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The powerful asset of tribal lands

From public policy, corporate culture and, for tribes across the country, who controls their land, in this special episode, we look at issues that impact the future and well-being of tribal nations, through a sovereignty lens
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Indian Country Today

Questions about blame, beyond Donald Trump, are surfacing in Congress.

Markwayne Mullin is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and he’s a Republican Representative from Oklahoma. He is a good example of the complexity of the situation.

In a video he released this week, he says we are all to blame. 

But that same member of Congress is being castigated for two incidents that other members of Congress say put them at risk.

The first involves guns in the Capitol. House rules say that members are allowed to have weapons in their offices, but not at the Capitol itself. Even after the attack, Mullin refused to accept screening at a weapons checkpoint, saying it violated his freedom.

And during the insurrection Mullin was one of the members who refused to wear a mask — and now several House members have tested positive for coronavirus.

Both House incidents are under investigation and could result in discipline.

Representation in Kansas

Christina Haswood is officially sworn into the Kansas House of Representatives.

The Navajo Democrat may just be embarking on her new role in the Kansas legislature, but she’s already making history.

At 26, she is currently the youngest member of the Kansas legislature, and only its second Native American member.

For the historic moment, Haswood knew she wanted to use her swearing-in ceremony this week to highlight her culture.

So, she took her oath wearing traditional Diné regalia, which included moccasins, a velveteen skirt, and a red blouse with silver embellishments.

“It was just really a powerful moment for me to visually show people that we are still here today and we're not going anywhere”.

Haswood says she wore red to represent the ongoing epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous people.

News organizations seek IHS disclosure

A federal judge is ordering the U.S. Indian Health Service to disclose a report detailing the agency’s decades-long mishandling of a pediatrician who sexually abused Native American boys in his care.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times sued the federal government in April seeking to compel the release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Indian Health Services is a federal agency that provides health services to 2.6 million Native Americans.

They claimed the report was exempt from disclosure because it constituted a privileged “ medical quality assurance review”.

The judge rejected that argument, noting that the report examined criminal and administrative activities, not medical ones.

The journal, “Frontline Investigation” found IHS had tried to silence the whistleblower and allowed Weber to continue treating children despite the suspicions of his peers and superiors.

Weber was ultimately sentenced to five lifetime prison terms and is appealing one of his convictions.

Suit filed to stop transfer of land to mining company

Apache Stronghold, which represents traditional Apache religious and cultural leaders, is suing the Trump administration in U.S. District Court. 

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The case is being heard in Phoenix, Arizona. 

They want to stop the transfer of Oak Flat to Rio Tinto and its subsidiary, Resolution Copper. 

Wendsler Nosie, Sr., leader of the group, says he hopes American Justice shines through. 

“So when I look at this lawsuit, it's in the hands of the justice. So now we're going to see if the American people's justice is really fair and really have the equality for all human beings on the face of the earth and especially here in America,” he said. 

The lawsuit seeks to stop the U.S. Forest Service's publication of a final Environmental Impact Statement.  

The statement will trigger the transfer of Oak Flat to Resolution within the next 60 days. 

The group claims the land around Oak Flat was reserved for Western Apaches in an 1852 Treaty with the United States. 

Resolution Copper says it is reviewing the lawsuit and cannot immediately comment. 

The powerful asset of tribal lands

Who has a seat at the table? That impacts everything from public policy, corporate culture and, for tribes across the country, who controls their land. In this episode, we look at issues that impact the future and well-being of tribal nations, through a sovereignty lens.

In California, the site of one of the oldest and largest Ohlone villages is being threatened by developers. A proposed housing complex would destroy what's left of the village, which is the first place along the San Francisco Bay area where people lived.

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are two of many Tribes across the country that have comprehensive plans to expand their land base. The Indian Land Tenure Foundation is a national, community-based organization focused on American Indian land recovery and management.

California has a new law requiring corporate boards to diversify their members to include minorities. Only a few Native Americans have a seat at the board.

Native Americans took to social media in dismay over law enforcement’s reaction to the insurgence at the U.S. Capitol, January 6. ICT puts that in perspective from the Alcatraz takeover in 1969.

A Mohawk potter reflects her culture in clay.

Corinna Gould, Tribal Leader, Confederated Villages of Lisjan, Oakland, California:

Most of our sites are covered with asphalt and buildings and our, our sacred landscapes are almost disappeared in the naked eye. And so it's important for us, not only as Lisjan people to take up this site, but for people that now live in our territory to realize these amazing, sacred places in their myths.

Cris Stainbrook, Indian Land Tenure Foundation President:

It's important that examples like Umatilla and Leech Lake are out there, so people can see that it's not, it's not howling at the moon--it's actually happening and you just have to put a plan together and move forward.

Rebecca Adamson, Cherokee Economist, Fredericksburg, Virginia

It was because an Indian person was there that it was able to really address those things that are so crucial to us like self-determination. So we have to have some kind of unified way to look at board diversity with Indian country being part of that equation.

Robert Warrior, Acting Chair, Department of American Studies, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

That's one of the things that we're all doing right now with what happened in DC last week is seeing that, that we thought we were coming out of something with the Trump administration ending, but I don't know that people thought that this would be entering into a new watershed moment. And it seems like that's a real possibility here of what's going on in in, in 2021, is that sense that we don't know what's going to happen next. And I think that's the real similarity with Alcatraz as well.

Meet Katsitsionni Fox, Bear Clan from the Mohawk Nation. She is an artist, filmmaker and educator. You can follow her pottery at #lifegiverspottery