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Indigenous communities

  • Agriculture in Indian Country generated almost $6.5 billion in 2022, avian influenza has led to infections and depopulation of more than 115 million chickens and turkeys, the collapse of the Baltimore Key Bridge and shut down the Port of Baltimore impacts farm machinery and agricultural exports, low water levels in the Mississippi River continue to affect agricultural transport, and U.S. farm income is falling as low commodity prices, trade headwinds, and higher costs squeeze profits.
  • A Mancos resident is investigating the Indigenous history of the Dolores River in southwest Colorado. Amorina Lee-Martinez completed her PhD on water management around the Dolores River at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She’ll be speaking at the Dolores Public Library on Thursday. The talk will cover the history of Indigenous peoples in the Four Corners, and then turn to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the origins of McPhee Reservoir. Lee-Martinez says the reservoir is a rare example of a tribal community negotiating for and successfully receiving at least part of their share of water rights in the Colorado River basin. The discussion is open to the public, and will start at 6 p.m.
  • On Saturday, a community organization held a walk in protest of the White Mesa uranium mill on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation. It’s the only one of its kind still operating in the U.S. About 40 people attended the walk, which began in White Mesa, in southeast Utah, and ended at the driveway of the uranium mill. Manuel Heart, Chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, led the protest and spoke to supporters about the need for more regulations from the state of Utah on how the mill uses its wells. Heart says that the Tribe ultimately hopes the state regulatory agency won’t renew the uranium mill’s application for a groundwater discharge permit later this winter. In 1999, samples were collected that indicated a plume of chloroform was present in the groundwater table underneath the mill facility on their property.
  • On Friday, victims advocates held a walk in downtown Phoenix to raise awareness about predatory sober living homes targeting Indigenous communities like the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain Ute tribe in Colorado. Advocate Reva Stewart, whose cousin was taken by a group home recruiter from New Mexico to Phoenix, Arizona, says that recruiters often look for unhoused people in tribal communities, or those struggling with substance abuse. But Stewart says that a change made last week to Arizona’s Medicaid program closed a loophole that the group homes were exploiting. And today is the last day of Colorado’s legislative session.
  • The US House of Representatives passed legislation that may help provide Arizona with more water. And the Colorado Department of Natural Resources recently awarded a one million dollar grant to the Ute Mountain Ute tribe and three local conservation groups.
  • The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled late last month that Canadian-based Resolution Mining Company can build a copper mine on sacred Native American land east of Phoenix. And Utah has opened a new state office dedicated to professional licenses.
  • A change in policy by the Biden administration to give tribal voices more of a seat at the table has led to a controversy about proposed changes at Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff.
  • The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality recently granted an aquifer protection permit for a uranium mine near from a tribal community in the Grand Canyon, but the Havasupai Tribe still has concerns about the quality of its water. And avian influenza is suspected in Montezuma County.
  • The growing global debate over an energy source with a deadly past is playing out amidst the sweet sage and pine trees of the forest right by the Grand Canyon. Uranium prices are climbing again and Arizona has cleared the way for a once-stagnant mine to resume operations.
  • Two recent moves aim to benefit water access for tribal communities in the Colorado River basin. And the League of Women Voters of Utah is standing by its lawsuit challenging the state’s new congressional maps.