A push to establish a new national monument near the Grand Canyon gained steam recently with the visit of U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, for years, tribes and environmentalists have advocated for added protections in the area.
Sec. Haaland met with leaders of the Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, and other members of the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition.
They’re urging President Joe Biden to declare the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument.
The meeting highlighted the tribes’ connections to the area and their efforts to protect more than a million acres adjacent to the national park from future uranium and other hardrock mining.
Carletta Tilousi is a former Havasupai Council member and a spokesperson for the coalition.
“This attempt to declare the Grand Canyon a national monument is very historical because all the tribes once again have come together to unite in one voice and one mission.”
Tribes and conservation groups say uranium mining threatens the Grand Canyon’s environment as well as many sacred sites and tribal water resources.
The mining industry, however, maintains that modern extraction methods are safe.
A 20-year federal moratorium paused new claims in 2012, but a monument designation would make the mining ban permanent.
Previous attempts have failed in Congress since 2008, but the current push is being driven by tribes and is aimed at a presidential proclamation through the Antiquities Act.
After a recent two-day trial, a Ketchikan Superior Court judge ruled that a list of 14 traditional tribal values can keep its place in Ketchikan schools in Alaska.
KRBD’s Raegan Miller reports.
The values were created years ago by Southeast Alaska Native leaders, and include items like “hold each other up” and “speak with care.” But parents Justin Breese and Rebecca King sued the school district, alleging that one of the values, “reverence for our creator,” was a religious statement that violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
They asked for the posters to be taken down from common areas and removed from a behavior reward system at Ketchikan Charter School, where King teaches kindergarten.
They wanted the values incorporated into lessons, instead.
King testified during the first day of the trial.
“I interpret it as the promotion of creationism, whether that be by Raven or God or another supernatural entity outside of ourselves or science.”
Sealaska Heritage Institute president Rosita Worl testified as an expert witness on behalf of the district.
“In our culture, reverence for, you know, our creator doesn’t refer to any god or any deity that we worship. That’s absolutely not within our culture. Within our culture, creator could refer to multiple beings.”
In the written decision, Judge Katherine Lybrand said that the plaintiffs didn’t prove the statement was religious. And, Lybrand ruled, even if it was religious, it still wouldn’t be a violation of the clause, because the display of the posters isn’t forcing a certain behavior.
“The mere display of the posters around the District’s schools does not foster excessive entanglement or coerce students to believe a certain thing and in fact there was no testimony that any student has felt coerced in any way.”
Lybrand echoed testimony from expert witnesses saying the posters were hung to encourage cultural awareness, not a particular behavior.
“The posting of the Southeast Traditional Tribal Values poster has a secular purpose: to promote cross-cultural understanding, place-based learning and strong relationships with the District’s Indigenous student population.”
Additionally, Lybrand compared it more to the Pledge of Allegiance than a religious statement, in the court document..
“Its posting is more akin to reciting the pledge of allegiance than the posting of the Ten Commandments because the poster as a whole demonstrates that its purpose is to promote place-based learning and cross-cultural understanding, not to promote a religious belief,”
Tribal leaders, school officials, advocates, and students are gathering at the California State Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday.
They’re asserting rights for Native students to wear tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies.
A 2018 law authorizes the wearing of tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies.
According to State Rep. James Ramos (Serrano/Cahuilla/D-CA), beaded caps, eagle feathers, plumes, and sashes are among adornments schools are prohibiting at graduations, which is against the law.
Rep. Ramos will be leading the event and it will be streamed live on Facebook starting at 4:30p.m. PT.
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