Take a look back at August 2012's biggest stories from the pages of our weekly magazine, This Week From Indian Country Today.
Washburn Gets Nod
Kevin Washburn, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, was nominated by President Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior.
Justin Bieber Believes He’s Indian Enough to Get ‘Free Gas’
Pop star Justin Bieber said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine that he has some Native heritage—and he may well be right. But he went on to tell the interviewer he is “enough percent that in Canada I can get free gas.” The remark repeated common misconception (in some cases, First Nations citizens are exempt from taxation on gas bought on reserves), but many in Indian country found it unsettling coming from the lips of a celebrity with such massive popularity.
A Case of Washington ‘Oversight’
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) began to feel the pressure from Congress in regard to an answer of why it has not released any tribal economic and employment reports since 2007, in violation of biennial reporting requirements mandated by federal law. Shortly after the news came out, it was reported that the DOI broke another federal law by not publishing a list of federally recognized tribes by January 30.
Land Leasing Easier
On July 30, President Obama signed into law the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act, which will allow federally recognized tribes to develop and implement their own land-leasing regulations without the prior approval of the Secretary of the Interior.
Hopi Arts Trail Supports Tribal Artists
The Hopi Tribe earns most of its income from natural resources. But with an unemployment rate of more than 50 percent, its artists and craftsmen have a difficult time eking out a living. They are hoping that will change with the introduction of the Hopi Arts Trail, a collaboration and direct connection between artists and galleries on tribal land. The Hopi Arts Trail was not created to hike. Rather, it is a unified effort between Hopi artists and galleries to bring attention to Hopi basket weaving, kachina doll carving, pottery, silversmithing, painting, sculpture, glass making and many other art forms.
A New (and Improved) Dawn
The amazing discovery of a long-lost silent film, The Daughter of Dawn, featuring an all-Indian cast of Oklahoma Indians, has historians and film buffs reeling from delight. The film has been restored, and an original score has been written for it. When it was screened for descendants of the cast and crew, it generated tears and laughter.
A Landmark Preservation Project
The Pueblo of Zuni in New Mexico became the first tribe in the country to join the Main Street movement, a national economic-development project focused on cultural protection that is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The program helps downtown communities establish or revitalize their business environments while preserving local cultural and historic resources. The goal is to foster community pride and promote the growth of small businesses.
Indigenous Trade: An Aboriginal-Owned Charter Bank
A historic agreement that will usher in a new aboriginal-owned chartered bank was signed in Winnipeg, Manitoba on July 17. The bank would be located on reserve land. The enterprise was organized by the aboriginal financial institution Tribal Wi-Chi-Way-Win Capital Corporation, which is leading a group of capital corporations owned by American Indians and First Nations members. The proposed chartered bank, which would operate on a stand-alone basis, bolstered by investments from Native Americans, Maoris and Canadians, is designed to better serve the growing financial needs of Canada’s indigenous economy. Its founders envision that it will operate a full range of banking services including deposits, mortgages, business and personal loans, and wealth management.
Smithsonian to Repatriate Bear River Massacre Remains
On January 29, 1863, a regiment of about 200 volunteers, led by Colonel Patrick Edward Connor, murdered an estimated 300 Northwestern Shoshone men, women and children in what is modern-day Franklin County, Idaho. Almost 150 years after what is remembered as the Bear River Massacre, the remains of two of the slain are slated to return home for burial. Patty Timbimboo-Madsen, cultural and natural resource manager with the Northwestern Band of Shoshone, said her nation plans to take possession of the remains sometime before the 150th anniversary of the massacre in January 2013.
Montana’s Dirty Secrets
According to a legal complaint, priests and nuns misused their authority to “molest, exploit and abuse children” across eastern Montana for decades, and the Roman Catholic diocese sent known perpetrators to remote areas of Montana, including Indian mission boarding schools.
The Great Confounding of America
ICTMN straps a lie-detector to the history books to debunk some popular myths about Columbus, the Pilgrims and “savages.”
The ‘Train Wreck’ Of Federal Recognition
Can the BIA’s acknowledgment process be fixed? Established in 1978, it was “intended to streamline federal recognition and make it consistent,” says Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii). “Unfortunately, that process…has failed to accomplish that goal…. Congress has not recognized a tribe through legislation—can you imagine?—in over a decade!”