The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, July 24, 2016


World events reverberated strongly in Indian country, given that we were well represented at the Olympics, plus had ears to the ground at the Republican and Democratic national conventions. That, a tragic shooting and more during the weekend preceding July 24.

WHO DOES THAT? Sadly we must start with some horrific news, that of the shooting death of 13-year-old Teca Clifford. She was gunned down in front of three of her friends on the main street of Pine Ridge Village on the Pine Ridge Reservation, four weeks after her 13th birthday. Police took two men into custody but gave out no other information.

REPUBLICANS ON PARADE: The Republican National Convention took place in Cleveland this past week, and Indian Country Today Media Network is covering both that and the Democratic convention from both inside and outside the venue. Mark Trahant surmised that nominee Donald Drumpf’s Republicans will champion more coal. Suzette Brewer reported on a first day marked by continued Republican infighting, convention chaos and charges of plagiarism, among other high jinx. Plenty was seen and heard outside the convention center on Day One, as well. Day Two was all about protests. Day Three outside the Republican National Convention began with local authorities addressing an altercation with radio personality Alex Jones the day before and ended with a flag burning altercation Wednesday evening, Charles Kader reported.

‘INDIAN COUNTRY IN MY HEART’: Olympics-bound gymnast 18-year-old Ashton Locklear, Lumbee, is headed to the Summer Olympics in Rio. The holder of seven national and world titles in uneven bars placed second in that event and 13th in balance beam in the U.S. Olympic Trials to earn a spot as one of three alternates on the U.S. Olympic team. “Indian country is in my heart,” she announced.

AQUAMAN: The trailer for the DC Superhero movie Justice League has been released, and among the stars are Jason Momoa as Aquaman. The movie also stars DC Comic heroes Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the Flash (Ezra Miller), Superman (Henry Cavill) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).

‘MORE THAN A SASH’: ICTMN caught up with Miss Universe Canada, Métis Siera Bearchell, for a chat on what it’s like to be a contestant and how she’ll use her heightened visibility to draw attention to issues affecting Indigenous Peoples, especially women. “It’s more than a sash,” she said of her win.

FIGHT OF HIS LIFE: George (Comanche Boy) Tahdooahnippah had one of the biggest fights of his already memorable boxing career, fighting 10 rounds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in his Las Vegas debut.

DISPLACEMENT AND VIOLENT STANDOFFS: the indigenous Miskitu and the Sandinista revolutionaries of Nicaragua have never gotten along, and now with elections looming, conflict is escalating in the isolated, binational region of Muskitia. Farther south, in Brazil, 100 heavily armed military police officers evicted the Apy K’ay Guarani community from their ancestral territory in Mato Grosso do Sul in northern Brazil in order to make way for an industrial scale farming operation. This forced the families to again live by the side of a major highway, where several had been killed by vehicles or poisoned to death.

BIG WINS: The Spokane Tribe got the okay from Washington Governor Jay Inslee to build a casino, and a small tribe in California, the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria, got a court ruling in their favor in their own ongoing bid to build a casino.

‘WHAT IFS’: Fracking has raised a lot of questions on the Navajo Nation, especially in remote areas, and that was made especially visible when a fatally deformed lamb was born to the Keetso family’s livestock.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES HOLD THE KEY: It’s indigenous people who must lead the world to sustainability, notes renowned activist and Ted Speaker Rebecca Adamson. “Whether we like it or not the simple truth is that Indians have to become leaders beyond their own communities,” Adamson, Cherokee Nation, told ICTMN. “We have to get out there and we have to start leading now. There’s no choice.”

FRONTLINES, THE COURTS: The current battleground for trying to save the rest of the world from itself is the courts. In California, the Yurok and Karuk tribes plan to sue the U.S. government over its management of water flows in the Klamath River, which they say caused the deaths of untold number of salmon by making them susceptible to a fatal parasite. In Washington State, the Quinault Nation joined a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its approval of genetically modified salmon for human consumption.

MONUMENT STATUS: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited the Bears Ears region of Utah to learn more about what has prompted 25 tribes to ask for the 1.9 million acres of land to be designated as a national monument. She told ICTMN that President Barack Obama would make the decision before he leaves office early next year. 

BID FOR PEACE: In the wake of the recent shootings of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in alleged retaliation for the deaths of civilians being stopped by police, came a bid for peace from Rick Williams, the older brother of Ditidaht woodcarver John T. Williams, who was gunned down by Seattle Police in 2010. He is lobbying for changes in Washington State law that would make it easier to charge police officers with crimes for the misuse of deadly force.

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