Take a look back at April 2012's biggest stories from the pages of our weekly magazine, This Week From Indian Country Today.
Who Owns the Grand Canyon?
An ambitious plan by the Navajo Nation to build an elaborate tourist development on the Grand Canyon’s East Rim is brimming with promise and controversy. The plan is getting a chilly reception from tribal residents in the area, the Hopi tribe and officials at Grand Canyon National Park.
A Jack of All Sleazy Trades
Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, now on a very bizarre “redemption tour” that positions him as a poster boy for campaign finance reform, stirred up more intrigue by admitting that he had been willing—eager, even—to bribe journalists inside the Beltway during his days as a D.C. power-broker.
Echo Hawk Goes Mormon
On March 31 Larry Echo Hawk, the leading Native American voice in the Obama administration, stepped down as Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs to fulfill a calling to join the leadership of the Church of Latter-day Saints.
Toddlers Can Learn Lakota With New App
Lakota Toddler, a new free app available in the iTunes store, is an easy-to-use, fun way for toddlers to learn Lakota words. The app has two options on the menu screen, learn and play. The “learn” option gives users a colorful flashcard with a picture of an object or number, the Lakota word and the English translation. When the screen is tapped, the word is spoken by the narrator, Dollie Red Elk, reported the Rapid City Journal. App creators Isreal Shortman, Navajo, and Rusty Calder, owners of tinkR’ labs, released their first app, Navajo Toddler, last year.
Turkey Is Open for Business
Turkey is the world’s 16th largest economy, a nation with a burgeoning tourism industry and, following the Reservation Economic Summit and American Indian Business Trade Fair, a potential investor and trading partner in Indian country.
Former Chairman Walks On
Richard Milanovich, 69, who served as chairman of the Palm Springs, California–based Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for nearly 30 years, died March 11 of cancer. His influence was felt in many parts of Indian country.
Billy Mills’s New Race
A highlight of the National Indian Gaming Association’s annual trade show and convention will be a special event with Billy Mills, 1964 Olympic gold medalist and the national spokesman for Running Strong for American Indian Youth. He is scheduled to join Dr. Donna Galbreath, president of the Association of American Indian Physicians, and Kickapoo Tribal Chairman Steve Cadue in raising awareness and funds for diabetes prevention in Indian country. It is a subject with which Mills is all too familiar. “I am a type 2 diabetic,” he said. “I was diagnosed as hypoglycemic and as borderline diabetic in 1963—one year before I won the Olympic gold medal.”
Four Bands Community Fund to Lend $2 Million to Grow B-to-B Commerce
After lending nearly $1 million to fund business-to-consumer development on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) reservation in South Dakota last year, the Four Bands Community Fund now plans to lend twice that much to develop business-to-business (B-to-B) commerce there over the next two or so years. “We’re prepared to put up over $2 million and hopefully leverage other programs out there” to support B-to-B commerce, Four Bands executive director Tanya Fiddler told Indian Country Today Media Network.
Gun Lake Gaming Authority’s Credit Rating Bumped Up
Just a year after the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians opened the Gun Lake Casino, the country’s top financial ratings services have boosted the Gun Lake Tribal Gaming Authority’s credit ratings. The upgrades were announced as parties in the controversial case Salazar v. Patchak were preparing for oral arguments scheduled for April 24 before the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue in the Patchak case is whether the federal government properly took land into trust for the Gun Lake Tribe to build its casino.
Seneca Nation Touts Redesigned $130 Million Buffalo Creek Casino
The Seneca Nation of Indians has announced it will move ahead with a redesigned $130 million casino in the waterfront district of Buffalo, New York after a three-year delay caused by the economic recession. The new Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino will be built on 9.5 acres of the nation’s sovereign territory, replacing an existing temporary building that has offered slots-only gaming since 2007. The new gaming facility is expected to create approximately 600 temporary construction jobs; once completed, it will provide 500 direct jobs, including inside jobs and others related to the operation, with a multiplier effect that will create another 500 positions over time, Seneca officials said in a press release.
The Drop-Out Cure
Native students in Montana are dropping out of high school at an alarming rate. Educators are fighting back by working harder to keep Indian students engaged—and enrolled. There solution is to teach more Native culture to all students. So far, the signs are encouraging, and students—and parents—are happy.
The Navajo Nation is facing a vexing dilemma—with 130 different clans (and growing) it is often maddeningly difficult for young Navajos to find marriage partners within the tribe to whom they aren’t related. This crisis is pushing some people to propose radical solutions, and even reevaluate what cultural identity is, and means.