National Briefs

Whats New In The Community For January
Thursday, January 07 2016
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Honor the Earth awards $90,000 for sacred sites and culture
Honor the Earth has awarded $90,000 in new grants to Indigenous organizations in North America and the Pacific. “This year’s grants are particularly focused on protection of sacred sites, and the continuation of strong cultural traditions in our Native communities”, said Board Co-Chair Shannon Martin (Potawatami/Anishinaabe). The grants range from the work to protect sacred ceremonial grounds and traditions to the repatriation of Ojibwe birchbark scrolls to the White Earth band of Anishinaabeg.

Grantees include, Apache Stronghold (AZ), Earth Guardians (CO), Halau Hula Kealaonamaupua (HI), Native American Educational Technologies (WI),  Nibi Walks (MN), Horse Spirit Society (SD), Water Unity Alliance (Mohawk Territory), Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw (LA), the White Earth Tribe (MN) and many others.

“We are very pleased to be able to join with communities protecting their sacred sites, encouraging and nurturing their youth, and restoring cultural traditions,” Board Co- Chair Paul DeMain said.
Many of the organizations funded by Honor the Earth have successfully stopped projects, including this year’s victories over the Keystone XL pipeline (no presidential permit) and the GTAC mine proposed for Northern Wisconsin. “We hope there is justice for many of these communities,” Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls (Honor Board member) said.

Honor the Earth, based on the White Earth reservation, is a national Native organization which was founded in l993, working on environmental and cultural support for grassroots Indigenous communities.

22 selected to take part in Native Nation Rebuilders program
A woman from Leech Lake and a woman from White Earth were two of 22 people in Minnesota, and North and South Dakota, selected to take part in The Bush Foundation’s Native Nation Rebuilders program.

The program is designed for people who “share a passion for learning about governance and other nation-building practices,” a press release said.

Representing the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is Melissa Bowstring and representing the White Earth Nation is Margaret Rousu.

The Bush Foundation created the Native Nation Rebuilders Program in 2010 after elected tribal leaders from the 23 Native nations that share geography with Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota called for committed community leaders to help with nation-building work. Since it launched, the program has selected 128 rebuilders from 20 Native nations in the region.

FDLTCC wins marketing and communications awards
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) was honored with Gold and Silver awards for excellence in public relations, marketing, and communication in the 2015 National Council for Marketing and Public Relations District 5 Medallion Awards competition.

The Gold Medallion of Excellence first place award recognized the college’s new web site that was launched in 2015. The Silver Medallion of Excellence second place award recognized the 30-second television ad titled “The Journey” that has aired on local broadcast and cable television networks during 2015.

“The primary purpose of our marketing and communication projects always has been to convey messages about who we are, what we do, and the range of opportunities and benefits we offer to our students and the communities we serve,” said Tom Urbanski, Director of Public Information at FDLTCC.

The Gold Medallion of Excellence award-winning college web site is located at The new site features a responsive design, new site architecture, one-click navigation, new photography, integrated social media and video, news blog, and a behind-the-scenes content management system.
The Silver Medallion of Excellence award-winning television ad can been seen on the college’s YouTube channel that is integrated into the web site.

The National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) is an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges and represents marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges across the United States and Canada. The regional Medallion Awards recognize outstanding achievement in marketing communication at community and technical colleges in NCMPR District 5, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, the Canadian province of Manitoba, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands. It is the only competition of its kind that honors excellence exclusively among marketing and public relations professionals at two-year colleges. There were over 300 entries submitted across 36 categories in the 2015 NCMPR District 5 Medallion Awards competition.

National Briefs: August 2015
Monday, August 03 2015
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PHILADELPHIA, Miss. – A private autopsy is under way for Rexdale W. Henry, a 53-year-old man found dead inside the Neshoba County Jail on July 14.

According to local media reports, detention offi­cers found Henry’s body around 10 a.m.; he was last seen alive 30 minutes earlier. The state crime lab in Jackson conducted an autopsy and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case.

Funeral services for Henry took place July 19 in Bogue Chitto. A few days later, his body was flown to Florida for an independent autopsy paid for by anonymous donors.

Henry, a citizen of the Mississippi Band of Choc­taw and a lifelong community activist, coached stickball and had been a candidate for the Choctaw Tribal Council from Bogue Chitto the week before his arrest on July 9 for failure to pay a fine.

Helping with the family’s independent probe are civil-rights activists John Steele, a close friend of Henry’s, and Diane Nash, a co-founder of the Stu­dent Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, as well as Syracuse University law professors Janis McDon­ald and Paula Johnson of the school’s Cold Case Jus­tice Initiative.

