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American Native

Native American executed for 2001 murders in fourth federal execution this year – CBS News

Federal inmate executions to resume


Federal inmate executions to resume

02:38

The only Native American on federal death row was executed on Wednesday night for murdering two women in 2001, according to the Department of Justice. Lezmond Mitchell had no last words before he was executed in front of witnesses that included members of the surviving family of his victims, simply responding, “No, I’m good.” 

He was pronounced dead at 6:29 p.m., less than a half an hour after he was injected with the lethal drug pentobarbital. 

Mitchell was found guilty in 2003 of multiple charges, including the gruesome murders of 63-year-old Alyce Slim and her nine-year-old granddaughter Tiffany Lee. 

Slim was stabbed 33 times by Mitchell and his accomplice, after she gave the pair a ride in October 2001. The pair later slit the child’s throat twice and crushed her head with rocks, before dismembering the victims and burning their clothes. Mitchell later directed law enforcement to their bodies after confessing to the heinous killings.

In a statement released shortly after the execution, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said, “Nearly 19 years after Lezmond Mitchell brutally ended the lives of two people, destroying the lives of many others, justice finally has been served.” 

Tiffany’s father, Daniel Lee, attended the execution, and minutes later stood tearfully next to a lawyer who read a statement to reporters on his behalf.

“I have waited 19 years to get justice for my daughter, Tiffany,” Lee’s statement said. “But I hope this will bring some closure.”

Federal Executions
Daniel Lee, father of Tiffany Lee, wipes his face as he leaves the podium after a statement by his attorney at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Ind., Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. 

Michael Conroy / AP


Mitchell’s execution is the fourth to take place this summer, and there are three more scheduled to take place in the next month. Like the three men who were put to death before him, Mitchell had exhausted all possible appeals in an attempt to halt his execution.

That effort came down to the wire on Wednesday when the Supreme Court denied a last ditch attempt to delay his execution, declining to review whether or not the jurors at Mitchell’s trial in Arizona should have been interviewed for potential bias against Native Americans.

Mitchell and his victims were members of the Navajo Nation, and while Lee’s family supported his death sentence, tribal leaders from across the country strongly opposed his execution and called on the president to commute his sentence. 

“Today, the federal government added another chapter to its long history of injustices against Native American people,” said Jonathan Aminoff and Celeste Bacchi, attorneys for Mitchell. “Over the steadfast objection of the Navajo Nation, and despite urgent pleas for clemency from Navajo leaders and many other Native American tribes, organizations, and citizens, the Trump Administration executed Lezmond Mitchell, a Navajo man, for a crime against other Navajo people committed on Navajo land.”

The decision to restart enforcing these sentences came after a 17-year freeze on the federal death penalty. Attorney General William Barr announced the decision last year, saying in a statement at the time, “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

“Had it not been for the Trump administration,” Lee’s statement said, “I do not think I would have ever received justice or a sense of finality.”

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Americans Native

Native Americans reached Polynesia around 1200AD and colonised the area BEFORE European settlers – Daily Mail

Native Americans reached Polynesia 800 years ago by raft and interbred with local islanders — centuries before European explorers arrived in the Pacific.

Researchers from the US and Mexico used large-scale genetic analyses to show that modern-day Polynesian populations contain traces of Native American DNA.

Statistical analysis revealed that prehistoric Polynesian populations first met and interbred with people from what is today Colombia around the year 1,150 AD.

This event — which took place on the South Marquesas islands  — occurred at  roughly the same time Polynesians first arrived in the area from the west.

The finding finally confirms a long-running theory that the two groups had met — and explains why sweet potatoes from the Americas can be found in Polynesia.

Native Americas may have sailed on a raft like the Kon-Tiki — the 1947 vessel led by the explorer Thor Heyerdahl which crossed from Peru to the Polynesian Islands. 

