Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs Director Leaves Job

CORTEZ, Colo. (AP) _ The executive director of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs is leaving the position after 11 years in the job.

The Cortez Journal reports Ernest House Jr. has resigned to take a job with the Keystone Policy Center.

House was the first member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe to work as the commission's director, which serves as the liaison between native American tribes and the state.

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne says House has played a major role in making sure tribal communities have a seat at the table and a strong voice.

House says he will continue to advocate for tribes in his new job as senior policy director with the Keystone Policy Group.

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Information from: Cortez Journal, http://www.cortezjournal.com/

 

Hopis Asking Feds to Explore Other Options for Power Plant

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. (AP) _ Hopi tribal officials are calling on the federal government to explore other options for the Navajo Generating Station near Page.

Two companies that were negotiating to take over a coal-fired power plant on the Arizona-Utah line ended the effort last week, saying the challenges were too great.

The 2,250-megawatt plant could close at the end of 2019.

That would be a huge blow to the economies of the Navajo and Hopi tribes: The Hopis rely on coal revenue for about 85 percent of their budget and the Navajos 20 percent.

Hopi Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva says the U.S. government must either continue to buy power from the generating station or provide the tribe with support necessary to avoid an economic catastrophe. He's asking the government to act without delay.

 

Group Marks Potawatomi Trail of Death from Indiana to Kansas

By MITCHELL KIRK
Pharos-Tribune

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) _ This month marks 180 years since over 850 Potawatomi Native Americans were forcibly removed from their homeland in northern Indiana.

Many walked the 660-mile, two-month journey. Over 40 died _ mostly babies, children and elderly.

It's known as the Potawatomi Trail of Death. Every five years since 1988, a group of Potawatomi, historians and other interested persons take a week to travel the trail that starts south of Plymouth, Indiana, and ends in Kansas.

The commemorative caravan recently passed through Logansport, where they visited a marker recognizing part of the trail at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Fulton Street.

In 1838, Indiana Gov. David Wallace appointed Gen. John Tipton of Logansport to lead the removal of Potawatomi from the area, according to information from the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association.

Tipton planned the capture in a trading post on the Tippecanoe River north of Rochester. He rode to Twin Lakes near Plymouth on Aug. 30 to meet with Potawatomi Chief Menominee to inform him of the removal and take him prisoner. Tipton then sent soldiers out in all directions within about a 30-to-50-mile radius to collect Potawatomi.

The march began on Sept. 4, 1838. They went down through Indiana, then across Illinois and Missouri before arriving in what later became Kansas, stopping in what is now known as Osawatomie on Nov. 4. Those who died on the march were buried in unmarked graves along the trail.

The Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan has set out every five years for the past three decades during the third week of September after the annual Trail of Courage Living History Festival in Rochester. Participants start at a Chief Menominee monument south of Plymouth and end at St. Philippine Duchesne Memorial Park south of Mound City, Kansas, which is south of Osawatomie. The park is named after a French nun who ministered to the Potawatomi upon their arrival.

Fulton County Historian Shirley Willard started the caravan in 1988 after learning that the Potawatomi were marched at gunpoint through Rochester.

``I thought that was pretty terrible and most people didn't know that it had even happened,'' Willard said.

About 35 to 40 people will be making the entire journey this year, Willard said, adding others take part in stretches of the trek along the way.

Janet Pearl of Parma Heights, Ohio, is part of the 2018 caravan. She's participated in several over the decades with her father, who has been a part of all of them. Both are members of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Pearl's Potawatomi name is Wichap Gishek, which means Blue Sky.

Pearl's Potawatomi great-great-grandmother was about 10 or 11 when she was forced along the Trail of Death. Her name was Equa-ke-sec, which means Rising Sun. After surviving the ordeal and arriving in Kansas, she was baptized with the name Theresa Living.

Pearl and her father regularly attend Potawatomi functions across the U.S. and Canada.

``It's really important to us to renew our culture connections and stay abreast of everything that's going on,'' she said.

She called the Potawatomi Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan a unique experience. People often come out to greet her and her fellow participants in the various towns along the trail, she went on to recall.

``They show a lot of compassion and concern for what happened to the Potawatomi way back when,'' Pearl said.

She finds it encouraging.

``It's really a positive experience,'' she said. ``It's spiritual too because you just feel so uplifted by this outpouring of concern and caring. People are just really nice about it.''

Pearl said her grandmother taught her father and his siblings not to focus feelings of bitterness toward the Potawatomi Trail of Death. Instead she encouraged them to be forgiving and concentrate on how their ancestor survived and that they were able to come into being because of that survival.

