Vol. 3, Issue 19 May 11, 2016

    A Letter from the Publisher


    ­Shekóli. Though there are several important cases involving challenges to Native sovereignty before the Supreme Court this year, there is no denying the benefits of increased Native jurisdiction on tribal nation lands. There is no denying the trend, either, that more Native nations should secure control over what is rightfully theirs. While Indian fighters and corporate lawyers probe to establish loopholes, federal, state and Indian authorities recognize that strong tribal court systems benefit the Native nation, the surrounding communities, and help fill the gaps of an overworked federal court system.

    Late last month, Washington State restored civil and criminal powers to the Yakama Nation. The Yakama fought hard for this retrocession, and they are the second Native nation to agree with Washington State and the federal government on terms. The process that has been established follows a 2012 law written by State Senator John McCoy (D-Tulalip).

    “So many have fought for the return of greater self-governance for the Yakama people,” announced Tribal Chairman JoDe Goudy at a Yakama Cultural Center gathering. “Today, we can finally celebrate this historic victory.” As correspondent Richard Walker relates in this week’s issue, the many areas of Yakama jurisdiction will include domestic relations, adoption proceedings, motor vehicle operation, public assistance and more.

    One huge step forward involves an issue highlighted several years ago by the Tribal Law and Order Commission: the prosecution of juvenile crimes. Pre-retrocession, troubled Native youth were sent to state facilities. Pulling them away from their communities, as is widespread under federal law, has been shown to have a terrible impact on them. Now, juveniles will move through their Native justice system, and detained (if warranted) in centers closer to home.

    Fifty years ago, Termination Era policies and a series of poor high court rulings wreaked havoc on Indian country’s legal systems. It has taken hard work and decades to restore common sense to the process. The working principle is a simple one: We have a right to our land, and a right to govern ourselves.

    NΛ ki wa,

    Ray Halbritter


    The Pernicious Cause Of ‘Suicide Clusters’

    Look beyond the present to grasp the recent spate of suicides in the Attawapiskat community, writes Peter d’Errico:

    “The youth in Attawapiskat,” said the indigenous health studies professor Carrie Bourassa, “made a list of what they need: YWCA, swimming pool, hockey rink, new school, more teachers, no alcohol on reserve, parenting classes. They want supports and they want healthy things to do.”

    This wish list tears at the heart, because the improvement of material life does not neatly translate into healing the soul. Suicide clusters are not caused by a lack of swimming pools and hockey rinks. New schools and more teachers and parenting classes will not reduce suicide if the curriculum still focuses on “civilizing the Indians.” Alcohol prohibition will founder in the face of continued demand for substances that depress awareness.

    Things are “healthy to do” only if they reach soul depth.

    That brings us to the point where souls meet history: There can be no healing of today’s generation except through community healing. This requires facing and speaking about historical trauma that lives on. This means facing and dealing with what some have termed “historical unresolved grief.”

    The 14th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues confirmed this when it reported that suicide among Native Peoples “is linked to the loss by indigenous peoples of their rights to their lands and territories, natural resources, traditional ways of life and traditional uses of natural resources.”

    Attawapiskat and other Native communities have one way forward. That is to challenge the surrounding world at a depth that arises from the soul and meets history, with an aim to recover the balance between spiritual and temporal that allows humans to live free lives.


    Teachable Moments About Reservations

    Suzan Shown Harjo assails those who blithely use the phrase “gone off the reservation,” as well as those who say Indians were “put” on them:

    “Off the reservation” is a term I’ve heard tossed off casually by policymakers and bureaucrats from the White House to Capitol Hill, and by reporters who cover them. At such times, I try to fill as many fact-gaps as time and occasion allow.

    Reservations are Native lands reserved by Native Nations in treaties and agreements. Our ancestors were not “put” on them. They reserved lands, including hunting, fishing, gathering and cultural rights, in ceded territories. They trusted the U.S. to help protect them from the rapidly increasing and aggressive foreign populations and their diseases.

    Then came the Indian Removal Act, a states’ “rights” law signed by General Andrew Jackson, almost as soon as he became president. Jackson had helped draft the Act, after he, his former aide de camp and other Indian fighters took over the Senate and House Committees on Indian Affairs. The law required a removal treaty before Native Peoples were wrenched from their homelands.

    That began a process of the U.S. backing Georgia, New York and other powerful states to ethnically cleanse certain Native reserved territories by coercing treaties for a mass movement of many Native Peoples to new, reserved lands in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma and Kansas).

    Whether the Native lands were negotiated in honorable nation-to-nation dealings or at bayonet point, they are our countries today. Insisting that we were forced onto reservations and need to be liberated has led to horrific policies and land loss in the distant and near past. This is one reason we take words and language so seriously, and suit up for teachable moments.


    A Bittersweet National Parks Centennial

    This year’s 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, Sarah Sunshine Manning writes, is cause for both celebration and somber reflection:

    The national park boundaries encircle some of the most distinct, and the most powerful, of our sacred places. They are the highest mountain peaks, the most breathtaking and jagged mountain ranges. They are the most pristine valleys, bubbling hot springs that smell of medicines deep within the Earth, natural geysers that pique our deepest curiosity. They are deeply carved canyons with brightly colored rocks, astounding rock formations, waterfalls, and prairies of flowers.