Native Americans from modern-day Colombia reached Polynesia around 1200 AD on a Kon-Tiki-like voyage, colonising the area before Europeans reached Easter Island, geneticists found. Pictured, an illustration showing the diverse genetic routes of modern Polynesians

Researchers from the US and Mexico used large-scale genetic analyses to show that modern-day Polynesian populations contain traces of Native American DNA. Statistical analysis revealed that prehistoric Polynesian populations first met and interbred with people from what is today Colombia around the year 1,150 AD

The notion that Native American and Polynesian populations underwent prehistoric interactions has long been a subject of debate for archaeologists and historians.

While some experts questioned how the two groups, separated by thousands of miles of open ocean, could have interacted, others pointed to a seemingly unlikely clue for the meeting — the sweet potato.

The starchy root vegetable was originally cultivated in Central and South America but, prior its dispersal by European colonists, could also be found in one other place — the islands of Oceania. 

‘The sweet potato is native to the Americas, yet it’s also found on islands thousands of miles away,’ said paper author Alexander Ioannidis of Stanford University. 

‘On top of that, the word for sweet potato in Polynesian languages appears to be related to the word used in Indigenous American languages in the Andes.’

The connections suggested that either Polynesians once landed in South America (most likely Colombia) and brought the potato home with them — or, alternatively, that some Native Americans and their vegetable once ended up in Polynesia.

Efforts to prove that the tubers were once exported from South America to Oceania by analysing the plant’s genome, however, proved fruitless — with experts finding the sweet potato’s genetic history too complex to conclusively reveal its origins.

Attempts to compare ancient DNA preserved in the bones of Native Americans and native Polynesians also proved inconclusive, with the genetic material having become too degraded to establish a link between the populations. 

Dr Ioannidis and colleagues, however, took a different track — analysing DNA samples from 807 modern-day Polynesians and Colombians sourced from across 17 of the Polynesian islands and 15 Native American groups along the Pacific Coast.

In particular, the team sought out segments of DNA that are characteristic of the different populations, alongside those that are ‘identical-by-descent’ and could therefore be attributed to the owners having had a shared ancestor in the past. 

This interbreeding event — which took place on the South Marquesas islands — occurred at roughly the same time Polynesians first arrived in the area from the west

While some experts questioned how the two groups, separated by thousands of miles of open ocean, could have interacted, others pointed to a seemingly unlikely clue for the meeting — the sweet potato, pictured. The starchy root vegetable was originally cultivated in Central and South America but, prior its dispersal by European colonists, could also be found in one other place — the islands of Oceania

The notion that Native American and Polynesian populations underwent prehistoric interactions has long been a subject of debate for archaeologists and historians. Proponents of the theory suggested that Native Americas may have reached Oceania on a raft like the Kon-Tiki, pictured — the 1947 vessel led by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl which crossed from Peru to the Polynesian Islands to prove that Native Americans could have once done the same

The team’s large-scale modern genetic analysis was able to prove what studies of the sweet potato itself and ancient bones were not.

‘We found identical-by-descent segments of Native American ancestry across several Polynesian islands,’ Dr Ioannidis said.

This, explained, provided ‘conclusive evidence’ for a ‘shared contact event’ prehistoric Polynesian and Native American peoples — one in which children with a parent from each group were born. 

Further analysis of the genetic signals revealed that the event occurred around 1,150 AD — during Europe’s Middle Ages — and, Dr Ioannidis said, ‘around the time that these islands were originally being settled by native Polynesians.’

Alongside this, the team were also able to confirm the previous theory that the Native Americans who interacted with the Polynesians came from the region that, today, is Colombia. 

Analysis of the genetic signals revealed that the event occurred around 1,150 AD — during Europe’s Middle Ages — and, Dr Ioannidis said, ‘around the time that these islands were originally being settled by native Polynesians’ Pictured, moai on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island. According to the researchers, the mixing of Polynesian and Native American DNA began here somewhat later than on the South Marquesas islands, at roughly 1,380 AD

‘If you think about how history is told for this time period, it’s almost always a story of European conquest — you never really hear about everybody else,’ said Dr Ioannidis.

‘This work helps piece together those untold stories — and the fact that it can be brought to light through genetics is very exciting to me,’ he added.

‘Genomics is at a stage where it can really make useful contributions to answering some of these open questions.’  

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature.

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