INDIAN AND INDIGENOUS DEVELOPMENTS:
- Environmental Developments
- U.S. Developments
- Governmental Developments
- Federal Indian Budgets
- In the Courts
- Tribal, State and Local Government Developments
- Tribal Developments
- Economic Developments
- Education and Culture
- International Developments
INDIAN AND INDIGENOUS DEVELOPMENTS
“Carbon Disarmament,” Foreign Policy In Focus, September 28, 2009, http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=MbODOjAY5HZ2OtHsObItpfnV8vDOnsjX, argues, “I never much liked the idea of arms control. During the Cold War, we managed our nuclear arsenals rather than reduced them. We treated our nukes like huge, dangerous animals. We restricted their movements but gave them ample care and feeding. Until recently, getting rid of the animals altogether was not part of the political agenda. After all, our leaders believed that these beasts were useful. They scared away the covetous neighbors. We have a similar approach to our production of carbon emissions, which are quickly raising the temperature of our planetary home. We get excited about a few new windmills, the latest type of electric car, a more energy-efficient refrigerator. But this is just tinkering around the edges. Our leaders are willing to control our fossil fuel economy but not to embark on a serious program to disarm it. After all, we believe that our huge, carbon-belching beasts – the coal-fired plants, the SUVs – are useful. They keep our economies strong. As long as we maintain our carbon control approach we will be, literally, cooked.” The UN Environment Program, recently released an analysis finding that even if the international community enacts every climate policy proposed at this point it will not be sufficient to avert disaster (http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=1MhXbcO2cmHBcfUteI57tbF6lDzC6XmT). If proposed U.S. cuts that would reduce domestic emissions 73% from 2005 levels by 2050 are made, and the European Union’s pledge to reduce its emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050 are achieved, global temperatures would still rise 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century, twice the temperature hike that scientists predict will spell irreversible climate chaos. Fortunately, world leaders are beginning to realize the urgency of the situation. At the recent UN summit, a lead-up to the Copenhagen meeting, in December, which hopefully will produce a much stronger follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol, some movement, new Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama pledged reductions of Carbon emissions of 25% from 1990 levels by 2020. China, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, promised that renewable energy sources will account for 15% of its total energy output by 2020. The island nation of Maldives vowed to become carbon neutral by 2020 (assuming it’s still above water). So far, the United States has not participated in this latest virtuous circle of carbon reductions. However, one institution in the United States does see global warming as a serious threat: the Pentagon, which has begun studying, the scenarios of climate-induced water and food shortages precipitating violent conflicts on a global scale that would overwhelm U.S. and allied military. As FPIF research fellow Miriam Pemberton wrote in a Defense News op-ed, “Want Climate Security? Raise National Security Specter,” (http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=mrYqJInulA%2B0QDOywo2hgLF6lDzC6XmT) “The message embedded none too deeply in these studies: Unless these scenarios can be changed, our forces will be overwhelmed. Either stem rising global temperatures, or prepare to grow the military. A lot.” “Our carbon-based economies are nearly out-of-control, as even the Pentagon acknowledges. President Obama must travel to a place threatened by the rising tide – New Orleans, Dhaka, Kiribati – and commit the United States to leading the reverse carbon race. Global warming deserves its own Prague. The time for carbon disarmament is now.”
Elisabeth Rosenthal, “Biggest Obstacle to Global Climate Deal May Be How to Pay for It,” The New York Times, October 14, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/science/earth/15climate.html?_r=1&ref=world, informs, “As world leaders struggle to hash out a new global climate deal by December, they face a hurdle perhaps more formidable than getting big polluters like the United States and China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: how to pay for the new accord. The price tag for a new climate agreement will be a staggering $100 billion a year by 2020, many economists estimate; some put the cost at closer to $1 trillion. That money is needed to help fast-developing countries like India and Brazil convert to costly but cleaner technologies as they industrialize, as well as to assist the poorest countries in coping with the consequences of climate change, like droughts and rising seas.” Developing an adequate financial arrangement is critical for obtaining a workable agreement, and for containing global warming and climate change, because developing nations are projected to account for 75% of the growth in energy demand from 2005 – 2030, according to calculations by the International Energy Agency. Many developing countries have stated strongly that they will not sign a treaty unless they receive financing to help them adapt to a warmer planet. Industrialized nations, such as the United States and those in Europe have acknowledged that a new treaty needs unanimity for success, and agreed in principle to make such payments, which have already been written into the agreed-upon structure of the treaty, to be signed in Copenhagen in December. However no detailed plan as to who shall pay how much or in what proportion has yet been drafted. “At a United Nations summit meeting in New York on climate change and at the Group of 20 meetings in Pittsburgh… [in September], national leaders, including President Obama and President Hu Jintao of China, stressed the urgency of combating climate change. But they offered no new proposals for financing and put no new cash on the table. Perhaps even more troublesome, the United Nations Adaptation Fund, which officially began operating in 2008 to help poor countries finance projects to blunt the effects of global warming, remains an empty shell, largely because rich nations have failed to come through with the donations they promised. The fund now holds about $18 million, a tiny fraction of what it was supposed to have, according to fund officials.” “The money woes of the United Nations fund, set up as an exemplar of international cooperation in addressing climate change, are symptomatic. The fund was supposed to benefit from two income streams: the first is a 2 percent tax on carbon credits sold in the United Nations carbon trading system, in which rich nations invest in green projects in the developing world to offset emissions at home; the second is voluntary donations by richer countries. The 2 percent tax is expected to generate at least $1.6 billion by 2012. But the donations have not materialized.” Several proposals have been offered to provide funding, but most do not set out how to generate the needed currency. The European Union put forth a plan, in September in which “industrialized nations and economically more advanced developing countries” would provide $33 billion to $74 billion annually to assist poor nations adapt, with the European Union’s share placed at $3 billion to $22 billion. The climate bill passed by United States House of Representatives, in June, still to be considered by the Senate, would auction emissions permits, donating a portion of the revenues to poor countries. The Danish minister of climate and energy, Connie Hedegaard, who will chair the Copenhagen meeting, has suggested imposing a new tax on shipping fuel or on airline flights — which both cause substantial emissions — to finance adaptation in developing nations, saying, “We need more innovative financing. The G-20 should come up with fast-track financing that would send a very strong signal that developed countries are serious about this.” Meanwhile, many less economically advanced countries remain skeptical, having witnessed past promises of financial aid evaporate when the world economy down turned, and they do not have much trust in market-based solutions, such as using a portion of revenues from carbon credits. Also a contentious issue is which nations should receive, assistance, and in what proportion.
As of late October, the downturn in the world economy temporarily has reduced carbon, and many other emissions, and for a while, caused oil prices to drop. Even with the world economy still in recession – despite improvements in some areas – oil prices are rising again, having again passed $80 a barrel. The price rise is not the result of supply and demand, as there is still a surplus, but rather of speculation. Meanwhile U.N. officials are concerned that continued population growth will soon cause severe food shortages, and massive starvation, unless huge increase in food production take place in the next two decades (Neil MacFarquhar, “Experts Worry About Feeding the World as Population Grows” The New York Times, October, 22 2009 and Clifford Kraus, “As the Dollar Sinks, Oil Skyrokets,” The New York Times, October 27, 2009). Despite the recession, the economic, social, political – human crisis of over use of resources (as population and demand grow), and environmental degradation – most particularly climate change from global warming – are very much with us and increasing.
Sindya N, Bhando, “Sliding Yardstick for Emissions Is Problematic,” The New York Times, October 23, 2009), points out that an article in Science, October 23, discloses that current international calculations of carbon emissions are flawed, because they assume that the burning of fuel from plants and other organic sources brings no net increase in release of carbon dioxide, even though biofuels do release CO2 when burned. This might be close to reasonable if a crop of corn were grown on arid land and then burned, as the growing crop absorbs CO2 (though it would not take into account carbon emissions in the work and fertilizing of growing, processing and distributing corn and resultant ethanol). But when land is cleared, and particularly deforested, the loss of carbon absorption and the release of carbon from decay or burning of the cleared plants are not calculated. Unless this calculation error is corrected, international efforts to counter global warming induced climate change, and related deforestation will be seriously undermined.
In China, the terribly polluted air in and around Beijing is slowly getting cleaner, as China has been taking steps to reduce pollution and develop green energy (Michael Wines, “Beijing Air is Steadily Getting Cleaner, but the War is Far From Won,’ The New York Times, October 17, 2009.
Implementation of a new technique for tapping previously inaccessible supplies of natural gas in shale deposits in the United States has been greatly increasing U.S. natural gas production, and the methodology is spreading to the rest of the world, raising hopes of a major expansion in global reserves of the cleanest fossil fuel, including in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. This is beginning to occur in Europe, Asia and North Africa, and likely will extend elsewhere. As the global drilling rush expands, energy analysts are predicting that shale could reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas, while they believe that gas reserves in many countries could increase over the next two decades, comparable with the 40 percent increase in the United States in recent years. Shale, containing natural gas, is widely spread around the world, but until now has been little tapped for gas outside the United States. Even by conservative estimates, the capturing of natural gas from shale is predicted to increase natural gas reserves world wide by at least 20%, and possibly considerably more. This could change the geopolitics of energy, not only bringing cleaner emissions with less greenhouse gas production, but the shift away from coal and oil may reduce pressure for drilling in remote areas, often populated by Indigenous people (Clifford Kraus, “New Way to Tap Gas May Expand Global Supplies, The New York Times, October 9, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/10/business/energy-environment/10gas.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper).
Andrew C. Revkin and Clifford Krauss, “Curbing Emissions by Sealing Gas Leaks,” The New York Times, October 14, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/business/energy-environment/15degrees.html?ref=world, report that infrared photography is showing huge natural gas leaks, that are normally invisible to the naked eye, at storage facilities around the world. Now that the word is out there is a very strong economic incentive to fix the leaks and do a great deal to reduce global warming, as repairs are inexpensive, while the loss of gas is extremely costly. If action is swiftly taken it could substantially reduce global warming. Natural gas is mostly methane, which is 14 times (some researchers say 25 times) more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, which may account for as much as a third of the human contribution to global warming. Moreover, methane, once released, remains in the air for about 10 years (while carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for at least a century), so that reducing methane emissions will have a double reducing effect in a decade. Natural gas production and distribution is increasing rapidly in the U.S., but up until now, the industry has been largely resistant to an aggressive cleanup. In April the Obama administration indicatedthat it could adopt rules requiring the biggest American companies to report all of their greenhouse gas emissions. Oil and gas industry groups countered that the cost and complexity of dealing with some 700,000 wells were too great. E.P.A. announced, in September, that the obligatory reporting would begin in 2011, but excluded oil and gas operations from the requirement, at least for the time being, as E.P.A. officials have said they plan to issue rules for oil and gas by late 2010. Internationally, the quantity of methane escaping from gas and oil operations can be only roughly estimated. In 2006 the E.P.A. estimated that Russia, the world’s largest gas producer, ranked highest, with 427 billion cubic feet of methane escaping annually, followed by the United States at 346 billion, Ukraine at 225 billion and Mexico at 191 billion. Gazprom, Russia’s state gas monopoly, estimated its annual emissions at half that amount for 2008. An E.P.A. review of methane emissions from gas wells in the United States strongly indicates that all of these figures are probably too low. Its analysis concluded that the amount of methane emitted by routine operations at gas wells — not including leaks from storage tanks and pipelines — is 12 times the agency’s longtime estimate of nine billion cubic feet, with the heat-trapping potential of the carbon dioxide emitted annually by eight million cars. In routine operations, great, unseen, plumes of gas enter the atmosphere when new wells are activated, old wells are invigorated to boost gas flows and wells are purged of fluids by letting out cough-like bursts of gas. “In many gas fields, said Roger Fernandez, a senior methane expert at the E.P.A., fluid-clogged wells are still purged the old-fashioned way, by opening valves or using outdated equipment in ways that release a misty burst of gas directly into the air. For the E.P.A. and environmental scientists, the challenge is convincing gas and oil producers here and abroad that efforts to avoid such releases often more than pay for themselves. The use of infrared cameras is expanding as word spreads of the payoff in saved gas, said Ben Shepperd, executive vice president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, which represents 1,200 companies in the oil and gas business around West Texas.” Companies that store methane and other gases are also begining to employ infrared cameras, that show leaks. “A clearer view of the worst methane emissions could come next year, when Japan plans to start releasing data from Gosat, a satellite that began orbiting the Earth in January. It may be able to identify the top hot spots within a few miles. That may increase pressure on countries with particularly large leaks.” Meanwhile, Russia has begun seeking high-tech solutions, including the possible use of miniature remotely piloted helicopters to monitor pipelines for leaks. “But gadgets alone will not halt the vast exhalation of methane from Russia, environmentalists say. There is some hope that a successor to the 1997 Kyoto climate change pact will include more incentives for money to flow to Russian methane-reduction projects.” Western companies that have initiated methane capture have reported large savings. British Petroleum (BP), around 2000, began introducing methane-catching techniques at 2,300 well sites in New Mexico, and its engineers have fine-tuned a system for purging fluids that can stop up wells, preventing large gas escapes. BP reports “installing the systems has cost about $11,000 per well, but they have returned three times that investment.”
Southern Ute Alternative Energy and Solix Biofuels, July 29, dedicated their jointly developed algal oil production plant – growing algae to produce fuel – the Coyote Gulch Demonstration Facility, on the Southern Ute Reservation (“Solex Biofuels/Southern Ute Alternative Energy Dedicate Coyote Gulch Facility,” The Southern Ute Drum, July 31, 2009). Aside from the processing of the algae into oil, and the use of energy from non-algae sources in the algae growth process, growing algae and then consuming it as fuel is both a renewable fuel and a carbon neutral, fuel as the Carbon Dioxide released on burning the algae, totally or largely, has already been absorbed by the algae in the growth process. Just what the net carbon emissions are of the Coyote Gulch Demonstration project’s fuel production and use are not yet known. This author would expect them to be much smaller than from petroleum, much less from coal.
With the Obama administration, the federal government has begun considerable activity concerning, energy, global warming and other environmental concerns. On October 5, President Obama issued Executive Order 13525 – Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic performance, including directing all federal agencies to take leadership in energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, waste reduction and recycling, and transportation (published in the federal register October 8 – 74 Fed. Reg, 52117 – available at: http://edocket.access.gpo,gov/2009/pdf/E9-24518.pdf). Among many provisions, the order calls for regional planning with coordination with “regional programs for Federal, State, tribal and local ecosystem, watershed and environmental management.” On September 14, the Secretary of the Interior issued Order No, 3289 “Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change on America’s, Land and other Natural and Cultural Resources. The Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works, September 30, reported out the climate crisis bill, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (HR 2454). The bill contains numerous provisions in which tribal governments have been left out, and the National Congress of American Indians, the National Tribal Environmental Council, the Native American Rights Fund and the National Wildlife Federation have been developing recommendations for revising the bill. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, September 10, sent a “Dear Tribal Leader” letter to all federally recognized tribes distributing an Indian Energy and Efficiency Concept Paper and announcing two roundtables on the topic, and to discuss the committee’s work in developing legislation to “help unlock the potential of tribal energy resources and increase energy efficiency programs in Indian Country.” The committee sent another “Dear Tribal Leader” letter, September 24 and announced six additional round tables (so that roundtables were scheduled across Indian Country, information is available at: http://www.indian.senate,gov). At the roundtable in Washington, DC, committee staff invited comments on all aspects of energy policy and energy efficiency, including for developing HR 2454 and the “American Clean Air Energy Leadership Act (S 1462), Sponsored by Senator Bingaman (D-NM). On November 16-19, the Department of Energy (DOE) will conduct its annual program review of the DOE energy Program, in Denver, CO, as a forum for tribes to meet and share experiences in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Information is available at: http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/tribalenergy/upcoming_events.cfm.
The Administrative Appeals Board of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in September, granted the EPA’s request to withdraw its approval of an air quality permit for the proposed Desert Rock coal burning power plant on the Navajo reservation, so that the agency can have more time to review the potential environmental impact the building and operation of the plant would have (Marley Shebala, EPA board: Desert Rock project needs more study, Navajo Times, October 1, 2009).
A geophysical survey team was involved, in September, in investigating the potential of the nearby geothermal resource in the remote community of Akutan, Alaska, which currently uses expensive and polluting, particularly with carbon emissions, diesel to provide electricity. If a significant resource is identified this would potentially allow the Eastern Aleutian region to realize a clean, inexpensive and reliable source of energy production (“Alaska’s geothermal project could fuel the region’s economic sustainability,” Indian Country Today, September 30, 2009, http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/national/61465317.html). It should be noted however, that while many geothermal projects have been operating safely and successfully, recently two new geothermal developments, in Germany and California, were aborted because they appeared to be increasing earthquake activity.
Climate Frontlines, “Melting landfast ice, accelerated erosion: Alaskan villages endangered” [Posting 16], firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.climatefrontlines.org/en-GB/node/520, reports, “Coastal villages in Alaska (USA) are reeling from the erosion caused by unprecedented warming trends due to climate change, explains Sharon McClintock. One of the most impacted areas is Shishmaref, a traditional Inupiat village in the Bering Straits with a population of just over 600 people. The village is located on Sarichef Island, a barrier island in the Chukchi Sea. In the past, sea ice would form in the fall, creating a blockade of ice along the shore which acted as a protective barrier against sea storms. This protective sea ice, which used to be in place by October or November, no longer forms solidly. Its absence allows powerful waves to undercut the banks that are already weakened by an increased melting of permafrost.” “During a massive storm in 1973, nine metres of land was lost. In 1974, the village experienced a storm of major proportions and high water partially flooded the airport, prompting declaration of a national disaster. In 1997, a severe storm eroded some 45 metres of the north shore, forcing the relocation of fourteen homes. Five additional homes were relocated in 2002. The teacher housing is in a precarious location near the bluff. The fear that the next storm will leave them homeless convinced long time and well-liked teachers to leave Shishmaref. This has been a huge loss to the community. The sewage lagoon, roads, water supply, laundromat, community store, and fuel tanks are at risk of damage or loss. The main road to the airport and landfill has been eroded in several places and the road is now dangerously close to the sea. Yearly storms continue to erode the shoreline at an average rate of retreat of 1 to 1.5 meters per year. Almost $23 million has been spent to construct seawalls that will provide only temporary protection to what is left of Shishmaref. In July 2002, residents voted to relocate the community. However, numerous problems have slowed this process, including reluctance of the state and federal governments to give monetary support for vital infrastructure or to take the lead in the relocation project. In 2008, the community learned that the site chosen for relocation was not suitable due to permafrost issues. So efforts had to begin anew. The place they now think would be the most suitable is near Ear Mountain close to the village of Wales. It is possible that a sustainable community can be created there utilizing geothermal potential and wind power for energy. However, some people say they will never leave Sarichef Island. But how will they fare, as no services will be available once everyone relocates?
The erosion of sea ice as a result of global warming along the costs of Russia, Alaska and Canada are causing great loses to Pacific Walruses (Andrew C. Revkin, “Walruses Suffer Substantial Losses as Sea Ice Erodes,” The New York Times, October 3, 2009).
Four of the world’s largest meat producers decided, in early October, to ban the purchase of cattle from newly deforested areas of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest. The announcement was made at a conference organized by Greenpeace, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, by the cattle companies Bertin, JBS-Fribol, Marfrig and Minerva (Alexei Barrionuevo, “4 Giants in Cattle Industry Agree to Help Fight Deforestation,” The New York Times, October 7, 2009).
The Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi Chitimacha Choctaw, of Louisiana, long a fishing and crabbing community, has been forced to abandon their ancestral island home by increasing flooding (five times in the past six years), as stronger hurricanes, rising ocean and the building of dikes on the Mississippi River – preventing new depositing of mud from renewing the costal marsh lands – have caused the loss of some 2000 square miles of Louisiana costal swamp and marsh to the Gulf of Mexico since the 1930s. The tribe intends to move 10 miles inland, behind levees, near Bourg, LA, hoping to use $12 million in federal aid to build 60 homes in a 60 acre community (Cain Burdeau, “Indian group says it will abandon ancestral home, Indian Country Today, September 30, 2009).
“After frightful spring flood, Tanana, Alaska residents rebuild,” News from Indian Country, August 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7142&Itemid=1, tells us. “Early on the morning of May 12, the ice jammed below the village and the water started to rise. The flood that resulted quickly became Tanana’s worst in more than 70 years.” Two and a half months later, eight teams of workers and volunteers arrived in Tanana to rebuild. More than 40 homes were damaged, 38 seriously, and spills of fuel oil and human waste were major problems. Cleanup crews were sent by the Tanana Chiefs Conference (who hired more than 100 residents) and the state of Alaska. Assistance was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration.
Elisabeth Rosenthal, “An Amazon Culture Withers as Food Dries Up,” The New York Times, July 24, 2009,
,http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/science/earth/25tribe.html?scp=1&sq=As%20Food%20Dries%20Up,%20an 20Amazon%20Culture%20Withers%20and%20Faces%20Extinction&st=cse, reports that in the area of Xingu National Park along the Amazon in Brazil members of the Kamayurá are struggling to adapt to change and continue their existence as global climate change is making the Amazon region drier and hotter, decimating fish stocks in jungle lakes and rivers that have been a staple of their Kamayurá diet, and primary source of protein for many centuries. Tribal Chief Kotok said that men can now fish all night without a bite in streams where fish used to be abundant, and they safely swim in lakes previously teeming with piranhas. Tribal members have been eating ants on flatbread, and small monkeys, as a replacement for the lack of fish, but their numbers are shrinking also. Kamayurá agriculture is shrinking as well, as it has become almost impossible to raise even minimal crops of cassava and corn in the high temperature drought. Medicinal plants and grasses used to construct huts are also becoming rare, while a new threat has arisen, for the very first time, in 2007, there was a forest fire – which destroyed thousands of acres. Forest fire is now a continual threat as the rainforest is shifting toward becoming a dry, treeless land. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that up to 30% of animals and plants face an increased risk of extinction if global temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in coming decades. But anthropologists also fear a wave of cultural extinction for dozens of small Indigenous groups — the loss of their traditions, their arts, their languages. ‘In some places, people will have to move to preserve their culture,’ said Gonzalo Oviedo, a senior adviser on social policy at the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Gland, Switzerland. ‘But some of those that are small and marginal will assimilate and disappear.’ Cultures threatened by climate change span the globe. They include rainforest residents like the Kamayurá who face dwindling food supplies; remote Arctic communities where the only roads were frozen rivers that are now flowing most of the year; and residents of low-lying islands whose land is threatened by rising seas.” “Eskimo settlements like Kivalina and Shishmaref in Alaska are ‘literally being washed away,’ said Thomas Thornton, an anthropologist who studies the region, because the sea ice that long protected their shores is melting and the seas around are rising. Without that hard ice, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to hunt for seals, a mainstay of the traditional diet. Some Eskimo groups are suing polluters and developed nations, demanding compensation and help with adapting.”
Recent reports of extreme weather, consistent with global warming, and its impact include, Jeffery Gettleman, “Lush Land Dries Up, Withering Kenya’s Hopes,” The New York Times, September 7, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/08/world/africa/08kenya.html?hp, tells that “A devastating drought is sweeping across Kenya, killing livestock, crops and children. It is stirring up tensions in the ramshackle slums where the water taps have run dry, and spawning ethnic conflict in the hinterland as communities fight over the last remaining pieces of fertile grazing land. The twin hearts of Kenya’s economy, agriculture and tourism, are especially imperiled. The fabled game animals that safari-goers fly thousands of miles to see are keeling over from hunger and the picturesque savanna is now littered with an unusually large number of sun-bleached bones. Ethiopia. Sudan. Somalia. Maybe even Niger and Chad. These countries have become almost synonymous with drought and famine. But Kenya? This nation is one of the most developed in Africa, home to a typically robust economy, countless United Nations offices and thousands of aid workers. The aid community here has been predicting a disaster for months, saying that the rains had failed once again and that this could be the worst drought in more than a decade. But the Kenyan government, paralyzed by infighting and political maneuvering, seemed to shrug off the warnings.” Indeed some government officials have been implicated in illegally selling thousands of tons of the country’s grain reserve. At the same time, a major international aid operation to avert mass hunger had not begun, at anywhere near the needed level, while the United Nations World Food Program stated that nearly four million Kenyans, 10% of the population, urgently needed food. In September, there was hope in predictions of rain in October, but with another El Niño cycle predicted, the opposite problem, floods could manifest.
Elisabeth Malkin, “Mexico Now Enduring Worst Drought in Years,” The New York Times, September 12, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/world/americas/13drought.html?ref=world, reports, “As the end of the four-month rainy season approaches here in Mexico City, it has finally begun to rain. But the daily downpours, which have overwhelmed the city’s drainage network and flooded subway stations, arrived too late. Mexico is enduring its worst drought in six decades. Crops are drying up in the fields and water is being rationed in the capital. Residents of poor neighborhoods have hijacked water trucks, and there are other signs of social tensions building. El Niño, a weather pattern that warms water in the Pacific Ocean and leads to changing weather around the Pacific Basin, is causing the drought, Mexican officials say.” “Some of Mexico’s neighbors have been grappling with similar problems. Guatemala declared “a state of calamity” last week, because the drought has caused shortages of staples like corn and beans. The government plans to deliver food packages to 400,000 families, Reuters reported. In Mexico, almost 40 percent of the farm land inspected by the government has been affected by the drought, causing shortfalls in the harvests of corn, beans, wheat and sorghum.” In early September, parts of Turkey were deluged by the most rain in 80 years, bringing flash flooding, killing at least 31 people, as of September 9, with more heavy rain possible (Sebnem Arsu, “Flooding Kills at Least 31 in Turkey,” The New Yotk Times, September 9, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/world/europe/10turkey.html?ref=todayspaper).
One of the major factors in increasing global warming induced climate change and other environmental degradation is a rapid increase in factory animal farming to supply an increasing food demand for meat, which among other things, is a leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon and some places in Asia, and may spread to Africa. Less known is that factory farming of beef, largely because it uses a diet unnatural to the animals causes them to emit large amounts of methane, which is at least 14 times atmospheric heat causing than carbon dioxide. Gina Marie Cheeseman, Is the Rapid Growth of Meat Consumption Sustainable?, Care2, October 2, 2009, http://www.care2.com/causes/global-warming/blog/is-the-rapid-growth-of-meat-consumption-sustainable/, reports “Factory farming is the “fastest growing method of animal production worldwide,” according to Worldwatch International (WI) (http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5340). Factory farms are responsible for 74 percent of the world’s total poultry products, 50 percent of pork production, 43 percent of beef, and 68 percent of eggs. People eat more meat now then in previous eras. In 1961 the world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons, and in 2007 it was an estimated 284 million tons. During the same period the per capita consumption more than doubled during the same period. Between 1970 and 2002 the annual meat consumption per capita in developing countries increased, according to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO)” “as a 2008 New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html?_r=1) points out, ‘returning to grazing beef is a very real alternative as long as you accept the psychologically difficult and politically unpopular notion of eating less of it.’ Grazing cows ‘could never produce as many cattle as feedlots do.’ Reducing meat consumption by ten percent may reduce GHG emissions, according to a September 2007 article published in The Lancet. The authors of the article recommend developing policy to address the growth of meat consumption. The article stated, ‘Assuming a 40 per cent increase in global population by 2050 and no advance in livestock-related greenhouse gas reduction practices, global meat consumption would have to fall to an average of 90 grams per day just to stabilize emissions in this sector.’”