    But because these are now federal lands, our access to them as indigenous people is limited.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful that these lands are protected today. I am grateful that I get to experience their wonder, perhaps with the same visual experience of ancestors.

    And yet I’m torn, conflicted, and sad. My heart aches, equally in appreciation of, and longing for, the health and well being that our people once had when they were connected to this land.

    Visiting American national parks stirs up those bittersweet emotions, each and every time. Deeply enveloped in the landscape of American national parks lies more than just a majestic escape, more than the spiritual awakening afforded to many of the privileged tourists who can afford the vacation that is so out of reach for the poor and broken. Deeply within each fracture of a canyon, and wrapped into each fragrance rising from the earth, lies our stories.

    The beautiful land claimed by the National Parks Service is where my ancestors loved, prayed, cried, and gave thanks. It is where their hearts lie.


    ICT News


    Bison Are The Official Mammal Of The United States

    With President Obama’s signing of the National Bison Legacy Act into law on May 9, the bison has been designated as the national mammal of the United States. The president’s signature follows approval of the act on April 26 and April 28 by the House and Senate, respectively.

    Among other provisions, the legislation states that the bison is considered a “historical symbol of the United States” and is “integrally linked with the economic and spiritual lives of many Indian tribes through trade and sacred ceremonies.”

    The bison now stands alongside the eagle, another powerful Native symbol, in representing Turtle Island. Its designation will likely draw attention not only to the majestic animal for its own sake, but also provide a platform for education, said the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council, an advocacy group of 58 tribes in 19 states.

    The effort has gone in tandem with the ITBC’s successful movement to designate the first Saturday in November as National Bison Day. “In both efforts the goal is the same,” the ITBC said. “To tell the intertwined stories of the buffalo and tribal people that’s existed since time immemorial.”

    “This is an important move to recognize the symbolic, cultural and economic importance of the species to us today and to bring that back to public attention,” said Keith Aune, director of the Bison Conservation Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

    After being hunted to the brink of extinction, bison currently number some 20,000 head on public lands in North American, the Department of Agriculture has estimated, with an additional 162,000 on private farms and ranches.

    http://bit.ly/1qcerSo and http://bit.ly/24tYrL5

    Record Trust To Benefit Farmers And Ranchers In Keepseagle Settlement


    A federal judge has approved the creation of a $265 million Native American-controlled trust to benefit American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) farmers and ranchers—the largest such trust ever created.

    The money is left over from the so-called Keepseagle Fund, which Congress established in 2011 to settle claims of discrimination by the Department of Agriculture against Native American food producers.

    The settlement, announced by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on April 20, marks the end of a tortuous legal process that began in 1999. In that year, Marilyn and George Keepseagle (Sioux) filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government, charging that Washington had illegally discriminated against Native American farmers and ranchers in administering its Farm Loan Program.

    After 10 years of wrangling, the Obama administration offered to settle in 2010 for $680 million. Judge Sullivan approved the agreement in 2011, and Congress appropriated the money to pay the claims. Any funds left over would be subject to a cy pres distribution, as is common in class action suits.

    But disputes over the precise amounts and timing of the disbursement delayed a final disposition until last month. The April 20 compromise directs that the remaining $265 million will capitalize the Native American Agriculture Fund. Over the next 20 years, this fund will make awards to nonprofits, including tribal colleges and community development financial institutions that serve AI/AN farmers and ranchers.

    The compromise further gives each of the prevailing claimants an additional $21,275 in payments and puts aside $38 million to be distributed to nonprofits chosen by class counsel.


    Redskins Want To Join Asian Rock Band To Fight Trademark Ruling


    In an unorthodox attempt to preserve their federal trademark status, the Washington Redskins have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case for retaining their team name alongside that of a similar trademark appeal brought by the Asian-American rock band The Slants. The NFL franchise filed its special petition on April 25.

    The federal government has canceled both trademarks on the basis of the disparagement clause of the 1946 Lanham Act. That clause prohibits registering any trademark that “may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” A federal judge canceled the Redskins’ trademark in July.

    But In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. sided with The Slants by ruling against the Lanham Act clause. “The First Amendment forbids government regulators to deny registration because they find the speech likely to offend others, ” wrote Judge Kimberly Moore.

    Last month, the federal Patent and Trademark Office asked the Supreme Court to review the case because the “disparagement provision … is facially invalid under the free speech clause of the First Amendment.”

    In joining up with The Slants, the Redskins are arguing that the Lanham clause violates the First Amendment and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution. They also cited the federal government’s “decades-long delay between registering a trademark and cancelling the registration.” They further cite the “inconsistency and arbitrariness of government restrictions on disparaging or offensive trademarks,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

    The team’s trademark appeal is still pending before the Fourth Circuit Federal Appeals Court in Richmond, Virginia.


    ICT News

    38171_Indian-Country-TodayFederal Agencies Urge Pipeline Review On Behalf Of Tribes

    Three federal agencies have urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to more rigorously assess the $3.4 billion, 1,134-mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline, which would convey light, sweet crude oil through four states and possibly have profound environmental effects on numerous tribes, notably the Standing Rock Sioux.

