Despite opposition from tribal leaders, bills to shield South Dakota from costs of conflicts over the Keystone XL Pipeline sailed through the state Legislature.

Pete Kaiser became the first Yup’ik musher March 13 to win the Iditarod, North America’s premier long-distance sled dog race.

Kaiser and his dog team crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska at 3:39:06 a.m. local time, completing the race in 9 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes, 6 seconds. His good friend, 2018 Iditarod champion Joar Leifseth Ulsom, finished 12 minutes 16 seconds later.

Kaiser’s win is the pinnacle of a remarkable 10-year mushing career that includes six top-10 Iditarod finishes, four consecutive Kuskokwim 300 championships, two first-place finishes in the Paul Johnson Memorial Norton Sound 450, and first-place finishes in the Kobuk 400 and the 226-mile Denali Doubles.

People from Kaiser’s hometown of Bethel drummed and danced and the crowd cheered wildly as Kaiser and team arrived under police escort and crossed the finish line under the burled arch. Kaiser embraced his family, wife Bethany, and children Ari and Aylee and then went up the line congratulating his dog team as the applause and cheers continued.

“It seems like half of Bethel is here,” an Iditarod Insider announcer said.

The anticipation of Kaiser’s win grew in Native Alaska as he got checkpoint by checkpoint closer to the finish line. Children cheered him in Elim (Pete! Kaiser! Pete! Kaiser!). Villagers in White Mountain sang a song for him; an elder put her hand on his shoulder and wished him good luck.

“This gives a lot of other younger people the confidence that with time, money and effort, they can do it too,” Iditarod veteran Chuck Schaeffer, Inupiaq, said of Kaiser’s win. Schaeffer’s daughter, Bailey, a college student who has mushed in local races, said of Kaiser’s win: “It’s pretty cool. It will definitely inspire younger Alaska Native mushers.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska even chimed in to congratulate Kaiser. “A big congratulations to Pete Kaiser of Bethel and team on his first #Iditarodwin. Your determination and motivation is one to be admired. What an incredible race! #Iditarod2019

This year’s 998-mile race gave mushers and teams plenty of challenges: teeth-jarring tussocks in the town of Iditarod, blowing snow along the coastline of Norton Sound, drifting snow that made trails disappear.

A snow and wind storm between Shaktoolik and Koyuk shook up race leader Nic Petit’s team early March 11; it was the same place where his team stalled in 2018, yielding the lead to Ulsom and team.

“We took off out of Shaktoolik like a rocket,” Petit told Iditarod Insider early March 11 as his team rested off the trail en route to Koyuk. “I was really surprised … All of a sudden they had the speed they didn’t have before Shaktoolik.” Then, a couple of dogs on the team got into a tussle and the team “wouldn’t go anymore, anywhere, so we camped here. We’ll see what happens.”

By 7 p.m. that day, Petit withdrew “in the best interest of his team’s mental well-being.”

After Petit’s departure, the race was between Kaiser and Ulsom, who had been trading the lead with Petit for most of the race. Kaiser arrived in Koyuk, 171 miles from the finish line in Nome, one hour before Ulsom. In Koyuk, Kaiser described the challenging conditions.

“It’s crazy how the weather over there was so calm, and here it’s so calm, and then in the middle of that it was pretty wild,” he told Iditarod Insider. “It was probably blowing 30 right down the pipe, 35 maybe in some spots. Snowing, drifting the whole trail was drifting. Some spots, it was just marker to marker.”

Then, Koyuk to Elim, then Elim to White Mountain. Kaiser arrived at White Mountain, 77 miles from Nome, with ice caked on his beard. “Leaving Koyuk, it was windy crosswind and no trail,” he told Iditarod Insider. “Two or three inches of loose snow on the trail. It felt like it took forever to get to Elim.”

For musher and dogs, the Iditarod is about training, endurance, and strategy. Kaiser and team took shorter, more frequent rests; Ulsom and team took longer, less frequent rests. Kaiser and Ulsom took their mandatory 24-hour rests in Takotna, 329 miles into the race. But Ulsom took his mandatory eight-hour rest in Shageluk (mile 487), while Kaiser and his team took their mandatory eight-hour in Kaltag (mile 652). All mushers are required to rest in White Mountain (mile 921) before pushing on to Safety and Nome. Ulsom had to wait for 431 miles for that rest, Kaiser 269.

