Issue 37, September 21, 2016

    A Letter from the Publisher


    Shekóli. More legal decisions, more celebrity and political support, and more actions on the ground designed to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline project dominated news in Indian country for another week. The battle is moving forward on several fronts, as is apparent in our current round of stories, with several aspects that will ring familiar to readers.

    A federal appeals court handed down a key ruling that supported an earlier request by three federal agencies for Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, to halt construction in an area around Lake Oahe. The three-judge panel from the District of Columbia’s appeals court described the “administrative injunction” of construction for 20 miles on either side of the Missouri River as an opportunity to buy time while the court considers Standing Rock Sioux’s appeal of a decision that denied its request for an injunction. Meanwhile, pressure continues for federal authorities to substantially change how such energy infrastructure projects are approved and scoped in states and Native nations.

    Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders also joined the cause with an appearance at a White House rally. “If there is one profound lesson that the Native American people have taught us, it is that all of us as human beings are part of nature,” Sanders said. “Our species will not survive if we continue to destroy nature, so today we stand united in saying, ‘Stop the pipeline, respect Native American rights, and let us move forward to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.’”

    Clearly, the grassroots movement by Native peoples to halt the continued degradation of our land has resonated throughout the U.S. and the halls of government. Respect for the land comes first. Out of that respect comes the need for a meaningful policy change and agreement among all peoples of how we will manage our environment moving forward. The policies of the present are policies that were established decades ago, and their shortsightedness have created a wealth of problems. However, if Native voices are truly heard, the policies of tomorrow will last for centuries and beyond into future generations to come.

    NΛ ki wa,

    Ray Halbritter


    Framing The Native Narrative

    Despite many gains for Indian country, says Jim Gray, the ongoing Native experience is still a mystery to most people:

    There’s a visceral reaction that prevents some people in the non-Indian community from finding solidarity with today’s Native American issues. Whether it’s gaming, Indian children in the foster care program, religious freedom, sacred sites, or quality of life issues where the public must take the time to grasp our perspective, we often find ourselves in the losing battle for understanding and acceptance.

    Not to say that there haven’t been significant victories. In the 1970s the courts embraced the notion of tribal sovereignty and treaties and had the courage to issue decisions in favor of tribal rights. These decisions were in concert with federal policies and statutes. The close of the 1980s marked 20 years from Alcatraz to the Indian Self Governance Act—a time of federal acknowledgment of modernizing the way Indian country works.

    Despite these achievements, the rest of the country is still looking at Indian country as a remnant of the past. Add to that what Hollywood, Madison Avenue., public education and the news media are failing to do—not acknowledging our accomplishments or success, and neglecting the fact that millions of Indian people and hundreds of tribal governments still exist. Our identity exists as something from the past and anything occurring in the present is irrelevant.

    But armed with the improved economic condition of many tribal nations around the country in law and policy, a new generation of Native people now has a grasp of the power of social media—and a chance to flip the script that’s been written. It’s time we started telling our story.

    Securing The Ballot Box

    Despite the recent victory in Brakebill v. Jaeger, write Tim Purdon and Bryan Sells, much remains to be done to keep Native voting rights safe:

    Significant barriers to voting exist throughout Indian country today. For example, residents of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Elko County, Nevada have to travel over 200 miles round-trip to register or vote in person. Some members of the Navaho Nation in San Juan County, Utah have to travel over nine hours round-trip to do the same.

    In Blaine County, Montana, residents of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation were effectively denied the opportunity to take advantage of early voting and late registration in the distant county seat. That is, until legal pressure forced the county to open an alternate site in May. Blaine County still refuses to make election-day registration accessible to Indian voters on the reservation.

    The Brakebill decision will help American Indian and Alaska Native voters challenge these and other restrictions on their right to vote. The socioeconomic conditions and geographical isolation that led to “substantial and disproportionate burdens” on American Indian voters in North Dakota, as the Brakebill decision determined, likewise impose similar burdens on Native voters who seek equal access to all aspects of the electoral process.

    As Brakebill noted, “The public interest in protecting the most cherished right to vote for thousands of Native Americans who currently lack qualifying ID and cannot obtain one, outweighs the purported interest and arguments of the state.” This holding can only strengthen voting access arguments on behalf of similarly isolated and impoverished American Indians across the United States as they challenge the myriad of discriminatory voting practices that affect them.

    What Does Trump Offer Natives?

    If Donald Trump wants to connect with Native voters, says Ryan Winn, he must try harder:

    Donald Trump is reaching out to different races that he has described as “living in poverty” in neighborhoods that are “more dangerous than war zones.” He has implied that his policies could elevate their quality of life. The presidential hopeful has even asked minorities to vote for him based upon the question, “What do you have to lose?”

    Attempting to appeal to diverse voters is a strategic pivot for the unfiltered Trump who infamously labeled Mexicans as “rapists,” proposed a wall between the United States and Mexico, and has floated the idea of Muslim internment camps.