    In separate letters to the Corps sent in March and April, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation expressed concern over both the possible impact of the project and a lack of tribal consultation.

    The EPA noted that drinking water intake for the water system that serves Fort Yates on the Standing Rock Reservation is only 10 miles from where the Missouri River crosses Lake Oahe. The agency therefore recommended that the Corps’ draft Environmental Assessment be revised to address “concerns regarding environmental justice and emergency response actions to spills/leaks.” The Interior Department similarly wrote, “The routing of a 12- to 30-inch crude oil pipeline in close proximity to and upstream of the Reservation is of serious concern.”

    And the Advisory Council found itself “perplexed by the Corps’ apparent difficulties in consulting with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,” especially in regard to the pipeline’s potential proximity to burial sites.

    LaDonna Brave Bull Allard of the Standing Rock Tribal Historic Preservation Office said the tribe was “thankful” for the respective agencies’ concerns.  “It is impressive to see these federal agencies stand up in support of the Standing Rock Lakota Nation and acknowledge the tribe’s right to be consulted,” said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network.


    Indian Mortgages Down For 2015, Says Fannie Mae Report


    The Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) bought fewer mortgages to American Indians and Alaska Natives during 2015 than 2014, according to a recent report made by the agency to Congress and its regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Board.

    Fannie Mae purchased 10,734 mortgages made to Indians last year, with an unpaid principal balance of $2.45 billion. That was 0.55 percent of its total volume, below Indian representation in the national population. By contrast, in 2014, Fannie Mae bought 11,666 mortgages to Indians with an unpaid principal balance of $2.5 billion, or 0.69 percent of its total.

    However, both years represent a rebound from 2013, when Fannie purchased just 0.32 percent of its volume in mortgages made to Indians. Total loans bought were 10,129, with balances of $1.8 billion.

    Fannie also bought 5,793 mortgages to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (these include Natives of Guam and American Samoa) in 2015. That made for a total of $1.5 billion in home finance, for a percentage of 0.30 percent of its volume.

    Along with its cousin agencies Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae is not a lender, but rather a provider of liquidity to the mortgage market. It creates a so-called “secondary market” by buying the loans made by the banks, savings banks or mortgage banks that originally made the loan to a consumer.

    The net effect is that the lender is immediately repaid for the outlay it had loaned to the borrower, and it can use the Fannie Mae money to make another mortgage.


    Tunica-Biloxi Hires Mohegan Authority To Lead Gaming And Entertainment Venue

    The operator of the Mohegan Sun properties has begun providing gaming, hospitality and entertainment services for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe’s flagship property—the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana—effective April 30.

    The Tunica-Biloxi Gaming Authority, the tribe’s unincorporated governmental agency, has retained the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA) for this purpose. MTGA operates two of the most successful gaming and entertainment destinations in the United States, Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania. MTGA is also credited with advancing the once-struggling Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, into record profitability over the four years that it has served under its management and investment contract.

    “This is an important day for MTGA and for Indian country as a whole,” said MTGA President Bobby Soper, “as our agreement with the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe provides further evidence of Indian country’s willingness to work together and share gaming expertise to attain the mutual benefits of self-sufficiency and diversification.”

    The new agreement expands MTGA’s expansion into venues outside its traditional Northeast base. Next year, its venture with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe of Washington State will introduce a $500 million casino project that is expected to be the West Coast’s premier gaming, dining, entertainment and meeting destination.

    In addition, the South Korean government recently licensed MTGA to develop and build a first-of-its-kind integrated resort at Incheon International Airport that will constitute the country’s largest entertainment facility. The project, whose cost is estimated at $5 billion, will offer more than 250 gaming tables, 1,500 slot machines and a 15,000-seat arena space.


    Paying To Pray?

    Potential beach access fees threaten tribal practices


    Bottom Line: In Northern California, a battle is under way between tribes and state authorities over free access to Sonoma County beaches.

    ‘The new fees would adversely impact low-income people and Native Americans,’ said a former Coastal Commission chairman.

    Courtesy Sonoma Coast State Park/California Department of Parks and Recreation


    A controversial California State Parks proposal may force local tribes to pay to access traditional sites along the coast in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco.

    The charges would be for parking and other amenities such as bathrooms, and not actual beach use. But because the coastal highway is so narrow, and there is virtually no place to park, visitors would in effect have to pay to use a resource that is technically free under state law.

    “If the proposal goes through without any tribal consultation, it will mean we will have to pay to pray at sites we have had free access to for all these years,” Reno Franklin, tribal chairman of the Kashia Pomo at Stewart’s Point Rancheria, told ICTMN. “Five of the eight beaches slated for the new charges are within our aboriginal area. One of them is the center of our universe, and one of them has a burial [site].”

    The proposed fees range from $3 an hour to $8 for the day. The proposal requires a permit to install automatic-pay parking fee collection self-pay devices—akin to meters—in an area that encompasses Sonoma Coast State Park, a 16-mile stretch of rugged coastline at the southern end of the proposed area, the traditional territory of the Kashia Band of Pomo.

