Heroin ring indicted on Minnesota reservations

A federal grand jury has indicted 41 people in a drug trafficking conspiracy that distributed heroin, methamphetamine and other hard drugs across the Upper Midwest and on two large Minnesota Indian reservations, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

Bill to take land into trust for Lytton Rancheria

Rep. Jared Huffman introduced a bill this week to take land near Windsor into federal trust for housing and other purposes — but not a casino — as part of the Lytton Rancheria reservation.

Oregon State Board of Education rules Indian Mascots have to go

Fourteen Oregon public schools that have fought to maintain their Native American-themed mascots in the face of state changes must pick new names by 2017, the Oregon Board of Education ruled this week.

Daughter of Tony Hillerman continues the popular Jim Chee-Joe Leaphorn Navajo tribal police series

Anne Hillerman is Tony’s daughter and is an outstanding author in her own right, and the research she did shows in this police procedural featuring Chee, his wife, Bernadette Manuelito, Leaphorn and their fascinating family and friends.

Navajo Tribal cops Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito, and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, investigate two perplexing cases.

Virginia Indians struggle for federal recognition

Virginia’s original inhabitants are seeking formal recognition from the federal government, but they face opposition from casino interests and other groups.

The Pamunkey, whose most famous member was Pocahontas, and other Native American tribes in Virginia want federal recognition that would open the door for housing, education and other financial assistance.

History and analysis of Kennewick Man

Last fall, the Smithsonian Institution published Kennewick Man: The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton , the first comprehensive study of the most important human skeleton ever found in North America. This milestone is particularly significant due to tremendous political controversy and tribulations that scientists have faced in trying to study the remains and publish their findings since the skeleton was first unearthed in 1996.

The book contains 33 essays written by 52 authors on a plethora of subjects including the historical movement of humans into the Americas, curation of the skeleton, skeletal morphology and pathology, orthodontics, biomechanical analysis, injury patterns, burial context, 3D modeling, molding and casting methods, Early Holocene humans, identity through art, and human coastal migration from Southeast Alaska.

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe ancestors coming home

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and its Ziibiwing Cultural Society will repatriate the ancestral human remains of dozens of Native Americans next week.

They will repatriate 41 Native American individuals from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City; one Native American individual from the Toledo Zoological Society in Toledo, Ohio; and one Native American individual from the Dearborn Historical Museum in Dearborn.

The role of Fort Leavenworth in Nez Perce History

In 1877, one year after Custer’s defeat, the Army basically fought the last of the Indian Wars. It was against the Nez Perce of eastern Oregon and Idaho. Actually, the war ranged over several states, including several days in the new Yellowstone National Park, and covered about 1,300 miles, ending at Snake Creek near the Bear Paw Mountains in northern Montana, about 40 miles south of the Canadian border.

Senator McCain’s record on Indian gaming is complicated

From 2004 to 2006, Washington was transfixed by the revelations that several Indian tribes had paid exorbitant fees to then-uber lobbyist Jack Abramoff to stop other tribes from opening casinos that might siphon gamblers away from their own operations.

Ten years later, and little has changed. Since 2009, the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) in Arizona has spent nearly $11 million on lobbying Congress to pass legislation that would prevent the Tohono O’odham Nation from opening a competing casino. A sister tribe, the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, also with casinos in the Phoenix area, has dropped a couple million dollars more on the fight.

That’s a lot of money spent in service of an issue that most Americans care nothing about. Two Arizona members of Congress, Rep. Paul Gosar and Sen. John McCain, keep the issue bubbling. The question is why.

Beauty and Balance in Turquoise

One look at the elaborate turquoise bracelets, engraved silver belt buckles and ornate squash blossom necklaces featured in “Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family,” and it’s clear that by bypassing accounting, Mr. Yazzie is giving the Navajo nation a much richer gift. The exhibition until early 2016 shows about 330 pieces of jewelry made by 15 members of the Yazzie family, with a focus on work by Lee and his younger brother Raymond.

Lakota Sioux Tribe Invokes ‘Bad Men’ Treaty Clause

The Oceti Sakowin, or Great Sioux Nation pressed on in its fight against the Keystone Pipeline this week. In a press release dated April 29, 2015, (see below), the Lower Brule Lakota Sioux Tribe of South Dakota invoked a “Bad Man” clause from the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 where the U.S. Government agreed to “proceed at once to cause the offender to be arrested and punished according to the laws of the United States.” The accused “offender” in this case: foreign tar sands pipeline company TransCanada.

Invoking the “Bad Man” clause of the treaty means roughly 40% of South Dakota is off limits to TransCanada. This would directly affect the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route and the access to transmission lines.

Pope plans to make California priest a saint: Is he a Saint or sinner?

Pope Francis lauded the work of Father Junípero Serra, an 18th century Spanish priest in California. Others disagree that Father Serra should be dubbed a saint. 

Tribal leaders in California say Serra beat and imprisoned local peoples, suppressed their cultures and facilitated the spread of diseases that decimated the population.

Smallpox, war and American Indians

When University of Kansas researcher Paul Kelton came across a description from missionary Daniel Butrick that documented a Cherokee ritual aimed at fighting smallpox, it changed Kelton’s thinking about the role diseases played in European colonization of the Americas.

“There are a lot of books out there that are dedicated to how Europeans came to acquire so much land in the Americas, but it seems lately that these books are beholden to this idea —  that it was germs above all else that allowed Europeans to come and take over,” Paul Kelton, KU associate professor of history, said.