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Legal, political actions continue to define tribal sovereignty
Friday, September 04 2015
 
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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A series of legal actions and political events in August, stretching from Minnesota and South Dakota to Arizona and Washington State, keep defining and adding precedence to tribal sovereignty rights and their standing before the courts.

At the time of this writing, the city of Duluth was still contemplating what additional, if any, further legal action it might take in a long-running dispute with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa over the Band’s Fond-du-Luth Casino in downtown Duluth.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled in late July that the Band did not owe Duluth retroactive payments from a prior revenue sharing agreement that had been ruled illegal by the National Indian Gaming Commission. The key point of law involved the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that requires tribes to be sole proprietors of their gaming operations, said Henry M. Buffalo, Jr., a Twin Cities-based attorney for the Band.

At the same time, he said, Fond-du-Luth Casino is within a one-mile portion of land in Duluth ceded by the Chippewa Tribe of Minnesota in the 1854 treaty with the federal government for which Fond du Lac and other bands were granted continuous access.

These disputes help define and clarify specific points of law even when they are part of a broader context and can have greater consequences, Buffalo said.

With such disputes literally at its doorstep, the University of Minnesota-Duluth announced on August 13 it is starting a Tribal Sovereignty Institute with it American Indian Studies department. The institute has been evolving from three years of consultations with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, the oldest such state council in the nation, and with the 11 federally recognized Indian communities.   

“Some of our faculty are already engaged in research partnerships, but having the Tribal Sovereignty Institute will facilitate more research that serves the needs of Native Nations,” Jill Doerfler, head of American Indian Studies, said in the UMD announcement.

The new institute will need to monitor evolving and unresolved issues from across the country. Thorny issues playing out in multiple states during August reveal specific challenges to law and public policy that fit like mosaic pieces in the broader sovereignty picture.

For instance: On Aug. 18, the Pennington County Commission in western South Dakota voted 3-2 to support, by not opposing, the transfer of three square miles of Pe’ Sla land into federal trust. This land is sacred within Lakota culture and has been gradually repurchased from private landowners by the Crow Creek, Rosebud and Standing Rock Sioux tribes in the Dakotas and by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota.

Tribes across the entire country are engaged in efforts to buy back land ceded in treaties or sold to private owners over the past century or more. In this case, moving the Pe’ Sla to federal trust status for the Lakota tribes removes the land from local taxation, which is an issue with the federal trust status of Fond-du-Luth Casino in Duluth.

The U.S. Department of Justice joined as a co-plaintiff in a suit brought by the Tulalip Tribes against Washington State and Snohomish County challenging the state and county efforts to tax non-Indian businesses on Indian land. A federal judge was to hear arguments on Aug. 21, but the outcome of this legal battle could have impacts on how tribes pursue future economic development in various parts of Indian Country.

How sweeping or narrow a legal resolution might be is open for wide debate, said Francesca Hillery, the Tulalip public affairs officer. At issue is a new city, called Quil Ceda Village created and built by the Tulalip Tribes near a heavily traveled freeway convenient to Seattle. With Bureau of Indian Affairs and Internal Revenue Service approval, Quil Ceda Village on Indian trust land is a second “federally created city,” after Washington, D.C.

That appears to be the case, a prominent Indian affairs attorney in Washington, D.C., told The Circle in late August. But not wanting to be too specific without further research, the attorney said tribes should look at other properties on trust lands to see if revenue-producing ventures there may share similar status with Quil Ceda and the District of Columbia.
While Quil Ceda is unique in many respects, the issue coming before the federal courts may be pretty limited, the Tulalip’s Hillery said. And that involves taxing authority.

The Tulalip lawsuit argues that “Congress has provided by statute that lands held in trust by the United States for the benefit of an Indian tribe or its members are not subject to state and local taxation.” That view is backed up by substantial case law, and is also part of the Duluth litigation.