    The proposal has been hotly debated since it was originally proposed in 2012. Facing a stubborn budget crisis, the State Parks department has desperately sought new revenue sources for its general fund, in order to maintain a system that has been ailing ever since budget cuts in 2011 closed 70 parks.

    The area in question overlaps with the aboriginal territory of the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria, a band of Coast Miwok peoples. It includes seven beaches that, with a few exceptions, have never charged fees. Farther north, one other beach in Salt Point State Park would be subject to the new fees.

    The charging of fees for beach access is the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission (CCC), which alone has the authority to approve or deny those fees.

    “Fees to park at beaches are basically about access,” said Sara Wan, former two-time chair of the Coastal Commission. “In Sonoma County in particular, parking and beach fees are one and the same.”

    Little or no attention has been given to what such rules would mean to Native peoples, Wan said. “The Coastal Act is weak on Native American rights, and their protection really doesn’t exist,” she told ICTMN. “But the new fees would adversely impact low-income people and Native Americans.”

    The 12 voting members of the CCC rely on the commission’s staff to advise them in their decision-making process. The staff compiled a 900-page report detailing its findings on the State Parks department’s beach fee proposal; on April 13, the report was presented at a public hearing held in Santa Rosa. It recommended that the CCC deny the permit for the State Parks plan, citing a bevy of concerns.

    Among them was the lack of Native American consultation. The parks department claimed in its application to the CCC that “Native American consultation for the proposed project has failed to identify any previously recorded or identified tribal cultural resources within the project areas.” But it cited no actual references to consultations.

    “The only consultation State Parks performed was related to the California Environmental Quality Act to identify tribal cultural resources,” Franklin told ICTMN. The department did not identify any previously recorded or identified tribal cultural resources, Franklin said, but “archeological evidence indicates Native American presence in the area at least 12,000 years.”

    At the Santa Rosa hearing—which lasted 12 hours—Franklin rejected what he called a “pay to pray” policy. Only half in jest, he told the audience and the CCC that “in 12,500 years living along the coast, the Kashia have never once charged anyone to access it.”

    Aside from tribal concerns, the fees would harm low-income families overall, meeting attendees said. The proposal is “cruel, in that it would limit who would have access to the parks on the ocean,” said Greg Sarris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, in a statement that was read by tribal vice chairwoman Lorelle Ross.

    Sarris’s statement echoed the concerns of County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who characterized limiting coastal access to low-income families as an issue of social justice.

    Despite the recommendations in the staff report, the CCC failed to make a decision, postponing it to a future date. At press time, State Parks had not responded to ICTMN’s requests for comment.


    Defining Native Terms

    “‘Reconciliation’ is the new word for ‘assimilation’”


    Peacemaking and finding common ground, Tamara Starblanket has found, are harder to achieve than many people think.

    Courtesy Floyd Brown

    Editor’s Note: Tamara Starblanket (Cree), from Ahtahkakoop First Nation in Treaty Six Territory, Canada, recently became co-chair of the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus (NAIPC). She was nominated by indigenous participants from the U.S. and Canada who had gathered to discuss critical issues, find common ground, and create a collective platform in preparation for this month’s 15th Session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    Starblanket is the Instructor and Program Coordinator for the Aboriginal Justice Studies Certificate Program at Native Education College in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is also the author of the forthcoming book Suffer the Little Children—Genocide: Indigenous Nations in the Canadian State (Clarity Press). ICTMN spoke with her about her new role.


    What will be your priorities?

    The NAIPC wants to raise awareness about state genocide against the Original Nations on Great Turtle Island. It is our responsibility and obligation to understand that our “original laws and instructions” protect our Mother Earth. The effects of the residential school and boarding school system forcibly indoctrinated our Original Nations and Peoples through colonial violence.

    Our children were massively tortured for practicing their spiritual and cultural traditions. Examples of the torture include having needles through the tongue for a prolonged period of time, dry ice on the tongue, whippings, beatings, solitary confinement, starvation and many more other acts of genocide.

    What we have today are people who make decisions on behalf of us that can have a detrimental impact. Examples include the land claims system or reconciliation process in Canada. Examples of this can be the people who continue to insist that “organizations” such as the AFN and the IITC can speak on behalf of our Original Nations.

    We are referring here to the assimilation of our Nations into the settler state systems.

    What issues were deemed the most critical for the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) this May?

    The present theme, “Indigenous Peoples: Conflict, Peace and Resolution,” is missing a critical component of the experience of colonial invasion and domination. As one Elder noted at the caucus meeting, we cannot have peace and conflict in the same sentence.

    Another integral aspect is the truth and as far as we can tell, there is no truth-taking place. Our treaties are being violated daily by the claiming of our lands and the forcible removal of our children into present times. Genocide in its various forms must be a discussion at this UNPFII.

    The trend of the U.N. to acknowledge only state-recognized organizations to speak on behalf of the original nations and peoples on great Turtle Island and the world over is alarming. The Permanent Forum is increasingly becoming a state-controlled mechanism that is designed to silence the critical issues of our lands and the development that occurs in our territories around the world.

    This colonial domination is supported by the continued claim that we are minorities. Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-determination in international law. Minorities do not have the rights of self-determination. My research on genocide shows that the minority human rights framework is destructive and conceals genocide.