Weak runs of King Salmon on the Yukon River over the last several years, possibly the result of climate change induced shifts in ocean currents, brought about an unprecedented total ban on commercial fishing and stringent limits on subsistence fishing for king salmon on the river this year, which has specifically hurt Yup’ik and Athabaskan people, and left the freezers and smoke houses of many subsistence living people half full (Stefan Milkowski, “Caught in a Bad Current: Region Is Hit By Ban on Fishing The More Elusive King Salmon,” The New York Times, October 3, 2009).
Yakutat village in southeast Alaska is concerned that Oklahoma City-based Geohedral LLC tested the area last summer and estimates mining claims it owns there possess around 34.8 million ounces of gold, which at $990 per ounce in today’s market is worth about $34.5 billion. The company has no plans yet to mine the area, but there are concerns that, depending on the mining techniques used, mining could damage fishing, which is critical to the area (“New mining claims in Yakutat raise concerns,” Newsminer.com, September 29, 2009, http://newsminer.com/news/2009/sep/29/gold-discovery-made-yakutat/).
Oxfam America issued a report and launched an interactive website, in October. “Exposed: Social vulnerability and climate change in the U.S. Southeast,” uses the University of South Carolina Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute’s Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) to map social vulnerability to climate variability in 13 states in the U.S. Southeast, identifying hotspots that are at significant risk of drought, flooding, hurricane force winds, and sea-level rise. Related to the report is the interactive website: http://adapt.oxfamamerica.org, which uses the report findings to show how social vulnerability and climate variability impact each county in the region. The methodology exposes how social vulnerability, not science, determines the human risk to climate change. For more information contact: Jasmine Waddell, Ph.D., Senior Officer for Research and Learning, Oxfam America, U.S. Regional Office, (617)728.2437, Cell: (857)869.6543,.oxfamamerica.org.
Increasing demand by consumers for fish is accelerating over fishing of the world’s oceans, including of species from the depths of the Pacific (William J. Broad, “From Deep Pacific, Ugly and Tasty, With a Catch,” The New York Times, September 9, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/science/10fish.html?ref=todayspaper).
PacifiCorp, the Portland, OR utility, has agreed to begin decommissioning four dams on the Klamath River in California in 2020, long sought by the Karuk Tribe, other Native Americans and environmentalists as a major step in restoring salmon stocks. The settlement terms call for PacifiCorp ratepayers in Oregon and California to pay a surcharge to finance a company contribution of up to $200 million for dam removal and river restoration. California also would provide as much as $250 million in bond money (Bettina Boxall “Utility agrees to removal of 4 Klamath River dams,” The Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2009, http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-klamath30-2009sep30,0,3525101.story).
Two dams are slated to be removed on the Elwha River in Washington, in 2012, which will help preserve, and hopefully revive salmon, while, for the first time in 100 years, 70 miles of sites sacred to the Klallam people will again be visible (Richard Walker, “Its going to be just like Tse-whit-zen,” Indian Country Today, October 14, 2009). The cutting through and remaking of dykes in Puget Sound, in late September and early October, returned the estuary of the Nisqually River, in Washington, to receiving ocean water, that is expected to aid Chinook recovery (John Dodge, “Waters flow again at Nisqually River estuary,” News From Indian Country, October 19, 2009). Meanwhile, members of the Nisqually Indian Tribe have been removing old fishing nets, perhaps as many as 3000, that litter Puget Sound. The work is being undertaken with federal stimulus money (William Yardley, “Cleaning of Puget Sound Brings Tribes Full Circle,” The New York Times, August 25, 2009).
Native ladybugs are disappearing in the Eastern U.S., being forced out by Asian lady bugs, which are less aggressive in eating aphids that consume crops such as squash, corn and beans (Nick Vander Puy, “Perez/Allee: Native Ladybugs Disappear,” News FromIndian Country, July, 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6938&Itemid=1).
In Ontario, local farmers, fishermen, Native, and non-Native citizens, organized as “Citizens for Safe Water,” are trying to convince Premier Dalton McGuinty and Minister of the Environment John Gerretsen or any one else who will help to STOP Dump Site 41 from contaminating some of the pureist water in North America, the Alliston Aquifer. For further information at ‘Citizens for Safe Water’ contact: Stephen Ogden, or email@example.com (705 )322-2398, or John and Anne Nahuis, firstname.lastname@example.org or Vicki Monague, Wolf Clan Ojibwe, Beausolei Island (705) 247-2636 (Danny Beaton, “Sacred water for the Ojibway: Stopping Dump Site 41,” News From Indian Country, June 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6849&Itemid=1).
The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho is undertaking an aggressive plan to keep the Kootenai River’s white sturgeon population from sliding into extinction. The tribe has crafted a habitat restoration plan for 55 miles of the river, that will help young hatchery sturgeon survive after they’re released into their native waters, and also benefit the remaining wild sturgeon population (Becky Kramer, “Kootenai tribe restoring sturgeon habitat to prevent extinction,” News From Indian Country, August 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7175&Itemid=1).
Carmelo Ruiz Marrero. “Biodiversity Report from Americas Program of CIP,” Americas Program Report, September 2009, http://americas.irc-online.org/am/6456?utm_source=streamsend&utm_medium=email&utm_content=6371431&utm_campaign=%5BAmericas%20Updater%5D%20Honduran%20Crm, part of the regular series of Americas Program biodiversity reports, has several components. In Argentina the Rural Reflection Group (GRR, Grupo de Reflexión Rural) warns that under the Kyoto Protocol Carbon Credits for Genetically Modified Soy will promote expansion of this dangerously monocultural crop, as the Protocol to combat climate change, that went into effect in 2005, includes a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) through which industrialized countries may acquire permits (carbon credits) that allow them to emit greenhouse gases in exchange for financing endeavors in the global South that supposedly capture or reduce emissions. These endeavors may include agro-industrial monocultures, including soy plantations in South America, according to the GRR in a report published in August. The reports states that at least since 2005 the Argentine government has been meeting with major soy producers to promote soy monoculture as a qualified activity in the carbon credit trade. It is expected that the Argentine delegation to the next climate change summit, to be held this December in Denmark, will lobby hard in favor of the inclusion of monocultures, especially soy, in the CDM (Grupo de Reflexión Rural. “Bonos de carbono: Para la siembra directa y sojización,” http://www.alainet.org/active/32363&lang=es. For more information in Spanish go to: http://bioseguridad.blogspot.com/search/label/Argentina). In Chile, several Chilean and international organizations, including the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women (ANAMURI, Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Rurales e Indígenas), the Association of Organic Agriculturalists of Chiloé (Asociación de Agricultores Orgánicos de Chiloé), CET-SUR, and GRAIN, launched a campaign against the proposed law for Plant Breeders’ Rights that the Chilean legislature has been considering. The organizations have been circulating an international petition against the proposed law denouncing the favoritism for genetically modified agriculture implied in the initiative and the proposed seed patents that are an affront to local farmers’ millennial practice of seed saving and sharing (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/noprivaticenlassemillas, For more information in Spanish go to: http://bioseguridad.blogspot.com/search/label/Chile). In Paraguay the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) has been repeatedly denounced by the Soy Kills (La Soja Mata) campaign and numerous rural and civil society organizations as a crude attempt at “green washing” the image of soy monocultures in South America. However, since May, the Round Table has been formulating criteria for the certification of soy as a “responsible” crop for use as a biofuel in Europe. The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) investigated just how “responsible” soy really is, finding the “new labeling scheme supports further soy expansion, wider use of pesticides by small farmers provoking further conflicts within communities, and the displacement of cattle ranching into the Chaco” (http://archive.corporateeurope.org/docs/soygreenwash.pdf, For more information in Spanish go to: http://bioseguridad.blogspot.com/search/label/Soja%20Responsable). Member organizations of the Latin America Network against Tree Plantations (RECOMA, Red Latinoamericana contra los Monocultivos de Árboles) met in August in Villa Serrana, Uruguay to analyze the runaway expansion of tree plantations that are used for logging as well as carbon cellulose and biofuel (agro-diesel and ethanol derived from wood) production. The meeting declaration stated, “This process is becoming more consolidated and is expanding further hand in hand with false solutions to climate change such as agrofuel and the wrongly called “carbon sinks” that are simply new sources of business for transnational companies,” “Communities, movements, and social organizations resisting this uncontrolled advance of monoculture plantations are undergoing persecution, harassment, criminalization, and plundering of their means of living.” “Throughout the world, millions of hectares of productive land are rapidly being converted into green deserts presented under the guise of ‘forests.’ Local communities are displaced to give way to endless rows of identical trees—eucalyptus, pine, oil palm, rubber, jatropha, and other species—that displace most other forms of life from the area. Farmland, which is crucial for the food sovereignty of local communities, is converted to monoculture tree plantations producing raw materials for export. Water resources become depleted and polluted by the plantations while soils become degraded. Human rights violations are rife, ranging from the loss of livelihoods and displacement to repression and even cases of torture and death. While communities suffer as a whole, plantations result in differential gender impacts, in which women are disproportionately affected.” “However, corporate plans are facing increased opposition. In country after country, people are standing up to oppose the expansion of tree plantations and a worldwide movement has been growing over the years, bringing together the numerous local struggles and helping to raise the voices of those who suffer from plantations” (Declaration by the Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations, http://www.wrm.org.uy/plantations/RECOMA/Declaration.html, World Rainforest Movement “International Declaration: Stop the expansion of monoculture tree plantations!” http://www.wrm.org.uy/plantations/21_set/2009/declaration.htm, For more information in Spanish go to:
Food shortages and inflation are a major aspect of the developing complex climate change (and other environmental degradation), over use of resources and population growth crisis. A global action group, the Clinton Global Initiative, founded by former President Bill Clinton has committed to helping Growing Power, a nonprofit Milwaukee urban farm, raise $1.9 million to build a model for a local food system in South Africa and Zimbabwe, particularly aimed at providing sufficient and quality food for school children. In many places in Africa, particularly Zimbabwe, inadequate food supplies have been a major problem. Growing Power’s hallmark is its ability to produce and distribute affordable food. It uses cost-efficient, renewable energy systems to nurture fast-growing plants in tight, urban spaces. Growing Power also has a market basket program that offers weekly bags of fresh fruits and vegetables at below-market prices year-round through a network of 300 small farms around the country. The program’s goal is to meet the nutritional needs of those without easy access to healthful food (Karen Herzog, “Growing Power will take ideas to Africa,” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 30, 2009, http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/62766677.html).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), September 15, for the first time proposed rules to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from personal motor vehicles in the U.S. to reduce global warming pollution. The rules are intended to reduce global warming pollution from automobiles in the U.S. by 21% by 2030, Improving fuel efficiency by about 5% annually, and over the lifetime of vehicles sold under the program (model years 2012-2016), cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 950 million metric tons, saving 1.8 billion barrels of oil, and lowering the average consumer’s fuel costs by more than $3,000.
U.S. Government Developments
The Obama Administration put on the first of what is planned to be an ongoing series of White House listening sessions, August 31, bringing dozens of tribal leaders together with White House officials to engage in an informal dialogue on the process of tribal consultation, and specific areas of concern. Initial reaction from tribal leaders was quite positive. For example, Derek Bailey, chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians commented that this was a good beginning of an ongoing dialog between Indian nations and the Obama administrations. He said of the government officials, including Jodi Gillette (Standing Rock Sioux) and Kim Teehee (Cherokee) from the White House, along with Indian Health Service Director Yvette Roubideaux (Rosebud Sioux) and Del Laverdure (Crow) of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, “Never once did I feel that they were not interested listeners…. They really were engaged.” Baily said the discussions covered many major issues, and he found the session “inspiring.” Bailey, who met with President Obama in Michigan in July, said he has already noticed a change in atmosphere with the new administration. “From my understanding, there’s a huge turnaround, a very noticeable turnaround, and very much appreciated,” he said of the developing relationship. During the campaign, Obama promised to hold an annual summit with tribes. The issue was raised at the listning session. but the White House has not said when the first meeting will take place. (“White House hosts tribes for listening sessions,” Indianz.com, August 31, 2009, http://188.8.131.52/News/2009/016264.asp and “Grand Traverse chair inspired by White House talks,” Indianz.com, September 1, 2009, http://184.108.40.206/News/2009/016290.asp). The combination of White House listening talks with Indian Nations, and a Native coordinator of Indian policy and communications on the White House staff, appears to have returned government-to-government relations between the federal government and Indian nations at least to its level in the Clinton Administration.
The White House will hold the first ever Tribal Nations Summit, on November 5, with each of the 564 federally recognized tribes sending one representative. Tribal leaders heard about the summit during the morning session of the National Congress of American Indians (http://www.ncai.org/). For more information go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov. MyTribeTV will stream the President’s meeting with the Tribes: http://www.mytribetv.com/ (YACHAY WASI, NGO/UN ECOSOC & DPI, NYC and Cuzco, PERU, email@example.com, http://www.yachaywasi-ngo.org). Just before the White House meeting, also scheduled are department tribal summits in Washington, DC, with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hosting tribal leaders for a round table, on November 3, and Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis is hosting tribal leaders, November 4 (Indianz.Com, October 22, 2009, http://220.127.116.11/News/2009/017119.asp).
For more detail and updates on Congressional legislation, including federal budgets, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov. Much of the information on federal legislation, and some federal agency action and some court case reported in these pages comes from General Memorandums of Hobbs, Straus, Dean and Walker, 2120 L Street, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037, made available to IPJ by Americans for Indian Opportunity.
President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act (HR 146, Public Law 111-11) that includes putting land into trust and made part of the reservation of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California (293 acres, which cannot be used for gaming, and lands above a certain elevation are to be used for ceremony and conservation), the Toulemne Band of Me-Wuk Indians of California (a 66 acre and a 357 acre parcel, both subject to the California Indian Land Transfer Act) and the Shivuts Band of Paiute Indians of Utah (640 acres). The act establishes the water rights of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada, Navajo Nation and the Jicarilla Apache Nation of New Mexico, while providing for a land exchange within the Izenbek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for the purpose of building a road between the Alaska Native Village of King Cove, home of the Agdagux Tribe and Cold Bay, which would link the community, now only accessible by water, to an all water airport at Cove Bay. Navajo Water Rights, Title VI of the Act, implements the agreement between Navajo Nation, the State of New Mexico and the federal government. It specifies the amount of water to be released and distributed from the Navajo Reservoir and the San Juan River, and authorizes the Navajo Nation to enter into subcontracts with third party water users in New Mexico. The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project provides terms for an agreement between Navajo Nation, the Jicarilla Apache Nation and New Mexico to build water facilities and implement water delivery services between Ship Rock and Gallup, Section 10702 creates the Navajo Nation Water Resources Development Trust Fund, and authorizes the Department of the Interior to allocate about $10 million to the fund over the next 10 years for water project facilities, conservation, and other projects. The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation Water Rights Settlement, intended to resolve disputes involving the East Fork of the Owyhee River in Nevada, includes provisions creating a tribal maintenance fund, authorization of $3 millions in appropriations each year from FY2020 to FY2014, and calls for the creation of a tribal management plan. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act also authorizes funding of historic preservation programs and cultural resource protection for which Indian nations are eligible.
HR 1385, a bill that would give six Indian tribes in Virginia, the Chickahominy, Chickahominy Indian Tribe Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond Indian tribes, federal recognition, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2009, was passed by the House, June 3. The bill includes provisions that land taken into trust for the tribes must be in the historic service area where the tribes originated, while giving the tribes the opportunity to put land they already own into trust, if approved by the Secretary of the Interior. If the bill passes the Senate, President Obama has reversed the position of past presidents and pledged to support recognition of the Lumbee Tribe, but has not said whether he will support recognition of the Virginia tribes. The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and six Virginia tribes would be eligible for up to $800 million in federal funds for housing, education and health benefits under two bills passed by the House. The legislation would allow North Carolina to continue to have jurisdiction over all criminal offenses on tribal land and would not permit the tribe to own or operate gaming facilities there (Mary Clare Jalonick, “House passes bills to recognize seven tribes in N. Carolina and Virginia, “ News From Indian Country, June 3, 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6713&Itemid=1). Later in the fall, S1735 was introduced in the Senate that would extend federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, a similar bill having passed the House in June. On October 22, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved S.1178 (companion to HR 1385), the Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2009. (“Virginia tribes take another step on road to federal recognition,” The Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 23, 2009).
The Senate, October 6, for the second straight year, this time attached to a defense appropriations bill, passed a resolution apologizing to American Indians for years of “ill-conceived policies” and acts of violence against Native Americans by U.S. Citizens, The resolution requested that the President “acknowledge the wrongs of the United States against Indian tribes” to promote a renewed commitment to tribal communities. The resolution states that it is not the basis for the settlement of any claims against the U.S. government (“A Symbolic Apology to Indians,” The New York Times, October 9, 2009, and Rob Capriccioso, “Senate approves apology to Natives, part two,” Indian Country Today, October 14, 2009).
The Water Infrastructure Financing Act of 2009 (S 1005, HR 1262) was nearing a vote in the Senate, in late July, following House approval. The bill would reauthorize the State Revolving Funds in the Clean Water (CWA) and Safe Drinking Water (SDWA) Acts, with tribal set-asides in CWA of .5% for EPA grants to tribes, and of 1.5% in SDWA to provide grants to tribes, and of 3% for technical assistance from the EPA to tribes for technical assistance. The National Congress of American Indians NCAI was seeking amendments to two provisions, to increase the tribal CWA set-aside to 3%, and the SWDA set-aside to 3% (making it mandatory, where at the time all the set-asides were discretionary), and to increase operator training for Indian tribes
The House, June 12, passed The Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009 (HR 2352), including the Native American Business Enhancement Act of 2009 (HR 1823) that would elevate the Office of Native American Affairs in the Small Business administration and authorize $2 million annually for new programs. The Office, which would also serve Natïve Hawaiians, would be charged with promoting Native American Entrepreneurship, increasing Native American small business access to government contracts, and assisting Native American economic development. The Office’s Director would be elevated to the level of Associate Administrator, and the office would be authorized to establish a Tribal Business Information Centers Program, setting up centers to provide Native small businesses with training and support. The bill also would expand SBA’s Small Business Development Center Program (SBDC) to help Native people start or expand businesses. Section 501 would require the SBA Administrator to submit to Congress a plan to create new jobs in FY209-10 through its entrepreneurial development program, with Native American outreach. Section 702 would create a grant program for SBDCs to provide services assisting Native businesses in gaining access to capital and credit. Section 703 would create a grant program allowing SBDCs to provide procurement training and assistance to Native businesses, and Section 704 would create a grant program allowing SBDCs to educate Native entrepreneurs in starting small businesses in the fields of energy efficiency, and green and clean technology,
The House, September 30, passed The Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act of 2009 (HR 1727) to establish a national arsonist and bomber registry, that would require tribes (and other state level jurisdictions) to establish and maintain jurisdiction wide arsonist and bomber registries. A tribe must either carry out the provisions of the bill or enter into a cooperative agreement with another jurisdiction to do so. Failure to comply could result in withholding of up to 10% of Department of Justice Edward Byrne funds. The bill authorizes a grant program to offset the costs of implementing MATCH.
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held hearings on the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 (S 797), June 25, and at the hearings, September 10, an updated version of the complex Tribal Law and Order Act of 2008, which failed to pass. The most heavily debated issue was the high rate of reservation cases (the high “declination rate”) that the Justice Department declines to prosecute: between 2004 and 2007, 50% of murder referrals, 58% of referred aggravated assault allegations, 72% of referred child sex crime allegations and 76% of adult sex crime allegations. Unanimous support was expressed for a provision that would allow tribal prosecutors to be appointed Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys. General support was also shown for a section that would amend the Indian Civil Rights Act to increase the maximum length of criminal sentence that a tribe could impose to three years. Witnesses generally agreed that there is a need for more law enforcement officers in Indian Country, with improvements needed in recruitment and retention. The summary and full text of the bill are available at: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-797, and a Webcast of the hearing at: http://indian,senate,gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=d7ebfb3c-d3c7-4341-cbfb150d0211. The final Senate Committee Bill was similar to the original, and the previous bill (discussed in detail in IPJ Fall 2008), but with some changes. The Department of Justice is still required to report on the disposition of cases in Indian Country, but in aggregate by judicial district. Instead of requiring submission of evidence collected by federal officials in each case to tribal officials, the act now reads, “coordinate with the appropriate tribal law enforcement officials about the use of evidence.” A number of amendments to the bill were made in committee that can be found at: http://thomas.loc.gov or the above committee site, The House version (HR 1924) was introduced April 2 and sent to the House: Judiciary; Energy and Natural Resources; and Education and Labor Committees, neither of which had acted on the bill by September 18.
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved six bills on September 11, 2009, S 797. The Tribal Law and Order Act, A bill to amend the Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act, the Indian Tribal Justice Act, the Indian Tribal Justice Technical and Legal Assistance Act of 2000, and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to improve the prosecution of, and response to, crimes in Indian country, and for other purposes, was amended to reflect concerns raised by the Department of Justice about the number of cases that it declines to prosecute in Indian Country. Other amendments addressed a federal study into the trafficking of Indian women and girls, law enforcement funding and training for Alaska Native villages and a Government Accountability Office study into the way the Indian Health Service responds to sexual assaults. S 375, the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act, a bill to authorize the Crow Tribe of Indians water rights settlement, and for other purposes, was amended to address concerns raised by water users in Wyoming who may be affected by a water rights settlement for the Crow Tribe of Montana. S 965 (H.R. 3254), the Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act, a bill to approve the Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement, and for other purposes; S.1105 (H.R.2242), the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Commissioner of Reclamation, to develop water infrastructure in the Rio Grande Basin, and to approve the settlement of the water rights claims of the Pueblos of Nambe, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque, were amended to reflect concerns raised by the Department of the Interior about water rights settlements for Taos Pueblo, Nambe Pueblo, Tesuque Pueblo and San Ildefonso Pueblo, all of New Mexico. S 313 (H.R.1065), the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act, a bill to resolve water rights claims of the White Mountain Apache Tribe in the State of Arizona, and for other purposes, and S1388 (H.R.3907), the Spokane Tribe of Indians of the Spokane Reservation Grand Coulee Dam Equitable Compensation Settlement Act, a bill to provide for equitable compensation to the Spokane Tribe of Indians of the Spokane Reservation for the use of tribal land for the production of hydropower by the Grand Coulee Dam, and for other purposes, were approved with little discussion. For more go to: http://thomas.loc.gov.
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, on September 10, held hearings on S 1635, a bill to establish an Indian Youth telemental health demonstration project, to enhance the provision of mental health care services to Indian youth, to encourage Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and other mental health care providers serving residents of Indian country to obtain the services of predoctoral psychology and psychiatry interns, and for other purposes (For more go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:s.01635).
The Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on H.R.2708, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2009, October 20. The subcommittee heard testimony from Yvette Roubideaux, director of the Indian Health Service, and tribal leaders about the need to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. Congress has been unable to extend key programs for the past nine years, in the face of opposition from the Bush administration. Roubideaux stated, “The [Health and Human Services] Department strongly supports reauthorization of the IHCIA and supports the effort to ensure that the IHS is able to meet the health care needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives and takes into account increased tribal administration of Indian health programs,” Subcommittee Chairman, Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), said he wants to include IHCIA provisions in the broader U.S. health care reform package that is being debated in the House and the Senate (“Tribal health care changes promised” The Oklahoman, October 21, 2009, on Indianz.Com, http://18.104.22.168/News/2009/017091.asp).
The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing, October 21, on H.R.2523, the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act, introduced May 20. It would authorize tribes to approve trust land leases for home sites, cutting the Bureau of Indian Affairs out of what can be a long process. Tribal leaders testified that it can take up to two years for the BIA to approve leases, leading to a shortage in housing and forcing members to move off reservation. Arvin Trujillo, the executive director of the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources described the process as “black hole.” Audio clips from the 95 minute hearing can be downloaded from “Audio: House panel hearing on Indian housing bill,” Indianz.Com, October 22, 2009, http://22.214.171.124/News/2009/017112.asp.
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-S.D), Chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced legislation (S 1703), September 28, aimed at clarifying the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) that allowed the Secretary of Interior to take land into trust for tribes, following questions and problems arising from the U.S. Supreme Court decision, in March, in Carcieri v. Salazar concerning all land taken into trust for tribes that were not federally recognized before the 1934 IRA was enacted. The bill would ratify all trust acquisitions made by the secretary for the past 75 years. And it would reaffirm the secretary’s ability to accept land for Indian tribes regardless of when they received federal recognition. On October 1, Congressman Cole (R. – OK) introduced an identical bill in the House (H 3697). Both the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the House Natural Resources Committee have held hearings on how Congress should respond to Carcieri v. Salazar (“U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan introduces Indian land bill,” NewsOK, September 29, 2009, http://www.newsok.com/u.s.-sen.-byron-dorgan-introduces-indian-land-bill/article/3404791).
Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) introduced the Indian Reservation Branch Bank Act (S 1316), June 22, that would allow the Native American Bank and state banks to open branch locations on Indian reservations, as a move to spur economic development. The bill would allow the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to approve state bank branches on reservations whether or not the bank was chartered in the same state as the reservation. The Comptroller of the Currency would be authorized to allow national banks to open reservation bank branches. The bill was referred to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee.
Senator Bingaman (D-MN) introduced the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009 (S 1442), July 10, that would include service learning opportunities on public lands and in Indian Country and authorize funding for an Indian Youth Service Corps.
Representative Anne Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) introduced a bill, in September, that would amend the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act to overcome a hardship to Native veterans, their families and survivors, who are currently ineligible for housing assistance because these benefits. The bill would change the definition of income to specifically exclude veterans’ benefits and survivors’ payments.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representative Don Young (R-AK) introduced the Native American Challenge Demonstration Project Act (S 980, HR 2507), in June, that would create a number of multi-agency economic developments between the United States and Indian tribes, tribal organizations, Alaska Native Organizations and Hawaiian Native Organizations. The demonstration projects are modeled on the 2004 Millennium Challenge Act.
Representative DeGette (D-CO) introduced legislation to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI, HR 3668), September 29, that would receive entitlement funds of $200 a year, $50 million above the current spending level, in FY2012-2016. The bill was sent to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The Pine River Irrigation Acts, S 1264 and HR 3061, were introduced in both houses, in July, that would require the Secretary of Agriculture to assess and eventually repair the Pine River Indian Irrigation Project built to serve Indian and non-Indian water users on the Southern Ute Reservation, The bill is intended to address a backlog of maintenance, repair and improvement needs that a GAO study in 2006 estimated would cost $20 million, and other unofficial estimates claim would cost $30 million (Southern Ute Indian Tribe Applauds Introduction or Pine River Irrigation Acts,” The Southern Ute Drum, July 31, 2009).