A landmark case on that matter involves the Upper Midwest. The U.S. Supreme Court in its 1976 Bryan v. Itasca County decision overturned a Minnesota State Supreme Court decision by noting that public law (P.L. 280) did not give states authority to “impose taxes on reservation Indians.”

hat case originated with Itasca County attempting to collect property taxes on a mobile home privately owned by an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe on the Leech Lake Reservation. It raised issues that differ from what the non-Indian retail enterprises are doing on Tulalip land and the issues involved with Fond-du-Luth Casino.    

Issues over what sovereign rights Indians have retained on ceded trust lands now privately owned, and on sacred ground sites, are still before the courts. More are headed that way. Among them are cases where tribes are fighting the location of pipelines for environmental reasons and over treaty rights to hunting, fishing and gathering (wild rice), as we see in Minnesota; and most vividly right now by the Navajo trying to protect sacred but private land in Arizona.

Legal issues in Arizona are still evolving but may involve protest activities rather than narrow points of law. A video in late August went viral showing Navajo opponents of a copper mind development chasing Sen. John McCain away from the Navajo Nation Museum at Window Rock, Ariz. Since McCain was the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, his prominence in the kerfuffle overshadowed the issues at stake outside the Southwest region.

Like the Pe’ Sla in South Dakota, considered sacred for its role in Lakota tribal creation, land to be developed as the world’s largest copper mine near Superior, Ariz., is considered sacred ground by Southwest tribes. Others fear environmental damage, especially to scarce water resources in the region. The Arizona Republic newspaper reported Capitol Hill police turned away members of the San Carlos Apache in July when they tried to protest at the office of Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.

These challenges, anchored in issues of tribal sovereignty, encircle tribes and cultures in the Upper Midwest no matter how far away problems arise. They make fertile ground for the Tribal Sovereignty Institute taking shape at UMD.
The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council acknowledged as much in a July resolution pledging its support and that of Minnesota’s 11 tribal communities to work with UMD on education curriculum and research development. That resolution noted UMD faculty now associated with the institute has worked with MIAC staff in providing training on related history and government relationships to more than 1,000 Minnesota state employees in recent years.

Tadd Johnson, UMD’s director of graduate studies for the American Indian Studies department, said in the announcement that Minnesota tribes will mandate direction of the institute. “Their ideas drive the research that we do,” he said.

 

Sept What's New in The Community
Friday, September 04 2015
 
Written by Catherine,
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Jolly named to lead Minnesota Philanthropy Partners
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota Philanthropy Partners welcomed Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D. as its new president and chief executive officer on Aug. 3. Jolly succeeds Carleen K. Rhodes, who led the organization for a dozen years and retired in June. “I love that community foundations collect the dreams of many people toward a shared goal,” he said of the role philanthropy plays in civic life. He fell in love with Minnesota and Saint Paul, because among other things, “the state has the largest amount of personal time in volunteerism in the nation and the greatest amount of personal philanthropy.”

Jolly arrives at MN Partners after 11 years as president and CEO of the Science Museum of Minnesota. He has a doctorate in psychology and also served in academic-leadership roles. He is chair of the National Academies of Science, a widely published author and has served as a columnist for several publications.

“Dr. Jolly’s range of experience in organizational and philanthropic leadership, as well as in education and community engagement, stood out among the candidates for this leadership position,” said Mary Brainerd, MN Partners board chair and president and CEO of HealthPartners. “The board and staff are eager to see how he envisions our work in new ways.”

Jolly will oversee the implementation of the Strategic Framework adopted by MN Partners this year, as well as its Racial Equity Framework, which focuses on advancing racial equity in the state through achieving specific goals such as closing the achievement gap in education between minority and white students.

MN Partners includes The Saint Paul Foundation, Minnesota Community Foundation, F. R. Bigelow Foundation, Mardag Foundation and 2,000 other charitable organizations and donor funds that are committed to solving complex community issues by strategically investing funds entrusted to the Foundations. Together, the Foundations and donors made $74 million in grants to nonprofits, projects and initiatives in the East Metro and across Minnesota in 2014. Learn more at mnpartners.org.