Kaiser found his advantage in Elim. He arrived there almost one hour before Ulsom and rested his team for 2 hours 44 minutes before moving on to White Mountain. That compelled Ulsom to cut his rest short and leave Elim five minutes later, after a 1-hour 59-minute rest. Kaiser and team maintained a pace of 6.22 mph to Ulsom’s 5.75 to White Mountain, enough to build some distance between them. Ulsom tried to make up the difference en route to Safety and Nome, averaging 6.95 and 7.10 mph to Kaiser’s 6.90 and 6.17 mph.

Other Alaska Natives in the race. Richie Diehl, Dena’ina Athabascan, was in a solid 11th; Martin Apayauq Reitan, Inupiaq, was in 33rd place. Robert Redington, Inupiaq, scratched in Kaltag (mile 652); his brother Ryan scratched in Shaktoolik. Each made the decision to do so out of concern for the well-being of his team, the Iditarod reported.

Reitan, the son of Iditarod veteran Martin Reitan, proved to be a newcomer to watch. He finished the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest a month ago—winning Rookie of the Year honors—and finished his debut Iditarod faring better than four other rookies and five veterans, and 10 more mushers who wouldn’t finish the race. 

Kaiser’s win boosts his career Iditarod earnings to just over $300,000. As the 2019 champion, he receives about $50,000 and a new Dodge Ram 4X4. For being the first musher to reach Kaltag, he received from the Bristol Bay Native Corporation a check for $2,000, a certificate for 25 pounds of Bristol Bay salmon filets, and artwork by Alaska Native artist Apayo Moore. For being the first musher to reach White Mountain, he received from Northrim Bank a check for $2,500 and an art print by Anchorage artist Marianne Wieland.

And, of course, he wins a place in the history books.

“[It’s been] a lot of hard work over the last 12 years of really seriously working at this specifically,” Kaiser told Iditarod Insider in White Mountain. “It’s gratifying to know the hard work has paid off. I have such a huge support system, just for them to get some validation of their support and see this all come full circle and work out.”

He added, “I’m very lucky. Especially in Bethel and all up and down the Kuskokwim River I’ve always had tons of support. I’ve said it before, that’s been a large motivating factor to me to go out and put our best foot forward with all our training and racing, and try to represent this area the best we can.”

Alaska Native winners of the Iditarod

2019: Peter Kaiser, Yup’ik, 9 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes, 6 seconds.

2011: John Baker, Inupiaq, 8 days 18 hours 46 minutes 39 seconds.

1976: Gerald Riley, Athabascan, 18 days 22 hours 58 minutes 17 seconds.

1975: Emmitt Peters, Athabascan, 14 days 14 hours 43 minutes 45 seconds.

1974: Carl Huntington, Athabascan, 20 days 15 hours 2 minutes 7 seconds.

TUBA CITY, NAVAJO NATION, Ariz. — From now until April 26, 2019, Change Labs is accepting applications for its inaugural “Artist Rezidency” program in Tuba City, Arizona. All practicing Native American visual artists over the age of 18 are eligible to apply for this unique 1-year rezidency program. The selected rezident artist will receive:

●        48 hours of entrepreneurial training and ongoing business counseling

●        100-square-foot studio space in Tuba City throughout the rezidency

●        Up to $5,000 in art supplies

●        $40,000 stipend

Change Labs is an organization that supports and enables Native entrepreneurs starting businesses on tribal lands. Many Native entrepreneurs across the Navajo and Hopi nations struggle with the day-to-day tasks of operating and growing a small business. In addition to the lack of infrastructure, many small businesses lack marketing collateral such as a business logo, business cards, a web presence, or professional signage. In response, Change Labs seeks visual artists who want to use their artist talents to benefit tribal communities by:

●        Supporting a small group of Native American startups with their creative expression and marketing collateral

●        Creating one public artwork that illustrates the intersection of entrepreneurship and Native American culture

The inaugural Change Labs Artist Rezidency Program is in partnership with Catapult Design and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and is one of 60 NEA “Our Town” grants awards supporting projects across the nation. “The variety and quality of these Our Town projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”

“For the past four years Change Labs has engaged Navajo and Hopi artists to support our entrepreneurship events,” says Jessica Stago, director of business incubation at Change Labs. “Native artists create signs for entrepreneurs in our program, help them refine their logo or craft a business card. These seemingly small activities make the world of difference for our business owners. Some entrepreneurs tell me that seeing their new logo or sign is the first time they actually feel like a small business owner. Instilling pride in our people and helping them reach more customers is critical and this inaugural program is an opportunity to build on the relationship between Native artists and small business owners in our communities.”

