On Tuesday the Trump administration offered more than 150,000 acres of public lands for fossil-fuel extraction near some of Utah's most iconic landscapes, including Arches and Canyonlands national parks

Dozens of Utahns gathered at the state Capitol to protest the lease sale, which included lands within 10 miles of internationally known protected areas. In addition to Arches and Canyonlands, the Bureau of Land Management leased public lands for fracking near Bears Ears, Canyons of the Ancients and Hovenweep national monuments and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

"Utahns have demonstrated their commitment to transition away from dirty fossil fuels through clean energy resolutions passed in municipalities across our state. Yet, these commitments continue to be undermined by rampant oil and gas lease sales, which threaten our public health, public lands, and economy. While Utah's recreational and tourism economies continue to flourish, these attempts to develop sacred cultural, environmental, and recreational spaces for dirty fuels remain a grave and growing threat." said Ashley Soltysiak, director of the Utah Sierra Club. "Utah is our home and the reckless sale of our public lands with limited public engagement is simply unacceptable and short-sighted."

Fracking in these areas threatens sensitive plants and animals, including the black-footed ferret, Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker and Graham's beardtongue. It also will worsen air pollution problems in the Uinta Basin and use tremendous amounts of groundwater. Utah just experienced its driest year in recorded history.

"This is a reckless fire sale of spectacular public lands for dirty drilling and fracking," said Ryan Beam, a public lands campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. "These red-rock wonderlands are some of the West's most iconic landscapes, and we can't afford to lose a single acre. Fracking here will waste precious water, foul the air and destroy beautiful wild places that should be held in trust for generations to come."

This lease sale is part of a larger agenda by Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to ramp up fossil fuel extraction on public lands, threatening wildlife, public health and the climate. This year the BLM has offered more than 420,000 acres of public land in Utah for oil and gas extraction. The agency plans to auction another 215,000 acres in March. The Trump administration also has issued new policies, which are being challenged in court, to shorten public-comment periods and avoid substantive environmental reviews.

"BLM's shortsighted decision threatens Utah's red rock wilderness as well as significant cultural and archaeological resources," said Landon Newell, staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. "BLM's 'lease everything, lease everywhere' approach to oil and gas development needlessly threatens iconic red-rock landscapes and irreplaceable cultural history in the ill-conceived push for 'energy dominance.'"

Fracking destroys public lands and wildlife habitat with networks of fracking wells, compressor stations, pipelines and roads. Injecting toxic wastewater into the ground pollutes rivers and groundwater and causes earthquakes that damage infrastructure and property. Oil industry activities also pollute the air with dangerous toxins linked to human illness and death. The federal government's own report shows that oil and gas production on public land contributes significantly to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.


This adorable set of pictures shows a pride of lions cuddling up for a family photo at a wildlife park in South Africa.

In one of the cute images the largest male lion is lying with his eyes closed while a female and another male rub their faces against him and a younger animal climbs on top.

Meanwhile in another picture the animals strike a more menacing pose with the leading male baring his teeth while the female gazes watchfully ahead.

Jihad Adnan, the Lebanese photographer who took the pictures, said he was expecting the big cats to fight but was delighted by the heartwarming display he saw.

The 37-year-old, who has been a nature photographer since 1999, snapped the images at a lion park in Johannesburg, saying: 'I saw the lions getting close to each other so I thought they would fight.

'But suddenly, after the lioness came with her cub, they started licking each other. I felt the love between them - the lion in the middle is the one saving this family.'

The lion lives in groups of related individuals with their offspring. Such a group is called a "pride". Groups of male lions are called "coalitions". Females form the stable social unit in a pride and do not tolerate outside females. Membership only changes with the births and deaths of lionesses, although some females leave and become nomadic.

The average pride consists of around 15 lions, including several adult females and up to four males and their cubs of both sexes. Large prides, consisting of up to 30 individuals, have been observed. The sole exception to this pattern is the Tsavo lion pride that always has just one adult male. Male cubs are excluded from their maternal pride when they reach maturity at around two or three years of age.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) has announced more than $5 million in donations to 11 tribes and 13 nonprofits in Minnesota and across the United States.

The SMSC grants will support a variety of projects, including the new Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., a playground at a Northern Minnesota reservation, and the restoration of historical structures, among other projects.

