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HomeIndigenous NewsThe Wrap: NAYA’s Many Nations Academy Celebrates Class of 2024

The Wrap: NAYA’s Many Nations Academy Celebrates Class of 2024


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PORTLAND, Ore. – A roar of clapping hands, cheers and the echo of a drumbeat filled the pavilion on the blacktop behind the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) as 16 students dressed in black caps and gowns turned their tassels to the left — congratulations to the Many Nations Academy class of 2024.

“I must say that I have felt loved and supported throughout my time here,” said Edwin Brown, Tlingit and Selawik, addressing a crowd of over 100 as they received their high school diploma. “Although I have had struggles within myself, my family and my education, I’ve always been able to fall back into the Two Spirit community here for support and resources. And I truly appreciate that.”

On the second Thursday in June, 16 students walked across the stage in Native blanket print stoles with the embroidered logo for the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA). This year marked the 17th graduation ceremony at Many Nations Academy. Seven students joined the over 150 who have received their diplomas from Many Nations Academy since its inception in 2006.

For the first time in the history of graduations at Many Nations Academy, nine students received their GED certificates during the graduation ceremony.

“We did it ya’ll,” said Tashubi Blackowl, Rosebud Sioux, with a huge smile on her face as she received her GED certificate. “There were many times I wanted to quit and not continue my education. But I pushed myself to get here.” READ MORE. Nika Bartoo-Smith, ICT

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Yellowstone National Park is on the verge of finalizing new management plans for bison in the park that will likely aim to keep the total population around where it has been over the past decade and prioritize utilizing a program to transfer bison to Native American tribes and more tribal hunting to manage the population.

The National Park Service’s final environmental impact statement for bison management was published Friday in the Federal Register, kicking off a 30-day waiting period before the National Park Service’s record of decision on the plans is finalized.

The plan recommends a bison population of from 3,500 to 6,000 animals depending on the season – in line with more recent populations. After a record 1,175 of the animals were killed by hunters outside the park during a particularly bad winter of 2022-23, conservation groups have pushed to increase herd sizes despite pushback from the State of Montana.

The publication of the document comes more than two years after the National Park Service first started the National Environmental Policy Act process for management changes in January 2022.

The draft environmental impact statement and management plan was published last August, and the NPS received more than 27,000 comments, including pushback from Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and members of his cabinet that continues following the release of the final plan.

But officials with the Intertribal Buffalo Council, a member of the Interagency Bison Management Program that includes 80 tribes from 20 states, said Tuesday that they believed the preferred plan from the NPS is a good one and a way to allow the transfer program and tribal treaty hunting to continue.

“We’re on the same page of conserving those animals. We believe the park can accommodate a great number of animals, and then what they can’t accommodate, we believe should be translocated to the tribes,” said ITBC attorney Majel Russell.

The final plan changed little in terms of herd size goals from the draft version released last year. The three alternatives the NPS will have to choose from all would require the park to keep a minimum of 3,500 bison after calving, but maximum herd sizes range from 5,000 to 7,000.

The document says the park service’s preferred alternative is Alternative 2, which would also have park officials try to keep the Bison Conservation Transfer Program operation at full capacity. The program would bring in from 100 to 300 bison each year, which would be sent to Native American tribes in Montana and other states once they go through the quarantine protocols for brucellosis.

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that is present in about 60% of adult female bison and many elk in Yellowstone that can cause abortions in pregnant animals and can spread to cattle. The park says about 10% to 15% of the female bison can transmit live bacteria to other animals.

For decades, Montana has resisted expanding the bison population in Yellowstone to try to prevent the bacteria from spreading to cattle, with the original thought being bison were more likely to spread it to cattle than other animals.

