ASSAILANTS FACING CHARGES AFTER
HOCKEY GAME INCIDENT
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Rapid City Police
Chief Karl Jegeris said officials know the identity of at least one
person who allegedly threw beer on and yelled racial slurs at a group
of Native American students at a Rapid City Rush hockey game on Jan.
Jegeris made the announcement at a
press conference that followed a 2 1/2-hour closed-door meeting that
included parents of the children, American Horse School officials,
Oglala Sioux Tribal representatives, Mayor Sam Kooiker, police and
the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s office.
"We’re going to be looking at
assault. We’re going to look at the hate crimes statutes. We will
look at the child abuse statutes. And, we will look at any other
relevant statutes," Jergeris said of charges that may be filed
against the person or people who participated in the harassment of
American Horse School is in Allen on
the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The 57 students and seven adults
were on a field trip that rewarded students for school achievement.
Their trip was cut short in the third period of the game because of
the outbursts from a skybox above the section in which the students
The American Horse school group took
up some 65 seats, which included parents, chaperones and students,
during the game. Because of the racially-charge assault, the
chaperones removed the youth from the game before its conclusion and
took to social media via Facebook where the incident was carried by
online advocacy media organization Last Real Indians.
SENATE DEMOCRATS DELAY VOTE ON KEYSTONE
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill to approve the
controversial Keystone XL Pipeline remains under consideration in the
Senate after Democrats were able to delay its passage on Jan. 26.
Republicans have made S.1, the
Keystone XL Pipeline Act, their top priority in the 114th Congress.
But their attempts to cut off debate and move towards a final vote
were rejected by a 53 to 39 vote.
The bill, however, is expected to pass
the Republican-controlled chamber eventually. President Barack Obama
has vowed to veto the measure if it comes to his desk.
STATE OF INDIAN NATIONS ADDRESS
REITERATES FEDERAL OBLIGATIONS
WASHINGTON D.C. – Tribes must insist
the federal government honor its commitments to them and create
partnerships with them based on deference, not paternalism, the
president of the National Congress of American Indians said on Jan.
Brian Cladoosby said in the annual State of Indian Nations address
that too many reservations are plagued with high unemployment and
dropout rates, rampant drug and alcohol abuse and an epidemic of
suicides. Congress needs to update laws and regulations on energy,
taxation and education to help tribes overcome those long-standing
challenges, but it shouldn’t dictate solutions, he said.
In the congressional response, Sen.
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said the relationship between tribes and the
federal government hasn’t always been positive. But as the new
chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, he vowed to lead
efforts to strengthen it.
In exchange for land, the federal
government promised things like health care, education, social
services and public safety in perpetuity for members of federally
recognized tribes. Those vows generally are born out of treaties. The
U.S. negotiated more than 400 treaties with tribes, most of which
were ratified by the Senate.
Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish
Nation of Washington state, said federal funding often falls short of
what tribes need to provide for their membership. He called on
lawmakers to simplify and streamline government regulations that
would give tribes the ability to issue tax-exempt bonds, give tax
credits to members who live on reservations and adopt children with
special needs, and provide tribal law enforcement access to a
national crime database.
The responsibility falls on all
members of Congress, Cladoosby said, whether their districts include
Indian Country or not. "This trust, it’s not a handout," he
said. "It’s a contract. It’s a commitment. And it’s their duty
to honor it."
TRANSCANADA USES EMINENT DOMAIN TO
ACQUIRE NEBRASKA LAND
LINCOLN, Neb. – The developer of the
Keystone XL oil pipeline made good on its promise on Jan. 20 to try
to seize access to the Nebraska land it needs to finish the project –
the first steps it’s taken since the state’s high court removed a
major legal barrier.
TransCanada employees said the company
filed legal papers in nine Nebraska counties to invoke eminent domain
for the land that’s needed to construct, operate and maintain the
pipeline. The filings come just before the company’s two-year window
closed on Jan. 22.
