This week's news highlights include a story (and video!) on the tribal origins of the NCAA's traveling Final Four court, a march in Guatemala over indigenous land rights, a challenge by Lakota inmates regarding a ban on tobacco in prison, and concerns over how a proposed pipeline across the U.S. would impact ancestral Indian burial grounds:
- Final Four floor makers courting perfection - "The portable Final Four court at New Orleans' Mercedes-Benz Superdome is one of 21 produced for this year's NCAA men's and women's tournament sites by Connor Sports Flooring. Its plant is tucked away in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, in population-275 Amasa, where the nearest airport has three flights a day. The court was made by hand, by a workforce that inspects each plank with the type of scrutiny any fine-eyed referee would appreciate. The maple came from the 235,000 acres of Wisconsin forest owned by Menominee Tribal Enterprises. The Menominee Tribe has about 4,000 people living on the reservation, and about 500 work in its sawmill or as loggers."
- 10,000 Indigenous Protestors March on Guatemala Capital - "An estimated 10,000 indigenous people marched on Monday in the Guatemalan capital after they walked more than 200 kilometers (120 miles) to demand a government settlement of a conflict over land. Tired and sweating, with bags slung over their shoulders and waving red pennants, the thousands of Indians and peasants, who were joined by social organizations, students and labor unions, marched through the historic downtown area before meeting with President Otto Perez Molina."
- Native American inmates challenging tobacco ban - "A Lakota traditional healer said Tuesday that tobacco is an integral part of Native American religious ceremonies and denying its use is akin to taking away the Bible from a Christian. Richard Moves Camp, testifying during a federal trial challenging a South Dakota prison policy banning its use in such ceremonies, said tobacco has been a central part of prayer for thousands of years. It's traditionally mixed with other botanicals in pipes and smoked to bring peace and harmony and connected to cloth in prayer ties that are burned in fires as a symbol of offering, he said."
- Indian tribe worries pipeline will disturb graves - "As President Barack Obama pushes to fast-track an oil pipeline from Oklahoma south to the Gulf Coast, an American Indian tribe that calls the oil hub home worries the route might disrupt sacred sites holding the unmarked graves of their ancestors. Sac and Fox Nation Chief George Thurman plans to voice his concerns this week in Washington. He said he fears workers placing the 485-mile Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Cushing to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast could disturb holy ground without consideration of the tribe. He and another tribe member say the pipeline's route travels through areas where unmarked graves are likely buried."