    In his book Crippled America, Trump defends his belief that the Fourteenth Amendment did not intend for anyone born in the United States to be an American citizen. He writes, “Most Native Americans, for example, although they were born here, were not automatically granted citizenship—and it took almost 150 years before a law was passed making them citizens if they wanted to be.”

    But the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 made all Natives citizens. They had no choice in the matter. The law was passed so that Native people were finally given the rights afforded to others, including the right to vote.

    America’s Indigenous Peoples are living in a time that has granted them some degree of prosperity, despite a history of oppression. While there is a long way to go, such developments as self-determination, tribal colleges and universities, Indian gaming, and reparations like the Cobell settlement have helped to elevate them.

    Rather than asking tribal voters “What do you have to lose?” Trump should be listing what they will gain from his presidency.

    ICT News


    House Bill To Create Native Children Commission Passes Unanimously


    A bipartisan bill to create a proposed Commission on Native Children unanimously passed the House of Representatives last week. The Senate approved the bill, sponsored by Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), last year; after the addition of a few amendments, it will be reintroduced and is likely to pass again.

    “I have said all along—if we cannot find bipartisan support to change the conditions for Native American children, we really are failing,” Heitkamp told ICTMN. “We have treaty obligations that we need to fulfill and it is the children who suffer the most when those treaty obligations are not met.”

    The commission created by the legislation would study and address the overwhelming obstacles Native children face. These include levels of post-traumatic stress similar to newly returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, dramatic risks of suicide, and lower high school graduation rates than any racial or ethnic demographic in the country.

    Heitkamp told ICTMN that if approved, the commission would be named after Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff—the former chairwoman of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation in North Dakota and the noted Alaska Native elder and statesman, respectively.

    “We will keep trying to get this done and hopefully President Obama will sign this into law this year,” Heitkamp said. She added, “I have a quilt that Alyce Spotted Bear’s family gave me. When the president signs this bill it will be his and he will remember her and have her spirit.”

    Alaska Native Leaders Affirm U.S.-Canadian Mining Safety Body


    An organization of Alaska Native leaders is invoking the authority of an international commission—created by treaty more than a century ago—to help ensure that mines in British Columbia properly prevent contamination of rivers that cross from Canada into Southeast Alaska.

    The United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group, comprising 15 federally recognized Alaska Native governments, was responding to a September 8 letter from Alaska’s congressional delegation to Secretary of State John Kerry. The delegation questioned whether the U.S./Canada International Joint Commission—established by the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty—“is a suitable venue to determine whether Canadian mines are following ‘best practices’ in treatment of wastewaters and acid-producing mine tailings.”

    In response, the United Tribal group asserted that the commission is needed to ensure adequate safeguards to protect the salmon-rich Stikine, Taku and Unuk rivers from potential mining risks. The work group also wishes to avoid a repeat of the 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster, in which a copper- and goldmine tailings pond breached, releasing waste into a lake and nearby streams.

    “We don’t need more research on whether the [Joint Commission] is relevant,” said work group chairman Fred Olsen in a statement. “It has been relevant for over 100 years. When you have a tool tailor-made for the job, you should use it.”

    The six-member International Joint Commission resolves disputes related to waters shared by the U.S. and Canada, including the Great Lakes and the Columbia River. Its purview now includes eight international agreements related to water and air quality.

    Violence Escalates In Indigenous Fight Against Panama Dam


    Indigenous Ngabe protesters in Panama are charging that authorities have recently opened reservoir floodgates to wash away their homes, deployed police to shoot at them, and unleashed attack dogs—all in response to their ongoing struggle to prevent a massive hydroelectric dam on their land.

    The activists and their allies have been fighting against the Barrio Blanco Hydroelectric Dam project since 2011, charging that it would displace hundreds of families and cause environmental damage. But clashes with the government have escalated since August 22, when both Ngabe-Bugle Chief Silvia Carrera and Panama President Juan Carlos Varela signed an accord that was meant to put the conflict to rest. However, protests began anew the next day, with Ngabe activists asserting that communities directly affected by the project were not consulted.

    “We do not agree with the accord,” said Ricardo Miranda, a spokesman for the National Youth Council of Panama, on August 23. He also said that Carrera did “not have the legal right to sign that accord” and that Varela was “behind the violence.” By earlier this month, Ngabe protesters had staged several demonstrations. One of them took place in the town of Gualaquita, where on August 25-26 close to 20 indigenous and several National Police officers were wounded and five arrested.

    Protests have been staged at the University of Panama in Panama City and at other sites. The Human Rights Network of Panama, representing 25 environmental, legal, ethnic and religious advocacy groups, has requested that the Panamanian government suspend the Barrio Blanco project. The organization is also calling for an independent commission to investigate potential environmental and human rights violations.


