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President Joe Biden on Tuesday designated Avi Kwa Ame, a sacred site in Nevada, as a national monument.
Its name means “Spirit Mountain” and is a sacred landscape to Indigenous people in Nevada and number of tribes.
President Biden designated it as a Traditional Cultural Property on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its religious and cultural importance.
“Breathtaking deserts, valleys, mountain ranges. Rich in biodiversity, sacred lands, that are central to the creation story of so many tribes who have been here since the time of memorial. Look, it’s a place of reverence, it’s a place of spirituality, and it’s a place of healing. And now it will be recognized for the significance it holds, and be preserved forever.”
More than 500,000 acres of land will now be safeguarded as a national monument.
Tribes across the country celebrated the news including Chairman Timothy Williams from the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, who introduced the President and thanked the White house for the designation.
President Biden also on Tuesday awarded National Humanities Medals.
A Native organization and a Native woman were among those honored.
Matt Laslo has more from Washington.
As Henrietta Mann likes to tell it, when she was working on her master’s thesis she “wanted to write about Indians…[but] was told, ‘no, you can’t.’”
That’s because her advisor knew there were no Native American scholars to grade her.
She made sure to change that, including for future generations.
Likely why the White House audience lavished the 88-year-old with a sustained ovation.
In 1986, the Bureau of Indian Affairs tapped Henrietta Mann to be “the first Indian woman to direct Indian education programs”.
She’s taught at University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University, but for 28 years she was a Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana.
She’s also the Endowed Chair in Native American Studies at Montana State University in Bozeman.
“A teacher, a scholar, and a leader. She’s dedicated her career to Native American education and to establishing the field of Native American studies,” President Biden said during the ceremony.
“Thanks in large part to her, Native American [sic: studies] is now taught at universities across the country, strengthening our nation to nation bonds for generations to come.”
While Mann was pivotal in enshrining Native American history’s place in academia, our sister public radio program “Native America Calling” was honored for starting and sustaining a dialogue with often overlooked voices from across Indian Country.
President Biden says the program has helped bring Indian Country to life for millions, even as it’s also served as a digital gathering place for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
“Every day from a studio in New Mexico, Native America Calling airs a podcast—a live radio show, exploring everything from the legacy of Native newspapers to Native cuisine to Native American solidarity with Ukraine, capturing the vastness of the Native American life and its profoundly impact on the country.”
The one-of-a-kind Native program started broadcasting to 14 stations in the 1990s.
It’s now on 139 stations, including many large, non-Native outlets.
President Biden also bestowed medals on the likes of musician Bruce Springsteen, fashion designer Vera Wang, actor Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and singer Gladys Knight.
Disclaimer: Native America Calling is owned by Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, which also owns National Native News.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will have a roundtable discussion regarding the “Native Priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill Reauthorization” in Washington D.C.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), the committee’s chairman, and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), vice chair of the committee, will lead the discussion.
A number of representatives from tribal food and agricultural programs are expected to testify.
Tribal leaders from across the country are advocating for the passage of the Farm Bill which they say helps fund many important programs in Indian Country.
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