    What is the most pressing issue from the NAIPC’s perspective?

    The United Nations must stop all forced assimilation measures being imposed against the Original Nations and Peoples through the UNDRIP and domestic state laws and policies.

    What turned you into an activist?

    My family of birth passed on from the effects of genocide in a short time span when they were very young. My mother attended Prince Albert Indian Residential School, her father attended residential Thunderchild Residential Schools, and my father’s mother attended Byrtle Indian School. The effects through the generations in my family are catastrophic. Today I am the last survivor.

    More importantly, the Elders inspired me to take the path I am on by staying committed to our Mother Earth and our future generations. What I found in my legal research is that it is not only my family’s story but all of our stories across great Turtle Island.

    We are living collectively the effects of genocide and this is manifested in suicides, drug and alcohol addictions, etc., and traumatized and dysfunctional parenting patterns that lead to the high rates of removal in the child welfare and foster care systems in both the United States and Canada and even globally.

    The worst impact is the disconnection from the land. The state framework and system feeds off itself by the destruction it causes against peoples and nations in the colonization process.

    How encouraged are you that Canada’s new Liberal government has said it will rebuild the relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples by including them in every decision that affects them and their land?

    The problem here is the legal framework under which this ‘new relationship’ is being built.

    The most recent announcement that the Canadian government would like to implement reconciliation as the way forward, and to begin to implement the UNDRIP, is cause for great concern. It is being touted as the way forward by other Indigenous Peoples, and the problem is the people speaking on behalf of us do not have our future generations in mind when making these decisions.

    Reconciliation is the new word for assimilation and an extension of the myth that Canada has underlying title in our territories. A synonym for reconciliation is to pacify. The synonym for pacification is to vanquish, crush, subdue, extinguish, and tame. The problem with both mechanisms is that the premise is about the swallowing up or the domestication of our nations into the state framework.

    How do we reconcile a genocidal past and present that is not acknowledged as the root cause of the problem? When you start to look at it this way, it begins to become contradictory. The solution is self-determination and to implement the Peace and Friendship Treaties.

    Indigenous nations and peoples know what is best for our Mother Earth.

    How satisfied are you with the government’s promised and actual actions into Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women?

    The government’s response to the missing and murdered Indigenous women only addresses one side and ignores the Indigenous men and boys that go missing and murdered. Public inquiries do not address the root problem.

    Terms such as “savage” were invoked to justify the claiming of our lands. Theories of racial superiority were invoked to force the transferring of our children under a genocidal legal framework. The problem with this is the colonial society and people that created these laws, and policies have never addressed why they do such destructive things against other peoples and nations.

    The denial that goes with the truth behind these destructive behaviors is paramount. The colonizer needs to look inward and examine its own conduct as to why these are catastrophic problems. When it gets real with itself, we can begin to build peace on our great Turtle Island and the world.


    Nation Regains Authority

    ‘We’ve awaited this decision for years’


    Bottom Line: In a long overdue legal transfer, power over many civil and criminal matters has been restored to the Yakama of Washington.

    The Yakama Nation celebrated the return of its civil and criminal jurisdiction on April 22. At right, Yakama Tribal Councilman Raymond ‘Moss’ Smartlowit signs the guest book.

    Courtesy Brad Angerman/Yakama Nation

    It was a return of authority that should never have been taken in the first place, some say. But the day was worth celebrating nonetheless.

    On April 22, after decades of legal battle—including a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1979—the Yakama Nation marked the return of large swaths of civil and criminal jurisdiction from the Washington State and federal governments.

    Leaders in tribal regalia and civil dignitaries gathered at the Yakama Nation Cultural Heritage Center, among them tribal chairman JoDe Goudy and former chairmen Jerry Meninick and Harry Smiskin. Representing the Bureau of Indian Affairs was Darren A. Cruzan, deputy director of the Office of Justice Services.

    “In 1855, our past leaders were promised powers over our lands by the federal government,” Goudy said in announcing the return of jurisdiction. “These promises were broken time and time again. It is a significant day in the lives of the Yakama people as the right to govern our lands and keep our people safe is finally realized.”

    He added, “So many have fought for the return of greater self-governance for the Yakama people. Today, we can finally celebrate this historic victory.”

    The Yakama are the second Native Nation in Washington State to ask the governor for a return of jurisdiction over certain civil and criminal matters, using a process established by a 2012 law authored by State Sen. John McCoy (D-Tulalip). (The Tulaliip Tribes, according to McCoy, were the first.)

    The Interior Department’s Office of Justice Services ultimately determined in October that the Yakama Nation could handle the increased responsibilities associated with the return of civil and criminal jurisdiction. So now the Nation has the final say on such varied issues as adoption proceedings, compulsory school attendance, dependent children, domestic relations, juvenile delinquency, public assistance, and the operation of motor vehicles.

    Washington State, however, retains jurisdiction over sexually violent predators. And the Yakama have jurisdiction over non-Natives only in certain cases, such as domestic violence, truancy and vehicle collisions.

    “At the heart of sovereignty is the ability to govern on our own lands,” said Yakama Nation Vice Chairman Delano Saluskin. “We’ve awaited this decision for years.”

