News: Fond du Lac dedicates new cemetery following 2017 grave desecration, our photo-op Governor, and more

In this post:

  • Fond du Lac band dedicates new cemetery for historic grave desecrated during road project
  • Our photo-op Governor
  • Canadian museum repatriates sacred item taken by missionary 150 years ago
  • Sacheen Littlefeather walks on; she declined Oscar on behalf of Brando
  • Cherokee Nation ongoing lawsuit against the federal government to account for how it’s managed Tribal assets

Fond du Lac band dedicates new cemetery for historic grave site desecrated by bridge construction

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa held a ceremony at Duluth’s Chambers Grove Park Friday to dedicate a new cemetery for the remains of their ancestors who got dug up as part of a 2017 state bridge construction project, the Star Tribune reported.

Over the past five years, more than 125 Fond du Lac Chippewa have sifted earth by hand to find remains of their ancestors.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation began bridgework without consulting Fond du Lac.

Our photo-op Governor

This item from Gov. Tim Walz’s weekly email brief jumped out at me.

We’re still waiting for Walz’s explanation about why he didn’t engage in promised Tribal consultation around Enbridge Line 3, or any concrete example of how the state’s commitment to meaningful consultation with Native Nations is changing how the state does business.

Canadian museum repatriates sacred Manitou Stone

The Royal Alberta Museum is repatriating the sacred Manitou Asinîy, or Manitou Stone, “to a new prayer centre close to the stone’s original location near Hardisty, Alta., the CBC reports.

A missionary stole the stone more than 150 years ago.

“The Manitou Stone, a 145-kilogram meteorite, originally landed on a hill overlooking the Iron River near Hardisty,” the story said. “Indigenous people believed the stone protected the buffalo herds that provided them with sustenance.”

Sacheen Littlefeather walks on; she declined Oscar on Brando’s behalf

Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American actress and activist, made Oscars history in 1973 by standing in for Marlon Brando and declining his best actor award for his role in The Godfather. Littlefeather walked on Sunday at the age of 75, the Washington Post reported.

Her 1973 speech condemned injustice against American Indians.

Sacheen Littlefeather. Image:
UCLA Library Special Collections, via Wikimedia Commons

“The 26-year-old Ms. Littlefeather was the first Native American woman to appear onstage at the Oscars,” the story said. “She later said that the show’s producer, Howard W. Koch, had threatened to have her arrested if she spoke for more than a minute.”

Cherokee Nation’s ongoing lawsuit against the federal government to account for how it’s handled Tribal assets

For decades, the Cherokee Nation has argued in court that the federal government has failed to meet its “trust” obligations to the Tribe. In September, it filed its latest brief in the ongoing legal battle.

The trust doctrine commits the United States to ensure the survival and well being of Indian Nations and citizens.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

A second aspect of the trust responsibility arises from the fact that Congress, primarily through legislation, has placed most tribal land and other property under the control of federal agencies to the extent that virtually everything a tribe may wish to do with its land must be approved by the federal government. Courts have recognized that when Congress delegates to federal officials the power to control or manage tribal land, their actions with respect to those resources must be “judged by the most exacting fiduciary standards.”

The Cherokee Nation argues that the U.S. government has failed to meet those exacting standards, for instance it hasn’t accounted for how it has managed Tribal lands and resources, including such things as land leases and timber sales.

The U.S. government’s failure to meet trust obligations go back a century, the legal brief said.

[T]here are significant disputes of fact regarding the United States’ management of the [Cherokee] Nation’s trust resources. This includes issues related to the United States’ illegal takeover of the Nation’s constitutional government during the early twentieth century, an action that severely handicapped the Nation’s ability to serve its citizenry, limited its ability to protect its trust resources, and … prevented it from developing necessary governmental services.

Cherokee Nation legal brief

Full brief here.

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