National Briefs: May 2014




WASHINGTON – Leading up to Donald

Sterling’s lifetime ban from the NBA for racist remarks, the National

Congress of American Indians issued a condemnation and drew parallels

to the Washington team’s mascot.

The owner of the Los Angeles Clippers

drew widespread criticism in late April for his disparaging remarks

about African Americans on a recording made by his then-girlfriend,

V. Stiviano, after she posted a fan photo of herself on Instagram

posing with Magic Johnson.

"NCAI condemns Donald Sterling’s

appalling comments regarding African Americans," the

organization said in an April 28 statement. "There is no place

in modern society for that kind of hatred and discrimination. We also

want to applaud the many athletes, sportscasters, corporations, and

individuals who have spoken out against Sterling and his comments. It

is encouraging to see so many people standing together and declaring

that this behavior is unacceptable."

The organization linked the

controversy to its continuing efforts to eliminate racist images in

professional sports. Dan Snyder, an NFL team owner, has refused to

change his team’s mascot. "NCAI is no stranger to facing down

racism and ignorance in American sports. Every incident of hate and

racism – whether a singular incident or the repeated, high-profile

use of offensive words and images – is unacceptable and has no

place in the 21st Century. We will continue to support the LA

Clippers players and fans as they face the fallout from Sterling’s

words and we will continue to fight for a world in which no race or

ethnic group is treated in this way."



WASHINGTON – Tribal, environmental

and land activists that dubbed themselves the “Cowboy and Indian

Alliance” descended on the nation’s capitol during Earth Week to

protest the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta, Canada to the

Gulf of Mexico.

The week of

demonstrations began with an encampment of tipis and wagons on the

National Mall and culminated in a rally and march on April 26 to the

National Museum of the American Indian where a ceremony was held and

a tipi was gifted to President Barack Obama. Wizipan Little Elk, a

Rosebud Sioux Tribe citizen, was nearly arrested for walking into the

reflecting pool during a protest at the Lincoln Memorial. “You know

we’re talking about basic human rights and there’s not a better

location in D.C. than here with the man behind us and what he

represents,” he said.

The week-long protest drew thousands

of supporters and national media coverage. Among those supporting the

effort to stop the pipeline were musician Neil Young, actress Daryl

Hannah and Dallas Goldtooth of the Native comedy group the 1491s.

The Obama administration announced on

April 18 that it would need more time to review the State

Department’s permitting process, pending an appeal to a ruling by

Nebraska’s Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie F. Stacy who

ruled in February that a state law to allow the pipeline was




DALLAS – Navajo PGA Tour golfer Notah

Begay, III is expected to make a full recovery after suffering a

heart attack in late April in Dallas, Texas.

According to the Golf Channel, he

received a stent to unblock the right coronary artery. The 41

year-old, whose family has a record of heart disease, is expected to

make a full recovery.

Begay is a four-time PGA tour winner

and currently is a television golf analyst for NBC and the Golf

Channel. In 2005 he founded the Notah Begay III Foundation in 2005

and works on behalf of Native American youth to reduce incidences of

type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity through grant-making, research

and advocacy.

In a statement, Begay thanked friends

and well-wishers for their support. “I look forward to returning to

my duties as a golf analyst and to continuing the important work of

my Foundation. This experience has reinforced for me the need to

urgently address health and wellness issues among Native America

youth … I anticipate a full recovery and feel lucky to be at home

resting with my family.”


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Taylor Thomas,

reigning Miss Shoshone-Bannock and Idaho State University student,

was declared Miss Indian World on April 26 at the 31st

Annual Gathering of Nations powwow.

Miss Indian World is the cultural

pageant component of the gathering. Each year more than 30 Native

American women from compete in the pageant. Each contestant competes

in the areas of public speaking, personal interview, traditional

talent presentation and Native American dance and written essay.

Thomas also won Best Interview and for

her talent presentation, she shared the history of a traditional

Shoshone 49 song and dedicated the song she sang to all veterans. She

majors in political science at Idaho State University and is a

supporter of Native youth programs and language preservation effors.

She previously served as a National Congress of American Indian youth

ambassador from 2010-2012.

As Miss Indian World, Thomas will

spend the year traveling throughout the United States, Canada and the

world, representing Native American people and serving as an

ambassador on cultural issues. Taylor’s parents are Wendy Farmer of

Fort Hall, Idaho and Jason Thomas from the Kickapoo reservation in




MONTVILLE, Conn. – The Mohegan Tribe

of Connecticut reported a decline in revenue and profits at its

gaming enterprise on April 21.

