US Boarding School Review Prompts Calls For Trauma Support – Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press
Some members of Congress want to ensure that protections are put in place to address ongoing trauma as more information comes to light about the troubled history of Indigenous boarding schools in the United States.
A group of 21 Democratic lawmakers representing states stretching from the Southwest to the East Coast sent a letter last week to the Indian Health Service. They are asking that the federal agency make available culturally appropriate support services such as a hotline and other mental and spiritual programs as the federal government embarks on its investigation into the schools.
Agency officials said in a statement Monday they are reviewing the request and discussing what steps to take next.
Advocacy groups say additional trauma resources for Indigenous communities are more urgent than ever.
“The first step we need to take is caring for our boarding school survivors,” said Deborah Parker, a citizen of the Tulalip Tribes and director of policy and advocacy at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has acknowledged the process will be painful. She and many others have talked about the federal government’s attempt to wipe out tribal identity, language and culture through its boarding school policies and how that past has continued to manifest itself through long-standing trauma, cycles of violence and abuse, premature deaths, mental health issues and substance abuse.
Part of the Interior Department’s work includes identifying potential burial sites at former schools and documenting the names and tribal affiliations of the students buried there. The agency has promised to work with with tribes on how best to protect the sites and respect families and communities.
The lawmakers in their letter described the boarding school era as a “stain in America’s history.” They wrote that revisiting that history undoubtedly will be traumatic for survivors and their communities.
“We are confident that IHS is equipped to consider ways to prevent inflicting or worsening existing intergenerational trauma,” the letter reads.
The Indian Health Service noted Monday that Native American youth are 2.5 times more likely to experience trauma compared to their non-Native peers and that the agency aims to provide a “safe, supportive, welcoming, non-punitive, respectful, healthy and healing environment for all patients and staff.”
Still, it will take work to ensure services are widely available, as criticism of the Indian Health Service and chronic funding inadequacies have spanned decades and numerous presidential administrations. The pandemic exacerbated health care disparities seen in many Indigenous communities.
Under the Biden administration’s latest spending proposal, the agency would see a 36% increase in its annual budget for the next fiscal year. That would mark the largest single-year funding increase for the agency in decades, officials have said. About $420 million in pandemic relief funds also will be aimed at expanding mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services at IHS and tribal health programs.
Beginning in the early 1800s, the effort to assimilate Indigenous youth into white society by removing them from their homes and shipping them off to boarding schools spanned more than a century. According to the boarding school healing coalition, hundreds of thousands of Native American children passed through boarding schools in the U.S. between 1869 and the 1960s.
While research and family accounts confirm there were children who never made it home, a full accounting of deaths at the schools has never been done.
Some tribes and others have embarked on their own investigations.
In the coming months, researchers are planning to use ground-penetrating radar at the site of a former boarding school in Utah where tribal leaders say there may be unmarked graves. Corrina Bow, chairwoman for the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, said boarding school officials would take children as young as 6 years old and force them to work at a farm on the property.
Legislators Grapple With New Virus Exposure In Committees – Associated Press
The state Legislature won’t revert to remote, online proceedings despite close encounters with the resurgent coronavirus and at least one new infection among lawmakers.
Leading state lawmakers on Monday weighed whether it was still prudent for legislative committees to hold in-person hearings across the state in the waning days of summer and early autumn. Current rules exclude participation by legislators by videoconference.
Members of a health policy committee were compelled to quarantine after coming into close contact with a coronavirus-exposed presenter at a public hearing in Las Vegas, and at least one legislator is grappling with infection.
Democratic state Rep. Liz Thomson of Albuquerque said legislators are missing committee meetings because of exposure to the virus at some prior committee meeting.
“I think we really need to think about having virtual participation for members because we are going to have folks quarantine,” said Democratic state Rep. Liz Thomson of Albuquerque. “We’re going to have people test positive. We already do.”
But top legislators including Democratic House speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe held fast to current coronavirus-safety provisions, highlighting the importance of meeting face-to-face with constituents and experts in far-flung reaches of the state. New Mexico requires face masks in most indoor public venues when not eating.
