Idaho Students Get 700 Free Copies of Challenged Sherman Alexie Book

source: instagram.com/rediscoveredbooksHigh school junior Brady Kissel holding a copy of Sherman Alexie's 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

source: instagram.com/rediscoveredbooks
High school junior Brady Kissel holding a copy of Sherman Alexie’s ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

 

Indian Country Today Media Network

 

When it comes to banning books, it’s the same old story — tell someone they can’t read a text and you’ll just make them seek it out.

In Meridian, Idaho, parents succeeded in getting Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian removed from the curriculum of Mountain View High School. The book, published in 2007, won a National Book Award, but has become a frequent target of parents seeking to sanitize their children’s reading material because of some language and frank discussion of sexuality. In Meridian, some object to the book as anti-Christian as well.

The book is not “banned” per se, but “challenged” — it has been taken off the school reading list, but remains on the school library’s shelves, pending review.

Stacks of Alexie's book, which was handed out for free on World Book Night.
Stacks of Alexie’s book, which was handed out for free on World Book Night.

 

When Sara Baker, a student at the University of Washington, and her friend Jen Lott, learned that the book had been challenged, they decided to get involved. They started a page at GoFundMe.com to raise funds to purchase 350 copies of the book, which they planned to distribute for free to Meridian students. The campaign met its goal, and the books were purchased through Rediscovered Books, a bookstore in Boise. Brady Kissel, a junior  at Mountain View, spearheaded the plan to distribute them, and on the evening of April 23 — World Book Night — over 225 copies were handed out, and the rest went to Rediscovered Books, where they remained available for free.

Today, Rediscovered announced on its Facebook page that it had run out of books — but this isn’t over yet. Alexie’s publisher (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) donated another 350 copies, which are on their way.

Alexie himself weighed in on the matter, writing in a letter to his publisher, “I am honored by the hundreds of Meridian students who showed incredible passion and courage for books. Mine, yes, but literature in general. And Sara Baker and Jennifer Lott are friggin’ superheroes. If I ever get caught in a fire, I’m calling them.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/29/idaho-students-get-700-free-copies-challenged-sherman-alexie-book-154659

Notah Begay III Recovering After Heart Attack, Thanks Doctors and Supporters

AP ImagesIn this April 2011, file photo, professional golfer Notah Begay III talks to students in Albuquerque, N.M., about his mission to combat diabetes among Native American youth. The latest effort on the Navajo Nation, the country's largest reservation, is to use the tax system to spur people to ditch junk food. A proposed 2 percent sales tax on chips, cookies and sodas failed Tuesday, April 22, 2014, in a Tribal Council vote.

AP Images
In this April 2011, file photo, professional golfer Notah Begay III talks to students in Albuquerque, N.M., about his mission to combat diabetes among Native American youth. The latest effort on the Navajo Nation, the country’s largest reservation, is to use the tax system to spur people to ditch junk food. A proposed 2 percent sales tax on chips, cookies and sodas failed Tuesday, April 22, 2014, in a Tribal Council vote.

 

Indian Country Today Media Network

 

Notah Begay III is recovering from a heart attack he suffered on Thursday, April 24, in Dallas, Texas. He is resting comfortably at home with his family and is expected to make a full recovery, according to a statement released by the Notah Begay III Foundation.

Begay was treated at Methodist Hospital, where doctors successfully inserted a stent into a blocked coronary artery.

The four-time PGA Tour winner and Golf Channel analyst is in good spirits and has expressed gratitude to his doctors and many supporters.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support and well wishes and am thankful for the excellent medical care I received,” Begay said. “I look forward to returning to my duties as a golf analyst and to continuing the important work of my Foundation. This experience has reinforced for me the need to urgently address health and wellness issues among Native America youth.”

Begay (Navajo, San Felipe Pueblo and Isleta Pueblo), 41, launched the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F) in 2005 to help reduce incidences of type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity among Native American youth. The nonprofit has increased access to youth sport and health and wellness programs across Indian country.

“This is the first generation of Native American youth that may not outlive their parents due to childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes,” Begay has said. “The epidemic of type 2 diabetes among our people is relative to the devastation that HIV/AIDS has caused in Africa. As Native peoples, we can’t afford to risk our future. We have to invest in the health, well being and leadership development of our Native youth.”