The deadline for applications is Friday, April 26, 2019. Applications will be accepted online through the Change Labs website or via email. For more information and to access program guidelines and application, visit

MANISTEE, Mich. — Organizers of the Anishinaabe Family and Culture Camp are looking for presenters for this year’s camp that will be held in Manistee, Michigan on July 26 – 18, 2019.

Each presentation will be approximately 1 ½ hours long. Provisions can be made if you have a presentation that requires a longer amount of time to accommodate your workshop.

Interested parties should submit a presentation outline and a biography. Included in the outline should be the target age group of presentation and any applicable demographic. Also, let organizers know if your workshop is total Anishinaabemowin immersion, if you will have a translator or if you will be presenting in the English language with some Anishinaabemowin. Please note that if you have handouts for your presentation, you are responsible for making sure you have enough copies because there are no copiers on site.

Most of our guests do not speak Anishinaabemowin and some understand it but do not speak it yet.  For some of the camp guests, this is the only time that they get to hear Anishinaabemowin being used.  It would be appreciated for all of the presenters to remain visible throughout the camp and to be available to speak in Anishinaabemowin.

Along with your presentation outline and biography, please state if you require lodging. Please send all of the information by email as soon as possible.  It would be appreciated if your presentation outline and biography could be sent as separately attached documents in the email. It’s just easier for us when we process our program book. (Phone calls are accepted to state your interest in presenting, but the written information is required by the deadline for consideration.) Please feel free to call Kenny Pheasant at 231-398-6892.

If you know anyone who may be interested in presenting at the Camp, by all means, please forward this letter to them and have them state in their email who recommended them to present.

The deadline for all of this information is May 10, 2019.

Send information to:

Kenny Pheasant, Anishinaabemowin Language Coordinator. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.


President Trump’s decision to reduce the Bears Ears National Monument is harming tribal sites, members of Congress were told. A powerful winter storm has stranded many emergency and medical personnel on the Pine Ridge Reservation, forcing tribal leaders to order non-essential traffic off the roads. Sheena Between Lodges was brutally beaten on Pine Ridge Reservation and prosecutors say a man knows who committed the crime.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) was awarded the New Mexico Excellence in STEM Awards, aka the STEMYS, on February 22 during an awards ceremony at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

The Excellence in STEM Awards is designed to celebrate Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics education in New Mexico. It recognizes students, teachers, schools, businesses and others who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to, and advocacy of, STEM learning.

NTEC was selected as Industry Partner of the Year for the New Mexico Excellence in STEM Awards. It proceeds Intel who was awarded industry partner last year.

“We are honored to be recognized for our efforts to educate young students in the STEM fields. We applaud our education coordinator Nathan Tohtsoni for all his hard work and dedication to bring STEM to Navajo students,” said Clark Moseley, NTEC CEO.

NTEC was recognized for its STEM education outreach in 2018, including the inaugural Navajo Nation Girl Scouts STEM Camp, Carbon Rocks! Teachers Workshop on Coal, and partnerships on the STEM-sation events at high schools on and near the Navajo Nation, sponsoring science family nights at schools and chapter houses, STEM college scholarship programs, and more.

“It’s amazing that in a few short years, NTEC is being recognized statewide as a leader in demonstrating STEM excellence,” said Nathan Tohtsoni, Education Coordinator, who accepted the STEMYS on NTEC’s behalf. “While it was an honor to accept this award, the real winners are the Navajo students who have benefited from our STEM programs and partnerships.”

The STEMYS was presented by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) New Mexico Tech Engagement Office in Albuquerque.

“This is the second year of the event, and we were blown away by the number and quality of nominations we received,” said Matt Fetrow, Director of the AFRL Tech Engagement Office. “It is inspiring to see how many people and organizations are dedicated to making STEM learning a priority for our state. We hope that by highlighting their good work, others will be encouraged to get involved and more young people will choose STEM-related education and career paths.”

Citing Standing Rock as a driving force, Democrats in Congress are calling for a Green New Deal to address climate change and other issues.

The people, places, history and culture of the Cherokee Nation could soon be featured on the big screen with the launch of the Cherokee Nation Film Office. The Cherokee Nation Film Office’s mission is to grow the state’s film industry by promoting northeast Oklahoma as a destination for filmmakers, maintaining a database of Cherokee Nation locations, resources and talent, serving as a cultural and historical consultant on film projects, and perhaps most importantly, creating an environment that cultivates Native filmmaking.

