said that congress never explicitly disestablished the 1866 boundaries of the Muscogee Creek reservation.”

“On Native Twitter, there was a lot of positive feedback. Jonodev Chaudhuri, ambassador of Muscogee Creek Nation, said it was a profoundly impactful day for the tribe.”

“Sarah Deer, who is also a citizen of the tribe, said she had such a visceral reaction and, you know, just shouted, 'Yes!' And was excited, but she also said, “The sky is not falling on non-native residents of Oklahoma. They're not gonna be kicked off their land."

“This ruling doesn't mean that there's going to be a bunch of inmates released. There'll be a small handful that will be retried in federal court.”

“He (Justice Neil Gorsuch) among the justices has the most experience in federal Indian law from his time on the 10th circuit. I think it goes to show the importance of having not only Supreme court justices that have knowledge of federal Indian law, but also, in the lower courts and just appointing Native judges in general.”

“There's no land back. I know that's the popular hashtag at the moment for the movement, but it reaffirmed that it has always been Muscogee Creek territory.”
“It's one of the biggest decisions in the last 50 years and it reiterates the precedent of what it takes to disestablish the reservation. You know, it has to be done through Congress explicitly.”

On the Washington team name change: 

“I think it's surprising about how fast they're trying to move. I've seen reports that they'd like to have it done before the season."

“Things are moving very fast with all these retailers pulling their merchandise out of their websites and stores. Amazon pulled the Washington football team’s merchandise, Target, Walmart. And, you know, these are huge nationwide retailers and to not be able to have that revenue stream, I definitely think puts a lot more pressure and turns it up on Dan Snyder.”

“The minority owners, I think they own about 40% of the team. They've also been unhappy with Dan Snyder throughout this process. And I read that they're looking into selling their stake in the team.”

Here are comments from Romona Morozas on the pandemic coverage:

“Sarah Howes, she has beautiful Ojibwe blankets that she puts out and just beautiful jewelry work. Well, the pandemic strikes and she was doing moccasin lessons in-person classes. However, now she's had to move those virtually, but it was very cool to see that continue on.”

“I found out about that because I just put a post out on social media. That's how I've gotten a lot of the stories from the Native communities during the pandemic is through social media and just putting a call out and saying, you know, what are you doing differently during the pandemic? What's going on? What stories do you want to be told?”

"Another Ojibwe instructors, they went from doing in person classes also to doing Ojibwe lessons online.”

“Working at a mainstream TV station in Duluth to have those types of stories, those positive stories related to the Native community are extremely important. And it's been really a powerful experience to get those on air for the entire community to see a taste of our culture.”

“The pandemic is so hard on many Native intergenerational communities.”
“I know that when I worked at home during the pandemic, a lot of things that got me through it was setting up these Native stories.”

"A lot of the clinics up here are very, very careful. They're not even doing dentists appointments at this point for non-emergencies on the Fond Du Lac reservation."

"The Minnesota Chippewa tribe that makes up many, several different bands across the state, and they decided just as an entire unit, they were going to delay the elections, and then the elections did end up happening.”

“Even to have a mainstream television station covering tribal elections is really major. And so I assigned our intern to find the election results, and we got those up on the website.”

“What I also find very interesting is a lot of bands and this region had the sovereign power to, during the pandemic warn their band members, that if they test positive for COVID-19 and they don't follow the proper protocols, then they could be banished from the reservations and their tribal rights suspended.”

“And then also I reached out to all the different tribes in our coverage area, across Minnesota to see if they had similar policies that they were notifying their membership of and the Fond du Lac and up here had gotten back to me and let me know, yes, they have a resolution in place. Also that shows they have those sovereign powers and they're ready to exercise them." 

“There is this urgent need to hear these Native stories.”

Also in the newscast, Jourdan Bennett-Begaye has the latest numbers of positive COVID-19 tests in Indian Country.

The anchor and executive producer of the newscast is Patty Talahongva.

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