Indigenous arts and culture leader retires

We’ll hear from the man who opened the National Museum of the American Indian and is now leaving the Autry Museum. Plus we have a Beltway update on new policy that impacts Indian Country.
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After nine years of leading the Autry Museum of the American West, its president and CEO is retiring. Rick West is also the founding Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, where he served as Director from 1990-2007. He’s an attorney and a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma.

John Tahsuda, III is a regular contributor to Indian Country Today.  He’s worked as the staff director for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and he is also a former principal deputy assistant secretary for Indian Affairs. John Tahsuda joins us today to talk about policy and the impact on Indian Country.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • Montana’s Democratic Party is formalizing a role in the party specifically for Native Americans. 
  • In an effort to reclaim and maintain tribal identity, Indigenous languages are being revitalized in Wisconsin. 
  • The Canadian government’s national action plan responding to the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is falling short, that’s according to several First Nations people. 
  • Jerod Tate is a musician and a composer who is blending traditional and modern cultures on stage. Carina Dominguez talks to him about his latest album.

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

Some quotes from today's show.

W. Richard West, Jr.:

"Well, it is, and of course Gene Autry is my fellow Oklahoman. Much of his family was located in Oklahoma, North Texas, down in Chickasaw country, as I recall. And so there's that kind of connection. And then I had a connection fairly early on before I actually came out here to be the director."

"Because when they merged the Southwest Museum of the American Indian into the Autry in 2003, the director then set up a special Native council. And I served as part of that council got to know Jackie much better. Gene, unfortunately was already gone by then. But my ties to the Autry go back even before my tenure, as its present CEO. And it's quite a remarkable place."

"You refer to one of our lead favorite programs of mine, Native Voices, a Native theater program that sits with the Autry. And I liked it so much that you may not remember, but when I was the director of the National Museum of the American Indian, I actually tried to bring that program to the NMAI and the artistic director and leaders of the Native theaters operation at that point said, well, Washington D.C., living near San Diego, I think we'll stay on the West Coast. And so that's how it came to be with the Autry Museum of the American West."

John Tahsuda, III: 

"A big deal, a big deal for Indian Country. And I think probably surpassed some expectations. We rarely get a nine nothing decision. I think that this issue of the authority to stop potential criminals on the road and being able to hold them is a really big deal because there's often no other law enforcement on public roads and in Indian Country."

"And so it was a really big deal calling that into question in the Ninth Circuit really kind of went down a rabbit hole with this, and I think some people were puzzled that they went the direction they did. When the Supreme Court issues a nine, zero decision that really puts an issue to rest. There's kind of nowhere else for it to go. So that was a great outcome for tribes and for tribal jurisdiction."

"They're often the only law enforcement out there. And it's a challenge for our tribal law enforcement because they also are understaffed in almost every reservation. So they're often out there alone and every time that there is a question about how they conduct their activities, that that makes it more and more difficult for them to do their basic job of public safety. So again, this is a really a great outcome for tribal law enforcement and for tribal jurisdiction."

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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 Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @Carinad7, Instagram: @CarinaNicole7 She's based in Phoenix and New York. 

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