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National Briefs


National Briefs: November 2014
Saturday, November 01 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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TULALIP CITIZENS GRIEVE AFTER SCHOOL SHOOTING

TULALIP, Wash. – Leaders and citizens of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington expressed shock following a fatal shooting at a local public school that left three young people dead and three others injured.

News reports identified the shooter as a 14 year-old tribal citizen who took his life after opening fire at the Marysville-Pilchuck High School on Oct. 24. Two teenage students were killed while three others – including two other tribal citizen – remained in the hospital in critical condition.

Tribal citizens came together on Oct. 26 for a vigil for the victims and their families. Tribal Chairman Herman Williams said the local community will remain united as the healing process begins.

“As we grieve in the wake of this tragedy, the Tulalip Tribes and the City of Marysville stand together, united in sorrow but determined to bring healing to our communities," Williams said in a press release. "The strong working relationship we have built over many years has proven critical as we continue to respond to this unimaginable event. Our priority is now on our children and young people.”

Condolences also poured in from Indian Country. Brian Cloodosby, the chairman of the Swinomish Tribe reached out to his fellow tribe in Washington. "As a father and grandfather, my thoughts and prayers are with my Tulalip relatives … All of Indian Country is holding the Tulalip people in our thoughts and prayers."

NCAI's executive leaders also offered a statement in the wake of the tragedy. “We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred at Marysville-Pilchuck High School on Friday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, the students of Marysville School District, and the Tulalip tribes.”

“It is at times like these that Native communities from all across Indian County come together in support of each other. As Native peoples, we recognize that every youth is sacred. Each of the young people involved in this tragedy represent a loss to the Tulalip tribes and Indian Country – they were sons, daughters, friends, and future leaders of their communities.”

 

HISPANIC CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP JOINS IN MASCOT FIGHT

WASHINGTON – The National Council of La Raza – the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States – called on the NFL and Washington football team owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s name.

The council’s board of directors unanimously voted in support of the move Oct. 26. “Our brothers and sisters in the Native American community have been clear and consistent in their call to change both terms and images that they consider demeaning. As an organization committed to fairness and equality for all, NCLR fully supports these efforts,” La Raza President and chief executive Janet Murguía said in a statement. “The Latino community well understands that words matter and that they can denigrate, disparage and dehumanize. We should treat all people with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Snyder has promised to keep the name, which he says honors Native people. The team cited polls showing that a majority of Americans – and even a majority of Native Americans in one 10 year-old survey – do not find the team name offensive.

La Raza had previously joined with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights – a coalition of organizations including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union – in its effort to change the moniker.

Last year, the conference approved a resolution that called on the team to change its name and “refrain from the use of any other images, mascots, or behaviors that are or could be deemed harmful or demeaning to Native American cultures or peoples.”

“When groups like La Raza, NAACP, ADL and NCAI are saying in a singular voice that it is time to change this offensive name, it should serve as a wake-up call to the NFL and Dan Snyder that they are on the wrong side of history,” spokesman for the Oneida Indian Nation, Joel Barkin said.

 

NAVAJO NATION PRESIDENT JOINS WASHINGTON TEAM OWNER AT GAME

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Ben Shelly, the president of the Navajo Nation, and his wife Martha sat with the Washington football team's owner Dan Snyder in a suite during an Oct. 12 game.

Shelly, who was not re-elected to office in the tribe's primary in August, said during the summer that he believes the Washington team name is offensive. In April, the Navajo Nation attempted to distance itself from a charity golf tournament designed to raise scholarships for college students that was sponsored by KTNN-AM (its Navajo-language radio station) and the Washington team's Original Americans Foundation.

“The Washington [team is] proud to have President Ben Shelly and the Navajos along with Zuni and other Western tribes that joined us at the game today,” spokesman Tony Wyllie, the team's vice president of communications said. “This is representative of the support we have among Native Americans nationwide.”

Before the game, approximately 75 people protested the team outside the University of Phoenix Stadium. Signs at the protest, which began three hours prior to kickoff, featured slogans like, “Game over for racism” and “Snyder can't buy my support."

 


National Briefs: October 2014
Monday, October 06 2014
 
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FINAL ROUND OF PAYMENTS MADE IN COBELL SETTLEMENT

HELENA, MT – Hundreds of thousands of Native Americans received the final cash payments the week of Sept. 16 from one of the largest government settlements in U.S. history, about three years after the deal was approved.

Checks ranging from $869 to $10 million were sent beginning on Sept. 16 to more than 493,000 people by the administrators of the $3.4 billion settlement from a class-action lawsuit filed by the late Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont. Approximately $941 million was distributed in this second round of payments.

Cobell, the former Blackfeet tribal treasurer, sued after finding the government squandered billions of dollars in royalties for land it held in trust for individual Indians that was leased for development, exploration or agriculture. The mismanagement stretched back to the 1880s, the lawsuit found. She died of cancer in 2011, after more than 15 years of doggedly pursuing the lawsuit, rallying Native Americans around the cause and lobbying members of Congress for its approval.

Cobell was present when a federal judge approved the settlement just months before her death. But it took years to work through the appeals and then sort through incomplete and erroneous information provided by the government to identify all the beneficiaries. Some 22,000 people listed in the data provided had died, while 1,000 more listed as dead were still alive, according to officials.

The payments are the second of two distributions in the settlement. The first distributions of $1,000 apiece went to more than 339,000 people. This second, final round of distributions is based on a formula looking at 10 years of the highest earnings on those individual landowners’ accounts.