    Yakama Nation attorney Dawn Vyvyan recently enumerated certain cultural and social benefits of retrocession. For example, she said, under state jurisdiction, a Native American juvenile offender found guilty of a crime would be sent to one of 21 state juvenile detention facilities.

    But post-retrocession, the juvenile offender would be prosecuted by the justice system in his or her Native Nation and, if found guilty, be sent to a detention facility close to home—a better outcome for the individual, family, and relationships in general.

    Retrocession also clears up much jurisdictional confusion. State jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters in Indian country is not uniform. Therefore, partial retrocession has led to “a complicated and inconsistent jurisdiction scheme,” wrote the law firm Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker.

    But full retrocession “could potentially help create greater uniformity in jurisdiction across the different reservations in Washington.”

    The 2012 retrocession law reverses a policy from the Termination Era. Public Law 83-280, enacted in 1953, transferred certain federal civil and criminal jurisdiction over Indian country to six states on a mandatory basis. It also allowed other states to assume complete or partial jurisdiction in the same manner—without the consent of the Native Nations involved.

    Washington, which was not one of the mandatory states, assumed some jurisdiction in 1957, with consent; and again in 1963, without consent. (In 1968, the Indian Civil Rights Act amended PL 83-280 to require consent before any more states could assume federal jurisdiction, and also allowed Native nations to request retrocession.)

    Seven Native nations in Washington sought and received retrocession for criminal cases. They are the Chehalis, Colville, Muckleshoot, Quileute, Skokomish, Swinomish, and Tulalip. But until McCoy’s law, there was never a clear process for how to retrocede.

    Under McCoy’s law, the governing body of a Native Nation must submit a retrocession resolution and a plan for the exercise of jurisdiction to the governor. The law encourages Native nations to establish inter-local agreements with affected municipalities. Many already have inter-local and mutual aid agreements for law enforcement and fire protection service.

    Within 90 days of receipt, the governor must convene a government-to-government meeting with the governing body of the Native nation and consult with elected officials from counties, cities and towns in the area of the proposed retrocession. If the governor approves the retrocession request, the proclamation is submitted to the federal government. Retrocession is effective following Interior Department approval.

    “It took an intense education,” the Nation told ICTMN, “to state, federal and other people that the Yakama Nation is competent to govern. … We will continue to educate in order to maintain the public health and safety of all persons—just as any other competent government does.


    Tradewind Classifieds


    Sauk Language Department
    Sac and Fox Nation

    The Sauk Language Department of the Sac and Fox Nation is actively seeking to immediately fill the following temporary full-time contractual positions:

    •  Coordinator to Design, Recruit and Implement Native American Youth Program
    • Native American Language Immersion Curriculum Developer
    • Algonquin Linguistic Specialist
    • Developer for 21st Century Skills Youth and Young Adult Program
    • Native American Youth Multimedia Technology Program Developer

    As part of a sustainability plan for the Sauk Language Youth Program, these temporary contractual positions are scheduled to begin immediately and last until October 31, 2016. 

    Please contact the Sauk Language Department for a full description of the position.  Preference will be given to Native Americans, and to those who can physically work on-site in Stroud, OK for the duration of the contractual position.

    Please send an updated resume with the desired salary by snail mail, email or fax to:

    Sauk Language Department
    Sac and Fox Nation
    920883 S. Hwy 99
    Stroud, OK 74079
    Fax 918-968-0077

    The Week in Photos


    AP Images

    All-Star former Atlanta Dream point guard Shoni Schimmel (Umatilla) has been traded to the New York Liberty.




    President Obama signed legislation this week that made the bison the official national mammal of the United States.



    Gobal Change Media

    Dennis Banks (Anishinaaabe/Ojibwa), co-founder of the American Indian Movement, led the “Times of Purification Gathering” in Arizona on May 5-8.


    05.A major fire forced the evacuation of nearly 90,000 people, including many from several First Nations communities, from Fort McMurray, Alberta_Fort McMurray Fire, May 3. Twitter_al@andyhurleys

    Twitter / al@andyhurleys

    A major fire forced the evacuation of nearly 90,000 people, including many from several First Nations communities, from Fort McMurray, Alberta. 

    Headlines from the Web

    Upcoming Events


    May 12: Alaska Native Population Data Conference
    Topics will include “The Health Care Industry,” “Population Estimates, Projections, Migration,” “IHS [Indian Health Service] User Populations” and “U.S. Census 2020 and American Community Survey Results.” Sponsored by the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
    Location: Anchorage, Alaska

    May 16-17: Aboriginal Consultations And Productive Relationships
    This workshop is designed to facilitate treaty and related consultations between indigenous communities and the Crown, given the vagaries and flexibility of such procedures. Topics and in-class modules will include, but not be limited to, an overview of the Common Law duty to consult; guidance for preparing for consultations; identifying personality types, negotiation styles and dominant issues in consultations; and interest-based negotiations approaches that achieve results in consultations. Sponsored by The Commons Institute.
    Location: Hart House, the University of Toronto, Canada