Pearl said much of that forgiving attitude can be credited to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, who ministered to the Potawatomi after they arrived in what later became Kansas. While Duchesne couldn't speak Potawatomi, Pearl said she showed kindness by example.

``We felt our ancestors were influenced by her spiritual guidance,'' Pearl said.

According to historical information from the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association, Duchesne was a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart and prayed so often that the Potawatomi called her ``She Who Prays Always.''

Duchesne was canonized in 1988, the same year the Potawatomi Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan started. This year also marks two centuries since she came to the U.S. from France.

Pearl said she is looking forward to having several nuns of the Society of the Sacred Heart on the caravan this year.

She also seconded Willard's desire for the caravan to serve an educational purpose.

``What we hope today is that people will learn a lesson from hearing about this event and that it won't happen again,'' she said.

While the Potawatomi Trail of Death occurred 180 years ago, the feelings that spurred it still exist today, Pearl said, offering immigration issues as an example.

``There's a lot going on where people are persecuted and we're just hoping that people will let a little more love come into their life and try to respect everybody and get along with people,'' Pearl said.

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Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com

 

Tribes Want Feds to Explain Controversial Land Decision

MASHPEE, Mass. (AP) _ The country's largest Native American organization is calling on the Trump administration to explain its decision not to recognize the reservation of a Massachusetts' tribe.

The National Congress of American Indians said Tuesday it ``disagrees strongly'' with the U.S. Department of the Interior's decision to reverse an Obama-era ruling placing land in trust for the Mashpee Wampanoag (MASH'-pee WAHM'-puh-nawg) tribe.

The organization wants the agency to explain what the decision signifies for Indian land policy going forward.

The Interior Department took 321 acres into trust for the Mashpee in 2015, but a federal judge ordered the agency to reconsider the decision after local residents sued.

Bureau of Indian Affairs spokeswoman Nedra Darling declined to comment, citing pending litigation. She confirmed the Mashpee land, for now, remains in trust pending a final court order.

 

OSU to Start Tribal Finance Certificate Program

By MOLLY M. FLEMING

The Journal Record

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — In the last year, Victor Flores has focused on bringing tribal accounting and finance training inside the state. He organized the Oklahoma Tribal Finance Consortium, which has met twice this year.

But one of the main goals of the consortium will start in November, when Oklahoma State University will hold the Introductory Tribal Finance and Accounting Certificate four-day pilot program, with the full kickoff scheduled for May.

Flores, who is the Absentee Shawnee Tribe’s chief financial officer, told The Journal Record that he plans to take about 15 people from his office to the conference in November. The introductory level is ideal for people who do not have a finance or business background, such as elected officials or directors of different entities within the tribe.

There are intermediate and advanced-level programs being developed as well. The intermediate program will launch in summer 2019, and the advanced level doesn’t have a launch date yet, said Lindsey Kirksey, program director at the OSU Spears School of Business’ Center for Executive and Professional Development.

The center has also developed a tribal leadership certificate program, which can be completed over a two-year period.

The accounting and finance classes will be taught by different industry professionals, such as BKD Managing Director Joel Haaser, based in Tulsa. The University of Oklahoma College of Law is helping to provide legal professionals as well.

Haaser said tribal accounting operations vary from state and local government, so this type of training is needed. Tribes tend to get more federal grants than cities, and that money can be used for housing or even road construction. At the same time, tribes operate for-profit businesses, such as casinos.

“That puts tribes in between a government and a commercial organization, which is really the difference (between tribes and state and local governments),” Haaser said. “It creates a lot of unique accounting challenges.”

Flores said it’s especially important to have these programs in Oklahoma because the tribes’ histories are different than in other states. With the Native Americans being forced to settle here, they’re not on reservations like in other states.

“We’re vastly different (from other states),” he said. “We have our own idiosyncrasies. When (my office) goes to training, we have to tell our employees that what they learned may not apply in Oklahoma. We’re talking apples and oranges. That’s why we’re trying to create our own training.”

The November program has about 10 people enrolled so far, but Center for Executive and Professional Development Director Julie Weathers said she expects that to double. The November class is being offered to tribal members on the advisory board, who are expected to give feedback after the pilot program. The May class is already opened for registration.

The center offers professional development training for several industries, such as energy and municipal governments.

Tribal leaders from Texas and Kansas have been invited to the May conference, Flores said. Since there are four tribes in Kansas and three nations in Texas, they often send representatives to events in Oklahoma.

Weathers said the center is excited to work with the Oklahoma Tribal Finance Consortium on the training.

