By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Miles of fencing separating a national preserve from forested grazing pastures in northern New Mexico have been compromised over the years by wildfire, falling trees and herds of elk.
Cattle have found their way through the porous border of Valles Caldera National Preserve, their numbers escalating over the dry summer months to what park managers described as ``critical mass'' despite attempts by some owners to herd the livestock out on horseback.
Park rangers initiated a roundup last week after getting complaints from visitors and anglers, prompting a showdown with ranchers who say cattle were held with little food or water and it's up to the federal government to mend the fences.
Chris Lovato said he spent much of the summer gathering cattle that had wandered out of his grazing allotment on the adjacent Santa Fe National Forest in search of grass and water in an area hit hard by drought.
``It became a revolving door because 80 percent of the fence is down,'' the 70-year-old rancher said.
Each time, he called park rangers and forest managers to let them know he would be riding in on horseback. He also asked whether the fence would be fixed.
The answer, he said, was no.
In New Mexico, state law puts the burden on landowners to erect fences if they want to keep out trespassing animals. Before Valles Caldera was turned over to the Park Service, the trust that managed the expansive property handled the maintenance, and forest officials say it's generally a shared effort among neighboring property owners.
But officials at Valles Caldera say federal courts have upheld the principal that state fence-out laws are generally pre-empted by U.S. regulations requiring livestock owners to keep their animals off certain federal lands.
``While we will continue to do our part to maintain our boundary fences, there's no obligation for the Park Service to fence out potential trespass livestock under state laws,'' preserve Superintendent Jorge Silva-Banuelos said. ``The adjacent livestock owners do have a role to play in the maintenance of their allotment fences that border the preserve.''
Rather than issuing citations or fines, preserve officials said they wanted to handle the trespassing cattle informally by rounding them up and calling a state brand inspector to identify the owners so they could be trucked out.
Ranchers argue that the preserve should have posted a notice of their intention to impound the animals. They say more than 300 cows, calves and some bulls were corralled without hay and with little water for days until they could make the 300-mile (483-kilometer) roundtrip to trailer the livestock home.
One cow died, and ranchers have reported that the animals were in bad shape.
Lovato made multiple trips last weekend to move eight loads of cattle after he was told he wouldn't be allowed to herd them by horseback less than 2 miles back to his allotment.
``The federal government, instead of helping us, they're just punishing us after what we faced this summer,'' he said, referring to the challenges of the drought.
Silva-Banuelos said trespassing livestock have long been a problem at the preserve and federal regulations spell out how it must be handled.
``It's a pretty routine activity, but as we start getting more and more complaints from visitors and anglers, it's something that we have to make sure that we're upholding our obligations to protect and preserve the resources that Congress established as a national park,'' he said.
Dubbed the ``Yellowstone of the Southwest,'' Valles Calderas is home to vast grasslands, the remnants of one of North America's few super volcanoes and one of New Mexico's most famous elk herds. The bear claw-shaped ring of mountain peaks that form the caldera is culturally significant to neighboring Native American tribes.
Gary Ziehe, who was the first executive director of Valles Caldera after the federal government bought it, said the fence has been difficult to maintain since some stretches cross remote and rugged territory.
Ranchers hope a solution can be found, and Silva-Banuelos said he plans to meet with some of them.
``We want to be good neighbors,'' Ziehe said.
Oil Company Facing Tribal Opposition Proposes More Wells
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ An oil company facing tribal opposition to drilling wells on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation close to Lake Sakakawea has proposed 23 more wells near the Missouri River reservoir.
The federal Bureau of Land Management is reviewing drilling permit applications from Slawson Exploration, some for wells less than 1,000 feet from the lake, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
A federal judge last year halted the drilling of proposed wells when the Three Affiliated Tribes argued they should be farther from the lake under tribal policy that requires a 1,000-foot setback and tribal approval for drilling within half a mile of the lake.
The lake is the tribe's primary source of drinking water, and also a tribal cultural and recreational resource.
The company challenged the order and the judge reversed it . The company is drilling on private land on the reservation in northwestern North Dakota and developing minerals under the lake that are not owned by American Indians. The company said those wells should be complete by late November.
``There's no application of that tribal law to these projects,'' said Eric Sundberg, Slawson's vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs.
The tribe continues to fight the earlier ruling, maintaining that tribal regulations should apply to all oil development within its reservation boundaries.
``If there's a contamination or impact to occur ... we're all going to be impacted one way or another,'' tribal Chairman Mark Fox said.
The BLM is accepting comments on the new drilling permit applications through Oct. 5.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
BIA Law Enforcement Seizes 17 Lbs. of Heroin & Methamphetamine on Pueblo Reservation
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke applauded the efforts of a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Office of Justice Services (OJS) K-9 Police Officer who recently took more than 17 pounds of deadly drugs off the streets. The BIA officer was monitoring vehicle traffic on Interstate 25 on the San Felipe Pueblo Indian Reservation when he conducted a traffic stop resulting in the arrest of an individual, and the seizure of approximately 15.9 pounds of methamphetamine and 1.25 pounds of heroin.