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SMSC appoints conservation officers to enforce game laws on reservation
PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – On Aug. 18, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) signed a joint powers agreement with Scott County, Shakopee and Prior Lake to enforce conservation laws on tribal land.
The agreement follows a joint powers agreement signed in July with the State of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The SMSC’s three conservation officers are licensed by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officers Standards and Training.

Through the joint powers agreements, the SMSC’s conservation officers are licensed and recognized by the State of Minnesota. Similar to state conservation officers, their main role is to educate people about conservation laws and cite violators. They are authorized to cite SMSC members and members of the general public for hunting and fishing violations on SMSC fee and trust land, such as trespassing on non-hunting lands, baiting deer, and violating possession limits. To hunt on SMSC lands, a person must hold a license issued by the Mdewakanton Conservation and Enforcement Agency.

The conservation officers’ work is independent from criminal law enforcement, which will continue to be performed by the Scott County Sheriff’s Department and the Prior Lake and Shakopee police departments. The agreement signed yesterday authorizes the SMSC’s conservation officers to respond in a support role when local law enforcement agencies need assistance with emergency situations such as domestic complaints or vehicle accidents.

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SMSC Wacipi Winners 2015 announced
PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Wacipi Committee released the results of its annual powwow contest winners on Aug. 20.

JUNIOR GIRL'S (Ages 6-12) Traditional: Shundiiwan White Horse (first place); Sparrow Little Sky (second place); Tylyn Thurman (third place). Jingle: Yanabeth White Horse (first place); Alice Brown Otter (second place); Sarai Tso (third place). Fancy: Wakinyela Clairmont (first place); Micayla Silas (second place); Alva Snow (third place).

TEEN GIRL'S (13-17) Traditional: Nichole Nordwall (first place); Taylor Clairmont (second place); Elyza Robertson (third place).
Jingle: Waskewane Stonefish (first place); Dajia Shinos (second place); Hokian-Win McCloud (third place).  Fancy: Malia Jacobs (first place); Oke-Tis She Roberts (second place); Hozhoni White Cloud (third place).

JUNIOR BOY'S (6-12) Traditional: Jonah Jackson (first place); Terry Brown Otter (second place); Elijah Leonard, Jr. (third place). Grass: Chaske Jacobs (first place); Deo TopSky (second place); Wakinyan Fiddler (third place). Fancy: Buster Cleveland (first place); Silas White Buffalo (second place); Jaymison Hill (third place).

TEEN BOY'S (13-17) Traditional: Triston Lasley (first place); Talon White Eye (second place); Donovan Haury (third place). Grass: Therien Paskemin (first place); Gavin White Eye (second place); CJ Lasley (third place). Fancy: Delano Cleveland (first place); Parker Bearstail  (second place); Tyler Thurman (third place).

WOMEN'S GOLDEN AGE(55+) Traditional/Southern Buckskin: Bev Larvie-Medhaug (first place); Carmen Clairmont (second place); Linda Standing (third place). Fancy/Jingle: Irene Oakes (first place); Dianne Desrosiers (second place); Annamae Pushetonequa (third place).

MEN'S GOLDEN AGE (55+) Traditional/Southern Straight: Terry Fiddler (first place); Charles Hindsley (second place); Jim Red Eagle (third place). Fancy/Grass: Daryl Bearstail (first place); Wayne Pushetonequa (second place); Albert King, Sr. (third place).

JUNIOR WOMEN'S (18-34) Traditional: Alva Fiddler (first place); Arianna Green Crow (second place); Tara Whitehorse (third place). Southern Cloth/Buckskin: Charish Toehay (first place); DaLynn Alley (second place); Amanda Harris (third place). Jingle: Tonia-Jo Hall (first place); Mallary Oakes (second place); Shaina Snyder (third place). Fancy: Tanksi Clairmont (first place); Laryn Oakes (second place); Jocy Bird (third place).            