According to preliminary operating

results, net revenues for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority are

expected to range between $310.3 million and $323.0 million for the

quarter that ended March 31, which represents a 1 to 5 percent

decline from the same quarter in 2013. Gaming revenues are expected

to range between $272.8 million and $284.0 million, a decline of

between 3 to 6 percent.

Gross slot revenues are expected to

range between $189.8 million and $197.5 million, a 4 to 8 percent

decline; table games revenues are expected to see a decline of 1 to 3

percent at a range between $80.5 million and $83.8 million.

However, non-gaming revenues are

expected to increase by as much as 12 percent at $59.3 to $61.8


The tribe operates Mohegan Sun, an

Indian gaming facility, on its reservation in Connecticut and Mohegan

Sun at Pocono Downs, a commercial facility, in Pennsylvania.



ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A family from the

Navajo Nation is suing an Applebee’s restaurant in New Mexico for

the deaths of two sisters.

Deshauna Peshlakai, 17, and Del Lynn

Peshlakai, 19, were killed on March 5, 2010, when their family’s

vehicle was rear-ended by convicted drunken driver James Ruiz. They

say the restaurant is at fault because Ruiz consumed alcohol there

before the accident.

The trial into the wrongful death

lawsuit began in federal court on April 21. A similar lawsuit was

settled with another restaurant where Ruiz had been drinking.

Ruiz is serving a 42-year sentence for

vehicular homicide. He pleaded guilty in state court.

The accident occurred in Santa Fe. The

family had attended a basketball game at Santa Fe Indian School

before they were hit.



TOPPENISH, Wash. – The Yakama Nation

of Washington is suing the federal government to stop public tours on

Rattlesnake Mountain, which the tribe holds as a sacred site.

According to the suit, the tribe

wasn’t consulted before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved

the bus tours. However, the mountain is within the tribe’s

treaty-ceded territory.

"Laliik is associated with the

cosmological, religious and cultural practices and beliefs of the

Washani community of the Yakama Nation and other Indian tribes,"

the lawsuit states.

The bus tours are being conducted of

wildflowers on the mountain. The tribe contends there are other areas

on federal land where the tours could be led.



ALBANY, N.Y. – The New York Gaming

Commission announced on March 30 that developers – including

several tribes – interested on bidding for a prospective casino

site in the Catskills will have to pay $1 million to start the

application process.

In addition to the non-refundable fee,

the new agency said it could cost up to $70 million for the actual

licensing fee. “This marks the beginning of the bidding process for

long-anticipated gaming facilities to benefit Upstate New York,”

Paul Francis, a member of the commission’s facility location board,

said in a press release. “We look forward to reviewing and

evaluating the applications and will continue to conduct an open,

honest and transparent process.”

The commission will take applications

for four licenses – the Catskills, the Capital Region and Southern

Tier/Finger Lakes regions. One area will receive two licenses, widely

assumed to go to the Catskills.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican

Indians of Wisconsin, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of

Connecticut and the Mohegan Tribe, also from Connecticut, all have

expressed interest in bidding on a casino in the Catskills. The

Stockbridge-Munsee Band is also pursuing a casino under federal law.

Applications will be due June 30.



MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The Ho-Chunk Nation

is opposing a proposed BNSF Railway line expansion project in


The tribe says that the four-mile route

that passes through tribal lands is a threat to sacred sites and may

cause health and safety issues.

Ho-Chunk Nation chief communications

officer Arvina Martin told media, “This process does require a lot

of consultation and we do need to have that happen, you can’t get

around it. The Ho-Chunk Nation has to be consulted."

For its part, BNSF said it respects

tribal sovereignty and will reach out to the tribe.


LAPWAI, Idaho – The Nez Perce Tribe

of Idaho is suing the Obama administration to stop an open pit gold

mine in the Payette and Boise National Forests.

The federal government had previously

approved the mine but the tribe contends that the development did not

undergo a full environmental review to ascertain impacts on the land

and wildlife.

The tribe exercises hunting, fishing,

gathering and pasturing rights near the land in question under an

1855 treaty.



BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Indiana

Department of Corrections has reached a settlement with Native

American inmates who contended that their religious rights were being


Daniel Littlepage and 40 other Native

inmates at the Miami Correctional Facility said they weren’t being

allowed to use a sacred pipe or hold sweat ceremonies. The facility

agreed to provide a chaplain to oversee and monitor the inmates’

ceremonies, including smudging and prayer circles.