    ICT News


    Plans Announced To Proceed With Navajo Uranium Mine Cleanup


    Federal officials took the first step last week toward a planned $1 billion cleanup of abandoned uranium mines in and around the Navajo Nation, seeking bids to assess the problem and begin planning the project.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects to use about $85 million for the planning, part of a nearly $1 billion settlement with Kerr-McGee Corp., later Tronox Inc., which operated mines in Arizona and New Mexico.

    “This is only one element of a much larger project since 2008,” said Clancy Tenley, the EPA official who is directing the cleanup program in the Navajo Nation. “EPA and five other agencies have invested more than $100 million in cleaning up and assessing abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation.”

    The EPA has put out a request for proposals to start planning the cleanup of about 50 former Kerr-McGee mines, the latest step in a years-long effort by tribal and federal officials to clean up more than 500 abandoned mines in the region. These areas in northeastern Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Utah are peppered with abandoned mines as well as sites filled with mining waste, some with potentially dangerous levels of gamma radiation.

    “Although there are 523 mines, over the last several years we’ve worked together with the Navajo Nation to find the worst ones,” Tenley said. “We’ve prioritized these.” That resulted in a list of 46 mines that are close to homes and have high levels of radiation or are close to water sources. Nine of those sites have already been cleaned, Tenley said.

    Federal Judge Rules in Favor of North Fork Rancheria Casino

    The North Fork Rancheria cleared a major hurdle in its ongoing attempt to open a casino adjacent to Highway 99 a few miles north of Madera, California, when a federal judge dismissed a legal challenge dating from 2012.

    The challenge had been filed by the interest group Stand Up for California!, church-related groups in Madera County, and the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, which owns the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino on reservation lands about 30 miles from the proposed Madera County site. These parties have contested the project since at least 2005, when the North Fork Rancheria formally applied to have the Madera County land taken into trust. In 2011 the Interior Department approved the North Fork tribe’s request. Among other claims, the Picayune argued that the North Fork Rancheria lacked a historical connection to the Madera site.

    But in a 170-page decision issued on September 6, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell dismissed that charge, based on the tribe’s 1851 treaty. “While the plaintiffs’ many concerns about the impending casino development are understandable, the law is not on their side,” Howell wrote. She added, “The casino will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the people and the land in that county, with the hope that it will benefit economically the Indian tribe undertaking its development.”

    The gaming facility would be situated on a 305-acre parcel and equipped with 2,500 gaming machines, six bars, three restaurants, a food court, a 200-room hotel tower, and 4,500 parking spaces. In July, the Interior Department approved a federal gaming compact with the North Fork Rancheria.

    Dakota Access Ties Prompt Indigo Girls To Scratch Native Music Fest


    The Indigo Girls will not perform again at the Cherokee Creek Music Festival following their realization that its owner and operator, Kelcy Warren, is the chief executive officer of the energy giant whose subsidiary is building the Dakota Access Pipeline.

    The Indigo Girls, a Grammy Award-winning folk duo, had played the music festival twice before. They had also performed on an album affiliated with Music Road Records, a label owned by Warren, who is CEO of Energy Transfer Partners. Energy Transfer Partners is the parent company of Dakota Access LLC.

    “We did not make the connection between Mr. Warren and the destructive company he runs,” the group announced on September 8. “We will not play the festival again, and our attention has been and will continue to focus on fully supporting the effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

    They added, “In 1993 we co-founded Honor the Earth with Winona LaDuke with the goal of creating awareness and support for Native environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities.”

    The Indigo Girls are not the only musicians with ties to Warren who have publicly opposed him. One of Music Road’s co-founders, the popular Austin singer-songwriter Jimmy LaFave, recently said, “I have known Kelcy Warren for over 20 years. He is a Republican and I am a yellow dog Democrat. We disagree on the pipeline.”

    Music Road also produced an album by the singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, who has since stated, “I do not play for companies who defile nature, or companies who attack demonstrators with trained attack dogs and pepper spray.”

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    Appeals Court Stops Pipeline Work

    Decision is ordered pending tribal appeal


    Bottom Line: Victories for the Standing Rock Sioux in their fight against the Dakota Access oil pipeline are continuing to mount.

    Dakota Access resisters have held firm at the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock.

    Matika Wilbur

    screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-12-27-53-pmA federal appeals court has ordered the company building the Dakota Access oil pipeline to stop construction for 20 miles on both sides of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe while the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s appeal of its denied motion to do so is considered.

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ District of Columbia Circuit ordered on September 16 that “Dakota Access LLC be enjoined pending further order of the court from construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline for 20 miles on both sides of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.”

    The panel explained, “The purpose of this administrative injunction is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for injunction pending appeal and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion.”

    This directive solidifies a request by three federal agencies on September 9 for Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access LLC, to cease construction along the same swathe, which the Standing Rock Sioux say contains sacred artifacts and ancient burial grounds.

    Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault expressed relief at the decision. “The Tribe appreciates this brief reprieve from pipeline construction and will continue to oppose this project, which will severely jeopardize its water and cultural resources. We will not rest until our lands, people, waters, and sacred sites are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline.”

    Attorneys for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe—which has signed on as an intervenor in the case—faced off with Dakota Access LLC attorneys on September 15 in federal district court in Washington, before the three-judge panel that will also hear the appeal. The judges are Janice Rogers Brown, Thomas B. Griffith and Cornelia T.L. Pillard. They voted 2-1 to stop the company from working, according to the order, with Brown casting the dissenting vote.

    The tribe filed its appeal after U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg on September 9 denied the tribe’s request for an injunction against the pipeline.

    The court’s decision was one of several legal victories for the Standing Rock Sioux on September 16. On that day, a Bismarck judge dissolved a temporary restraining order on protesting that had been levied against Archambault II, Tribal Council Member Dana Yellow Fat, and several other tribal members.

    Also on September 16, the tribe obtained an official permit to use federal lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers near Lake Oahe on the Missouri River, allowing the tribe to “gather to engage in a lawful free speech demonstration on Federal lands designated in the permit,” the Corps announced.

    Omaha District Commander Col. John W. Henderson of the Army Corps of Engineers—one of the three federal agencies that had urged a halt to construction—delivered the approval of the permit application.

    “The Tribe’s Special Use Permit application requested use of lands to the north and south of the mouth of the Cannonball River,” the Corps said in a statement. “However, because the northern property is subject to an existing grazing lease, this portion of the application is not being acted on at this time.”

    The permit enables project opponents, who are now widely known as “water protectors,” to continue gathering where they have been camped out since mid-August, and to use the land for “lawful purposes,” the Corps said.

    “Thousands of people have peacefully gathered in prayer and solidarity against the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Archambault in the Army Corps statement. “We appreciate the cooperation of the Corps in protecting the First Amendment rights of all water protectors.”

    The tribe will take on site maintenance, pay for any damage or necessary restoration, provide liability insurance and be responsible for welfare, safety and supervision of those using the land. The Standing Rock Sioux also agree to restore the land to its original condition when they are done.

    Henderson said the Corps was committed to its relationship with Standing Rock and stressed its “deep respect for the traditions, culture, and concerns of all Native American Tribes.”

    “Among our many diverse missions is managing and conserving our natural resources,” he said. “I want to encourage those who are using the permitted area to be good stewards and help us to protect these valuable resources.”

    Dakota Access Protests Continue

    ‘All of us as human beings are part of nature’


    Bottom Line: The Dakota Access pipeline may be on hold but if anything, opposition is growing.

    Opponents prepared for a prayer walk in North Dakota . . .

    Sarah Sunshine Manning

    screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-4-36-12-pmFrom Washington, D.C. to North Dakota, protests continued last week against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, following an effective halt by three federal agencies to the massive energy project.

    More than two dozen pipeline opponents were arrested near Mandan, North Dakota last week. September 13 was designated a “Day of Action” that also saw a rally of about 500 people in front of the White House that was highlighted by the appearance of former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.


    “If there is one profound lesson that the Native American people have taught us, it is that all of us as human beings are part of nature,” Sanders said. “Our species will not survive if we continue to destroy nature, so today we stand united in saying, ‘Stop the pipeline, respect Native American rights, and let us move forward to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.’”

    The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has led the charge against the pipeline, which would cost $3.8 billion, stretch 1,172 miles, and be routed underneath the Missouri River, the source of the tribe’s drinking water.

    But over the summer, many politicians, celebrities, environmentalists and other critics have come out against the project as well. They have cited Native rights and the environmental implications of continuing to extract oil in the face of climate change.


    “As a nation, our job is to break our addiction to fossil fuels, not increase our dependence on oil,” Sanders said. “I join with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the many tribal nations fighting this dangerous pipeline.”

    On September 9, the departments of Justice and the Interior, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, effectively froze progress on Dakota Access. In a joint statement, the agencies urged renewed federal action that would “ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights.”

    Project opponents, now widely known as “water protectors,” hailed the announcement even as they stepped up their activism at encampments along the route. On September 13 and 14, a number of them chained themselves to heavy equipment at two construction sites.

    “Law enforcement began to arrive within the hour, followed by a large bus load of police dressed in full riot gear,” Red Warrior Camp said of the September 13 altercations. “An initial police line was formed with officers toting pellet guns. Filing in behind them was a second line of officers pointing large semi-automatic rifles.”



    . . . while in Washington, D.C., allies deployed in force as well. Navajo Nation Washington Office

    The protectors were warned they would be arrested, and most were charged with the Class B misdemeanor of criminal trespass. Those chained to equipment also were charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of a government function, according to Red Warrior Camp. In total, 28 people were arrested, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

    Energy Transfer Partners, the energy giant whose subsidiary, Dakota Access LLP, is building the pipeline, remains undeterred. “We are committed to completing construction and safely,” said chairman and CEO Kelcy Warren in a letter to employees on September 13. “We intend to meet with officials in Washington to understand their position and reiterate our commitment to bring the Dakota Access Pipeline into operation.”

