Issue 39, October 5, 2016

    A Letter from the Publisher


    Shekóli. Naturally, much of the chatter about the upcoming presidential elections in the United States is concerned with what the next president will bring to the White House. Sometimes lost in the conversation is what will be missed—specifically, the policies and leadership of Barack Obama. In Indian country, it is hard to imagine a better president for Natives and all too easy to imagine worse.

    Yes, the usual caveats apply. The government-to-government relation-ship between Indian nations and the U.S. is fraught even when there is a positive working relationship. So much history and so many financial inequities must be overcome. In the face of bureaucratic interference, we must strive to act sovereign and fight the pressure to be viewed as “domestic dependent” nations.

    That said, the Obama administration should be justifiably proud of the progress it made in improving relations. As reported in this week’s lead article, a valedictory air permeated President Obama’s eighth and final Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. I have had the honor of sitting with the president and other tribal leaders at an earlier conference, and can attest to the critical and productive dialogue fostered at the event. As in the past, this year the White House unveiled new developments, such as a $492 million settlement with 17 tribes over federal mismanagement of resources, and another step forward in making Bureau of Indian Education schools accountable to the Navajo Nation government.

    Most important, President Obama has repeatedly emphasized the personal quality of his connection to Indian country, which began on the campaign trail with his adoption by the Crow Nation and was cemented during an emotional visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe territory. It is also worth noting his leadership in speaking out against the racist mascot of the Washington football team. “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team—even if it had a storied history—that was offending a sizeable group of people,” he said in 2013, “I’d think about changing it.”

    This week, he again communicated directly to Indian country with a commentary first published exclusively by Indian Country Today Media Network and included here. The president surveys the state of affairs between Natives and America, and applauds “those who are willing to organize and mobilize, and keep pushing for justice and opportunity.”

    The intent is more than appreciated.

    NΛ ki wa,

    Ray Halbritter


    On My Final White House Tribal Nations Conference

    Editor’s Note: Last week’s White House Tribal Nations Conference was marked by major policy changes and announcements that are covered elsewhere in this issue. President Barack Obama has issued his own personal statement on the proceedings, which we here reproduce in its entirety and to which we devote this entire opinion page:


    This week, I hosted my eighth and final White House Tribal Nations Conference as President, a tradition we started in 2009 to create a platform for people across many tribes to be heard. It was a remarkable testament to how far we’ve come.

    It was just eight years ago when I visited the Crow Nation in Montana and made a promise to Indian country to be a partner in a true nation-to-nation relationship, so that we could give all of our children the future they deserve.

    With the help of so many individuals across the government and across the country, we made good on that promise. That’s not to say that we’ve solved every issue, or righted every wrong.  But thanks to a strong and growing partnership between the federal government and tribal nations across the country, together, we’ve made significant progress.

    We began by elevating Native American Affairs within the White House and across the federal government. By creating the White House Council of Native American Affairs, we instituted a Cabinet-level focus on Indian country that has involved tribal nations in the decision-making process on issues that give all of our leaders and youth the future they deserve.

    We’ve restored nearly 470,000 acres of tribal homelands to their original owners. And by signing the historic Cobell settlement into law, we established the Land Buy-Back Program, a $9 billion fund to consolidate individual Indian lands and restore them to tribal trusts.

    We’ve strengthened tribal sovereignty and protected women in Indian country by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, so that tribes can prosecute those who commit domestic violence, whether they’re Native American or not. And we’ve also worked to protect equal justice under the law, giving more power to tribal courts and police.

    We’ve created jobs and expanded opportunity by investing in clean energy projects and the infrastructure that connects tribal communities to the broader economy. We’ve worked to secure quality, affordable health care for more people in Indian Country through the Affordable Care Act, including the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

    And by investing in job training and tribal colleges and universities, we’re helping to prepare our young people to meet the demands of a global economy.

    All the while, we’ve worked to return control of Indian education to tribal nations and incorporate their own history, language, and culture into their curriculum. Our Native youth deserve to both preserve their cultural heritage and secure a future as bright as any American child without having to leave the land of their fathers and mothers. That’s why, through Generation Indigenous, we’ve worked to connect more of our young people to each other for more opportunities down the road.

    But this progress doesn’t end with my presidency. We need to continue the conversation and stay focused on tackling the important challenges facing Indian country. True and lasting progress depends on all of us – not just whoever sits in the Oval Office, but also those who are willing to organize and mobilize and keep pushing for justice and opportunity.

    Our country has accomplished so much in the past eight years, and our tribal nations have been central to that progress. And I’m optimistic that we’re just getting started. Together, building on our strong nation-to-nation partnership, we can create a future worthy of the seven generations, where all of our children have a chance to make of their lives what they will.

