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Native Americans

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.

KUOW photo/Bond Huberman

After last week’s announcement by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to put the plans for the new North Precinct building on hold, protesters interrupted a City Council meeting. What new issues are they raising with the city?

A case against a Washington state man in a British Columbia court that begins Monday could bring an extinct Canadian tribe back to life. 

As part of the Pendleton Round-Up Rodeo in northeast Oregon, a Western pageant called “Happy Canyon” will kick off its 100th year run Wednesday. The show includes hundreds of volunteer performers, galloping horses, a live orchestra, Old West cowboy antics and real Native Americans.

Poet Laura Da'
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Elizabeth Austen talks to local poet Laura Da', the author of "Tributaries", about how she uses poetry to tell the story of her ancestors. Her book is the recipient of the American Book Award. 

Gabe Galanda is an attorney specializing in Native American law
KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain

Bill Radke sits down with Seattle-based lawyer Gabe Galanda to talk about the protests surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Galanda opposes the pipeline and joined the protests in North Dakota earlier this month.

He also helped draft a resolution in opposition to construction of the pipeline that was introduced at a Seattle City Council meeting Monday.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

For weeks, members of the Standing Rock Sioux have gathered in Cannonball, North Dakota standing against what's known as the Dakota Access pipeline.

The 1,172-mile pipeline is a $3.7 billion dollar project that would carry about 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota to Illinois.

Its route would take the pipeline under the Missouri River, just upstream from the Standing Rock reservation, and Sioux tribal members say this would threaten their drinking water and sacred sites.

In North Dakota, work has stopped on one section of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. Still, over the weekend protesters continued to stream into camps set up near the construction site.

One protest camp is about an hour's drive south of Bismarck. A prairie there is covered with tepees, tents and RVs. Flags from tribes around the country line the dirt road into the camp.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it does not oppose the temporary halt of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.8 billion oil pipeline slated to run through four states, including North Dakota.

As we've reported, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposes the pipeline because it fears it could disturb sacred sites and affect the drinking water.

  The Cayuse Mountain Fire has been the second largest in Washington state this summer. The blaze consumed 14 homes and displaced up to 50 people on the Spokane Indian Reservation. But the community is trying to get back to normal life.

Members of eight Washington tribes took lessons they learned last spring with them to North Dakota last week, where the Standing Rock Sioux are opposing the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Bill Radke speaks with Yakima Herald-Republic reporter Kate Prengaman about why tribes are living in substandard conditions at fishing sites along the Columbia river, and what the U.S. government is trying to do about it.

Construction of a controversial crude oil pipeline set to span at least 1,168 miles from North Dakota to Illinois has temporarily been halted in North Dakota amid protests by Native American tribes.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux fear the pipeline could potentially contaminate their local drinking water and lands sacred to the tribe.

Native American students make up only 1.1 percent of the nation's high school population. And in college, the number is even smaller. More than any other ethnic or racial group, they're the least likely to have access to college prep or advanced placement courses. Many get little or no college counseling at all. In 1998, College Horizons, a small nonprofit based in New Mexico, set out to change that through five-day summer workshops on admissions, financial aid and the unique challenges they'll face on campus.

Bust of Chief Si'ahl in Seattle's Pioneer Square.
Flickr Photo/Brian Glanz (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/DwkeT

The first thing to know about Chief Seattle is how he pronounced his name.

Skagit elder Vi Hilbert pronounced it for HistoryLink (18 seconds):

Chief Seattle, our city’s namesake, is a bit of an enigma.

He was born in 1786, after native populations were decimated by small pox and other diseases brought in by white settlers.

During the decade before the U.S. Civil War, a different conflict made a big impact on the future of the Oregon Territory. It's known as the Rogue River Indian War. But unlike the Civil War battlefields in the eastern U.S. or American South that receive hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, you’ll be hard pressed to tour -- or even find -- those battlefields.

Amber Hayward and her sons
Courtesy of Amber Hayward

Amber Hayward's kids weren't sold when she started speaking Lushootseed at home. It sounded different and some of the words were hard to say. 

But Hayward kept at it. She made her bathroom, where she gets ready, an English-free zone. From there she hollered at her kids in Lushootseed to guide them through their morning routine: Brush your teeth, get dressed, wash your face. And in time, her kids got on board. 

Over the weekend, hundreds of dancers joined traditional drummers at the Northwest’s largest powwow in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Emily Schwing shares this audio postcard and video from the weekend's events.


A Native American caucus is in Philadelphia this week to speak for the priorities of Northwest tribes at the Democratic National Convention.

Top Northwest officials and a member of President Obama’s cabinet will gather Tuesday for the renaming of a wildlife refuge near Olympia in honor of one of the region’s best known Native American leaders.

The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is being renamed in honor of late Nisqually tribal leader Billy Frank Jr.

The National Congress of American Indians invited four presidential candidates to its mid-year conference in Spokane this week. But only one addressed the Congress directly.

There’s been a lot of political buzz this week at the mid-year conference of the National Congress of American Indians in Spokane. Tribal leaders say the next president must understand the importance of tribal sovereignty.

A day after tribal leaders and governors in all 50 states received a letter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell paid a visit to the Spokane Indian Tribe.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has announced a visit with the Spokane Indian Tribe Thursday. The visit comes as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed off on a plan that includes a casino.

Several Northwest tribes including the Umatilla in northeast Oregon and the Yakama in central Washington state are in Washington D.C. this week. They’re asking for the passage of one more law to help rebury the remains known as "Kennewick Man" or the "Ancient One."

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