    Further, the company said, it has obtained all rights of way, permits and certificates in the four states it crosses—North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa. “Nearly the entire Dakota Access pipeline route is across private land,” Warren said. “In addition, neither the land abutting nor Lake Oahe itself is subject to Native American control or ownership.”

    The company insists that the pipeline is safe and in fact parallels a gas line and other infrastructure already in place. “Concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the local water supply are unfounded,” said Warren.

    Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II was equally firm about finding a legal solution, while repeating that Dakota Access had already plowed through areas sacred to the tribe.

    “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will continue to explore all legal, legislative and administrative options to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline,” he said in response to Warren’s letter. “The pipeline has already led to the destruction of our sacred sites.”

    He added, “Energy Transfer Partners has proven time and time again that the bottom line for them is money. The bottom line for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is and always will be protecting our lands, people, water and sacred sites from the devastation of this pipeline. Our fight isn’t over until there is permanent protection of our people and resources from the pipeline.”


    An Opera In Native Voice

    The Gold Rush is the theme; Nisenan is the language


    Bottom Line: A Hamilton-type Native musical mash-up is hitting the road, with its own unique method of expression.

    Symyk’aj’ (Jack Kohler) is confronted by soldiers played by Travis Numan, Stan Padilla, Nick Demakas and Pierre Butler.

    Rocky Zapata

    Jack Kohler, the writer/composer/director of the new Native-themed opera Something Inside Is Broken, is hoping to convey “the right balance of truth and honesty, satire and optimism.” By all indications, he has the ingredients.

    Something Inside Is Broken, which begins a three-state tour on September 22, is a kaleidoscopic depiction of the encounter of the Nisenan people with Johann Sutter in the years preceding the California Gold rush. The story is told largely through the voices of female characters who bore the brunt of Sutter’s style of servitude—including sexual exploitation.

    The show got on its feet last spring with performances at Sierra College and Sacramento State. Its portrayal of local history was made richer by the local families who came to see their own stories portrayed in rock ballads, choruses and spirited raps—accompanied by strings, Native flute and trumpet, electric and acoustic guitar, piano, bass and percussion.

    It is a rock ’n’ roll, hip-hop mash-up celebration of the Nisenan people and their language, both sung and spoken. Half of the 26 original songs are performed in Nisenan because the creator, Alan Wallace is passionate about sharing it.

    “I’ve always thought the Nisenan language had the potential for a much higher level of communication than can be done in English,” he told News from Native California magazine. “It’s much more intellectual. It’s much more multi-dimensional.”


    J. Ross Parrelli is Peheipe, a central figure in the opera. Rocky Zapata

    Multi-dimensionality is a core creative principle of Something Inside Is Broken. Its scenes take place in four temporal zones:

    • 1846, the pre-Gold Rush years;
    • a genesis moment when the Worldmaker created human beings;
    • 1906, an important year in California treaty rights history;
    • “Frontier Idol,” a localized time specific to a reality television show. It could take place now or slightly in the future.

    Something Inside Is Broken is produced by On Native Ground, a tribal nonprofit multimedia company known for TV documentaries on environmental and social justice issues. The opera has received support via a GoFundMe campaign, as well as from tribal sponsors; this fall, they are the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and the Tuolumne Band of Me-wuk Indians.

    The current tour launches with three shows in Sacramento, one of which is the last event of California’s Native American Day celebration at the State Capitol. Then the cast of 24 takes to the road for a single show in Reno, Nevada and four performances at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Then it’s back to California for three performances at the Escondido Center for the Arts and one at UC-Davis.

    Natalie Benally (Navajo), who plays Pulba (“dove” in Nisenan), a woman who falls into Sutter’s clutches, thinks the show should—and can—go all the way to Broadway. Also the show’s dance captain, she signed on in part because of the opportunity to learn and explore another indigenous language besides Diné.

    Fremont’s massacre at Lassen Lake, as well as its aftermath, are depicted. Rocky Zapata

    And the music grabbed her. She fell in love with her solo, she said, even before she knew what the words meant. “It had a haunting atmosphere; there’s a hint in the music that the normality of their lives is coming to an end. I’m glad that doesn’t get sugar-coated.”

    The young actress is candid about how she brings real-life experience of both sexual abuse and assault to her role. “Colonization stripped our people of our humanity, of our ability to live,” she said. “Our bodies were in the way of expansion. It broke the spirit of a lot of people. I’ve been waiting for something like this to come about. When I was acting in school shows at Fort Lewis College, I’d think, maybe someday I’ll be able to play one of my people in a show.”