Recipients include:

Ain Dah Yung Center (MN) – $100,000 to sponsor four units of supportive housing in the Mino Oshki Ain Dah Yung

American Indian College Fund (CO) – $100,000 contribution to the Sovereign Nations Scholarship Endowment Fund

American Indian Graduate Center (NM) – $100,000 to start an endowment for Native American graduate students

A:Shiwi College and Career Readiness Center (NM) – $120,000 matching grant for construction of a modular building

Bemidji Community Arts Council (MN) – $25,000 grant for Miikanan Gallery renovations
Blackfeet Community College (MT) – $55,000 to upgrade simulators and computers
Minnesota Zoo Foundation (MN) – $30,000 grant for buffalo exhibit
Northwest Indian College (WA) – $200,000 contribution to its capital campaign
Ogema Area Firemen’s Association (MN) – $60,000 matching grant to purchase firefighting equipment
Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority (NM) – $200,000 grant for restoring historical housing structures
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska (NE) – $150,000 grant for closing costs on land purchase
Red Lake Band of Chippewa (MN) – $200,000 grant for affordable housing, with an additional $300,000 pledged for fiscal year 2019
Santee Sioux Nation (NE) – $500,000 grant
Sisseton Wahpeton College (SD) – $200,000 grant for new fire sprinkler system for student dorms
Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Language Institute (SD) – $100,000 grant for Dakota language curriculum development and documentation
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian(Washington, D.C.) – $500,000 grant for the Native American Veterans Memorial, with an additional $500,000 pledged for fiscal year 2019
Solen Public School District (ND) – $180,000 matching grant for Cannonball Elementary School
Spirit Lake Tribe (ND) – $500,000 grant
Standing Rock Institute of Natural History (ND) – $75,000 for roof repair and equipment
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SD) – $300,000 for the Child Support Office Building and the Rock Creek District Cattle Operation
White Earth Reservation Housing Authority (MN) – $75,000 grant to purchase and install 20 new furnaces
White Earth Nation (MN) – $50,000 grant for the Mahnomen Head Start playground
Wind River Family & Community Health (WY) – $200,000 for health and dental equipment
Yankton Sioux Tribe (SD)– $100,000 grant for Yankton Sioux Housing Authority to rehabilitate houses

“Our tribe is guided by the Dakota tradition of sharing our resources for the greater good,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “We’re proud to support meaningful projects like these that will benefit Native American communities here in Minnesota and across the country.”

The SMSC has donated more than $350 million to organizations and causes in the past 25 years and is the single-largest philanthropic benefactor for Indian Country nationally.

Native American students at Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) have been fighting a battle with the district for some time now.

They want to be allowed to wear their regalia proudly for graduation, but not all TUSD schools allow it. Regalia is clothing and ornaments worn at formal occasions. It is a sacred part of Native American culture. Pueblo High School senior, Lourdes Pereira, wants to be allowed to wear her regalia when she graduates in May.

“It’s who we are. It’s part of our heritage,” said Pereira. “We wear our regalia for ceremony events. You kind of earn it along the way. You get your shell necklace, you get your bracelet, and certain tribes have different meanings for their regalia and it’s an honor to have it.”

TUSD says right now some schools allow it and some do not. Tuesday, the TUSD board will discuss a district-wide policy that will allow every student across TUSD to wear their regalia at graduation.

“TUSD is always promoting diversity and telling their students to reach for the stars and their always trying to be there for their students, but then something like this happens and it makes you question why they are overlooking their Native American students,” Pereira said.

Madeline Jeans is also a part of the Tucson Native Youth Council. She graduated last year and was able to get special permission to wear her regalia, but she said other Native students had to hide it.

“They have significance to them,” said Jeans. “They’re not just decorations, they’re sacred adornments and religious items.” The TUSD board is set to vote on the policy Tuesday. The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. at Duffy Elementary School. “I hope they pass it,” said Jeans. “I really want them to vote yes. This has been something I’ve been trying to work on since I was a senior and something I’ve been talking about since I was a sophomore.”


During the premiere for his new movie, Aquaman, Momoa performed the haka (an ancient ceremonial dance of the Māori) alongside his children and local New Zealanders he met while filming the movie.

He's one of Hollywood's fastest rising stars and stands tall at 6ft 5" inches tall. And Jason Momoa, 39, was the star attraction at the Aquaman premiere where he broke into a performance of the haka with his children on the red carpet at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood on Wednesday.

The Game Of Thrones star commanded attention at the premiere when he arrived carrying a golden trident which he snapped across his knee, ferociously.

Jason was quickly joined by a large group, including his children Lola, 11, and Nakoa-Wolf, nine, who also took part in the Maori ceremonial dance of New Zealand.

Jason, from Hawaii, has long been a fan of the New Zealand All Blacks and looked right at home alongside New Zealand's Temuera Morrison who plays Aquaman's father in the film.

The haka is a ceremonial dance or challenge in Māori culture. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment. Although commonly associated with the traditional battle preparations of male warriors, haka have been performed by both men and women, and several varieties of the dance fulfil social functions within Māori culture. Haka are performed to welcome distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions.

Jackson and Hokowhitu state, "haka is the generic name for all types of dance or ceremonial performance that involve movement." The various types of haka include whakatū waewae, tūtū ngārahu and peruperu. The tūtū ngārahu involves jumping from side to side, while in the whakatū waewae no jumping occurs. Another kind of haka performed without weapons is the ngeri, the purpose of which was to motivate a warrior psychologically. The movements are very free, and each performer is expected to be expressive of their feelings. Like the ngeri they were performed without weapons, and there was little or no choreographed movement.