It's our weekly roundup of the stories that mattered most in Indian country:
OIL BOOM: A train full of Bakken crude was hit by a derailed grain train in eastern North Dakota and exploded into flames that engulfed a dozen train cars. The Quinault Indian Nation reiterated its warning against the use of rails to transport oil.
LAST OF HER KIND: Emily Johnson Dickerson, a full blood Chickasaw who spoke only the Chickasaw language her entire life, died at her Ada, Oklahoma home on Monday, December 30, 2013. Dickerson was the last monolingual Chickasaw language speaker, according to Joshua Hinson, director of the Chickasaw Nation Language Department.?
EAGLE DEATHS EXPLAINED: A rash of bald eagle deaths in Utah over the past month is being attributed to West Nile virus, which experts believe they contracted from eating birds afflicted with the disease.
OSHIE, OLYMPIAN: T.J. Oshie, Ojibwe from Warroad, Minnesota, a standout NHL forward of the St. Louis Blues, will join 24 other NHL players representing Team USA in the 2014 Olympic games.
YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG: Documents have revealed that Pacific International Terminals failed to obtain the environmental permits it needed, and also failed to meet a requirement to consult first with local Native American tribes, the Lummi and Nooksack tribes, about the potential archaeological impacts of the work, which led to the disturbance of a site from which 3,000-year-old human remains had previously been removed.
GOING TO SEED: The Cherokee Nation is giving seeds from its limited supply of seed bank inventory to tribal citizens interested in growing traditional Cherokee crops.
LAST LAUGH: Charlie Hill, a legend of standup comedy who has influenced virtually every Native comic who followed, lost his battle with lymphoma.
CASINO DREAMS: A 2003 federal court recommendation that Congress pay the Alabama-Coushatta Indians $270.6 million in compensation, but the tribe never received a dime — now it's willing to waive compensation and relinquish efforts to regain ownership of its ancestral land for the right to operate a class II casino on its reservation in Livingston, Texas.
A ROUGH YEAR FOR REDSKINS: Oneida Indian Nation representative and CEO Ray Halbritter wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post saying that 2013 was a “year of reckoning for the R-word.”