    Jack Kohler wrote the show’s finale, “Wretched Little Things,” after seeing Donald Trump perform in one of the Republican Party debates. “It’s a song about the five percent of bad people in the world, like Sutter,” he said, “who ruin everything for everyone else, and who mess up the whole world for generations to come, from the Klamath River to the Amazon River to Standing Rock, North Dakota.”

    For the cast of a show that is largely about Manifest Destiny, the events unfolding at Standing Rock are a source of inspiration during the long periods of Nisenan language instruction and rehearsal.

    “When I heard about the pepper spray and dogs being unleashed on my people at Standing Rock, I had a strong impulse to get in the car and go,” Benally said. “But what we’re doing is important too. The next morning I walked down to the river to say prayers at sunrise, burn herbs and bless the water. I realized I could connect with the water protectors in North Dakota through prayer, I could participate spiritually.”

    Her prayer was to fix the brokenness inside once and for all. “Our time to fix this is now,” she said.


    President/Chief Executive Officer

    The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) seeks a seasoned executive with extensive experience working with American Indian/Alaska Native cultures in executive leadership and management roles.

    The successful candidate must possess a high level of competency working in the nonprofit and private sector; a deep understanding of business and economic development; a demonstrated ability to lead and manage in an entrepreneurial and high-tech work environment; a strong business/finance background, solid financial oversight and management skills; and an ability to forge a constructive partnership with a nonprofit board of directors.

    At a minimum, the candidate must have a bachelor degree in business or related field (master degree preferred) or equivalent work experience, and at least 5 years’ experience successfully leading a multimillion dollar organization.

    NCAIED is national in scope, with a professional staff of 12 and an annual operating budget of 3 million dollars.  The position is based in the Phoenix, AZ area, and offers a highly competitive compensation package commensurate with experience and ability.  To view the position description go to the
    NCAIED webpage.

    Qualified candidates may submit confidentially a cover letter with specific points of interest in the position and impact in the sector, a current resume, and explicit salary requirements to Pat Parker at

    The deadline for submission is
    October 10, 2016.

    Chief Financial Officer/
    Director of Finance and Administration

    The Native American Development Corporation is a small non-profit organization located in Billings, MT.  The mission of NADC is to be a high quality sustainable business consulting and financial entrepreneurship center for the Native American Community.  NADC currently serves 6 states with an annual budget of approximately $5 million.

    The CFO/Director of Finance and Administration will be responsible for a variety of areas along with the finance and administrative functions. These include senior level financial management, grants management, contracting, planning for expansion, and facilities as well as maintaining current relationships with funding agencies and tribes.

    For a complete job description that includes minimum qualifications please visit Email resumes
    with three references to, resumes will be received
    until Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 at 5:00


    is accepting applications for trooper positions (entry level and lateral transfers).


    Obtain application materials on the Patrol’s website
    or by calling  406-444-3259 or

    Closing Date:  10-14-2016

    AA/EEO Employer

    The Week in Photos

    Style Fashion Week

    Taos Pueblo fashion designer Patricia Michaels unveiled her latest PM Waterlily collection at New York Style Fashion Week on September 10.

    John Locher/AP

    Interior Secretary Sally Jewell toured the new solar plant of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians about 40 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

    Courtesy Morongo Band Of Mission Indians

    Ty’ithreeha Allen (Yurok) is one of three Native American students who recently received a $10,000 scholarship from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.

    Courtesy Andi Laurenzi

    A coalition of 13 tribes has renewed calls to establish a national monument along the Great Bend of the Gila River to preserve an area rich in history and heritage, notably rock art.

    Headlines from the Web

    Upcoming Events


    September 26-27: Conference on Native American Nutrition
    The conference is designed to showcase innovative work being done in Indian country to improve Native American nutrition; to bring together Native American leaders, academics, and public health workers to build new partnerships; and to candidly explore ways to overcome the existing obstacles to greater understanding between indigenous and academic scientific knowledge. More than 30 experts in indigenous food, nutrition and health will be featured.
    Location: Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Prior Lake, Minnesota

    September 26-27: Indigenous International Repatriation Conference
    Conducted by the Association on American Indian Affairs, “Shifting the Burden” will address cultural and human rights issue related to international repatriation of Indigenous Peoples. Plenary and breakout sessions will be devoted to such topics as leadership, museums, federal tools, import/export procedures, the respect of ancestors, intertribal investigative units and law enforcement, and the establishment of resolutions, delegates and plans.
    Location: Isleta Resort & Casino, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    September 26-29: Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Convention
    The 63rd annual convention will cover such general areas as economic development, climate change, Indian child welfare, higher education and tribal curriculum in public schools. Specific attention will be given to, among other subjects, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Portland Area Indian Health Service, AMERIND critical infrastructure and the Doctrine of Discovery.
    Location: Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip, Washington

    September 27-29: First Nations L.E.A.D. Institute Conference
    The 21st annual conference will continue its tradition as the premier gathering for Native American nonprofit professionals, tribal leaders and those who work in tribal organizations, tribal economic development, and Native American philanthropy or food sovereignty. Training tracks will be offered in “Nourishing Native Foods & Health,” “Investing in Native Youth” and “Strengthening Tribal and Community Institutions.”
    Location: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, Catoosa, Oklahoma

