Native Americans | KUOW News and Information

Native Americans

Sally Jewell has served as secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior for three and a half years. Before that she was CEO of Kent, Washington-based REI and a member of the UW Board of Regents.

The Presbyterian Church officially apologized to indigenous people across the country during a gathering of Alaska Native people this weekend. For decades the church took part in the forced removal of children from their homes and families.

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe has stepped up its opposition to a proposed coal terminal in Longview, Washington, saying state and federal officials have underestimated the environmental risks of the project and ignored the tribe’s requests for consultation.

Cowlitz Chairman Bill Iyall, on a call with reporters Friday, said plans to export 44 million metric tons of coal through a terminal in Longview threaten the tribe’s culture and homeland.

“Since time immemorial we’ve relied on the once bountiful resources for survival,” Iyall said.

Alaska’s largest statewide native organization honored the Yakama Nation during their annual convention Thursday. The Yakama Nation loaned the Alaska Federation of Natives $225,000 to establish itself 50 years ago.

Matt Remle drafted the resolution adopted by the Seattle City Council recognizing the ongoing negative consequences of the American Indian boarding schools
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Monday is Seattle's third annual celebration of Indigenous People's Day. We asked members of our local indigenous community to share what it means to them. 

Northwest tribes continue to show support for the Standing Rock Sioux Indians and their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Over the weekend, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville delivered hand-smoked salmon and firewood to North Dakota.

President Barack Obama wears a blanket and hat given to him by Brian Cladoosby, left, President of National Congress of American Indians, during the 2016 White House Tribal Nations Conference, Monday, Set. 26, 2016.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Many people recognize today as Columbus Day, but that’s not the case in Seattle, Spokane, Olympia and Yakima. Those cities have voted instead to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

When she was growing up, Dina Gilio-Whitaker was constantly asked, "How much Indian blood do you have?" She could never figure out how to respond, which is not to say she didn't know who she was.

"I knew that I was Native, I knew that I was Colville, I knew my family up there on the reservation," she said recently. "But what I grew up with was a process of not being seen and not being recognized as being Native, because I was completely out of context.

The state of Vermont and the city of Phoenix have joined the list of places that now call the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples' Day, in a show of momentum for honoring indigenous people on the federal holiday that's named for Christopher Columbus.

On a late summer day in 2010, John T. Williams, a Native American woodcarver, was walking across the street carrying his carving knife and a small piece of wood when he was shot and killed by a Seattle police officer.

"He was carving an eagle at the moment," his brother Rick recalls, on a recent visit with StoryCorps. Rick tells his friend Jay Hollingsworth that his brother loved to carve — had been carving even at age 4, when he completed his first totem pole. He says John could walk and carve at the same time, and that was just what he was doing, carrying his knife openly.

The passage of a congressional bill that authorizes drinking and wastewater projects nationwide has Northwest tribes celebrating. An amendment to the bill means the 9,000-year-old human remains discovered near Kennewick, Washington, 20 years ago will be returned for final burial.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of the Interior Monday announced a $492 million settlement with a number of tribes. It ends decades-long disputes between the tribes and the federal government over land management.

The U.S. government has agreed to pay a total of $492 million to 17 American Indian tribes for mismanaging natural resources and other tribal assets, according to an attorney who filed most of the suits.

The hurdles Native American teenagers face in and out of school are daunting. College Horizons, a small organization based in New Mexico, has proven they're not insurmountable.

Every year, the group sponsors week-long retreats on college campuses for teenagers from some of the more than 500 federally-recognized tribes in the U.S.

One of those retreats was at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., where 85 students gathered along with dozens of admissions officers from some of the nation's most selective universities.

U.S. Native American tribes and Canadian First Nations are banding together to "collectively challenge and resist" proposals to build more pipelines from tar sands in Alberta, Canada. At least 50 First Nations and tribes signed a treaty on Thursday at ceremonies held in Vancouver and Montreal.