Native Americans

Many native languages are considered endangered, ­with few first speakers left to pass down the language to a new generation. But, a new generation of young people fueled by technology​ is making an impact. 

The famed song by Chubby Checker encouraging dancers all over to get down and do “The Twist” plays in the background as dancers from the Cherokee Pride school in NE Oklahoma move and groove around. Today, the song isn't being sung by the 1950's icon,  it’s being sung by students in their native language of Cherokee.

Herman "Mogri" Lookout is the master language teacher for the Osage Nation in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

He's studied the language for forty years and helped revitalize the written portion of it by creating an orthography. Language teachers and experts from all over Native America say that an orthography is a way to reclaim your sovereignty.

Lookout also worked with developers to create Osage for Unicode. Because of that, Osages all over the world can write and text in the language.

Rachel Hubbard

According to the 2010 US Census data, more than 5 million people claimed Native American ancestry. That’s up almost 40% from the last census. It's a big shift from the years people shunned Native identity.  If you can prove you're part of a tribe and the tribe accepts you, it can potentially mean health benefits or help with college tuition.  But, all these new Native' people are leading to questions about what it means to be Native within a tribe. 

A federal judge in Wyoming has struck down the Obama administration's regulations on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management doesn't have the authority to establish rules over fracking on federal and Indian lands.

In the ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said Congress had not granted the BLM that power, and had instead chosen to specifically exclude fracking from federal oversight.

Teresa Trumbly Lamsam is the newest addition to the Osage News editorial board. She's also the executive editor of the Native Health News Alliance. The Osage News is one of a handful of newspapers and media outlets existing in Indian Country with a free press act in place. Osage News editor Shannon Shaw Duty talked to her about the importance of a free press and what's being done to foster and environment where reporters and editors are unembedded with the tribal government.

Colleen Thurston

All audio and photos by Colleen Thurston.

More than 1500 people from Oklahoma and beyond participated in the annual Choctaw Trail of Tears walk beginning at the council house grounds in Tvshka homma, Oklahoma. Tvshka homma means  Red Warrior in the Choctaw language.

Princella P. RedCorn

The film Medicine Woman by Princella RedCorn portrays the life of the first Native American doctor—Susan La Flesche Picotte—an Omaha woman who became a doctor in the late 1800's. She rallied for basic health care and was a passionate prohibitionist. She practiced medicine at a time when very little was available to doctors like herself. 

okhouse.gov

A Republican state lawmaker said Thursday that a plan to expand beer and wine sales in Oklahoma would disproportionally affect Native Americans because they are "predisposed to alcoholism."

The comment from Rep. Todd Russ of Cordell during a debate over the measure, which passed on a 61-30 vote, drew a sharp rebuke from the chairman of the House Native American Caucus.

The resolution calls for a statewide vote on proposed changes to the Oklahoma Constitution needed to allow wine and cold, strong beer sales in grocery and convenience stores.

Cody Pedersen and his wife, Inyan, know that in an emergency they will have to wait for help to arrive.

Cody, 29, and his family live in Cherry Creek, a Native American settlement within the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in north central South Dakota.

The reservation is bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. But Cherry Creek has no general store, no gas station and few jobs.

UPDATE: This program aired on Friday, April 15. You can hear it in full below.

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