The settlement also includes a $1.9 billion land buy-back program now underway in which willing landowners sell the government their land allotments to be consolidated and turned over to the tribes.

 


National Briefs: September 2014
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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VIDEO CALLS OUT FEDEX FOR WASHINGTON TEAM SPONSORSHIP

PAWHUSKA, Okla. – The Native Voice Network released a video on Sept. 7, urging the courier company FedEx to end its corporate sponsorship of the Washington NFL team. The release was timed to coincide with the team's season opener.

Native Voice Network is a coalition of 25 Native American organizations and commissioned the online Native comedy troupe 1491s' Ryan Redcorn to write and produce the clip titled, “FedEx Fail.”

The video features artist and filmmaker Steven Paul Judd and draws comparisons between racism directed at Native Americans and other ethnicities, Redcorn told media.

NVN spokeswoman Chrissie Castro said what matters most is the mental wellness and stability of Native American children. Castro cited the American Psychological Association’s call to ban Indian mascots on the grounds that such images and language have a negative impact on a Native American child’s self-esteem. "FedEx doesn't think this is a particularly important issue," Castro wrote in a press release. “We do. How can you put a price on our children’s mental health? … We’ve received a lot of negative backlash from proponents of the Washington Team retaining its name. I just have to ask myself, ‘When did America’s pastime become more important than America’s children?’"

National Briefs: August 2014
Thursday, August 07 2014
 
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WASHINGTON TRIBE LEGALIZES GAY MARRIAGE

PUYALLUP, Wash. – The Puyallup Tribe of Indians became the latest tribe to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian citizens.

While the state of Washington has recognized gay marriage since 2012, the tribal council unanimously passed an amendment to the tribe's domestic relations code on July 9.

Council member Maggie Edwards cited equality and tradition for the passage of the amendment. "It's really about equal treatment of all your members – all your members should have the same rights and under the circumstances prior to the enactment of the resolution, they didn't all have the same rights. In the outer culture, people can be mean if you're different. We embrace each other regardless of our lumps, bumps and whoever we love – that's just how it is here."

 

KEEPSEAGLE SETTLEMENT NO LONGER OFFERING PAYOUTS

CATOOSA, Okla. – Despite several pleas from claimants and would-be claimants, there will not be another round of payouts in the Keepseagle v. Vilsack class action settlement.

Settled in 2010, Keepseagle v. Vilsack was initially filed in 1999 by a group of Native American farmers who claimed the USDA discriminated against them while applying for farm loans. Some were denied loans that were given to white farmers with similar histories while others received loans but received little if any service in the process.

The plaintiffs have received $760 million in the settlement, but with fewer claimants successfully able to prove their case than expected, $380 million remains to be spent, prompting a series of listening sessions across Indian Country throughout August, including one July 30 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Catoosa that drew more than 100 farmers and ranchers from as far away as Alabama. Attorney Joe Sellers said at the session that the USDA will not agree to any more payours or claimant classes and neither would the court.

The proposal presented at the session would place $342 million in a trust fund that would be overseen by 11 court-appointed trustees. Those trustees would have up to 20 years to distribute the money to non-profit organizations that have provided advocacy or some form of help to farmer and business owners in Indian Country. Individuals could not directly receive funds from the trust but could be an indirect recipient, such as through a grantee’s scholarship program.

The proposal would also make the remaining $38 million available to non-profit organizations within six months of the settlement’s final approval via a “fast track” portion. Those funds could only be allocated to non-profit organizations that existed prior to October 2010 and provided advocacy or assistance to farmers and business owners in Indian Country.

No funds will be distributed until the court approves the settlement plan.

Additional listening sessions are scheduled for Aug. 12 in Rapid City, S.D.; Aug. 14 in Bismarck, N.D.; Aug. 19 in Spokane, Wash.; Aug. 21 in Billings, Mont.; and Aug. 26 in Raleigh, N.C. All in-person sessions are scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. local time.

Webinars and conference calls are also scheduled for Aug. 6, Aug. 16, and Aug. 20. Participants are asked to sign up in advance and registration links are available through www.indianaglink.com.


National Briefs: July 2014
Monday, July 07 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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PATENT OFFICE CANCELS WASHINGTON TEAM'S TRADEMARK

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six trademarks belonging to the Washington football team on June 18, saying they are offensive to Native Americans.

The team, which has said it has spent millions defending trademark over the years, will appeal the decision, a process that could take years. The Patent Office will continue to treat the trademark registrations as though they are valid during the appeals process, according to a spokesperson.

In the meantime, the team can continue to use the logos portraying a Native American profile with feathers. If the decision is upheld, it will be hard for the team to claim ownership of its brand, a crucial step in going after the makers of unlicensed merchandise. Instead, the team will have to illustrate that it has always used the logos, rather than relying official trademark registrations. The decision came in response to a suit brought by five Native plaintiffs.

In May, 49 senators, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, signed a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell saying that the "team is on the wrong side of history," and that he should endorse a name change. A week later, a coalition of 77 tribal, civil rights and religious groups, including the National Congress of American Indians and the NAACP, signed a letter urging players to campaign to change the team's mascot.

The team adopted its name and logo in 1933, when it was based in Boston. It had been known as the Braves but changed the name to honor William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz, their coach at the time, who was a Native American, according to a legal brief filed by the team in a previous matter.

The trademark, which was granted in 1967, has been renewed several times, but the Patent Office previously canceled the registration in 1999. A federal judge overturned that decision in 2003, saying there was no proof that the name was disparaging at the time of registration. The team's trademark attorney Bob Raskopf said he believed this decision, like the previous one, would be overturned.

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