News from the Nations (Jan. 22-28)

by Jan 29, 2018NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


Cherokee playwright receives Artist Award

WASHINGTON – Mary Kathryn Nagle, a Cherokee Nation citizen, has received a $50,000 United States Artist Award.  Nagle’s play “Sovereign” opened in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Jan. 24 and is inspired by her own family history.  The writer of another popular play, “Sliver of a Full Moon”, Nagle is a partner in Pipestem Law in Tulsa.  “My work as a lawyer and as a playwright are very intertwined,” she told the Tulsa World.  “A good lawyer is a good storyteller.  And our laws, whether they be laws of the United States or the Cherokee Nation, are based on stories we tell ourselves.” Her new play, “Sovereign” deals partly with the Treaty of New Echota of 1835, and she is a direct descendant of two signees of that treaty – Major Ridge and John Ridge.  “This story is in my blood, but at the same time, I had to be authentic.  I grew up hearing my grandma villainize John Ross, but in writing this play, I really had to examine my own biases and emotions and write about him as truthfully as possible,” she further told the Tulsa World.


Sitka Tribe to collaborate with neighboring national park

SITKA NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, Alaska – The Sitka Tribe of Alaska is working with the National Park Service on negotiations for collaborations between the two at the Sitka National Historical Park.  KTOO reported that some programs at the park, such as historical interpretations, may be under management of the tribe if the collaboration is approved.  Neither entities have spelled out specifics.


Agua Caliente Band looking at third casino

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – The Agua Caliente Band of California has started the process to build an off-reservation casino, its third gaming facility, in Cathedral City, Calif.  A land-into-trust application has been filed by the tribe for the 13-acre site which is contiguous to their reservation.  “…in total, we’re going to have a 125,000 square foot facility a stone’s throw from downtown,” Stone James, Cathedral City director of economic development, told KMIR-NBC.  “There is so much going on in downtown right now, the casino is going to be, in my opinion, in our opinion, another invaluable catalyst.”  It was reported that the planned casino would occupy 65,000 square feet of space with another 60,000 square feet dedicated to retail space.  The BIA is currently taking comments on the land-into-trust application until Jan. 29.


Woman sentenced for embezzling from Skagway Traditional Council

SKAGWAY, Alaska – Delia Commander, of Oregon, pleaded guilty to embezzling $300,000 from the Skagway Traditional Council.  She was sentenced to 18 months in prison and $297,731 in restitution during a hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 24 according to a report from KHNS – Haines.  “The defendant plead guilty to embezzling $300,000, which is the equivalent of two full years of operating budget,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward told KHNS.  According to the report, Commander served as Skagway tribal administrator from 2008-14 and had many fiscal responsibilities including managing grants and contracts.  She resigned three years ago when the Council asked for documentation on various financial issues.


Native American Indian Lobby Day held at Washington capitol

OLYMPIA, Wash.  – Over 100 activists from various Washington tribes gathered for the 8th Annual Native American Indian Lobby Day at the state legislative building in Olympia on Tuesday, Jan. 23.  Elizabeth Satiacum, co-creator the event and a member of the Puyallup Tribe of Washington, told the Peninsula Daily News, “We started the lobby day because there was no representation at the Capitol for us.”  It was reported there are currently 32 different bills in the Washington legislature dealing with tribal issues from salmon to child welfare to missing and murdered Indigenous women.  Washington State Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) was quoted by the Daily News as telling the crowd, “You can control and change and determine what happens in this building.  But, only if you vote.”


Tribal Supreme Court Project receives $600K grant

WASHINGTON – The Tribal Supreme Court Project has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (Calif.). reports that the funds will help the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the National Congress of American Indians “monitor, coordinate, and advocate for tribal interests before the highest court in the land” over a three-year period.   NARF Senior Attorney Joel Williams (Cherokee Nation), told, “The Tribal Supreme Court Project is based on the principle that effective tribal advocacy before the Supreme Court must be built on a coordinated and structured approach.  NARF is honored to coordinate efforts and provide case review and analysis that has the potential for wide-reaching impacts in Indian Country.”


– One Feather staff report