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SENATE FAILS TO OVERRIDE KEYSTONE XL
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate
failed on March 4 to override President Barack Obama's veto of
legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, leaving the
controversial project to await an administration decision on whether
to permit or deny it.
mustered just 62 votes in favor of overriding the veto, short of the
two-thirds needed. Thirty-seven senators voted to sustain Obama's
veto. The Senate action means the House of Representatives will not
vote on override. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said pipeline backers
will try again to force Obama's hand, by attaching Keystone approval
to another bill this year.
proposed TransCanada pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels a day of
mostly Canadian oil sands crude through Montana and South Dakota to
Nebraska, en route to refineries and ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
It has been pending for more than six years over the objection of
tribes, landowners and environmental activists.
support building the pipeline, saying it would create jobs. Obama
questioned Keystone XL's employment impact and raised concerns about
its effects on climate change.
month vetoed the bill authorizing the pipeline's construction, saying
it had bypassed a final State Department assessment on whether the
project would benefit the United States. The department is handling
the approval process because the pipeline would cross the
State Department assessment is in, expected in the coming weeks or
months, Obama is expected to make a final decision on permitting for
OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE WANTS TOURNAMENT
MOVED OUT OF RAPID CITY
PINE RIDGE, S.D. – Leaders of the
Oglala Sioux Tribe are asking the Lakota Nation Invitational board of
directors to move the popular event out of Rapid City, S.D.
Tribal leaders are upset by an
incident, in which 57 students from the American Horse School on the
reservation were allegedly had beer poured on them and racial slurs
made about them by white patrons at a Rapid City Rush hockey game
last month. They also believe city authorities have not handled the
situation well, which resulted in only one misdemeanor of disorderly
conduct charge against one person.
Bryan Brewer, a former OST president,
founded LNI in 1977 and still sits on the board of directors, he
believes leaving Rapid City isn't the right response to the
But current tribal leaders say they
will encourage the tribe and its citizens to boycott LNI if it takes
place in Rapid City this December. The tournament, which injects $5
to $6 million into the city's economy, is held at the Rushmore Plaza
Civic Center, the venue where the children were victimized.
SAGINAW CHIPPEWA TRIBE BANISHES TWO
WOMEN AFTER DRUG ARREST
MT. PLEASANT, MI – The Saginaw
Chippewa Tribe of Michigan banished two women after they were
arrested in the largest drug bust in local history.
Kristy Posthumus, 33, and Audrey
Shipman, 31, were found with 13 bindles of heroin and 12 bindles of
another unidentified drug. Both are being held on various tribal and
“Today our people have shown that we
are no longer going to tolerate people who peddle unhealthy and life
destroying substances onto the reservation. Today we took necessary
steps to protect and uphold our members and their families against
this plague called addiction,” Chief Steve Pego said in a press
The tribe described both women as
Native American and as non-tribal citizens. But only Posthumus is
being prosecuted in tribal court. Shipman is being prosecuted in
Since Posthumus is Native, the tribe
is referring her to federal prosecutors for potential charges.
SUPREME COURT WILL NOT HEAR
STOCKBRIDGE-MUNSEE LAND CLAIM
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme
Court declined a petition in Stockbridge-Munsee Community v. New
York, a land claim case on March 2.
The Stockbridge-Munsee Community, now
based in Wisconsin, sued the state of New York to recover its
ancestral territory. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed
the claim, saying it was too "disruptive" to non-Indians.
"[I]t is now well‐established
that Indian land claims asserted generations after an alleged
dispossession are inherently disruptive of state and local governance
and the settled expectations of current landowners, and are subject
to dismissal on the basis of laches, acquiescence, and
impossibility," the court said in a June 20, 2014 decision.
After the Second Circuit declined to
rehear the case, the tribe asked the Supreme Court to review it. The
justices, without comment, denied the petition. The development marks
the latest loss for tribal land claims in the northeast. In addition
to the Stockbridge-Munsee Band, the Oneida Nation, the Cayuga Nation
and the Onondaga Nation have all seen their cases dismissed by the
The movement started after the Supreme
Court issued its decision in Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New
York in 2005. Although the case had nothing to do with land claims –
it arose out of a dispute over the Oneida Nation's attempts to assert
sovereignty within its ancestral territory – the Second Circuit
used it to keep tribes from trying to recover land that was stolen by
the state of New York.