The Senate Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight held hearings, in May, that looked at Alaska Native corporations and the government contracts they receive. Subcommittee chair, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Stated, in September, that “reform” is coming to Native contracting despite complaints of a one-sided approach. She is concerned about the lack of competition for some contracts and says Native corporations are treated more favorably than other small businesses. At the hearing, three Alaska Native witnesses testified about the benefits of the 8(a) program at the Small Business Administration. Native corporations fear they will be penalized for their success and have formed Native 8(a) Works to counter McCaskill’s claims (“McCaskill promises Native contracting ‘reform’, Indianz,com, September 29, 2009, http://126.96.36.199/News/2009/016751.asp).
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Ensign (R-NV) sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in mid-September, saying taking land into trust for gaming purposes “violates the spirit” of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and calling for more scrutiny of land-into-trust applications for gaming projects, The Obama administration is weighing land-into-trust applications for two California tribes that plan to open casinos in the Bay Area (“Senate letter questions gaming land transfers,” Indianz.Com, September 18, 2009, http://188.8.131.52/IndianGaming/2009/016562.asp).
A group of Senators, in a letter, September 29, requested that President Obama strengthen tribal governance and self-sufficiency by funding long standing shortfalls in the federal contracting support system, under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act of 1975, which the U.S. Supreme Court said the tribes were entitled to have fully funded, in 2005. The President requested increased contract support in his FY2010 budget request (Rob Capriccioso, “Senators want tribal contract shortages addressed,” Indian Country Today, October 14, 2009).
On healthcare reform, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has told the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) that tribal members will be exempted from any mandate to pay for health insurance in any healthcare reform insurance that Congress enacts (Rob Capriccioso, “Pelosi’s Promise on Healthcare Reform and Indians,” Indian Country Today, October 21, 2009). Meanwhile, as Indian nations increasingly offer health care assistance to their members, the IRS has been more keenly scrutinizing tribal healthcare payments to members as possibly taxable income. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held hearings on the matter, September 18, reviewing the federal tax code in relation to health benefits (Rob Capriccioso, “Tackling the tax of tribal health care benefits,” Indian Country Today, September 30, 2009.
The Obama administration, in early September, announced a new effort to reduce crime on reservations, with a first step having top Justice Department officials travel to states with large Indian populations over the “next two months” to talk to tribal members and crime experts about what can be done. (“Obama should back Tribal Law and Order,” Indianz.Com, September 4, 2009, http://184.108.40.206/News/2009/016350.asp). At the Department of Justice tribal nations listening conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, October 29, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the creation of the Tribal Nations Leadership Council to advise the department on Indian Country issues. The council, composed of tribal leaders representing the 12 regions of the U.S., Holder said the Obama administration supports passage of the S.797, the Tribal Law and Order Act, and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. He said the department will work with Congress to ensure Indian youth are a priority in the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the department has provided nearly $400 million in grants to tribes and Alaska Natives (“DOJ announces Indian Country crime initiatives, Indianz.Com, October 30, 2009, http://220.127.116.11/News/2009/017209.asp). In a follow up to the Justice Department’s listening conferences, Daniel Bogden, the U.S. Attorney for Nevada, stated, in mid-October, that he hopes to work more closely with tribes and secure funding to boost law enforcement on reservations in the state. Nevada is home to 27 tribes and 31 reservations. Bogden says not enough is being done to prevent and prosecute crimes in Indian Country, but now, “It’s going to be a top Justice Department priority” (“Crimes on reservations catch eye of U.S. attorneys,” The Las Vegas Sun, October 15,2009).
Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, in June, that she will launch a new multiyear effort to improve health care for American Indians, which she calls a “historic failure.” She stated she will challenge Congress to make the back-burner issue a priority. Part of that strategy would be to recruit more providers for reservations and to focus more on preventive care, which is often neglected in Indian health clinics as dollars run out. She said her department is also increasing the size of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which dispatches doctors to reservations as part of its mission. The Indian Health Service (IHS) is severely underfunded, at about 50% of what it needs. She noted, “Some of the Indian health facilities are in great shape, some are really in terrible shape.” President Barack Obama campaigned on Indian reservations during his Democratic primary last year and promised better health care there. His budget for 2010 includes an increase of $454 million, or about 13% percent, and the stimulus bill he signed earlier this year provided for construction and improvements to clinics. However, Sebelius said, that although a significant increase, these funds still fall far short of IHS needs. “One of my challenges to the new head of the Indian Health Service is that we need a multiyear strategy, we need an end goal.” She said health disparities between minority groups and whites are “unconscionable.” “The most severe disparity between quality care and what goes on with health outcomes is in the Native American population,” she added. (Mary Clare Jalonick, “Kathleen Sebelius to boost Indian health care,” News From Indian Country, June 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6811&Itemid=1).
Indian Health Service (IHS) Director Roubiseaux sent a letter to IHS personnel, in August, and to tribal leaders, September 9, soliciting suggestions for improving the health service’s internal operations. The Indian Health Service published in the Federal Register, June 10, its annual list of Indian Health Service Reimbursement Rates for Calendar Year 2009, applicable to Medicare and Medicaid for IHS funded health programs.
Health and Human Service Secretary Kathryn Sebelius sent tribal leaders a resource guide, October 7, on the dispersal of H1N1 vaccine, and how tribal and urban Indian health organizations may access H1N1 preparedness and response funds. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began shipping H1N1 vaccine, October 6, on a rolling basis, as vaccine becomes available. Each shipment is divided among states according to the state’s percentage of population (including tribal population). States then distribute instate, including to tribes, and have been specifically instructed to work with tribes and local governments to insure that local needs are properly met, following CDC priority guidelines for order of vaccination.
The plaintiffs in The Keepseagle case, a lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture by thousands of Indian farmers who claim they were systematically discriminated against by the department in obtaining loans, were hoping, in September, that they can reach a settlement with President Barack Obama. The Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, said he wants to resolve the discrimination issues, but as of early September there had yet to be any negotiations. If not resolved, the case could go to trial before the end of the year (Indianz.com, September 8, 2009, http://18.104.22.168/News/2009/016382.asp).
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) head, Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk issued his Order No. 3, September 11, instituting a reorganization within the Office of Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs (AS-IA), creating new positions and lines of authority, generally moving reporting and decision making upward. The new organization is largely as follows. Creation of a Chief of Staff (Paul Tsosie), with responsibilities including oversight of immediate AS-IA staff, Office of Counsel and a realigned Office of External Affairs (formerly under the Principal Deputy Secretary), with the Office of External Affairs functions divided into Office of Public Affairs and Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs. The Principal Deputy Secretary (George Skibine) now takes on oversight, including of Indian gaming, self-governance and federal recognition and a new office of Regulatory Affairs and Collaborative Action (which will develop new and revise existing regulations), while managing the Indian Affairs dispute resolution program and assuming policy responsibility for the Office of Planning and Policy Analysis (formerly under the Deputy Assistant Secretary–Management). Skibine is also currently Acting Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission until a permanent nominee is appointed. A new position of Deputy Assistant Secretary-Programs has responsibility for oversight of the consolidated Office of Facilities, Environment and Cultural Resources (formerly under the Deputy Assistant Secretary Management), the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (formerly under the Deputy Assistant Secretary-Policy and Economic Development, a post now eliminated), and the added Oversight of the Office of Trust Policy and Rights Protection. The Deputy Assistant Secretary-Management’s responsibilities now include the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Human Capital Management, and Office of the Chief Information Officer; A consolidated Office of Planning and Performance Management (formerly Office of Planning and Policy Analysis), and Office of Internal Evaluation, An Office of Program Management will be under the Chief Information Officer. The Directors of the Bureau of Indian Education and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (who now gains oversight for the Office of Homeland Security, formerly under Deputy Assistant Secretary-Management) now report directly to the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, instead of the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published in the Federal Register the Job Placement and Training Program final rules August 17, consolidating current regulations for the Employment Assistance Program and the Adult Vocational Training Program (25 CFR parts 26 and 27), already merged under the Indian Affairs budgetary structure. The rule went into effect September 16. The BIA published the 2009 list of federally recognized tribal entities, August 11, now totaling 564 tribes, with the addition of two since the April 2008 listing: the Wilton Rancheria (as a result of a June 8, 2009 court order) and the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, as an entity separate from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma pursuant to a memorandum of agreement between the two nations. Several tribes have changed their names or had their federally official name corrected. On June 24, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk reversed longstanding BIA policy, issuing an opinion indicating the agency’s willingness to take land into trust for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, but delayed implementation pending the Secretary determining whether he has authority to take land into trust for the band under the Supreme Court’s Carcieri decision.
A Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) spokesperson said, in early September, that the agency does not want to put 469 acres in trust that the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota owns, because the tribe plans to use the land for an oil refinery, and the BIA does not want to take on the liability associated with a refinery. The BIA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final environmental impact statement that supports a water discharge permit for the refinery. The $250 million refinery on the Fort Berthold Reservation would be the first new oil refinery in the U.S. in more than 30 years. (“BIA doesn’t want to acquire tribal refinery site,” Indianz.com, September 10, 2009).
The EPA and its Navajo Nation counterpart are engaged in a survey of 500 homes and other structures within a half mile to a mile of significant uranium mines and waste piles on the Navajo Reservation, and will rebuild those structures found to be contaminated with radiation from Cold War mining. The federal government expects to spend $3 million a year on the project (Felicia Fonseca, “US to rebuild uranium-contaminated Navajo homes,” News from Indian Country, July 6, 2009).
proposing a number of.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced proposed rules changes to the 8(a) federal contracting program, October 28, that it would impose some limits on tribal and Alaska Native businesses. For example, tribal and Native businesses would be forced to “graduate” from the program and cannot rejoin simply by creating another business. Tribal and Native businesses also would not be able to subcontract work to non-tribal and non-Native partners. Some federal agencies already limit such practices. Some changes would apply specifically to Alaska Native businesses. They would be required to submit information every year to show how contracts are benefiting Native communities. Alaska Native corporations have come under scrutiny for winning large sole-source contracts. The proposed changes would not affect the dollar amount of any contracts or force Native businesses to compete for certain contracts. Comments on the proposed rule changes are due by December 28. So far this year Congress has taken no action on issues relating to Alaska Native contracts (“Native firms face changes to contracting,” The Anchorage Daily News, October 29, 2009; “SBA proposes major revisions to small business contracting program,” Government Executive, October 28, 2009; Federal Register Notice: “Small Business Size Regulations; 8(a) Business Development/Small Disadvantaged Business Status Determinations; Proposed Rule (October 28, 2009); on Indianz.Com, http://22.214.171.124/News/2009/017205.asp).
The National Indian Gaming Commission has developed an online database, the Tribal Access Portal (TAP), that tribes can use to obtain background information on prospective employees (“NIGC develops database for background checks, Indianz.Com, September 9, 2009, http://126.96.36.199/IndianGaming/2009/016414.asp).
The Census Bureau has begun preparations for the 2010 Census and has requested that every tribe designate a Tribal Liaison which most tribes had done as of late September. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) held a webinar, October 1, “Making Indian Country Count in the 2010 Census,” available at: http://tinyurl.com/Censnsuswebnar, There is also and NCAI document, “Indian country Counts: The 2010 Census a Call to Action.” For information go to: www.ncai.org.
The U.S. Parole Commission denied parole to Leonard Peltier, in August. He was sentenced, in 1977, to two consecutive life terms for the killings of two FBI agents in a gunfight on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in June 1975. The prosecution clearly engaged in misconduct in the case, and there is considerable evidence that Peltier was, in fact, innocent. A recent article discussing the case, its background and context, with references is Michele Bollinger, “Leonard Peltier and the Indian struggle for freedom,” ISR Issue 67, September–October 2009, http://www.isreview.org/issues/67/feat-peltier.shtml.
At the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Mid-Year Conference. June 15, in a taped presentation, President Barack Obama announced the appointment of Kimberly Teehee (Cherokee) as a member of the Domestic Policy Council, and a senior policy advisor for Native American Affairs. President Obama also announced that the White House will hold a Tribal Nations Conference this fall. Teehee has served as a senior advisor to the House of Representatives Native American Caucus co-chair, Congressman Dale Kildee (D-MI), director of Native American Outreach for the Presidential Inaugural Committee for President Clinton’s second inauguration, and deputy director of Native American Outreach at the Democratic National Committee. She has held various positions with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, including as a law clerk in the Division of Law and Justice (“President Obama announces Kimberly Teehee as senior policy advisor for Native American Affairs,” June 15, 2009, http://www.ncai.org/Home.430.0.html). President Barack Obama nominated Lillian Sparks (Oglala and Rosebud Lakota) as Commissioner of the Administration for Native American (ANA), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The post requires Senate confirmation. Sparks, an attorney, has served as executive director of the National Indian Education Association since 2004. She also worked for the National Congress of American Indian (Indianz.Com, October 28, 2009, http://188.8.131.52/News/2009/017182.asp).
Federal Indian Budgets
Congress had not approved the FY2010 federal budget at the close of FY2009, September 31, and passed a continuing resolution, signed by the President, for the most part continuing federal spending at the FY2009 rate for one month, pending a passage of an FY2010 budget.
The House passed its version of the FY2010 budget, July 26. The House authorized $162.2 million for Indian Affairs in the Department of Interior, an increase of 6.8% over FY2009, and $21.3 million above the President recommendation, while the Senate Committee recommended $55.5 million above the President’s request. The House increased included an additional $33 million for Public Safety and Justice, and an increase of $80.1 million for the Bureau of Indian Education, of which $50 million was for a one time increase to transition Tribal Colleges and Universities to a forward funded basis. The BIA FY2010 House budget totaled $1.504 billon, compared with FY2009 enacted $1.412 billion and a Senate committee FY2010 proposal of $15.11 billion. For Human Services, FY2009 was $137.5 million, the House FY2010 is $137.0 million with the Senate Committee recommending $138.1 million. The Bureau of Indian Education would receive $796.3 million under the FY2010 House Bill, as was in the White House proposal, while the Senate Committee proposed $797.9 million, compared to FY2009 enacted $716.2 million. The House Committee reported that there has been improved cooperation between the Departments of Homeland Security and Interior, but stated that the departments needed to further improve their coordination to improve and protect the Southwest border environment. Specific mention was made of the trash problem faced by the Tohono O’Odham Nation.
The House passed its version of the FY2010 appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS) as did the Senate Committee. The President recommended and the Senate Committee voted a 13% increase over FY2009, while the House voted additional funding beyond the President’s recommendations including Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative ($2.5 billion), Dental Health ($1.25 million), Urban Health ($5 million), and Contract Support Costs ($9 million). The administration had requested increases over FY2009 for Contract Health Services ($117 million), Contract Support Costs ($104.4 million), New Tribes ($5. million: Mashpee Wampanoag and Tuscarora), Indian Health Care Improvement Fund ($30 million); Chronic Care Initiative ($2.5 million), Health Promotion/Disease Prevention ($800,000), Health Professions ($2.9 million); Health Information Technology ($16.3 million, and Facilities and Environmental Health Support ($575,000). Over all for IHS, the President recommended and the Senate Committee passed $3.64 million, and the House passed $3.658 million, compared with FY2009 enacted 3.391 million. The Senate, but not the House bill, would require continuing that, with some exceptions, IHS Funds for Alaska be made available only to regional Alaska Native health organizations. The Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SPDI) is funded separately at an annual rate of $150 million annually through FY2011, which tribally supported legislation in the Senate (see above) is attempting to increase to $200 million a year.
The House approved the FY2010 budgets for the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Housing and Urban Developments (HR 3288 and 2847), June 18, with funding increases for Tribal law enforcement under the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and under the Community Oriented Policing Program (Cops). The House Committee directed DOJ to work with the Department of the Interior, state and tribal officials on developing a working group on law enforcement challenges in Indian Country. The House increased FY2010 Tribal Law Enforcement Assistance from FY2009 enacted $25 million, (requested to be the same by the President for FY2010) to $47 million, while the Senate Committee recommended $30 million. The House increased COPS tribl funding fro, FY2009 of $20 million (requested by President Bush for FY2010) to $30 million, with the Senate Committee recommending $20 million. The Senate committee added earmarks of $950,000 in Juvenile Justice Incentive Grants to four tribes. The House increased Native American Housing Block Grants from FY2009 $645 million (the amount proposed in the President’s budget) to $750 million, while the Senate Committee proposed $670 million for FY2010, with several earmarks for Indian nations: Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. SD, $200,000 for day care center improvements and $350,000 for community center upgrades; Navajo Technical College, NM, $400,000 for regional health care construction and Spirit Lake Nation, ND, $750,000 for low income senior housing construction. The House bill Economic Development Initiative Indian earmark is: Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place, SD, $280,000 for construction,
An important piece of the American Recovery and Stimulus Act of 2009 (H.R. 1, S. 1) has been the allocation of tax exempt bonding authority to Indian tribes, to be awarded in two rounds of $1 billion each. The first round of the tribal award process was completed August 15, with Treasury officials stating that every tribe that applied properly, providing proper documents to the Internal Revenue Service, received an allocation. The second application deadline is Jan. 2. The legislation is intended to put tribal governments on the same plane, for a limited time, as states and localities that have long had such bonding authority. A number of tribes have begun using the authority for major economic development projects (see the entire first round list of tribes permitting disclosure below). The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin is using about $16 million in tax-exempt bonds to refinance the purchase of a hotel and a golf course and to refinance a construction project. The Menominee Nation plans to use $22.6 million for a convention center and a hotel expansion. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon will use $22.6 million to expand a hotel. The Spokane Tribe of Washington will use $22.6 million to develop a tourism facility, infrastructure, a manufacturing facility and low-income housing. The Lummi Nation will use $22.6 million for environmental and transportation infrastructure projects (“Tribes plan big projects with tax-exempt bonds,” Indianz.Com, September 22, 2009, http://184.108.40.206/News/2009/016615.asp). However, Rob Capriccioso, “Tribes ‘oversubscribed’ to bonding authority program,” September 25, 2009, http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/national/61446422.html, comments that the Tribal Economic Development Bonds were intended to create jobs, complete projects, and bring much needed economic revitalization to Indian country, by providing a tax incentives, granted for the purpose of building community infrastructure, such as schools and roads. This allows projects to be undertaken at lower cost because of the lower interest paid on loans (which has led to many tribes using the authority to refinance existing loans) “The Treasury Department has been eager to report that tribes have overwhelmingly taken advantage of bonding authority provisions granted under the stimulus act. But Native American financial experts said there have been some key flaws in the program.” The first problem is that this is a one time bonding authorization, that does not make tribes equal to states and localities over time. Because it is a one time opportunity, many tribes have rushed to take advantage of the limited bonding authority, whether or not they have shovel ready projects. The result is that some tribes have received the authority to issue bonds that they will never use – or only use after a long delay – that is not available to tribes ready to begin projects now. This was a problem identified by Bill Lomax, president of the Native American Finance Officers Association, who felt granting all tribe that applied a share of the total of a pro-rata basis “…might not be the most effective system.” Some tribal finance experts propose the program would be improved for all tribes if it were set up on a revolving basis with tiered windows of time built in for tribes to use the authority. Lomax suggested that any bonding authority not used in a specified time frame, could be passed on to other tribes that are ready to use it. Many said the program would be much more effective if it became permanent. In the meantime, many tribal leaders are happy with the authority that has been granted, which needed to be for a limited period as part of the economic recovery program. Evaluation of the current program would be a valuable tool in considering a standing tribal bonding authority. Here is a list of tribes receiving bond authority in the first round, excluding seven that did not give approval for public disclosure:
Allocation Schedule of 1st Tranche of Tribal Economic Development Bonds
Name of Applicant/Issuer, State, Type of Project TEDBs Allocation
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, CA, Refinancing, $13,162,968.27
Apsaalooke Nation–Crow Tribe of Indians, MT, Commercial Facility and Land Acquisition, $6,419,391.58
Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, MT, Refinancing and Acquisition of Tourism Facility,
Cabazon Band of Mission Indians CA Refinancing $22,565,088.46
Cedar Band of Paiute Indians of Utah UT, Retail Facility, $10,530,374.62
Chemehuevi Indian Tribe of the Chemehuevi Reservation, CA Tourism Facility and Marina, $15,795,561.92
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, OR, Water Infrastructure, $1,504,339.23
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, OR, Refinancing, $8,574,733.62
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, OR Tourism Facility Expansion, $22,565,088.46
Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, Water Infrastructure and Tourism Facility
Delaware Tribe of Indians, OK, Acquisition of Businesses and Airpark, $22,565,088.46
Elk Valley Rancheria, California, Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, Tourism Facility Expansion, $22,565,088.46
Hopland Band of Pomo Indians of the Hopland Rancheria, California, Tourism Facility, $22,561,504.38
Ione Band of Miwok Indians, CA, Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
Kaw Nation, OK, Water Infrastructure, $22,565,088.46
Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, Refinancing and Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
La Jolla Band of Luiseno Mission Indians, CA, Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, MI, Refinancing and Building Construction/
Lummi Nation. WA, Environmental and Transportation Infrastructure, $22,565,088.46
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Tourism Facility and Convention Center Expansion, $22,565,088.46
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, MN, Education Facility, $6,279,393.17
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, MN, Education Facility $2,632,593.65
Oneida Nation of New York NY Refinancing, $22,565,088.46
Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, Retail Facility Improvements, $902,603.54
Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, Recreational Facility Improvements and Refinancing, $9,402,120.19
Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. Refinancing, $4,889,102.50
Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
Pauma Band of Luiseno Mission Indians, CA, Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
Pit River Tribe, CA, Retail Facility, $3,760,848.08
Poarch Band of Creek Indians, AL, Refinancing, $22,565,088.46
Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
Pueblo of Acoma, NM, Manufacturing Facility, $8,273,865.77
Pueblo of Isleta, NM, Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
Quechan Indian Tribe, CA, Refinancing $22,565,088.46
Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, Refinancing, $22,565,088.46
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, AZ, Recreational Facility, $22,565,088.46
San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians, CA, Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
Santa Clara Pueblo, NM, Tourism Facility, Expansion and Refinancing, $22,565,088.46
Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska ,Health Facility, $13,539,053.08
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, MI, Refinancing $8,161,040.33
Seminole Tribe of Florida, Parking Facility, $22,565,088.46
Southern Ute Indian Tribe, CO, Refinancing, $22,565,088.46
Spokane Tribe of Indians, WA, Tourism Facility, Infrastructure, Manufacturing Facility, and Low Income
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (Ute Mountain Tribe of the Ute Mountain Reservation), CO, Tourism Facility,
Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, CA, Tourism Facility, $22,565,088.46
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Tourism Facility, $13,539,053.08
Yankton Sioux Tribe, SD, Tourism Facility and Convention Center, $10,530,374.62
Yankton Sioux Tribe, SD, Corrections Facility, $4,513,017.69
Yankton Sioux Tribe, SD, Administrative Offices, $7,521,696.15
Total of 51 Disclosed Applications $856,967,985.42, Total of 7 Non-disclosed Applications $143,032,014.44
Total of 58 Applications: $999,999,999.86
