The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, February 15, 2015


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

IMPORTANT DOC: The Seventh Fire, a film that follows two gang members on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival to critical praise.

SKULL SURPRISE: A human skull thought to belong to a soldier who died at the Battle of Gettysburg turned out to belong to a Native American man who lived some 700 years ago. The skull was set to be auctioned last June with a number of other artifacts thought to also be from Gettysburg, but the auction was canceled after a public outcry.

CAREER-CHANGER: Just days after releasing his latest single “I’m not a Mascot, I’m Not a Stereotype, I’ve Been Watching,” Award-winning Cherokee Folk Musician Michael Bucher was involved in a serious accident resulting in the loss of three fingers on his right hand.

KXL WILL POLLUTE: The Environmental Protection Agency has given President Barack Obama a good reason to deliver on his promise to veto construction of the controversial $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline if adds to the greenhouse gas pollution that causes climate change—because, according to an assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that is exactly what it will do.

TOP HOOPER: On Sunday, February 8, Nakotah LaRance won the 25th annual World Hoop Dancing Championship at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

HONORING FRANK: A pole honoring the late Billy Frank Jr. (1931-2014) now stands at Wa He Lut Indian School at Frank’s Landing on the Nisqually reservation in Washington State. The Salmon Totem Pole stands not far from where Frank and others were arrested multiple times for exercising their treaty fishing rights in the Fish Wars of the 1960s and 1970s.

DON'T SHOOT THE WOLF: Idle No More Duluth, based in northern Minnesota, is using the recent federal court ruling that put the gray wolf back on the endangered species list to call for respect by non-Natives of hunting bans enacted on most Minnesota Ojibwe tribal lands.

ROBIDEAUX DEMOTED: Top leaders with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have pressed pause on the complicated tenure of Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, who has served as director of the Indian Health Service (IHS) since 2009. They cite legal reasons, but there is more to her demotion, department and Senate officials say.

RAPID CITY TENSION: With few announcements from the Rapid City Police Department or Mayor’s office since the January 24 abuse of 57 Lakota children in the town’s Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, calls for justice from Native communities continue to echo across the Northern Plains.

TRAGIC: Flags were lowered on Thursday February 12 in Regina and Ottawa as Canada mourned the deaths of four prominent artists in a horrific car wreck: Michele Sereda, 49, a co-founder and artistic director of the experimental theater company Curtain Razors; dancer and powwow instructor Lacy Morin-Desjarlais, 29, Saulteaux and Métis, of Regina; Michael Green, 58, of Calgary, a co-founder of the theater company One Yellow Rabbit, and Blackfoot elder Narcisse Blood, 60, Kainai First Nation.

REVERSAL: Seven months after Indian Heritage School in Seattle was designated a public landmark, Seattle Public Schools is now moving ahead with plans to demolish the 60-year-old school to make way for construction of a new elementary school and middle school.

JUSTICE?: Sentenced to three years for the sexual abuse of boys at a Saskatchewan residential school more than 50 years ago, convicted pedophile Paul Leroux has been granted full parole after serving just one year.

RETURN OF KICKING WING: Adam Beach has signed on to reprise his role of Kicking Wing in Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser. For Beach, it's a chance to again share the screen with Christopher Walken, Dennis Miller, David Spade. But it's also an opportunity to consider the question: Why was Adam Beach in the original Joe Dirt at all?

SAD OCCASION: Many across Turtle Island observed Valentine's Day—not as a day of romance but as a commemoration of loss and celebration lives that are no more.

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