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Native Americans

Clam shells and pebbles crunch underfoot on the shore of the Lummi Nation’s Portage Bay in northwest Washington. At the lowest tides, Lummi fishermen can walk out to harvest clams.

“Usually, it’s during the nighttime,” says 25-year-old Lummi tribal fisherman Lonnie James Jr, who’s been digging clams since he was six. “We go out there with headlights and a rake and a bag and have to dress warm and inch down in the ground, flip flop it over,” he explains. “You’re bent over for five or six hours.”

The Ship Canal isn't so pretty from here

Jan 10, 2017
Courtesy of Seattle's Office of Arts and Culture/Photo by Eliza Ogle

Bill Radke speaks with Elissa Washuta about her time as an artist in resident in the Fremont Bridge during the summer of 2016. Washuta had always thought of Seattle as a beautiful city. But that changed as she spent time in the tower — starting with the water she looked at every day in the ship canal.

Seven years ago, the Navajo tribal council in southeastern Utah started mapping the secret sites where medicine men and women forage for healing plants and Native people source wild foods. They wanted to make a case for protecting the landscape known as Bears Ears, a place sacred not only to their tribe but to many other tribes in the region, going back thousands of years.

A northwest Washington tribe's shellfish beds are a step closer to getting cleaned up after years of contamination.

On Thursday, the Lummi Nation signed an agreement with dairy farmers to keep cow manure out of streams that drain into Portage Bay, where the tribe's shellfish operations have been closed because of contamination by fecal coliform. Over the past two years, Lummi clam diggers have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Even though most of the protesters fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota have left, hundreds still remain here atop what is essentially a sheet of ice.

One group of campers say there's a change taking hold at camp, which was once overrun by thousands who felt a sense of excitement about the gathering.

Nooksack tribal police stand outside the courthouse during a disenrollment hearing in 2013.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

"Brother, brother, I need your help." 

That was the first thing Gabe Galanda heard when he picked up his phone four years ago. The women on the other end was a member of the Nooksack 306, a group the Nooksack Tribe has been working to disenroll.

The tribes call Kennewick Man the Ancient One. And Armand Minthorn has been one of the most visible Northwest Native Americans fighting to rebury those bones. Now, a new law will hand the bones over to tribes.

The Northwest tribes feel a sense of completion knowing Kennewick Man’s ancient bones will rest again in the Earth. That’s because President Obama recently signed a law giving them control of the 9,000-year-old remains.

But scientists say they are losing a one-of-a-kind storyteller forever.

The man who watches over the ancient bones of Kennewick Man will soon return them to five Northwest tribes — and he’s happy about that.

Kennewick Man is an ancient skeleton found along the banks of the Columbia River by students in 1996. The discovery caused a legal battle between Northwest tribes and scientists. But now, President Barack Obama has signed a bill that requires the 9,000-year-old remains be returned to tribes within 90 days.

Several Northwest tribes are meeting this week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and with the Washington state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to discuss the imminent reburial of the Ancient One, or Kennewick Man.

The Colville Indian Reservation in Northeastern Washington could soon get $25 million worth of land returned to it as part of a federal land-buy-back program.

Bill Radke talks to Seattle Weekly reporter David Lewis about the Ballard Locks and the man behind their construction, Hiram M. Chittenden. Lewis has researched Chittenden and found that not only did he consider Native Americans genetically inferior, but the construction of the locks themselves drained a body of water sacred to them -- the Black River. 

The U.S. Department of the Interior will consult with tribes this winter on how best to modernize laws that regulate business in Indian Country. Interior made the announcement on the Swinomish reservation in Western Washington Thursday.

Members of the U.S. House and Senate expect to pass a law in the next few days that would return a 9,000-year old set of human remains to Northwest tribes. “Kennewick Man” was found along the banks of the Columbia River in 1996 by two students.

The governor of North Dakota says he has not authorized roadblocks or forcible removal of protesters from the area near the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple spoke to reporters in an effort to clarify the implications of an evacuation order he issued earlier this week, which he said had led to "some miscommunication" with local law enforcement.