“As a land-grant university, we feel it’s our duty to offer this type of education in business, so we’re certainly glad to be a part of it,” she said. “Kudos to the tribes for coming together and voicing their concerns to all work together and offer a solution to the challenges in the accounting and finance area.”

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

 

Archaeologists Dig Native American Fort Found in Connecticut

By DAVE COLLINS
Associated Press

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) _ Archaeologists are marveling at the site of a 1600s Native American fort in Connecticut that was uncovered as part of a rail bridge replacement project.

About 20 of them gathered for a tour of the site in Norwalk on Tuesday. They said it is one of the most important finds in the Northeast in terms of Native American history and shines some light on Native Americans' first dealings with Europeans.

Not only did experts find the remains of the 17th century fort, they discovered some artifacts including arrow and spear tips that date back an estimated 3,000 years, indicating Native Americans were active at the site for generations. No evidence of human remains has been found.

``It's one of the earliest historic period sites that has been found so far,'' said archaeologist Ross Harper. ``And it's very rich in artifacts including Native American pottery and stone tools, as well as trade goods such as glass beads, wampum, hatchets and knives. It's definitely one of the more important sites, not just for the area but New England in general.''

Harper said it appears the Norwalk Indians, a tribe that historians know little about, had a fort at the site from about 1615 to 1640 and used it to trade goods with early Dutch settlers. The site is on a small sliver of land next to railroad tracks that carry Amtrak and Metro-North commuter trains. A 19th century history of Norwalk mentions an old Native American fort, and a road near the site is still named Fort Point Street.

The site was found during preliminary archaeological surveys ordered as part of the state's upcoming replacement of the 122-year-old Walk Bridge, which spans the Norwalk River and swings open to allow boats to pass. The bridge has gotten stuck in the open position several times and caused massive rail service delays. Construction is set to begin next year.

Harper works for Archaeological & Historical Services Inc., a Storrs, Connecticut-based firm that is painstakingly removing artifacts from the site and taking them back to its offices for cleaning and further study. Some of the artifacts may be headed to museums. The firm will write a lengthy report on the artifacts and its findings.

The firm, which plans to completely remove all artifacts from the site by the fall, has been working in consultation with the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans _ the two federally recognized tribes in the state. There is no known opposition to the removal of the artifacts.

The two tribes issued a joint statement on the project this week.

``Any time a Native American site or artifacts are found, the utmost sensitivity should be used,'' the statement said. ``While the Walk Bridge construction site in Norwalk may or may not have direct ties to the Mohegan or Mashantucket Pequot tribes ... we take the matter seriously. In fact, Tribal Preservation Officers from both tribes have actively been working with people on the ground there for over a year to offer their expertise.''

The site is one of only about a half-dozen in the Northeast known to have contained evidence of Native Americans' first encounters with Europeans, and most of the sites have been destroyed or removed during development of the lands, Harper said.

The rare find is what drew archaeologists from the region to Tuesday's tour in oppressively hot weather.

``For me, it's like a gold mine,'' said Kevin McBride, an anthropology professor at the University of Connecticut and research director at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. ``I think the reason the site is so important is that there's a lot of material here. It's definitely one of the most important sites we've found in a long time.''

McBride said items found at the site provide some insight into Native Americans' first interactions with Europeans and show how they incorporated European products such as iron tools and knives into their culture.

SC County Evaluating Archaeological Site Under Construction

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A project to build a parking lot alongside South Carolina's Saluda River may have wrecked an archaeological site where Native Americans lived for thousands of years.

The State reports that arrowheads and other artifacts were found in June after bulldozers went to work at the Saluda Riverwalk project, which Richland County is developing in conjunction with the Riverbanks Zoo.

State archaeologist Jonathan Leader says the site's was considered to be too ``scattered'' to be officially protected. He planned to witness a private archaeology firm's inspection of the damage on Wednesday.

Alexis Norris of Columbia collected boxes of arrowheads and other artifacts during construction, and has agreed give them to the zoo.

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Information from: The State, http://www.thestate.com

New Mexico City near Navajo Nation Sees Tourism Jump

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) _ A western New Mexico city surrounded by Navajo culture and Native arts and crafts is experiencing a tourism boom not seen since the 1970s.

The Gallup Independent reports officials in Gallup, New Mexico, says the city has seen an increase of around 7 to 10 percent in visitors thanks to foreign tourists.

Officials believe a favorable exchange rate and increased interest by the media in anything to do with Native culture and crafts led to millions of foreigners vacationing in the United States each summer.

