Aaron Arquette caught the attention of about 40 visitors in the Yakama Nation Cultural Center auditorium Thursday when he discussed his work on solar water heaters.

A senior at the Yakama Nation Tribal School, Arquette explained how solar evacuated tubes warm up water for residential use; as a result, solar water heaters tend to save customers money on energy bills.

School Principal Relyn Strom was quick to note how Arquette was already involved in an ambitious project to install solar water heaters in dozens of homes.

Arquette’s project was one example members of the Yakama Nation used to convey their students’ love for science, technology, engineering and math to educators from across the state. The educators visited the Toppenish center as part of a three-day bus tour of several STEM initiatives in Washington.

“STEM is in service to this community,” said Elese Washines, a Heritage University assistant professor.

The bus tour, organized by the nonprofit Washington STEM, began in Vancouver on Wednesday, then moved east to the Yakima Valley on Thursday and will conclude in Spokane today.

Groups and companies represented included the University of Washington, Walla Walla School District, Pacific Science Center and Expedia.

Stopping in the Yakima Valley made sense, as the schools represent a wide swath of communities — rural, Latino and Native American, among others.

To read the article on the Yamika Herald, click here.

An excerpt:

Six months after a South Dakota couple died in a murder-suicide, Attorney General Marty Jackley said they stole money meant to improve college readiness among Native American students.

“There has been a loss or a theft of over $1 million,” Jackley said during a March 16 press conference.

Scott Westerhuis allegedly killed his wife, Nicole, and their four children, Kailey, Jaeci, Connor and Michael, and then took his own life on September 17, 2015. Scott and Nicole both worked for Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, and the deaths happened only hours after the Department of Education informed Mid-Central that it would be losing a $4.3 million federal contract for GEAR UP, a program that helps prepare Native American students for college, due to financial problems and accounting issues.

Scott had served as the business manager at Mid-Central, and Nicole as assistant business manager, reports the Associated Press. Scott was also linked to nonprofits that received GEAR UP funding, including the American Indian Institute for Innovation.

 

To read the entire article, click here.

 

In light of campaigning in Indian Country, here are links on how leading candidates are addressing tribes:

Fmr. Sec. Hillary Clinton

“Growing Together: Hillary Clinton’s Vision for Building a Brighter Future for Native Americans” from from her campaign’s webpage.

“How Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Is Making Its Play for Native American Support” from the Atlantic.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT)

“Empowering Tribal Nations” from his campaign’s webpage.

“In Arizona, Sanders woos Native Americans” from the Associated Press and “Bernie Sanders Replaces Stump Speech with Epic Call for Native American Justice in Arizona” from US Uncut.*

*The first article is slightly biased against the Senator but is the AP wire most news outlets reported for the March 17th event.  The second article is biased towards Sanders but includes video of the full speech.

Donald Trump

Trump has no website dedicated to Native issues, but here are some reported positions:

“Donald Trump and Jeb Bush Find Common Ground on Washington’s Football Team” from the NYT reporting on Trump’s defense of the Washington NFL team’s name.

“The Connecticut Roots Of Trump’s First Big Slur” from the Hartford Currant remembering Trump’s testimony to the House Subcommittee on Native Americans in 1993 concerning Tribal casinos.

To read the article on TurtleTalk, click here.

News stories here and here about the Commission’s latest meetings.

An excerpt from one:

Military veteran Stan Snow captivated the audience with his storytelling ability, sharing the name of the bomb squadron he was a part of in 1954: The Devil’s Own Grim Reapers.

The name might be offensive, Snow said, but when the B-52s shielded Americans from their enemies, people would be happy.

Snow decried political correctness, and praised the warrior spirit, and in the end, he pleaded.

“Please, please, don’t take it away from them,” Snow said.

There was clearly an age gap in the opinions of the roughly 60 audience members in attendance. The younger ones, save for a little girl who spoke first, fell strongly in the camp of tossing the mascot — or, at the very least, reaching out to tribes to make Eaton’s depiction more accurate and authentic and less of a caricature.

The older audience members leaned more toward tradition, keeping a logo that has been a part of Eaton since 1966.

GAO-16-313, March 10

The Department of the Interior’s (Interior) Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs (Indian Affairs) lacks sound information on safety and health conditions of all Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) school facilities. Specifically, GAO found that Indian Affairs’ national information on safety and health deficiencies at schools is not complete and accurate because of key weaknesses in its inspection program, which prevented GAO from conducting a broader analysis of schools’ safety and health conditions. Indian Affairs’ policy requires its regional safety inspectors to conduct inspections of all BIE schools annually to identify facility deficiencies that may pose a threat to the safety and health of students and staff. However, GAO found that 69 out of 180 BIE school locations were not inspected in fiscal year 2015, an increase from 55 locations in fiscal year 2012. Agency officials told GAO that vacancies among regional staff contributed to this trend. As a result, Indian Affairs lacks complete information on the frequency and severity of health and safety deficiencies at BIE schools nationwide and cannot be certain all school facilities are currently meeting safety requirements.