JUNIOR MEN'S (18-34) Traditional: Eli Snow (first place); Zane Tacan (second place); Wendall Powless (third place). Southern Straight: Lewis Perkins (first place); Denny Medicine Bird (second place); Audie Todome (third place). Grass: Trae Little Sky (first place); Bryson Rabbitt Many Horses (second place); Julius Not Afraid (third place). Chicken: Nelson Baker (first place); Rooster Top Sky (second place); Isaiah Stewart (third place). Fancy: Canku One Star (first place); Darrell Hill (second place); Shorty Crawford (third place).

SENIOR WOMEN'S (34-54) Southern Cloth/Buckskin: Danita Goodwill (first place); Chalene Toehay (second place); Jamie Whiteshirt (third place). Jingle: Grace Pushetonequa (first place); Anika Top Sky (second place); Yvette Goodeagle (third place). Fancy: Verna Street (first place); Nahmi Lasley (second place); Candace Gadwa (third place).  Traditional: Amber Buffalo (first place); Tosha Goodwill (second place); Lonna Street (third place).

SENIOR MEN'S (34-54) Traditional: Richard Street (first place); Tony Wahweotten (second place); Chaske LeBlanc (third place). Southern Straight: Sean Spicer (first place); Terry Tsotigh (second place); Everette Moore (third place). Grass: Randall Paskemin (first place); Clifton Goodwill (second place); Buck Spotted Tail (third place). Chicken: Marty Thurman (first place); Rod Atcheynum (second place); Bobby Badger (third place). Fancy: Michael Roberts (first place); Wayne Silas, Jr., (second place); Tyler Lasley third place).

CONTEST Moccasin Game: J Max (first place); Golden State (second place); Old Style (third place). Drum Contest: Wahpekute (first place); Crazy Spirit (second place); Black Otter (third place).

Runners cover 200 miles on Anishinabe Spirit Run
Friday, September 04 2015
 
Written by John Enger/MPRNews,
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Sam Strong is running.  He left Redby, Minn., in the Red Lake Nation on July 29 with 50 other runners. Then, he and a smaller group headed for Leech Lake, aiming for Duluth. On July 31 they ran straight into a pow wow on the Fond du Lac reservation.

They ran 200 miles to encourage sobriety as part of the Anishinabe Spirit Run. It's the 19th run of its kind, and Strong’s seventh in as many years. “This run is huge for me,” he said, resting on the side of State Highway 89.

Alcoholism landed Strong, 31, in some life-threatening situations when he was a teenager. He didn’t want to elaborate, saying only that he ended up in a rehab facility with doctors telling him he was lucky to be alive.
Running became a form of therapy – the Spirit Run, a way to share its positive impact on his life.

Event coordinator and former Red Lake Chairman Floyd “Buck” Jourdain said runners “crow-hop” the 200 miles. On long stretches they take turns, running two or three at a time for about half a mile. The goal, he said, is to carry four “Eagle Staves” all the way to Fond du Lac on foot. “The staves are vital,” Jourdain said.

Addiction is a major problem on many Indian reservations – a fact brought home by a recent drug bust which netted 41 arrests on the Red Lake and White Earth reservations.

Jourdain said the staves – which represent sobriety, suicide prevention, youth and the Ojibwe language – are meant to bring healing to native peoples.

For Strong, those staves carry a special meaning this year. Last fall he was diagnosed with Stage Three testicular cancer. He went through surgery and chemotherapy. His long hair fell out.

After nine years of sobriety, he found himself revisiting the same dark places alcohol once brought on.
“When I was first going through chemo,” he said, “I told my mother, ‘It’s kind of like you’re drunk without all the good feelings.’”

He credits his traditional spirituality and prayer with carrying him through. For most, the run is about staying clean. For Strong, it’s about something he called mino-bimaadiziwin. “It means the good life,” he said.

