The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, August 4, 2013

August 04, 2013

It's our weekly roundup of the stories that mattered most in Indian country:

COUNCIL MEETS: The first meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs took place July 29 -- without tribal leaders present.

ON THE RECORD: Having protested for months to a proposed export terminal for coal at Cherry Point, the Lummi Nation has formally registered its opposition to the project in a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers.

A GOOD CHOICE: Tribal leaders and Indians affairs officials are expressing optimism at President Barack Obama’s choice of Michael Connor to become the next Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior. Obama announced July 30 that Connor, current Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation at Interior and former top aide to Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) at the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee from 2001 to 2009, is his nominee to fill the position.

YOU'VE BEEN WARNED: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., shared a quick position on immigration that could be seen as a warning to the Republican Party as a whole. "If we fail on immigration reform, it won’t matter who our nominee is because of the polarization of the Hispanic vote," McCain said. "Now that’s not why I’m for immigration reform, but it certainly is one of the consequences of a failure."

POW WOW IN THE BIG HOUSE: Native American inmates of the Airway Heights Correction Center in Spokane, Washington, were permitted to pow wow with their families present.

NGS LEASE EXTENDED: Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly hosted a small gathering in Window Rock, Arizona on Tuesday to celebrate the signing of a lease extension with the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station, even as a new proposal to curb the plant’s pollution is drawing a lukewarm response from environmental groups.

BABY VERONICA STORY ISN'T OVER: Before the adoption of Veronica Brown to Matt and Melanie Capobianco was finalized in a South Carolina courtroom, the Native American Rights Fund made good on its promised Civil Rights litigation, filing a complaint in federal district court on behalf of the girl's right to due process in a “meaningful hearing” to determine her best interest.

GOING INTERNATIONAL: The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes called on the Obama Administration to allow a first of its kind pact with the state of Oklahoma permitting the tribes to operate international gaming sites from their native lands.

CONTROVERSIAL BOOK: Some New York parents are saying their sixth graders aren’t ready for the content in Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and have asked that it no longer be required summer reading.

HERO: The Nez Perce Tribe is mourning the loss of Elmer Crow, Jr., 69, who drowned while saving his 7-year-old grandson the evening of July 26.

DROUGHT CONDITIONS: Under a state of emergency and watching its horses die of thirst, the Navajo Nation is getting $3 million of relief from the tribe's coffers.

JUNK FOOD TAX: A group of Navajo activists advocating for healthy living is not deterred by the tribal council’s decision to reject their proposed Junk Food Tax Act of 2013. The Diné Community Advocacy Alliance instead plans to partner with private businesses and introduce their bill as a referendum next election.

HEALTHY LEARNING: The American Indian College Fund announced that the United Health Foundation's Diverse Scholars Initiative has awarded $100,000 for scholarships to 18 academically deserving Native students pursuing health or health-related degrees.

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