TLINGIT AND HAIDA TRIBES ENACT MARRIAGE
JUNEAUA, AK – The Tlingit and Haida
Tribes in Alaska are the latest to join the marriage equality
movement in Indian Country.
The tribe's seven-member executive
council adopted a new statute that recognizes marriages as a union
between two persons, regardless of gender. The vote in favor of the
law was unanimous.
“The impetus for the new tribal code
on marriage came from two places; exercising our self-determination
and sovereign authority and making sure that we provide for equal
treatment of our tribal citizens,” President Richard Peterson said
in a press release. “All of our tribal citizens should be provided
the same rights. It’s an important statement for the tribe to make
and one that was not difficult for our executive council to stand
At least 21 tribes have adopted
same-sex marriage laws or equality laws. The Tlingit and Haida Tribes
appear to be the first in Alaska to do so. "We are pleased to
expand our tribal court to meet the needs of our tribal citizens,"
Chief Justice Debra O’Gara said. "Our court can now be
utilized by tribal citizens for the happy occasion of marriage
without discrimination and regardless of gender.”
NAVAJO NATION ACTIVISTS STILL WORKING
TOHATCHI, N.M. – The Coalition for
Navajo Equality is still working to bring marriage equality to the
Same-sex marriages are recognized in
three states that border the reservation -- Arizona, New Mexico and
Utah. But tribal citizens are being left out because the Dine
Marriage Act bars unions between persons of the same sex.
"These states surrounding the
Navajo Nation are taking big steps forward — steps for equality,”
Alray Nelson, the lead organizer of the Coalition for Navajo
Equality, told The New York Times. “The Navajo Nation is not.”
Nelson is an aide to Joe Shirley Jr.,
who vetoed the Dine Marriage Act when he was president of the tribe.
The Navajo Nation Council overrode him and the bill became law.
“Our culture dictates acceptance,”
Shirley, who is running again for president, told the Times. “They
are part of our family, they are our children, and we don’t need to
Shirley's successor, President Ben
Shelly, supports repeal of the Dine Marriage Act. Shelly remains in
office despite losing his re-election bid.
A repeal, however, doesn't seem to be
on the council's agenda. One delegate, Otto Tso, told the Times he
doesn't support same-sex marriage.
“It’s not for us,” Tso told the
paper. “We have to look at our culture, our society, where we come
from, talk to our elders.”
OVERTURNING NEBRASKA MARRIAGE BAN
IMPACTS OMAHA CITIZEN
OMAHA, NE – U.S. District Judge
Joseph Bataillon ruled that Nebraska's ban on marriage for gays and
lesbians was unconstitutional on March 2, saying county clerks will
be permitted to begin issuing gay marriage licenses on March 9.
One citizen of the Omaha Tribe hopes
to be the first Native person in line when it becomes legal. Brandon
Stabler grew up on the reservation feeling ostracized. When he turned
21, he moved to Florida but he has since returned home. "All my
life, I was told that being gay was wrong, especially at the
reservation," Stabler, now 32, told The Lincoln Journal Star.
"I felt like nobody liked gay people."
After learning about same-sex
traditions within his tribe, Stabler said he feels more welcome. The
Omaha word for a two-spirit person is "mexoga." "Maybe
I wouldn't have felt left out and lost. I'm very happy and proud for
those tribes who still believe in it," Stabler told the paper.
The Nebraska constitution defines
marriage as a union between one man and one woman. A legal challenge
failed in federal court but a series of cases before the U.S. Supreme
Court will likely affect the dwindling number of states where
same-sex marriages aren't recognized.
PAIUTE TRIBE REPORTS INCIDENT AT YOUTH
YERINGTON, NV – The Yerington Paiute
Tribe of Nevada called in law enforcement agencies to investigate a
disturbance at a youth facility on the reservation.