As he spoke, the staff runners jogged past. He caught up to relieve them, gripping a staff in each hand. One of his friends did the same. They raised staves overhead and together let out a scream.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR’s statewide radio network or online at www.mprnews.org .

Bands Assert Treaty Rights within Ceded Territory
Friday, September 04 2015
 
Written by Jon Lurie,
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Citizens of Minnesota’s Ojibwe tribes sent notice to Gov. Mark Dayton last month of their intention to expand wild rice harvesting in a vast swath of off-reservation territory in northern Minnesota.

Over the past few years, Ojibwe people have harvested wild rice without state licensure within the boundaries of these ceded territories. Many hoped their actions would draw legal enforcement, allowing them a case to test their rights to land and water resources under the 1855 Treaty. Members of the 1855 Treaty Authority and other Ojibwe people in the state contend that, while their forefathers sold off large tracts of northern Minnesota to the government, those sales never included giving up the right to gather, hunt, and fish.
    

While some citations have been issued in past encounters with law enforcement, the government chose to drop the charges rather than allow the treaty to be contested.

The 1855 Treaty Authority, the independent oversight body which penned the notice to the State of Minnesota, say they want much more than to reaffirm their rights to gather wild rice inside the  treaty area, which runs from about 40 miles west of Duluth to the North Dakota border, and from near the Ontario border to near Brainerd. They say they want to enter into an agreement with the state that recognizes their right to establish a regulatory power to protect the environment within the treaty boundary – including authority over major projects that threaten the environment, such as mines, powerlines and pipelines. 

"We have offered to meet to initiate co-management of the natural resources of the 1855 territory previously, but Minnesota has continuously declined," the letter to Dayton says. "We remain willing to meet and work toward the goal of meaningful co-management and thoughtful environmental protection of our Chippewa treaty territories. However, we can be idle no more."

The letter also expressed apprehension about plans by the Canadian company Enbridge Energy to construct oil pipelines across the territory, as well as the struggling walleye population on Mille Lacs Lake. It stated that the Treaty Authority has sent a request to the environmental protection agency asking it to take immediate measures to protect the natural resources within the ceded areas.

“Wild rice the most important gift from the Creator that we are all taught to protect and respect as a sacred food and medicine,” Arthur “Archie” LaRose, the Authority's chair said. “This is why we are seeking federal action to protect our essential freshwater resources and wild rice, forever.”

The 1855 Treaty Authority is independent of and unaffiliated with the state's tribal governments and includes citizens of the Leech Lake, White Earth and Mille Lacs bands and the non-recognized Sandy Lake Band. Its chair, LaRose is also the secretary-treasurer of the Leech Lake Band, has accused the state of looking the other way when it comes to environmental abuses perpetrated by big business.

"From pipelines, to wild rice and walleye, the State of Minnesota does not appear to be protectively regulating the natural resources or pipelines, but rather defining acceptable levels of degradation in the land of sky blue waters for the profits of foreign corporations," said the letter signed by LaRose and Sandra Skinaway, the group's secretary-treasurer and chairwoman of the Sandy Lake Band.

One state judge has already ruled against the notion that Chippewa tribes may assert regulatory authority in the ceded territories. An administrative law judge ruled in May 2014 that the 1855 treaty "does not forbid creation of new rights of way on the land that was sold in 1855," and that the treaty couldn't be used to stop construction of new pipelines.

This is not likely to be the last word on the matter. Because the treaty of 1855 was signed by the federal government, the matter is likely to be decided in the near future in a federal court.

Frank Bibeau, attorney for the Authority, told the Duluth News-Tribune the group is looking for a test case to bring to federal court. “We will undoubtedly prevail the same way we did with the 1837 case for Mille Lacs and the 1854 case for the Lake Superior region.”

