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KUNR Today: California Lifting COVID Restrictions Tuesday, Nevada Bans Native Mascots

An image of a sign outside Elko High School that reads "Elko High School Indians"
Wiki Commons
Nearly 2,000 American schools use Indian mascots, including Elko High School.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Monday, June 14, 2021.

California Governor Signs Orders To Roll Back Virus Rules
By The Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that will lift most of the state's coronavirus rules. The order Newsom signed Friday takes effect Tuesday. It will end the state's stay-at-home order and its various amendments. Starting Tuesday, there will be no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements for businesses. Fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most places. Newsom said he will not end the statewide declaration of emergency. That ensures the governor has the power to alter or suspend state laws in the future. That has angered Republican lawmakers who say the declaration is unnecessary.

Nevada Bans Native American Mascots In Public Schools, Unless They Have Tribal Approval
By Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

The American Psychological Association called for the retirement of Indian mascots 16 years ago, citing research by psychologists like Stephanie Fryberg.

She said these mascots and the behavior they encourage in schools cause measurable harm to Native children’s mental health and self-esteem.

"You know, we’re really playing with children’s identities in a place that is so essential to life outcomes," Fryberg said.

Fryberg credits the Black Lives Matter movement for sparking the retirement of the Washington D.C. NFL team’s mascot.

Aaron Payment, vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, says a small wave of school mascot retirements and statewide bans has followed, including in Nevada and Colorado.

"We see it as dominos falling from an earlier racist era, but we’re still not there," Payment said.

Nearly 2,000 American schools still use Indian mascots, including more than a 100 across every state in our region. Colorado and Nevada schools with Native mascots now have a year to change them unless they reach an agreement with federally recognized tribes.

Indigenous Activists In Our Region Celebrate Cancellation Of Keystone XL Pipeline
By KNPR, Mountain West News Bureau

Native American activists in our region cheered the cancellation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which they say would have encroached on tribal lands in Montana and South Dakota.

The Canadian company behind the project scrapped it last week, five months after President Joe Biden canceled its permit. Tribal members and environmentalists had fought the pipeline for a decade.

Among them was Las Vegas native Mercedes Krause, a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Nation.

“We always stand in solidarity with the tribal communities around our country – they are our relatives fighting these things,” Krause said.

Krause is vice chair of the UNLV Native American Alumni Club, which is also opposing a lithium mine planned for Thacker Pass in Northern Nevada. It says it threatens sovereign tribal land.

Gun Rights Group Challenging Nevada Ban On ‘Ghost Guns’
By Paul Boger

A Second-Amendment rights group has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Nevada's new ban on so-called ghost guns.

A group known as Firearms Policy Coalition along with a pair of Nevada residents filed the federal lawsuit in Reno. It argues AB286 is unconstitutional because it prohibits gun owners from exercising their constitutional right to own a self manufactured fire-arm.

The law bans the sale and possession of any gun that is made from a kit or is 3D printed because they often lack serial numbers and can be impossible to trace. It was approved by lawmakers along party line votes and was signed into law early last week.

Eight other states have enacted similar pieces of legislation.

Oil And Gas Leases Paused On Public Lands
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

A federal judge pressed pause last week on new oil and gas drilling on 630 square miles of public lands in our region. The judge ruled that the Bureau of Land Management must revisit leases in Wyoming and Montana because it failed to figure out how many sage grouse might be affected by drilling there.

New well pads, pipelines and storage tanks are all considered big threats for these chicken-sized birds.

Michael Saul is an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. His organization helped file the lawsuit and he said the sage grouse are what’s called an “indicator species.”

“It’s a metaphorical canary in the coal mine for the survival of 300 other species of birds, mammals and other creatures that rely on a healthy sagebrush ecosystem,” Saul said.

A Bureau of Land Management spokesman declined to comment. The judge’s decision means the agency needs to redo parts of the environmental review for these leases.

UNR Alum, Carson City Native To Compete At Tokyo Olympics
By KUNR Staff

A former Nevada swim and dive athlete and Carson City-native will be among those competing in the Tokyo Olympic Games, next month.

28-year-old Krysta Palmer and her competition partner Alison Gibson finished first in the women's synchronized 3-meter springboard at the U.S. Diving Olympic trials.

It secured their spots on Team USA at this year's Olympics.

The Carson City native becomes the seventh Olympian in the program's history at UNR and the first to represent Team USA.

Palmer and Gibson are scheduled to compete for Team USA in Tokyo on July 25 at 11 p.m. PT.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them.
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