Indian Country Headlines for Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Joaqlin Estus

Shoshone-Bannock festival cancelled; A call to remove Mt. Rushmore carvings; transition for coal communities; Navajo rez wildfires

Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival canceled due to COVID-19

In Idaho, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes announced the cancellation of the 57th annual Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival in August. The Fort Hall Business Council supported the festival cancellation to safeguard the community amid growing concerns about the COVID pandemic.

The festival is the largest outdoor festival and pow wow in the state. It brings in visitors from around the country, Canada and the world. It’s the event that many in Indian Country stop at before the Crow Fair in Montana, which is the largest Native American event in Montana, and one of the biggest powwows in the country.

Festivities that will be missed are the powwow, arts and craft vendors, art show, Indian relay races, rodeo, traditional buffalo and salmon feast, royalty contest, softball, hand game, golf, parade and skate jam. Current royalty will retain their titles until August 2021 and vendors will be fully refunded.

Find more information at the festival website or Facebook page.

Remove ‘American presidents’ on the Black Hills, says tribal chairman

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier called for the “removal of American presidents into the sacred Black Hills” on social media.

“Nothing stands as a greater reminder to the Great Sioux Nation of a country that cannot keep a promise or treaty” than the faces carved into our sacred land on what the United States calls Mount Rushmore. He said the Sioux are being forced to witness the lashing of their lands with pomp, arrogance, and the threat of wildfires.

“This brand on our flesh needs to be removed and I am willing to do it free of charge to the United States by myself if I must,” Frazier added. “We are the ones who live under the stare of those who have wronged us while others have the privilege to look away and move on, we cannot.”

https://twitter.com/crstchairman/status/1277961875355865091?s=21

A national transition program for coal communities

While the national conversation is focused elsewhere, the National Economic Transition Platform gives leaders the opportunity to help address these serious challenges in coal communities by enacting solutions that local leaders already know work.

This year, U.S. coal consumption is set to decline by more than 23 percent and the closure of more coal facilities will likely be accelerated by COVID-19 and the economic decline. As a result, a potentially devastating crisis looms over communities that once relied on coal, like coal mining communities in Appalachia, the Illinois Basin, Montana, Wyoming as well as communities with coal fired power plants situated from the Navajo Nation to Central Minnesota.

This crisis could mean more job losses, the further erosion of the tax base, and cuts to vital services layered on in places already struggling following previous recessions amid decades of inequality and widespread poverty. This perilous situation makes challenges for low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal communities already disproportionately left behind by the status quo even more significant.

Navajo Nation wildfire continues to spread

The Wood Springs 2 Fire on the Navajo Nation continues to spread with little to no containment.

The fire started on June 27 and has spread to more than 5,800 acres, according to the Navajo Region Fire and Aviation Management incident information page. The cause of the fire is lightning.

“Please keep our first responders in your prayers,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez posted Tuesday on social media.

The fire is three miles east of Wood Springs, Arizona. Wood Springs is about 11 miles northeast of Ganado, Arizona, near the New Mexico border.

For the latest information, including road closures, click here.

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