KUNM Evening Newscast with Megan Kamerick, July 6, 2021
Navajo Nation Lifts Some COVID Restrictions On Reservation – Associated Press
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed legislation Tuesday to rescind an order that closed the reservation to outside visitors.
It lifts several COVID-19 restrictions that will allow tribal parks to reopen at 50% capacity with safety protocols in place as early as Thursday and also allow schools to eventually reopen under a required safety plan.
The Navajo Department of Health will issue a new Public Health Emergency Order on Wednesday, outlining safety protocols and requirements for reopening.
The mask mandate remains in effect for the entire Navajo Nation.
“Our gating measures and data show a consistent downward trend in new cases and deaths related to COVID-19, and we have a large majority of our Navajo Nation residents fully vaccinated,” Nez said in a statement. “We continue to meet with our health experts on a regular basis and they support the reopening of parks to our residents and our visitors.”
The Navajo Nation’s vast reservation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
Man Found Dead At White Sands National Park In New Mexico – Associated Press
A man has been found dead at White Sands National Park, authorities said Tuesday.
New Mexico State Police have identified the man as 63-year-old Jeffrey Minshew of Moriarty.
The National Park Service is coordinating with State Police to investigate the death.
A possible cause of death wasn’t immediately released, but authorities say foul play is not suspected at this time.
An unoccupied vehicle was found in the park about 11 a.m. Sunday.
That began a search and the body was discovered around 5 p.m. Monday.
White Sands rangers said there is no shade or water along any of the trails in the park.
They recommend hikers bring at least one gallon of water per person per day along with high energy snacks.
2 National Forests In New Mexico Lift Fire Restrictions – Associated Press
Gila National Forest and Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands officials on Tuesday announced the lifting of fire restrictions due to reduced wildfire danger.
Officials cited the arrival of summer rains accompanied by higher humidity levels and lower temperatures.
Showers and thunderstorms with “abundant monsoon moisture” are forecast to continue well into July, Gila National Forest officials said in a statement.
Forest officials imposed the restrictions to reduce risk of human-caused wildfire during extreme drought conditions that included low fuel moisture levels.
The Gila National Forest is headquartered in Silver City and includes large areas of southwestern New Mexico.
Headquartered in Albuquerque, the Cibola National Forest and National Grassland includes districts near Grants, west of Socorro and south and east of Albuquerque.
Heinrich Says Senate’s Filibuster Rule Should Change – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press
Sen. Martin Heinrich says the Senate should make major changes to its filibuster rule though the New Mexico Democrat acknowledges that would allow Republicans in the future to approve policy changes he opposes.
Heinrich said during a town hall Monday in Albuquerque that Senate rules should be changed to make it easier to pass most bills because partisan gridlock has blocked legislation, making it difficult for many Americans to discern between the parties, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
“As much as I know that, at some point, (Republicans) are going to do things that I absolutely disagree with, on climate, on choice, on really important stuff,” Heinrich said, “it is just as important to begin to have the feedback with the American people to tell the difference between the two parties. Elections will have consequences.”
With the Senate currently split 50-50, Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote gives Democrats control of the chamber.
However, Republicans can block most bills because of a rule requiring 60 senators to vote to end debate on most matters.
Ways to change the filibuster rule include requiring senators to be physically present on the Senate floor and personally speak in order to block a vote, Heinrich said.
US Proposes Removing Colorado River Fish’s Endangered Status – By James Anderson, Associated Press
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it plans to propose reclassifying a rare Colorado River Basin fish called the razorback sucker from endangered to threatened status after a multiyear and multistate effort throughout the Southwestern U.S. to replenish its populations.
A proposed formal relisting, to be published Wednesday in the Federal Register, would classify the fish as no longer on the brink of extinction. But it would require continued management of the razorback’s survival in the Colorado River and several key tributaries. The Fish and Wildlife Service first said it would recommend the change in 2018.
Hundreds of thousands of razorbacks once thrived in the Colorado River and its tributaries, which flow across seven states and Mexico. By the 1980s, they had dwindled to about 100. Researchers blamed non-native game fish that preyed on the razorbacks and the construction of dams that disrupted their habitat.
The razorback was listed as endangered under federal law in 1991. It has been protected under Colorado and Utah law since the 1970s.
Their adult numbers have since reached more than 50,000, thanks to the work of Fish and Wildlife and other federal and state agencies, Native American tribes, hatcheries, dam operators and landowners, said Tom Chart, director of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. The program was created in 1988 to rescue the razorback and other endangered aquatic species in the basin.
“The razorback was the most rare species we came across,” Chart said Tuesday. “Today we are finding fish that originated in hatcheries and were stocked out under the program 20 years later, and they’re behaving like they’ve always been in the wild.”
