The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, July 3, 2016


A Canada Day call for reconciliation and unity, a court victory for Native women escaping violence, and high jinks for the July 4 holiday weekend were all on tap in Indian country for the week ending on July 3.

TWO-SPIRIT AND PROUD: June was Pride Month, with Pride Day falling on the last Sunday, June 26. A Métis photographer’s two-spirit project set out to decolonize homophobic attitudes. Saskatchewan-based producer, filmmaker, and photographer Marcel Petit (Métis) created a photo essay of Two-Spirit couple Warren Ibister (Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation) and Don Bear (Peter Ballantyne of Cree Nation) wearing traditional regalia in women’s Cree style. ICTMN also profiled amazing two-spirit, LGBTQ Native people you should know

TOGETHER AGAIN: Ending nearly two centuries of separation, the Grand Portage Ojibwe regained ownership of the 13th island in an archipelago, when the Nature Conservancy gave the tribe the one island it lacked of the Susie Islands. The 145-acre islet is the largest in the archipelago that starts about a mile offshore in Lake Superior.

SWING TIPS: Indian Country Today Media Network released its 2016 Golf Directory, listing the more than 60 Native-owned courses across the United States. Native pros tipped us off on where they like to tee off, and the Bold Nike N7 Golf Project organizers spoke about the benefits of the game for young people.

REZBALL: More in sports, with 128 teams, rezball was in the limelight at the Native American Basketball Invitational, the largest Native basketball tournament in North America and the premier all-Native youth basketball tournament in the world.

SUPREME COURT VICTORIES: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of two tribal issues last week, one regarding Native women and violence, and the other regarding college admissions. The court ruled on June 23 that University of Texas at Austin’s use of race as one factor in admissions decisions was allowable to help the university create a diverse student body. A few days later, in a 6-2 ruling, the court on June 27 affirmed the federal firearm prohibition, which bans those convicted of minor domestic violence charges from possessing a firearm.

HISTORIC APPOINTMENT: In a court victory of a different sort, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton appointed Judge Anne McKeig to the Minnesota Supreme Court. McKeig, a descendant of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, is the first American Indian woman to be appointed to the state’s highest court. Notably, for the first time since 1991, the majority of the seven-member court is comprised of women.

RAISING THEIR VOICES: Gyasi Ross and Simon Moya-Smith put Native issues on the national agenda with appearances on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes and on CNN, respectively. Ross, ICTMN’s Editor at Large, addressed Donald Drumpf’s candidacy and, specifically, Drumpf’s 1993 quote, “They don’t look Indian,” as part of the presumptive Republican Presidential Candidate’s reoccurring shtick. Moya-Smith spoke about the ongoing Elizabeth Warren brouhaha and her claims of Native American heritage, calling her a “convenient Indian.”

NAFTA BRO FEST: The Assembly of First Nations expressed surprise and not a few reservations after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) about development for Indigenous Peoples without consulting any. President Barack Obama joined them for a North American Summit during which they discussed climate change and other topics in addition to Indigenous Peoples.

FIRE TRAGEDY: The week was not without its trials, especially in California, where a fire swept across traditional Tubatulabal, Kawaiisu and Paiute lands this week, destroying more than 250 homes and buildings and killing two people.

SAD FAREWELL: The untimely passing of Colville Tribal Chairman Jim Boyd at age 60 was felt keenly as he was laid to rest in Inchelium.

TAINTED: Animas Valley Water was being investigated for a long list of complaints ranging from delivering dirty water to failing to communicate boil advisories for those who did not have access to internet notices.

HIT LIST: Bertha Cáceres, the slain Lenca leader in Honduras, was allegedly on a military hit list, a fact that did not surprise her daughter.

BREAKING GOOD: The Eastern Shawnee broke ground for a $34 million expansion on its Indigo Sky Casino in Northeast Oklahoma. The tribe is adding a seven-story, 128-room hotel, plus a 600-seat ballroom event center, as well as other facilities.

CANADA DAY: July 1 was Canada’s 149th birthday, and on this anniversary of its founding Indigenous Peoples called once again for unity, partnership and reconciliation. It also seemed fitting, as the country begins celebrating its 150th year of incorporation, to revisit the compelling words of Chief Dan George on its 100th anniversary.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: The July 4 weekend afforded an opportunity for both hilarity and hearty fare, with humorous suggestions on ways that Natives can celebrate the holiday, as well as serious nourishment, with grilled recipes that were in play long before the so-called United States were a twinkle in the eye of those who liked to think of themselves as the Founding Fathers. 

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