The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, July 17, 2016


Consultation victories, a sports win, yet another human rights activist slain in Honduras, and a dollop or two of Native humor characterized the past week in Indian country.

TRAGEDY UPON TRAGEDY: The terrorist attack in Nice, the shootings of civilians and police officers in the U.S., and the apparent compounding of terrorism and violence worldwide has many people despairing. But ICTMN contributor Gyasi Ross put the events in a more hopeful context and offered a model for moving forward based on the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee. Contributor Steve Russell posed an explanation of the legal intricacies that stand between cops who kill, and prosecution.

NOT AGAIN: Gypsy dress designer Sondra Celli created a Cherokee-themed dress and a Native American-influenced headdress for Hunter and Dalton Smith on the reality series My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. She said the groom claimed Native heritage, and the bride was Native-inspired.

HAND SLAP: Thomas Munson, the museum worker who in 1990 stole the bones of more than 40 ancient Natives who lived between 700 and 2,500 years ago and stashed them—in garbage bags—in his garage, was finally sentenced. He got a single year of home detention.

HEINOUS OUTRAGE: Another indigenous activist has been murdered in Honduras, four months after the assassination of award-winning leader Bertha Cáceres. According to Honduran police, Lesbia Yaneth died from a severe blow to the head, her body found in a trash heap in the Matamulas sector of Marcala.

RESPECT: Enbridge Inc., the company that has been pushing to build an oil pipeline through pristine British Columbia forest occupied by First Nations, lost the permits for the project after a court ruled they had not properly consulted with the area’s Indigenous Peoples. A few days later the Canadian government suspended all reviews pertaining to the 730-mile-long pipeline, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that the Great Bear Rainforest is no place for a pipeline.

VALIDATION: A new interdisciplinary study of oystering in Chesapeake Bay covers the entire history and prehistory of human impact on the oyster beds and concludes that the most sustainable harvesting methods were those practiced by American Indians before colonization.

PRICE GAUGING? What people living on Indian reservations have long suspected turns out to be true—Natives pay much more for food than people in other communities do, according to a report from the First Nations Development Institute.

CHACO FRACKING: In what could be a win for consultation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has postponed an oil and gas lease sale on land near Chaco Canyon so as to consult with the nearly two dozen tribes that hold the region sacred. Meanwhile, pressure is building for the BLM to stop selling the leases altogether, as a coalition of New Mexican environmental groups gears up to oppose the offering of 36 lease parcels comprised of 13,876 acres of publicly owned land.

AS WE WERE SAYING…: A fire consumed storage tanks at an oil field in New Mexico, and a WPX Energy spokesperson has apologized to dozens of Navajo Nation citizens who had to evacuate their homes. The fire broke out in a series of explosions on Monday, July 11 at 10:15 pm at WPX Energy’s West Lybrook six-well-pad unit, a five-acre oil production site on Highway 550 near Nageezi, New Mexico, in San Juan County. Fifty-five households were evacuated, though most have since returned home. 

INUNDATION: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency in the northern part of the state after storms caused flooding in eight counties. The Bad River Ojibwe reservation, located in Ashland County, was hit hard.

WINNERS: The Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team pulled a repeat of last year’s World Indoor Lacrosse Championships with an explosive victory against England with a 22-4 win on Friday July 8 at the 2016 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Under-19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championships.

POKÉMON FEVER: It being the official Silly Season, we will close this week with a nod at Pokémon Go, the game craze that is sending people careening through the streets and across lawns. ICTMN A&E Editor Vincent Schilling came up with several Native characters we’d like to see in Pokémon Go.

TWEET TWEET: We also sampled some of the hilarious Native Tweets out there in Twitterland, Indian country.

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