Ancient and odd-looking, the razorback gets its name from a sharp-edge, keel-like ridge along its back behind its head. It can grow up to 3 feet (1 meter) long and live up to 40 years.
Individual fish are protected under endangered status. Threatened status means biologists can take steps to improve the overall population even if some fish might be hurt.
Wildlife advocates oppose the move, saying the fish’s numbers aren’t yet self-sustaining and that climate change is bringing lesser and warmer river flows that will jeopardize the fish’s survival. Drought and increasing human demand are straining the rivers, which makes it harder for fish to survive.
“Our two core concerns here are the perilous climate future of the Colorado River Basin and, despite a robust program for stocking the razorback in the river, almost of none of those fish are reproducing successfully, with the exception of Lake Mead,” said Taylor McKinnon, whose work focuses on endangered species and public lands for the Center for Biological Diversity. “They spawn, but those spawn are being consumed by non-native fish. It precludes establishing self-sustaining populations.”
The proposed relisting acknowledges that “recruitment of razorback sucker to the adult life stage remains rare in all but one population, and the species currently depends on management actions in order for populations to be resilient.”
Chart said Fish and Wildlife has and will work with its partners to address climate change’s effects in the future, especially when it concerns water flow.
“Fundamental to this decision is the razorback sucker is not at risk of extinction now,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”
Top Elected Officials On Hopi Reservation Seek Second Term – Associated Press
The top two elected officials on the Hopi reservation are seeking another term in office.
The Hopi Election Board recently certified the candidates for the election scheduled later this year. Chairman Tim Nuvangyaoma and Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva are running for a second consecutive four-year term.
Nuvangyaoma is among four seeking the chairman’s post. He’ll face David Norton Talayumptewa, a member of the Tribal Council and former U.S. Bureau of Indian Education official, whom he beat in the 2017 general election.
Former Vice Chairman Alfred Lomaquahu Jr. and Andrew Qumyintewa also are running for chairman. Hopis will narrow the list to two in the September primary election.
The race for vice chairman has two candidates, including the incumbent, Tenakhongva. He and Craig Andrews, who also serves on the Tribal Council, will automatically move on to the November general election.
The Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona is completely surrounded by the much-larger Navajo Nation with its villages situated among three mesas. The Hopi Tribe has more than 14,600 enrolled members, not all of whom live on the reservation, according to the Hopi Enrollment Office.
Like other tribes, Hopi struggled through the coronavirus pandemic, enacting tough restrictions to keep COVID-19 from spreading further. Around 1,300 Hopis have been infected with the virus since the pandemic began.
During a public forum last month, the candidates for chairman and vice chairman recognized the toll the virus has taken on the reservation where wearing masks is still required and the tribe is slowly reopening.
“It’s not part of Hopi, it’s not part of our culture out here, but yet we have to follow that to save each one of us,” Tenakhongva said. “We’ve lost a lot of people.”
Thousands of Hopis are eligible to vote in this year’s elections but aren’t required to register. Turnout for the 2017 election was low, with about 1,620 votes cast.
The Hopi chairman and vice chairman run separately. Much of their authority comes from the Tribal Council, which functions like a city government. The chairman presides over meetings but doesn’t vote except to break a tie.
Gas Station Operator Sues New Mexico Over New Liquor Law – KRQE-TV, Associated Press
A company that runs dozens of convenience stores and gas stations in New Mexico is suing the state over new liquor laws that took effect last week.
Western Refining Retail claims a new provision that singles out McKinley County is unconstitutional because it prohibits gas stations from selling liquor based on population.
The new rule states any dispenser or retailer licensee who sells gasoline in a county with a population between 56,000 and 57,000 people cannot sell alcohol other than beer. McKinley is the only New Mexico county that falls under that population threshold, and the change does not affect other businesses like grocery stores, package liquor stores, restaurants and bars.
Democratic Sen. George Munoz told Albuquerque television station KRQE that he sought the language targeting retailers attached to gas stations to address a problem in his western New Mexico district.
“People die in McKinley County because of alcoholism,” he said.
He added: “Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it should be readily available and convenient in every single location.”
Western Refining’s lawsuit seeks to stop enforcement of the new law, noting that 14 businesses in the county are affected.
The company runs 10 of those businesses. The state’s Regulation and Licensing Department shows the company has dispenser licenses at Speedway, Giant and Conoco gas stations in Gallup.
Officials with the state licensing department said they will not comment on the lawsuit until they have a chance to review the complaint.
According to an annual report on substance use published by the New Mexico Health Department, McKinley and Rio Arriba counties had extremely high alcohol-related death rates.
Overall, the report noted that New Mexico has extremely high death rates due to both alcohol-related chronic diseases and alcohol-related injuries. The state’s rate of alcohol-related injury death was about 1.5 times the national rate.
