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|Wednesday, 19 November, 2014|
Coroner's office: Pack of dogs killed Wyoming woman
RIVERTON (AP) — A pack of dogs attacked and killed a member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe on a reservation in central Wyoming, officials said Monday.
The announcement about the cause of death of 40-year-old Deanne Lynn Coando of Fort Washakie left some tribal officials shocked and skeptical.
"The tribes have ordinances and deal with dogs running around as any government does," said Kimberly Varilek, attorney general of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, which shares the roughly 2 million acre Wind River Indian Reservation with the Northern Arapaho Tribe.
"It's not really been an issue. We've not had a series of dog attacks or anything like that against people," Varilek said.
She said it was the first time anyone with her tribe had heard about such an attack, and it was unclear where the dogs might have come from.
Mark Stratmoen, chief deputy Fremont County coroner, said Coando died at a Riverton hospital of hypothermia and loss of blood. He said that she suffered serious injuries suffered in the attack on Wednesday and that no one witnessed the attack.
Officials urged the public to watch for aggressive dogs and report problems to law enforcement.
The investigation into the death of Coando was continuing. Stratmoen said he was not aware of any other fatal dog attacks in the area.
Varilek believes reservation residents were more surprised than worried.
"There may be some skepticism, because it's so unheard of," Varilek said.
Sergio Maldonado Sr., a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, said he had not heard of any issues on the reservation regarding packs of dogs threatening people.
"I don't mind sharing with you my observation that we have too many dogs on the reservation. Probably cats, too," Maldonado said, adding that it's common to see dogs that are hungry and cold.
"It's not a problem safety-wise for people and livestock," he said. "I haven't heard of anything like that."
He said vets offered free spaying and neutering services over the weekend and a number of people participated.
Report on tribal youth and violence urges action
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — American Indian and Alaska Native children are exposed to violence at rates higher than any other social group in the nation, according to a new report that urges creation of a new Native American affairs office, additional federal funding and other measures to combat the problem.
The report released Tuesday by a U.S. Department of Justice advisory committee reflects information gathered at public hearings across the country in 2013 and 2014.
"We discovered something we'd known when we started — that this is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed," committee co-chair and former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said during a teleconference.
Based on the public input and research, the committee assessed the effects of violence on tribal youth and came up with an action plan.
The report's goal is to be a catalyst for action by Congress and the Obama administration, said Dorgan, who served as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee until his retirement in 2010.
"State and federal governments must recognize and respect the primacy of tribal governments," the report said.
According to the report, exposure to violence results in American Indian and Alaska Native children experiencing post-traumatic stress at three times the rate of the non-Native population. The task force compared the level of stress to that of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
The study says 75 percent of deaths among indigenous children between the ages of 12 and 20 are caused by violence, including homicides and suicides.
Alaska Native children were singled out as having the worst conditions systemically for various reasons including Alaska's vastness, remoteness and steep transportation costs, along with a lack of respect for tribal sovereignty.
Among recommendations specific to the state, the report urges that more sovereignty be granted to Alaska Native tribes. Currently the only reservation in the state is the community of Metlakatla, in southeast Alaska.
A key recommendation in the report is to establish a White House Native American affairs office to coordinate services affecting children, among other things.
The committee also said increased mandatory funding and coordination between tribal, federal and state governments are crucial to reversing the trend. The funding process also should be streamlined and less administratively burdensome, task force members said.
"We all have to come together to make this work," said committee member Valerie Davidson, with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
Dorgan said it's difficult to predict how such recommendations as creating a new office to deal with the problem will be received in the new Republican-led Congress.
"I think the series of recommendations in this report about children exposed to violence and about the help that we need to provide for these children will fall on the ears of Republicans and Democrats," he said. "They must care about children."
The recommendations are a step forward in helping Native American children receive opportunities to succeed, said U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat and member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
"Native children dealing with the dire effects of exposure to violence has truly reached pandemic levels — and it requires our immediate attention," Heitkamp said in a statement.
Film celebrating life of tribal leader released
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A film celebrating the life of the late Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller is being released on DVD and on iTunes.
Officials involved with the film, ”The Cherokee Word for Water,'' released the film Tuesday in celebration of Native American Heritage Month.
The film tells the story of how Mankiller and her husband, Charlie Soap, convince the impoverished Cherokee community of Bell to lay 18 miles of waterline across challenging terrain — entirely through their own volunteer labor.
The Bell project propelled Mankiller to her election as the first female principal chief of the Cherokees, and as a globally recognized Indigenous leader.
In 1998, then-President Bill Clinton honored Mankiller with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Mankiller died in 2010.