NAVAJO TEEN’S SHORT FILM HOSTED AT THE
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Navajo student
Keanu Jones was selected as one of 15 young filmmakers across the
country to participate in the second annual White House Student Film
Jones, an 18 year-old senior at
Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy, said he hopes his three-minute
film on his family’s daily struggles helps raise awareness about
the fight for water and other natural resources taken from
The American Film Institute helped
select the videos, which were on the theme of “the impact of giving
back.” Students behind the 15 winning films, some as young as age
6, were at the White House on March 24 where they got to screen their
movies for an East Room audience of filmmakers and celebrities,
including Steve McQueen, the Oscar-nominated director behind “12
Years a Slave,” and Academy Award-winning actress Hillary Swank.
“These aren’t just great films,
but they’re a great example of how young people are making a
difference all around the world,” Obama said to applause from the
Obama used the event to unveil his
“Call to Arts” initiative through the Corporation for National
and Community Service to help inspire and mentor young artists across
the country. The program will work with the American Film Institute,
the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and
Radio Artists, whose members have pledged to provide 1 million hours
of mentorship to young artists over the next three years.
Keanu’s film, “Giving back the
Navajo Way,” told of the Navajo tradition of serving elders despite
the sometimes-arduous work needed to do so in Indian Country. Keanu
said “simple necessities Americans enjoy like electricity,
automatic heaters and running water” may be non-existent in the
rural area of Arizona where he is from.
“I’ve never really thought that
making a simple three-minute film would even take me to the White
House or to see Obama,” Keanu said.
HO-CHUNK NATION RAISES MINIMUM WAGE TO
$2.75 ABOVE FEDERAL
MADISON, Wis. – The Ho-Chunk Nation of
Wisconsin has raised its minimum wage to $10 an hour.
The amount is $2.75 above the federal
level. It will go into effect in July.
“The cost is high but the return is
much greater,” President Jon Greendeer said in a statement. “We
can wait until the perpetual debate is resolved or we can just take
action ourselves. We chose to make our move and I feel it’s the
NAVAJO NATION SUPREME COURT ODERS APRIL
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Navajo Nation
Supreme Court issued another decision that orders tribal officials to
hold a presidential election on April 21.
The election was supposed to take
place last November but was delayed after one of the candidates was
disqualified and removed from the ballot. Since then, the tribe’s
highest court has expressed frustration with the Navajo Nation
Council for meddling with the process.
Despite a Feb. 20 decision calling for
a vote as soon as possible, the council passed a bill that appeared
to place priority on an entirely different election that could help
the disqualified candidate get back on the ballot. That prompted the
court to issue another ruling on March 20 that clears the way for
next month’s match-up between Joe Shirley Jr. and against Russell
President Ben Shelly has remained in
office as a result of the delay in choosing a new leader. He came in
seventh in last year’s primary but was sworn into a new term in
LAW FIRM HOSTS TRIBES FOR SESSION ON
MARIJUNANA IN INDIAN COUNTRY
SANTA FE, N.M. – An aptly-named law
firm reportedly hosted 10 tribes in New Mexico on March 26 for a
meeting on marijuana.
Blaze America said the tribal
attendees wouldn’t be publicizing their presence at the session.
Still, they hoped to learn more about the emerging marijuana industry
that could gain a foothold in Indian Country.
"They have the ability to create
this from scratch,” Yaseen Archuletta, the tribal director for the
firm, told media. "They are able to get into this industry with
Marijuana remains illegal under
federal law. A Department of Justice policy that was made public in
December has sparked interest among tribes, who might be able to grow
and sell the drug for medical and commercial purposes.
