Trigger warning: Today’s National Native News contains a story about r*pe.
A Montana District Court has struck down three election laws that would have created barriers to voting weeks before the midterm election.
Eric Tegethoff has more.
Two of those laws presented especially high hurdles to Native Americans in the state. That includes a law that got rid of election day voter registration and another that banned third-party ballot collection.
Jacqueline De Leon is a staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, which represented plaintiffs in this case.
She says Judge Michael Moses found evidence that the Legislature intentionally discriminated against folks who rely on election day registration, such as Indigenous communities and students.
“It’s pretty disturbing that the Legislature went ahead and passed these laws despite the known impacts on Native Americans.”
The lawsuit was brought by Western Native Voice and tribes in Montana, including the Blackfeet Nation and Northern Cheyenne Tribe.
The third law struck down in the decision would have made it harder for students to register to vote by requiring them to use another form of identification in addition to their student ID.
De Leon says a court struck down a nearly identical ballot collection law in 2020 in Montana. She says many tribes don’t have reliable residential mail delivery.
“They’ve really come to rely on organizations that go out in vehicles that can access the poor roads and can pay for gas and can travel significant distances to circumvent poor mail service to pick up ballots for Native Americans.”
De Leon says it’s important to note that these laws are discriminatory and also, on the flip side, that Native Americans are not asking for extra accommodations.
“They’re not asking for more than what other Montanans are entitled to. What they’re asking for is for equal access and in the face of it being unequal, they’re asking that the tools that they use to overcome those inequalities not be targeted and taken away.”
A settlement has reportedly been reached between the U.S. government and victims of former Indian Health Service doctor Stanley Weber.
The Wall Street Journal reports, the government will pay somewhere between $1-2 million for each of the eight victims.
The lawsuit against the government claims the Indian Health Service ignored or tolerated Weber’s abuse.
Weber worked for IHS for more than 20 years.
The former pediatrician was convicted of r*ping and sexually assaulting children he treated in South Dakota and Montana.
In 2020, at age 71, Weber was sentenced to a string of life sentences in prison.
The settlement has not been finalized.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held this week for Itality Plant Based Foods.
The business focuses on culturally relevant Pueblo foods.
Owner Tina Archuleta (Jemez Pueblo) is a social entrepreneur, community doula, and chef.
She says her life has always centered around wellness in Native communities.
“I started my business on foot selling enchiladas around Jemez and that just developed and developed and developed into what we see here today. It’s been a long journey, maybe 16 years of trying and dreaming of this. It’s plant-based Pueblo food. It’s culturally relevant food. Food that we know and love, but made completely plant-based no dairy, no eggs. no animal by-products.”
Growing up in Jemez Pueblo, similar other rural areas in the state, Archuleta faced the challenges of a food desert with difficulty finding healthy food options.
She started a catering business and delivered healthy foods to tribal communities and gas stations. Now, her grab-and-go is a storefront on a plaza owned by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.
The plaza includes two hotels, a handful of eateries, and a bank, and is growing with a planned food co-op and other businesses.
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