Federal economic stimulus money (the American Recovery and Stimulus Act of 2009) has been allocated by the U.S. Department of Justice to aid tribal programs and coalitions in developing violence awareness and prevention programs benefiting women, men, children, teens and elders in Alaska, Arizona, California, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. (“Tribes use stimulus for justice programs,” Indianz.Com, September 4, 2009, http://220.127.116.11/News/2009/016346.asp). The Department of justice released $236 million in economic stimulus funds, in late September, to help tribes with public safety and law enforcement programs, with more than $224 million to construct and renovate prisons and jails in Indian Country and another $12 million for juvenile justice systems for American Indian and Alaska Native youth. The announcement was made by Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, who met with tribes at a listening session in Albuquerque, NM. He said tribes in New Mexico are receiving more than $82 million for their justice programs (“DOJ releases $236M for tribal law enforcement,” Indianz.com, September 22, 2009, http://18.104.22.168/News/2009/016609.asp). The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community of Arizona is using a tax-exempt loan program in the stimulus act for a loan that could be as high as $30 million, to finance a stadium for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies on the reservation. The project is expected to cost $100 million. The tribe also was awarded $22.56 million in bonding authority under the law (“Salt River Tribe uses stimulus loan for stadium,” Indianz.Com, September 17, 2009, http://22.214.171.124/News/2009/016539.asp). The State of New Mexico used $2.1 million to build a platform for the Rail Runner Express railway and a parking lot on the Santo Domingo Pueblo reservation, for which groundbreaking took place in late September.. The state will break ground on Rail Runner a station at Sandia Pueblo later this year. The Rail Runner runs from Santa Fe through Albuquerque to points to the south along the Rio Grande River in New Mexico (“Groundbreaking for Station on Pueblo Land,” Indianz.Com, September 22, 2009, http://126.96.36.199/News/2009/016611.asp). The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) web site, http://www.ncai.org, contains considerable information about the Stimulus Act for Indian Nations, including reports of what tribes have received money, for what purposes. (Note that as of mid-October a considerable amount of federal stimulus money had yet to be allocated). NCAI detailed reports include: Seven of Montana‘s Native American tribes are receiving more than $4.3 million in stimulus funds for economic development projects. The Aroostook Band of Micmacs, in Maine, are applying stimulus funds to building member housing. The Navajo, Rough Rock Community School replacement construction is being funded under the Recovery Act. IHS awarded a $90.5 million contract, using stimulus money, for construction of Alaska’s Norton Sound Regional Hospital. The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a Recovery Act contract, at the beginning of October, totaling $27.74 million to the Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority (NECA), wholly-owned and operated by the Navajo Nation, for the construction of Reaches 2 through 6 of the Navajo Nation Municipal Pipeline which will bring water to Navajo nation homes near Farmington NM, that are currently without running water. This will complete the pipeline, which is part of the Animas-La Plata Project, built under the agreement to settle water rights of the Ute Tribes of Colorado. On September 30, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius announced that $46 million in Recovery Act funding has been awarded to 84 grantees, including four tribal grantees, under the new Strengthening Communities Fund program, authorized under the Recovery Act to improve the ability of nonprofit organizations to promote the economic recovery of people with low incomes. Four tribal entities are among the grantees receiving Recovery Act funds under the Fund’s State, Local, and Tribal Government Capacity Building Program: Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, WA, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, OR, Pinoleville Pomo Nation, CA, and Chippewa Cree Tribe, MT. Under the Fund’s Nonprofit Capacity Building Program, awards were made to two tribal-serving organizations: Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc., and First Nations, Development Institute, CO. On September 11, Recovery Act funding was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand the training of health care professionals to two tribal colleges under the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program: Salish Kootenai Tribal College, MT, and Oglala Lakota College, SD. On July 28, the Department of Agriculture announced the selection of 145 recipients for more than $15.3 million in Recovery Act funding for grants through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Enterprise Program (RBEG) to start or expand businesses in rural communities. RBEG funds can be used for start-up and working capital loans, building and plant renovations, transportation improvements, project planning and other business needs. Tribes receiving these monies were: Chippewa Tribe, MN, Lower Sioux Indian Community, MN, Paiute Tribe, NV, Pueblo of Acoma, NM, Oregon Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network, OR, and Squaxin Island Tribe, WA (The text of the Secretary’s press release is available at: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/arranews?navid=NEWS_AUSUMS&parentnav=USDA_ARRA&edeployment_action=retrievecontent&contentid=2009/07/0344.xml). On September 9, the Department of Agriculture announced awards of $89 million in Recovery Act funding for 78 forest health protection projects on forested lands in 30 states (for details go to: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/arranews?navid=NEWS_AUSUMS&parentnav=USDA_ARRA&edeployment_action=retrievecontent&contentid=2009/09/0430.xml) including the following tribal projects: Alaska Native Village Seed Production Project, AK, Sealaska Native Corporation, AK, forest health; Yakama Nation, Colville Confederated Tribes, WA, and other partners for research on restoring critical habitat for listed Pacific salmon; and Nez Perce Tribe, ID, and other partners for native conifer and non-conifer seed collection and production for restoration projects. On August 26, the Department of Agriculture announced the awarding of $54 million in Recovery Act funds for 46 community facilities projects in rural communities in 24 states through the USDA’s Rural Development Community Facilities program (A copy of the Secretary’s press release is at: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/arranews?navid=NEWS_AUSUMS&parentnav=USDA_ARRA&edeployment_action=retrievecontent&contentid=2009/08/0402.xml), providing loans and grants to finance and develop essential community facilities in rural areas, including childcare centers, hospitals, medical clinics, assisted living facilities, fire and rescue stations, police stations, community centers, public buildings and transportation. Tribes included in these awards are: Pueblo of Acoma, NM; Eagle Butte Community Clinic, SD; and Nisqually Indian Tribe, WA. HUD issued housing grants to 15 tribes, in August, including two in Northern California, to the Hoopa Valley and Yurok tribes, to receive $1.17 million to develop housing for tribal members, enough to provide new homes for 13 households. On August 11, HUD announced 61 grants under the Recovery Act, totaling $132 million, to American Indian and Alaska Native communities to improve housing and promote community development under the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) and Native American Housing Block Grant (NAHBG) programs (The text of Secretary Donovan’s press release is available here: http://www.hud.gov/news/release.cfm?content=pr09-152.cfm). The grants were awarded as follows:
Grantee | Community | State | Amount
MOWA Band of Choctaw HA Mt. Vernon AL $960,000
Asa’carsarmiut Tribe Mountain Village AK $2,000,000
AVCP Regional Housing Authority Bethel AK $5,000,000
Metlakatla HA Metlakatla AK $2,000,000
Arctic Village Arctic Village AK $2,000,000
Ketchikan Indian Corporation Ketchikan AK $2,000,000
Fort Bidwell Indian Community Fort Bidwell CA $2,000,000
Pinoleville Pomo Nation Ukiah CA $375,511
Susanville Indian Rancheria HA Susanville CA $799,236
Chico Rancheria Housing Corporation Chico CA $1,758,000
Bishop Paiute Tribe Bishop CA $1,998,580
All Mission Indian Housing Authority Temecula CA $2,000,000
Manzanita Band of Diegueno Indians Boulevard CA $1,965,662
Housing Authority of the Iowa Tribe of KS and NE White Cloud KS $1,983,000
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribal Housing Authority Chilmark MA $1,895,855
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Mashpee MA $2,000,000
Pleasant Point Reservation HA Perry ME $2,000,000
Bay Mills Indian Community HA Brimley MI $2,000,000
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians Suttons Bay MI $2,000,000
Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Watersmeet MI $1,996,338
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Manistee MI $2,000,000
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Harbor Springs MI $2,000,000
Match E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band Dorr MI $2,000,000
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Dowagiac MI $2,000,000
Nottawaseppi Huron Band of The Potawatomi Fulton MI $2,000,000
Bois Forte Reservation Tribal Coucil Nett Lake MN $2,000,000
Fond du Lac Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Cloquet MN $2,629,550
Grand Portage HA Grand Portage MN $2,000,000
Leech Lake HA Cass Lake MN $3,000,000
Lower Sioux Indian HA Redwood Falls MN $2,000,000
White Earth Reservation HA Waubun MN $3,000,000
Choctaw HA Choctaw MS $2,988,987
Yerington Paiute Tribal HA Yerington NV $2,000,000
Isleta Pueblo HA Isleta NM $2,000,000
Ohkay Owingeh HA Ohkay Owingeh NM $2,000,000
Zuni HA Zuni Pueblo NM $3,000,000
Mescalero Apache Housing Authority Mescalero NM $3,000,000
Laguna Housing Dev. & Mgmt. Enterprise Laguna NM $600,000
Taos Pueblo Housing Taos NM $579,778
Seneca Nation Housing Authority Irving NY $3,000,000
Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma Tonkawa OK $1,937,804
Absentee Shawnee Housing Authority Shawnee OK $2,677,572
Wyandotte Nation Wyandotte OK $1,717,490
Wichita Housing Authority Anadarko OK $2,000,000
Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation Hugo OK $4,000,000
Siletz Tribe Siletz OR $2,935,000
Narragansett Indian Tribe of RI Charlestown RI $2,000,000
Colville Housing Authority Nespelem WA $3,000,000
Lummi Housing Authority Bellingham WA $3,000,000
Quinault Housing Authority Taholah WA $2,000,000
Squaxin Island Tribe Shelton WA $1,196,160
Yakama Nation Housing Authority Wapato WA $3,000,000
Port Gamble S Klallam Housing Authority Kingston WA $1,679,763
Puyallup Nation Housing Authority Tacoma WA $3,000,000
Bad River Housing Authority Odanah WI $2,000,000
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Keshena WI $3,000,000
Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin Oneida WI $3,000,000
Sokoagon Chippewa Community Crandon WI $1,885,661
Lac du Flambeau Chippewa HA Lac du Flambeau WI $2,000,000
Red Cliff HA Bayfield WI $2,000,000
Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Wisconsin Bowler WI $2,000,000
On August 25, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced 5 grants, the remaining $2.5 million of the total of $10 million in Recovery Act funds, to American Indian and Alaska Native communities to promote community development under the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) program. More information is available at: http://www.hud.gov/news/release.cfm?content=pr09-158.cfm. The grants are being awarded to the following recipients:
Grantee | Community | State | Amount
Quechan Tribally Designated HA Winterhaven CA $600,000
Owingeh Housing Authority Ohkay Owingeh NM $600,000
Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians Warmer Springs CA $235,925
Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes Pablo MT $412,431
Quileute Housing Authority LaPush WA $600,000
As of September 14, DOE has awarded 531 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, totaling over $323 million, to cities, counties and tribes. The complete list of awards is available at: http://www.eecbg.energy.gov/, Here is the list of tribal EECBG awards, (those with an asterisk indicate the entity applied as a group):
Date | Awarded Tribal Applicant | State | Amount of Allocation
09/08/09 Bering Straits Native Corporation, AK $35,400
08/14/09 Bristol Bay Native Corporation,* AK $39,300
08/21/09 Chickaloon Native Village, AK $51,800
08/28/09 Chignik Bay Tribal Council, AK $36,600
08/14/09 Chignik Lake Village,* AK $39,100
09/08/09 Douglas Indian Association, AK $44,900
08/14/09 Ekwok Village,* AK $39,300
08/14/09 Hydaburg Cooperative Association, AK $46,200
09/08/09 Kasigluk Traditional Elders Council
(formerly the Native Village of Kasigluk), AK $54,600
08/14/09 Levelock Village,* AK $38,000
08/14/09 Lime Village Traditional Council, AK $35,700
08/14/09 Manokotak Village,* AK $48,000
09/08/09 Native Village of Akhiok, AK $37,000
09/08/09 Native Village of Akutan, AK $38,300
08/28/09 Native Village of Cantwell, AK $36,200
08/14/09 Native Village of Ekuk,* AK $34,500
08/14/09 Native Village of Kwinhagak, AK $54,600
09/08/09 Native Village of Port Graham, AK $39,700
08/14/09 New Koliganek Village Council,* AK $40,100
08/14/09 New Stuyahok Village,* AK $49,900
08/14/09 Nondalton Village,* AK $40,500
08/14/09 Portage Creek Village,* AK $35,600
08/28/09 Skagway Village, AK $35,800
08/28/09 Telida Village, AK $34,200
08/14/09 Traditional Village of Togiak,* AK $58,300
08/14/09 Twin Hills Village,* AK $36,100
09/08/09 Ugashik Village, AK $34,300
08/14/09 Village of Clark’s Point,* AK $36,400
08/28/09 Wrangell Cooperative Association, AK $53,400
08/28/09 Gila River Indian Community
of the Gila River Indian Reservation, AZ $616,200
09/08/09 Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of the
Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, California, CA $25,000
08/28/09 Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, California (formerly the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians of the Augustine Reservation), CA $25,000
08/28/09 Berry Creek Rancheria of Maidu
Indians of California, CA $36,500
08/28/09 Big Pine Band of Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Indians
of the Big Pine Reservation, California, CA $25,000
08/28/09 Blue Lake Rancheria, California, CA $25,000
09/08/09 Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, CA $25,000
08/21/09 Cahto Indian Tribe of the Laytonville
Rancheria, CA $25,000
09/08/09 Fort Bidwell Indian Community of the Fort
Bidwell Reservation of California, CA $25,000
08/28/09 Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Bishop Community
of the Bishop Colony, CA $53,700
08/21/09 Resighini Rancheria, CA $25,000
08/28/09 San Manual Band of Serrano Mission Indians of
the San Manual Reservation, California, CA $25,000
09/08/09 Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indian, CA $25,000
08/21/09 Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, CA $25,000
09/08/09 Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation (formerly the Sycuan Band of
Diegueno Mission Indians of California), CA $25,000
09/08/09 Table Mountain Rancheria, CA $25,000
08/21/09 Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head
(Aquinnah), MA $29,800
09/08/09 Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians. ME $54,200
08/28/09 Passamaquoddy Tribe, ME $77,200
09/08/09 Penobscot Tribe, ME $84,700
08/21/09 Bay Mills Indian Community, MI $51,300
08/28/09 Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band
of Pottawatomi Indians, MI $40,800
09/08/09 Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, NE $108,100
09/08/09 Santee Sioux Nation, NE $42,200
08/28/09 Oneida Nation of New York, NY $83,500
08/28/09 Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, OK $25,000
08/28/09 Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua
and Siuslaw Indians, OR $63,500
09/08/09 Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde
Community, OR $301,100
08/28/09 Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians, OR $96,800
09/08/09 Kickapoo Traditional Tribe, TX $33,100
08/28/09 Cowlitz Indian Tribe, WA $218,600
09/08/09 Nooksack Indian Tribe, WA $62,900
08/28/09 Quileute Tribe of the Quileute
Reservation, WA $27,900
08/28/09 Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, WA $25,000
09/08/09 Skokomish Indian Tribe of the
Skokomish Reservation, WA $64,200
08/28/09 Snoqualmie Tribe, WA $49,500
08/28/09 Squaxin Island Tribe of the Squaxin
Island Reservation, WA $72,300
The Navajo Tribal Utility Association (NTUA) was awarded a $4.9 million “smart grid” grant nt the Department of Energy, October 27, from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to modernize its energy delivery system. The smart grid can be used to identify electrical outages, promote energy efficiency and facilitate alternative energy. NTUA serves about 38,000 customers in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah (“Navajo Nation gets $4.9M for smart grid,” The Farmington Daily Times, October 28, 2009).
The National Congress of American Indians indicated that most tribal educational institutions received little, if any federal stimulus money. An exception is Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, NM, which received $1.8 million, including reproofing a building, in preparation for installing solar panels. The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) had $5 million allocated for recruitment and training of teachers and principals (with specifics not decided at the end of August). As of late August, the Interior Department had proposed committing $135 million in Recovery Act funds to the BIE for school construction at five reservation schools. Three are on the Navajo Nation: Rough Rock Community School, Chinle, AZ; Kaibeto Boarding School, Keibeto, AZ; and Pueblo Pintado Community School, Cuba, NM. The other two are the Ojibwa Indian School, Belcourt, ND; and the Crow Creek Tribal School, in South Dakota. The Flandreau Indian School in Eastern South Dakota received some of the state’s $400 million bonding money for school construction in 2009-10 (Babette Hermann, “Update on Recovery Act Funds for Education,” Indian Country Today, September 2, 2009).
The Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona reports that funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 helped the nation created or save 116 jobs, associated with a $3.2 million project, part of a total of $24 million in recovery funds received by the Pascua Yaqui. Robert Gillon, the tribe’s assistant attorney general, stated, “It’s giving us capital improvements that we need while at the same time employing tribal members and contractors in the community,” (“So far, stimulus has helped add, save 650 jobs in Arizona,” The Arizona Daily Star, October 16, 2009).
In the Courts
The U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court, June 22, voting 8-1 in a non-Indian case involving interpretation of section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires many jurisdictions to seek federal approval before making changes in voting procedures and districting, ducked the issue of the Constitutionality of section 5, but indicated that there were Constitutional issues of its validity, which the current justices could revisit in a future case (Adam Liptak, Justices Retain Oversight by U.S. on Voting Rights,” and “The Voting Rights Act Survives,” The New York Times, June 27m 2009). Section 5 has been used recently to throw out districting by local governments in South Dakota that courts found were discriminatory to American Indians.
Lower Federal Courts
A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, July 24, unanimously overturned DC District Court Judge James Robertson in the Cobell trust account case, ruling that Judge Robertson was in error in finding that a full accounting could not be performed (for lack of funding and constraints within the Department of Interior, as well as an incomplete accounting record), and that the American Indian Trust Fund Management Act of 1994 “gives the plaintiff class a right to an accounting.” The accounting does not have to be perfect, and does not have to include accounts that were closed as of 1994, and can include statistical sampling. The court said, “We must not allow the theoretically perfect to render impossible the achievable good.” The case was returned to the Judge Robertson “to enforce the best accounting interior can provide” (Rob Capriccioso, “Numbers Game, Appeals court: Indian trust accounting needed,” Indian Country Today, August 5, 2009).
The U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled, August 4, in Bressi v. Ford (9th Cir., No. 07-15931) that Tohono O’Odham tribal police could conduct roadblocks on a state highway on their reservation. However when the person stopped was a non-Indian, and the police are acting solely under tribal authority, the officers may continue the stop only long enough to ascertain whether the stoppee is Indian, and whether there are any obvious violations of state law, such as impairment from alcohol. But when the tribal officers undertake the road block in their capacity as state officers cross-deputized to enforce state law, as in the case at hand, the officers are subject to federal and state constitutional standards that do not apply when they act under tribal authority alone. Cross-deputized tribal officers acting under state authority also have the same limited immunity from suit as state officers.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Michigan v. EPA, in early September, that the State of Michigan had no standing to challenge an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule, made under the Clean Air Act, classifying parts of the Forest County Potawatomi reservation as Class I, as requested by the tribe. The case was preceeded by fifteen years of administrative proceedings and dispute resolution efforts between the Community and neighboring states of Wisconsin (which were successful) and Michigan (which were not), In giving the opinion of the court, Judge Brown noted, “The cultural and religious traditions of the Forest County Potawatomi Community (“the Community”) often require the use of pure natural resources derived from a clean environment. Many years ago, the Community became alarmed by increasing pollution levels in its lakes, wetlands, and forests. To remedy this problem, it submitted a request to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to redesignate certain tribal lands from Class II to Class I status under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”) program of the Clean Air Act (“the Act”). This would have the effect of imposing stricter air quality controls on emitting sources in and around the Community’s redesignated lands.” (“Court rejects challenge to tribal clean air rule,” Indianz.com, September 10, 2009, http://188.8.131.52/News/2009/016442.asp And “Seventh Circuit Holds that Michigan Lacks Standing to Challenge Wisconsin Tribal Environmental Regs,” Turtle Talk, September 10, 2009, http://turtletalk.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/seventh-circuit-holds-that-michigan-lacks-standing-to-challenge-wisconsin-tribal-environmental-regs/).
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, June 5, that the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma (UKB) were incorrectly treated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in deciding that only the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and not the Band, had jurisdiction over the area in which tribal housing needs had been determined by UKB, and that HUD must reinstate housing funding to KUB that it had cut (Carol Berry, “Court supports opposition to HUD cutbacks in Oklahoma tribal housing,” Indian Country Today, July 8, 2009).
Court rejects Schaghticoke recognition appeal
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Filed Under: Law |Recognition
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, in Schaghticoke Tribal Nation v. Kempthorne, (October 19, denied the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Connecticut’s appeal of the BIA denying the tribe federal recognition, saying the tribe had not presented sufficient evidence to support its claimathat improper political influence caused the BIA to reverse its initial decision granting recognition to the tribe (“Schaghticokes lose another round in bid for tribal recognition,” The Danbury News-Times, October 20, 2009).
U.S. district Court Judge Lonny R. Suko of the district for Eastern Washington state ruled, June 19, in Pakootas v, Teck Cominco Meals Ltd (No. CV-04-256-LRS, E.D. Wash. 2009), that the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are not liable under the Superfund law, holding that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act requires “persons” who pollute sites to clean them up. The definition of “persons” includes “an individual, firm, corporation, association, partnership, consortium, joint venture, commercial entity, United States government, state, municipality, commission, political subdivision of a state or any interstate body.” Tribal governments are not covered by the definition of “persons” nor has their sovereign immunity been waived by Congress, the court found. Thus the Colville Tribes cannot be required to contribute to cleanup costs associated with pollution on the Columbia River, simply because they are on that river. Judge Suko ruled that the Indian nations have nothing to do with a mine that operates upstream on the river in British Columbia, Canada. Teck Cominco, a Canadian company that owns the mine, argued the tribes should bear some costs of the cleanup due to pollution that ends up on the reservation. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Teck Cominco can be held liable for pollution in the U.S. even though the company’s mine is based in Canada. The Supreme Court declined to review Teck Cominco v. Pakootas in 2008 (“Judge exempts tribe from liability under Superfund,” Indianz.com, September 2, 2009, ttp://184.108.40.206/News/2009/016315.asp and Hobbs, Straus, Dean and Walker General Memorandum, 09-109).
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, in late September, found in favor of the Oneida Indian Nation (OIN) in several suits challenging the Interior Department’s decision to take 13,000 acres of land into trust for the tribe, with Federal Judge Lawrence E. Kahn dismissing several of the complaints raised by Oneida and Madison counties and the state, specifically that the secretary of the Interior did not have the constitutional right to place land into trust, on the claim that putting the land into trust violates the Tenth Amendment and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. In determining that the trust land does not violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Kahn noted that the Nation’s reservation has never been disestablished by Congress and that the Turning Stone Casino therefore sits “within the boundaries of the OIN reservation.” The decision by Judge Kahn did not address the other 14 complaints brought by the counties or state, making this the first step in the long process of determining whether the 13,000 acres can be placed into trust (Leah McDonald, “Nation wins several trust land suits,” The Oneida Dispatch, September 29, 2009, http://www.oneidadispatch.com/articles/2009/09/29/news/doc4ac2caa122c0a517460154.txt).
The Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians, the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians and the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians have won separate law suits in Federal District Court, in August, finding that the nations can have more slot machines in their casinos than the state of California was allowing. Class III gaming compacts signed by the tribes in 1999 authorized each tribe operate up to 2,000 slot machines, but a cap imposed by the state prevented them from reaching the limit. The courts each held that the limit imposed below the compact agreement is illegal. In Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians v. California (August 19, 2009), Judge Frank Damrell ordered the state to allow tribes an additional 10,549 slot machine licenses. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger is asking for a stay in the Wintun/Chukchansi case while his administration appeals.
A coalition of Indian and environmental groups has filed suit in United States District Court in San Francisco, attempting to stop the construction of an oil pipeline carrying tarsands oil from Alberta into the United States and crossing reservations in Minnesota), which was approved by the U.S. Department of State in August, Production of tarsands oil is very highly polluting and involves the destruction of millions of acres of forest (see the reports in the On Going Activities and Environmental Developments sections of spring 2009 IPJ (“Suit over pipeline on Minnesota reservations,” Indianz.com, September 4, 2009, http://220.127.116.11/News/2009/016359.asp).
The Save the Peaks Coalition, having failed in previous attempts to stop the use of treated sewage water in the creation of artificial snow on an expanded Arizona Snowbowl ski area on the sacred site of San Francisco Peaks, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, September 21, seeking an injunction against the use of treated sewage water on the grounds that it presents a health hazard (http://www.savethepeaks.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=4&Itemid=15).
Beatrice L. Woodward and Calandra McCabe, lead plaintiffs, filed a class action law suit in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, NM, July 31, alleging systematic discrimination by the BIA against Navajo workers, most particularly concerning career advancement (Bill Donovan, “Dine allege unfair treatment inside BIA,” Navajo Times, August 20, 2009).
The Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians of Utah has settled a Safe Drinking Water Act case, brought against it by the federal government, agreeing to pay a $1,250 fine and make about $3,750 in improvements to its water system. (“Skull Valley Band resolves drinking water case,” Indianz.Com, September 8, 2009, Indianz.Com, http://18.104.22.168/News/2009/016389.asp).
The Cherokee Nation has filed to join a lawsuit in federal district court that the state of Oklahoma has brought against 12 poultry companies, including Tyson Foods Inc. for polluting the Illinois River. Cherokee Nation Attorney General Diane Hammons stated, “While the Cherokee Nation never wished to have its water rights litigated in this water quality case, those rights have become so enmeshed in the case that the Nation feels it has no option but to intervene” (“Cherokee Nation files motion to join poultry case,” Indianz.Com, September 4, 2009, http://22.214.171.124/News/2009/016338.asp).
State and Local Courts
The New York Appellate Division decided, July 10, 2009, in Cayuga Nation v. Gould, that Cayuga and Seneca counties had no authority to prevent the Cayuga Nation from selling tax-free cigarettes at its smoke shops within the Cayuga ancestral reservation on land not held in trust, and said the counties had no right to raid the smoke shops and seize tribal property. The counties are appealing to the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, to review the case. They expect to find out soon whether they will be able to proceed. (“Counties fight Cayuga Nation over tobacco taxes,” Indianz.Com, September 2, 2009, http://126.96.36.199/News/2009/016314.asp).
The Washington Supreme Court ruled, September 17, in State v. Erickson, that tribal police officers (in this case of the Lummi Nation) who are pursuing a suspected drunk driver on the reservation have both inherent and state authority to continue “fresh Pursuit” of the driver off the reservation, stop her, and upon discovering that she is non-Indian, detain her until police with jurisdiction arrive.
The Washington Court of Appeals held, in Smale v. Noretep (62349-4-1, June 1, 2009) that the Stillaguamish Tribe could not claim sovereign immunity from a suit to determine ownership interests in land that the tribe owns outside of the reservation, and is not taken into trust, as the suit is against the land itself and not against the tribe. The decision is consistent with prior decisions in a number of cases in other courts.
The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in June that low income tribes do not have to hire attorneys to represent their interests in child welfare cases. The court ruled that preserving American Indian culture and saving tribes from extinction overrides any interest the state has in restricting the practice of law to lawyers. The case involved the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, which had argued that a Dakota County juvenile court judge wrongly denied its rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act when he rejected the tribe’s request to intervene in a child welfare case because it wasn’t represented by an attorney. The case included two Ponca children that the state alleged needed help (“Nebraska court ICWC: Tribe can intervene in kids’ cases without lawyer,” News from Indian Country, July 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6866&Itemid=1).
The New Mexico Court of Appeals held, June 4, that the New Mexico sex offender registration law does not apply to American Indians living within the boundaries of reservations (Barry Massey, “Court Rules against New Mexico in tribal sex offender case,” Indian Country Today, June 17, 2009).
Denver District Court Judge Larry Naves overturned a jury decision in favor of Ward Churchill, denying the former professor of Ethnic Studies reinstatement at the University of Colorado and money damages for his firing, ruling that CU had a legal immunity as the jury found Churchill had suffered no actual damages from the firing (Carol Berry, “A scholar who focused on Indian issues denied reinstatement,” Indian Country Today, July 15, 2009).
Alameda County, CA Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled, in August, in favor of the Karuk Tribe and conservationists in their suit against California Fish and Game, in enjoining the continued use of suction dredge mining in California streams. The plaintiffs claimed that suction dredge mining in sensitive areas endangered at risk fish species. The state agency had been ordered by the court, in 2006, to complete an environmental impact analysis of the mining technique by 2008, in an earlier case brought by the Kurak. But the agency had not begun the study by August 2009 (Don Baumgart, “Court backs Karuk Tribe against California Fish & Game,” Indian Country Today, August 12, 2009).
The Northern Arapaho Tribal Court will try the case of a tribal member accused of killing an eagle for religious purposes, following Cheyenne, WY, U.S. Federal District Court Alan Johnson vacating an October 5 trial in his court, to send the case to tribal court (Ben Neary, “Arapaho courts to take over prosecution of eagle-religion case,” News From Indian Country, October 19, 2009).
Tribal Governments and State and Local Governments
As the complex New York State-tribal tobacco controversy continues, along with other ongoing issues, at the end of August, Jim Ransom, chief of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe in Akwesasne. Stated that he would like to sit down and talk with New York State officials to resolve the three sets of issues: state taxes on cigarette sold by Indians to non-Indians, land claims in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, and building a casino in the Catskills (“NCPR: St. Regis Mohawk Tribe wants tobacco talks,” Indianz.Com, September 1, 2009, http://188.8.131.52/News/2009/016282.asp). Meanwhile, in 2008, Governor Paterson signed into law a bill that would enforce collection of state tobacco taxes when non-Natives buy cigarettes at Native-owned stores of the various Indian nations in New York State. Albany estimates up to 400 million dollars a year in taxes are going uncollected. But, following the practice of the three Governors, in August, Governor Paterson said his administration will not try to collect the taxes. The tobacco tax issue is currently involved in a series of lawsuits. New York City is suing a Long Island tribe and two counties are suing the Cayuga Nation. The rulings could set precedents in the unclear situation of tobacco taxes and Native tribes. As of September 25, a court order had closed several of about 14 smoke shops on the Poospatuck Reservation on Long Island, in New York, but others were not covered by the injunction and continued to sell cigarettes to non-Indians without paying New York State tax. The tribal chief expects the injunction to be lifted, eventually (Cigarettes still selling on NY reservation, WCAX.com, September 25, 2009, http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S=11199348).
Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed a new gambling compact with the Seminole Indian Tribe, made public Aug. 31, that the Governor estimates will result in $6.8 billion over 20 years for the State of Florida. The new compact was negotiated under provisions of legislation passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor at the conclusion of the 2009 legislative session, following the voiding of the governor’s 2007 compact with the Seminoles by the Florida Supreme Court in 2008, on the grounds that the governor did not have the authority to act without the Legislature’s approval. The compact authorizes the nation to have Blackjack and other Class III games at all seven of its casinos, rather than the three authorized in the Legislation, and designates the Department of Revenue for regulatory oversight, rather than the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. The new agreement is controversial in areas where it expands upon the compact authorized by the Legislature, and may be subject to a fight in the legislature, which must approve the compact, between long established pari-mutuels with longstanding relationships in the Legislature and the more recent entrants into gambling, the Seminoles with a larger budget. (James A. Smith, “Governor, Seminoles sign new gambling compact.” Florida Baptist Witness, September 1, 2009, http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/10717.article and Indianz.com, http://184.108.40.206/IndianGaming/2009/016306.asp).
In Wisconsin, the state Justice Department, encouraging tribes to join together with the state to form a task force to fight drugs and related crime, brought into existence the Native American Drug and Gang Initiative, or NADGI, with the aid of $461,000 in state and federal grants, in 2007. NADGI has developed a core of Indian undercover officers, enabling them to infiltrate tribal drug rings, giving every tribe access to the state’s central criminal data-sharing system and set up regular training for tribal drug officers. In 2008, the NADGI task force made 105 arrests and helped dismantle a major crack ring on the St. Croix Chippewa reservation, resulting in 11 federal indictments, the state Justice Department said. As of mid-April 2009, the team had made 59 arrests. All the tribes now use the state’s data-sharing network. The state pays tribal officers’ overtime for NADGI operations, provides surveillance equipment and trains tribal officers. In return, the tribal officers share what they know. A key aspects of the team’s success is that it has operated with mutual respect, with all its members being equal partners in its operation. After the long history of prejudice and tension between tribal and outside governmental agencies, building trust is critical to creating a successful working relationship. In Wisconsin, as in many other states, tribal police are too few, and often, with small tribal budgets, inadequately trained to function successfully by themselves on large reservations, where drug use, crime and violence have been increasing, with outside drug gangs seeking the isolation of reservations (and other rural locations) to operate clandestinely, with the high poverty rates providing both a market for drugs, and a recruiting ground for drug sellers. According to FBI statistics, homicides and non-negligent manslaughter on reservations increased 14% between 2002 and 2006, while robberies rose 123% percent in that period. Authorities link most of that rise to drugs. Moreover, on reservation and off, many agencies do not share information with other police departments, making it difficult to connect crimes and criminals. Lack of jurisdictional cooperation is especially a difficult problem on reservations, which are checker boarded so that it is often difficult to tell who has jurisdiction in particular situations. Thus the Wisconsin experience with NADGI may be a useful model for expanding upon the cross deputation arrangements between tribal and neighboring police that have been increasing in recent years. In Arizona, state Detective Michelle Vasey said the 21 tribes in the state didn’t share any crime intelligence with anyone, even other tribes. She helped found a task force that meets monthly to share information, but only three tribes use the state’s criminal information data collection system, she said. In Wisconsin with 11 tribes, their reservations scattered across the pine forests and lakes in the state’s northern third, and about 38,250 people living on the eight reservations with tribal police departments, prior to the forming of NADGI, state Justice Department data indicates those agencies made 1,062 drug arrests between 2003 and 2006 – one arrest for every 36 people. By 2002, the Latin Kings’ Milwaukee gang had so infiltrated the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation the tribe declared a state of emergency, turning to state and federal authorities to help control runaway cocaine trafficking and violence. The resulting investigation landed 47 people in federal prison. The Lac du Flambeau reservation’s idyllic setting in the wilderness masks downtrodden subdivisions and drugs changing hands behind closed doors. By 2006 multiple drug rings had sprung up across the reservation. Tribal police, state and area sheriff’s departments conducted a joint 18-month investigation that resulted in 27 arrests. That year another investigation involving the state, sheriff’s deputies, tribal police and the FBI resulted in six arrests in a cocaine-marijuana ring on the Menominee reservation. When investigators realized dealers were moving from reservation to reservation, State Justice Department officials decided to form a task force to go after large-scale rings and dealers, and NADGI was formed. (Todd Richmond, “US Government, tribes and police band fight crime together,” News From Indin Country June 2009, tp://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6739&Itemid=1).
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB1325, a bill to recognize tribal customary adoptions, October 11. The bill was proposed by the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, and likely is the first of its kind in the U.S, as it treats tribal adoptions equally as those arranged in state court. Tribal adoptions usually occur without termination of parental rights (“Soboba tribe saluted for role in Indian adoptions law,” The Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 23, 2009; “Courts to honor tribal traditions in adoptions,” The Valley Chronicle, October 16, 2009).
Tribes donate $900K to turn sacred site into park
Friday, October 16, 2009
Filed Under: Environment
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Nez Perce Tribe each donated $300,000 to help the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and Oregon State Parks Trust, a non-profit, preserve 62 acres in the Wallowa Mountains, a sacred site, turning it into a state park, the Iwetemlaykin State Park and Heritage Site sits adjacent to the burial grounds and cemetery of Nez Perce Chief Joseph (“Iwetemlaykin At the edge of the lake, a state park is born,” The La Grande Observer, October15, 2009)
The State Bar Association of Arizona petitioned the state Supreme Court, in August, to add Indian law to the state bar exam, in August. The court stated, in September, it will consider the petition on receiving a pending study on a uniform bar exam (“Push for Native law on Arizona state bar exam,” The Rapid City Journal.com, September 27, 2009, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2009/09/27/news/top/doc4abf9ca48616d821150664.txt).
A group in California collecting signatures to place a pair of propositions on the California ballot in 2010 that would lead to rewriting the California constitution wants federally recognized Indian Tribes in the State to choose 4 of the 450 delegates to a state constitutional convention (“Reform group seeks rewrite of Calif. Constitution,” AP October 29, 2009 on Indianz.Com, http://220.127.116.11/News/2009/017210.asp).
The Mattaponi of Virginia will be celebrating, with the Alliance to Save the Mattaponi, November 21, that, with the help of the Sierra Club, after 13 years of struggle to prevent their ancestral fishing grounds from being flooded by the City of Newport News damming the Mattaponi River in order to create water reserves for future projected population growth, development and urban sprawl, the project appears dead. Even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that it was unnecessary to build the dam, that among other things, would have flooded 150 Mattaponi archeological sites (communication from a member of the Alliance to Save the Mattaponi.)
The Town of Delton, WI and the Ho-Chunk Nation formed a task force early in 2009 to discuss business and economic development in the area. The town’s attorney, William F. Greenhalgh, asked Wisconsin Attorney Gerneral J.B. Van Hollen, in April, whether the group could meet in closed session, as the tribe was reluctant to meet in open session because it did not want to give away business secrets. Van Hollen issued an informal opinion September 28, saying that since the task force was created by a town resolution, it was a government body, and must comply with the open meetings law and hold open meetings (“Task force must follow open meeting law, fox11online, September 28, 2009, http://www.fox11online.com/dpp/news/local/north_counties/state_ap_madison_task_force_must_follow_open_meeting_law_200909281641_rev1).
The city council in Prior Lake, Minnesota, in early September, voted to support the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community‘s land-into-trust application, with Mayor Jack Haugen saying the tribe’s contributions to the area outweigh the potential loss of property tax revenues. Scott County commissioners have opposed the application. The tribe plans to use some of the 78 acres for a new tribal government center and a health clinic (Indianz.com, September 11, 2009, http://18.104.22.168/News/2009/016445.asp; (The Prior Lake American September 10, 2009). The Tulsa, OK city council has passed a resolution against the Muscogee (Creek) application to put land in the city into trust on which it intends to build a hotel, retail shops, an office park and housing, now that the city has built a bridge across the Arkansas River to provide access to the property. A local group called the South Tulsa Citizens Coalition, that previously fought the building of the bridge, has been urging the city of Tulsa to condemn land owned by the Muscogee Nation in order to stop the tribe from developing the property (“Group wants city to seize Muscogee Nation land,” Indianz.Com, September 4, 2009, http://22.214.171.124/News/2009/016337.asp),
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation of Oregon has been negotiating with the City of Richmond, WA on changing the site of the proposed $40 million Hanford Reach Interpretive Center that would provide information about the history and culture of the area. The tribe supports the city building the museum, but wants the site moved to preserve a historically significant site at South Columbia Point, where the Columbia and Yakima rivers meet. (“The Umatilla Tribes oppose interpretive center site,” Indianz.com, September 10, 2009, http://126.96.36.199/News/2009/016435.asp).
The city council in Manistee, Michigan, approved of a one year mutual aid agreement with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, in early September, under which the nation is making available its officers to the municipality, free of charge. City police chief Dave Bachman said the service is vital, as, “There are many times when there’s only one police car working the entire county outside of the city. My concern is someone’s going to dial 9-1-1 and no one’s going to be available to respond” (“City council supports Little River Band police deal,” Indianz.com, September 2, 2009, http://188.8.131.52/News/2009/016303.asp).
A report released by President Obama’s science advisory council assessing preparations for 2009-H1N1 Influenza said that certain populations including Native American groups are considered at high risk of H1N1 influenza, and have elevated risks of experiencing severe outcomes (Terri Hansen, “Native Americans at higher risk from H1N1 swine flu, Obama’s experts warn,” News From Indian Country, September 11, 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7368&Itemid=1). As of mid-September, HIN1 had not been a greater problem for Indian people, in the U.S., than for the population as a whole, in contrast to Canada where the problem was much more serious for First Nations (see International Developments, below).
Although rates vary from place to place, Native Americans have the lowest survival rate from all cancers of any measured group in the United States. Some of the reasons are that Native Americans are the second from the bottom (after Latinos) of any measured group in being covered by health insurance. Many Indigenous Americans live in isolated areas far from health care facilities – in some cases where there are few and poor roads, and as many Native people have low incomes, they may not have affordable transportation available to them. Native people also receive by far the lowest per capita healthcare spending of any measured group in the U.S. Cancer data for Indigenous Americans is also less complete than for any other group. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Cancer Society are working to improve the information situation by linking the Indian Health Service patient registration data base with state cancer registries and the National Program of Cancer Registries (Charlotte Hofer, “A closer look at cancer in the US among Native Americans,” Indian Country Today, July 22, 2009).
The two day conference on the Hopi reservation, in early October, “Remaking the World of the Trauma Survivor,” focused on developing new ways for medical professionals to approach and understand trauma among Native Americans (John Christian Hopkins, “Overcoming trauma for Native Americans subject of Hopi conference,” News From Indian Country, October 19, 2009).
The Department of Justice announced an award of $500,000 to the Minneapolis American Indian Center to assist tribal families who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking (“DOJ grant helps Native women flee violence,” Indianz.com, September 4, 2009, http://184.108.40.206/News/2009/016348.asp). The Navajo Nation is considering a $60 million unsecured loan, negotiated with Key Bank of Albuquerque, to build much needed new jails and justice facilities at 13 sites on he reservation. With the bad economy, only four loans had closed in Indian country in the first nine months of 2009 (Jason Begay, “$60 million bank loan may pay for new jails on rez,” Navajo Times, October 1, 2009).
In Oregon, while the reported rate of child abuse is the same for white and minority families, Native American children are six times more likely to be placed in Oregon foster care than white children and African Americans are four times more likely than whites. Children from both of those minority groups remain in state care longer, while Hispanic children are less likely to be taken into state protective custody, and when they go to a foster home, are returned to their families more quickly (Michelle Cole, “Blacks, Native Americans more likely to go to foster care,” OregonLive.com, September 28, 2009, http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2009/09/blacks_native_americans_more_l.html).
The Indian Health Service (IHS), began construction, at the beginning of September, on a $150 million hospital complex on the Navajo Nation, at Kayenta, AZ, with 10 beds, that will provide short-stay medical treatments, some out-patient surgery options, CAT scans, a drive-through pharmacy, and 129 housing units for hospital staff. The Kayenta Health Clinic, expected to be completed in 2012, replaces three smaller clinics in the area (“IHS starts work on Navajo Nation hospital complex,” Indianz.Com, Friday, September 4, 2009, http://220.127.116.11/News/2009/016352.asp,=).
The Navajo Nation is expected to vote before year’s end on a possible restructuring of its national government that would include reducing the number of representatives on the council and giving the President a line item veto (“In a First, Navajos to Vote On Their Power Structure,: The New York Times, July 5, 2009). For background see Sachs, “Returning Tribal Government to Traditional Principles Appropriately for the Twentyfirst Century: The Ongoing Experience of Navajo Nation,” IPJ, Spring 2009. The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was scheduled, in July, to vote on initiating a 5% general sales tax, which if enacted, would be the first on a North Dakota reservation (“Standing Rock Considers reservation sales tax,” News From Indian Country, July 20, 2009).
The Yakima Nation of Washington has been notified by the National Indian Gaming Commission that the tribe faces possible fines of $25,000 a day for December 2008, one-time $2,000 “ economic stimulus” payment to tribal members, that did not receive federal approval until February, 2009, and which, in any case the commission tentatively finds was not a “legitimate” use of gaming revenues under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (NIGRA) (“Yakama Nation faces fines over casino payouts,” Indianz.Com, September 7, 2009, http://18.104.22.168/IndianGaming/2009/016366.asp).
The Navajo Times reported, October 22, that a study of Navajo Nation’s relationship with OnSat, with whom the Nation contracted a monopoly in developing broadband services, found that there was ”’substantial’ evidence against President Joe Shirley and Chief of Staff Patrick Sandoval for alleged violations of the Navajo Nation’s Ethics law,” leading to the suspension of the with pay while the matter is investigated. The report alleged favoritism and that one forged document, not signed by any Navajo official in authority, inflated the costs of providing internet services for Navajo Head Start from $300,000 to $3.7 million. Details are in Marley Shirley, “OnSat Report: Evidence of fraud, conflict of interest, favoritism,” and Jason Begay, “Study Dissects how, where tribe went wrong with OnSat.” Tribe included in $3.4B ‘smart grid’ Energy grants
The Navajo Nation Council, in October, was considering purchasing the Arizona Snowbowl ski area on San Francisco Peaks on federal land in the Coconino National Forest in Arizona. The resort plans to use reclaimed wastewater to make snow, a move that tribes say would desecrate the San Francisco Peaks. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals initially sided with the tribes. But after a rehearing, the court said the snowmaking plan could go forward. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case earlier this year. The proposal to obtain an appraisal of the value of the ski resort and then negotiate a purchaset has been sent to committee (“Navajo Puts Snowbowl Vote On Hold,” AP October 22, on Indianz.Com, http://22.214.171.124/News/2009/017125.asp).
The Osage Nation of Oklahoma bought the last remaining of more than 40 American Indian mounds in St. Louis for about $230,000, in August. The Osage believe that their ancestors include a mound-building people who disappeared long before the arrival of Europeans in North America. That society built massive earthworks throughout the Midwest, the best-known examples being those at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Ill. Just across the Mississippi River is Cahokia Mounds, once larger than any city in Europe at the time. The tribe plans to demolish the 900-square-foot house on top of the mound as well as two others at its base and develop the property as an interpretive historical site, and will ban archeological digs. The tribe is talking with other groups about the project. The Great Rivers Greenway District and the Confluence Partnership has suggested making Sugar Loaf a centerpiece of a new riverfront trail that would link the mound to Cahokia and other Indian sites in the region. (“Osage Nation buys Sugar Loaf mound in St. Louis,” News From Indian Country, August 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7160&Itemid=1).
In a move to promote public safety, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe of New York is put on a one-day, no questions asked, gun buy back program, in October. People turned in firearms and received a gift certificate based on the value of the item (The Cornwall Standard-Freeholder, October 22, 2009, on Indianz.Com, http://126.96.36.199/News/2009/017106.asp).
The Native Research Network (NRN), launched in 1997, aims to link those researching Native issues and find and make available data often difficult to find concerning Native Americans. Initially, the network concentrated primarily on Native American health issues and data, attempting to fill in the appalling void in available information. This concerned not only health information and literature, as such, but also discrimination in the Indian healthcare system and its impact on access. In principle the network is concerned about all areas of Native research, and more recently has encouraged expansion into such issues as research methods in Native communities, the impacts in Indian communities of environmental conditions, education and Indian gaming. For more go to the NRN web page: http://www.nativeresearchnetwork.org/ (Barbette Hermann, “A Need to Connect: Native Researchers Create a Home Away From Home, Indian Country Today, Education, ’09 – ’10).
Many tribal governments, like many state and local governments, though for different reasons. have been feeling the impact of the deep economic recession. The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians ran a deficit of roughly $3.9 million in FY2009, and faces an undetermined shortfall in 2010. To move toward balancing the budget the tribal council has made several reductions including cutting council member salaries 10% or 20% and reducing some government programs. Eligibility criteria for some government services have been made more stringent, particularly for human services, education and health services. Tribal manager Jane Rohl said. “We still provide the same services we did before,” Rohl said. “We’re anticipating it’s not going to affect people in need of the services, but we’re not going to have any verification of that until we get into the next fiscal year.” In addition the council, this year, suspended its practice of matching employees’ 401(k) contributions, saving $65,158. Over all, about $1 million was cut from the roughly $11 million budget this fiscal year, according to a March 2009 band newsletter posted online. (Lindsay Vanhulle, “GT Band authorizes ‘extensive’ budget cuts,” Traverse City Record – Eagle, September 25, 2009, http://www.record-eagle.com/local/local_story_268073541.html). Navajo Nation has suffered significant loss of revenue from lower gas and oil prices and the bad economy, while the value of its investment portfolio has recovered some of its earlier losses as the stock market has rebounded. As reported in the last few issues of IPJ, the Navajo Nation Council made some spending cuts this year, while rejecting others, as it was unclear what the extent of lower income and possible higher program need might eventually be. On September 9, the council passed a 2010 operating budget of $7,971,921, a compromise in meeting an anticipated $16 million shortfall, 45.9% of the 2009 budget of $17,356,855 (Go to: http://www.navajonationcouncil.org to download the press releases of the Navajo Nation Council – Office of the Speaker of September 5, 2008 and September 10, 2009). However, Navajo Nation members and other Native Americans near Navajo Nation in Mew Mexico are getting some help with home loans. The Navajo Partnership for Housing, at the end of September, received $470,000 from the federal government’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund to expand access to home mortgages, home improvement and construction loans as well as development services for families living on or near the Navajo Nation (“NM gets funds to increase access to home loans,” KOB.com, September 20, 2009, http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S1166764.shtml?cat=504).
The U.S. Department of the Treasury´s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) announced $4.4 million in FY2009 appropriated dollars in financial assistance awards to 10 CDFIs through the Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Programs, September 28, designed to encourage the creation and strengthening of certified CDFIs that primarily serve Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian communities in eight states: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. In July, the CDFI Fund announced $8 million in Recovery Act awards, and $3.3 million in Technical Assistance-only grants utilizing FY 2009 annual appropriations for the NACA Program. The CDFI Fund’s Native Initiatives work to increase access to credit, capital, and financial services in communities by creating and expanding CDFIs primarily serving Native communities. This is achieved through two principle initiatives: 1) a funding program – the NACA Program – targeted to increasing the number and capacity of existing or new Native CDFIs, and 2) a complementary series of training programs, called “Expanding Native Opportunities,” that seeks to foster the development of new Native CDFIs, strengthen the operational capacity of existing Native CDFIs, and guide Native CDFIs in the creation of important financial education and asset building programs for their communities (“Treasury Awards $4.4 Million for Native Communities,” The Los Angeles Chronicle, September 28, 2009, http://www.losangeleschronicle.com/articles/view/121152).
Bobbie Whitehead, “Indian Business Not Immune to Market Woes,” Indian Country Today Business2009, lets us know that while overall official U.S. unemployment went from 4.6% at the end of 2007 to 6.9% in September 2008, Native American unemployment rose from 8.1% to 9.7%. Some native unemployment increase is only partially related to the economic downturn. Many Houna Indian fisherman along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana lost boats, vehicles and houses in Hurricane Katrina. This would have knocked some out of the fishing business in good times, but high gas prices and low coast seafood imports have kept many others from returning to fishing, and that, combined with lost jobs from retail businesses being knocked out by Katrina, a slow recovery effort from the storm, followed by the economic drop off have combined to significantly raise Houna unemployment.
Jerry Reynolds, “Will Straw-Bail Construction Catch on,” Indian Country Today Business2009, reports that the credit crunch is slowing Indian country development of alternative energy and energy efficient construction (such as building with straw bales), but that significant developments are still in process, in part as a result of Congressional legislation providing for green energy development. In the Pacific Northwest, the Colville and Warmsprings Confederated Tribes are moving to develop biomass energy. Coleville is preparing to employ a portable wood chipper to produce wood chip fuel from waste to heat its plywood mill. Among the tribes using solar electric power are the Quileute in Washington, a number of Nevada nations, and the Agua Caliente and San Manuel in California, who along with the Fort Mojave, in Arizona and Nevada – who is the largest Indian solar power generator – have formed Southwest Tribal Energy Consortium LLP, and are seeking buyers of its solar generation. The Shakopee Nation in Minnesota has built a biomass electric generating plant burning agricultural waste and grass produced within a 60 mile radius of the plant (“New biomass plant up and running in Shakopee” (News From Indian Country, July 20, 2009). As the carbon released from the burning has been absorbed by the burned plant material, the plant is essentially carbon neutral and its fuel renewable.
The recession is continuing to have an impact on some tribal gaming. For the second year in a row Connecticut’s gaming tribes report August revenue lower than the previous year. Compared to August 2008, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation saw slot machine revenue 13.3% lower in August of 2009 than in August 2008 at Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods, while over the same period the Mohegan Tribe experienced an 11% drop at Mohegan Sun. At the same time, Michael Speller, president of Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprises, said of the hotel adjacent to the casino, “We are pleased that our occupancy rates continue to be at or near 100 percent” (“Connecticut tribes report dip in slot revenues,” Indianz.Com, September 17, 2009, http://188.8.131.52/IndianGaming/2009/016549.asp). Both Connecticut tribes reported another drop in their slot machine revenues for the month of September, though at differing rates. The Mohegan Tribe suffered an 11.3% drop at Mohegan Sun, compared to a year ago, while the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation experienced a 2.8% decrease at Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods. Both nations are seeking to restructure their debt following months of declines in gaming revenue (“Mohegan Sun leading the way on slot revenue, but Foxwoods closing the gap,” The New London Day, October 16, 2009; and “September a better month for Foxwoods,” The Norwich Bulletin, October 16, 2009). (For more on the impact of the recession on Tribal gaming in Connecticut, see Conner and Taggart, “A Research Note on the Impact of the Economic Recession on Indian Gaming in Connecticut,” below). Michael J. Thomas, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, sent a letter to tribal members recently noting earnings “are down considerably” in the recession with no signs of immediate improvement, and that the living standards of the tribe are threatened. He also noted the likely legalization of gambling in Massachusetts and New York will eat away at profits and market share. The tribe is on the brink of default and is trying to restructure $2.3 billion in debt, the New London Day reported Aug. 27, The debt is $1 billion more than the tribe can sustain, and it is at risk of defaulting on a $700 million line of credit with lenders (John Chrisoffersen, “Mashantucket Pequot may be facing ‘dire’ finances according to chairman’s memo,” News From Indian Country, September 9, 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7339&Itemid=1). As a result of the bad economy, the Omaha Tribe of western Iowa and Northeastern Nebraska closed its Casino Omaha in Onawa, IA, June 30. The tribe will consider reopening later, if it can obtain funding for remodeling (Rob Capriccioso, “Tribal Casino closes due to poor economy,” Indian CounryToday, July 15, 2009). Arizona Tribes revenues wee down 9.9%, as they shared $86.5 million with the state in fiscal year 2009, down from the $96 million they shared in fiscal year 2008 and lower than the $92 million they shared in fiscal year 2007. The Arizona Department of Gaming attributed the decline to the national recession (“Arizona tribes see another dip in casino revenues,” IndianZ.com, October 22, 2009, http://184.108.40.206/IndianGaming/). With the recession, the Forest County Potawatomi, in Wisconsin have continued to have close to the usual number of customers, but they have been spending considerably less, causing the tribe to cut holiday bonuses and merit pay increases, and to eliminate employee perks at its Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee. The tribe is also cutting per capita payments. However, while customers may be spending less, the tribe reported a 9.5% increase in revenue in the fiscal year ending June 30 (“Potawatomi tribe makes cuts in casino operations,” The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, October 17, 2009).
But many Indian gaming operations are doing well through the tough economy. Oklahoma tribes shared over $105 million in gaming revenues with the state during fiscal year 2009, an increase of 12.7% over fiscal year 2008. The numbers have steadily risen since voters approved an expansion of gaming in 2004. The largest portion comes from, the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee Nations. “This money benefits all Oklahomans by supporting public education and the horse racing industry across the state,” said Mark Fulton, the vice president of operations for Cherokee Nation Entertainment (“Oklahoma tribes share over $105M in revenues,” IndianZ, October 26, 2009, http://220.127.116.11/IndianGaming/). Gila River Tribe of Arizona opened its new $200 million Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino, October 31, with 1,002-slot machines, 71 table games, nine restaurants, five lounges, a nightclub, a 1,400-seat entertainment venue and a 10-story hotel, replacing its older casino nearby (“Gila River Tribe prepares to open $200M casino,” Indianz.Com, September 10, 2009, http://18.104.22.168/IndianGaming/2009/016428.asp). The Cherokee Nation broke ground on a hotel at its $125 million, seven story, 140 room casino hotel in West Siloam Springs, OK, in early September, expecting completion by the end of May 2010. (“Cherokee Nation breaks ground on casino hotel,” Indianz.Com, September 10, 2009, http://22.214.171.124/IndianGaming/2009/016430.asp). With gaming its main capital generator, by continually plowing profits back into its businesses, the Cherokee Nation of Oklhoma has continued to expand its businesses and hiring through the recession, crating more than 200 new jobs in 2008, as it expanded payroll by more than $12.3 million, encompassing wages, benefits and taxes (“Cherokee Nation Enterprises created hundreds of jobs in 2008,” Indian Country Today, July 15, 2008). The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, broke ground on its first casino, September 17. Because of the recession, the tribe has scaled back the Gun Lake Casino to a $157 million facility expected to employ 600 people, while the construction, projected to require 10 to 12 months, is expected to create 750 jobs (“Gun Lake Tribe to break ground on smaller casino,” Indianz.Com, September 4, 2009, http://126.96.36.199/IndianGaming/2009/016340.asp). The commercial casino owned by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Michigan has seen a 6.1 percent increase in revenue and is expected to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of the year (“Soo Tribe’s Detroit casino on route to recovery,” The Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2009). The Menominee Nation of Wisconsin began work on the first phase of a $67 million casino expansion, in October. Phase one will cost $23.5 million and is expected to be completed in December 2010, upgrading the gaming floor and hotel at the Menominee Casino Resort. Phase two will add a new gaming floor, two new restaurants, a bingo hall and entertainment center and guest suites to the hotel (“Menominee all in for casino, hotel expansion” The Green Bay Press-Gazette October 28, 2009). In July, the Coeur d’Alene tribe of Washington announced the seventh and largest expansion of its casino/hotel complex (Jack McNeel, “Large project to expand Coeur d’Alene Casino,” Indian Country Today, July 15, 2009). The Seneca Nation broke ground, in late October on an $8 million expansion of its off-reservation Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo, New York that will add 6,500 square-feet to the temporary facility and double the number of slot machines at the facility. Work is expected to be completed in early spring 2010. Some pending litigation, but most particularly the state of the economy, have led the tribe to stop work on a $333 million permanent facility in Buffalo (“Ground broken for bigger casino” The Buffalo News, October 20, 2009).
The Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, in California, signed a Class III gaming compact with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, under which the tribe would share 15% of net revenues with the state from up to up to 750 slot machines, and the tribe must meet or exceed the Minimum Internal Control Standards (MICS) that were issued by the National Indian Gaming Commission. The Pomo plan to open a $25 million casino with 349 slot machines. To go into effect, the compact must be approved by the California Legislature and the BIA (“Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake reach compact,” Indianz.Com, September 7, 2009, http://188.8.131.52/IndianGaming/2009/016364.asp).
An arbitrator found that the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota must pay $6.1 million, plus interest, attorney fees and other costs, for breaking a contract with casino developer Dale Little Soldier to develop a casino on the south shore of Lake Sakakawea. (“North Dakota tribe pays $6.1M in casino case,” Indianz.Com, September 18, 2009, http://184.108.40.206/IndianGaming/2009/016518.asp http://220.127.116.11/IndianGaming/2009/016518.asp).
The Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma purchased the bankrupt Remington Park race track for $80.25 million, September 8, and is awaiting approval from the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission to operate the track, which also has electronic gaming machines (“Chickasaw Nation moves forward with racetrack,” Indianz.Com, September 8, 2009, http://18.104.22.168/IndianGaming/2009/016388.asp). Meanwhile, The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will shut down its commercial Blue Ribbon Downs racetrack and electronic gaming facility, in Oklahoma on November 28, for lack of patron support. The tribe purchased the faciity in 2003 for $4.25 million, and invested considerably in improvements. The tribe attempted to sell the track earlier in 2009. but the deal fell through. The track’s 100 employees are being encouraged to apply for jobs at one of the tribe’s expanded casinos (“Choctaw Nation to close Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw,” The Oklahoma Journal Record, October 23. 2009.
In a first for Indian nations, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of South Dakota has acquired financial services firm, the Westrock Group, of New York. The firm has established a Tribal Services Advisory group to provide services in Indian Country. (“Lower Brule Sioux Tribe acquires financial firm, Indianz.Com, September 9, 2009, http://22.214.171.124/News/2009/016405.asp). As part of its effort at economic diversification, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened its 263-acre, $16 million Sequoyah National Golf Club, August 31. (“Eastern Cherokees celebrate opening of golf club,” Indianz.Com, September 1, 2009, http://126.96.36.199/News/2009/016285.asp).
The Klamath Tribes of the Willamette Valley in Oregon are negotiating purchasing 385 acres along Interstate 5 near Wilsonville, OR, some distance from their reservation, for commercial development that leaders say would not include a casino. In a letter to tribal members, Chairman Joseph Kirk said the venture would help provide jobs for the 500 Klamaths who live in the area (“Tribe wants to develop 385 acres near Portland,” Seattle Journal of Commerce, September 24, 2009, http://www.djc.com/news/re/12010331.html).
The Oneida Nation of New York purchased a cigarette manufacturing plant in October 2008, two months after the New York Legislature passed a law that attempts to impose the state’s tobacco tax on cigarettes sold on reservations. By operating its own manufacturing company, the tribe could avoid legal issues surrounding the tax (“Oneida Nation buys cigarette factory for $6.6M,” News From Indian Country, September 17, 2009, http://188.8.131.52/News/2009/016546.asp).
Tribal and commercial shellfish harvesters were losing thousands of dollars, as of September, because they can’t harvest clams and oysters at the mouth of the Skokomish River on Hood Canal as a result of the discovery of human waste and large amounts of garbage left by large numbers of sports fishermen. The pollution forced the closure, during August, of about 400 acres of beaches in Annas Bay. Up to 2000 sports fisher people were estimated to be simultaneously on the river at some times. The Skokomish Tribe will probably be kept from commercial harvests at least through September (“Sports anglers’ mess costs tribal shellfish harvesters,” News From Indian Country, September 9, 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7353&Itemid=1).
The Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates held a public meeting in Rapid City, SD to discuss plans for a Native art market, living history village and powwow grounds in the city. Construction is expected to start in spring 2010, at an estimated project cost of $1.3 million with the city providing $812,000, the State of South Dakota $1000,000 and the BIA $125,000. Sound barriers are to be built around the grounds to meet neighbors concerns about noise from Pow wows (“Tribal tourism group discusses Rapid City plans,” Indianz.Com, September 10, 2009, http://184.108.40.206/News/2009/016439.asp).
Education and Culture
The Indian law program at the University of Idaho Law School, begun in 2008, is expanding and working to bring more American Indian students to campus (Jessie L. Bonner, “Law professor building Native American program,” News From Indian Country, July 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7048&Itemid=1).
Montana State University is the first Non-Indigenous institution to have its Native American Studies program accredited by the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC) (Indian Country Today, Education, ’09 – ’10, p. 23).
Sinte Gleske University on the Rosebud, in South Dakota, has been offering symposia and workshops on straw-bale construction, as the Rosebud Reservation takes a train the trainer approach to building capacity for constructing these energy conserving buildings. (Jerry Reynolds, “Will Straw-Bail Construction Catch on,” Indian Country Today Business2009).
Jomay Steen, “Success Academy a model for Native American education,” Rapid City Journal, September 28, 2009, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2009/09/28/news/top/doc4ac16795a6898148517585.txt, tells us, “A unique curriculum, 300 professional staff, and collaboration with a state university is helping improve retention rates at one of the oldest Native American boarding schools in South Dakota. Success Academy, an early and intensive college preparation program, has found success on the campuses of Flandreau Indian School, as well as South Dakota State University at Brookings.” The program, developed to keep freshmen in school and improve academic achievement at the boarding school that served students from 30 different states and 60 different tribes, serves 250 students each year, has grown into the premier diversity program at SDSU, stated Flandreau Indian School counselor Zonya Franklin, who spoke at the 2009 Indian Education and Dropout Prevention Summit in Rapid City, September 23. The academy follows each class through their high school years, creating a welcoming and comfortable setting at the Flandreau campus, and at SDSU. In four years, since initiating Success Academy, Flandreau Indian School (FIS) went from graduating about five students a year who had attended FIS since they were freshmen to graduating 40 who had attended FIS for all four years of high school. In addition, since boarding school senior students typically made choices too late about attending a post-secondary school, with Success, freshmen were encouraged to begin planning for after graduation. Freshman year includes hands-on workshops in seven academic colleges on the SDSU campus, where students find out about college subjects and careers, and what careers are identified by tribal leaders as being of critical need in their communities. In the sophomore year, students identify interest areas. They then attend four focus days that include the military, health, physical education and recreation, the arts and American Indian Studies. Dinners hosted by the SDSU Native American Club introduces the high school students to college students, providing positive role models and successful college students to mentor the youth. During their junior year, students receive a four-session program, “Preparing for College, Native Style!” focusing on preparing for and enrolling in college. Throughout the program, retired SDSU faculty members serve as academic parents, helping mentor the high school students as they prepare for college. During their senior year, SDSU offers 10 FIS seniors a scholarship, while students earn six college credits in basic writing and math courses. Seniors also complete college applications, apply for financial aid, take the ACT test, visit departments in which they may major and attend pre-orientation day in April designed especially for Native students. Of the 28 FIS Success Academy graduates, five went on to SDSU and six to other colleges, close to a 39% percent retention rate, about equal to that of Native colleges nationwide, compared to the previous about one student a year going on directly to college.
The Wabanaki Bates-Bowdon-Colby (BBC) Collaborative, officially started in 2007, has been working to increase Indian college attendance, while expanding the knowledge in the college communities of Maine’s Indigenous peoples. The collaborative has taken a three pronged approach. First, noting the high drop out rate among Maine’s Native students, the Early Awareness Program encourages student interest in higher education with students from the three colleges visiting Indian students in their fourth through eighth grade classrooms and communities, after the BBC students have been educated in the culture and history of the Indigenous students. Second, Wabanaki high school students and their counselors travel to the three college campuses for overnight visits and day campus tours with workshops on the application process, academic offerings, campus activities and college life. Third, The three colleges have been working to improve the campus climates to support Native cultural and academic activity, while enhancing the awareness and understanding in the college communities of Wabanaki history and contemporary issues (Gale Courey Toensing, “Wabanaki Bates-Bowdon-Colby Collaborative sows college seeds in Indian Country,” in Indian Country Today, Education, ’09 – ’10)
The Crazy Horse Memorial, in the Black hills in South Dakota, operated by a private foundation, with Indians on its board of directors, broke ground, in September, on a $2.5 million American Indian student living and learning center that includes classrooms and a 40-unit student residence hall for students who work at the attraction, which offers state accredited university classes on site and provides scholarships for American Indian students. The dormitory is scheduled to open summer of 2010. The Crazy Horse project was launched by Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to honor all American Indians. He began the mountain carving representing Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse to provide an Indian equivalent of the carvings of U.S. presidents on Mt. Rushmore, and the facility was intended to provide educational, cultural and other services to American Indians (“Work starting on Crazy Horse dormitory,” ArgusLeader.com, September 29, 2009, http://www.argusleader.com/article/20090929/UPDATES/90929067/-1/COMMUNITYLINK0112 and http://www.crazyhorsememorial.org).
A growing number of Native American organizations and tribes have been educating mostly younger tribal members about participating in U.S. politics with programs in Washington, D.C Americans for Indian Opportunity includes a week meeting with government and Indian organization leaders a part of its Ambassadors Program of leadership nurturing (Sachs, “The AIO Ambassadors Program: Nurturing Leadership, Building a Network for Indian Country and the Indigenous World,” IPJ, summer 2009). An increasing number of Native young people have been serving as congressional pages. A number of Indian Nations, including the Cherokees have been involving their students in their D.C. offices, while programs like American University’s Washington Internships for Native Students WINS) and the Udall Native American Congressional Internships program provide a variety of public policy and politics related experiences (Rob Capriccioso, “Education Inside the Beltway,” Indian students learn policy prowess in nation’s capital,” in Indian Country Today, Education, ’09 – ’10).
The Eastern Band of Cherokee opened their language immersion school, New Kituwah Academy, October 7 near Cherokee, North Carolina. New Kituwah Academy will house Cherokee language preschool and kindergarten classrooms, serving 2 – 5 year olds. The students, who already speak English as their first language, will study English as a discrete subject area, but will be taught all other curriculum content in Cherokee. Eastern Cherokee is an endangered language, with 300 remaining speakers, most over age 50. Other language programs at Eastern Cherokee include an immersion program at the Museum of the Cherokee, and the Cherokee youth radio project. For more go to: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/news/article/new-cherokee-school-open.
The Southern Ute Indian Academy in Colorado, in 2005, transformed areas of its surroundings into a haven for wildlife, becoming the first Native school to earn certification as a National Wild Life Federation School Yard Habitat site. At least 10 other tribal schools have turned their schoolyards into wild life sanctuaries for environmental education. Many Indigenous schools have created food gardens, while others have been having students do hands on climate change education, through such activities as undertaking species counts in their area and comparing the results to historical data. All of these initiatives connect students to the natural environment, their communities and traditional holistic thinking and culture (Terri Hansen, “Transforming Schoolyards: Natural Landscapes Encourage Environment-Based Education,” in Indian Country Today, Education, ’09 – ’10).
In 2000, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed Tlingit as a critically endangered language, with only 300 fluent speakers left and the youngest of the remaining Tlingit speakers were grandparents who spoke the language “partially and infrequently.” Thus, twice in recent years Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA) has listed preserving the Tlingit language as one of its top priorities. In spring of 2009, the tribe began phase I of a survey, funded by a federal grant from the Administration for Native Americans, to determine the number of Tlingit speakers in Sitka and assess their ability to read, write and understand the Native language. STA has applied for a grant to fund phase II of the survey, a two-year planning process that would examine how to sustain the language (Craig Giammona, “Tlingit language survey under way,” News from Indian Country,” June 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6773&Itemid=1).
Julianna Brannum (Comanche) is producing LaDonna Harris: Indian 101, a documentary about Comanche activist and Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO) founder LaDonna Harris. The ongoing filming, in September, included the AIO Ambassadors visit with the AMO (Advancement of Maori Opportunity) in New Zealand. On completing the film, Brannum plans “to do a lot of outreach in Native communities around the globe to plant the seed about Indigenous communities working together from all over the world and to learn about LaDonna’s rich and complex experiences. For non-Native folks, I hope that this film will help to reveal all the positive things happening in Indian Country and beyond and what our young up and coming leaders are doing to preserve their cultures and advance our societies.” The documentary highlights how LaDonna, as the wife of U.S. Senator Fred Harris, in the 1960s and 70s, worked from within Washington D.C.’s political scene on behalf of American Indians.
Longhouse Media is working with Indigenous communities to use film as a tool for self-expression, cultural preservation and social change. Filmmakers Rector and Annie Silverstein initiated Longhouse Media, in January 2005, with the Swinomish tribal community, whose reservation is near the San Juan Islands in Washington. The nonprofit has worked with over 29 tribal communities and over 1100 young people through film production, educational programming and other community work, building the organization’s profile among both the Native community and the independent filmmaking world. The organization recently received a National Media Literacy Award. (Mary Pauline Diaz, “Longhouse Media connects Native communities through digital media,” Seattle University Spectator, October 11, 2009, http://www.su-spectator.com/entertainment/longhouse-media-connects-native-communities-through-digital-media-1.630612).
United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik, will visit the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, November 1, during her official visit to the United States where she will be focusing on the human right to housing. She will investigate conditions in public housing as well as homelessness, the foreclosure crisis and the lingering impacts of Hurricane Katrina. South Dakota is one of six states Ms. Rolnik will visit in addition to Washington, D.C., during her official mission to the U.S. from October 23rd ˆ November 8th, 2009. Pine Ridge is her only scheduled visit to an Indian reservation. The Rappporteur’s visit will provide an opportunity for her to view housing conditions on Pine Ridge, meet with tribal and community members and examine the Treaty and Trust obligations of the U.S. Government to the Lakota and other Indian Nations which includes housing, education, health and other social services. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007 by the UN General Assembly, affirms the international character of these Treaty Rights and the obligations of countries to honor and uphold them. Housing remains a significant problem on the Pine Ridge reservation and throughout Indian Country. A preliminary report submitted to the Rapporteur by the IITC in August, included information provided by the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing authority (OSLH) stated, “Housing built and indirectly maintained by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (through thoroughly inadequate grants in aid to the Lakota Oglala Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation) is in a deplorable state. Holes in the wall are inadequately repaired by the residents with duct tape and cardboard, mold is a constant menace to health, the units are severely overcrowded, and trash is not collected, among many housing problems. The Oglala Pine Ridge Reservation also raises another problem of many Indian Reservations and their relationship to the United States. The Lakota Nation, among other Indian Nations, is a party to treaties with the United States, signed in the mid and late 1800’s. Among the United States Treaty Obligations is the provision of subsistence and housing, guaranteed to them for their stolen lands and the extermination of their primary means of subsistence, the Buffalo.” American Indian, Alaska, Hawaiian Native and other Indigenous Peoples living in the U.S. are invited to present information to the Rapporteur during her visit to Pine Ridge and in the cities listed below. The National American Indian Housing Council in Washington, D.C., is also hosting a policy briefing for the Rapporteur on November 7th in which various Tribal and community leaders will also participate. For more information on the Pine Ridge visit contact: Bill Means, IITC, 612-386-4030, Bill.Means@state.mn.us, or Andrea Carmen, IITC (907)745-4482, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the November 7th Indigenous Peoples Policy Briefing in Washington, D.C. contact: Wendy Helgamo, National American Indian Housing Council (202)789-1754, whelgemo@NAIHC.NET; for Chicago: Willie J.R. Fleming, Coalition to Protect Public Housing, email@example.com; Los Angeles: Becky Dennison, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), BeckyD@cangress.org; New Orleans: Sam Jackson, Mayday New Orleans, firstname.lastname@example.org; New York: Rob Robinson, Picture the Homeless, email@example.com; and Wilkes Barre: Frank Sindaco , firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information about the UN Rapporteur’s upcoming visit to the United States contact Tiffany Gardner, Human Right to Housing Program Director at NESRI (National Economic and Social Rights Initiative), email@example.com (International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), October 20, 2009, http://www.treatycouncil.org/home.htm).
Samoa, having previously abstained, announced that it endorses the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the UN Third Committee in New York, Oct. 19, 2009.
Samoa abstained from voting on the Declaration on September 13, 2007.(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ngo_ip_undecade/message/1055).
Canada’s Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who is Inuit, said First Nations would be among the first to receive a vaccine for the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu. She is developing guidelines for who will be the first to receive the vaccine. Aglukkaq, said Native people have been hit hard by the virus. “In Nunavut, in my riding alone, we have 560 cases of H1N1, 85% of my population are Inuit,” As a precaution, the Hatchet Lake Dene Nation has canceled the August 20-24, Keepers of the Water IV Conference at Wollaston Lake in northern Saskatchewan, after a child contracted the virus and eight other families reported flu-like symptoms. Previously, First Nations leaders criticized the government for not responding to the virus more quickly. (“Canada vows Native priority for swine flu vaccine,” Indianz.Com, September 1, 2009, http://220.127.116.11/News/2009/016295.asp and ”First Nation cancels meeting over swine flu,” Indianz.Com, August 18, 2009, http://18.104.22.168/News/2009/016091.asp). In June, it was reported that first Nation people had been hit particularly hard by H1N1, particularly in Nunavut and northern Manitoba communities where the World Health Organization reported a disproportionate numbers of serious cases. At that time, with Canada as a whole reporting 5,710 confirmed H1N1 flu cases and 11 deaths, Nunavut had to 204 confirmed cases, with the Nunavut Health Department reporting that outbreaks were spreading to communities throughout the entire region. Northeast Manitoba reported 226 cases and two deaths in their small aboriginal communities. Northern Ontario’s Sandy Lake First Nation was reporting more than 120 new cases. Over two-thirds of the seriously ill and those airlifted to hospital intensive care in need of ventilators and intensive care in Canada were aboriginals. First Nation chiefs stated that their communities were in full pandemic mode, but, in June, the Canadian government denied their requests to set up emergency field hospitals. Manitoba officials issued a plea asking doctors and nurses to volunteer in the remote communities, and three doctors were quickly en route to the region, with 13 nurses, 10 medical residents and two nurse practitioners indicating their interest in joining the effort. The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic caused by A/H1N1 swine flu, devastated not only Inuit communities in Canada and Alaska, but other North American Indigenous communities as well, and caused extremely high mortality rates among Indigenous peoples. Aboriginal leaders in Canada blamed the poor health and crowded living conditions in their communities and accuse federal and provincial governments of leaving them with little help. In some First Nation communities, as many as a dozen people squeeze into two-bedroom homes, and over half have no running water. They also lack full-scale medical clinics. Some concern has been expressed that the virus may travel throughout Canada’s Aboriginal country and remain active as a possible second and third wave of H1N1 hit this fall and winter (Terri Hansen, “Flu spotlights Canada as H1N1 sweeps First Nations and Inuit communities,” News From Indian Country, June 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6779&Itemid=1). Survival International, “New Report Reveals Tribal Peoples at Greatest Risk From Swine Flu,” September 30, 2009, http://survival-international.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b14580b05b832fb959c4ee444&id=608043de76&e=CqQTrZoCrQ, announced in Swine flu and tribal peoples (available at the above address in pdf) findings that tribal peoples across the world are at greatest risk from H1N1 flu, as many have poor immunity and suffer chronic underlying illnesses. The report, shows that Indigenous peoples in Australia and Canada have been hard hit by the swine flu pandemic, as the majority live in poverty, suffering overcrowding and poor sanitation, and have high rates of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and alcoholism. First Nations communities in Manitoba, Canada have seen infection rates of 130 per 100,000 compared with just 24 per 100,000 among the general population. However, although many households do not have access to clean water, the Canadian government delayed, in some cases up to a month, sending hand sanitizers to reserve communities, where alcoholism is rife, for fear that people would attempt to ingest the alcohol in them. Body bags were also delivered to First Nations communities in the province. The Manitoba government has appointed a health advisor to coordinate with First Nations on H1N1. In face of the slow government response, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has been working to raise $1.5 million from corporate donors to purchase medical kits. The report also raises concern for isolated tribes who have no immunity to outside diseases and for whom even the common cold can prove fatal.
As of late September, in Australia, Aborigines. 2%of the population, had suffered 10% the H1N1 fatalities. In Australia’s largest Aboriginal community on Palm Island, North Queensland, poor living conditions, with 3000 people in 200 houses, are blamed for the spread of the disease, while in the Northern territories, where more than half the then 78 H1N1 cases are Indigenous people, only 13% of surveyed settled aboriginal households had functioning waste, water, cooking and cleaning facilities. The Australian government has promised free flu shots, when they are available, to high risk groups, including aboriginals. On Palm Island, a special clinic was set up and anti-viral drugs were flown in. The government provided a flu information campaign, however, local elders say it has largely been ineffective because government personnel did not understand how to overcome cultural barriers. Members of the Matsigenka tribe in the Peruvian Amazon have already been struck by H1N1 flu, leading to fears for the health of neighboring uncontacted tribes. Stephen Corry, Director of Survival, commented on release of the report, “That tribal peoples are worst affected by swine flu comes as no surprise. Years of colonialism and forced assimilation policies have left them in destitution with chronic health problems. This report makes for sober reading but it should also serve as a wake up call to those governments that have ignored the health needs of their most vulnerable populations for too long.”
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne continue to negotiate to try to resolve boarder crossing issues on their land on the U.S.-Canadian border, meeting, in early September, with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Canadian Border Services Agency. The council wants the U.S. to reopen two lanes on the Seaway International Bridge, that U.S. officials have blocked to traffic concerns. Apparently, some drivers have been speeding and driving on the wrong side of the bridge in order to avoid a security checkpoint. In addition, the Mohawk First Nation is asking the Canadian Border Services Agency not to station armed guards at a crossing station on tribal land (“Mohawk First Nation discusses more border issues,” Indianz.Com, September 4, 2009, http://22.214.171.124/News/2009/016353.asp).
Numerous Canadian First Nations are moving to generate renewable energy, some asserting land rights in order to accomplish it. Jennifer Ashawasegai, “Wind farms + aboriginal rights,” Indian Country Today, September 11, 2009, http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/home/content/59054152.html, reports. “First Nations in Canada are exercising Aboriginal and treaty rights more and more. A number of communities have launched territorial lawsuits to claim jurisdiction over traditional lands and the government’s duty to consult communities about any developmental activities on traditional lands in their respective territories. There are examples of communities exercising rights throughout Canada, while keeping future generations in mind.” Some of this has taken place through the courts, bringing a number of Supreme Court cases, such as the Haida, Taku River and Mikisew cases that have affirmed Aboriginal rights, setting precedent for other First Nation communities, including the right to be consulted and accommodated prior to any decisions or actions that may affect their rights and interests. (Supreme Court of Canada decisions on Aboriginal and Treaty rights can be found at http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/). Protests have also been ongoing over land issues. The chief, five council members and one other citizen of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug of northwestern Ontario were jailed for several months for contempt of court in 2008 for their protecting ancestral lands from mining development, but a few months later the province’s highest court ruled that their jail sentences were too harsh. “First Nations are making positive steps in asserting Aboriginal and treaty rights, paving the road to self-determination; and realizing the potential of their lands and resources. They’re also making strides in economic development”. For example, Osoyoos First Nation, an Okanagan community in the interior of the west coast province of British Columbia, has developed Nk’Mip, an award winning winery, While on the east coast, the Mi’kmaq community, Membertou First Nation, the fastest growing community in Canada, has initiated partnerships with private companies in the oil and gas industry, engineering, mining, business management and consulting. Across Canada, there are First Nations participating in ecotourism. Recently there has arisen an Aboriginal green energy sector. Particularly in growing wind farms, which fit First Nation cultural philosophies about respecting Mother Earth, while promising to provide an appropriate foundation for self-determination through economic development. Among these efforts, Wasauksing First Nation, on Georgaian Bay near Parry Sound, Ontario has been in negotiations with SkyPower for about 15 wind turbines. Another Georgian Bay community, Henvey Inlet First Nation was close to signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Wind Dancer Power for wind generation. The community is preparing to launch a territorial claim to exercise jurisdiction over traditional lands. HIFN may eventually consider practicing jurisdiction over their traditional territory to put up wind turbines outside of reserve boundaries. In Saskatchewan, All Nations Energy Developments Corporation, (ANEDC) owned by Cowessess and George Gordon First Nations, signed a memorandum of understanding in 2008 with TransAtlantic Corporation to develop a 100-megawatt wind farm in the province. The turbines may not necessarily go up within First Nation boundaries, and could be erected in shared traditional lands outside the communities. Brookfield Renewable Power has several wind projects with First Nations communities. The company maintains they consult with First Nations on all projects as advised by law and has a senior advisor of aboriginal affairs. While aboriginal rights and interests have protections by law, in the Canadian Constitution, Ontario has moved further, first, revising to its archaic mining act to accommodate First Nations, and then enacting The Green Energy Act, that includes provisions to ensure aboriginal participation and consultation related to the energy sector. Meanwhile an increasing number of Native nations have been partnering with developers, and obtaining support from them, as First Nations gain more control of traditional lands, and have an increasing say over what happens on their lands. There are, however, obstacles to wind power growth, including NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome, with cottage associations, near First Nations communities, maintaining wind turbines are not aesthetic and would ruin the landscape. At the same time, “Aboriginal rights and title continue to be a grey area. Joseph Linkevic, First Nations wind energy consultant and attorney based in British Columbia, said there are two arguments. ‘Aboriginal Rights and Title is an empty box that needs to be filled, and Aboriginal Rights and Title is empty and does not exist because the federal and provincial government’s belief of their sole jurisdiction.’ He said if that were the case, then reserves and treaties would not exist, so the argument falls flat.” The “empty box theory” of Aboriginal rights was introduced by Justice Deptartment lawyers at a 1983 First Ministers’ Conference following the major revision of the Canadian Constitution, including the recognition of Aboriginal and treaty rights in 1982. The long line of Supreme Court decisions cited earlier has soundly refuted this ill-founded theory. First Nations leaders and their lawyers replied that the section of the Constitution recognizing Aboriginal and treaty rights is “a full box.” Developing wind farms on traditional lands would be a full scope argument on this basis.’”