Gallup-McKinley County Chamber of Commerce director Bill Lee says the area is seeing visitors from Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and Belgium.

Gallup is located on the edge of the Navajo Nation and sits along the historic Route 66.

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Information from: Gallup Independent, http://www.gallupindependent.com

Montana Officials Work to Boost Tribal Tourism

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) _ Montana officials are working to inform tourists of the state's Native American tribal history.

The Missoulian reports the Montana Office of Tourism and Development and the state Tribal Economic Development Commission are pushing to promote tourism to the state's reservations and tribal nations.

Carla Lott, the state tribal tourism officer and a member of the Blackfeet Tribe, and Heather Sobrepena, a member of the Crow Tribe and the state's Indian Country economic development program manager, are leading the charge.

Lott says the goal is for tribal tourism to benefit underserved, rural areas of the state while promoting a greater understanding of modern Native American culture.

In 2017, the state conducted a national survey of potential visitors and found that 82 percent of leisure travelers express interest in exploring sites related to Native American culture.

Supreme Court Sends Land Dispute back to Wash. Top Court

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court is asking Washington state's highest court to take another look at a land dispute between a Native American tribe and its neighbors.

The dispute concerns a roughly 40-acre plot of land purchased by the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe in 2013. A land survey convinced the tribe that a barbed wire fence between its land and land owned by Sharline and Ray Lundgren is in the wrong place. The tribe wanted to tear down the fence and build a new one in the right spot. The Lundgrens sued, but the tribe argued it was immune from suit.

The Washington Supreme Court sided with the Lundgrens. The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 Monday the court's reasoning was flawed and asked the court to take another look at the dispute.

Illinois group needs $500K to restore Black Hawk statue

OREGON, Ill. (AP) _ A group needs to raise $500,000 to complete the restoration of a century-old landmark in northern Illinois known as the Black Hawk statue.

Restoration efforts began five years ago on the 48-foot-tall, 270-ton landmark in Lowden State Park, but the project stalled in 2016 amid a lack of state funding and a dispute on the restoration team, the Rockford Register Star reported . The statue's been covered in black protective sheets since work stopped.

``People were bewildered when it came to a screeching halt. People were confused about what happened and what will happen,'' said Jan Stilson, a historian who's leading the 20 volunteers on the Black Hawk Team.

Lorado Taft sculpted the statue to pay homage to the region's American Indians. The work, which is also known as the Eternal Indian Statue or the Rock River Colossus, was dedicated in 1911 in the Ogle County seat of Oregon.

The Black Hawk Team has gathered volunteers to begin fundraising efforts to continue the restoration project. That team is part of Oregon Together, an organization that aims to improve quality of life in the area.

Work on the statue could resume this summer if fundraising goes well. That work would continue through October and then pause for the winter.

The restoration project will include recreating the statue's original mix of concrete, cement and red granite, Stilson said. The statue will still require annual upkeep.

Money raised for the effort would be monitored by the Illinois Conservation Fund, a nonprofit that supports programs by the Department of Natural Resources.

Stilson said she hopes the state will approve a $350,000 grant for the state Department of Natural Resources for restoration. The statue sits on property owned by the state agency.

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Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com

Study: Decline of salmon also impacts salmon genetics

By CHAD SOKOL
The Spokesman-Review

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ As Chinook salmon populations declined across the Pacific Northwest, scientists suspected the fish lost a great deal of genetic diversity, too.

But until recently, the theory hadn't been tested. Ancient salmon bones are hard to come by, and it's even harder to extract workable DNA samples from them.

``Science finally caught up with what we already believed and allowed us to test it,'' said Bobbi Johnson, the lead author of a new Washington State University study that raises concerns about the Chinooks' ability to respond to environmental change.

Starting in 2010, Johnson's team collected hundreds of salmon bones from Native American archaeological sites some more than twice as old as the first Egyptian pyramid and compared their DNA with modern samples from the same areas.

The researchers found that Chinook in the upper Columbia River, where the Grand Coulee Dam cut off about 40 percent of the species' historic habitat, have lost about two-thirds of their genetic diversity. In the Snake River, they lost about one-third, a difference that surprised the researchers.

That basically supports the longstanding assumption that the Chinook gene pool was much larger before European settlement in the Pacific Northwest.

The researchers also analyzed ancient samples from Spokane River Chinook, finding that population had a large gene pool and at least six lineages. They had no modern samples for comparison. The Little Falls Dam has blocked salmon migration on the Spokane River since it was built in 1911.

