Broadband access is a top concern among many tribal citizens across the country.
The topic was addressed at the National Congress of American Indians annual convention Tuesday in New Orleans.
As Rhonda LeValdo reports, attendees also discussed technology, and data collected, managed, and applied responsibly in Indian Country.
Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Governance was a packed session.
The session talked about how tribes could model after the Gila River Indian Community.
The tribe, located in Arizona, started its own telecom company.
Governor Stephen Roe Lewis talked about how he was impressed by seeing his own people being taught about the telecom industry and its economic impact, which he says can be helpful for other Native nations.
“This is a moment that could be a digital mover across Indian Country and it’s important that tribes and tribal leaders take advantage of this moment.”
Former Federal Communications Commission Chief of the Office of Native Affairs and Policy Geoff Blackwell talked about the importance of Digital sovereignty for tribal nations.
“You are preparing yourself to assert your sovereignty in the cyber world that you are beginning to understand, to address, all these areas – network, governance, participation, authority.”
Blackwell was recently announced as NCAI chief of staff, and told the audience NCAI would provide an outlet for tribes to get connected with ways to navigate how to get started with digital sovereignty. And, federal funding may also be a way for tribes to improve access to broadband.
More than $9 million has been approved for a project incorporating Native American management practices for oak habitat restoration in Oregon.
As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, this includes cultural burns.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded the money, which will go to the Oregon Agricultural Trust and its partners.
Ka-Voka Jackson is a program manager for the EcoStudies Institute, one of the partners.
She’s done controlled fire operations based on how Indigenous people did for ages, blending ancient practice with modern methods.
“Use of cultural fire, traditional fire, on the landscape, which usually entails people who are trained or have the wildfire qualifications. That usually entails fire trucks or water resources, the use of drip torches, other hand tools.”
The project also seeks to permanently protect designated oak savannas and woodlands, and give Native Americans access to them for cultural use and environmental stewardship. The priority area for this project are Lane and Linn Counties.
U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee/R-OK) made headlines after a heated confrontation with a witness during a hearing about unions Tuesday in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee.
The Senator from Oklahoma challenged Sean O’Brien, the president of Teamsters, to a fight during the hearing.
“(Mullin) Sir, this is a time, this is a place. You want to run your mouth. We can be two consenting adults, we can finish it here. (O’Brien) Okay, that’s fine, perfect. (Mullin) You want to do it now? (O’Brien) I’d love to do it right now. (Mullin) Well, stand your butt up then. (O’Brien) You stand your butt up. (Sanders) Oh, hold on, oh, stop it. (O’Brien) Is that your solution every problem? (Sanders) No, no, sit down. Sit down. You’re a United States Senator. (O’Brien) Act it. (Mullin) Okay. (Sanders) Sit down please. (Mullin) All right.”
The exchange happened after Sen. Mullin held up several pieces of paper reading critical Tweets made from O’Brien at the Senator.
The two threw insults at each other for several minutes as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chair of the committee, tried to calm the situation and then proceeded to move the hearing forward.
Sen. Mullin, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and first Native American to serve in the Senate in nearly two decades, is a former MMA fighter and challenged O’Brien to a charity match next year.
In an interview on FOX News, Sen. Mullin defended his actions saying he’s a guy from Oklahoma and was responding to O’Brien.
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