Health officials said that while New Mexico’s rate for alcohol-related motor vehicle traffic crashes has decreased substantially over the past 30 years, disparities remain.
The state at the end of June rolled out its latest anti-drunken driving campaign, which includes television, radio, billboard and social media promotions. Law enforcement agencies also have started their summer DWI checkpoints and patrols.
New Mexico City Pilots Bike-To-School Initiative – Associated Press
A city in New Mexico is tapping into federal grant money and other funding to pilot an initiative aimed at getting more children to ride their bicycles and walk to school.
Students at Nina Otero Community School and El Camino Real Academy in Santa Fe are among those receiving bike safety lessons this summer as part of the citywide effort, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
A $ 300,000 grant and matching money from the Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization will pay for staffing and a consultant, who will help build staff and volunteer groups to keep bike safety a top priority.
Funding will also be spent on experts in fields like geographic information systems so recommendations can be made on improvements to trails, sidewalks and crosswalks around town.
“We’ll be looking into improvements on campus areas,” said Tim Rogers, Conservation Trust trails program manager and Safe Routes coordinator. “We have all been working primarily on the south side.”
Safe Routes to School initiatives span the nation, emphasizing pedestrian and bike safety for kids getting to school. Rogers said a Safe Routes program in Las Cruces is possibly the only comprehensive program in the state.
A 2015 study showed the longer Safe Routes initiatives were in place, the more kids started walking and biking to schools.
New Mexico Police Shoot Suspect During Chase In Santa Fe – Associated Press
Authorities are investigating the third shooting by law enforcement officers in Santa Fe in the past two weeks.
In the latest case, New Mexico State Police officers shot and wounded a suspect Sunday morning during a foot chase in a neighborhood on the city’s south side.
State police officers were dispatched to help with a call that involved a man who was sitting on the train tracks near Interstate 25.
Authorities said in a news release that the suspect pointed a gun at officers before running across the interstate and toward a residential area. The man fired at least one shot at officers during the chase.
Officers fired back, shooting the unidentified man at least once. Authorities said he was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life threatening.
State police also are investigating two other shootings by officers in Santa Fe, including one on June 23 in which a suspect in an earlier shooting at park was killed by Santa Fe police near Loretto Chapel. That same evening, Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies killed a man who pointed a gun at them after leading them on a car chase.
Lawsuit Claims Man Who Sparked Treasure Hunt Retrieved Own Loot – Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press
A French treasure hunter has sued the estate of a Santa Fe, New Mexico, antiquities dealer who sparked a yearslong search across the American West by hiding a chest filled with gold, coins and other valuables.
Bruno Raphoz is seeking $ 10 million in a complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court in New Mexico. He claims the late Forrest Fenn deprived him of the riches by moving the treasure chest after he solved a riddle that would lead him to the loot.
The lawsuit comes a year after another man found the treasure in Wyoming, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
“It appeared suspicious to everyone,” Raphoz said in the lawsuit. “Our assumption is that (Forrest) Fenn went to retrieve the chest himself, declared it found publicly and kept the content for himself.”
In his autobiography, “The Thrill of the Chase,” Fenn said he buried the chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. His book included a poem that contained clues on where the chest was hidden. For a decade, thousands of people roamed the Rockies in search of the treasure estimated to be worth at least $ 1 million.
Several treasure seekers had to be rescued from precarious situations and as many as six died.
Raphoz’s lawsuit is just the latest legal claim to be spurred by the treasure hunt. A number of people have sued, alleging Fenn betrayed them or gave misleading clues.
Shiloh Old, Fenn’s grandson, could not be reached for comment.
Raphoz said he used the clues to determine Fenn’s treasure was in southwestern Colorado. He informed Fenn he solved the puzzle and was on his way to retrieve the chest. However, his plans were derailed by the coronavirus pandemic, and Fenn announced a short time later that the treasure had been found.
Fenn died in September at age 90 without saying who found the chest or specifically where.
Fenn’s grandson confirmed in December that Jonathan “Jack” Stuef, a 32-year-old medical student from Michigan, discovered it. Fenn said before his death that the treasure was in Wyoming, but neither Stuef nor Fenn’s relatives have specified where.
Podcast Explores Creation Of US Parks With Indigenous Voices – By Matt Dahlseid, Santa Fe New Mexican
In the first minutes of the first episode of a new podcast called Parks, Shane Doyle speaks of being largely unaware of his family’s sprawling roots in the area known today as Yellowstone National Park while he was growing up in the small town of Crow Agency, Montana.
A member of the Crow Nation, Doyle’s ancestors were forcibly removed from the land that was eventually established as the world’s first national park in 1872. His family had been detached from this land for generations, and the park known internationally for its remarkable geothermal features and stunning wildlife was relatively foreign to him as a youth.
