MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Dozens of tribes asked the Biden administration Tuesday to immediately enact emergency protections for gray wolves, saying states have become too aggressive in hunting the animal.
Groups representing the tribes sent a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland asking her to act quickly on an emergency petition they filed in May to relist the wolf as endangered or threatened. They also asked Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico and the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency, to relist the wolf on an emergency basis for 240 days, ensuring immediate protection.
The groups say that states have enacted “anti-wolf” policies that present “a real potential of decimating wolf populations.”
The letter doesn't name any specific states or polices. But Izzy Baird, a spokeswoman for Relist Wolves Coalition, which has been working with tribal nations on the issue, noted in an email that Wisconsin hunters went over their kill quota of 119 by almost 100 animals during that state's spring season; Montana allows hunters to kill up to 10 wolves each and allows private payments for dead wolves reminiscent of bounties; and that an Idaho law passed in July allows hunters to kill up to 90% of that state's wolves.
The letter notes that wolves play a key role in a host of American Indian tribes' cultures and accuses the federal government of failing to listen to their concerns about removing the wolf from the endangered species list in January.
“Had either the Trump or Biden Administrations consulted tribal nations, as treaty and trust responsibilities require, they would have heard that as a sacred creature, the wolf is an integral part of the land-based identity that shapes our communities, beliefs, customs and traditions,” the letter said. “The land, and all that it contains, is our temple.”
(Previous: Wisconsin sets 300-wolf limit after runaway spring hunt)
Wolves across most of the contiguous United States were stripped of federal Endangered Species Act protections in the final days of the Trump administration. Wolves in the Northern Rockies region — including Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and portions of Washington state, Oregon and Utah – lost protections a decade ago under former President Barack Obama.
The groups include the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, the Association on American Indian Affairs, the Navajo Nation, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, the Native Justice Coalition, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association and the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona.
Department of the Interior spokesman Tyler Cherry declined comment on the letter.
O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri cave containing Native American artwork from more than 1,000 years ago was sold at auction Tuesday, disappointing leaders of the Osage Nation who hoped to buy the land to "protect and preserve our most sacred site.''
A bidder agreed to pay $2.2 million to private owners for what's known as "Picture Cave," along with the 43 hilly acres that surround it near the town of Warrenton, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of St. Louis.
Bryan Laughlin, director of Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers, the St. Louis-based firm handling the auction, said the winning bidder declined to be named. A St. Louis family that's owned the land since 1953 has mainly used it for hunting.
The cave was the site of sacred rituals and burying of the dead. It also has more than 290 prehistoric glyphs, or hieroglyphic symbols used to represent sounds or meanings, "making it the largest collection of indigenous people's polychrome paintings in Missouri,`` according to the auction website.
That's exactly why Carol Diaz-Granados opposed the sale. She and her husband, James Duncan, spent 20 years researching the cave and wrote a book about it. Duncan is a scholar in Osage oral history, and Diaz-Granados is a research associate in the anthropology department at Washington University in St. Louis.
“”Auctioning off a sacred American Indian site truly sends the wrong message,'' Diaz-Granados said. “It's like auctioning off the Sistine Chapel.”
The Osage Nation, in a statement, called the sale “truly heartbreaking.''
“”Our ancestors lived in this area for 1300 years,'' the statement read. “This was our land. We have hundreds of thousands of our ancestors buried throughout Missouri and Illinois, including Picture Cave.''
The cave features drawings of people, animals, birds and mythical creatures. Diaz-Granados said various means were used to create the art. Charred botanical material was used to draw. For one depiction of a mythical being, the artist created a white figure by scraping off the brown sandstone.
Diaz-Granados said the intricate details set the Missouri cave apart from other sites with ancient drawings.
“You get stick figures in other rock art sites, or maybe one little feather on the top of the head, or a figure holding a weapon,'' she said. "But in Picture Cave you get actual clothing details, headdress details, feathers, weapons. It's truly amazing.''
Years ago, analytical chemists from Texas A&M used pigment samples to determine the drawings were at least 1,000 years old.
The cave has other history, too, Laughlin said. European explorers visited in the 1700s and wrote the ship captain's name and names of some crew members on the walls. It's also the year-round home to endangered Indiana gray bats.
Laughlin said there are plenty of reasons to believe the cave will remain both protected and respected. For one, he said, Selkirk vetted potential buyers.
Then there's the law.
