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January 06, 2012

Indian Country in the News: Jan. 1 - Jan. 6, 2012

Happy New Year and welcome back!

2012 kicks off with an investigation by the New Yorker into an 18-year legal battle pitting indigenous groups in Ecuador against Chevron for its alleged oil contamination in the Amazon; an interesting approach to childhood obesity education among Native kids by the Arizona State Museum; a look at the meaning of New Year's foods among certain American Indian tribes; and a last-ditch effort to save a remote, indigenous community in Alaska from coastal erosion:

  • New Yorker: Why Chevron Will Settle In Ecuador - "This week in the magazine, I tell the story of an eighteen-year legal battle between a New York lawyer, Steven Donziger, and Chevron, over alleged environmental contamination in the Amazon. Late yesterday, this ongoing saga took a dramatic and possibly decisive turn, when an appeals court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, upheld an $18 billion fine against Chevron—the largest judgment ever awarded in an environmental lawsuit. Chevron condemned the ruling last night, calling it 'another glaring example of the politicization and corruption of Ecuador’s judiciary.'"
  • What Do Museums, Comic Books, Skateboarding and Soda Pop Have in Common? - "The Arizona State Museum (ASM) is tackling a very hard assignment: how to talk to teenagers about obesity. Nearly one-third of adults and children in the United States are overweight or obese and that rate is nearly double among American Indians/Alaskan Natives. Half of Native American children born today will develop type 2 diabetes, and the death rate for Native Americans with diabetes is three times higher than the general U.S. population. At ASM we look for opportunities to connect to contemporary issues, providing perspective, engagement and a safe haven for community members to learn about and reflect on how these issues affect their lives. The epidemic of obesity and attendant health problems afflicting our Native American community is not something we can ignore."
  • NPR: For Some Tribes, New Year's Foods Provide A Sacred Link To The Past -"Around the world last night, revelers marked the start of the new year. But in the Northwest corner of the U.S., some Native American tribes began their celebrations early. On Dec. 20, just before the winter solstice, tribes in Eastern Oregon held a ceremony called kimtee inmewit, a welcoming of the new foods. "This goes back to when the world was new. The first food that was created was the salmon — we call it nusux," says Armand Minthorn, the spiritual leader of the tribes that live on the Umatilla Reservation, on the dry side of Oregon. Minthorn explains that Indian New Year is the time to celebrate the return of the sacred foods."
  • AP: Alaska village to vote on school relocation - "Voters in one of Alaska's most storm-eroded coastal villages will decide next week whether to build a new school seven miles away — a project one local official believes could hasten efforts to relocate the crumbling community. Janet Mitchell, Kivalina's city administrator, said a yes vote Tuesday also could speed construction of a long-desired road that would provide economic development and better access for subsistence hunters in the Inupiat Eskimo village. Kivalina is a traditional Inupiat Eskimo community of more than 400 people 625 miles northwest of Anchorage. It is built on an 8-mile barrier reef between the Kivalina River and Chukchi Sea, and is reachable only by boat or plane, and, in winter, also by snowmobile."

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