The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country


It’s our roundup of all the big news coming out of Indian country; this week saw an unprecedented dialogue with the Chief Executive, steps forward and backward in the fight against racism in the school system, and numerous developments in the Johnny "Tonto" Depp storyline.

• LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: President Barack Obama addressed Indian issues in an unprecedented Q&A with a Native media publication. "I believe that treaty commitments are paramount law," he said, "and I will strive to fulfill these commitments as president. This means providing quality, affordable health care and improving education quality on reservations across America."

• CHIEF GETS COURT DATE: Caleen Sisk, chief and spiritual leader of the small, unrecognized Winnemem Wintu tribe from Northern California, received a court date regarding alleged lawbreaking at a Coming of Age ceremony June 17. At issue is the tribe's use of a motorboat to ferry elderly tribal members across the McCloud River, which the Forest Service had ordered closed to motorboats, at the request of the tribe, for the ceremony.

• SAY NO TO MASCOTS AND SHORT CAKE: The Washington State Board of Education passed a resolution to end the use of Native American mascots. Meanwhile, a homework assignment at the Lakeland Union High School that featured an offensive joke about "Chief Short Cake" sparked controversy when a mother posted it to her Facebook page. "I am pissed my tax dollars are being spent to promote white privilege," one Facebooker replied. "I am pissed LUHS continues to teach racism."

• STAR POWER: Actor Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance at the Comanche Fair in Lawton, Oklahoma, riding in a convertible during the parade and later addressing tribal members. Days later, Disney released new still photos and a poster for The Lone Ranger and a longer theatrical trailer. In the film, Depp plays the American Indian character Tonto.

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