“Five years ago, we launched the production of ‘Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People.’ It was the first Native American programming of its kind, and we’re proud that it was created by Cherokee Nation citizens. The show has been wildly successful, winning five Emmy Awards. Through the show, we discovered there are many Cherokees with a natural talent for filmmaking,” said Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. “As secretary of state, I regularly interact with individuals who fundamentally misunderstand Native Americans. What I’ve learned is Native stories are best told by Native voices, and we hope to develop local talent that will tell those stories. We have extremely talented filmmakers, producers, directors and actors in the Cherokee Nation. My vision is to create an environment that nurtures our talented Cherokees in this space and ensures that Native stories are told accurately and with authenticity. I was pleased that when I asked Amanda to lead the effort to create the Cherokee Nation Film Office, she immediately said yes.”

The Cherokee Nation Film Office is a new division under Cherokee Nation Businesses’ communications department and will be led by CNB Vice President of Communications Amanda Clinton, with heavy support from other tribal departments. The office will work with the Oklahoma Film + Music Office (OF+MO), the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts, and Culture (Tulsa FMAC) and other local film offices to leverage resources and talent. Areas of cooperation include providing local recommendations for crew and talent, coordinating site visits, hosting filmmaking workshops, film festivals and more. The department also produces a docuseries, “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People” which features Cherokee people, history and culture, told through short documentaries.

“Before we created ‘Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People,’ I had no idea the depth of Native talent that existed in this industry but was being under-utilized or not utilized at all,” Clinton said. “But in addition to the talent pool we have in the Cherokee Nation, it’s also one of the most beautiful areas of our state. Promoting a place so close to our hearts as a filmmaking destination is a mission we’re excited to fulfill.”


The series has produced more than 160 short documentaries since production began in 2015. The show airs statewide in Oklahoma and Arkansas and online at

“With the success of our show, and with other film projects on the horizon, we feel like we are really making a mark in the documentary film industry,” said Jennifer Loren, host and executive producer of Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People. “We also feel like we are perfectly situated to facilitate other film projects and grow this industry right here in the Cherokee Nation. It’s an exciting time.”

Although Hollywood is still the film mecca of the world, states other than California have established themselves as film destinations. In recent years, major motion pictures and television series have been filmed in Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and other states. The Motion Picture Association of America found in 2016* the Oklahoma film and television industry were responsible for 13,273 direct and indirect jobs and more than $220 million in wages. By contrast, Texas’ film and television industry were responsible for 105,525 jobs and $1.81 billion in wages. Georgia’s impacts were 92,494 jobs and $2.15 billion in wages, while Louisiana’s impacts were 22,707 jobs and nearly $400 million in wages. The Cherokee Nation Film Office’s partnerships with OF+MO and Tulsa FMAC will only enhance the attractiveness of Oklahoma’s budding film industry.

“The launch of the Cherokee Nation Film Office supports our state’s mission to expand our footprint and become a top destination for film and music makers. With more strategic and authentic voices working alongside our state office, Oklahoma is poised to further educate global audiences on the truly unique landscapes, history, people and resources we can offer,” said Oklahoma Film + Music Office (OF+MO) Director Tava Maloy Sofsky. “We look forward to collaborating with the Cherokee Nation on many levels, as we collectively develop new talent and infrastructure.”


Cherokee Nation Businesses already has multiple economic development partnerships with the Tulsa Regional Chamber and Tulsa Regional Tourism, the parent organization of Tulsa FMAC. The goals of the Cherokee Nation Film Office naturally align with Tulsa FMAC’s mission and purpose.

“We’re thrilled that the Cherokee Nation is establishing a film office within their nation. As our mission has always been to highlight Tulsa and our region as a film destination, this development will further showcase what northeast Oklahoma has to offer. We look forward to collaborating with them and, together, continuing to grow a strong film industry that is sustainable for years to come,” said Abby Kurin, director of Tulsa FMAC.

Secretary of State Hoskin is the primary liaison between Cherokee Nation and the state of Oklahoma and began meetings months ago to help get the film office off the ground.

“This new partnership follows a familiar model but opens the door to exciting new opportunities for us,” Hoskin said. “When we work together and collaborate with our partners across the state, it helps Cherokees, but it also helps all Oklahomans by making our state a more attractive place to live, work and visit. I’m grateful we have talented Cherokee employees who are passionate about making this a successful new industry for the Cherokee Nation while further supporting our mission of preserving Cherokee culture.”

The Cherokee Nation Film Office has already begun collaborating with both OF+MO and Tulsa FMAC to promote Oklahoma to filmmakers and share with Oklahomans the important economic impacts of the entertainment industry. Keep up with the Cherokee Nation Film Office at, and visit its partner organizations at and