The Blood Tribe in Alberta has purchased 664 acres adjacent to its reservation south of Coalhurst, and the tribal council will consult with adjacent communities (including Fort Macleod, Cardston and Kainaiwa to share ideas and comments about possible use of the land which, among other possibilities, could be used for cultural, recreational, or sports purposes. Possible uses include a Blackfoot historic site, housing, a golf course, and some commercial possibilities, among them a hotel, and perhaps a. casino (Sherri Gallant, “Blood tribe gets bigger,” Lethbridge Herald, September 28, 2009, http://www.lethbridgeherald.com/content/view/97629/71/). The land purchase is related to the $5.6-million settlement of a land dispute, involving two land claims, settled several years ago, that entitled the tribe to additional territory compensating for the illegal surrender of land to a settler in 1889 (Jamie Komarnicki, “Calgary-area First Nation compensated for land given in 1889, Calgary Herald, September 28, 2009, http://www.calgaryherald.com/Calgary+area+First+Nation+compensated+land+given+1889/2041251/story.html).
The Rama Mnjikaning First Nation in Ontario is appealing a lower court decision in the Ontario Court of Appeals in an attempt to increase its share of revenues from Casino Rama, saying it is entitled to 35% of net profits. If the tribe wins it would reduce the share of revenues that go to The Chiefs of Ontario, representing all 134 Ontario. (“First Nation seeks bigger share of casino profits,” Indianz.Com, September 9, 2009, http://126.96.36.199/IndianGaming/2009/016410.asp) (Decisions of the Ontario Court of Appeal or other provincial courts of appeal in Canada may be found at CANLII (Canadian Legal Information Institute: http://www.canlii.org).
Seven Latin American finance ministers have agreed on the basis for establishing the Bank of the South, in order to have an alternative to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for development aid. (Tony Phillips, “South American Nations Agree on Technical Rules for Bank of the South, Americas Updater, June 16, 2009, http://americas.irc-online.org/am/6157).
Kate Doyle, “Breaking the Silence: The Mexican Army and the 1997 Acteal Massacre,” Americas Updater, September 29, 2009,” reports, http://app.streamsend.com/c/6371431/59601/jqRxY60/iKs8?redirect_to=http%3A%2F%2Famericas.irc-online.org%2Fam%2F6435%3Futm_source%3Dstreamsend%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_content%3D6371431%26utm_campaign%3D%255BAmericas%2520Updater%255D%2520Honduran%2520Cr, “As Mexicans debate the Supreme Court ruling vacating the conviction of 20 men for the Acteal massacre, newly declassified documents from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency describe the army’s role in backing paramilitary groups in Chiapas at the time of the killings. The secret cables confirm reports of military support for Indigenous armed groups carrying out attacks on pro-Zapatista communities in the region and add important new details. They revive a question that has lingered for almost 12 years: when will the army come clean about its role in Acteal?” This article re-launches the Open Files series on U.S.-Latin America relations produced by the CIP Americas Program in collaboration with the National Security Archive in Washington, DC. The original documentation, as well as previous articles, may be found at: http://app.streamsend.com/c/6371431/59591/jqRxY60/iKs8?redirect_to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nsarchive.org%2Fmexico%3Futm_source%3Dstreamsend%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_content%3D6371431%26utm_campaign%3D%255BAmericas%2520Updater%255D%2520Honduran%2520Crisis%253B.”
The June 28 Coup to remove Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who had strong support among Honduras’ Indigenous peoples, may have approached an end, October 30. after months of negotiations and international pressure, with an agreement for President Zelaya to return to finish out the last there months of his term, and the leader of the coup government Roberto Micheletti would resign. Neither would be candidates in the December Presidential election. The Congress, which supported Zelaya’s ouster, still had to ratify the agreement, as of October 31. Increased pressure from the United States, which had been acting as an equal ally in the negotiations to end the coup, appears to have played a major role in attaining an agreement (Ginger Thompson and Elisabeth Malkin, “Honduran Leader Agrees To Let Ousted President Finish Term,” The New York Times, October 31, 2009).
Stephen Zunes, “Showdown in ‘Teguci golpe‘,” Foreign Policy In Focus, July 10, 2009, http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/6250, in the course of giving the background to the crisis in Hondourous comments, “One of the hemisphere’s most critical struggles for democracy in 20 years is now unfolding in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa (nicknamed “Teguci golpe ” for its long history of military coup d’états, which are called golpes de estado, in Spanish). Despite censorship and repression, popular anger over the June 28 military overthrow of democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya is growing. International condemnation has been near-unanimous, and the Organization of American States has suspended Honduras, the first time the hemisphere-wide body has taken so drastic an action since 1962. In a reversal of many decades of U.S. support for right-wing golpistas in Latin America, the Obama administration has denounced the coup. However, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, rather than backing the largely nonviolent popular uprising for Zelaya’s unconditional return to power, has instead been pushing for the country’s legitimate ruler to compromise with the very forces which illegally exiled him from the country and have been violently suppressing his supporters.” “Despite being a wealthy logger and rancher from the centrist Liberal Party, Zelaya has moved his government well to the left since taking office in 2005. During his tenure, he raised the minimum wage and provided free school lunches, milk for young children, pensions for the elderly, and additional scholarships for students. He built new schools, subsidized public transportation, and even distributed energy-saving light bulbs. He also had Honduras join with Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba, and three small Caribbean island states in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), an economic alliance challenging the neoliberal orthodoxy that has dominated hemispheric trade in recent decades. None of these are particularly radical moves, but it was nevertheless disturbing to the country’s wealthy economic and military elites. More frightening was that Zelaya had sought to organize an assembly to replace the 1982 constitution written during the waning days of the U.S.-backed military dictator Policarpo Paz. A non-binding referendum on whether such a constitutional assembly should take place was scheduled the day of the coup, but was cancelled when the military seized power and named Congressional Speaker Roberto Micheletti as president. Calling for such a referendum is perfectly legal under Article 5 of the 2006 Honduran Civil Participation Act, which allows public functionaries to perform such non-binding public consultations regarding policy measures. Despite claims by the rightist junta and its supporters, Zelaya was not trying to extend his term. That question wasn’t even on the ballot. The Constitutional Assembly would not have likely completed its work before his term had expired anyway. Yet the Obama administration is implying that the country’s legitimate democratic president somehow shared responsibility for his illegal overthrow. The initial White House response was rather tepid, initially failing to denounce the coup, simply calling upon ‘all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.’
Rick Kearns, “Indigenous Hondurans face persecution and great risk after coup,” Indian Country Today, October 28, 2009, reports that with daily demonstrations against the coup in Honduras including by many Indigenous people, there has been considerable repression of the opposition to the coup, including of Native people in the country, broadly, though most particularly against those who have been demonstrating. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights stated in August that curfews, military patrols, and detentions of thousands of people who were cruelly treated had been undertaken by the government with at least four known shooting deaths.
Among the international efforts over the Honduran crisis. the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, deployed a mission to Honduras from October 18 to November 7 2009, compiling the necessary information to prepare a special report on the violations of human rights in Honduras since the coup d’état on June 28, 2009 requested by the Human Rights Council on October 1 (“UN human rights chief sends mission to Honduras,”, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Media Unit, October16, 2009, Rupert Colville, Spokesperson: + 41 22 917 9767, Xabier Celaya, Information Officer: + 41 22 917 9383, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Pages/WelcomePage.aspx). For further information on the situation of human rights in Honduras, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/HNIndex.aspx.
While many tribal communities continue to be caught in the middle of the Civil War in Columbia, 27 Awa tribal members being reported killed by rebels earlier this year, Columbian police, in August, arrested one Awa tribal member, believed to be part of a gang that has been threatening and extorting tribal members, in connection with the murder of 12 Awa (“Arrest made for deaths of Awa Indians in Colombia,” Indianz.Com, September 1, 2009, http://188.8.131.52/News/2009/016287.asp).
Raúl Zibechi, “Massacre in the Amazon: The U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement Sparks a Battle Over Land and Resources,” Americas Updater, June 16, 2009, http://americas.irc-online.org/am/6191, reports, “On June 5, World Environment Day, Amazon Indians were massacred by the government of Alan Garcia in the latest chapter of a long war to take over common lands—a war unleashed by the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Peru and the United States. The events of June 5 left hundreds wounded and between 20-25 dead.” For 10 days some 5,000 Awajún and Wampi Indigenous peoples peacefully blocked roads to protest government extraction policies putting into effect the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, and to prevent terribly damaging mining on their lands until government copters launched tear gas on the crowd (other versions say that they also shot machine guns), while simultaneously a group of agents attacked the road block by ground, firing AKM rifles. In the nearby city of Bagua, a thousand kilometers northeast of Lima near the border with Ecuador, the population took too the streets to support the Indigenous people’s demonstration, setting fire to state institutions and local office of the official party APRA (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana). Several police officers were attacked and killed in the counter-attack, while other Indigenous protestors were killed by police. Simultaneously, 38 police officers guarding an oil station in the Amazon were taken hostage. Some were killed by their captors, while some 1,000 Indians threatened to set fire to Station Number 6 of the northern Peruvian oil pipeline. The government claimed days after the events that there are 11 Indigenous dead and 23 police. The Indigenous organizations reported 50 dead among their ranks and up to 400 disappeared. Witnesses stated that the military burned bodies and threw them into the river to hide the massacre, and also took prisoners among the wounded in the hospitals. “In any case, what is certain is that the government sent the armed forces to evict a peaceful protest that had been going on for 57 days in the jungle regions of five departments: Amazonas, Cusco, Loreto, San Martin, and Ucayali.” The Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) of the Organization of American States, condemned the violent acts on June 8 and reminded the Peruvian government of its obligation to clear up the facts and to compensate for the consequences, while urging both sides to promote a process of dialogue. The next day, the National Coordination of Human Rights announced that it found a series of irregularities and possible human rights violations in the Bagua area, denouncing the government’s refusal to divulge which police were in charge of the investigation of the events. President Garcia accused the Indians of being “terrorists” in an “international conspiracy,” in which, government ministers stated involved Bolivia and Venezuela, who as oil and gas producing countries, sought to prevent Peru from exploiting these resources and becoming a competitor. Peru had recently granted asylum to the anti-Chavez leader, Venezuelan Manuel Rosas, accused of corruption, and three former Bolivian ministers from the government of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lazada prosecuted for the death of nearly 700 persons during the “gas war” of October 2003. The government launched a defaming media campaign against the Indigenous community and its organizations, forcing the leader of the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle (AIDESEP, by its Spanish initials), to seek asylum in the Nicaraguan embassy in Lima, while also blaming the country’s political left. The minister of Women and Social Development, Carmen Vildoso, resigned in protest of the government handling of the situation, reportedly, reportedly including a government publicity spot, which, with the background of photos of dead police and Indigenous people throwing spears and arrows, presented the Natives as “savages,” “fierce assassins,” and “extremists” that follow “international orders” to “stop Peru’s development” and keep the country from taking advantage of its oil,” while claiming there was no government repression, but rather “a savage assassination of humble policemen.” As of mid June, “The Amazon protest has not died down since the massacre—nearly all the 56 Amazon Indigenous peoples reaffirmed that they would continue the road blocks until the government repeals the Legislative Decrees that the violate Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization and their rights over their territories. According to their testimonies, the situation is explosive. Alan Garcia has a history of violent repression. Under his first presidency in 1986, the armed forces forcefully put down a coordinated prison riot that left over a hundred prisoners shot dead. In this context, the Peruvian government could very well increase the violence unleashed on the Indigenous movement. Hugo Blanco, a well-known Peruvian movement activist and editor of the monthly Lucha Indígen, takes a long look in a recent editorial: ‘After 500 years of silencing, the Amazon peoples receive the support of the peoples of Peru and the world. It could be the greatest achievement of this campaign has been to make these nationalities visible, weaving links between diverse sectors of the country, as divided as those who dominate. By defending the Amazon we are defending the life of all of humanity; and by not ceding to the deceit of the government, they are rewriting history, recuperating for all the sense of the word dignity.”
“A Mixed Aftermath for Peru Protests,” Cultural Survival, Vol. 33, No. 2, Summer 2009, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/csq/article/mixed-aftermath-peru-protests, reported that “Violence continued in June, when government officials stormed the Petroperú oil facility in Bagua Province. Indigenous protesters had seized control of the pumping station, threatening to cut off oil and energy supplies to major Peruvian cities. Approximately nine police officers were killed during the clash. The Peruvian government has applied intense political pressure to AIDESEP, curtailing civil liberties and detaining Indigenous activists across the country.” On June 11, Indigenous Peoples across Peru took to the streets voicing opposition to the June 5 killings in Bagua. Though these protests were generally peaceful, police fired tear gas into the crowd and detained numerous protesters in the capital city of Lima. The next day, the Ministry of Transport and Communication ordered the shutdown of popular community radio station La Voz de Baguam that has assisted Indigenous communities and activists to disseminate information, warn listeners about impending attacks, and reconnect separated peoples. Also on June 12, Congress suspended seven of its Indigenous members for three months, who were members of the Partido Nacionalista, a leftist organization supporting the demands of AIDESEP. “AIDESEP and Peru’s Indigenous Peoples have been making significant progress, however, as the Peruvian government begins to reevaluate its strategy. Following the June 5 protests, Congress repealed two of the most controversial decrees and President Garcia agreed to meet with Indigenous leaders on June 20.” In addition, a Truth Commission has been established to investigate the killing of civilians during the June 5 protest in Bagua. Ombudsman Beatriz Merino proposed new legislation that would require the recognition of International Labor Organization (ILO) 169, which, she argues, is imperative to “secure a foundation to guarantee intercultural dialogue, incorporating Indigenous Peoples in the nation’s decision making process within the framework of our legal and democratic system.” Prime Minister Yehude Simon joined Carmen Vildoso, Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development, in resigning over the government’s mishandling of the protests. On June 17, the National Association of Journalists convened in Bagua Grande to discuss the closures of community radio stations, including La Voz, and formally denounced the Peruvian government for its actions. “Unfortunately, the situation continues to look bleak as Yehude Simon’s replacement, Javier Velásquez Quesquén, takes office. When he was president of the Congress, Quesquén supported police violence and repression of Indigenous protesters and refused to release the report of a bipartisan commission that found Garcia’s decrees (that lead to the protests) to be unconstitutional. Peru has also granted concessions for the British-French oil company Perenco to begin exploration in Block 67 of the Amazon, an area that is home to several uncontacted Indigenous tribes.” (See also, Survival International reports: “Indian leader forced into exile as President labels protesters ‘savages’,” http://survival-international.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b14580b05b832fb959c4ee444&id=2eec35278f&e=67fbe1fdea; “Government prepares to investigate ‘Amazon’s Tiananmen’,” http://survival-international.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b14580b05b832fb959c4ee444&id=76fc020661&e=67fbe1fdea; and “Business as usual in Peru,” http://survival-international.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b14580b05b832fb959c4ee444&id=cd5bca983f&e=67fbe1fdea. In addition, see, Andrew Whalen , “Jail and trial are next for wounded Peru Indians like Santiago Manuin who were involved in protests,” News From Indian Country, August 2009, http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7179&Itemid=1.
Survival International reported, September 2, 2009, that the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has told Peru’s government not to allow oil and gas drilling on Indigenous peoples’ land without their ‘informed consent’, which would block drilling in rainforest areas inhabited by uncontacted Indians, as well as providing contacted tribes a veto on extraction. CERD expressed its concern at the ‘serious tension in the country, which has even triggered violence, and has been generated by the exploitation of the sub-soil resources traditionally belonging to Indigenous peoples.’ The Committee also urged Peru’s government to investigate the conflict in Bagua, saying ‘The government should urgently form an Independent Commission, including Indigenous representation, to carry out a definitive, objective and impartial investigation.’ Survival director, Stephen Corry, said, September 2, ‘We urge President Garcia to put an end, once and for all, to its policy of carving up the Amazon without the consent of the people who actually live there.’ To read this story online go to: http://www.survival-international.org/news/4916. On September 10, Survival International stated (“100 Days After the ‘Amazon’s Tiananmen’, Pressure Mounts on Government,” http://survival-international.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b14580b05b832fb959c4ee444&id=85059ea740&e=CqQTrZoCrQ) Survival, Amnesty International, and the United Nations have all urged the government of Peru to gain the consent of Indigenous people before oil, gas or mineral exploration takes place on their land. Until that is guaranteed, ‘the government should not give any more concessions for the exploration and exploitation of natural resources and [should] suspend any concessions already made that could affect Indigenous peoples’ rights,’ an Amnesty statement reads. n the hundred days since the ‘Amazon’s Tiananmen’, on 5 June, the government has failed to investigate what happened, or to halt its persecution of Peru’s Indigenous leaders, three of whom have sought asylum in Nicaragua. The government has also announced plans to auction new oil and gas exploration rights, slated to include large parts of the Amazon, and has given the green light to Anglo-French oil company. These developments have taken place despite a televised admission by President Garcia that his government had failed to consult with the country’s Indigenous population about exploration on their land. For more information contact Miriam Ross, Survival International, 6 Charterhouse Buildings, London EC1M 7ET, United Kingdom, (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (+44) (0)7504543367, email@example.com, http://www.survival-international.org/.
AIDESEP, the umbrella organization of Peru’s Amazon Indians, lodged an urgent appeal, at the beginning of September, with the country’s Constitutional Tribunal to halt an oil drilling project of Anglo-French oil company Perenco, in a part of the Peruvian Amazon known as ‘Block 67’. Spanish company Repsol-YPF, exploring nearby, is also covered by the application. AIDESEP fears that the project could have catastrophic consequences for the uncontacted tribes living in the area. Perenco was given the green light to start work in Block 67 just thirteen days after the Amazon’s Tiananmen’, when armed police violently broke up an Indigenous protest near the town of Bagua. A recent exposé in a British newspaper alleged that a company contracted by Perenco withheld evidence of the existence of uncontaced Indgenous people in the area. Perenco’s project has aroused huge anger amongst Indian communities in northern Peru. Large scale protests have been held, and the River Napo was blockaded for several weeks to stop Perenco’s boats from entering Block 67. After the Bagua tragedy, the authorities promised to consult with indigenous people before pushing ahead with these massive projects, but once again they are simply going ahead against local people’s wishes. For more information go to: http://www.survival-international.org/news/4923, or contact Miriam Ross: Survival International, 6 Charterhouse Buildings, London EC1M 7ET, United Kingdom. (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (+44) (0)7504543367, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Isabella Kenfield, “Fallen Banker with Ties to Citigroup Involved in Shooting of Brazilian Landless Workers,” Americas Updater, June 11, 2009, http://americas.irc-online.org/am, reports, “On April 18, seven members of the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) were shot by private security guards on a farm in the Amazon that belongs to Agropecuária Santa Bárbara Xinguara S/A, a company controlled by international banker Daniel Dantas. A billionaire with former ties to Citigroup, Dantas is Brazil’s largest producer of cattle, and presently embroiled in a major financial and political scandal that reaches into the U.S. courts and financial system. No one has ever been convicted or imprisoned for the massacre.”
In Brazil, Survival informs that, in September, a village of 130 Guarani-Kaiowá Indians in Brazil were evicted from their land, had their village burned down, and are now living under tarpaulins on the side of a busy highway, with no access to running water or food. The community, known as Laranjeira Ñanderu, was evicted from its ancestral land in the 1960s by cattle ranchers who have occupied the land since then. They secured a court order for the police to evict the Guarani, who had moved back on to part of their land in December 2007 after years of living in an overcrowded reserve. In the last decade over 500 Guarani have committed suicide (the youngest just nine years old) as they see no future without land. Most live in over crowded reservations where violence, alcohol and malnutrition are rife. In 2007 the Brazilian Attorney General’s office ordered the government to survey and demarcate all traditional Guarani territories, but the project is strongly opposed by farmers and cattle ranchers who are supported by the state government, who have been able to halt demarcation. The UN’s top official on Indigenous peoples released a critical report, in August, on Brazil, in which he singled out the chronic land conflict in the Guarani’s territory, where ‘Indigenous peoples suffer a severe lack of access to their traditional lands.’ Survival International, in association with Marco Bechis (director of the Guarani acted film, Birdwatchers, which opened in the UK at the time of the eviction) has set up the Guarani Survival Fund, to support the Guarani For more information go to: http://www.survival-international.org/news/4949.
The Akuntsu tribe in the Brazilian Amazon lost its oldest member, Survival reported Octobe 19, leaving the tribe with only five surviving members. The Akuntsu have suffered genocide and the destruction of their rainforest home, as cattle ranchers and their gunmen moved on to indigenous lands in Rondônia state, which the government opened to colonization projects and the infamous BR 364 highway in the 1960s and 70s. For more information go to: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/4982.
Laura R. Graham, “The Tractor Invasion,” Cultural Survival, Vol. 33, No. 2m Summer 2009, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/csq/article/tractor-invasion, recounts that changes that have long been taking place in the central Brazilian plateau are changing the lives and threaten the land rights of the Xavante people. “The Xavante live in the vast Brazilian savanna called the Cerrado, an area the size of the American Great Plains. A Ge-speaking people, they retreated from contact with national society in the mid-1800s and earned a reputation for fierceness and determined isolationism. Xavante groups did not begin to establish peaceful relationships with representatives of national society until 1946. Even then, some groups refused contact until the mid-1960s. Fifty years after colonization, the Xavante continue many of their traditional cultural practices, and their spiritual and ceremonial lives are rich. They also face tremendous challenges. Their homeland is now just a 12-hour drive from Brasília and lies in the heart of Brazil’s new agricultural and economic engine. The nine small reserves that the government began carving out for the Xavante in the late 1970s today seem like islands in a sea of soy. And agribusiness has its sights set on even these small reserves where, in Indigenous areas such as these, the rich and unique Cerrado ecosystem is still intact. While large-scale agriculturalists and related corporations are reaping enormous profits from Mato Grosso’s burgeoning soy industry and making plans for multimillion-dollar development projects, many Xavante don’t have enough to eat, and those who live in the smallest of the Xavante areas can’t find sufficient game or even palm fronds to construct their thatched homes. The health situation in Xavante areas is abysmal: infant mortality is high, well above the regional and national averages and close to that of Northeastern Brazil, the nation’s poorest region. Xavante mortality rates are high because they are exposed to many infectious diseases and have poor health care; an epidemic of hypertension and diabetes is imminent. Xavante are one of many central Brazilian groups whose homelands and livelihoods have been severely affected over the last two decades by the proliferation of colossal agro-industry. In some areas it is soy; in others, sugarcane for biofuels; and in still others, fast-growing eucalyptus for firewood to process soy oil in factories.” The largest problem is the devastation of the Cerrado, with farmers are cutting the forests down, destroying the biodiversity of the Cerrado. Eradicating the foods of Indigenous people, such as the guavira, a delicious fruit that the Xavante eat and sell. The ecological problems being created by the agrobusinessization of the Cerrado are very far reaching. That central plateau comprises one-third of Brazil’s territory and houses the watersheds for three of South America’s major river basins: the Amazon, São Francisco, and Paraná/Paraguai. The accelerating agricultural boom in the Cerrado, together with huge related infrastructure development projects includingroad construction, hydroelectric dams, colossal hydro-engineering projects to transform rivers into water highways, as well as illegal mining and timber extraction in Indigenous areas, are destroying the fragile Cerrado environment and having devastating effects on the region’s Indigenous inhabitants. The impacts of pollution and changes of water flow there affect fish in many waters and the condition of vast regions of South America. Changes in rainforests and other lands there, in turn have consequences for the entire world – including levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. There are more local problems for Indigenous people in the Cerrado. “The Xavante are more fortunate than some because they live in legally protected reserves—even if those protections are frequently disregarded and the areas are small. Many other groups live on lands that have yet not been legally demarcated. For many, their claims have been languishing for decades in the drawers and filing cabinets of the government agency responsible for granting Indigenous Peoples legal title to their lands.” Massive development is quite negatively effecting the live of all Indigenous people in the country. Steadily increasing soybean production, already exceeding 4.5 million tons per year in Mato Grosso alone, and increase in all kinds of production in Brazil, are driving government plans for huge infrastructural projects — part of a state plan known as Avança Brasil (“Forward Brazil”) —to make the region more accessible and transport the huge harvests to ports and commercial centers. The Tocantins-Araguaia Hidrovia, also known as the Central-Northern Multimodal Transport Corridor, is a multi-million dollar project that would transform the most extensive river basin of central Brazil and the eastern Amazon into a commercial waterway to support barge convoys mostly for transporting soy, but also carrying agricultural toxins, which almost certainly have terrible direct and indirect consequences for Indigenous Peoples. Over all, the project would alter 1,700 miles of the Tocantins-Araguaia-Rio das Mortes river system, with large-scale engineering works including hydroelectric facilities, locks, and dams and the construction of new ports. Two of the planned “small” hydroelectric projects will be constructed in or next to the Xavante areas of São Marcos and Sangradouro, and the project will directly affect the Xavante territories of Areões and Pimentel Barbosa, while one of the many planned dams on headwaters to the Xingu River is already functioning next to the Parabubure reserve. The project will affect at least six other Indigenous groups: the Apinajé, Javaé, Karajá, Krahó, Krikati and Tapirapé, directly impacting the lives of more than 10,000 Native people who depend on the river’s flora and fauna for their livelihoods. Indigenous Peoples, with International support, are fighting the project. As of last summer, a lawsuit filed by the Xavante of Pimentel Barbosa in collaboration with the Brazilian organization, Instituto Socioambiental, has delayed the work. It is not clear, though, whether they will be able to stop it. “Brazil’s constitution is a strong weapon for Indigenous Peoples, but putting their rights into practice takes dedication and very long, hard work. The Xavante Warã Association and an expanding network called the Mobilization of Indigenous Peoples of the Cerrado are taking action to advance the struggle of Indigenous Peoples of the Cerrado. Kuiusi Kisêdjê, leader of the Ngojwere community in the Xingu, spoke for many when he said, ‘We fight to recoup this land because it is sacred to us; our ancestors are buried here. A lot of people think that we only care about money, but what we want is our land’.”
