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Thursday, 16 October, 2014

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Elouise Cobell L&C Institute dedicated

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — More than a 100 people helped dedicate the new Elouise Cobell Land and Culture Institute at the University of Montana.
The institute is located in the Payne Family Native American Center. It aims to bring higher levels of interaction among UM, tribal communities and tribal colleges.
Cobell was a Native American activist from the Blackfeet tribe who led one of the largest class-action lawsuits against the federal government. The lawsuit contended that the U.S. Interior Department illegally obtained billions of dollars in royalties owed to individual tribal members across the country.
The federal government eventually settled for $3.4 billion.
Cobell passed away in 2011 at age 65.
The dedication ceremony on Friday included members of Cobell's family, friends and UM officials.

Wyoming: Court should reject EPA's tribal boundary

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The state of Wyoming is asking a federal appeals court to reject the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's determination that Riverton and surrounding lands remain legally Indian Country.
The state filed a brief with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver late Monday challenging the EPA's decision.
The federal agency last year announced that it had determined a 1905 federal law opening over 1 million acres of the Wind River Indian Reservation to settlement by non-Indians didn't extinguish the land's status as a reservation. The agency addressed the boundary issue in granting a request from the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes to treat their joint reservation as a separate state under the federal Clean Air Act.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said the EPA used incomplete facts and faulty legal conclusions in reaching its decision. The federal agency will file its reply brief in February, he said.
“The EPA set a dangerous precedent altering Wyoming's boundary by administrative action,'' Mead said Tuesday in a prepared statement. “I asked the Attorney General to challenge the EPA's decision because it potentially impacts the state's sovereignty.''
The state, together with Riverton and Fremont County, appealed the EPA decision early this year. The EPA early this year announced that it was administratively staying its decision pending judicial review.
A final decision that Riverton and surrounding lands remain legally Indian Country could have ramifications on a range of government operations including taxation, court jurisdiction, environmental regulation and schools.
Wyoming's lawyers filed hundreds of pages of material with the appeals court, tracing the history of the creation of the Wind River Reservation and several actions by Congress over the years that the state maintains whittled down its size.
“Wyoming's brief shows how the EPA misconstrued what Congress said in 1905 and explains what we have all known to be true for over 100 years — the city of Riverton is not on the reservation,'' Mead said.
Mead has said he believes it's up to Congress to determine reservation boundaries. Federal courts elsewhere, however, have ruled that the EPA has the responsibility to make reservation-boundary determinations when it acts on such tribal-permit applications.
An attempt to reach an EPA spokesman on Tuesday for comment wasn't immediately successful.
EPA spokesman Rich Mylott issued a statement shortly after the agency announced its decision last year saying the agency's boundary determination ``was based on a thorough evaluation of relevant statutes and case law, historical documents, the Tribes' application materials, public comments, and input from federal agencies.''
Mylott said last year that the EPA, the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior were working with the tribes, the state and communities to identify and resolve any issues related to the reservation's boundaries and ensure the protection of public health and the environment. 
Kimberly Varilek, attorney general of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, said Tuesday that she had no comment on the state's brief. An attempt to reach a lawyer for the Northern Arapaho Tribe was not immediately successful.

Southeastern oregon rich in ancient rock art

LAKEVIEW, Ore. (AP) — Viewing Southeastern Oregon's petroglyphs is like stepping into a pre-history rock art gallery.
According to Douglas Beauchamp, an art administrator who has been studying and photographing petroglyphs for 15 years, Southeastern Oregon has thousands of petroglyphs spread throughout dozens, if not hundreds, of sites.
“It's an intensely rich site for wildlife, light and petroglyphs,'' Beauchamp said. ``It's one of the richest areas in North America.''
Lake County's petroglyphs petro, meaning stone or rock, and glyph, meaning to carve _are an array of dot patterns, geometric shapes, and animal-like characters commonly carved into basalt, a volcanic rock that dominates the region. Some carvings are isolated, while others span entire rock wall faces. Controversy still stirs around whether they relate to religious ceremonies, are works of art or just random doodles.
“There are all sorts of interpretations that have been thrown out there,'' Eric Ritter, an archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management Field Office in Redding, said. "All we can say for sure is that it's related to a certain time period.''
Much of the land known for rock art is east of Lakeview at the Hart-Warner High Lakes, a stretch of lakes and wetlands that are capped to the north and south by the Oregon-Nevada Hart Mountain and Sheldon National Antelope Refuge complex.
According to Beauchamp, many of the most notable sites are found between Highway 140 and Hart Mountain refuge along a 30-mile swath managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Petroglyph Lake rests at the top.
“Petroglyph Lake has easy access to take a look at some really fine petroglyphs. You can easily drive pretty close and walk in,'' he said. “It's very rewarding because it's a beautiful view as well.''
Another popular site, Animal Outlook, also is on the southern fringe of Hart Mountain refuge. Beauchamp said Warner and Hart Mountain can be seen from Animal Outlook.
“One of the thrilling things about sites like that, it's quite a remarkable feeling to look at those cliffs, look at those carvings, and look out across the landscape,'' he said.
Southeastern Oregon's most famous site, Long Lake, is at the end of a 10-mile dirt road that splices north from Highway 140.
According to Ritter, ash layers deposited from the Mount Mazama eruption have helped researchers date the Long Lake petroglyphs at more than 6,500 years old. Evidence near other petroglyphs indicate some might date back to 10,000 years, and some believe Oregon's rock art dates as far back as 14,000 years. Ritter said Northern Paiute tribes are known to have inhabited Southeastern Oregon at that time.
Beauchamp said most of the older petroglyphs he has observed were created using a rock hammer stone method, similar to chiseling. He said the two main petroglyph methods he has observed in Southeastern Oregon are patterns made from a series of pecks, or divots in the rock, and abrading scraping the rock with a hard stone.
“True carving is pretty rare unless it's a soft stone,'' Beauchamp said.
Ritter said years of erosion and invasions of microorganisms have changed the images petroglyph creators may have seen or intended others to see. He noted that rocks are a "living surface,'' that are vulnerable to any number of influences, from cracking in the summer sun to seeds later germinating in those cracks and as the designs get older, they become more obscure.
Beauchamp isn't shy about the vague site descriptions he provides. Discussions about whether to disclose petroglyph sites or to keep them open to the public are ongoing even today, he noted. For those who are interested in visiting petroglyph sites, he suggested reaching out to someone with knowledge of the area or a specific site, and research, research, research.
Beauchamp said site access roads are typically rough, and visitors should have a good vehicle, maps, plenty of supplies and an emergency plan that doesn't include using a cellphone.
“If you love the landscape and you love the hiking, and just the joy of that, it's absolutely worth it,'' Beauchamp said.

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