A Dakota Access pipeline protester defies law enforcement officers who are trying to force them from a camp on private land in the path of pipeline construction, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 near Cannon Ball, N.D.
AP Photo/James MacPherson

A Seattle official is speaking out in support of the protests in North Dakota, a week before the camp could be shut down. Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez has supported the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline all along.

As resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, N.D., concludes its seventh month, two narratives have emerged:

  1. We have never seen anything like this before.
  2. This has been happening for hundreds of years.

Both are true. The scope of the resistance at Standing Rock exceeds just about every protest in Native American history. But that history itself, of indigenous people fighting to protect not just their land, but the land, is centuries old.

Police and demonstrators opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline clashed overnight on a bridge that has been a flashpoint in the ongoing protests.

"Police say protesters set fires in the area Sunday night and threw rocks at officers," Prairie Public Broadcasting's Amy Sisk reported. But an activist said in a live-stream video that projectiles fired from the police side started the fires and that demonstrators, who call themselves water protectors, were trying to extinguish the flames.

Front page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper on March 9, 1970.
University of Washington

People across the nation are protesting and Native Americans are occupying. It’s against the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

Thanks to improved health care, the Native American populations around the country are growing. But the number of homes hasn't kept up. That's especially true of the Northern Arapaho on Wyoming's Wind River Indian Reservation.

Northern Arapaho elder Kenneth Shakespeare raised seven children in a house with views of mountains and hayfields surrounding it. But now he has dementia and it's his kids turn to take care of him in the same four-bedroom, two-bath house they grew up in.

Bill Radke speaks with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker about their new book, "All The Real Indians Died Off And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans."

“For a lot of Americans the image they carry in their imagination of Indian peoples is teepees, war bonnets, and Sitting Bull at Wounded Knee and Custer’s last stand – these are those people. This is that place,” said Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes, describing the scene of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.

“Once again, here we are. They’re getting chased off a piece of land that’s in the path of a pipeline.”


Police used pepper spray and what they called nonlethal ammunition to remove Dakota Access Pipeline protesters from federal land Wednesday. Demonstrators say they were trying to occupy land just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where construction of the controversial pipeline is scheduled.

A Dakota Access pipeline protester defies law enforcement officers who are trying to force them from a camp on private land in the path of pipeline construction, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 near Cannon Ball, N.D.
AP Photo/James MacPherson

Jeannie Yandel sits down with Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes to talk about the latest in the standoff over the construction of a proposed oil pipeline in North Dakota. 

In North Dakota, tension over the 1,200-mile Dakota Access oil pipeline is escalating. Police and National Guard troops arrested more than 140 protesters near a construction site Thursday.

The Standing Rock Sioux have sued to stop the pipeline from crossing under the Missouri River next to their reservation, claiming the project would destroy sacred sites and threaten the water supply.

'Week in Review' panel Sherman Alexie, Phyllis Fletcher, Rob McKenna and Bill Radke.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

What do you do if you’re an anti-Trump Republican or anti-Hillary Democrat? Should you vote for a third party candidate?          

And this week the Brady Walkinshaw campaign released its first attack ad against opponent Pramila Jayapal in the 7th Congressional District race. After the ad was released Jayapal's campaign accused the ad of being racist and misogynistic. Was the ad “Trump-like?”

Bill Radke speaks with investigative journalist Stephanie Woodard about the shooting death of Renee Davis, a 23-year-old pregnant mother who was shot by King County Sheriff's Deputies during the course of a wellness check. Davis, who grew up on the Muckleshoot Reservation, had struggled with depression and was feeling suicidal.

State and federal law protect the rights of Native American children even when one of their parents is not Indian. That’s the word today from the Washington state Supreme Court.

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Times environment reporter Lynda Mapes Thursday morning about the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Mapes is on the scene in North Dakota where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and hundreds of supporters are continuing a months-long protest against the construction of a pipeline. 

Police moved in on Thursday to disperse protesters who have moved the front line of their demonstration onto private land. 

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