Fans and supporters of Begay and NB3F can send well wishes and prayers for Begay’s speedy recovery via the NB3F Facebook page, facebook.com/notahbegayfoundation, or directly to the Foundation:

The Notah Begay III Foundation
290 Prairie Star Rd.
Santa Ana Pueblo, NM 87004
Email: info@nb3f.org

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/29/notah-begay-iii-recovering-after-heart-attack-thanks-doctors-and-supporters-154661

Boom City Swap Meet open for 2014 summer season

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

bnm_boom city swap meet-8TULALIP – The Boom City Swap Meet opened April 26, for the summer season, giving collectors, treasure seekers, and bargain hunters a chance to explore the emporium of eclectic items every Saturday and Sunday for only $1 vehicle entry fee. The swap meet will be open until mid-June, closing for a brief break for the Boom City Fireworks season, reopening in mid-July until September.

The swap meet features over 200 vendors selling wares, including a cariety of food vendors selling tasty treats where you can enjoy shaved ice, Mexican cuisine and Indian frybread among others.

This year children’s activities will include a large bouncy house and face painting.

Boom City Swap Meet is located at the Tulalip Boom City site behind the Tulalip Resort Casino and open Saturdays and Sundays, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is a family friendly atmosphere. For more information about the Boom City Swap Meet, please visit their website at www.boomcityswapmeet.com.

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

 

 

Grateful drivers line up for Highway 530 bypass road

Mark Mulligan / The HeraldVehicles kick up dust as they travel eastbound on the service road bypass of Highway 530 toward Darrington Tuesday afternoon. Photo taken 20140429

Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Vehicles kick up dust as they travel eastbound on the service road bypass of Highway 530 toward Darrington Tuesday afternoon. Photo taken 20140429

 

By Chris Winters,  The Herald

OSO — The single-lane access road that bypasses the debris field of the Oso mudslide opened Tuesday morning.

It didn’t take long for grateful commuters to line up. State Department of Transportation spokesman Travis Phelps said as many as 60 vehicles at a time queued up to make the trip past the slide zone on the first day.

The access road off Highway 530 is accessible around the clock to local traffic, providing a much-needed lifeline to Darrington.

All trips are escorted through with a pilot car, leaving eastbound at the bottom of the hour and westbound at the top of the hour.

In many ways, it’s like a ferry line for passage to a remote island, with cars queueing up and neighbors getting out to chat to await the signal for the convoy to move forward.

Naomi Lieurance had gone to an appointment in Mount Vernon Tuesday morning with her shi tzu, Harley, via the Highway 20 route.

She had heard about the road opening during the day and was now waiting in line in Oso to return home to Darrington, hoping the new route will improve her access to the rest of the county.

“It’s got to be better than the Mountain Loop Highway,” she said.

She chatted in line with fellow Darrington resident Jake Sowers, who came over the access road earlier in the morning with his wife and was now heading home.

“I didn’t think it was as bad as I thought it was,” Sowers said. Approximately two dozen vehicles, including several logging trucks, made the 1:30 p.m. trip past the slide area to Darrington.

The view along the two-mile access road is not for the faint of heart, however.

The route skirts the edges of the slide zone. Trackhoes and construction vehicles below are dwarfed by a surrounding sea of rolling hillocks of mud and giant piles of broken timber. An American flag hangs from halfway up a denuded tree trunk.

The convoy passes stands of birch trees with new leaves and a pile of mangled cars. Behind it all is the exposed slope of the 650-foot cliff that slammed down into the valley on March 22.

“The horrific magnitude of it doesn’t sink in until you’ve seen it,” said Sowers, who laid eyes on the slide for the first time Tuesday morning.

A former ship’s mate, Sowers said, “I’ve seen some sad things in my life. I once surveyed a sunken ship, and this is right up there with it.”

The unpaved route is steep in places, with the convoy kicking up dust as it creeps over the hills.

According to the transportation department, only local traffic will be able to use the access road, and logging trucks will be able to use the road between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

No vehicles pulling trailers are permitted. The speed limit is a constant 10 miles per hour, and no stopping is permitted along the two-mile route.

The pilot cars and security at the two ends of the road are staffed by contractors hired by the state. Granite Construction Co. of Everett has been awarded a $3.4 million contract to maintain the access road and drive the pilot cars. Another firm, Seattle-based Central Protection, is providing security services.