     ICT News

    kenneth-dennis_sixthpage_updated_for-web-3Tribes Are Awarded $492 Million In Major Federal Settlement 


    The federal government will pay $492 million to 17 tribes to settle longstanding disputes over mismanagement of natural resources and other tribal assets. The Interior and Justice departments announced the news last week as President Obama held his eighth and final White House Tribal Nations Conference.

    The settlements help resolve more than 100 lawsuits totaling more than $3.3 billion brought by Native individuals and tribal governments, spanning more than a century of alleged mismanagement.

    At the heart of the settlement are broken trust agreements, some of them made generations ago. Under trust agreements, the government promised that tribes would receive “just compensation” for their lands or natural resources, including lands leased for timber, agriculture or oil and gas extraction. Among the 17 tribes that will benefit from the settlement are the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, the Colorado River Indian Tribe, the Gila River Indian Community, the Muscogee Creek Nation, the Penobscot Indian Nation and the Pueblo of Acoma.

    “This is an important achievement that will end, honorably and fairly, decades of contention that not only sapped valuable resources but also strained relationships,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates. Calling the settlement “historical,” Melody McCoy (Cherokee), a staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, said, “We expected these cases to be in litigation forever against the federal government. Settlements weren’t anything we expected until a guy named Barack Obama changed all that.”

    The Interior Department manages roughly 56 million acres of trust lands for federally recognized tribes and oversees more than 100,000 leases on those lands.


    Myaamia Language Preservationist Wins MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’


    Daryl Baldwin of the Miami (Myaamia) Tribe, who has helped reclaim the linguistic, cultural and intellectual heritage of his nation, is one of this year’s 23 winners of the prestigious $625,000 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, popularly known as the “genius grant.”

    “I was completely blown away,” said Baldwin, the founding director of what is now the Myaamia Center at Miami University in Ohio, upon learning of the award.

    Baldwin founded the center in 2001 as the Myaamia Project; it is devoted to conducting research to assist educators in preserving and teaching the Myaamia language and culture, as well as offering instructional opportunities for students. Although the last native Myaamia speaker passed away in the 1960s—around the time Baldwin was born—he was inspired to learn more about the language after coming across some old Myaamia papers belonging to his grandfather. He taught himself Myaamia, then home schooled his four children in the language; today, they are fluent speakers.

    Baldwin and his colleagues have researched such subjects as harvesting practices, seasonal activities and diets; the landscape and land uses of the traditional homeland; the traditional Myaamia lunar calendar; and Myaamia ethnobotany practices. They have also developed curricula and training materials for teaching and learning the Miami language.

    “I haven’t quite wrapped my head around what the fellowship will mean for us,” said Baldwin. “The Myaamia Center has been a 20-year effort for the tribe, Miami University, staff and myself. I need time to consult with them about how we can move forward.”


    In Federal Agreement, Navajo Gain Greater Control Of Their Education


    The Obama administration has approved the first phase of the Navajo Nation’s historic request to gain greater autonomy over its schools. Effectively, the agreement will permit the nation to take greater control of student education under a single system of standards, assessments and accountability.

    The new arrangement, coordinated through the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and the Interior Department, will unite 66 BIE-funded schools in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. The agreement specifically permits the Navajo to:

    • Adopt and implement the same set of college-and-career-ready content standards in reading/language, arts, and mathematics in all its schools, rather than implementing the standards and assessments of each individual state where schools are located;
    • Select and administer an assessment that will be comparable across Navajo schools in the three states in question;
    • Set and use its own high school graduation rate targets and attendance for elementary and middle schools in its accountability system.

    At the signing ceremony on September 27 in Washington, D.C., which was attended by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye thanked the administration. “We want a world class education system for our children and future generations,” he said. “Our responsibility as a sovereign Nation is to challenge our young minds to reach their highest potential, as they are our future leaders.” But he cautioned, “This plan is not a quick fix.”

    As part of the initiative, the Obama administration is issuing two new rounds of federal grants totaling nearly $25 million to support Native youth and educators.

    ICT News

    Hualapai Leader Backs Proposed Water Deal Before Senate Committee


    A proposed 70-mile, $173 million water project would lay the groundwork for expansion of Grand Canyon West and increased tourism in Arizona, the chairman of the Hualapai Tribe told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

    The Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2016, said Damon Clarke on September 21, will also preserve the tribe’s dwindling source of groundwater by allocating 4,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water per year to the tribe.

    “The nearest groundwater to Grand Canyon West is 35 miles away, and that supply is barely adequate for current operations, and completely inadequate for growth,” Clarke said. “With additional water, the tribe could take advantage of the potential for further development that would provide additional jobs for tribal members and non-Indians, as well as revenues for our tribal government.”

