WASHINGTON TRIBE LEGALIZES GAY MARRIAGE
PUYALLUP, Wash. – The Puyallup Tribe of
Indians became the latest tribe to legalize marriage for gay and
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
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
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
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
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
TRIBES CANCELS TED NUGENT SHOW
WORLEY, Idaho – The Coeur d’Alene Tribe
on July 21 cancelled a performance by Ted Nugent scheduled for Aug. 4
at its casino.
The tribe said that the cancellation
of the concert was because of what it called the performer’s "racist
and hate-filled remarks." It said it booked Nugent without
realizing he espoused "racist attitudes and views." The
tribe did not detail which of Nugent’s specific views it opposes.
However, early reports indicated that the Southern Poverty Law Center
brought Nugent’s public comments to the tribe’s attention.
“We adamantly do not want our casino
to be used as a venue for the racist attitudes and views that Ted
Nugent espouses,” casino director of marketing Laura Stensgar said.
“Unfortunately, when we booked him, we were looking at him from an
entertainment perspective, as an 80s rock and roller, who we thought
folks might enjoy,” she said. “We take the comments and concerns
of our community very seriously and we apologize to anyone who was
offended by the idea that we would promote these kinds of attitudes.
We will do our best to avoid such mistakes moving forward.”
Following suit, the Puyallup Tribe of
Washington also cancelled an Aug. 2 and 3 concert at its Emerald
Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash.
Nugent subsequently called protestors
and the Southern Poverty Law Center, “unclean vermin” opposed to
his success. On Aug. 1, he appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio show,
defending his relationship with Native people. Nugent told Beck that
he had been invited to Indian schools for 40 years to teach Native
youth about bow-hunting and sobriety. “And my lifestyle, as a white
guy, though I’m hard to accept that designation, is more in the
Indian tradition than many of the Indians themselves.”
NATIVE LANGUAGE BILL HEADS TO SENATE
WASHINGTON – Sen. Tim Johnson
(D-S.D.) announced July 30 that the Native American Languages
Reauthorization Act (S. 2299) successfully passed out of the Indian
Affairs Committee and will now head to the Senate Floor.
“Native languages are a link to
previous generations and will help preserve Native cultures for
future generations,” Johnson said. “This bill will reauthorize
one of the few federal funding opportunities available to tribes and
tribal organizations to ensure that Native languages are not lost.”
Following Administration and tribal
stakeholder input during an Indian Affairs Committee hearing in June,
Johnson worked on the bill during committee markup. His changes to
the bill are intended to increase the sustainability and flexibility
of the Native language grant program. In addition, more language
schools and language nests in low populated and remote areas will be
eligible to access this important grant funding. The duration of
grant awards could be extended up to five years to give projects a
more stable funding source and increase the impact of each project.
Johnson introduced the Native American
Languages Reauthorization Act in May. The Native American Languages
Act was first signed into law in 1992 and established a grant program
within the Native American Programs Act of 1974 to ensure the
survival of Native American languages. The Native American languages
grant program was last reauthorized by Congress with the Esther
Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act in 2006. It
reauthorized and expanded the Native American language grant program
to include a grant initiative to support and strengthen Native
American language immersion programs.
BILL TO REMOVE OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE IN
HELENA, Mont. – The leaders of the
Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians have worked to draft a bill
that would remove “halfbreed” and “breed” from landmark names
around Montana to the state’s Tribal Relations Legislative Committee
on Aug. 4.
Nicholas Vrooman, who works with the
tribe, presented the bill draft on behalf of the tribe, saying the
words are racist terms that demean Native people. “Using the terms
is a way to really denigrate people; place them on lower rung of
society,” he said. The idea for the bill came out of work with
tribal members on the Montana Indian Languages Preservation Pilot
The bill would require state and other
agencies to identify places with the terms and remove them from maps,
signs and markers when age or vandalism calls for an update. It would
also create a volunteer advisory group that would determine
replacement names. Under the proposed bill, replacement names would
come from the tribe’s three traditional, historic languages:
Chippewa, Cree and Michif.
Halfbreed Lake National Wildlife
Refuge is one of 17 places throughout Montana with the word
“halfbreed” or “breed” in the name, according to Vrooman’s
research. He said he modeled the bill after one that passed through
the Montana Legislature in 1999 to remove the word “squaw” from
place names in the state.
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names is
the interagency panel that approves all names on maps put out by
federal agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service. In 1963, it changed all
geographic names containing the derogatory form of Negro, and in 1974
it changed all names containing the disparaging form of Japanese.
