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The Duwamish Tribe in Washington State is suing for federal recognition. The suit filed this week claims the Interior Department continues to deny recognition even though Congress ratified the Treaty of Point Elliot, a document signed by Duwamish leaders.
The treaty exchanged thousands of acres of land for continued hunting and fishing rights, and creation of a reservation in what is now Washington’s most populous county. In their lawsuit, attorneys for the tribe accuse the government of discrimination by discounting the lineage of female ancestors who married non-native men.
Among those opposing the Duwamish recognition effort is the nearby Muckleshoot tribe, who say Duwamish members merged with the Muckleshoots and other tribes and don’t have a separate recognition claim.
Tribal leaders are offering their observations following this week’s release of a report by the Department of Interior documenting abuses at federal boarding schools.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. says the report is long overdue. Nearly a fifth of the boarding schools were in Oklahoma.
The Ponca News reports Chief Hoskin says the report spurs discussion about more robust examinations about places where children who died while attending boarding schools are buried and how to give them the dignity they deserve.
Congress has cleared a short-term extension of a federal law that compensates people in the West who were exposed to radiation during the Cold War. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, supporters hope it’ll give lawmakers more time to craft a larger expansion of the program.
The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) is set to expire in July. Several members of Congress and tribal leaders want the program extended through 2040 and expand eligibility to include more geographic areas. They also want uranium mine, mill and transportation workers who were exposed after 1971 to be covered under the law.
Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez is urging lawmakers to increase individual compensation to $200,000.
RECA provides one-time payouts to people known as downwinders who were exposed to radiation from nuclear weapons testing. It also includes uranium industry workers, many of whom were tribal members, and suffer from various types of cancers and other long-term health problems caused by the exposure.
The U.S. Senate approved the measure earlier this month and it now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk.
The U.S. conducted nearly 200 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1962. The rush to mine uranium on tribal lands in the Southwest throughout the Cold War left more than 500 abandoned uranium mines, few of which have been cleaned up.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is purchasing land and buildings for their ambitious cannabis production plans. Smoky Mountain News reports the tribal council agreed to pay $15 million for 95 acres. The deal includes two motel buildings.
The tribe legalized medical marijuana use and allows possession of up to an ounce of marijuana on tribal land. For now, marijuana remains illegal in the state of North Carolina. Some Eastern Band officials say the tribe aims to operate the largest recreation cannabis outlet on the east coast.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee is also moving ahead with a $75 million project officials are calling a “themed spectacle” in Tennessee. The tribe is partnering with a French theme park company to develop 200 acres of land for an attraction organizers say will center on Cherokee history.
After 16 years as chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa, Aaron Payment is stepping down. His resignation comes after the tribal council censured him in January alleging a host of infractions including mismanagement.
Payment has held elected office with the tribe for 20 years and has had several posts in native organizations including executive leadership with the National Congress of American Indians.
He’ll continue serving on the National Advisory Council of Indian Education.
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