    September 27-29: NICWA Training Institute
    The National Indian Child Welfare Association will offer training in different aspects of and approaches to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). “ICWA Basics With Regulations Update” will offer a brief policy history and practice tips for both tribal and state social workers; “Advanced ICWA” is a third-day option that will convey information on how to successfully integrate other federal and state policies that interface with ICWA. Another training track, “Positive Indian Parenting,” will prepare tribal and non-tribal child welfare personnel to train American Indian and Alaska Native parents using a culturally specific approach.
    Location: Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    Letters to the Editor

    Re “Watching the Feds” by Ruth Hopkins, about government monitoring and surveillance of Natives (August 9):

    Ms. Hopkins wrote, “There is something in us that they do not have and that they greatly fear.” I hope and trust that she realizes that at least some born-and-raised citizens of European descent share the same concerns about this very issue. And some of us do realize that there is “something in [you] that [we] do not have”—but greatly wish we did.

    Thank you for the article. It has been shared with others who are unlikely to even know about Indian Country Today Media Network.

    —C. Bieneman
    Forston, Georgia


    The Winona Dakota Unity Alliance has passed a resolution in support of the Protectors at Standing Rock and Cannonball. At the annual gathering this past weekend, people donated supplies and funds, and many plan to keep doing so for the duration of the protest.

    Why can corporations use law enforcement to keep people off of their property but we, the people, can’t use law enforcement to keep the corporations out of our property—namely the water we drink and the air we breathe?

    —Donna Buckbee
    Winona, Minnesota



    Top News Alerts


    The House Natural Resources Committee has voted 23-13 to grant federal recognition to the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan and Nansemond tribes of Virginia, which are currently recognized by the state but not the federal government. The vote was part of a package of bills that would give Congress ultimate federal recognition authority, which is now held by the executive and judicial branches. The measure now advances to the full House and Senate.


    The federal government has denied reports that it will kill or sell the 45,000 wild horses and donkeys currently in its custody. The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board had recommended the winnowing, drawing outrage from the Humane Society of the United States and eliciting more than 100,000 protesting signatures in an online petition. But a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management said last week that there was “no change in our current policy” and that there were no plans “to slaughter or put down healthy horses.”


    Three Native artists are among this year’s nine recipients of the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) National Heritage Fellowship. They are flute-player and maker Bryan Akipa (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), blanket weaver Clarissa Rizal (Tlingit), and basket maker Theresa Secord (Penobscot), a co-founder of the Maine Indian Basketmaker’s Alliance. The National Heritage Fellowship is the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts; the recipients will be recognized at an awards ceremony on September 28 in Washington, D.C.


    Columbia University will install a bronze plaque acknowledging the Lenape people, who populated Manhattan pre-contact, on its New York City campus. The Native American Council, a student organization, first requested the plaque in 2013. “It was something that we worked towards for a long time,” said Tristan Stidham, the group’s co-political chair. “It’s nice to see that Native peoples and their history are being acknowledged by the administration.” The plaque will be installed in October.


    Residents of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana last week greeted the first laundromat to open on their territory in almost 10 years. The reservation had been without one since 2007 when Ardyce Stennerson, manager of the Chicken Coop facility, died in a car crash and her husband gave up the business, the Billings Gazette reported. It is estimated that only about 10 percent of Northern Cheyenne residents have washers and dryers in their homes.

    How Did I Miss That?

    Rick Perry on the dance floor, vegetarian blasphemy
    and electing the dead


    Photo courtesy Steve Russell Steve Russell

    The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Assemblyman Bill Nojay, a four-year incumbent, was scheduled to appear in federal court September 9 on fraud charges. Instead, he committed suicide. In spite of his death, Nojay beat a living candidate, Rick Milne, in the Republican Primary. The dead candidate was polling 58 percent of the vote with 88 percent of the districts counted.

    My Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller was not shocked that somebody accused of fraud could win. “But,” he said, “I was pretty sure that being dead would slow him down.”

    * * *

    WLOS reported that five people were arrested at a Donald Trump rally in Asheville, North Carolina and that warrants are outstanding for two more. One was reportedly for Richard Campbell of Edisto Island, South Carolina for assaulting 69-year-old Shirley Teter, who uses a portable oxygen mask. When punched in the face, Teter fell on her oxygen tank. After being interviewed by WLOS News 13, she followed up with a phone call. She wanted to know if the station could ask Trump supporters if punching her in the face was “deplorable.”

    “When the cops serve that warrant,” Cousin Ray observed, “they’ll need to know which basket he goes in.”

    * * *

    Mediaite reported on former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s debut on Dancing With the Stars. Reportedly, he was running dead last in Las Vegas odds. His professional coach, Emma Slater, suggested it was an advantage to be “building his dancing from the bottom up.” Judges’ comments on his routine told the story from “not exactly subtle” to “when in doubt—go full out!”