Marijuana has been decriminalized in
New Mexico for medical purposes. Possessing or selling the drug can
still lead to jail time and fines, according to the Marijuana Policy
MONTANA TRIBE MOVES FORWARD WITH CASINO
PLAN THROUGH LOAN
FORT PECK, Mont. – The Fort Peck Tribes
of Montana are moving forward with a casino thanks to a loan from the
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
The Montana tribe agreed to accept $29
million for the Buffalo Rivers Casino and Lodge in Fort Kipp. Plans
call for a facility with 400 gaming machines, four poker tables, an
events center, a restaurant/buffet, a snack bar, a lounge and a
The tribe plans to break ground on
June 15. The casino would open by May 2016 with 220 full-time
employees. "The Ft. Kipp location is chosen due to its aesthetic
beauty and its proximity to a nearby population base," the
casino Web site states. Fort Kipp is about 50 miles from Williston,
N.D., an area that has seen big growth due to energy development.
The casino is expected to cost between
$33 million and $34 million so the Shakopee loan could cover most of
the expenses. The money must be repaid over 15 years with a 6.5
percent interest rate. The tribe anticipates earning about $5.8
million a year from the casino.
NAVAJO NATION MOURNS OFFICER SLAIN IN
LINE OF DUTY
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Flags flew at
half-staff on the Navajo Nation in honor of a police officer who was
killed in the line of duty on March 19.
Alex Yazzie, 42, was killed in a
shootout with a domestic violence suspect in Arizona, not far from
the New Mexico state line. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran, who had
worked for the Navajo Police Department for 14 years, leaves behind a
wife and two daughters.
“The Navajo Nation mourns the loss
of Alex Yazzie, a dedicated Navajo Police officer that gave his life
in the line of duty to protect the lives of others,” President Ben
Shelly said said in a press release. “We are deeply saddened over
his sudden departure.”
Two other officers were also injured
by gunfire with the suspect. Herbert Frazier, 41, and James Hale, 48,
are hospitalized and expected to recover fully.
The suspect was identified as
24-year-old Justin Fowler. He was allegedly beating his partner and
fired a gun towards his mother at the family’s home on the New Mexico
side of the reservation when officers responded. Fowler fled the
scene but not before firing an assault rifle at an officer. He then
led police on a chase to the Arizona side of the reservation, where
Yazzie was killed and Frazier and Hale were injured. Fowler was
killed during the shootout.
Yazzie was laid to rest on March 20 in
BIA TO HOST PUBLIC MEETING FOR POKAGON
DOWAGIAC, Mich. – The Bureau of Indian
Affairs will hold a public hearing in April to discuss a potential
casino for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
A draft environmental impact statement
outlines plans for a $480 million tribal village in South Bend,
Indiana. The project would include 44 housing units, a clinic, a
governmental building, along with a casino and hotel on 166 acres.
The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. on
April 14 at the Century Center in South Bend. Written comments can
also be submitted to the BIA.
The next step would be a final
environmental impact statement, to be followed by a record of
decision. There is no timeline for an answer. Pokagon headquarters
are located in Dowagiac, Michigan, but many members live in the South
Bend area, less than 25 miles away. The tribe maintains an office in
CALIFORNIA TRIBE LOSES DECISION IN
FEDERAL RECOGNITION SUIT
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The Mishewal
Wappo Tribe of California lost a major decision in its federal
recognition lawsuit on March 24.
Judge Edward J. Davila said he would
not force the Bureau of Indian Affairs to restore federal recognition
to the tribe. He said the tribe waited too long to file a lawsuit
after being designated for termination under the California Rancheria
Act of 1958.
"A timely action challenging the
distribution and termination of the Alexander Valley Rancheria under
the CRA should have been filed between 1961 and 1967," Davila
wrote in the 19-page decision. "Since this action was not
commenced until forty years later, the court finds that all of the
claims asserted by plaintiff in this action are untimely,"
Davila concluded as he granted a motion for summary judgment
submitted by the federal government.
After filing the lawsuit in 2009, the
tribe attempted to reach a settlement with the Obama administration
but talks failed. The parties went back to court and the government
said it would not recognize the tribe.