Genetic variation is critical for the survival of any species. It would enable salmon to pass on needed traits if disease strikes, water levels drop or temperatures rise.

``You want there to be differences between individuals, so that when change does happen, there's room for adaptation and natural selection,'' Johnson said.

In a population with low genetic diversity, she added, ``If something comes in that's bad for anybody, that's bad for everybody.''

The study, part of Johnson's doctoral dissertation, was published this week in the journal PLOS One. Her co-authors are Gary Thorgaard, a WSU emeritus professor of biological sciences, and Brian Kemp, a former WSU molecular anthropologist now at the University of Oklahoma.

They wrote that Chinook research and management practices have mostly focused on ``the four H's'' habitat, harvest, hatcheries and hydropower.

Johnson said they have now considered a fifth H, history. The study reflects millennia of dramatic changes to the Chinook's habitat, both natural and man-made, from glacial floods to commercial fishing to the construction of giant dams.

The ancient bone samples, Johnson said, ``just track that story so nicely.''

The 346 vertebrae samples were part of collections held by the Spokane and Colville tribes and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, among other entities. Johnson said many of the bones were retrieved from ancient Native American garbage heaps, called middens, in archaeological digs beginning in the 1940s.

Some of the samples dated back about 7,000 years. Many were about 3,000 years old. The youngest ancient sample came from a Chinook caught 150 years ago near Fort Colville.

Johnson said the samples were immensely challenging to work with, and she credited Kemp, an ancient DNA expert, for overseeing the extraction process. Researchers wore face masks, hairnets and double sets of latex gloves to avoid contamination, and they were able to tease out sequences of mitochondrial DNA, the kind passed down only from mothers.

Johnson said the Colville Tribe ``definitely took a risk'' by providing the first samples for preliminary testing. Samples are largely destroyed in the process, and there's no guarantee it will yield useful data.

``They gave us samples before we could prove that we could do something like this,'' Johnson said.

Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest have caught Chinook for more than 9,000 years, often near waterfalls and other natural bottlenecks along the region's river network.

Europeans introduced commercial fisheries after arriving in the 1860s, and, from 1889 to 1922, they harvested more than 24 million pounds of Chinook each year, according to the researchers. That fell to about 15 million pounds a year by the late 1950s, and annual harvests now stand at less than 5 million pounds.

The first dam on the main stem of the Columbia, the Rock Island Dam in Chelan County, was built in 1933. The Bonneville and Grand Coulee dams were built in 1941, blocking ocean-going salmon from more than 1,000 miles of the upper part of the river. Dams on the Snake came more than a decade later.

Today there are more than 400 dams in the Columbia River Basin, blocking more than half of the river system's spawning habitat, according to the researchers.

Johnson said her team can't conclude if commercial fishing or the dams are to blame for the declining genetic diversity of the Chinook. To make that connection, the researchers would need samples from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The researchers did acquire some tissue samples from that period from the University of Washington, but they were stored in formaldehyde, Johnson said.

``Formaldehyde is like cement for DNA,'' she said. ``You just can't get DNA after that.''

Johnson said her team's findings have few applications on their own, but she hopes they will inform future discussions about Chinook conservation as the effects of climate change come into focus.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com

Thousands of Native American artifacts found at Camden sites

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) _ Archaeologists have found nearly 10,000 Native American artifacts at two sites in Camden, New Jersey.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the items include a rectangular ceramic vessel, tool fragments, arrowheads, and hearthstones as well as animal bones and remains of plants likely used for food, medicine and fuel.

RGA Inc. conducted the excavations for the Holtec International campus project at the former New York Shipbuilding Co. site.

Senior archaeologist Ilene Grossman-Bailey says the intact remains of Native American activity on the site can help researchers understand the lives of people who camped along the Delaware River as early as 4,000 years ago.

Some of the objects will be donated to the Camden County Historical Society and may be displayed in the museum. Executive director Jack O'Byrne calls the discovery ``mind-blowing.''

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com

Ancient burial site found submerged off Florida

VENICE, Fla. (AP) _ State officials say archaeologists have located a 7,000-year-old Native American ancestral burial site submerged in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced Wednesday that the Manasota Key Offshore archaeological site is on the continental shelf near Venice, preserved in what appears to have been a peat-bottomed freshwater pond.

Reports of the site began in June 2016 when divers identified possible human skeletal material. Archaeologists have since confirmed that it dates from the Early Archaic period.

Officials say offshore prehistoric burial sites are rare, with others located in Israel and Denmark.

The site is protected by law, and it is illegal for anyone not authorized by the state to excavate or remove anything.

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