The route is expected to remain open until at least one lane of Highway 530 is reopened. When that will happen is not immediately known, Phelps said.

Wash. Gov. Inslee Signs Executive Order On State Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions

Ashley Ahearn, KUOW

SHORELINE, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed an executive oder aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The order creates a task force and charges it with deciding how to tax and cap carbon emissions at the state level. The task force will present a plan to the state Legislature at the beginning of 2015.

The executive order also calls on state agencies to work on phasing out coal power, improving energy efficiency in buildings and exploring the impacts of a low carbon fuel standard – among other things

The first-term Democrat surrounded himself with symbols of the green-tech future he’d like to bring about: he signed the document at a table made out of a solar panel with electric cars parked nearby. Along with politicians, the event was witnessed by the next generation of automotive techs looking on at Shoreline Community College’s Automotive Training Center.

“Today I’m signing an executive order that will determine how we reduce carbon pollution in our state because our grandkids won’t care much for our preamble or our speeches,” Inslee said during the event. “They will care about what is true and what we did.”

Inslee stressed the need for buy-in from business leaders in developing the plan.

Ada Healey, a vice president with Vulcan Real Estate Group, will serve on the task force. She said the company’s chairman, billionaire Paul Allen, and CEO Jody Allen are behind the push to address climate change.

“It’s troubling to them, as well as all of us, that we’re still debating whether climate change is a real concern rather than pulling together and deciding what we’re going to do about it,” Healy said.

Instituting a tax or cap on carbon emissions will require the approval of the state Legislature. That’s been hard to get so far.

Last year Inslee convened the bipartisan Climate Legislative and Executive Work Group. It was supposed to pursue the same agenda as that set by the governor for his new task force. But Democrats and Republicans on the work group failed to reach an agreement.

Democratic members of the panel issued a report that recommended many of the same strategies the governor is now pursuing through executive order.

Republicans on the panel issued their own minority report. It recommended incentivizing more hydropower generation in Washington, embracing nuclear power and promoting research and development of new energy technologies. Throughout the CLEW process, the Republicans cautioned that strategies to reduce carbon emissions in Washington could drive up the cost of energy and hurt the state economically.

Olympia environmental attorney Jay Manning was the head of the Department of Ecology from 2005-09 and then served as chief of staff for former Gov. Chris Gregoire. He said Inslee’s experience as a state and federal representative means he knows it will be tough to get a carbon tax or cap through the state Legislature.

“I don’t think anybody thinks it’s going to be easy but that’s how the process works. So I applaud the gov for putting together this process and then there will be a lively debate, without a doubt in the 2015 session,” Manning said.

So far, Washington is not on track to meet emissions reductions goals set by the state Legislature back in 2008.

Inslee’s order calls on his budget office to conduct a feasibility study of a California-style low-carbon or “clean fuel” standard. This is a requirement that transportation fuels like gasoline be blended with lower-carbon ethanol. According to Inslee’s office, transportation accounts for 44-percent of Washington’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

In recent months, Washington Republicans and the oil and gas industry have sounded the alarm about a low-carbon fuel standard, warning it would drive up the cost of a gallon of gasoline. Oregon is currently in the process of writing its own rules for a similar standard.

Washington, with its abundant hydropower, is considered a low greenhouse gas emitting state. In 2010, total emissions were 96.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, according to the state’s consultant. Washington’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is from gasoline burned by cars and trucks. Electricity from coal is the second largest source.

Tulalip TV program explores diabetes in first Tulalip Health Watch episode

Tulalip-Health-Watch-4

Tulalip TV’s Tulalip Health Watch will air this summer and will focus on health issues Native Americans face today.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP, WA – Tulalip TV viewers will soon be able to watch a new informational program called “Tulalip Health Watch,” which focuses on health issues Native Americans face today.

In the program’s first episode, “Diabetes,” the disease is examined through interviews with health professionals at the Tulalip Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic. Viewers will learn the fundamental characteristics of diabetes, along with resources available for testing, prevention, and treatment.

Diabetes affects 57 million Americans, and only 8.3 percent are diagnosed. But more shocking are the epidemic proportions of diabetes in Indian Country with 16.2 percent Native Americans and Alaska Natives diagnosed.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Indian Health Service, Native Americans are at a 2.2 times higher risk than their non-Indian counterparts. Between 1994 and 2004 there was a 68 percent increase in diabetes diagnosis in American Indian and Alaska Native youth, aged 15-19 years old.