The pipeline still faces legal
challenges in Nebraska, even though the state’s Supreme Court allowed
the route to stand by default. Opponents have sued to try to prevent
the Calgary, Alberta-based company from using eminent domain and to
overturn the state pipeline-siting law that allowed ex-Gov. Dave
Heineman to approve the route in 2013. The pipeline would carry an
estimated 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to Nebraska, where it
would connect with existing pipelines headed for Gulf Coast
By law, TransCanada can use the courts
to force Nebraska landowners to sell access to their land. Company
officials say they still need to acquire 12 percent of the total land
easements from owners who have not yet reached a deal. Some holdouts
have said they won’t negotiate no matter how much TransCanada offers.
The company has acquired 100 percent
of the private landowner easements in Montana and South Dakota,
according to TransCanada’s Keystone projects land manager Andrew
Craig. Pipeline opponents argue that many of the landowners in
Montana and South Dakota were "bullied" early in the
process and told they had no other option.
Craig said the company has secured
voluntary agreements with as many as 96 percent of the landowners in
some of the remaining Nebraska counties. And he expects the company
will sign agreements with at least half of the remaining landowners
without having to use eminent domain. Those still willing to
negotiate mostly have concerns about compensation and restoration of
native grasslands that could take three to five years to regrow,
Environmentalists and other pipeline
opponents argue that any leaks could contaminate water sources and
the project would increase air pollution around refineries and harm
wildlife. Supporters, including state and national Republicans and
oil industry members, say those fears are exaggerated and argue that
the pipeline would create jobs and ease the country’s dependence on
President Barack Obama has downplayed
the project’s benefits, and the White House has publicly threatened
to veto legislation in Congress that would fast-track the project.
WISCONSIN LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD SAYS
MASCOT WILL STAY THE SAME
BERLIN, Wis. – The Berlin High School
Indians Mascot will remain the same. The school board made that
decision Jan. 28 after hearing the results of a community survey on
About 23 percent of the Berlin
population took the survey. Of the more than 1,300 community members
surveyed, 92 percent want to keep the mascot as is. And of 452
students who were surveyed, 90 percent voted to keep the Indians
After hearing the survey results it
took only moments for the school board to move on from the issue.
“They reached out to their constituents to get their feelings on
the issue. They wanted as much information to make a decision as
possible,” Bob Eidahl, Superintendent of the Berlin Area School
The board made no motions on the
subject, so the Indians mascot will stay as is. This conversation has
gone on since 2011 when a Berlin alumnus made a complaint about the
mascot to the state. At that time, state law required a complaint
from one community member to hold hearing to change a mascot.
Ultimately, the state Department of Public Instruction ordered the
district to change the mascot.
But since then, the laws have changed,
leaving the decision up to the school board. After the Jan. 28 board
meeting the official conversation is closed for the time being. In
order for the mascot to be changed in the future, 10 percent of the
Berlin population would need to petition the state. That’s under a
new law signed by Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker last year.
BREACHED PIPELINE THAT SPILLED OIL LIES
EXPOSED ON RIVERBED
GLENDIVE, Mont. – Sonar indicates part
of an underground pipeline that spilled almost 40,000 gallons of oil
into Montana’s Yellowstone River and fouled a local water supply is
exposed on the riverbed.
The pipeline is exposed for about 50
feet near where the breach occurred Jan. 17, according to a news
release from public agencies involved with the response. The pipeline
had been buried at least 8 feet under the riverbed, and the depth was
last confirmed in September 2011.
The cause of the spill remains under
investigation. It prompted a five-day shutdown of drinking water
services for 6,000 people in the city of Glendive after oil got into
a treatment plant.
Prior accidents, including a 2011
Exxon Mobil pipeline spill on the Yellowstone near Billings, have
demonstrated that pipelines beneath bodies of water can quickly
become exposed by floodwaters or other natural forces.
Bridger Pipeline Co., which is based
in Casper, Wyoming, says its pipeline will remain shut down from
Glendive to near the Canada border until the river section is
replaced. The company says the pipeline will be buried deeper beneath
Federal rules require lines to be
buried at least 4 feet beneath riverbeds. The 193-mile Poplar
Pipeline delivers crude from the Bakken oil patch of North Dakota and
Montana to a terminal in Baker, Montana, about 55 miles south of
Glendive. It was built in the 1950s and has a capacity of 42,000
barrels of oil a day.
