Saturday

In a stunning blow to Oklahoma’s state government, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that much of eastern Oklahoma is located on an Indian reservation.

The opinion was also an acknowledgment by the nation’s highest court that the U.S. government has, time and time again, broken promises to Indian tribes. The Supreme Court’s opinion means that at least for the matter of this land, the government must keep its commitment.

“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.

“While there can be no question that Congress established a reservation for the Creek Nation, it’s equally clear that Congress has since broken more than a few of its promises to the Tribe,” he wrote. “Not least, the land described in the parties’ treaties, once undivided and held by the Tribe, is now fractured into pieces.”

The Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole and Chickasaw Nations — which make up the Five Civilized Tribes — were hoping for a ruling that would uphold their sovereignty and the status of their lands as reservations, which currently make up around 19 million acres and nearly the entire eastern half of Oklahoma, including much of Tulsa.

“The Supreme Court reaffirmed today that when the United States makes promises, the courts will keep those promises,” Ian Heath Gershengorn, who argued a related case before the Supreme Court, said in a statement. “Congress persuaded the Creek Nation to walk the Trail of Tears with promises of a reservation — and the Court today correctly recognized that this reservation endures.”


The tribes and the state of Oklahoma have been waiting on a decision on the matter for years.

In a joint statement, the Five Tribes of Oklahoma - Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole and Muscogee Nation - welcomed the ruling.

They pledged to work with federal and state authorities to agree shared jurisdiction over the land.

"The Nations and the state are committed to implementing a framework of shared jurisdiction that will preserve sovereign interests and rights to self-government while affirming jurisdictional understandings, procedures, laws and regulations that support public safety, our economy and private property rights," the statement said.
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Friday

A family of boaters saved a young bear they spotted swimming with a large plastic jar stuck on his head.

Tricia Hurt and her family were fishing on Marsh-Miller Lake in Wisconsin when they spotted the bear with the bin over his head. The bear had been spotted on land by locals for several days in a row, but now the bear was swimming in the middle of the lake and struggling to survive.

Not only was the bear was in danger of drowning as the container was slowly filling with water, but it was struggling to breathe.

Tricia instructed her son, Brady, to steer the boat close to the animal while her husband, Brian, attempted to pull the bin off the bear’s head.

Brian told KARE 11 that he could hear the bear struggling to breathe. He wasn’t able to pull the jar off in their first attempt because the plastic was too slippery.

They tried again as the exhausted and frightened bear swam away from their boat. Tricia directed Brady to get in front of the bear but makes sure to voice her concern that the bear not end up in the boat!


After several attempts, Brian successfully pulls the plastic container off of the bear’s head much to everyone’s relief. Tricia happily tells the bear to, “Swim happy.”

Brian said the bear immediately could breathe more easily when the bin was removed. And Tricia shared on Facebook that she “Never dreamt we would ever do this in our life time,” and added, “He made it to shore after all that.”


The container stuck on the bear’s head was a large bulk Cheesies container and illustrates just how deadly plastic garbage can be for wild animals. For the safety of all animals please make sure to dispose of your garbage properly.
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Thursday

A well-known South African game hunter died after an elephant ravaged by gunshots collapsed on him at a Zimbabwe animal reserve on Friday, according to local authorities.

While on a 10-day hunting expedition with several clients, 51-year-old big game hunter Theunis Botha "unknowingly" came across a herd of breeding elephants near the Hwange National Park, park spokesman Simukai Nyasha told the Associated Press.

Botha’s group spooked the herd and three elephant cows immediately charged at them — prompting Botha to open fire on the animals, according to South Africa’s News24.

A fourth cow stormed at the group from the side, lifting Botha up with its trunk. One of the members of the group fired shots at the elephant causing the animal to collapse on Botha, crushing him to death.

Zimbabwe Parks did not immediately return requests for comment by NBC News.

Botha and his wife, Carike, ran Theunis Botha Big Safari’s since 1983 with private hunting ranches in South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, according to the company’s website.


Botha touted his perfection of “traditional European Style Driven Monteria hunts in South Africa,” which uses “hounds” to round up big game for hunter clients.

His first client was a Montana man who came to South Africa to hunt a leopard, and Botha prided himself that the man “got his cat," according to the company's website.

The company did not return requests for comment by NBC News.

Botha's wife is expected to go Zimbabwe on Monday to identify her husband’s body and return him to South Africa for funeral services, according to the News24. He is survived by five children.

Botha's death garnered a large share of negative comments on social media from many who are opposed to big game hunting.
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Monday

Owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) must halt operations while the government conducts a full-fledged analysis examining the risk DAPL poses to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a federal judge ruled today.

The court decision delivered a hard-fought victory to the Tribe, which has been engaged in a high-profile struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline since 2016.

The ruling ordering a shutdown of DAPL marks the final word of a March 25 decision by the same judge. That ruling found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and glossed over the devastating consequences of a potential oil spill when it affirmed its 2016 decision to permit the pipeline. The court ordered the Corps to re-examine the risks of the pipeline and prepare a full environmental impact statement, but left open the question as to whether pipeline operations would be halted as a legal remedy pending further briefing. After carefully analyzing the seriousness of the government’s legal violations, and the potential impacts on the Tribe and third parties, today’s decision concluded that shutting down the pipeline was necessary.

