Native Americans

For decades, coal has been at the center of Hopi life, literally. In the middle of each home is a coal-burning stove that keeps families warm through the winter.

"A lot of people relied on the coal to heat their homes and ceremonial chambers, the kivas," says Leigh Wayne Lomayestewa, who works in the tribe's cultural preservation office. "And now we're only relying on the cedar wood."

But he says cedar doesn't burn as long as coal.

"Usually at nighttime, you can put in about two or three times a night," Lomayestewa says.

Flickr / Michael Kappel

State and tribal leaders are at odds over the gaming compact and how much money in fees Oklahoma should receive from tribal-run casinos. 

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said the 15-year-old tribal compact ended on January 1, 2020. But, the Oklahoma Gaming Association and tribal leaders have said the language within the compact outlines an automatic renewal.

A new homeless shelter in Seattle is exclusively serving Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Pacific Islanders. It's one of the first facilities of its kind in the country helping to house the more than 1,000 Native people in the city experiencing homelessness.

Eagle Village sits near Seattle's industrial district south of downtown. It's pressed up against railroad tracks and next to a large bus terminal. Gary Fisher has lived here about a month after bouncing around other shelters in the city for three years.

Artist Duane Koyawena is piloting a custom R2D2 unit in front of the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Ariz. It's life-size and has all the signature bleeps and squawks of the original. But its appearance has a unique Southwestern spin.

"When I was thinking about it, I was like ... wouldn't it be cool to see an R2 that's decked out [and] looks actually like a pottery?" he says. "So along with that comes the designs, and so the tans and the reddish burn marks from when they fire their pottery."

Thanksgiving marks the 50th anniversary of the Alcatraz take over, when activists claimed the former prison island, citing a treaty that said all unused federal land would return to Native Americans.

If you want to hear more about the Alcatraz occupation, you can find Latino USA's episode about the life and legacy of one of its leaders Richard Oakes: By Right of Discovery, which was produced by Antonia Cereijido and Janice Llamoca.

Updated at 7:17 p.m. ET

U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced a national plan on Friday to increase the federal government's role in reducing the number of Native Americans who are murdered or reported missing every year.

Barr announced the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative after a meeting with tribal leaders and law enforcement officials at the Flathead Reservation in Montana, home of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

For many people, turning on the tap or flushing the toilet is something we take for granted. But a report released Monday, called "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States," shows that more than 2 million Americans live without these conveniences and that Native Americans are more likely to have trouble accessing water than any other group.

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Oklahoma is home to one of the largest Native American student populations in the country. A new charter school hopes to better serve these kids by promoting Indigenous identities in the classroom. As Caroline Halter of member station KGOU reports, it's part of a growing movement.

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On Monday in the nation's capital, there is no Columbus Day. The D.C. Council voted to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day in a temporary move that it hopes to make permanent. Several other places across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.

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