Native Americans

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

After five years of confidential negotiations, the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations have reached an agreement with the State of Oklahoma over water in southeast Oklahoma.

Native American students make up only 1.1 percent of the nation's high school population. And in college, the number is even smaller. More than any other ethnic or racial group, they're the least likely to have access to college prep or advanced placement courses. Many get little or no college counseling at all. In 1998, College Horizons, a small nonprofit based in New Mexico, set out to change that through five-day summer workshops on admissions, financial aid and the unique challenges they'll face on campus.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

After five years of court proceedings and confidential negotiations, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations have reached an agreement with the state over control of water in southeast Oklahoma.

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. 

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