Missouri Revised Statute 194.410 states that any person or entity that "knowingly disturbs, destroys, vandalizes, or damages a marked or unmarked human burial site commits a class D felony.'' The statute also makes it a felony to profit from cultural items obtained from the site.
Finally, there's the location.
“You can't take a vehicle and just drive up to the cave. You have to actually trek through the woods to higher ground and go through a 3-foot-by-3-foot opening that's secured by the Missouri Historical Society with steel bars,” Laughlin said.
Diaz-Granados is holding out hope that the new owner will donate it to the Osage Nation.
“That's their cave,'' she said. “That's their sacred shrine, and it should go back to them.''
WASHINGTON (AP) — About a third of the female service members in the Air Force and Space Force say they've experienced sexual harassment and many can describe accounts of sexism and a stigma associated with pregnancy and maternity leave, a study released Thursday has found.
The review, done by the Air Force inspector general, also concluded that minorities and women are underrepresented in leadership and officer positions, particularly at the senior levels, and get promoted less frequently. It echoed many of the findings of an initial review, released last December, which found that Black service members in the Air Force are far more likely to be investigated, arrested, face disciplinary actions and be discharged for misconduct.
The two reviews into racial, ethnic and gender disparities across the Air Force and Space Force broadly confirm that biases exist, but the data does not fully explain why. The studies also reflect broader campaigns within the Defense Department and the Biden administration to root out extremism and racism.
President Joe Biden has declared domestic extremism an urgent national security threat and the Defense Department is working to identify extremist behavior and eliminate it from the force. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, earlier this year, ordered military leaders to spend a day talking to their troops about extremism in the ranks, after a number of former and current military members took part in the assault on the U.S. Capitol in January.
In addition, the Defense Department late last year endorsed a slate of initiatives to more aggressively recruit, retain and promote a more racially and ethnically diverse force.
“There are a lot of disparities within the Air Force,'' said Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall in a call with reporters. “This includes things like promotions, how people are treated in their careers, how they're treated in assignments, other areas under the judicial system, if you will, and also about perceptions that people have.”
In the latest study, about half of all female respondents said maintaining work/life balance and taking care of family commitments adversely affect them, while only 18% of men responding to the survey shared that view.
It also found that about 25% of female Air Force and Space Force civilians said they had experienced sexual harassment during their careers. And it said some women across the force didn't trust their chain of command to address the bad behavior, and feared retribution.
Women and minorities also said they believe they have to work harder to prove their competency.
While the first study looked at disparities for Black service members, the latest one involved women, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latino personnel in active duty, the National Guard, Reserves and civilian workforce.
As a result, the report said, thousands of female and minority Air and Space Force members reported instances of bias, discrimination and sexual harassment that contribute to the racial, ethnic and gender disparities laid out in the document.
Lt. Gen. Sami Said, the inspector general, told reporters that some of the largest gaps are in operational jobs, which include pilots and other combat-related posts. As an example, in 2020, nearly 84% of the pilots in the active duty Air Force were white., and more than 92% were male. In contrast, 7.7% were female, 3% were Hispanic/Latino, 2.7% were Asian American, 2% were Black, 0.5% were Native American and 0.3% were Pacific Islander.
The problem, according to Said, starts with recruiting. A common theme in surveys and group discussions, he said, was that women and minorities believe there is a “lack of people that look like us that can mentor us and advise us.''
Because they aren't brought in to key operational jobs at decent rates, they are at a disadvantage when competing with others for promotions and better jobs.
In addition, the report found that Native Americans were 113% more likely to face a court-martial than their White peers, and that they and Hispanic/Latino Air Force members were 33% more likely to face criminal investigations.
The second report released Thursday laid out some of the ongoing efforts to address shortfalls found in the December review on bias against Blacks. It also found they were less likely to be promoted and that one-third believed they don't get the same opportunities as their white peers.
It said the Air Force is working to increase diversity awareness among recruiters and expand partnerships with institutions that have large minority populations to beef up recruiting. That effort would include directing more minorities to key career fields that have a greater opportunity for advancement.
The Air Force also has set up new policies to track administrative actions based on age, rank, gender and race, and it recommended more training for commanders and other key leaders on unconscious bias.
Said told reporters that he is “100% convinced'' that senior leaders are focused on the diversity issue.
“It's not a shiny object of the moment that fades,'' he said.
More than 100,500 individuals participated in the anonymous survey for the latest gender and minority study. The participants also turned in more than 16,900 single-spaced pages of other comments and were involved in 122 small-group discussions.