    May 16-17: Aboriginal Consultations And Productive Relationships
    The forum will give participants the opportunity to practice and gain specific skills in personal leadership development, and discover how to work effectively in groups to create progress, productivity, and support in effective community development. Developing a personal leadership mission statement, exploring self-care in leadership development, learning communication, building a mentoring template, and practicing the navigation of tribal-specific challenges will be emphasized.
    Location: Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, Juneau, Alaska

    May 17-19: National Tribal Forum On Air Quality
    Tribes, federal agencies, and related organizations with interests in air quality and climate change will engage in updates on new and upcoming rules and regulations; discussions of air quality and health impacts; tribal case studies; and Interactive networking sessions. Pre-conference training sessions will be given over to “Radon and Radon Mitigation Concepts,” “Clean Air Act 101” and the “Clean Power Plan.”
    Location: Seneca Niagara Resort, Niagara Falls, New York

    May 18-21: NAISA Conference 2016
    More than 170 panels, discussions, roundtables and other forums will be offered at the annual meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). Co-hosted by the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network, the Queensland University of Technology and RMIT University.
    Location: University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii


    Letters to the Editor

    Re the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision to recognize Métis and non-status Indians as full Indians (April 20):

    Being recognized as Indians under the Constitution and laws of Canada seems an acceptance and embrace of colonization and the superior sovereignty of the government of Canada. Must we accept subordinate status to know who we are? Have we so easily forgotten?

    —Sammy Snake
    Saint Charles, Missouri


    I would be happy with simple recognition of “non-status Indians” as Native, even without guaranteeing the same rights as “status Indians.” Depending on who my children marry, my grandchildren may or may not be eligible for registration. But their Native ethnicity should still be recognized.

    I know of a young man who is 100 percent Native but does not meet enrollment requirements for any of the eight tribes he is descended from. Where does that leave him? Confused and frustrated. How can he not be recognized as Native?

    —Michael Madrid
    Las Cruces, New Mexico



    Top News Alerts


    By a 35-20 vote, the California Assembly has rejected a motion to establish May 26 as “John Wayne Day,” in part because of the late actor’s public attitude toward Native Americans. Opponents invoked the Oscar-winning actor’s 1971 Playboy interview, wherein he said, “Our so-called stealing of this country from them [Native Americans] was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”


    The Rosebud Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit on April 28 against the Indian Health Service (IHS) for closing its emergency room on the tribe’s South Dakota reservation. The IHS closed the facility in December because of what the agency called “deficiencies” that constituted “an immediate and serious threat to the health and safety” of patients. Tim Purdon of Robins Kaplan LLP, which is representing the tribe, called the action “a violation of the Indian Health Service’s duty to provide adequate care.”


    Don Gentry won a second three-year term chairman of the Klamath Tribes of Oregon out of a field of ten candidates, in elections held on April 27. Myra Gail Hatcher was elected vice chairman. Among other priorities, Gentry cited opening an RV park and hotel and improving services to tribal members. Gentry and his fellow winners are expected to be seated at the next general tribal council meeting on May 11.


    The Navajo Nation mourned 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike, who was found dead in Shiprock, New Mexico on May 3, one day following her abduction after getting off the school bus in the Navajo community of Lower Fruitland. Police have arrested a suspect, Tom Begaye of Waterflow. Shortly after the discovery of Mike’s body, more than 500 people gathered for a candlelight vigil. “One life taken in this tragic way is one too many,” said Navajo President Russell Begaye in a statement.


    Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry was inducted as an honorary member of the Kiowa Tribe at the OCU Native American Society Powwow on April 2. Henry read Kiowa poet N. Scott Momaday’s prayer from “In the Bear’s House”; Momaday previously honored Henry with the poem “To a Man Among Us,” which former OCU athletic director and Kiowa Elder Bud Sahmaunt read at the ceremony. “To be recommended by Kiowa and OCU legend Dr. Bud Sahmaunt,” said Henry, “makes the honor even more special.”

    How Did I Miss That?

    Germs on your money, JFK conspiracy theories and concrete galoshes


    Photo courtesy Steve Russell Steve Russell

    New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport is installing a “pet relief area.” This is a euphemism for toilet facilities for traveling animals—usually dogs and quite often service dogs—who are not exactly “pets.”

    The New York facility joins those at Dulles in Washington, O’Hare in Chicago and Seattle-Tacoma. A federal regulation requires such facilities in all airports serving more than 10,000 passengers per year, but the rule will not be in place until August.

    My cousin Ray Sixkiller reminded me that we’ve never visited the VA Hospital without seeing several service dogs. Then he asked me to speculate on what the potty police in North Carolina would do.

    * * *

    What could be crazier than the current rule in the Tar Heel State that requires a person wearing male clothes, who may be sprouting a beard from hormone treatments, to go in a ladies room, while a person wearing female clothes with noticeable breasts from the same treatments must go in the men’s room? After some alleged “investigation,” the Justice Department found that the North Carolina law contained civil rights violations.

    Cousin Ray wondered how you investigate something that is crazy on its face.

    “Did they just count the number of trans people beaten up,” he asked, “trying to comply with both the law and doctor’s orders?”