In “Diabetes,” viewers will learn how a poor diet, lack of regular exercise, and a genetic pre-disposition are the leading contributing factors for 95 percent of American Indians and Alaska Native with Type 2 diabetes, and 30 percent with THW---Diabetes-BryanCooper-2pre-diabetes.

Viewers will also learn how clinic staff incorporates Tulalip culture and traditions into programs available at the clinic for diabetes education, prevention, and management.

“The providers that we have here are great. The Tribe is putting money into this clinic and our goal is to be here with an open mind and heart, and to be a partner here for them regarding their health needs. We have a collaborative team here that you don’t see at other clinics,” said Bryan Cooper, Tulalip Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic Nurse Practitioner in “Diabetes.”

“Tulalip Health Watch,” will air this summer. Future episodes will explore heart disease, obesity, and other health issues Native Americans face.

You can watch “Tulalip Health Watch” on Tulalip TV at www.tulaliptv.com or on channel 99 on Tulalip Cable.

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Christina Fallin’s band sparks controversy with performance at Norman Music Festival

By Jerry Wofford, Tulsa World

Christina FallinA performance by Christina Fallin, daughter of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, at the Norman Music Festival Saturday drew criticism from many, including the governor herself.

Many interpreted the provocative performance by her band Pink Pony, which included a cape or shawl with the word “sheep” drawn on the back, as offensive to Native Americans. It comes less than two months after Christina Fallin drew criticism from several groups for a photo of her wearing a Native American-style headdress.

“On Saturday night, while performing at the Norman Music Festival, my daughter acted in a way that I believe was inappropriate,” Gov. Fallin said in a statement Monday. “While she will always be my daughter and I love her very much, I don’t approve of her behavior on that night or that of her band. I have communicated that to Christina.

“I have great respect for Oklahoma’s tribal members and I celebrate their traditions and culture. As governor, I work in hand in hand with tribal leaders on everything from disaster response to economic development. Tribal governments are important partners to our state government, and I value the good relationships my administration has cultivated with them.”

Fallin spent most of Monday touring tornado damage in Quapaw, where one person was killed when an EF-2 tornado struck the town Sunday.

The band posted a lengthy statement Monday afternoon saying “nothing about our performance was connected in any way to Native American culture” and apologized to those who were offended.

Christina Fallin’s band, Pink Pony, performed at midnight Saturday and posted earlier in the day on the band’s Facebook page: “I heard Pink Pony was wearing full regalia tonight.” The band clarified it was meant as a response to the rumors they themselves were hearing, though nothing was planned.

Samantha Crain, a singer based in Shawnee, said the earlier photo and what she felt like was a “non-apology” to the headdress stir led to her and others wanting to express frustration with the actions.

“What I was originally hoping could happen was we could talk to them and let them know how we felt before it even happened,” Crain said.

With the offending photo and the Facebook post the day of the show, Crain said that the Native American community needed to peacefully respond.

“Whether it was a publicity stunt or not, we needed to rally together,” Crain said.

Several people gathered to the side of the stage as the show began holding signs that read, “Don’t tread on my culture” and “I am not a costume” among others, according to accounts. According to the website reddirtreport.com, which posted one protester’s account of the protest, and video posted to YouTube of the performance, the author said it appeared Fallin was wearing a Native American-inspired “shawl” with the word “Sheep” written on the back.

The statement from Pink Pony read that it was “in no way a Native American shawl. It was not designed to look like one.” The word “sheep” on the back refers to those who “blindly follow sensationalist yellow journalism rather than the truth,” the statement read.

Norman Music Festival chair Gene Bertman said in a statement Monday that the festival was unaware of what the band’s performance would include.

“The Norman Music Festival does not support the actions of Pink Pony, and in particular Christina Fallin, at our festival on Saturday night. We had no prior knowledge of the performance content, and we oppose her use and depiction of American Indian artifacts and symbols,” Bertman said. “We certainly understand that these actions do nothing but promote racism, cultural discrimination and religious discrimination. The Norman Music Festival is here to support artists and bring people together — not divide them. We apologize to anyone who was offended.”

The band said in the statement that “it was not our intention to offend anyone.