The shutdown will remain in place pending completion of a full environmental review, which normally takes several years, and the issuance of new permits. It may be up to a new administration to make final permitting decisions.

“Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” said Chairman Mike Faith of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”

“It took four long years, but today justice has been served at Standing Rock,” said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who represents the Tribe. “If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s that health and justice must be prioritized early on in any decision-making process if we want to avoid a crisis later on.”


In December of 2016, the Obama administration denied permits for DAPL to cross the Missouri River, and ordered a full environmental impact statement to analyze alternative pipeline routes and impacts on the Tribe’s treaty rights. Yet on his second day in office, Trump reversed that order, directing that permits be issued. Pipeline construction was completed by June of 2017.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe challenged the permits in court and won. The court ruled then that the environmental analysis had been insufficient because it failed to account for consequences facing the Tribe, and ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to redo it. However, the judge declined to shut down the pipeline in the interim.


The Army Corps then redid its environmental analysis, but shut the Tribe out of the review process, and concluded that its previous analysis had been sufficient and that nothing needed to change. In response, the Tribe, represented by Earthjustice, went back to court. In a motion for summary judgment filed last August, the Tribe asked the Court to shut down the pipeline, and order the Corps to conduct a full environmental analysis. The Court granted the Tribe’s request in a March 25, 2020 ruling, yet left open the question as to shutting down the pipeline in the interim.


The massive 2016 gathering of Tribes and allies defending Standing Rock Sioux territory from DAPL captured the world’s attention and attracted international media coverage. It helped give rise to a global movement of indigenous resistance to fossil-fuel infrastructure projects.
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Sunday

Skywatchers in most of the United States have the chance to see a Fourth of July lunar eclipse tonight. But the minor Independence Day eclipse will be difficult to spot and observers shouldn't expect mind-blowing views of the moon in Earth's shadow..

The July full moon will pass into the lightest part of the shadow of the Earth, which is called the penumbra. The penumbral lunar eclipse will thus see the moon's surface darken very slightly. But even if you can't see the eclipse that well, the moon is always a fun observing target.

The eclipse will start on tonight at 11:08 p.m. EDT (0308 GMT Sunday, July 5) and end on Sunday at 1:53 a.m. EDT (0553 GMT), according to In-the-Sky.org. At most, depending on your location, 35 percent of the visible moon will pass into the light shadow of the Earth. The reduced surface eclipse will make it even harder for amateurs to see the light eclipse unless you have good photographic equipment.

The eclipse will start just 14 minutes before the full moon, called the Buck Moon or the Thunder Moon, according to NASA's SkyCal. The moon will also be within a few degrees of Jupiter, and Mars will be visible in some regions in the constellation Pisces, said Rao. A little less than 14 hours after the eclipse ends on Sunday, the moon and Jupiter will be conjunction at 5:38 p.m. EDT (2138 GMT), shining less than two degrees apart in Earth's sky.

Most of the United States will see the eclipse, with some regions viewing the moon at the apex of its path across the sky and out of the range of the worst of light pollution. Alaska is excluded, however, and those in western parts of the southern 49 states will only see part of the show. Regions seeing at least part of the eclipse around the world include South/West Europe, much of Africa, much of North America, South America, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and Antarctica.

July's full moon has also been called the Full Thunder Moon and the Full Hay Moon, as July is considered to be the season with the most frequent thunderstorms and the time of year when farmers harvest, bale and stow hay for the upcoming winter.


July Moon names from different cultures Raptor Moon (Hopi). Smoky Moon (Maidu). Ripe Moon (San Juan). Crane Moon (Choctaw). Claiming Moon (Celtic). Rose Moon (Neo Pagan). Peaches Moon (Natchez). Ducks Moult Moon (Cree). Ripening Moon (Mohawk). Grass Cutter Moon (Abernaki). Buffalo Bellow Moon (Omaha). Hungry Ghost Moon (Chinese). Ripe Squash Moon (Algonquin). Raspberry Moon (Anishnaabe). Salmon River moon (Wishram). Mead Moon (Medieval English). Middle Summer Moon (Ponca). Middle Summer Moon (Dakota). Red Berries moon (Assiniboine).


Young Corn Moon (Potawatomi). Buffalo Bellows Moon (Arapaho). Wild Red Cherries Moon (Sioux). Corn Popping moon (Winnebago). Ripening Moon (Passamaquoddy). Horse Moon, Ripe Moon (Apache). Summer Moon (Colonial American). Dropping Deer Horns Moon (Kiowa). Ripe Corn Moon, Hay Moon (Cherokee). Sun House Moon (Taos Native American). Claiming moon (Full Janic), Blessing Moon (Dark Janic). Little Harvest Moon, Blackberry Moon, Little Ripening Moon (Creek). Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Summer Moon (Algonquin).

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