Vrooman’s next task involves finding
a legislator to sponsor the bill and introduce it during the 2015
legislative session, which begins in January. Rep. Nicholas
Schwaderer, (R-Superior), who sits on the State-Tribal Relations
committee, said whether the bill is introduced by members of that
committee or by another legislator, he thinks it will come up in
NEBRASKA TRIBE SEEKS TO FIX ITS IHS
WINNEBAGO, Neb. – The Winnebago Tribe
of Nebraska faces an Oct. 25 deadline to address deficiencies at the
hospital on the reservation.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services investigated the Winnebago Hospital after a patient died
there. Patients also made complaints about the service.
Chairman John Blackhawk said the
hospital was given a 14-page list of corrections. “I think
administratively we’re looking at how we can prevent this from
happening and how we can respond better,” he told media.
CMS threatened to cut Medicare due to
BIA WILL NOT COMMIT TO TIMELINE ON
WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Indian
Affairs is still reviewing the land-into-trust application submitted
by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts.
Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn
initially promised a decision in spring 2013. That didn’t happen and
now he’s not saying when he will take action.
"The process takes a long time,"
Washburn told media. "I haven’t seen all the evidence yet so I
can’t prejudge it."
The application – the tribe’s first
– was filed in August 2007 but the process slowed as the tribe
changed gaming sites, changed gaming partners and changed leadership.
The draft environmental impact statement wasn’t published until
The next step for the BIA would be the
final environmental impact statement. That’s usually followed by a
record of decision and then the actual placing of the land in trust.
The tribe’s main hurdle is the U.S.
Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. The ruling restricts
the land-into-trust process to tribes that were "under federal
jurisdiction" in 1934.
The Mashpees didn’t gain recognition
until May 2007.
NOTAH BEGAY TO BE INDUCTED INTO
UNIVERSITY HALL OF FAME
STANFORD, Calif. – Navajo/Pueblo golfer
Notah Begay, III is being recognized by his alma mater, Stanford
Begay will be inducted into the
Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame this October. As a student there, he
helped lead the golf team to the 1994 national championship and was
named All-American in 1992, 1994 and 1995.
In related news, Begay is hosting his
seventh annual Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge on Aug. 27. The
event takes place at the Atunyote Golf Club on the Oneida Nation in
This year’s lineup includes Tiger
Woods, who was Begay’s teammate at Stanford. The tournament will
raise money to fight obesity and diabetes among Native youth and to
promote leadership development for Native youth.
“We couldn’t do this without the
strong support of my friends on the PGA TOUR,” Begay said in a
press release. “The draw of these amazing golfers is essential in
raising the resources to fund change. Thanks also to Oneida Indian
Nation and all the passionate fans. I’m so grateful for the
opportunity to return to Central New York and continue strengthening
NAVAJO NATION PRESIDENTAL TERM LIMITS
UP FOR VOTE
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Navajo Nation
Council is considering a bill that would put a term-limit referendum
on the ballot.
Tribal law imposes a two-term limit on
the office of the president. The Navajo Nation Supreme Court, ruled
recently that the restriction only applies to two consecutive terms.
The bill would change that by barring
a person from serving more than two terms as president during his of
her her lifetime. If it’s approved by the council, the referendum
would go before voters this November.
If the referendum passes, it goes into
effect in 2018. Meaning that former president Joe Shirley, Jr. can
continue his campaign this year for a third, non-consecutive term as
PROTESTS TARGET SAGINAW CHIPPEWA
MT. PLEASANT, Mich. – Members of the
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan who are being disenrolled held a
protest on July 26.
The tribe is removing 234 people from
the rolls. Most have been targeted in the past and had their cases
dismissed so they question why the effort has restarted. “This
isn’t just a membership issue or an employment issue,” Lisa
Kennedy told media at the protest, which took place along with the
tribe’s 30th anniversary powwow. “This is an issue of human
The tribe’s Office of Administrative
Hearings has allowed the disenrollment proceedings to move forward.
MOHEGAN TRIBE REPORTS GAMING PROFIT
MONTVILLE, Conn. – The Mohegan Tribe of
Connecticut saw declines in revenues and profits at its gaming
For the quarter ending June 30, the
Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority said profits were $13.9 million, down
from $22.3 million in the same quarter last year. That represents a
37.7 percent decline.
Net revenues were $326.3 million, down
from $344.2 million a year ago. That represents a 5.2 percent
“Although we were able to gain
market share in both Connecticut and Pennsylvania during the quarter,
the overall lack of confidence in the economy and decline in
discretionary dollars continue to be a challenge,” Mitchell
Grossinger Etess, Chief Executive Officer of the MTGA, said in a
The tribe operates the Mohegan Sun, an
Indian gaming facility on its reservation in Connecticut, and the
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, a commercial facility in Pennsylvania.
In related news, the tribe gave up the
lease on a proposed commercial casino in western Massachusetts. The
tribe continues to pursue a commercial license in the eastern part of