Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) signed legislation extending state recognition to Alaska’s 229 tribes.
All of the Alaska Native tribes are already federally recognized. The approval comes as supporters were pushing a public referendum this fall to accomplish the same thing.
The governor’s signature means the referendum vote is unnecessary.
The new law is mostly symbolic as there are no new legal provisions. But supporters say it paves the way for better consultation between the tribes and the state.
Two influential U.S. senators are calling for an investigation into whether Freedmen should receive federal benefits offered to Native Americans under the nation’s treaty obligations.
The hearing before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is the first ever in that chamber to address the status of the descendants of Black people enslaved by Native nations.
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) chairs the committee. He acknowledged the difficult and emotionally charged nature of the discussion. But he says disagreements are not resolved in silence.
“It is our goal today to start a respectful dialogue to listen to different perspectives both in a formal setting and informally among members of Congress, tribal leaders and freeman advocates. And to educated the committee and the public with informed accounts relating to our nation’s two greatest failures: the removal of Native peoples from their homelands and the enslavement of Black people.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) agreed with Sen. Schatz’ call for a review of federal policy.
The Cherokee Nation is the only one of the Five Tribes of Oklahoma to fully recognize Freedmen as citizens.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Junior told the committee the efforts by the Cherokee Nation to make amends with Freedmen has made him a better chief.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe is suing the federal government over inadequate law enforcement on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports the lawsuit lists a total of 33 tribal law enforcement officials to patrol more than 3 million acres of land.
The tribe says those officers handle around 134,000 emergency calls in a year’s time. That translates to as much as 80 hours of overtime for the six to eight officers working at any one time.
The lawsuit says the reservation would need at least 140 officers to comply with Bureau of Indian Affairs standards.
The Argus Leader reports the lack of adequate law enforcement means citizens don’t feel safe and businesses are forced to pay for private protection for their property and employees.
Representatives from the tribe traveled to Washington D.C. to discuss the problem, but the lawsuit says they were met with indifference.
The South Dakota state legislature also recognized the problem during this year’s session with a resolution requesting the federal government “fulfill treaty obligations by fully funding” the tribe’s police department.
The first inaugural James Welch Native Lit Festival is underway in northwest Montana.
The festival aims to create a space for Indigenous writers to share their work. Aaron Bolton has more.
The three-day festival in Missoula is named after Montana author and poet James Welch, who was born on the Blackfeet Reservation in 1940.
Welch wrote several novels and one book of poems.
His 1986 novel Fools Crow, about the arrival of white settlers in the Blackfeet Nation, won the Los Angeles Times book prize for fiction.
Welch died in the early 2000s.
The festival named in his honor will feature talks by 19 Indigenous authors from around the country over three days, including multiple New York Times best-selling authors and Pulitzer Prize winners.
The festival runs through Saturday.
All of the talks will be streamed online.
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