Evo Morales, Bowling Green NYC, and arrested journalist Jenni Monet in 'The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, February 5–12, 2017'

Evo Morales, Bowling Green NYC, and arrested journalist Jenni Monet in 'The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, February 5–12, 2017'

The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, February 5–12, 2017

Two weeks' worth of headlines as Indian country careens down the Trump highway with the rest of the nation

A journalist arrested, the Trump team takes shape—and aim—and a massacre that didn’t happen, and yet did (to our Lenape ancestors). These are the stories that shaped the roller-coaster ride in Indian country during The Week That Was: February 5–12, 2017, edition.

NOT-SO-FREE PRESS: Journalist Jenni Monet, arrested while on assignment for Indian Country Media Network, still faces charges after being picked up while reporting on water protector activities at Standing Rock. Released after a night in jail in Morton County, North Dakota, she remains charged with criminal trespassing and rioting—the same charges levied against Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman back in September. A judge declined to sign the charges against Goodman, meaning they were never actually filed. In contrast, six months after a prolonged militarized-police onslaught against water protectors, Monet’s charges not only still stand, but she also spent a night in jail. ICMN denounced her arrest, as did the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), and contributor Mark Trahant outlined the threat this poses to First Amendment rights and press freedom nationwide. Culture editor Simon Moya-Smith noted that other journalists could very well be next.

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DAPL DON: About a week after President Donald Trump announced his intention to speed up the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) with a memorandum, the U.S. Department of the Army approved and then granted the Lake Oahe easement, the last impediment to drilling under the Missouri River. The initial announcement threw the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s attempts to stop the pipeline in federal court into disarray as the Army Corps said one thing there, but did another upon leaving the courtroom. U.S. Representative Raúl Ruiz slammed the decision, as did numerous others. Before the initial announcement, Sen. John Hoeven, the new chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, came out with a statement announcing its imminent approval prematurely. All the while, the camps were being dismantled and cleaned up in anticipation of spring flooding. A few disagreements sprouted, and some of the information became as muddy as the ground. Elsewhere, the question of legality arose, with the International Indian Treaty Council calling out “Trump’s slash and burn tactics and violation of legal and human rights” in an opinion piece. Peter d’Errico got more specific, pinpointing the Treaty of 1851 as the one that has been violated outright between the U.S. government and Indian country. This falls right in line with Trump’s governing ethic of “Because I said so,” as Trahant put it. And turning on its head the notion of illegality, antiterrorism experts have actually been contacting water protectors, according to a report. As for Trump’s assertion that not one person called to object to the pipeline’s approval, advocates had one suggestion: Turn on your phone. Tribal colleges drew a line in the sand with a statement in support of Standing Rock, and an art exhibit was launched whose proceeds will benefit the water protectors, as the Ramapough Tribe honored Sophia Wilansky, the New York woman whose arm was all but blown off on the front lines at Standing Rock.

MONEY TALKS—AND WALKS: Divestment, and the severing of financial ties, has emerged as another front in the DAPL battle. Many banks are financing the project, and there are ways to boycott them. To date more than $57 million has been moved out of accounts at institutions with monetary ties to DAPL, including Seattle, which has yanked $3 billion out of Wells Fargo.

BUMPY TRUMPY RIDE: Just days before Trump signed his executive orders and memoranda on DAPL and the rejected Keystone XL pipeline (sans tribal consultation), his transition team met with Native Americans. Nonetheless, commentator Tiffany Midge called the Trump administration the “new circus in town,” and Moya-Smith noted that with all the comparisons to 1930s Germany flying around, Trump is actually acting more like the nation’s founding fathers than Hitler. At the same time, the “shock and awe” being used to describe Trump’s first 100 days in office do hark back to the days of the U.S.’s last dalliance with paranoid isolationism, the America First movement of the late 1930s, as Alex Jacobs noted. Either way, U.S.–Native relations are sure to be sorely tested in the coming years, wrote Charles Kader. As the aforementioned circus got under way with cabinet picks, Ryan Zinke’s nomination went to the Senate floor, as did that of Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy. Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary, but only because Vice President Mike Pence cast a tiebreaking vote. And Native educators had plenty to say about that, and her. Neal Gorsuch, Trump’s choice for U.S. Supreme Court Justice, got credit for knowing more tribal law than other contenders. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act would make America sick again, as Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva wrote in an op-ed. But Republican lawmakers noted in a rebuttal that the changes would not include a repeal of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), as Grijalva claimed. At the same time, a freeze on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants cut deeply in Indian country.

BLOODY BOWLING GREEN: Throughout, the so-called alternative facts universe thrived right alongside our own, and ICMN grabbed the chance to give a little Indian country history lesson about the real Bowling Green Massacre, the one in which Lenape ancestors perished at the hands of the Dutch. This opportunity was provided by presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway’s fabrication of an incident in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that sent the interwebs reeling in hilarity and refutation.

Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain

Download our free report, Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain, to understand this fascinating concept..


ABOUT THAT WALL: The Tohono O’odham Nation, which straddles the Mexico–U.S. border, has made its stance known: No way, no how will that wall be built across its territory. As for Mexico, Bolivian President Evo Morales bid that country look southward—taking a page from Trump’s playbook, he did so via Twitter.

HEADING SOUTH: Not that things are so great for Indigenous Peoples south of the border. Indigenous environmental leader Isidro Baldenegro Lopez was shot and killed in Mexico just months after Bertha Caceres, a fellow Goldman Prize winner, was shot dead in Honduras. And in Nicaragua, Tuahka Indigenous Territorial Government Prosecutor Camilo Frank López was assassinated in a bar in the infamous region known as the Mining Triangle.

MONUMENTAL ASSAULT: Also as the Trump administration gets under way, many of the national monuments and other protected areas designated during President Barack Obama’s tenure are being assailed, besieged, you name it. Oil and gas leases have been auctioned off uncomfortably close to Chaco Canyon, sparking protests. Battle lines are forming in Indian country as opponents of the recently designated Bears Ears National Monument seek ways to reverse the declaration. And the inclusion of Cherry Point, in a Washington State–designated aquatic reserve off the Lummi sacred site of Xwe’chieXen, is being challenged.

HAWAIIAN ANCESTRAL LANDS SAVED: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dropped the “quiet title and partition” lawsuits he had brought on more than 300 people—living and passed on—with ancestral links to land he had purchased for a private beach resort, citing a desire to be fair to those with kuleana lands.

NO SLACK FOR YOU: The Colville Federated Tribes have prevailed in court yet again against Teck Metals, which lost its appeal to delay or avoid paying entirely $8.2 million in damages for decades of dumping of toxic metals into the Columbia River.

NOT JUST DAPL: Pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners is also under fire in its owner’s home state of Texas, where efforts are gaining momentum to stop the progress of the Trans-Pecos pipeline.

ULTIMATE RESISTANCE: VICELAND’s RISE, a new TV series directed by Michelle Latimer (Métis/Algonquin) and hosted by Sarain Fox (Anishinabe), highlights the indigenous resistance movement in Native communities in Indian country. ICMN A&E editor Vincent Schilling caught up with the two women for a Q&A and gave the series a rave review.

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The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, February 5–12, 2017

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