A field test of the substances was conducted and returned positive results for the presence of methamphetamine from one of the fifteen packages and heroin from the one of packages. One package did test positive for heroin and had an approximate weight of 1.25 pounds (567.67 grams). On Thursday, August 30, 2018, a Criminal Complaint was filed in the District of New Mexico and the suspect was held for further court proceedings.
"Our Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officers are the front line in America’s ongoing fight against opioids," said Secretary Zinke. "I applaud their fine efforts today and every day. Opioids have had a disproportionately negative effect on American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and as Secretary of the Interior, I understand how imperative our efforts are on this urgent issue. The DOI Opioid Task Force is doing a great job. I thank President Trump for his great leadership in helping us find creative ways to solve this crisis, and I look forward to a day when opioids no longer claim the lives of so many of our citizens."
"Thank you, Secretary Zinke and the hard working BIA-OJS officers on the ground, for helping to keep Indian Country safe," said Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney. "The President's Initiative is directly impacting the families within our tribal communities."
The Department of the Interior is committed to making available resources required to fight drug abuse, and earlier this year Secretary Zinke established the Department of the Interior’s drug fighting Joint Task Force to help achieve President Donald Trump's mission to end the opioid epidemic and make America safe. So far, the task force has made 155 arrests and confiscated approximately 1,155 pounds of illegal drugs. Secretary Zinke has continually worked with tribes to carry out President Trump’s directive to stop the drug and opioid crisis, conducting dozens of tribal visits to see the affected communities, while listening and learning about how to fight the crisis on the ground.
Wisconsin Commercial Fishing Operations Record Numbers
BAYFIELD, Wis. (AP) _ Commercial fishing operations near the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior are reporting record numbers of whitefish and a strong recovery of lake trout since a decline in the early 2000s.
Craig Hoopman of Lake Superior whitefish told the state's Natural Resources Board that he's seeing record numbers of young whitefish and a strong rebounding of lake trout numbers, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .
Fishing has been exceptional so far this year, said Hoopman, who chairs the state Department of Natural Resources Lake Superior Commercial Fishing Board.
``We're averaging between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds of whitefish per day in the traps right now and releasing thousands of sub-legal fish,'' said Hoopman. ``There's just multiple year classes of fish.''
White fish is the most sought-after species, but Hoopman said he's also seeing strong numbers of lake trout after a decades-long population decline that began in 1950s.
``There's around three year classes of lake trout that I'm seeing daily that are extremely large,'' he said. ``Very nice, beautiful-looking fish, healthy, the whitefish, the lake trout, all the species that I'm seeing every day, they are feeding well, there just healthy-looking fish.''
Lake trout populations crashed during the 1950s and 1960s due in part to the introduction of invasive sea lamprey, said DNR fisheries biologist Brad Ray.
The DNR, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission have worked for decades to reduce the numbers of lamprey to reduce, which has allowed the lake trout populations to recover, according to Ray.
Hoopman credited refuges near the Apostle Islands for letting the whitefish and trout populations boom.
``We have a fishery that is protected here,'' he said. ``It is of such utmost importance of our restricted use areas and the refuge that we have in place that have been there for a long time to protect these fish and also our closed season dates.''
If the younger whitefish and lake trout are able to grow to maturity, the Apostle Islands and South Shore region of Lake Superior could become a national sport fishing destination, Hoopman said.
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org
Groups to Discuss Vatican Edicts' Impact on Native Americans
LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (AP) _ Members of the Six Nations of the Iroquois and experts in Native American legal and civil rights issues are hosting a conference in central New York for discussions on 500-year-old Vatican edicts whose impacts are still felt today.
The conference being held Saturday and Sunday at the Great Law of Peace Center outside Syracuse focuses on how Native American tribes were impacted by what's known as the Doctrine of Discovery.
The term refers to papal bulls issued by the Catholic Church in the 15th century as Europeans were setting out to explore the New World. The edicts gave explorers the right to claim lands for their Christian monarchs.
The Iroquois Confederacy has called on the Vatican to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery for having a negative impact on indigenous people.
Illinois Black Hawk Statue Secures Restoration Funding
OREGON, Ill. (AP) _ Efforts to restore a 107-year-old statue in northern Illinois have received financial backing this summer from the state and a local business.
The Rockford Register Star reports that heavy-duty trailer manufacturing company E.D. Etnyre & Co. donated $100,000 this week for the Eternal Indian statue, colloquially known as Black Hawk.
The project in Oregon, Illinois involves recreating the statue's original mix of concrete and red granite to keep it standing for many more years.