While obtaining his master’s degree in Native American studies, Doyle became well-versed in the onslaught of obstacles that confronted his and nearly 30 other tribes associated with the Yellowstone area.
The tribes contended with diseases like smallpox brought to the continent by European colonizers, broken land rights treaties by the United States government, the killing off of their primary food source — bison — and a forced assimilation into mainstream European American culture through Native American boarding schools.
“Quite frankly, there was an ethnic cleansing on this ground,” Doyle says in the 28-minute debut episode of Parks titled “Yellowstone,” which was released June 22. “And the cleansing was not just the people and the culture, but it was also the memory, it was the history, it was the way of life that existed for thousands of years that all of the sudden vanished.”
As the popularity of America’s national parks continues to surge, Parks co-creators and Santa Fe-based multimedia journalists Mary Mathis and Cody Nelson urge visitors to educate themselves about and acknowledge the Indigenous tribes whose ties to these sacred spaces span millennia.
The aim of the documentary podcast is to explore the history of tribes on these lands, the ways in which the lands were dispossessed, issues the Indigenous communities face today, and how they’ve kept their culture and traditions alive, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
“There’s so much that was written, but when it was written, it was from the point of view of Eastern colonizers,” said Mathis, 25, a former photo editor at National Public Radio and Outside magazine who serves as the host of Parks. “It wasn’t every story, it was just one story — the quote, unquote ‘winner’s’ story. We see that a lot in our education system and I think that was where the idea (for Parks) kind of came from.”
The first episode follows a format the Parks team plans to replicate throughout the project, one where Indigenous guests are closely involved in each step of the editing process so as to maintain complete ownership of their stories.
The guests’ feedback is considered at every point in the editing of an episode, creating a collaborative environment of storytelling.
“For a long time, Native people have not had ownership of the narrative about what the wider general public knows about Indigenous people, so it’s really critical that the guests have complete ownership of the process because that’s the most important part,” said Taylor Hensel, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation who serves as a story editor for the podcast. “That’s the only way to tell authentic stories.”
Mathis and Nelson began research for Parks last summer. The couple, who moved to Santa Fe from the Midwest last year, had to conduct all of their interviews via phone or video call because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nelson, 28, said the obstacle ended up shaping the show in a positive way.
“It forced us to get creative, which I think wound up being a good thing because the format we’ve taken is using the voices of our guests rather than the voices of me and Mary,” said Nelson, a former reporter for Minnesota Public Radio. “We’ve aimed to go really light on the narration and really heavy on our guests’ voices.”
Hensel was one of the consultants Mathis and Nelson reached out to early on while contemplating the path of the podcast. She works full-time as a producer for Nia Tero, a nonprofit based in Seattle that works globally with Indigenous people, specifically when it comes to land rights and the environment.
The Parks project excited Hensel, and she accepted an offer to join the small team as its third member.
Hensel said her view of national parks is tied to the history of dispossession and broken treaties that took the lands away from their original inhabitants.
“As a Native person, I live every single day knowing that this is stolen land, and this land doesn’t belong to the people who claim to own it. National parks are no exception,” Hensel said. “When I enter those spaces, I carry that weight with me, knowing that land was stolen from Indigenous peoples. It certainly is heavy and I personally believe that that land should be given back. I hope to see that one day.”
Hensel is also passionate about the words used when speaking about natural spaces such as national parks.
It’s common to hear language that discounts the history of Indigenous tribes on these lands, such as referring to the environments as “pristine” and “untouched.” Hensel works with Mathis and Nelson to be intentional and thoughtful about the words being used in the narration.
“Taylor is someone who is working with us consistently to decolonize the language that we use in the script,” Mathis said. “There have been rewrites and rewrites and rewrites of sentences where we maybe used a word that had some sort of power dynamic to it, and she’s really opening our eyes to the ways in which we really do need to decolonize our language, especially in journalism.”
Another unique aspect of the podcast’s production is the compensation of guests who share their stories.
The not-for-profit project is funded by donations and out of the pockets of Mathis and Nelson, who both freelance to earn a living. Nelson said they offer a small honorarium, sometimes around $ 50 or so, to guests for their contributions.
The Parks team plans on releasing an episode each month during the summer, then seeing where things go from there. They’ve already conducted all the interviews for the second episode, which will focus on Native tribes living in and around the Grand Canyon, and hope to release the episode in July.
Mathis and Nelson said their perspective on national parks has changed considerably while working on the project and speaking with Indigenous people whose lives have been impacted by land dispossession.
“It’s a far more complicated picture, I’d say, from what I’ve learned,” Nelson said. “It makes you think about everything a lot differently.
“I will still go to national parks; I’m not going to boycott the system, but I am going to live in a way that doesn’t become a party to this awful commodification of nature and the erasure of the people whose lands this is.”