The tribe could take the case to the
9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
LAWMAKERS WANT BIA TO DELAY TRIBAL
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Five lawmakers,
Republican and Democrat, are asking the Obama administration to delay
the Part 83 reforms to the federal recognition process.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has been
working on the rules for more than two years. But the lawmakers say
the agency needs to spend more time on the proposal, which could be
finalized in the next few months.
“We do not support the sweeping
changes that have been proposed to the criteria,” states the letter
written by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the new chairman of the House
Natural Resources Committee.
Two Democrats from Connecticut joined
the letter. The state is home to three tribes that could resubmit
their federal recognition petitions under the proposed reforms even
though they were previously rejected by the BIA.
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) also
signed the letter. On March 24, he cheered a federal judge’s decision
that denied recognition to the Mishewal Wappo Tribe. The final
signatory to the letter was Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the chairman
of the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native
PAIUTE TRIBE MOVES TO REMOVE LEADER FOR
ACCEPTING NFL TEAM’S GIFTS
CEDAR CITY, Utah – The Paiute Tribe
of Utah held a hearing on March 31 to consider removing Chairwoman
Gari Lafferty from office because she accepted gifts from the
Washington NFL team.
The tribal council adopted a notice of
charges against Lafferty last week. The document accuses the leader
of accepting a free trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a game in
"Your actions in soliciting and
accepting gifts from the Redskins for yourself and your family could
reasonably be considered to be separate from or adverse to the best
interests of the tribe," the charges state.
The document notes that tribal citizen
Phillip Gover is one of the plaintiffs in Blackhorse v. Pro Football,
Inc., the case that seeks the cancellation of the team’s trademarks.
Gover and Lafferty are first cousins and he believes the team and its
Original Americans Foundation specifically approached his tribe to
sow division in Indian Country.
"It’s so diabolical and
underhanded, it just smells of Dan Snyder," Gover added,
referring to owner Dan Snyder, who has vowed never to change the name
of the team.
After Lafferty attended the game last
September, she agreed to accept two vans from the Original Americans
Foundation. According to media reports, Gary Edwards, the CEO of the
non-profit, suggested that he could help the tribe secure an economic
development deal but nothing ever came of it.
COLORADO BILL RESTRICTS USE OF MASCOTS
IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
DENVER, Colo. – A bill under
consideration in the Colorado Legislature restricts the use of Native
American mascots, nicknames and imagery in public schools.
House Bill 1165 creates a Subcommittee
for the Consideration of the Use of American Indian Mascots by Public
Schools. The panel would review existing Indian mascots to determine
whether they are offensive and schools that fail to eliminate an
offensive mascot within two years will face fines.
The House Education Committee voted
6-5 along party lines to approve the bill. It still requires
consideration in another committee before it goes to the full House.
At least 10 schools in Colorado
continue to use Indian mascots, nicknames and imagery. The most
glaring offender are the "Savages" in Lamar. The Arapahoe
High School Warriors developed its logo in consultation with the
Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming and was hailed as an example of a
mascot that is not a caricature of Indian people.
LUMMI NATION TOLD CROW TRIBE ABOUT COAL
BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Lummi Nation of
Washington hosted the Crow Tribe of Montana at its fishing grounds to
express opposition to a coal terminal, Chairman Tim Ballew said.
The Lummi Nation believes the Gateway
Pacific Terminal will harm its treaty-protected rights. The project
would be built at Cherry Point, a historic village and fishing area
known as Xwe’chi’eXen in the Lummi language.
“We’ve done extensive fact finding
with other governments, including the federal government and other
tribes,” Ballew told media. “We’ve come to the decision that
our treaty right cannot be mitigated.”
The Crow Tribe is not an official part
of the Gateway Pacific project. But its reservation is home to a
large coal deposit that could be mined and exported through the
terminal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing the project
and the Crows asked the agency to set up a "safe place" for
meeting with the Lummis. The agency suggested the Bureau of Indian
Affairs might be better able to accommodate the request.