“Nothing about our performance at the Norman Music Festival was in any way designed to offend anyone,” the statement read. “We hope that people will do their own research before jumping to conclusions or believing the lies being fed to them.”

Crain said the protesters tried to remain to the side of the stage as to not disrupt the show, but at some points the crowd began to taunt them.

“It was very clear from the beginning we were there for a silent protest,; we weren’t there to disrupt the show in any way,” Crain said. “The beginning of it was fine. But they kind of started taunting us from the stage and got the crowd to flip us off and yell at us.”

At the end of the performance, Crain said she felt that overall their presence had some positive aspects.

“I felt like it was positive,” Crain said. “People were looking at the signs and asking questions.”

44th Native Youth Olympics

 

Georgette Morgan gets ready to compete in the kneel jump. Nearly 500 student athletes from across Alaska are in Anchorage this week to compete in the 44th annual Native Youth Olympics. Apr 24, 2014Loren Holmes photo

Georgette Morgan gets ready to compete in the kneel jump. Nearly 500 student athletes from across Alaska are in Anchorage this week to compete in the 44th annual Native Youth Olympics. Apr 24, 2014
Loren Holmes photo

 

500 Alaska students test strength, skill in 2014 Native Youth Olympics

Megan Edge,Loren Holmes

April 24, 2014 Alaska Dispatch.com

The entryway of the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center was packed Thursday afternoon. More than 500 student athletes from across Alaska had gathered, some dressed in matching T-shirts and colorful kuspuks, to represent their heritage, communities, regions and schools at the Native Youth Olympics.

Magdaline Kapatak stood in the middle of a group of her classmates from Koliganek School in Dillingham, awaiting their turn to strut their stuff in front of peers, parents and an audience of supporters.

Kapatak has been going to Anchorage to compete in the annual spring games since the eighth grade. This year, she is competing in multiple events, including the kneel jump, Alaska high kick, seal hop and two-foot high kick.

“I would have to say my favorite is the Alaska high kick,” said Kapatak, smiling. “There is just something about it, and it’s a family thing. A lot of my family competed in it, like my brother and my sister. They came here often and placed.”

She said the trick to success is inner and mental strength, along with a lot of hard work. “For students competing for the first time, there isn’t pressure yet to win or place, just have fun.”

Before long, the line full of students was moving. The audience cheered as they were introduced. Some smiled, others blushed and a couple of them raised their hands above their heads and hollered.

Hundreds of students from seventh to 12th grade sat on the floor and waited for the long list of speeches to begin. Elders, Native corporation leaders and sponsors worked to inspire and encourage the young athletes by preaching a set of key core values: self-respect, respect towards others, healthy choices and honoring traditions.

A complete 2014 NYO schedule is available online.

Native American group asks Nike to stop selling Chief Wahoo gear

 

The Native group "Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry" called on Nike to stop selling Cleveland Indians merchandise featuring the Chief Wahoo logo.

The Native group “Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry” called on Nike to stop selling Cleveland Indians merchandise featuring the Chief Wahoo logo.

By Allan Brettman | abrettman@oregonian.com
April 28, 2014

A Native American group on Monday called on Nike to stop producing products with that feature the Cleveland Indians’ mascot Chief Wahoo.

“We ask that Nike live up to its dedication to inclusion,” says a news release issued by the group called “Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry.” The release says the group includes “Native parents and their allies from across the country.”

“Profiting from Native Mascotry is not being diverse; it is not being inclusive,” the news release says. “Selling items, such as a zip-up jacket, that is dually marked with “Chief Wahoo” and the Nike ‘Swoosh’ makes a powerful allied statement about Nike’s stance. It strongly suggests that Nike is excluding legitimate Native American concerns about the derogatory and offensive nature of Native stereotyping.”

The news release also notes that Nike sells branded merchandise for the Washington, D.C., football team and Florida State University, both of which use Native imagery.

The news release says the group Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry “will be holding local protests at the Nike World Headquarters this week in Beaverton, Oregon and conducting a social media campaign to trend the #Dechief hashtag begun by Cleveland Indians fan Dennis Brown.

The release was written by Jacqueline Keeler of Portland, who recently wrote in Salon.com in an article titled “My life as a Cleveland Indian: The enduring disgrace of racist sports mascots.”

Neither Nike nor the Cleveland Indians responded immediately to requests for comment Monday morning.

