Take a look back at March 2012's biggest stories from the pages of our weekly magazine, This Week From Indian Country Today.
The Very Long Trip Home
Jim Thorpe, considered one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, had wanted to be buried in his home state of Oklahoma, but his body was taken away during his funeral in Shawnee and interred in Pennsylvania. After a 60-year battle, however, his remains may finally be coming home for good thanks to a judge’s ruling.
Every Child Left Behind
The No Child Left Behind Act was a bust across the nation and a disaster in Indian country, which is now taking a stronger hand in the massive reform of American education, starting with schools on the reservations. The good news: President Obama seems to be interested in getting the views of tribal leaders on this issue.
Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud
The North Dakota oil boom is bringing jobs, wealth and a humanitarian crisis that is taxing the resources of the Three Affiliated Tribes. It is now the fourth-largest oil-producing state in the U.S., and the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.3 percent, the lowest in the nation—but the cost of living has sky-rocketed.
Taking Down the Native Mob
A violent scourge plaguing Indian communities in Minnesota may finally have its day in court—and jail—but a federal indictment charging 24 alleged members in Minneapolis of a variety of crimes comes too late for one mother, who still has to pray that the people behind the murder of her son will be brought to justice.
The Waiting Game
Oklahoma Republican Governor Mary Fallin, following the end of the 2011 Oklahoma legislative sessions, signed into law H.B. 2172, effectively ending the role of the 44-year-old Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. In its place, the governor would appoint a liaison to serve between the executive branch and all of Oklahoma’s 39 tribes. The deadline for that appointment was December 1, 2011. That position was still unfilled in March mostly because of issues revolving around blood quantum.
‘Water Before Gold!’
On February 9, about 700 people from Peru’s northern Cajamarca region marched on Lima, the capital, at the end of a nine-day trek to protest a mine they said would destroy key watersheds. The conflict was the latest in a series of battles pitting mining companies against rural Peruvian communities, most of them indigenous. The main worry was that the mines would pollute rivers and dry up lakes and springs.
Supreme Court to Revisit Affirmative Action in College Admissions
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to again to tackle the divisive issue of affirmative action in college admissions, this time in the case of a white student who was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin. Abigail Noel Fisher sued the school after being rejected for admission in 2008. The court’s decision will have important repercussions for all minority college applicants, including American Indians.
Traditional Cheyenne Chief Walks On
He was known in childhood as Mouse Trail. Later, as a veteran, he was called Morning Killer. But there was more to him than his names. Charles Little Coyote, 86, a traditional Cheyenne chief who passed away February 9 in Wichita, Kansas, is remembered as a modest man with an abiding sense of humor who believed it was important to teach the Cheyenne language and culture to young people.
White Buffalo Hunt Shut Down
A lodge near Kerrville, Texas that advertised on its website “the opportunity to hunt and harvest the Authentic and Rare White Buffalo,” found itself on the wrong end of a passionate grassroots campaign mounted by concerned Natives on Facebook and via e-mail. Texas Hunt Lodge owner Aaron Bulkley said he was surprised by the outcry and did not mean to offend anyone. “I understand the white buffalo is sacred to Indians,” he told ICTMN. He called white buffalo hunts “a very small part of what we do” and said that he would cease offering the hunts.
For years, Jordy Trottier dreamed of playing professional hockey. This season, the 23-year-old Métis is fulfilling that goal as a rookie forward with the Bloomington (Illinois) Blaze of the Central Hockey League. But even as Trottier, whose uncle is NHL hall-of-famer Bryan Trottier, looks forward to some exciting days ahead on the ice, he must constantly deal with a sad reality. His mother, Cathy, is very sick. “She has been battling breast cancer for nine years,” said her son. “And now it’s spread to other parts of her body. It’s terminal. There’s nothing we do. We just take it day by day.”
A Place at the Table
The Indian Health Service (IHS) and Bureau of Indian Affairs fare well under President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget, which appears to affirm the government’s pledge to fulfill legal trust obligations to Indian nations. Obama’s latest proposed increase for IHS would fund the agency at $4.422 billion—a slight increase from the $4.307 billion estimate for fiscal year 2012. Obama’s fiscal year 2013 BIA budget calls for $2.527 billion in spending, just shy of the $2.531 billion called for in fiscal year 2012.
Standing Up for Pine Ridge
In March the Oglala Sioux tribe filed a $500 million lawsuit against brewers, retailers and distributors of beer sold in Whiteclay, Nebraska for the damage allegedly caused by their product. According to the suit, nearly 5 million cans of beer are sold annually in Whiteclay (population: 11), which lies fewer than 250 feet from the Pine Ridge border in South Dakota.