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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Black Hills Visitor Center under new joint tribal, federal oversight

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Thursday, June 20, 2024   

The Black Hills National Forest is one of the latest federal lands to enter a co-stewardship agreement with local tribal nations-a management model encouraged by the Biden administration.

The Pactola / Ȟe Sápa Visitor Center sits on the south end of the Pactola Dam, along the 1.2 million acres making up the Black Hills. A ceremony held this month honored a new memorandum of understanding for co-stewardship of the center, bringing together local tribal nations and the U.S. Forest Service to jointly administer the site.

About 80 similar agreements were made after a 2021 federal order, according to the Interior Department.

Ada Montague, staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, said the agreements are opportunities to make good on federal treaty promises; ongoing legal obligations the U.S. government has toward tribal nations.

"There's often a difficult history to reconcile with," Montague acknowledged. "That's usually a big first challenge. But when there are engaged folks on both sides who want to see something go forward, then typically the difficulties are more technical."

The technical challenges may be around the structure and terms of agreement, Montague pointed out, but there are increasingly more models for them, including a sovereign-to-sovereign cooperative agreements online resource launched by The University of Washington Law Library in March.

Tribes involved in the Black Hills agreement include the Cheyenne River, Standing Rock, Oglala, Rosebud and Crow Creek Sioux Tribes.

Weston Jones, who is Oglala Lakota and a summer law clerk for the Native American Rights Fund, said co-stewardship of the visitor center allows tribes to teach the public.

"They can share stories, they can share plant knowledge, animal knowledge, watershed knowledge and all the natural resource knowledge and pass that to their next generation," Jones noted.

The Forest Service said the center averages about 40,000 visitors a year.


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