Keeler said in a follow-up email Monday morning that the organization has more than 600 members in a Facebook group. She said the group also has received support from the National Congress of American Indians and from Asian American allies at 18 Million Rising and Hyphen Magazine.

— Allan Brettman

Advocates vow to revive Navajo junk-food tax

By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – Facing a high prevalence of diabetes, many American Indian tribes are returning to their roots with community and home gardens, cooking classes that incorporate traditional foods, and running programs to encourage healthy lifestyles.

The latest effort on the Navajo Nation, the country’s largest reservation, is to use the tax system to spur people to ditch junk food.

A proposed 2 percent sales tax on chips, cookies and sodas failed Tuesday in a Tribal Council vote. But the measure still has widespread support, and advocates plan to revive it, with the hope of making the tribe one of the first governments to enact a junk-food tax.

Elected officials across the U.S. have taken aim at sugary drinks with proposed bans, size limits, tax hikes and warning labels, though their efforts have not gained widespread traction. In Mexico, lawmakers approved a junk food tax and a tax on soft drinks last year as part of that government’s campaign to fight obesity.

Navajo President Ben Shelly earlier this year vetoed measures to establish a junk-food tax and eliminate the tax on fresh fruit and vegetables. At Tuesday’s meeting, tribal lawmakers overturned the veto on the tax cut, but a vote to secure the junk-food tax fell short. Lawmakers voted 13-7 in favor of it, but the tax needed 16 votes to pass.

The Dine Community Advocacy Alliance, which led the effort, said it plans to revise the proposal and bring it before lawmakers again during the summer legislative session.

“We’re going to keep moving on it,’’ group member Gloria Begay said. “It’s not so much the tax money – it’s the message. The message being, ‘Let’s look at our health and make healthier choices.’ We have to go out and do more education awareness.’’

Shelly said he supports the proposal’s intent but questioned how the higher tax on snacks high in fat, sugar and salt would be enacted and regulated. Supporters say the tax is another tool in their fight for the health of the people.

“If we can encourage our people to make healthier choices and work on the prevention side, we increase the life span of our children, we improve their quality of life,’’ said professional golfer Notah Begay III, who is among supporters.

American Indians and Alaska Natives as a whole have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among U.S. racial and ethnic groups, according to the American Diabetes Association. They are more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to have the disease that was the fourth leading cause of death in the Navajo area from 2003 to 2005, according to the Indian Health Service.

Native children ages 10 to 19 are nine times as likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the IHS said.

The proposed Navajo Nation tax wouldn’t have added significantly to the price of junk food, but buying food on the reservation presents obstacles that don’t exist in most of urban America. The reservation is a vast 27,000 square miles with few grocery stores and a population with an unemployment rate of around 50 percent. Thousands of people live without electricity and have no way of storing perishable food items for too long.

“They have a tendency to purchase what’s available, and it’s not always the best food,’’ said Leslie Wheelock, director of tribal relations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wheelock said the diabetes issue in tribal communities is one that has been overlooked in the past or not taken as seriously as it could be. It has roots in the federal government taking over American Indian lands and introducing food that tribal members weren’t used to, she said.

To help remedy that, the USDA runs a program that distributes nutritional food to 276 tribes. Grants from the agency have gone toward gardening lessons for children within the Seneca Nation of Indians in New York, culturally relevant exercise programs for the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota and food demonstrations using fresh fruit and vegetables on the Zuni reservations in New Mexico.

The Dine Community Advocacy Alliance estimated a junk-food tax would result in at least $1 million a year in revenue that could go toward wellness centers, community parks, walking trails and picnic grounds in Navajo communities in Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. It would have expired at the end of 2018.

No other sales tax on the Navajo Nation specifically targets the spending habits of consumers. Alcohol is sold in a few places on the reservation but isn’t taxed. Retailers and distributors pay a tobacco tax.

Opponents of the junk food tax argued it would burden customers and drive revenue off the reservation. Mike Gardner, executive director of the Arizona Beverage Association, said the lack of specifics in the legislation as to what exactly would be taxed could mean fruit juice and nutritional shakes could be lumped in the same category as sodas.

“I don’t think they mean that, but that’s what will happen,’’ Gardner said. “It’s a little loose, a little vague. It’s going to create problems for retailers and … it doesn’t solve the problem.’’