A fight and two fires broke out at the
Silver State Academy on Feb. 28. According to witnesses, more than 40
fire fighters and officers from various jurisdictions responded to
the incident, the third of its kind in the last three months.
"Another riot broke out with two
structure fires and 10 escapees. I do not know the riot’s root
cause," Lyon County Sheriff Al McNeil said on Facebook. All 10
youth were located and returned to the facility, which provides
residential treatment services to at-risk male youth. It's not
technically a detention center.
CHIPPEWA CREE TRIBAL LEADER OUSTED FOR
BOX ELDER, MT – Ken St. Marks
continues to win elections at the Chippewa Cree Tribe in Montana but
his fellow leaders keep removing him office.
The tribal council claims St. Marks
engaged in "gross misconduct" and "neglected his
duty," according to news reports. The decision marks the third
time in less than two years that he's been ousted.
"They just keep on making up
lies, they keep on saying I stole money and I keep on telling them
the same thing – 'Go get me indicted,'" St. Marks told media.
Despite the allegations against him,
St. Marks has never been charged with any crimes in tribal or federal
court. However, 18 other tribal leaders, officials and their
associates have been convicted in connection with a wide-ranging
corruption investigation on the Rocky Boy's Reservation.
The Guardians Project, as it is known
in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montana, has put the state on top of
a nationwide list of judicial districts with the most government
WASHINGTON TRIBES HEAD TO TRIAL OVER
TACOMA, WA – A federal judge has
scheduled a trial to resolve a dispute over the "usual and
accustomed fishing grounds" of three treaty tribes in
The Makah Nation accused the Quileute
Nation and the Quinault Nation of fishing beyond their boundaries.
The two tribes countered by claiming the Makahs waited too long to
assert their rights and by raising other defenses that have
previously have never been allowed in treaty cases.
For that reason, Judge Ricardo
Martinez rejected the attempt by the Quileute and Quinault tribes to
dismiss the Makah Nation's complaint. He noted that the Makah were
trying to resolve the dispute amicably out of court and shouldn't be
penalized for doing so.
The dispute is a sub-proceeding in the
long-running U.S. v Washington treaty rights case. In 1974, the late
Judge George Hugo Boldt held that tribes in the state were entitled
to half of the entire catch. Since then, several tribes litigated the
areas where they can and cannot fish. Martinez set a March 2 trial to
resolve this particular dispute.
CHEROKEE NATION PROMOTES CITIZEN TO
MANAGER OF $80 MILLION CASINO
TAHLEQUAH, OK – The Cherokee Nation
named one of its own as the general manager of a new $80 million
casino in Roland, Oklahoma.
Chad McReynolds started off as a card
dealer at the Cherokee Casino in Roland back in 2003. He was a
cashier and poker manager before being named operations manager in
Now that the tribe is getting closer
to opening an entirely new facility, McReynolds is running the show.
The 170,000-square-foot casino is set to open in May. The facility
was the site of the tribe's first bingo operation.
TRIBES SHARE NEARLY $16 MILLION IN
GAMING REVENUES WITH NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Tribes shared
nearly $16 million in gaming revenues with the state of New Mexico in
the last quarter of 2014.
Under their Class III gaming compacts,
tribes share a percentage of their net win with the state. Sandia
Pueblo – whose casino is the closest to Albuquerque, the state's
largest city – had the largest net win, according to the New Mexico
Gaming Control Board. For the entire year, tribes shared about $66
million with the state.
Compacts with a handful of tribes are
expiring this summer so lawmakers have been considering an updated
agreement that includes a new revenue sharing provision. The
Committee on Compacts held a hearing on Feb. 24 to discuss the deal
and another on Feb. 28 to hear from the public.
MAN DIES AFTER BEING TASERED BY OSAGE
TULSA, OK – A man who had been banned
from an Osage Nation casino died after an altercation with tribal and
local law enforcement in Oklahoma on Feb. 20.
Terry Price, 41, initially fled the
Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa but later returned. He
scuffled with several officers and was struck with a stun gun by a
Authorities were preparing to
transport Price to jail when he collapsed. He was reported dead at
the scene. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has opened an