A 1999 federal court decision that focused on the 1837 treaty between the Ojibwe and the United States concluded the Ojibwe did not give up their 1837 rights under the 1855 treaty. While the 1855 treaty doesn't specifically mention hunting, fishing and gathering as retained rights, Bibeau said the rights are inherent. "If there's no wording that we gave them up, we still have them; that's the way the treaties are interpreted," he said.

As of press time, Dayton had not yet responded to the 1855 Treaty Authority. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, however, replied for the state in a letter to LaRose. Landwehr said band members are welcome to harvest wild rice within the ceded territory, but wrote that they must purchase state licenses or risk criminal prosecution and seizure of their rice and equipment. Landwehr said the bands have no special hunting, fishing or gathering rights within the ceded territory.

Indigenous Peoples Day sweeps St. Paul City Council vote
Friday, September 04 2015
 
Written by Deanna Standingcloud,
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indigenous_peoples_day__saint_paul_mn_web.jpgColumbus Day became a national holiday in 1937, under the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. Italian lobbyists in America at the time wanted to honor Christopher Columbus as a heroic leader, claiming he “discovered a new world,” which would eventually become the most powerful nation on the planet. But as Indigenous people, that is not the experience nor the whole truth.

The truth is that Christopher Columbus was responsible for the extermination of Indigenous people in the present-day Caribbean. Through torture, slavery, rape, dismemberment and the transmission of fatal diseases, thousands upon thousands of Indigenous people perished.

Because of this, Native people feel deeply disenfranchised from the image of a man who committed such acts being honored and celebrated. Columbus Day as a holiday is seen by many in the Native community as an injustice, so Native and non-Native leaders took the initiative in educating the public about the true history of Columbus.

On Aug. 12, the City of Saint Paul passed in a unanimous seven to zero vote to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day, in place of Christopher Columbus Day. This resolution was adopted just over a year after the City of Minneapolis also proclaimed the same title.
Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce executive director, Joanne Whiterabbit (Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin) credits the Saint Paul Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Commission (HREEO) for taking the leadership role for bringing this resolution to the Mayor’s office to eventually be passed. “Saint Paul HREEO really did a lot of the leg work in getting the support of the Mayor Coleman’s office.” Whiterabbit assisted in the drafting of the resolution. After meeting with city officials, the resolution was endorsed by the Indian Affairs Council with the State of Minnesota, the oldest council nationwide to serve as a liaison between tribes and the state.
The Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) based in Minneapolis’ Cultural Corridor on Franklin Avenue had done much of the work with the City of Minneapolis to pass a resolution to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day in the spring of 2014. They had become part of the conversation to help with guiding the process to implement the same idea in the City of Saint Paul. NACDI was involved in hosting meetings and facilitate the discussion with elected officials of Saint Paul in their space.

Whiterabbit hopes that other cities in the state will follow suit. Looking to the future, there is a statewide Mayor’s convention of all the cities in Minnesota that takes place annually. Whiterabbit is hoping to present this idea of reclaiming our true history and replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day throughout the state and so Minnesota would be a national leader for other cities across the country to propose the same.

Danielle DeLong Adams (Ho-Chunk) is an educator in the Indian Education program in Saint Paul, Minnesota and also a community leader and a mother. She thought it was important for her own children to be present during the passing of Indigenous People’s Day.

She shared her experience about the being at the event with her family, “It was very powerful to see city officials actually changing history for my children and grandchildren.” She believed that continuing to recognizing Columbus Day is perpetuating false truths of the history of Indigenous people. The underlying racism against Native people is evident when unveiling the historic events that happened in the process of colonizing America. Delong-Adams believes this proclamation is a path to reclaiming our voices as Native people. She thanked the Saint Paul City Council members including Dai Thao for responding to the voice of the Native community so that Native youth can begin to take back their identities.

There is much work left to be done to reconcile and heal Native communities. What happened when Columbus arrived in 1492 cannot be undone but Native people can begin to rediscover their worldview and celebrate survival.

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