National Briefs: November 2014
Saturday, November 01 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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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.”



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.



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."



RUSSELLS POINT, Ohio – The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma is making its return to Ohio, 182 years after being forced to leave its former reservation.

The tribe purchased 50 acres of its ancestral territory near Lewiston. The land was part of an allotment owned by the daughter of Chief Blue Jacket but it fell out of Indian ownership in the 1800s.

A local attorney has since uncovered a document that he says shows the tribe's rightful claim to the site. Jim Calim said it took 12 years to track down the information.

"I’m really proud of the fact that I found one for them,” Calim said. He said the document shows the land should have reverted to the tribe after Blue Jacket's heirs died.

The tribe had a reservation in Ohio until being forced to leave in 1832. Lewiston had been set aside as Indian territory under the Treaty of Fort Meigs in 1817.

The tribe will be asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place the land in restricted status, according to news reports.


MUNDY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan will investigate whether there are any burial grounds along the route of a proposed pipeline.

ET Rover has conducted archeological surveys for the 800-mile natural gas pipeline. But the company won't disclose whether it has found any burial grounds or settlements.

"If there are any Indian burial grounds, we will do everything we can to protect them," tribal spokesperson Frank Cloutier told media. "There are very specific guidelines that must be followed. They are dead in the water if we find burial grounds."

ET Rover will need approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build the $4.3 billion pipeline. The route runs through Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.


CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A federal judge fined an irrigation district and its former manager for illegally diverting water on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

Judge Alan B. Johnson said the LeClair Irrigation District must pay $250,000 and remove four dikes that were illegally placed on the Wind River. The district's former manager, John Hubenka, was also fined $350,000.

"Thanks in large part to pressure by Northern Arapaho leaders, the wrongdoers who diverted the Wind River and blocked Arapaho access to tribal lands have been held accountable," the Northern Arapaho Tribe said on social media.

The federal government filed the lawsuit. The Eastern Shoshone Tribe and Northern Arapaho Tribe joined as intervenors. Johnson said the county won't have to pay its fine if the dikes are removed by April 30, 2015. Hubenka, who was previously convicted for violating the Clean Water Act, will still have to pay his fine.


NIOBRARA, Neb. – The Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska will be opening a golf course at its casino next year.

The 18-hole Tatanka Golf Club at the Ohiya Casino was developed by famed designer Paul Albanese. Each hole tells a different story in the tribe's culture – the beaver, the trickster and the white buffalo are all featured.

"We took the history and the culture of the area and the Sioux Nation, and used it as a design inspiration in a subtle and respectful way," Albanese said in a press release.

An opening date hasn't been announced. But the casino just posted a job notice for a general manager for the new course.


WASHINGTON – The Interior Department has sent out more than $298 million in offers to landowners on the Crow Reservation in Montana but only expects about 30 percent of people to accept.

The $298 million was the largest round under the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations. But DOI only has $102.9 million for actual purchases.

“We’re just assuming that 30 percent may come back when it’s all said and done,” Debra Scott of the Bureau of Indian Affairs said. “If that doesn’t occur, we’re going into a second wave.”

The $3.4 billion Cobell settlement provided $1.9 billion for Indian landowners who want to sell their fractionated interests. DOI will pay "fair market value" as required by the Indian Land Consolidation Act.

Since the program started last winter, DOI has successfully concluded more than $146.4 million in transactions, according to the press release. Nearly 280,000 acres have been transferred to tribes.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Chris Deschene, a candidate for president of the Navajo Nation, will continue his campaign even though the tribe's highest court said he must be removed from the ballot.

Deschene was disqualified due to his lack of fluency in the Navajo language. The Navajo Nation Supreme Court said election officials must print up new ballots without his name.

"It is unavoidable that the November 4, 2014 election must be postponed," the court said in a decision that was issued Oct. 23.

But Deschene said legislation enacted by the Navajo Nation Council just after midnight ensures the viability of his candidacy. Bill 0298-14 states that language proficiency is an issue left to the voters.

"Our campaign continues," Deschene said on Facebook on Oct. 24. "After midnight, and after much thoughtful deliberation, the Navajo Nation Council passed legislation that respects our fundamental right to choose our own leaders."

The vote on the bill was 11-10. Pro Tem Speaker LoRenzo Bates had to step in and break a tie, according to media. The Navajo Election Administration had previously contemplated a delay in the election due to the language issue. The agency hasn't publicly responded to the Navajo Nation Supreme Court's mandate.

Russell Begaye, who came in third in the tribe's primary, will appear on the new ballots if election officials follow the court's order. Joe Shirley, Jr., a former president who speaks Navajo fluently and who came in first, remains in the race.


JUNEAU, Alaska – Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) signed a Native language bill on Oct. 23, six months after lawmakers approved it.

House Bill 216 designates 20 Native languages as official in Alaska. Parnell intentionally delayed signing it into law in order to present it during the Alaska Federation of Natives.

"It passed in April,” Georgianna Lincoln, an AFN board member and former state lawmaker, told media. “One half a year later he wants the signing at the AFN convention? Now isn’t that politics?”

Parnell, who is running for re-election, is on the agenda for this morning's opening session. But the signing will take place away from the main AFN convention, which took place on Oct. 23.

“It seems like it took on a life of its own on social media, with people inviting other people and so on,” AFN President Julie Kitka told the News. The ceremony was held in another room at the Dena’ina Center.


BILLINGS, Mont. – The Crow Tribe of Montana is calling on Congress to extend the Indian Coal Production Tax Credit and make it permanent.

The reservation is home to a large coal reserve. The tax credit enables the tribe to keep people at work, Chairman Darrin Old Coyote said. “For the last few years, we’ve been using the Indian Coal Production Tax Credit,” he said. “When it expired in December 2013, we saw a $3 million reduction in our budget as a tribe. A lot of our members are still on 32-hour (work weeks) because of this. Without the tax credit, our future is dim right now."

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Montana), who met with the tribe on Oct. 22, is sponsoring H.R.4768 in the House, which would make the tax credit permanent.


WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Indian Affairs will be holding consultation sessions on a new regulation that affects Secretarial elections.

Three consultations have been scheduled so far. They will take place Nov. 18 in Oklahoma City, Okla. and Nov. 20 in Rocklin, Calif.

The changes have been in the works for several years. The Obama administration held consultations in 2009 and 2010 on a draft rule and the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register earlier this month.

"A Secretarial election is a Federal election conducted by the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) under a Federal statute or tribal governing document," the Oct. 9 notice states. According to the notice, the BIA hasn't updated its Secretarial election regulations since 1981.

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