Native Americans

The U.S. Department of Justice this week opened the door to a legalized pot market on tribal land.

HBO is planning a new six-hour miniseries on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Hundreds of thousands of Native Americans across the nation have started receiving the final cash payments this week from one of the largest government settlements in U.S. history.

Checks ranging from $869 to nearly $10 million were sent beginning Monday to more than 493,000 people by the administrators of the $3.4 billion settlement.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The story most people learn about the Nez Perce Tribe and the capture of Chief Joseph doesn't tell the whole history, and now the federal government and Northwest Tribes are trying to fix that with a new historic site.

You may have heard about the Nez Perce’s epic 1,200-mile flight through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana in 1877. The U.S. Army caught up with them before they could reach Canada. And in history books and documentaries, this is how the story usually ends:

Football season has kicked off another round of scrutiny over how professional sports teams use Native American mascots. But in eastern Washington, a minor league baseball team has earned the approval of its native namesake.

Avista Stadium in Spokane is full of the familiar sights, sounds and smells of baseball. And then, there are things that might make you do a double take.

Re-branding in two languages

The new film Winter in the Blood is based on a landmark of literature from the American West: a novel, published to critical acclaim in 1974, about a 30-something American Indian man living in Montana. It was written by Native American author James Welch, and adapted for the screen, for the first time, by two non-Native Americans — twins Alex and Andrew Smith.

Grant County officials and Native Americans are patrolling round the clock to keep sacred and sensitive sites protected on miles of exposed Columbia River shoreline.

The mysterious Clovis culture, which appeared in North America about 13,000 years ago, appears to be the forerunner of Native Americans throughout the Americas, according to a study in Nature. Scientists have read the genetic sequence of a baby from a Clovis burial site in Montana to help fill out the story of the earliest Americans.

Chief Tahgee, Fort Hall, Kindergarten
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

This new kindergarten classroom on eastern Idaho’s Fort Hall Indian Reservation looks and feels much like any other. Tiny tables and chairs fill the room, bright drawings and artwork hang on the walls, and small coats hang on low-to-the-ground hooks. It’s the sound of the classroom that’s truly one-of-a-kind.

About 30 five-and-six-year-olds are learning to speak Shoshone.

“Benna, ne naniha J.J.”

“Ne naniha Miley.”

The top administrator for an eastern Idaho high school says the school will drop its longtime Redskins nickname, logo and mascot in a move to show respect for Native Americans.

Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulm announced earlier this week that Teton High School in Driggs will begin searching for a new nickname and mascot.

He says the decision was motivated by the need to teach students to see beyond skin color and assumptions based on appearances.

University of Louisville

When Louisville plays Connecticut in the NCAA women’s championship Tuesday, fans in Northwest Indian country will be cheering. That’s because two Native American sisters are leading the Louisville Cardinals and they hail from a reservation in northeast Oregon.

In Mission, Oregon and nearby Pendleton it’s pretty clear basketball’s a big deal. There are basketball camp names embroidered on people’s jackets, team bumper stickers are everywhere and lately – there have been a whole lot of house parties. Shoni Schimmel and her sister Jude have achieved rock-star status here.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho tribes want the Legislature to tell counties to quit taxing tribal government land on the state's reservations.

Helo Hancock, a lobbyist for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in northern Idaho, told the House Revenue and Taxation Committee Monday the issue first arose in 2006.

Then, Idaho tribes received a "flurry of assessments" on land that had once been homesteaded, but later re-acquired by tribal governments.

Jason Karsh 2012 / Flickr

The first payouts from a historic class-action suit against the federal government will be sent to American Indians within the week. The settlement will be split by 500,000 American Indians, including many in the Northwest.

Lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell sued the federal government 16 years ago. As treasurer of the Blackfoot Tribe in Montana, she discovered the government had mismanaged individual Indian land held in trust. A settlement was reached in 2009, but a two-year appeals process held up disbursements. Cobell died during that time.

killerfemme / Flickr

A tribal court on the Umatilla Indian Reservation is one of the first to hand-down a long prison term under new tougher criminal sentencing laws enacted by Congress in 2010.

It used to be that tribes could only sentence a Native American criminal to up to one year of jail time -- no matter the crime. Typically the U.S. Justice Department was called in for everything else -– but many cases were dropped.

Now, tribal courts have the power to sentence native criminals who commit crimes on a reservation up to three years per count, for up to nine years.

U.S. Dept. of Justice

A landmark settlement announced this week between the federal government and Native American tribes is expected to have long-term effects beyond the $1 billion in the agreement. Three Idaho tribes are part of the deal, the Coeur d’Alene, Nez Perce, and Shoshone-Bannock.

Forty-one tribes filed lawsuits alleging the federal government mismanaged tribal accounts for generations. The accounts held decades of royalties on timber, farming, grazing and other leases on land held in trust for the tribes.