Survival International communicated, October 8, that satellite photographs show bulldozers illegally entering the land of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, the only uncontacted tribe in South America outside the Amazon. The heavy machinery has been hired by a Brazilian company, Yaguarete Pora S.A., to clear the land to make way for cattle-ranching in northern Paraguay. The bulldozers’ entry onto the tribe’s land is completely illegal, after Yaguarete had its licence to work in the area suspended by the government. Thousands of hectares of their land, in an area called the Chaco in northern Paraguay, were destroyed by Yaguarete and another company, River Plate SA, last year. According to a local organization supporting the Totobiegosode, some of whom have been contacted, Yaguarete has made it clear to them that ‘it does not respect Indigenous rights nor Paraguay’s laws.’ For more information go to: ttp://www.survivalinternational.org/news/4979
Global Exchange stated, September 10, “The legal battle between Indigenous communities in Ecuador and oil giant Chevron is a fight sixteen years in the making. This unprecedented lawsuit holds Chevron accountable for the clean-up of the damages it has done to the once pristine Amazonian rainforest and the people who call it home. Dubbed the ‘Amazon Chernobyl’, the land inhabited by Indigenous communities for generations has been left contaminated beyond imagination. With all the evidence pointing to Chevron’s guilt, a judgment of potentially $27 billion was expected to be handed down against the company as early as next month in Ecuador. Chevron – one of the wealthiest corporations in world history – has already said that it will refuse to pay, requiring U.S. courts to enforce any potential fine. Chevron’s legal strategy before a U.S. court would almost certainly be centered on convincing the court that the company did not receive a fair trial in Ecuador; thus, Chevron has a strong incentive to build a case now against the Ecuadorian court. This “evidence” magically emerged last week when the oil giant took dirty measures to avoid cleaning up its mess. Chevron appears to have resorted to its own Nixon-style sting operation in an attempt to delay and corrupt trial proceedings by releasing grainy online videos trying to implicate the judge presiding over the trial in a $3 billion bribery scheme. Chevron’s attempt at smoke and mirrors would be laughable if the results were not so serious. While asserting that no impropriety occurred, hoping to avert any further effort by Chevron to delay or de-legitimize a ruling, the judge recused himself from the case last week. This “bribery plot” is just the latest in a string of underhanded – and potentially illegal – attempts by Chevron to derail the case and distract from the fact of Chevron’s obvious guilt. The timing is also suspicious given this week’s release of the groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed documentary film about the case, CRUDE: the real price of oil.” For more information go to: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=5iJZYKKE%2FVO7xFINWfIZziM%2BXjmwasj0, on the film, or http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=aiLAsRk8MhcgDWGHOC5ZzyM%2BXjmwasj0, theChevronToxico website. Global Exchange is offering a Reality Tour to Ecuador in November (http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=6OA6oeapGgk0JH3zMDOy%2BCM%2BXjmwasj0).
More developed in the Chevron case in early October, “The Ecuadorean political go-between whose taped remarks about apportioning bribes put him in the middle of the scandal, Patricio García, said he was entrapped in a dirty-tricks campaign by Chevron. In an interview, he claimed that Chevron had masterminded an industrial espionage project, with digitally manipulated videos and gangsters disguised as entrepreneurs on the prowl for contracts, intended to smear him and Ecuador’s legal system. ‘This was all planned from the United States, by Chevron itself,’ said Mr. García, 55, a businessman and former car mechanic. He chafed at any suggestion, as laid out in recordings made public by Chevron, that he had discussed a bribery scheme that was to include President Rafael Correa ’s sister, Pierina Correa, and Judge Juan Núñez, who was then overseeing the case. It is not clear from the recordings and transcripts provided by Chevron whether any bribes were paid or whether Judge Núñez and Ms. Correa were aware of plans to try to bribe them. Ms. Correa has denied knowing Mr. García, or having anything to do with the plot, and Judge Núñez has also denied any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, governing party and government officials have characterized Mr. García as a man of little influence.” Ecuador’s attorney general, Washington Pesántez, says that Chevron’s contacts with the businessmen who discussed bribes require that the company be investigated in the United States for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, outlawing bribery of foreign officials to obtain business. Saying, “It seems to me that Chevron’s strategy is to delegitimize the actions of our judges.” He added that he regretted that a resolution of the lawsuit, which has dragged on for 16 years, had been delayed by a month with the disclosure of the videos. “Justice that is delayed is not justice,” Mr. Pesántez said. Chevron claims that it neither coached nor paid the businessmen to make the tapes, and that it did not edit the material, although it did give one of the men, Diego Borja, an undisclosed sum for moving and living expenses so he could safely move his family out of Ecuador. “Chevron hopes to delay any future payments for many years; since it has no major assets in Ecuador, it would not be easy to get it to pay, even if it lost. Had the Ecuadorean officials checked Mr. Borja’s background, they would have seen that he had been a contractor for Chevron for years” (Simon Romero and Clifford Kraus, “Ecuador Oil Pollution Case Only Grows Murkier,” The New York Times, October 9, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/10/world/americas/10chevron.html?ref=todayspaper). A further development has further weakened Chevron’s position, when it was reveled in late October that one of the key people in making the recordings for Chevron, Wayne Hansen, is a convicted drug trafficker (Clifford Kraus, “Revelation Undermine’s Chevron’s Case in Ecuador,” The New York Times, October 30, 2009).
Cultural Survival reported, October 6 and 9, that after eight days of protest and road blocks by Shuar Indigenous People in the Ecuadorian Amazon and violent clashes with police forces that left one Indigenous teacher dead, Ecuador’s national Indigenous movement and the government of President Rafael Correa undertook initial talks, with a delegation of about 150 representatives from the three regional organizations of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) attended a meeting with the President and his cabinet in Quito. The four-hour meeting October 5, achieved consensus on six agreements: Acceptance of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador’s (CONAIE) agenda for dialogue and negotiation; Institutionalization of a process of negotiation on bilingual education; CONAIE’s recommendations on the Water Act will be studied and discussed by the appropriate legislative committee with CONAIE’s participation; The government will receive a proposal from Indigenous Peoples on reform of the Mining Law; An investigation will be conducted into the death of Shuar teacher Wizuma Bosco during the violent police confrontation on Sept 30; An investigation will be conducted to determine whether or not a Shuar radio station, Arutam, transmitted information that fanned the flames of violence; A process of “permanent dialogue” between the government and Indigenous Peoples will be undertaken. Continuing dialogue is to be facilitated by the Secretariat of Peoples, Social Movements and Citizen Participation in coordination with the Development Council of Nationalities and Peoples of Ecuador (Codenpe). Pepe Acacho, president of the Shuar Federation expressed frustration that the government still has not agreed to declare Morona Santiago an “ecological province, free of mining and oil exploitation.” This is the principal demand that ignited the Shuar protests and bridge blockades. Indigenous organizations also wanted to see a recent presidential decree revoked that puts the Catholic church in charge of state development efforts in the Amazon for the purposes of evangelizing and incorporating Amazonian peoples into the socio-economic life of the country. The decree also applies to the predominantly Afro-Ecuadorian province of Esmeraldas and the Galapagos Islands. CONAIE characterized the meetings as positive and constructive. Hundreds of Indigenous people kept vigil in the rain outside the Carondelet Palace for the duration of the four-hour meeting. For more information go to: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/news/article/ecuador-conaie-and-correa-begin-dialogue.
James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous people, on concluding his two week visit to Russia, in Mid October, stated, “I am impressed by the several initiatives by the Government of the Russian Federation and regional governments to address the concerns of the country’s small-numbered Indigenous peoples. Significant challenges remain, however, to consolidate and effectively implement these initiatives for the benefit of these Indigenous peoples,” The Special Rapporteur met with Government authorities at the federal and regional levels, representatives and members of Indigenous communities and organizations in Moscow and in the regions of Khanty-Mansiysk, Krasnoyarsk and Khabarovsk. In each region, he carried out a number of field trips to meet with members of indigenous communities living in remote compact settlements or isolated dwellings. The Special Rapporteur noted, in his preliminary observations on his visit, that the Concept Paper on the Sustainable Development of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation, which the Federal Government issued in February 2009, provides an important impetus for advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples and for overcoming their disadvantage in social and economic spheres. He observed that several important framework laws are in place at the federal level to address the concerns of Indigenous peoples, including concerning lands and natural resources and the preservation and development of their distinctive cultures. At the same time he encourages steps to implement these laws and harmonize them effectively with other laws and development policies that favor commercial development of natural resources. The Special Rapporteur observed that under regional laws and programs he had learned of a number of instances of Indigenous peoples having access to formal education and health services, being able to pursue traditional economic activities such as reindeer herding, and benefit from programs that advance their cultural preservation and economic and social development. He discovered, however, that Indigenous peoples in many places continue to suffer from poverty, unemployment, and related social ills, and face impediments to their access to traditional economic activities and effective participation in the decisions affecting them. It is obvious to the Special Rapporteur that, as elsewhere in the world, Indigenous peoples in Russia continue to require special attention, and he encourages the efforts of the federal and regional governments in this regard. In addition, he called upon the Federal and regional governments to strengthen their efforts to secure the rights of Indigenous peoples and to enhance Indigenous peoples participation in the design and implementation of the programs intended to benefit them. The Special Rapporteur added that further research and exchange of information would be needed to more completely understand the situation of indigenous peoples in Russia (“UN expert on Indigenous People concludes visit to the Russian Federation,” Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). October 16, 2009). For more about the mandate of the Special Rapporteur go to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/indigenous/rapporteur/. The OHCHR Country page – Russian Federation is at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/RUIndex.aspx. For further information on the Special Rapporteur’s Russian visit and report contact the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – Media Unit, Rupert Colville, Spokesperson, + 41 22 917 9767 or Xabier Celaya, Information Officer, + 41 22 917 9383.
“Kenya Conflict Deepens,” Cultural Survival Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 2 Summer 2009, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/csq/article/kenya-conflict-deepens, informs that, “The Kenyan police actions against Samburu communities in northern Kenya that began in February resumed on June 5 and 6 and in some ways has escalated. The problem began when Borana and Somali raiders attempted to confiscate the few remaining cattle of a party of Samburu who were watering their livestock at the Ewaso River near Archer’s Post in Samburu East. Because the police removed nearly all their livestock in the earlier assaults, the Samburu people, desperate to keep their remaining few cattle, fought back. The Somalis and Borana then called police to assist them, and a force of police and Borana advanced on the Samburu community. Determined to prevent the kind of one-sided assault that occurred in earlier police actions, the Samburu moran—the communities’ warriors—ambushed the squad, killing five raiders and six police and seriously wounding another 19 police officers. The government has now sent over 400 police troops to re-occupy the region and has set up a police encampment in Archer’s Post. According to police representatives, the officers have begun exercises for what they have termed Operation Walk and Shoot. Police are reported to be harassing residents of Archer’s Post from their encampment.” “Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is in the district government seat in Maralal, working with other local officials to mediate the conflict, but it is unclear whether the police will stand down after losing some of their members. Odinga became a defender of the Samburu after examining the evidence from the first police assaults, according to local government authorities in Marlal. He has publicly promised to ‘do whatever is necessary to return peace to the region and see to it that restitution is made for the cattle wrongly confiscated by the Kenyan government from their rightful owners, the Samburu Tribe,’ according to a report published in the Daily Nation. The police, on the other hand, have promised to ‘do whatever necessary to take control of the Samburu people’ and see to it that they pay for these actions.” “In the meantime, Somali and Borana raiders have been attacking Samburu and Turkana villages without any reaction from police,” Stealing cattle and killing and wounding Tribespeople. Paticulaly serious, “On July 17 and 18, in the northern Kenya town of Isiolo, armed Borana and Somali gunmen opened fire in a marketplace, targeting Turkana and Samburu tribesmen trading in the city center. Nineteen people were killed and many more injured. And on the night of the 18th, the raiders returned to the village of Ngara Mara and beheaded four people as they slept in their boma, again because of their support for the Samburu.” On October 12, 2009, Cultural Survival communicated, “As we’ve been reporting over the past several months, since February there have been ongoing government assaults on the Samburu people and allied tribes by the Kenyan government, with many people killed and almost all Samburu cattle confiscated. The government claims that the operations were in response to several cattle rustling incidents immediately before the assaults, but papers provided by a military informant indicate that the attacks had been planned by the government for more than a year in advance and had the purpose of driving the Samburu out of their territories”. A report in Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, October 12, suggests a possible underlying motivation for the government action. It reports that the Kenyan government has issued an oil exploration lease to a Chinese firm that was about to begin drilling for oil in Isiolo, the epicenter of all the violence against the Samburu. According to the Kenyan energy minister, Kiraitu Murungi, the government had signed 18 oil production contracts over the previous 18 months, a period that coincides with the planning and execution of the Samburu attacks (“Kenya to Drill for Oil in Samburu Territory,” http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/news/article/kenya-drill-oil-samburu-territory).
Ethnic conflict is increasing in Southern Sudan. “Tribesmen Attack a Village in Southern Sudan, Killing 20,” The New York Times,: September 5, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/world/africa/06sudan.html?ref=world, reports, “Tribesmen killed 20 people, including a chief and his family, in an attack on a south Sudan village in the latest violence in the oil-producing territory, the southern Sudanese military said Saturday. A southern army spokesman accused Sudan’s former foreign minister, Lam Akol, now the leader of a breakaway political party, of arming the attackers from his Shilluk tribe. Mr. Akol dismissed the accusation.” Shilluk tribesmen attacked the village of Bony-Thiang in Upper Nile State, September 4, killing civilians of the Dinka tribe, according to the army. Dinka fighters mounted a retaliatory attack on the nearby Shilluk village of Buol the next morning, killing at least five people. “Rival tribes from Sudan’s underdeveloped south have clashed for years in disputes often caused by cattle rustling and long-running feuds, but violence has soared this year.” UN officials are concerened that the rising conflict could cause difficulties for Sudan’s first multiparty elections in 20 years, scheduled for April 2010, and might endanger the security of oil installations. Southern politicians accuse north Sudan’s dominant party, the National Congress Party, of trying to destabilize the south by provoking and arming rival tribes. Sudan’s mostly Christian south fought the Muslim north in a two-decade civil war that ended in a 2005 peace accord, creating a semiautonomous southern government, allowing the south to keep an army and promising elections, followed by a referendum on southern independence in 2011.
The plight of the Kalahari Bushmen in Botswana remains precarious. Although the Botswana High Court ruled in 2006 that the Bushman had a right to live in their ancestral home in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and to hunt there, the government has continually refused to grant them hunting licenses, making it unlawful for them to hunt, and it has denied them the use of bore holes in the reserve for water, although it continues to drill them for the use of the reserve’s animals. Six Bushmen were arrested in 2007 for hunting without permits in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, but were only recently charged. The government’s decision to charge the men came shortly after the Bushmen started court proceedings over the governments refusal to allow them to use the water borehole that was their main source of water in the reserve. A magistrate released the Bushmen without punishment. Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, in August, “President Khama proudly proclaims his conservation credentials by sitting on the board of Conservation International, but he seems quite happy to treat the Bushmen worse than animals. It’s quite clear that his government is determined to defy its own High Court and make the Bushmen’s life in the reserve impossible. The Bushmen are not allowed access to their own water, they’re refused hunting permits, and they’re arrested when they do hunt, which is the only way they can feed their families. Thankfully the magistrate in this case takes a more humane view of how to treat people.” For more information see the various reports of Survival International: http://www.survival-international.org, or contact Miriam Ross: Survival International, 6 Charterhouse Buildings, London EC1M 7ET, United Kingdom, (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (+44) (0)7504543367, email@example.com.
Cultural Survival reported, September 25, that in the Philippines, “An alarming situation continues in the upland village of Didipio, in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, where Ifugao Indigenous peoples live. Homes of Ifugaos known for their anti-mining sentiments were searched without warrants by security personnel of a mining company.” The illegal search came after the shooting death of a security guard of OceanaGold Philippines mining company by unidentified assailants. The security personnel searched the houses of Indigenous peoples in the vicinity of the crime and were quick to accuse Alex Simungo and his brother-in-law who live nearby. Simungo is an active member of Didipio Earth Savers Multi-Purpose Association (DESAMA), a known organization resisting mining in Didipio. The security forces were also reportedly considering to include as suspects the owners of the four houses they demolished in July and August without any court order or relocation for the victims. In July 2008, the Regional Trial Court of Bayombong granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the demolition activities of OceanaGold saying “that the demolition was tainted with irregularity and contrary to law.” OceanaGold’s demolition activities that started since December 2007 were also marred with shooting incidents inflicting injuries to lives and property of Didipio residents. The Commission on Human Rights vowed to investigate the spate of violence in Didipio based on the report they received in July 2008. The residents of Didipio led by DESAMA called the attention of Chairperson Leila De Lima yesterday with regards to the troubles they face on the continued presence of the mining company and its security personnel that has complete disregard to human rights. The message was relayed by their partner organization, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/ Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils), a legal research and policy advocacy institution focusing on issues and concerns of Indigenous peoples. In its petition to CHR, DESAMA reiterated its call to the national government to protect them and punish OceanaGold for its notorious business conduct in dealing with the Indigenous residents of Didipio. According to Manang Carmen Ananayo, a village official and secretary of DESAMA, “The unabated harassments and violations perpetuated by the mining company and its security forces in our village needs to be stopped so that we can live peacefully again.” The human rights organizations state that these illegal searches and baseless accusation by the mining company are the latest string of harassment against the Indigenous residents of Didipio. On September 21, 2009, Mayor Romeo Tayaban of Kasibu, Neuva Vizcaya went to Didipio with his council members and confronted the officials of OceanaGold for blocking the access roads, for over a year, that Indigenous farmers need to market their goods and make a living. In support of the this call, Ronald A. Gregorio of LRC-KsK Luzon Office asserted, “The violations of the rights of the Indigenous peoples in Didipio by OceanaGold are clear indications of the true nature of this mining company. It is of paramount importance that the state protects its citizens from OceanaGold.” For more information go to: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/news/article/indigenous-peoples-didipio-denounce-illegal-searches-security-forces-oc, or contact Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KsK), Ronald A. Gregorio, +632 926 4409; +632 434 4079; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Survival Intentional reported, September 16, that in Malaysia, at least fourteen people, including six members of the Penan tribe, who have been struggling for decades to prevent the destruction of their territory, were arrested in Malaysia, that day, as they tried to voice their opposition to hydroelectric dams that will force them off their land. The group of Indigenous people and activists were arrested outside the offices of the Chief Minister of the state of Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo. They were attempting to hand in a statement calling on the government to stop the construction of dams that are to flood the land of many Penan and other tribespeople, destroying their forest and burial grounds. Over 600 Penan have added their signatures to the protest. Raymond Abin of the Sarawak Conservation Action Network was one of those arrested. Speaking from police custody, he told Survival that they had not been allowed to hand in the statement, so had waited outside. After four hours, the Chief Minister’s office called the police and they were arrested. No charges had so far been made against them. One Penan man told Survival earlier this year, ‘This land is my ancestral land. It has been used by Penan for ten generations. We don’t want to move, and we don’t want to give this land to anyone.’ The people of his village have been told they must move to make way for the Murum dam, which is already being built by the controversial Chinese state-owned China Three Gorges Project Corporation. In a separate development, Malaysian police are reported to have dismantled three road blockades mounted in August by twelve Penan communities against the logging and plantation companies that are destroying their forest. For more information go to: http://www.survival-international.org/news/4941.
Survival International. Informed, August 24, that protests by the Penan tribe in Borneo against logging and plantation companies that are destroying their rainforest have escalated, with twelve villages coming together to mount new road blockades against the companies. Journalists covering at the blockades were intercepted by police with machineguns and taken away for questioning. Hundreds of Penan have blocked roads at three new locations in the interior of Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo. The protestors are demanding an end to logging and plantations, including of oil palms, on their land without their consent, and recognition of their land ownership rights, where their ancestors have lived for generations. BBC TV presenter Bruce Parry visited the Penan for his hit series, Tribe. One Penan told him, “It’s not true that we Penan do not want progress. Not the ‘progress’ where logging companies move on to the land. What we want is real progress. What we need is land rights first of all.” The new protests come only weeks after blockades by two nearby Penan villages. The destruction of their forest robs the hunter-gatherer Penan of the animals and plants they eat and pollutes the rivers they fish in. Without the forest, many Penan have difficulty feeding their families. The Penan have been struggling for more than twenty years against the logging companies that operate on their land with full government backing. In areas where the valuable trees have been cut down, the companies are clearing the forest completely to make way for oil palm plantations. The blockades are aimed at forcing the Malaysian timber companies Samling, Interhill, Rimbunan Hijau and KTS to end their activities on the Penan’s land without the tribe’s consent. One of the earlier blockades, mounted in June at the settlement of Ba Marong, resulted in the withdrawal of a KTS subsidiary from the area – but the Penan fear that the loggers may return. In another Penan area, the notorious company Samling is advancing on an area of the tribe’s forest that has never been logged before. Observers say that the road built by the company is likely to reach the remote Ba Jawi area within weeks. Meanwhile, the Malaysian government released a report, in September confirming that Penan women and girls as young as ten have been raped and sexually abused by logging company workers in Sarawak. The report confirms the allegations made in October 2008 that Penan women were raped by loggers, despite high-level denials by government officials at the time of the revelations. For more information go to: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/4940.
As the Dongria Kondh continue to resist mining by Vedanta Resources in Orissa, India, that would make their ancient homeland unlivable, the British Government, on October 12, ruled that British firm Vedanta Resources acted extremely wrongly in its treatment of the Dongria Kondh tribe in its mining operation in the Niyamgiri Hills, in east Orissa, India. Survival reports, “The damning verdict came after a nine month investigation into a complaint submitted by Survival International against Vedanta’s proposed bauxite mine on the Dongria Kondh’s sacred mountain. Survival’s complaint was brought under the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises – the key principles for ethical corporate behavior. In an unprecedented attack on a major British company, the government ruled that Vedanta, ‘did not respect the rights of the Dongria Kondh’; ‘did not consider the impact of the construction of the mine on the [tribe’s] rights’; and ‘failed to put in place an adequate and timely consultation mechanism’. Devastatingly, it concluded, ‘A change in the company’s behavior’ is ‘essential’. Astonishingly, despite repeated requests from the UK government, the company ‘failed to provide any evidence during the examination’. This is the only time a company has refused to participate in an OECD investigation. Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy has said, ‘If Vedanta is allowed to go ahead with its plans for mining the Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa for bauxite it will lead to the devastation of a whole ecosystem, and the destruction of not just the Dongria Kondh tribal community, but eventually all those whose livelihoods depend on that ecosystem.’” The ruling is the third major embarrassment in five months for Anil Argarwal (majority owner of Vedanta): in June an environmental award was withheld at the last minute when details of the Orissa mine were brought to the jury’s attention; and in August India’s Environment Minister admitted that the project should never have been approved. In September, the future of the mining project was thrown into doubt following statements from India’s Minister for the Environment that, had current laws to protect tribal peoples’ rights in India been in place when Vedanta applied to mine the Dongrias’ mountain, ‘the chances are that this project would not have been cleared.’ The minister stated that the project has not received full approval and that Vedanta would be prosecuted if it tried to start mining without full clearance. Although mining has not begun, Vedanta is trying to build access roads and conveyor belts, but strong resistance from the Dongria Kondh is stalling the company’s progress. Meanwhile, an appeal against the mine’s environmental clearance has been in the process of being heard in Delhi, following complaints from Survival International. In addition, a complaint from Survival brought India’s National Human Rights Commission, in August, to write to the Government of Orissa demanding a full report of its joint venture mining project with British mining enterprise, Vedanta Resources, over clamed serious improprieties in Vedanta’s actions and plan to mine for bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills, eastern Orissa. The mine site is sacred to the Dongria Kondh tribe, who have been protesting against the mine for many months. In late September, after world wide protests of Vedanta’s Orissa operations, a group of bankers, NGOs and lawyers convened in London to discuss serious concerns about Vedanta Resources’ mining operations. Representatives of Vedanta were invited, but did not attend. Meanwhile, resistance to Vedanta’s project in Orissa continues to grow. On October 5, following a weeklong march by members of the Dongria Kondh tribe around the villages of the Niyamgiri mountains, 3000 people, Dongria Kondh and other residents of the area, rallied in the town of Muniguda against Vedanta’s mining opertions in Orissa, bringing activity in the municipality to a virtual standstill, and shutting down the main road for several hours. One of the rally organizers, Balachandra Sarangi, said, ‘The Mahayudh [great war] against Vedanta has started- the people have united against Vedanta to oust it and never to allow mining of Niyamgiri.’ The Muniguda demonstration is part of growing activity in the area against the mine, as road blocks and marches organized by local communities determined to stop the mine have been increasing. For the full text of the British government’s statement condemning Vedanta, go to: http://survival-international.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b14580b05b832fb959c4ee444&id=ae56c0035e&e=CqQTrZoCrQ. For the full text of Survival’s complaint to the British government go to: http://survival-international.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b14580b05b832fb959c4ee444&id=29e0b378f0&e=CqQTrZoCrQ. British actress Joanna Lumley has narrated a short film, Mine, about the Dongria Kondh’s struggle, information about which is available at: http://survival-international.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b14580b05b832fb959c4ee444&id=7bb4d05d64&e=CqQTrZoCrQ. For more information about the Dongria Kondh conflic with Vedanta, go to: http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/4980.
China continues to have serious internal problems resulting from its internal imperialism. There continues to be repression and resistance in Tibet (for example see Edward Wong, “Report Says Valid Grievances at Root of Tibet Unrest,” The New York Times, June 6, 2009), while the Dalai Lama continues to seek a peaceful accommodation with the Chinese government under which Tibet would have internal autonomy, but China has to be pushed even to hold talks (Edward Wong, “Autonomy Is the Solution For Tibet. Dalai Lama Says,” The New York Times, May 29, 2009). Less noticed by the West has been a similar repression of Uighur people, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, an oil rich area of strategic importance for China. As with Tibet, the Chinese have brought in to the region thousands of ethnic Chinese, who are favored in gaining and advancing in jobs and in gaining educational opportunities, so that a once independent people are now a discriminated against minority in their own country. In early July, a Chinese attempted crackdown of Uighur protests over Chinese authorities’ inaction on the mob killing and beating of Uighurs, brought on by false rumors, at a toy factory in Shaoguan in China’s southern Guangdong province sparked deadly and damaging riots, that included Uighur attacks on Han Chinese. Later, Han Chinese made deadly attacks on Uighurs – through all of which the police and other security forces were ineffective in restoring and maintaining peace – and indeed reports indicate the security forces were part of the difficulties (Edward Wong, “Clashes in China Shed Light on Ethnic Divide,” The New York Times, July 7, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/world/asia/08china.html?scp=3&sq=Uigher%20riots,%20July%202009&st=cse; And Rebiya Kadeer, “The Real Story of the Uighur Riots,” The Wall Street Journal,” July 8, 2009, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124701252209109027.html). China, unfortunately, in this writer’s view, has created difficulties for itself and all concerned, by its repressive policies. Contemporary Chinese minority policies are more akin to U.S. pre-Indian New Deal Indian policies, rather than more recent, progressive policy beneficial for all parties, as exemplified by the U.S. Indian policy of Self-Determination, despite all its defects and incompleteness.
In Burma (Officially called Myanmar, a name imposed by the leadership of the leading political group), members of the Kachin Tribe of the country’s north have been resisting control by the military government, leading to violent clashes (For example, see Thomas Fuller, Worriors Clash with Rulers iIn Myanmar,” The New York Times, May 11, 2009)
In Australia, Halls Creek, in July, became the latest Aboriginal town in the outback to restrict alcohol sales to reverse the effects of drinking culture that has brought with it wide spread alcoholism, violence and child abuse. Initial reports are that the bans are having a positive effect, including a reduction in violence (Norimitsu Onishi, “Facing a Crisis, Aborigines Stage Interventions of Their Own,” The New York Times, July 5, 2009).