WASHINGTON —Here is a summary of Native American-related news around the U.S. this week:
First Native American Woman in Space Addresses Native Media, Youth
Fighting the effects of low gravity, her feet tucked under a bar, NASA astronaut Nicole Mann answered questions from Indigenous media Wednesday during a live video interview moderated by The Associated Press.
Mann said she was overwhelmed at the view of planet Earth, “beautiful … delicate …and fragile” against the “blackest of black” backdrop of space.
Mann, who is a Wailacki member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Northern California, noted the diversity among crew members on the International Space Station.
“It just highlights … how incredible it is when we come together as a human species, the wonderful things we can … accomplish,” she said.
She also advised Indigenous youths that their dreams were possible.
“Stay committed and stay disciplined to your passions in life,” she advised. “Getting a good education is going to help open doors for you in the future.”
See her interview in full, below.
In an effort to further honor the federal government’s political and trust relationship with the Native Hawaiian community, the Interior Department on Tuesday announced it has drafted a set of policies and procedures designed to give the community a greater voice in federal decision-making.
Native Hawaiians will have a chance to comment on the proposed consultation policy during virtual meetings in November and December.
“The Interior Department is committed to working with the Native Hawaiian community on a government-to-sovereign basis to address concerns related to self-governance, Native Hawaiian trust resources and other Native Hawaiian rights,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said. “A new and unprecedented consultation policy will help support Native Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination as we continue to uphold the right of the Native Hawaiian community to self-government.”
The U.S. government acknowledges Native Hawaiians as “a distinct and unique Indigenous people with a historical continuity to the original inhabitants” of Hawaii. But Congress has never formally recognized them as it has 574 Native American tribes and nations, and Native Hawaiians have never established a formal government.
For more background on the issue, click here: https://www.voanews.com/a/native-hawaiians-divided-on-federal-recognition/4775275.html
Native Leaders Address Upcoming Supreme Court Review of ICWA
Tribal leaders from the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in California, and the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin, along with a group of legal experts, held a joint press briefing on Monday to discuss the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a 43-year-old federal law designed to prevent, wherever possible, Native American children from being removed from families and communities and placed in non-Native families and institutions.
On November 9, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Brackeen v. Haaland, a lawsuit that argues that ICWA imposes restrictions based on race, not in the best interests of Indian children, and is an attempt by the government to intrude on matters states should decide.
“It is stunning that there are those who seek to overturn a wildly successful law like ICWA, including by states with serious issues in their own child welfare systems, against the warnings of these experts who dedicate their careers and lives to helping children,” Oneida Nation chairman Tehassi Hill said.
In a written statement, Cherokee Nation chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. called the case a “serious effort to twist the basic truth” around ICWA and principles of Indian law that recognize tribes as sovereign nations.
The participants in the briefing suggested that overturning ICWA could lead to challenges to tribal sovereignty on a host of other matters, including natural resource management and casino gaming.
See full briefing, click here.
KU Students Demand Accounting for Storage of Native American Remains
Student groups at the University of Kansas are calling on university officials to apologize and explain why Indigenous human remains and funerary artifacts have been stored in the same academic building in which the school’s Indigenous studies program is housed.
They also called for the school to hold a public press conference to apologize for not disclosing details.
On September 20, KU became the latest U.S. institution to acknowledge that it has Native American remains, funerary and other sacred objects in its possession. The announcement comes 32 years after passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), which sets out criteria for tribal nations to reclaim ancestral remains and other sacred objects.
“In keeping with NAGPRA and the values of our institution, KU will continue to facilitate prompt, respectful and culturally appropriate repatriation efforts that include NAGPRA protocols,” the university said in an update this week.