    “Every day he’s practicing,” Cousin Ray said with an approving nod, “is a day he’s not campaigning for Donald Trump.”

    * * *

    Cody Morris, 18, was observed using a water cup for soda pop in a McDonald’s in Springdale, Arkansas. At that point, he needed to pay for the soda if the management would allow that or face a minor theft charge. Instead, he ran outside and got into his car. He then backed into pursuing Mickey D employees. Theft plus violence equals robbery, and robbery is a felony. Instead of a small fine, Morris is now facing prison time.

    Cousin Ray played the irony card: “Everybody knows how comfortable Arkansas prisons are.”

    * * *

    I noticed in the Raleigh Agenda that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) sent Lori Ann Phillips a letter threatening to revoke her custom license plate that she has used since 2004. Somebody complained it was “offensive and in poor taste.” The plate was kumquat.

    Ms. Phillips is in the habit of naming her vehicles and getting personalized plates not for herself but for the vehicles. In this case, kumquat follows a truck named papaya; in the past, Ms. Phillips has driven mango and peaches.

    In Australia, her current vehicle would be spelled cumquat, which might have caused some confusion. But the NCDOT has announced on Twitter that they “verified that kumquat is in fact a fruit.” So the plate will not be revoked. Cousin Ray wanted to know if they referred the complainant to mental health services.

    * * *

    Agence France-Presse reported that Alay Dave has brought a lawsuit in a Gujarati, India court to have Pokemon Go banned for blasphemy. The complaint is that the game offends the religious sensibilities of Hindus and Jains because it rewards players with virtual eggs. Jains are vegan and many Hindus are vegetarian.

    In related news, a Russian blogger has been criminally charged with offending religious believers and inciting hatred because he filmed himself playing Pokemon Go in a church.

    “There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray intoned, “that the Russian has asked Donald Trump to intercede with Vladimir Putin.”

    * * *

    Democracy Now! tells us that California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that will mandate overtime for farm workers who work over 40 hours a week . . . by 2019.

    The Fair Labor Standards Act did that for most people in 1938. The National Labor Relations Act protected the right to join a union for most people in 1935, but farm workers were cut out of that as well. And that is why César Chávez asked us to boycott table grapes in the ‘60s.

    Back in the day, I guess I was as offended by scab grapes as a Jain in Gujarat would be offended by a virtual egg.

    Upcoming Pow Wows


    Standing Bear 23rd Annual Pow Wow

    601 Standing Bear Parkway
    Ponca City, OK
    580-762-1514 or 580-762-3148

    Morongo Thunder and Lightning Pow Wow

    Morongo Band of Mission Indians, 12700 Pumarra Road
    Banning, CA

    Kauai 18th Annual Pow Wow

    4-1464 Kuhio Hwy
    Kapaa, HI

    Noxen 12th Annual Fall Pow Wow

    3493 Stull Road
    Noxen, PA

    Natick and Ponkapoag Praying Indian Pow Wow Harvest Celebration

    Cochituate State Park
    43 Commonwealth Rd. (Rte 30)
    Natick, MA

    Mount Juliet 35th Annual Pow Wow

    300 Mundy Memorial Blvd
    Mount Juliet, TN

    Metrolina Native American Association Indian Trail Pow Wow

    Carolina Courts
    240 Chestnut Parkway
    Indian Trail, NC

    Fort Omaha 25th Annual Inter-Tribal Pow Wow, “Strengthening the Circle”

    Metropolitan Community College, Fort Omaha Campus
    5300 North 30th Street
    Omaha, NE

    Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center 38th Annual Pow Wow

    120 Charles Street
    Dorseyville, PA
    412-782-4457 or

    21st Annual Midwest Soaring Foundation22nd Annual Harvest Pow Wow

    Naper Settlement
    523 S. Webster Street
    Naperville, IL

    Redding Rancheria Stillwater Pow Wow

    1890 Briggs Street
    Anderson, CA

    Meherrin Indian Nation 28th Annual Pow Wow

    852 Highway 11 North
    Ahoskie, NC

    Last Chance Community Pow Wow

    98 W. Custer Avenue
    Helena, MT

    Comanche Nation 25th Annual Fair

    Comanche Nation Headquarters
    584 NW Bingo Road
    Lawton, OK

    Honolulu 42nd Annual Intertribal Pow Wow

    925 South Beretania Street
    Honolulu, HI
    808-392-4479 or 808-392-4487

    Chumash 21st Annual Inter-Tribal Pow Wow

    Live Oak Campground
    4650 Highway 154
    Santa Ynez, CA

    The Big Picture

    A Western Apache seed mix fritter on honey-braised butternut squash is on the White Mountain Apache chef Nephi Craig’s menu at the Sunrise Park Resort. Andi Murphy