Company owner Edward D. Etnyre was starting the business in 1910 when he furnished artist Lorado Taft with supplies for the 48-foot-tall (15-meter tall) icon.
The state Department of Natural Resources received a $350,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in May.
The Black Hawk Restoration Team is also raising funds for the restoration.
Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com
Car Dealership Removes Native American Statue After 50 Years
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ A North Carolina car dealership has taken down a 23-foot fiberglass statue of a Native American that has drawn complaints over its 50-year history.
The Asheville Citizen Times reports that Harry's On the Hill was prompted to take down the statue known as ``Chief Pontiac'' partly because of a bad experience by a female customer who's a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The newspaper said an employee was fired after sending an offensive text message to the customer in June. Even before that, some Native Americans had complained about the statue.
The statue was removed Friday with a crane. It's being donated to the Pontiac-Oakland Transportation Museum in Michigan.
Pat Grimes, owner of Harry's, said he received offers to buy the statue but felt that the museum was best for it.
WWII Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tom Holiday Dies at Age 94
GEORGE, Utah (AP) _ Samuel Tom Holiday, one of the last surviving Navajo Code Talkers, died in southern Utah Monday surrounded by family members who raised money through a crowdfunding campaign to be by his side.
He was 94.
Holiday was among hundreds of Navajos who used a code based on their native language to transmit messages in World War II. The Japanese never broke it.
He was 19 when he joined the Marine Corps and became a part of operations in several locations across the Pacific during the war, according to The Spectrum. A mortar explosion left him with hearing loss, but he would later tell family that he always felt safe during battle because of a pouch around his neck holding sacred stones and yellow corn pollen.
He received a Congressional Silver Medal, a Purple Heart and other recognition for his action during the conflict.
After the war, Holiday returned to the Navajo reservation and worked as a police officer, a ranger and later started his own equipment company. He married Lupita Mae Isaac and had eight children.
In 2013, Holiday co-wrote a book about his experience as a Code Talker called ``Under the Eagle.''
Fewer than 10 Code Talkers are believed to be alive today. The exact number is unknown because the program remained classified for several years following the war.
Holiday spent his later days living at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins, Utah.
Shortly before his death, family members turned to the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to raise $4,000 to be able to visit him in hospice care. The Navajo Nation said he was surrounded by friends and family when he died.
There will be a viewing at the Hughes Mortuary in St. George, Utah, on Thursday and funeral services in Monument Valley on Friday, according to the Navajo Nation Council.
Holiday will be buried at a veterans' cemetery in the Navajo community of Kayenta, Arizona, next to his wife.
The library at the Kayenta Middle School is named for Holiday.
He is survived by six children, 35 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
This story has been corrected to say Holiday is survived by six children, not five.
Photo Credit: Samuel T. Holiday Facebook Page
Murkowski: Bill Would Create New Native Corporations
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) _ Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski says a proposed bill would give 100,000 acres of federal land in total to Native groups in five Southeast Alaska towns.
The Ketchikan Daily News reports the proposed legislation _ also called the ``Alaska Native Claims Improvement Act of 2017'' _ looks to mitigate issues with the original Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that was passed almost a half century ago.
A major component of the legislation involves the formation of Native corporations in five Southeast Alaska communities _ Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee and Haines.
Murkowski says these five communities were never granted village or urban corporations.
The bill says upon incorporation, each of the five new corporations would receive ``one township of land (23,040 acres).''
Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com
School district votes to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) _ A Long Island school district has voted to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day for the coming academic year.
The six-member Southampton School Board voted 4-2 in favor of adopting next year's calendar which designates the new holiday on Monday, Oct. 8. Newsday reports the board had previously adopted a generic calendar for the past three years that didn't list holiday names.
Southampton students had asked the board to take Christopher Columbus' name off the holiday in 2016.
Board Member James McKenna, who voted no, says he feels the decision to change the name slights Italian-Americans.
Board Member Roberta Hunter, a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, says she disagrees with McKenna's reasoning on the vote.
Information from: Newsday, http://www.newsday.com
Navajo Prep students win $10K for Gold King Mine spill study
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) _ Students at Navajo Preparatory School researching the lasting impacts of the 2015 Gold King Mine spill have won $10,000 for their work.
The Farmington Daily Times reports seven sophomores and juniors in a gifted-and-talented program at the school entered the Lexus Eco Challenge with a project that involved testing green onion roots for iron and zine after they had been submerged into the Animas River. The work won them $8,000 in scholarships, and $2,000 for school equipment.
They now are competing in a second phase of the competition.
More than two years ago, the EPA accidently released 3 million gallons of mustard-colored water from southwestern Colorado's Gold King Mine into the Animas River. The spill tainted water in three states, as well as the Navajo Nation.
Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.daily-times.com