“At a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of San­dra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and oth­er minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells,” McDonald said in a statement.

Henry’s death occurred one day after Bland, an African American woman, was found hanging in Texas’ Waller County Jail. Authorities ruled Bland’s death a suicide.

Supporters say the results of the independent au­topsy will be made public when it is complete.

National Briefs: July 2015
Friday, July 10 2015
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – All groups seeking recognition of their status as tribes must follow the same process under a new policy being adopted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The federal acknowledgment process formally began in 1978. Yet some groups have gained recognition, clarification or affirmation of their status through other administrative means.

The forthcoming guidance puts an end to that once and for all. Now that the Part 83 reforms are final, every group will have to follow the same rules.

"The recently revised Part 83 regulations promote fairness, integrity, efficiency and flexibility, Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn wrote in the policy that will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow. "No group should be denied access to other mechanisms if the only administrative avenue available to them is widely considered 'broken.'"

The document doesn't offer specifics but the most recent group that gained recognition outside of the Part 83 process came prior to Washburn's arrival at the BIA. In January 2012, former assistant secretary Larry Echo Hawk placed the Tejon Tribe of California on the list of federally recognized tribes.

Echo Hawk did so without following any sort of "discernible process," the Office of Inspector General at the Interior Department said in an April 2013 report. By that time, the former head of the BIA had left the Obama administration.

In January 2001, the Clinton administration "reaffirmed" the status of the King Salmon Tribe of Alaska, the Sun’aq Tribe in Alaska, and the Lower Lake Rancheria in California. The BIA at the time said they had been mistakenly left off the list of recognized tribes.

Even though questions were raised about those decisions, the new policy won't affect them. The guidance becomes effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register on July 1.

National Briefs: June 2015
Monday, June 08 2015
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GREEN BAY, WI – The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin is the latest in Indian Country to join the marriage equality movement.

Tribal law currently defines a marriage as a union between a "husband and wife." The phrase will now be replaced by the word "spouses."

Members of the business committee unanimously approved the change at a meeting on May 26. The new law goes into effect on June 10.


SALT LAKE CITY – Native American students at public schools in Utah are more likely to face harsher punishment than their peers, according to a new study.

Based on data from the Department of Education, researcher Vanessa Walsh found that Indian students are 3.8 times as likely to face disciplinary action compared to their white counterparts. They are 7.5 times more likely to be expelled and 7.1 times as likely to be referred to law enforcement.

"Utah is pushing American Indian students into the pipeline at alarming rates," Walsh wrote in “Disparities in Discipline: A Look at School Disciplinary Actions for Utah's American Indian Students.” "In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, this student population comprised the smallest student demographic in the state and the was most frequently expelled, referred to law enforcement, and arrested for school related incidents—all the most severe forms of school disciplinary action," the report stated.

The study contained some alarming examples of how Indian students are singled out. Fifty-five students, from kindergarten through sixth grade, were referred to law enforcement in 2011, compared to zero for white students.

More recently, two Indian students were reported to law enforcement for drinking two soda bottles from a refrigerator in the teacher's lounge. "This is a theft," the disciplinary report stated. Natives represent just 1.3 percent of the student body yet they account for a larger percentage of disciplinary actions, according to the study. In the Murray school district, for example, the disparity was incredibly high – nearly 50 percent of Indian students received a disciplinary action, compared to around 11 percent for white students.

Only 65 percent of Indian students finish high school, according to 2014 data cited by the study.

Thursday, May 07 2015
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brian_cladoosby-ncai-bw-web.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C. – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's comparisons of Islamic terrorism to the cowboys and Indians stereotype drew fire from the National Congress of American Indians on May 7.

In his presidential run announcement on May 5, Huckabee said, “When I hear our current president say he wants Christians to get off their high horse so we can make nice with radical jihadists, I wonder if he can watch a western from the ‘50s and be able to figure out who the good guys and the bad guys really are.”

NCAI President Brian Cladoosby released the following response in reaction to Governor Mike Huckabee’s quote: “This week I learned about Governor Huckabee’s speech announcing his candidacy for U.S. President and was dismayed to hear him compare Native Americans to jihadists.”

“There are many things we have left behind from the 1950’s, including overt racism and sexism. We hope that the old trope of the Indians as the bad guys in Western movies is also left behind. It is hurtful when public officials use stereotypes of Indians as the 'bad guys.' Even if it is a metaphorical expression, racial stereotypes should be avoided. It is particularly hurtful to suggest that Americans should reflexively identify images of Native people defending our homelands as the 'bad guys.'”

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