Here is a summary of some of the top Native American-related stories in U.S. news this week:
Some Wins, Some Losses for Indigenous Candidates in Midterm Vote
More than 90 Indigenous candidates ran in Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections, with 11 congressional candidates.
Republican Markwayne Mullin, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, will represent Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate, the first Native American in the Senate since former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Republican from Colorado, retired in 2005.
Representative Sharice Davids, a Kansas Democrat, won a third term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cole of the Chickasaw Nation will serve an 11th term in Oklahoma’s fourth congressional district.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Cherokee citizen, won the governor’s race in Oklahoma.
Democrat Lynnette Grey Bull of the Northern Arapaho and Standing Rock Sioux tribes lost to Republican Harriet Hageman in the contest for Wyoming’s seat in the U.S. House.
Democrat Mary Peltola, an Alaska Native Yu’pik, leads Republican congressional candidate Sarah Palin for a permanent seat in Congress. Because the state uses a new ranked-choice voting system, however, final results may not be announced until later this month.
Native News Online is keeping track of the candidates; read more here.
California Tribes Retain Exclusive Gambling Rights
California voters overwhelmingly shot down two measures that would have legalized sports gambling.
Proposition 26 would have legalized sports betting at tribal casinos and allowed them to offer dice games and roulette. Proposition 27 would have authorized online and mobile sports betting.
Tribes supported Proposition 26, which would have expanded their gaming operations, but opposed Proposition 27, as it would have allowed online sports betting outside of Native American lands and diminished their gaming exclusivity.
Today, 76 California Indian gaming casinos are owned by 73 of the state’s 109 Tribes, making California the nation’s largest Indian gaming state with annual total revenues of nearly $9 billion.
Read more here.
After Two-decade Wait, Sacred Lakota Artifacts Are Home
A delegation of Oglala and Cheyenne River Lakota, and Wounded Knee Survivors Association members traveled to Barre, Massachusetts, to take back more than 130 artifacts from a museum that has held them for more than a century.
During a public ceremony at a local school, descendants spoke of their ancestors killed or wounded in the 1890 massacre that took the lives of hundreds of followers of Miniconjou Lakota leader Spotted Elk as they traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation.
In 1992, a local anthropologist alerted the Wounded Knee Survivors Association about the artifacts held in the Barre Museum.
“I was shocked,” said Alex White Plume, a former Oglala president who was among a group of Lakota who traveled to Barre to see the items and appeal for their return.
“We went into the museum, and you could just sense the spirits,” he told VOA. “I saw baby clothes, totally beaded in just beautiful designs. And then I’d look on the back and there would be a big black hole where the bullet went through.”
If these things remained in the museum, White Plume said, their spirits would remain “captive on this earth.”
Once back at Pine Ridge, the artifacts will be stored at the Oglala Lakota College until the 130th anniversary of the massacre this December 29, when they will be honored in a ceremony and distributed between tribes.
Read more here.
Tribes Hopeful Indian Child Welfare Law Will Hold
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could decide not only the future of many Native American children but ultimately impact the sovereignty of Native American nations.
Brackeen v. Haaland began as a lawsuit challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act, a 1978 law passed to stop states from placing Native American children in non-Native American families, a practice many Native Americans believe to be a continuation of historic efforts at forced assimilation.
The suit was first brought in 2016 by three sets of prospective adoptive parents, each non-Native American and fostering Native American children. They were joined by the states of Texas, Indiana and Louisiana with backing from the conservative Goldwater Institute in taking the U.S. government to court to try to overturn the ICWA.
Now before the nation’s highest court, the suit argues that states should decide child welfare cases, not the federal government. Supporters say the law discriminates against non-Native families based on race, in violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
The U.S. Constitution gives Congress, not states, plenary authority to deal with issues concerning Indian tribes.
“Here’s the truth,” Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., said in a statement about the suit. “The U.S. Constitution recognizes tribes as sovereign nations, and courts have repeatedly recognized that tribal citizenship is a political classification. That may be an inconvenient fact for those who want to convince the court that ICWA violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, but neither the facts nor precedent are on their side.”
Tribes worry that if ICWA is modified or overturned, it could pave the way for constitutional challenges to other federal laws and policies impacting tribes, such criminal jurisdiction, casino gaming and tribal mineral rights. The court’s decision is expected next June.
Legal analyst and Supreme Court watcher Amy L. Howe notes that Court appeared divided.
“After more than three hours of oral argument, several justices expressed doubt about specific provisions of the wide-ranging law, even if they did not appear inclined to strike down the law in its entirety,” she wrote. “Wednesday’s argument suggested a result that, although not what the federal government and the tribes might want, also might not be the catastrophic result that they have feared.”
Read more here: