Cherokee Nation celebrates MLK Jr. Day
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – For the first time, the Cherokee Nation (Okla.) celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an official holiday following an executive order signed by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “A Cherokee Nation national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a time to celebrate the life and legacy of a man who dedicated his life to serving others and fighting for justice and equality for all people,” said Chief Baker. Cherokee Nation government offices will be closed on the third Monday of each January going forward.
Spokane Tribe opens new casino
AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. – The Spokane Tribe opened a 38,000 square foot casino which includes 450 slot machines, 12 gaming tables, a restaurant, and a bar on Monday, Jan. 8. Spokane Tribe Chairwoman Carol Evans told the Spokane-Review, “It’s been a lengthy process, but our tribe has been here forever. We have always been a people of strong will. We are always people who will stand up for our rights. We always knew that we would prevail.” She was referring to a 10-year process the tribe went through in getting approval for the casino because the site of was taken into trust after 1988 which required approval from the BIA and the Washington state governor. Tribal officials noted they plan to expand the facility in the future to include a hotel and convention center.
Sen. Smith added to Committee on Indian Affairs
WASHINGTON – Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) was sworn in as the newest member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Wednesday, Jan. 10. “I’m eager to fight for the nurse in greater Minnesota who’s worried about cuts to the rural health budget and the public school teacher who wants to give students a world-class education; for the retirees in Duluth who are concerned about their pensions getting cut, the farmer in Willmar concerned about slumping commodity prices, the tribal leader who demands a response to the opioid crisis in Indian Country, and the local business looking to cut its monthly energy bill,” she said in a statement. Indianz.com reported that Sen. Smith replaces Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) who resigned from the Senate on Jan. 2 after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him.
Leech Lake Tribal College receives $100K grant
CASS LAKE, Minn. – Leech Lake Tribal College (LLTC) has received a $100,000 grant from the American Indian College Fund Scholarly Emergence for Environmental Design and Stewardship (SEEDS) Program. Vikki Howard, LLTC dean of academics, told the Brainerd Dispatch, “The grant will assist faculty earning their advanced degrees, integration of traditional ecological knowledge in STEM curricula – or science, technology, engineering, and math – and redevelopment within math and forestry curricula. Additionally, the AICF grant will fund LLTC’s summer internship program, supporting students and faculty engaged in place-based environmental research.”
St. Regis Mohawk to install more streetlights
AKWESASNE – The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, whose land is located in both the United States and Canada, is currently taking community input on the installation of more streetlights on their tribal land. “As the community has grown, we have seen the need to enhance public safety through improved lighting on our roadeways,” Tribal Chief Eric Thompson said in a press release reported in the Press Republican. “This project is a continuation of our community infrastructure improvement efforts over the past five years.” New lights will be placed at most intersections and roadways through Akwesasne. The Press Republican reported that National Grid will install the lights at no cost to the St. Regis Mohawk with the tribe being responsible for the electricity costs.
Senate approves recognition bill for Virginia tribes
WASHINGTON – The Senate passed the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Recognition Act on Thursday, Jan. 11. The legislation, passed by the House last spring, grants federal recognition to six tribes in Virginia including: Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan, and Nansemond. “We can hold our heads high as acknowledge sovereign nations within the United States of America,” Chickahominy Indian Chief Stephen Adkins told the Washington Post. Two years ago, the Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia became the first federally-recognized tribe in the state after receiving their acknowledgment through the BIA process. The current legislation still has to be signed by President Trump before being enacted.
– One Feather staff report