BACK TO THE WEST | Search for remains of Tulsa massacre victims reveals 21 coffins | New
21 new coffins found in search of Tulsa massacre victims
The search for the remains of victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 uncovered 21 additional coffins in unmarked graves in the city’s Oaklawn Cemetery, officials said.
Seventeen adult-sized graves have been located, an Oklahoma official said Oct. 31. Additionally, the city announced that four graves, two adult-sized and two child-sized, had been discovered.
The coffins, and then the remains, will be examined to see if they match reports from 1921 that the victims were men buried in plain coffins.
A white mob had targeted blacks during the massacre, in which more than 1,000 homes were burned, hundreds were looted and a thriving business district known as Black Wall Street was destroyed. Historians have estimated the death toll at between 75 and 300.
Rumors have persisted for decades about unnamed mass graves, but previous searches have found no remains.
The current search began in 2020 in areas identified by ground-penetrating radar as possibly containing coffins and resumed last year, with nearly three dozen coffins found.
Fourteen sets of remains exhumed from these coffins were selected for DNA testing, and two had enough DNA to begin sequencing and begin developing a genealogical profile.
The massacre wiped out generational wealth and the victims were never compensated, but an ongoing lawsuit seeks reparations for the three remaining known survivors. They are now over 100 years old.
City passes ordinance to block abortion clinics
HOBBS — Commissioners in a southeastern New Mexico town have passed an ordinance to stop abortion clinics from operating, though the procedure remains legal in New Mexico.
The all-male city commission voted 7-0 on Nov. 7 for the so-called “sanctuary city for unborn children” ordinance, the Hobbs News-Sun reported.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who won re-election Nov. 8, has come out as a strong advocate for access to abortion procedures. In a statement released after the vote, she said the ordinance was “an affront to the rights and personal autonomy of every woman in Hobbs and southeastern New Mexico and we will not tolerate it.”
Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said abortion procedures are legal throughout New Mexico and health care providers have every right to establish a practice.
In June, she signed an executive order prohibiting cooperation with other states that might interfere with abortion access in New Mexico, refusing to execute any future arrest warrants from other states related to the provisions anti-abortion. The order also prohibited most New Mexico state employees from helping other states investigate or seek sanctions against local abortion providers.
She followed in August with another executive order that pledged $10 million to build a clinic that would provide abortions and other pregnancy care in southern New Mexico.
Last year, New Mexico’s Democratic-led legislature passed a measure to repeal a dormant 1969 law that banned most abortion procedures.
New Mexico will likely continue to see a steady influx of people seeking abortions from neighboring states with more restrictive laws. It already sees patients from Texas and Oklahoma, where strict abortion bans were passed earlier this year.
Albuquerque set to settle $17 million lawsuit
ALBUQUERQUE — Hundreds of city workers are expecting back payments from the city of Albuquerque to close a pay gap that dates back years.
KOB-TV reported that a judge is expected to approve the $17 million settlement the city has agreed to pay to cover the claims of more than 430 workers.
The hearing for the judge to give his approval is scheduled for November 17.
Lawyers expect each woman to receive between a few hundred dollars and $100,000. Some had claims dating back a decade.
In the class action lawsuit, the female employees allege the city pays $3 to $6 less per hour than their male counterparts. They say the pay disparity occurs between jobs, from bus drivers to city office staff.
Under the agreement, they will also receive a pay rise and changes to pension benefits.
Meanwhile, the city agreeing to settle does not mean admitting illegal conduct. Officials said in a statement that the city is committed to closing the gender pay gap and “ensuring a legal compensation structure.”
Buu Nygren wins the presidential election and defeats the incumbent
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Buu Nygren ousted Jonathan Nez as president of the Navajo Nation, a position that wields national influence due to the size of the tribe’s reservation in the Southwestern United States and of its huge population.
Nygren beat Nez in the nonpartisan race with a message of meeting basic Navajo needs and expressing frustration with the pace of tribal government and infrastructure projects. He acknowledged that hard work lies ahead of us.
Nygren’s victory, along with her running mate Richelle Montoya, means the Navajo Nation will have a woman in the office of president and vice president for the first time.
Nygren, 35, positioned himself as the candidate for change and as someone who could get the ball rolling on long-awaited projects. He has a background in construction management but has never held political office.
The Navajo Nation’s population of 400,000 is second only to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. It also has by far the largest land base of any tribe at 27,000 square miles spanning parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
Nygren pledged to work more closely with the Navajo Nation Council which is often seen as more powerful than the tribal presidency. Nygren is married to Arizona State Representative Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren.
The tribe has long relied on revenues from the coal industry to fund its government, but these revenues have declined as coal-fired power plants and mines have closed. While the Navajo Nation owns a stake in a coal-fired power plant and a few coal mines, it strives to develop renewable energy sources.
Tourism also helps fuel the economy of the Navajo Nation. The towering rock formations of Shiprock, Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly are international attractions for tourists, as is the story of the famous Navajo Code Talkers who developed a World War II code that the Japanese never cracked.
County voters embrace 1-cent tax in convincing fashion
Natrona County’s 1-cent tax passed with 67% support on Nov. 8, despite concerns that growing anti-tax sentiment could jeopardize the longtime local revenue producer.
The tax — which helps subsidize utilities, pay for street maintenance, emergency services and more — adds another penny to Wyoming’s 4% sales tax.
In other words, you are taxed an additional 5 cents for most things you buy in Natrona County. Four pennies go to the state and one remains to the county. (However, the 1-cent tax does not apply to groceries and other tax-exempt products.)
The tax costs the average Natrona County family about $170 a year, according to an analysis by the City of Casper. It has existed since 1974 and is renewed every four years.
Local leaders anticipated greater opposition to the tax this election.
Casper would lose about $16 million a year without the tax.
Most of Casper’s 1 cent money is spent on street repairs, water and sewer costs, and as police and fire equipment. The city council’s four-year budget proposal says Casper will continue to prioritize that spending.
Tax money also goes toward grants for local nonprofit organizations.
Small towns rely on the 1-cent tax to cover even more essential expenses, like their payroll.
Evansville would have about $750,000 a year without the 1-cent tax, or about 15% of its annual budget.