    But the Interior Department expressed “significant concerns” about the cost of the project and the “relatively small amount of water” it would deliver. Assistant Secretary Larry Roberts also suggested that the bill’s language could generate “substantial litigation.”

    However, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) said the legislation provides “significant but fair” benefits to the tribe, while ensuring that communities outside the region are not shortchanged on their water needs. Flake, who introduced the bill with fellow Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, also agreed with Clarke that the project would bring essential tourism revenue by boosting business at the tribally owned Grand Canyon West. “Without access to additional, reliable water supplies,” he said, “we are unable to realize its full potential.”

    The bill would allocate $134.5 million in federal funds to build the project and put $39 million in trust for maintenance and “technical assistance” from the Interior Department.


    Repatriation Advocates Cite Successes And Challenges


    Tribes are making strides in repatriating cultural artifacts from overseas even though challenges remain, panelists at a recent conference said. They credited the monitoring of digital art databases, public appeals, education about Native culture, and federal assistance with recent repatriation successes.

    “Indian country should feel very proud,” said Acoma Pueblo attorney Greg Smith at the Association on American Indian Affairs’ (AAIA) second International Repatriation Project conference, held September 26-27 at the Isleta Resort and Casino in New Mexico. The Acoma Pueblo successfully appealed to French officials to stop the sale of a shield used in religious ceremonies that was slated for a Paris auction in May.

    “But the area is so sensitive for all parties,” Smith acknowledged. “It’s psychological ball. It’s approaching it from that humility that comes from the items themselves and the connections to the tribes.”

    Looting on tribal and federal lands continues to be a black-market problem, leading AAIA’s International Repatriation Project Director Honor Keeler to suggest that new laws may be needed to augment the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. While Congress has stepped up protection efforts, many tribes remain frustrated by such barriers as a lack of funding, insufficient resources, language gaps, complex foreign laws, and misinterpretation of what the items mean to Native people.

    “For the people in Paris, for a lot of collectors, they see it as art,” Acoma Tribal Secretary Jonathan Sims said. “A lot of our people see these items as living objects. It has a spirit and there is a particular use for them.”

    As many as two million cultural items and sets of human remains are abroad, the AAIA estimated.


    Indigenous Issues Raised At Global Conservation Conference


    Despite the importance of protected areas, Indigenous Peoples are still fighting for their ability to maintain their way of life and their efforts to preserve the planet, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples told an international conference last month.

    “There is an uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, big industries, dams, mining and oil companies,” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz told the quadrennial congress of the International Union for The Conservation of Nation [IUCN] World Conservation Congress, which took place from September 1-10 in Honolulu, Hawaii. “[It is] affecting even the most sensitive ecosystems in the world.” She called such conduct contraindicated “because what we need to do is to reinforce the traditional knowledge and traditional systems.”

    In addition, Tauli-Copruz spoke of efforts that indigenous communities have made to secure the full recognition of their rights. These efforts have lead to some advances, she said, while in other cases they have not been acknowledged and have sometimes resulted in rights being revoked and even denounced.

    The congress also saw the creation of a new category of membership for Indigenous Peoples’ organizations and a call “for all protected areas to be considered as no-go areas for environmentally damaging industrial activities and infrastructure developments.” The membership emphasized the rights of the indigenous as a top priority, “to ensure their free, prior and informed consent in relation to activities in sacred natural sites and territories.”

    The IUCN comprises 217 state and government agencies, 1,066 non-governmental organizations, and networks of over 16,000 experts worldwide.

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    A President’s Indian Valedictory

    ‘Together, we’ve strengthened your sovereignty’


    Bottom Line: Barack Obama, Native Americans’ greatest friend in the White House in a generation, took a well-deserved victory lap last week—and unveiled some final grand gestures.

    At the conference, the president accepted a traditional blanket and the cedar hat of National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby (right).

    Alex Hamer

    Politicians make big promises to get elected. Getting them to deliver on those promises can be hard.

    Over the past eight years, however, Indian country has learned that Barack Obama is not a typical politician. He has delivered on many pledges he made when he first ran for president eight years ago, as well as on many others he made once in office. He has taken the time to understand the issues facing countless Natives across North America and has opened his heart to them as well.

    This was clear at Obama’s eighth—and final—Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, convened on September 26 in Washington, D.C. The conference is a legacy of a vow the president made during a visit to the Crow Nation in May 2008—to host an annual summit where tribal policy toward Indian country would be set.

