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Opinion: Native nations controlling destinies

"Around the West, Native American nations are recapturing control over their lives, communities, tribal lands and heritage. Examples of this trend include:

The Southern Utes in southwest Colorado are trying to save their culture and language from extinction, while equipping their children with the education necessary to succeed in today's world. They have established the Southern Ute Academy, reacting to what the mother of one student argued: "When you lose your language, you lose yourself."

The Taos Pueblo in northern New Mexico has fought long and hard to recover Blue Lake, considered the source of their creation and essential to the very identity of the Taos Pueblo people. After 64 years, the lake and surrounding land are now available exclusively for tribal use.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana petitioned to regain control over the bison range intricately tied to their culture, finally reaching an agreement with federal agencies to have significant management responsibilities for the National Bison Range. Fred Matt, tribal chairman, says, 'The tribes' presence on the Bison Range is something everyone will benefit from. We owe this to our ancestors.'"

Get the Story:
Walter Hecox and Rebecca Schild: Western tribes recapturing control over lives (The Denver Post 6/19)

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