National Briefs: April 2014

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SCHIMMELS PROFILED IN HBO SPECIAL

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – HBO’s “Real

Sports With Bryant Gumbel” profiled the much-vaunted Native

American women’s college basketball sisters Jude and Shoni Schimmel

on March 25.

In the hour-long special, the pair,

called “a force in women’s basketball,” talked about their

journey from the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon to the college

basketball court.

HBO correspondent John Frankel went to

the sisters’ home in Oregon where got a lesson in “rez ball”

and learned that basketball is the tribe’s national pastime.

SOUTH DAKOTA TRIBES’ KXL PROTEST DRAWS

NATIONAL INTEREST

WITTEN, S.D. – Delegations from

several Dakota, Lakota and Nakota tribes – known collectively as

the Oceti Sakowin – founded a spiritual camp on March 29 in the

path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, drawing national attention

to their cause.

The encampment is located in rural

south central South Dakota on land owned by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe

and will serve as a cultural and spiritual rallying point in the

ongoing fight against the pipeline, which still awaits approval from

the Obama administration.

If approved, TransCanada’s pipeline

would carry tar sands from Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf

Coast. It would run through South Dakota, west of the Missouri River,

on land guaranteed for tribal use under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz featured the camp

on “The Ed Show” over the March 29 weekend, interviewing tribal

leaders from the Oglala, Rosebud and Crow Creek Sioux Tribes.

"We’re going to be here at least

a month, at which point, we’re expecting President Obama and the

administration will be making a decision. If the decision is no, we

will pick up camp and go home and continue to be vigilant about the

issue. If he says yes to the route, we’re going to be here for an

additional two months, plus we have more camps that we’re planning to

set up along the route," Rosebud Sioux Tribal citizen Wizipan

Little Elk said to media.

The camp near Witten has tipis

representing the Oceti Sakowin – the Seven Council Fires of the Great

Sioux Nation. In the center is a council tent, which serves as a

meeting place. In addition to serving as ground zero for South

Dakota’s resistance to the Keystone XL Pipeline, the camp will serve

as a teaching too to educate youth and community members in

traditional living.

MICHIGAN OJIBWE TRIBE DISENROLLS

CITIZENS CITING LESS MONEY

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – The Saginaw

Chippewa Tribe of Michigan disenrolled 50 of its citizens in early

March, cutting them off from $58,000 in casino per capita payments.

Former members who were ousted say

greed is behind the disenrollments. Revenues at the tribe’s casinos

have dropped in recent years so there is less to go around.

The tribe opened its enrollment in the

late 1980s to expand its membership. Those enrolled before the

expansion contend the disenrollment is also about money. Gary

Sprague, a tribal citizen enrolled before the 1980s, told media

outlets that people signed up with the tribe only to get a share of

casino funds.

According to tribal reports, the

annual per capita payment in 2003 was $78,000.

FEDERAL LEGISLATION IS NEXT IN

WYOMING’S FIGHT AGAINST ARAPAHO

CASPER, Wyo. – In the latest chapter

of the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming’s sovereignty fight for the

city of Riverton, two senators and the governor’s office have drafted

a bill that refutes the Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling

earlier this year that placed the city within tribal jurisdiction.

Wyoming Sens. Mike Enzi and John

Barrasso drafted a bill with the help of Gov. Matt Mead’s office that

declares the disputed 171,000 acres, which includes Riverton, have

never been a part of the reservation and will continue to remain

outside the reservation’s borders.

The Northern Arapaho said the

consulting process didn’t allow for tribal consultation. Tribal

members lobbied Enzi and the Congressional delegation to reconsider

drafting the bill, but they were not interested in doing so, Al

Addison, Northern Arapaho Business Council member said.

The bill is the second arm of a

two-pronged attack by Mead to negate the EPA decision. The

legislation is paired with Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael’s

petition in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that’s

challenging the EPA decision. Devon Energy and the Wyoming Farm

Bureau Federation also joined Wyoming to fight against the EPA,

Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone in court.

The legal battle is likely to end with

a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

SENATE INTRODUCES A MEASURE TO FIX

CARCIERI TRUST RULING

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group

Senators introduced a bill to fix the U.S. Supreme Court decision in

Carcieri v. Salazar.

S.2188 amends the Indian

Reorganization Act to ensure that all tribes can follow the

land-into-trust process. It replaces the phrase – "now under

federal jurisdiction" – with "any federally recognized

Indian tribe" to cover all tribes, regardless of the date of

federal recognition.

The bill applies to all tribes,

including those in Alaska, an issue of contention in the past. It

also ensures that all prior land-into-trust acquisitions are legal.

The issue has come up in Big Lagoon Rancheria v. California, a case

involving the Big Lagoon Rancheria that’s being closely watched

across Indian Country.

COLVILLE TRIBES TO OPEN FIRST HOTEL

NESPELEM, Wash. – The Confederated

Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington hope a new $43

million casino will become a destination resort.

The facility in Omak will feature a

52,000-square-foot casino and an 80-room hotel, a first for the

tribe. The goal is to draw patrons from Canada, about 45 miles away.

Chairman Michael Finley told media that

the tribe expects some will stay longer and spend more with the

addition of the hotel. The new facility will be twice the size of the

Mill Bay Casino. It will replace the Okanogan Bingo Casino.

The tribe plans to break ground in May.

Construction should take about a year.

GUILTY PLEASE IN ADVANCE-CASH SCHEME AT

SANTA ANA PUEBLO CASINO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Two men pleaded

guilty in connection with an advance-cash scheme at the casino owned

by Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico.

Osamu Togashi, 32; Hiroto Matsuo, 40;

and Yu Zheng, 31, were accused of using counterfeit credit cards to

take out cash at the Santa Ana Star Casino in January of last year.

However, according to authorities, the three weren’t using the money

to gamble.

Togashi and Yu pleaded guilty to

conspiracy to commit fraud and related activities in connection with

access devices. Matsuo was charged but was never apprehended.

Togashi, who is a Japanese citizen,

already served his prison sentence and could face removal from the

U.S. Yu, who is a Chinese citizen remains in a half-way house in New

Mexico. Matsuo is a Japanese citizen.

WINNEBAGO TRIBE FACES OPPOSITION IN

COMMERCIAL CASINO LAWSUIT

SLOAN, Iowa – The Winnebago Tribe of

Nebraska is facing opposition to its request to join a lawsuit over a

commercial casino in Iowa.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission,

the developer that won the commercial casino license and the city of

Sioux City said the tribe shouldn’t be allowed to intervene. The

opposition was anticipated.

Ho-Chunk, Inc. President and CEO Lance

Morgan said though the tribe’s suit may be unwelcome, the tribe’s

gaming arm has an interest in the proceedings but neither of the

other parties can adequately protect the tribe’s interests.

The tribe’s proposal for the $122

million Warrior Casino & Hotel in downtown Sioux City was

rejected by the IRGC last year. Another rejected bidder, Penn

National Gaming, filed suit contending the process was unfair.

The developer that won the license is

planning a Hard Rock-branded facility.