But there has still been no documented transmission of brucellosis from Yellowstone bison to cattle living nearby but outside the park, while there have been 27 documented cases of the bacteria spreading from elk to cattle since 1998, according to the plan. But there are few, if no, currently feasible options to vaccinate the animals on a large scale. READ MORE. — Daily Montanan

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

Madelyn Melchiors, a 32-year-old veterinarian from Kingman, Arizona, said she was vomiting severely Monday evening and had a fever that endured for days after camping on the Havasupai reservation.

She eventually hiked out to her car in a weakened state through stiflingly hot weather and was thankful a mule transported her pack several miles up a winding trail, she said.

“I said, ‘If someone can just pack out my 30-pound pack, I think I can just limp along,’” said Melchiors, an experienced and regular backpacker. Afterward, “I slept 16 hours and drank a bunch of electrolytes. I’m still not normal, but I will be OK. I’m grateful for that.”

The federal Indian Health Service said Thursday that a clinic it oversees on the reservation is providing timely medical attention to people who became ill. Environmental health officers with the regional IHS office were sent to Havasupai to investigate the source of the outbreak and to implement measures to keep it from spreading, the agency said.

“Our priority is the health and well-being of the Havasupai residents and visitors, and we are working closely with local health authorities and other partners to manage this situation effectively,” the agency said in a statement.

While camping, Melchiors said she drank from a spring that is tested and listed as potable, as well as other sources using a gravity-fed filter that screens out bacteria and protozoa – but not viruses.

“I did a pretty good job using hand sanitizer” after going to the bathroom, she said. “It’s not like you can use soap or water easily.”

Coconino County health officials said Tuesday they received a report from a group of people who hiked to the waterfalls of “gastrointestinal illness” but didn’t know how many people have been affected. The tribe’s land is outside the county’s jurisdiction. READ MORE. — The Associated Press

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Years ago, domestic methamphetamine users would make their own drugs, sometimes shaking up cold medicine and camp fuel cocktails in plastic pop bottles.

The days of domestic drug production by way of local meth labs are long gone, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2024 National Threat Assessment, as well as interviews with numerous law enforcement sources in South Dakota.

According to the DEA assessment, nearly all the nation’s meth, fentanyl, heroin and cocaine comes from across the southern U.S. border, and the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels in Mexico.

Those drugs – and the influence of the cartels that control the business, by extension – are everywhere, the DEA says.

The word “cartels” carries considerable weight in the current showdown between Gov. Kristi Noem and the state’s nine tribal nations. Noem has painted reservations as safe havens for cartel members and hubs of drug and human trafficking. She’s accused tribal leadership of personally benefiting from a cartel presence. Tribal nations have responded by banning Noem from their lands.

Brendan Johnson, a former U.S. attorney for South Dakota, said it’s unfortunate that the comments have some South Dakotans believing cartels are based on reservations, when in reality they’re targeting communities across the state.

“Suggesting that there’s some sort of pipeline between Mexico and the reservations is silly,” Johnson said. “It would be tantamount to saying, ‘Yeah, the cartels are really focused on Ipswich.’ That’s stupid, and people wouldn’t believe it. Unfortunately, people are more inclined to believe it (about reservations), because they have less knowledge on the reservations.”

Tribal leaders have rejected claims that reservations are the primary source or target for drug trafficking, and have called Noem’s remarks racist, divisive, unsubstantiated and discriminatory.

“Her remarks were made from ignorance and with the intention to fuel a racially based and discriminatory narrative towards the Native people of South Dakota,” Rosebud Sioux Tribal Chairman Scott Herman said in a March 15 statement.

South Dakota: Not a hub, but not immune

Steven Bell, based in Omaha, is the special agent in charge for a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration region that includes North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

In the Upper Midwest, it’s “lower population, fewer cases, fewer ties” to the cartels, he said.

“But it’s important to note that in all of the states, we have been able to tie back our investigative activity back to the cartel presence,” Bell said. “In our rural areas, we’ve developed information where we have actual individuals and undercover agents and officers in direct contact with known members of the cartel.” READ MORE. — South Dakota Searchlight

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