The Yellowstone River is a popular
recreation destination and home to fish, including the endangered
IOWA REPUBLICANS BLAST MENOMINEE NATION
DES MOINES, Iowa – Republican leaders
in Iowa are urging Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to reject
an off-reservation casino for the Menominee Nation.
The $800 million casino in Kenosha is
not located near the border that two states’ borders but conservative
leaders in the neighboring state say gaming brings social problems.
"As you are contemplating a presidential bid, I sincerely hope
you will consider a ‘No Expanding Gaming’ policy," Tom Coates,
the executive director of Consumer Credit of Des Moines, wrote in a
letter to Walker.
Indian gaming is usually not a
national presidential campaign issue. But Walker’s decision on the
Menominee casino could affect how he is viewed among conservatives in
his own party.
Walker has until Feb. 19 to decide on
NORTHERN CHEYENNE REACHES SETTLMENT
WITH CATHOLIC SCHOOL
LAME DEER, Mont. – The Northern Cheyenne
Tribe reached a settlement with the Catholic Church over the
operation of a school on the reservation.
The tribe sued the church in 2005,
alleging that the St. Labre Indian School exploited the conditions on
the reservation in order to raise millions of dollars. In February
2013, the Montana Supreme Court said the case could proceed on the
grounds of “unjust enrichment."
"NCT alleges that St. Labre
raised between $27 and $30 million for two of the four years before
the filing of its complaint," the court said at the time.
Terms of the settlement haven’t been
released and it hasn’t been finalized in the courts.
FORT PECK TRIBES APPROVE USE OF MEDICAL
POPLAR, Mont. – The Fort Peck
Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Montana are joining what appears to
be a new wave in Indian Country: legal marijuana.
At its first meeting of 2015, the
tribal council voted 7-4 to legalize marijuana for medicinal
purposes. The tribe set a deadline of June 1 to draft new laws to
regulate the drug.
“Let’s take a healthy risk to take
care of these issues,” council member Tom Christian said during the
meeting. “We can do this but lets do it legally,”
The move comes on the the heels of a
Department of Justice policy that could allow for legal marijuana in
Indian Country. One tribe in California has already announced plans
to host a grow operation while another in Minnesota is undertaking a
CHEROKEE NATION READY TO COMPLETE $80
MILLION CASINO THIS SUMMER
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation
celebrated a construction milestone at its $80 million casino in
The tribe held a topping-out ceremony
for the new Cherokee Casino in Roland on Jan. 19. The facility was
the site of the tribe’s first bingo operation and now it’s getting a
complete makeover. “The new hotel and casino are not only going to
be bigger and better, but they will create more quality career
opportunities in this region of the Cherokee Nation," Chief Bill
John Baker said in a press release.
The 170,000 square-foot facility is
expected to open this summer. It features a hotel with 120 rooms and
space to host conferences, events, weddings and trade shows. The
tribe is adding 100 more jobs with the expansion. The facility is
located a few miles from the Arkansas border.
CROW TRIBE SPONSORS BILLBOARD ‘JESUS
CHRIST IS LORD’
CROW AGENCY, Mont. – The Crow Tribe of
Montana is sponsoring a billboard that reads "Jesus Christ Is
Lord" on the reservation.
Many tribal members practice a blend
of traditional and Pentecostal beliefs. So tribal leaders feel the
33-foot billboard, which went up last month, accurately reflects life
on the reservation. "We still speak our language, we still
practice traditional beliefs, and we have the largest tribal buffalo
herd and hunt them," Senator C.J. Stewart, a member of the Crow
Legislature whose 2013 resolution referenced God and Jesus Christ,
said. "We’re not trying to assimilate anybody, we’re just
referencing our Lord.”
The resolution used the Crow word for
God, Akbaatatdia. The Crow word for Jesus Christ is
Ischawuuannaukaasua, which means “The One with Pierced Hands.”