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Over the weekend, the Native community in Lawrence, KS received a public apology from two people charged for their involvement in the vandalization and theft of a Native American art exhibit at the University of Kansas Spencer Art Museum in 2021.
As Rhonda LeValdo reports, the incident was hurtful to Native students on campus and at the nearby Haskell Indian Nations University.
A crowd gathered in front of the Spencer Art Museum on the University of Kansas campus as two non-Natives apologized for destroying the “Native Hosts”, an outdoor art installation by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne, Arapaho).
The panels are metal signs that include the names of the Kaw, Potawatomi, Ioway, Ne Me Ha Ha Ki, and Kickapoo tribes.
One of the defendants, John Wichlenski, talked about how he has learned from the incident.
“We didn’t know the nature of the signs, it’s no excuse of what we did, but we’re grateful for the opportunity to really be here and work with some phenomenal people. They are very open armed with us, and welcoming and nice, kind, cordial, and we think that is a great mix between us and them. Hopefully create some peace and spread awareness, and hopefully continue on a path to become allies of the cause.”
KU’s First Nations Student Association wrote in a statement:
“This exhibit was intended to draw attention to issues of Native sovereignty, colonial dispossession and respect and honor for Indigenous peoples upon whose land KU’s campus occupies. Native exhibits are incredible tools for creating conversations and drawing attention to our history and the value we bring to our areas of study and our interactions with the community at large.”
Haskell students were in attendance for the event – and Skyler LaBahe would have liked to been able to ask questions.
“They should have heard what we went through, our personal point of views, but they just closed it and took off.”
Both Wichlenski and Samuel McKnight will do a presentation at the KU First Nations Powwow in Spring.
For two others accused in the incident, their cases are to begin in January 2023.
The leaders of two southern Arizona tribes have been appointed to a new federal advisory council focusing on border security and other issues.
As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, they’ll be involved in U.S. policies that impact Indian Country.
Tohono O’odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr and Pascua Yaqui Tribe Chairman Peter Yucupicio were among 15 people appointed to the Tribal Homeland Security Advisory Council earlier this month.
They’ll offer guidance to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on cybersecurity, law enforcement, emergency management, domestic terrorism, and border security.
Officials say their experience will be crucial in efforts to keep Arizonans safe and strengthen nation-to-nation relationships.
Collectively the two chairmen represent more than 564,000 tribal members and 178 villages and village corporations.
Officials say the advisory group will allow the federal government to utilize the broad base of knowledge and expertise of Indigenous people as it relates to homeland security.
In April, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that classifies the Tohono O’odham Shadow Wolves as special agents.
According to officials, it allows the elite border patrol unit made up of Indigenous trackers known for their ability to track drug smugglers and human traffickers, to better investigate and secure the border.
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