native americans

Courtney Flatt/Northwest Public Broadcasting

Salmon are now swimming in the upper Columbia River for the first time in decades. For tribes, Friday’s ceremonial fish release is a big step toward catching fish in traditional waters.

Cheers erupted from the crowd as the first salmon was released since 1955 into the Columbia River above Chief Joseph Dam.

It was the first of 30 fish released. A truck transported the salmon up and around the dam in northeastern Washington. A chain of people lined up shoulder-to-shoulder. They passed bags filled with one salmon at a time from the truck to the river.

Sarah Eden Wallace

On Feb. 26, 2014, staff booked Shannon Jefferson into the Whatcom County Jail for a probation violation and failing to appear in court on a fourth degree assault charge.

Twelve days later, Jefferson tied a bed sheet to the window in her isolation cell and hanged herself. She was 36-years-old and the mother of six.

TVW / TVW

According to Washington State’s Department of Health, one infant dies almost every day in the state. Major causes include sudden unexplained infant death, low birthweight and premature birth.

And state health officials say the number of kids who die before the age of one is consistently higher among Native Americans and African Americans compared to any other race.

Officials from across the state met Thursday to discuss infant mortality as part of Governor Jay Inslee’s Results Washington Initiative.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

 

Murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls are the focus of a bill introduced in the Washington House of Representatives on Friday.

Last year, Washington Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, a Republican from Goldendale, sponsored a bill that calls on the Governor’s office and Washington State Patrol to find a way to count every murdered and/or missing Indigenous woman in the state.

Courtesy of TVW

A bill in the Washington Senate seeks to improve voting rights for Native Americans.

 

The Native American Voting Rights Act is sponsored by John McCoy, the only tribal member in the state Senate.

 

Lay Conn / KCTS-9

Emily Washines was 18 years old when she was crowned Miss National Congress of American Indians. Yakama tribal councilmembers and elders sung a warrior song for her and then extracted a promise.

"After I got a pageant title, [they said] we want to talk to you about who Yakama women are," Washines said. "I thought, 'Oh gosh. There is going to come cooking lessons or something.'"

But tribal leaders had something else in mind. They wanted Washines to remember a message about a little-known war that wracked the Pacific Northwest in the 1850s. 

Victor Temprano / nativeland.ca

Regardless of where you live in the Northwest, someone was there before you…but who?

Washington Courts

Washington Supreme Court justices will be in northeastern Washington Tuesday to hear three cases in Nespelem, where the Confederated Tribes of the Colville are headquartered.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Tribes across the West are trying to restore their forests and grasslands to the way they were before white settlers arrived. Their goal is to return traditional foods like roots, huckleberries and big game.

But it’s a complex job.

Gary Wilson / USDA - tinyurl.com/yb562x5a

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville are celebrating an expansion of their sovereign rights. The federal government has granted them jurisdiction over water resources on tribal lands in northeastern Washington state.

Photo by Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

Nearly half of the members of the Colville Reservation in northeastern Washington state have ties to a tribe that Canada says no longer exists. In 1956, the last member of the Sinixt in Canada passed away.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife - tinyurl.com/y76efhuu

A Native American man has been sentenced to four months in jail and he’ll have to pay more than $1,000 in fines for illegally catching and selling chinook salmon and sturgeon in Washington state.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

If all goes according to plan, there could soon be salmon above the Grand Coulee Dam again. That’s according to Cody Desautel, director of Natural Resources for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville. 

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Thursday a bill aimed at shedding light on the cases of missing or murdered Native American women. 
 At the bill signing ceremony, Native women in traditional regalia performed a women’s honor song.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

The FBI is recognizing Coeur D’Alene tribal member Bernie LaSarte for her efforts to combat domestic violence in the Idaho Panhandle.



Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

What’s the best way to learn a language? Salish teachers are using music and song to introduce their Native American language to new speakers. It’s a language spoken by many tribes across the Northwest.

Every year, a conference that celebrates Salish culminates in an annual karaoke contest in Spokane. Contestants have to translate a song and perform it in front of judges.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

This week, nearly 500 teachers and students of Salish are in Spokane to celebrate the indigenous language. It’s considered ‘critically endangered,’ but tribal elders are optimistic that younger generations aren’t going to let the language disappear. 

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

Native speakers from across the Northwest and Canada are in Spokane this week to speak Salish and learn from those who teach it.

ASU Department of English - tinyurl.com/y9rody2b

In the opening scenes of the documentary film United by Water, writer Sherman Alexie reads his poem ‘Powwow At The End Of The World.’

     I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
     after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam
     and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
     and so I shall …

Gary Wilson / USDA - tinyurl.com/yb562x5a

It looks like the Confederated Tribes of the Colville will be keeping their name, for now. Tribal members have rejected a referendum that would have kicked off a name-changing process.

Brianhe / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/zmpz86k

Future teachers in Washington state may have to get more training in the history, culture, and treaty rights of Native American tribes. That’s a requirement of a bill currently before the Washington Legislature.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

Museum curators in the Northwest are now working to update exhibits that focus on the region’s indigenous people. They are trying to do that in a way that both modernizes stories of indigenous people and tells them more truthfully. 

Ryan Bushby / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/y7z4wo2w

British Columbia is taking the next step in a decade-long battle over native tribal rights. The province has filed paperwork to appeal a decision that granted Washington state tribal members rights to their ancestral lands in Canada.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

The Yakama Nation is asking Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency for the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide. It’s a steep slope outside of Yakima that is moving slowly and clings above a small community, a railroad corridor, Interstate 82 and the Yakima River.

The tribes have a lot to lose if it goes down.

Emily Schwing / NW News Network

Tribal members are waiting for the next move from British Columbia’s provincial government in a long-running battle over sovereign rights. Last month, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge ruled against the province, siding with a Washington man in an illegal hunting case.

Emily Schwing / NW News Network

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has upheld the claims of a Native American man from Washington state that he has the right to hunt in the province.

The long-running case concerned Rick Desautel, a member of the Colville Tribes and a descendant of the Sinixt, an indigenous group which once roamed the Northwest.

Idaho Legislature

Paulette Jordan, a Native American politician from North Idaho, will run for governor in the Gem State in 2018. Jordan, a Democrat, announced her candidacy at her 38th birthday party in Moscow, Idaho, on Thursday. 

Gary Wilson / USDA - tinyurl.com/yb562x5a

A group of eastern Washington tribes is joining a nationwide movement to reclaim indigenous identities and re-tell native stories. In this case, it’s all about a name change.

Jack Williams / OSU Special Collections & Archives/ Flickr - tinyurl.com/yd2ala3k

The White House is blocking money to build new tribal housing along the Columbia River. That’s according to five members of the Washington and Oregon congressional delegations.

War Pony Pictures

In the 1940s, construction of the Grand Coulee Dam ended a generations-long tradition among the region’s Native American tribes who had gathered at a nearby waterfall every year. But last year, five tribes revived that tradition.

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