PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (AP) _ Minnesota Native American leaders are part of an initiative to bring more farm bill funding to Indian Country.
More than 30 tribes across the country have formed the Native Farm Bill Coalition, Minnesota Public Radio reported . Minnesota's Shakopee Mdewakanon Sioux Community is leading the effort. The National Congress of American Indians, the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative and the Intertribal Agriculture Council have partnered with the coalition.
``Indian tribes have been either ignored or overlooked or been the victim of policy changes since we can remember, that's just a fact of life,'' said Keith Anderson, vice chair of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
The lobbying effort is an outgrowth of programs to improve health and expand access to health food for Native Americans. The coalition illustrates a long term commitment to giving Indian tribes a louder voice, Anderson said.
``The effort of the Native Farm Bill Coalition represents the very first time such a concerted effort has been made on behalf of all of Indian Country and only Indian Country,'' said Zach Ducheneaux, of the Intertribal Agriculture Council.
The farm bill could help tribes strengthen their agriculture economy by funding projects that add value to livestock or crops produced by Indian farmers and ranchers, Ducheneaux said.
``There's really no part of a reservation community that the farm bill will not impact. Everything from the electricity to the water that you use, the food on the grocery store shelves, the buildings that you're going to house your community activities in,'' said Ducheneaux. ``It's absolutely critical that Indian Country realize how big of a player this could be in their game.''
The United States Department of Agriculture says more than 56,000 Native Americans operate farms and ranches across the U.S.
The new bill is expected to provide nearly $500 billion in funding over the next five years.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org
World War II Navajo Code Talker Dies at 92
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) _ A Navajo Code Talker who used his native language to confound the Japanese in World War II has died.
The Navajo Nation says Roy Hawthorne Sr. died Saturday. He was 92.
Hawthorne enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at 17 and became part of a famed group of Navajos who transmitted hundreds of messages in their language without error.
The code was never broken.
Hawthorne was one of the most visible survivors of the group. He appeared at public events and served as vice president of a group representing the men.
He never considered himself a hero.
Hawthorne later served with the U.S. Army.
He's survived by five children and more than a dozen grandchildren.
A funeral service is scheduled Friday.
Photo Credit: Our Navajo Code Talkers Facebook Page
Navajo Nation approves $2.4 million for veterans facility
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) _ The Navajo Nation has given approval to help fund a veterans facility in New Mexico that will prevent patients from having to travel far for care.
Navajo Nation council members voted 19-0 this week to give $2.4 million toward the construction of a service center for veterans in the community of Thoreau.
The center, which will be about 33 miles (53 kilometers) east of Gallup, will offer physical therapy as well as medical services.
Thoreau Chapter Veterans Committee Commander Lester Emerson says they will work with the state Department of Veterans Services to hire a doctor to be based there.
Emerson says the hope is that veterans will no longer have to make the two-hour journey to Albuquerque for medical services.
The facility also will have a space for events and meetings.
Navajo Nation latest to sue over opioid epidemic in US
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ One of the country's largest American Indian tribes is the latest to sue pharmaceutical companies and drug distributors, alleging their conduct caused the opioid crisis.
The Navajo Nation's lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees.
The tribe says American Indians have suffered disproportionately from opioid dependency or abuse, leading to death, family dysfunction, poverty and social despair.
The tribe says it has helped cover costs of treatment for opioid abuse, and for law enforcement and social services to respond to the epidemic.
One of the defendants denied the allegations. Others say they are working to help combat the opioid epidemic and have reported suspicious orders to the federal government.
Others declined to comment or did not reply to requests for comment.