Those provisions allow only in-person participation by legislators at committee meetings in the lead-up to legislative sessions in December and January. At the same time, committee leaders can switch from a cramped or ill-equipped meeting venue where airborne virus can propagate to large hearing rooms in the Capitol building in Santa Fe as a safety precaution.
The January-March 2020 legislative session allowed legislators in some instances to participate in deliberations and votes via videoconference from isolated rooms in the state Capitol and even at home. At the time, the state Capitol building was off limits to the general public and lobbyists.
Pot Grower Gears Up For Recreational Market In New Mexico – Associated Press
Cannabis provider Ultra Health says it has completed the purchase of a former bakery and adjacent land in southern New Mexico that will open the way for a large-scale marijuana growing and manufacturing campus.
The property purchase in Alamogordo takes place as New Mexico prepares for the start of recreational marijuana sales by April 1, 2022. Regulators are putting the finishing touches on the licensing process for an array of marijuana businesses.
On Monday, Ultra Health Chief Marketing Officer Marissa Novel said the property deal at Alamogordo was nearly two years in the making.
Ultra Health plans to grow cannabis both indoors and outside at the new facility, with space to trim, dry and cure the onsite crop and offer services to other growers, she said. The property includes production facilities spanning 5 acres.
“It’s envisioned to be this campus where you can see a variety of cannabis activities take place in a very collaborative environment,” Novel said.
Ultra Health — headquartered in Bernalillo and Scottsdale, Arizona — also announced intentions to apply for a license with federal government to conduct research on cannabis cultivation.
The investment highlights the financial stakes in a new statewide marketplace for recreational marijuana.
More than 100,000 residents already are enrolled in the state’s existing medical marijuana program for people with qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation in April to allow possession of up to 2 ounces of weed and levy taxes on sales of recreational marijuana.
US Authorities Warn Against Flying Drones Over National Lab – Associated Press
Drone pilots beware.
Authorities at one of the nation’s top nuclear weapons laboratories issued a warning Monday that airspace over Los Alamos National Laboratory is off limits.
The birthplace of the atomic bomb, Los Alamos lab reported that recent unauthorized drone flights have been detected in restricted airspace in the area.
Officials said if you fly a drone over the lab, you likely will lose it.
“We can detect and track a UAS (unmanned aircraft system), and if it poses a threat, we have the ability to disrupt control of the system, seize or exercise control, confiscate or use reasonable force to disable, damage or destroy the UAS,” said Unica Viramontes, senior director of lab security.
The lab would not release any specifics about how the system works, citing security protocols. They also would not say how many unauthorized flights have occurred in recent months.
Lab officials also warned of the potential for “collateral interceptions” of normal commercial or hobbyist drone flights, saying pilots should stay well outside the lab’s restricted airspace and the additional no-drone zone designated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
According to the FAA, drones are prohibited from flying over sites designated as national security sensitive facilities. Aside from military bases and other Department of Defense sites, restrictions are in place for national landmarks and certain critical infrastructure such as nuclear power plants.
Santa Fe Police Say Fire That Burned Sculpture Was Arson – Associated Press
Authorities in Santa Fe are searching for a suspect who set fire to a sculpture over the weekend.
Fire officials say someone deliberately committed arson against a 21-foot tall sculpture late Saturday night outside of the Form & Concept gallery downtown.
It took firefighters 20 minutes to extinguish the fire.
Police Chief Andrew Padilla told the Santa Fe New Mexican investigators are reviewing surveillance footage in hopes of identifying a suspect.
The newspaper says a photo from a bystander showed a red gas can by the destroyed sculpture.
The gallery said in a statement the sculpture, titled “The Solacii,” was created by Tigre Mashaal-Lively. It was made with steel frame pipes, fiberglass and fabric.
The gallery owners described it as a “queer and Afrofuturist” work. They said the fire was an “undeniable act of violence” against an artist of color.