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Home » Native American News Roundup September 10-16, 2023

Native American News Roundup September 10-16, 2023

by Koby John
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Leonard Peltier supporters arrested, fined during Washington protests

U.S. Park Police issued citations to more than two dozen supporters of imprisoned Native American activist Leonard Peltier during a rally outside the White House Tuesday.

The event was co-hosted by the South Dakota-based activist group NDN Collective and the human rights group Amnesty International.

As VOA reported in 2016, Peltier, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe of Lakota and Dakota descent, was convicted in the murders of two FBI agents during a 1975 standoff at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and given two consecutive life sentences.

His supporters say he was framed for murders he didn’t commit. Federal agents say evidence shows he was guilty of shooting agents at close range and that he has shown no remorse.

Peltier, 79 and in ill health, has spent 46 years in prison, losing multiple appeals for parole and White House clemency.

The U.S. Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 allows “compassionate release” for prisoners over 70 who have completed at least 30 years of their sentences. But because Peltier was sentenced before the law went into effect, he is ineligible.

“We come together here to remind the United States that Leonard Peltier is the longest-incarcerated political prisoner in the history of the United States,” NDN Collective CEO Nick Tilsen (Oglala Lakota) said Tuesday. “… We cannot let his fight for freedom go quietly. It’s time — 48 years is long enough.”

Park Police spokesman Sergeant Thomas Twiname said that officers issued citations to 27 demonstrators for the misdemeanor violation of “incommoding,” that is, crowding or obstructing a sidewalk.

“Nobody was put in handcuffs,” he said. “They were given citations, and then the individuals left.”

Indigenous researchers stress Indigenous sovereignty over biomedical data

The Daily Yonder this week highlights the work of the Native BioData Consortium (NativeBio), a nonprofit research collective led by Indigenous scientists and scholars seeking to use health data to improve and protect the health, welfare and cultures of Indigenous peoples.

Government agencies and scientific researchers have a history of unethical research among Native Americans. In the 1950s, for example, the U.S. Air Force gave capsules filled with radioactive Iodine-131 to Alaska Natives as part of a thyroid function study, putting them at risk of developing thyroid cancer.

In the early 1990s, an Arizona State University professor took blood samples from the Havasupai Tribe to understand the prevalence of diabetes in that community. Those samples ended up in the hands of researchers in other institutions, who used them for research on schizophrenia, inbreeding and theories about ancient migrations from Asia to North America.

NativeBio, located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, works to break down mistrust of science.

“Our main mission is to be a safe harbor for all indigenous people, and even marginalized people around the world whose data has been collected since the ‘70s and is being collected now, and not giving them enough consideration or control of how their data is used or commercialized,” said Joseph Yracheta, executive director of NativeBio.

Native tribes, mining groups, at odds over massive lithium find in Nevada

Scientists say that lithium discovered three years ago in a collapsed supervolcano in Nevada could meet global demand for decades.

new analysis of the southern portion of the McDermitt caldera in Nevada called Thacker Pass shows that claystone made up of the mineral illite contains 1.3% to 2.4% of lithium in the crater, nearly double the levels in more common lithium-bearing magnesian smectite clay.

Since 2021, local tribes and environmental groups have tried without success to halt mining construction at Thacker Pass, which lies in the traditional homelands of the Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe people.

US court sentences man for looting Native American archaeological site

A California man has been sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay more than $10,000 in restitution for illegally digging up and removing Native American human remains and cultural artifacts from public land in violation of federal law.

The case dates to July 2015, when wildfire fighters stumbled upon an excavated site in the Sierra National Forest.

“Human remains and artifacts were located among large piles of sifted dirt, hand tools and a large screen sifting box,” the Justice Department stated in 2018.

video camera at the site captured Vance Franklin Myers excavating the site multiple times, sometimes in the company of a woman, a small child and a dog.

The items he looted were valued at nearly $60,000.

Archaeologists stabilized the site, human remains were reburied, and artifacts were returned to the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians.

Source : VOA News

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