HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Three more conservation groups are suing to restore federal protections to grizzly bears living in and around Yellowstone National Park.
The complaint filed Wednesday by Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Western Watersheds Project and Native Ecosystems Council brings the total number of lawsuits to at least five opposed to the U.S. government's decision to remove grizzlies from the threatened species list.
Most include similar claims that the 700 Yellowstone bears are still threatened because climate change has made traditional food sources scarce and because of increasing conflicts with humans.
One challenge filed by Native Americans from seven states and Canada says hunting bears goes against their religious and spiritual beliefs.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the Yellowstone grizzly population has recovered and turned management of the species over to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will receive a $4.9 million grant for a tribal veterans cemetery near Fort Yates.
The money comes from the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.
The 8-acres site to be known as the All Nations Veterans Cemetery is intended to serve more than 2,200 Native American veterans and their families.
U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp says Native Americans serve in the armed forces at a higher rate than any other ethnic group.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — The Cherokee Nation has started processing tribal citizen applications for the descendants of black slaves once owned by tribal members.
A federal court in Washington, D.C., ended a longstanding fight last week by ruling that descendants of the slaves, known as freedmen, have the right to tribal citizenship. About 3,000 applications had been on hold amid the legal dispute.
The tribe has begun processing those applications, and its registration office near Tahlequah, Oklahoma, received about 75 visits and a “couple hundred'' phone calls after the ruling, tribal spokeswoman Amanda Clinton told the Tulsa World .
Freedmen have long argued that the Treaty of 1866, signed between the U.S. government and the Oklahoma-based Cherokees, gave them and their descendants “all the rights of native Cherokees.'' Some tribal members argued that freedmen shouldn't be considered members unless they could show proof of Native American blood.
Last week's ruling ended a legal dispute that began in 2003. It gave Cherokee freedmen all the rights of a tribal citizen, including the ability to run for office, vote in elections and receive benefits, such as access to tribal health care and housing.
“We're happy and relieved this longstanding case is finally resolved, and now we are moving forward processing applications as quickly as possible,'' Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree said in a statement.
While the ruling directly affects the citizenship status of more than 2,800 Cherokee Freedmen, an attorney for the group, John Velie, has said there could be as many as 25,000 people who could now be eligible to apply for citizenship.
The Cherokee Nation is the second largest tribe in the U.S., with more than 317,000 citizens.