    * * *

    NBC 6 in South Florida reported that Zoo Miami is losing animals to toxoplasmosis, a disease carried in cat feces. Cats have been observed entering the zoo from the surrounding park and using the sand in holding areas, since there are no litter boxes. Having lost a red kangaroo and three squirrel monkeys to toxoplasmosis, the zoo has started trapping the cats to put the healthy ones up for adoption and put the unhealthy ones down for euthanizing.

    Cat advocates in the community are protesting. One of them emailed, “This zoo should have never been built near our homes in the first place. So you and the zoo are the ones invading and should be trapped and euthanized.”

    Ron Magill, a Zoo Miami spokesman, told NBC 6, “This is Pine Rockland, the most endangered natural habitat in South Florida. There are endangered species that live in here. It’s against the law for free roaming cats to be in this property.”

    “There ya go,” Cousin Ray hooted. “Damn cats can’t read the signs!”

    * * *

    Turning to fashion news, The New York Times reported that Peter “Petey Crack” Martinez washed up near Manhattan Beach in what the newspaper called “the unicorn of true crime”—cement shoes. The report detailed how to fit a victim for cement shoes, and it was complicated. This information was offered to explain why Petey Crack was apparently the first corpse to turn up wearing concrete on his feet outside of crime fiction.

    My Republican Cousin Ray remarked that concrete footwear was the preferred attire for GOP primary candidates.

    * * *

    Donald Trump insinuated that the father of Ted Cruz, recently departed from the presidential race, was involved in the JFK assassination. That bit of dirty pool was based on a photo published by the National Enquirer. Experts said that an unidentified man in an old picture of Lee Harvey Oswald could have been the elder Cruz.

    The Enquirer has fired several volleys against Cruz, perhaps because of Trump’s long friendship with the publisher, the aptly named David Pecker. Of his father, Cruz said sarcastically, “He killed JFK, he’s really Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his back yard.”

    Pointing out a report in Article 107 News, Cousin Ray ventured, “Speaking of satire, I understand there’s no truth to the rumor that Trump wants to appoint Dylan Howard to head the CIA.”

    Dylan Howard is the editor of the Enquirer. So maybe The Donald is not above poaching employees from his pal Pecker.

    * * *

    The Wall Street Journal reported on a New York University study that used DNA technology to examine the microbes on U.S. $1 bills. The researchers were able to identify 3,000 types of bacteria but could not identify about 20 per cent of the non-human DNA.

    Pretty scary, but maybe not as scary as a 2012 study at Queen Mary University of London that found “about six percent of English bank notes tested had levels of E. coli bacteria comparable to a toilet seat.”

    Cousin Ray wanted to know if that’s what is meant by “filthy lucre.”


    Upcoming Pow Wows


    Tesoro Cultural Center’s Indian Market and Contest 16th Annual Pow Wow

    19192 Highway 8
    Morrison, CO

    Ontelaunee Park 8th Annual Intertribal Pow Wow

    7344 Kings Highway Road
    New Tripoli, PA

    Multicultural 29th Annual Indian Event

    1219 County Road 187
    Danville, AL

    Klatowa Eena 40th Annual Pow Wow

    660 Southwest 26th Street
    Corvallis, OR

    Farmington Spring Pow Wow

    3041 E. Main Street
    Farmington, NM

    Honoring Our Warriors 7th Annual Gourd Dance

    4116 Cumberland Falls Hwy Corbin
    Birdsprings, AZ

    Manito Ahbee Festival

    472 Madison Street
    R3J 1J1  Winnipeg, Manitoba
    United States Minor Outlying Islands

    Veterans of the Menominee Nation 27th Gathering of Warriors Pow Wow

    Woodland Bowl
    Keshena, WI

    Honoring Of The Elders Intertribal Pow Wow

    194 Depot Road
    Tamworth, NH

    University of Nebraska Omaha Wambli Sapa Memorial Pow Wow

    2425 South 67th Street
    Omaha, NE

    United Native American Cultural Center 21st Annual Unity Days Pow Wow

    29 Antietam Street
    Ayer, MA

    Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow

    711 Paragon Place
    Marksville, LA
    800-946-1946, ext. 2034

    Trail of Tears Remembrance Celebration

    5434 South Tower Drive
    Battlefield, MO

    Suscol Intertribal Council 23rd Annual Pow-wow

    Route 130, 6 miles west of Route 29
    Elon, VA
    434-907-2660 or 434-946-0389

    Oakville Indian Mounds Multicultural Indian Event

    1219 County Road 187
    Danville, AL

    North American Indigenous Cultural Festival

    Downsview Park, 35 Carl Hill Rd
    North York  M3K 2B6,Canada

    In Honor of Our Children 31st Pow Wow

    1904 Allen Street
    Kelso, WA

    Assateague People’s 23rd Annual Drums on the Pocomoke

    1 Bridge Street, Cypress Park
    Pocomoke City, MD

    Annual Grandmother Morning Dove Pow Wow

    Exit 4 on 336 Nimble Hill Road
    Newington, NH

    The Big Picture

    01 BIG PIX.The film Te Ata is based on the story of the Chickasaw storyteller Mary Thompson Fisher_te-ata_q-orianka_COURTESY CHICKASAW NATION

    The film Te Ata is based on the story of the Chickasaw storyteller Mary Thompson Fisher. Courtesy Chickasaw Nation