    Obama’s final summit was bittersweet, and it was marked by a series of major announcements:

    • The Interior and Justice Departments announced a $492 million payment among 17 tribes to settle longstanding disputes over the mismanagement of natural resources and other assets.
    • The White House hosted the second annual Tribal Youth Gathering as part of the Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) movement, whereby hundreds of Native youth have worked with federal agencies and officials to enhance their leadership skills.
    • The administration approved the first phase of the Navajo Nation’s request to implement an alternative system of accountability for schools.

    These initiatives brought home the outreach and empathy that this White House has brought to Indian country over eight years. That spirit was exemplified by the 2014 visit that President Obama and his wife, Michelle, made to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation, where students spoke of how alcoholism, poverty and suicide had scarred their lives. Both the president and the First Lady cried that day, with Obama later saying that these young people were “carrying burdens no young person should ever have to carry.”

    The visit, the Washington Post noted, “spurred Obama to tell his administration to aggressively build on efforts to overhaul the Indian educational system and focus on improving conditions for Native American youths.”

    When the president took the stage at his last tribal summit last week, National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby wrapped him in a traditional blanket, then took off his cedar hat and placed it on the commander-in-chief’s head. With a huge smile, Obama tipped the hat to the crowd.

    “What a kind gesture,” he said. “I’m also very glad that you also have a blanket for Michelle so she doesn’t steal mine. She would, too. I’m just saying.”

    Obama then reviewed eight years of accomplishments. He spoke of the restoration of 428,000 acres of tribal homelands, the $1.9 billion Cobell Land Buy-Back program, and the reauthorization of VAWA.

    “Together, we’ve strengthened your sovereignty, reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act so that tribes can prosecute those who commit domestic violence against women in Indian Country, whether they’re Native American or not,” he said. “We’ve worked to ensure your right to equal justice under the law, and given more power to tribal courts and police.”

    He also spoke of how the government would continue to invest in clean energy, maintain the push to get rural communities high-speed Internet access, keep focused on affordable healthcare for Indian country, and affirm the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

    His administration, Obama added, had invested in job training and tribal colleges and universities, and had worked to return control of Indian education to tribal nations.

    “As we prepare our young people for the demands of a global economy, we’re also teaching them their own language and their own culture,” he said. “Because we believe that all our Native youth deserve a future as bright as any American child, without having to leave the land of their fathers and mothers. That’s what’s driven our work.”

    Interrupted several times by bursts of applause and laughter, he said, “Today, the most important thing I want to say is thank you. After almost eight years as your president, I have been so privileged to learn from you and spend time with many of you. My trips to your nations and communities are days that I will never forget.”

    When Obama was first running for the White House, Lindsay Early of the Comanche Nation wrote to him, explaining that she had screamed with joy while listening to him speak. He hearkened to that letter last week.

    “Lindsay,” he said, “I want you to know that I heard you. I didn’t forget you. And I want everybody in this auditorium and all the folks back home in your respective communities to know that this whole time, I’ve heard you. I have seen you. And I hope I’ve done right by you. And I hope I’ve set a direction that others will follow.

    “Thank you all for your partnership. Thank you for this journey.”

    Is This Really Consultation?

    ‘We should have an opportunity to have a say’


    Bottom Line: The Dakota Access project has raised larger questions about the federal tribal consulting process and longstanding tribal treatment—as a recent congressional forum demonstrated.

    Giving testimony at the forum were (l. to r.) Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II, Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier, Lakota elder Faith Spotted Eagle, Apache Stronghold founder Wendsler Nosie Sr., and youth representative Gracey Claymore.


    Against the backdrop of the Dakota Access oil pipeline standoff, five Lakota and Apache leaders last month offered trenchant and emotional testimony before Democratic members of the House of Representatives.

    Held on September 22 in Washington, D.C., the forum—conducted by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources—was ostensibly a discussion of the federal permissions process that has yielded the present pipeline battle. But over two hours, the witnesses spoke at impassioned length about the permissions process in general, the impact of the destruction of sacred sites, and the notion of historical trauma.

    About two dozen lawmakers attended the discussion, which was formally titled “Taking a Stand: Protecting Water and Native American Sacred and Cultural Sites at Standing Rock.” The effort was spearheaded by Raul Ruiz (D-California), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs. On the House floor the day before the forum, he sharply criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of pipeline permits.

    “The Army Corps, under the Clean Water Act, must protect our nation’s waters from contamination by conducting accurate environmental assessments,” Ruiz said. “Unfortunately, the Army Corps granted a permit based on flawed assessments, incomplete information and a willful disregard for the serious concerns raised by the [Standing Rock Sioux] Tribe and other federal agencies.”

    The first witness was Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archbambault II, who emphasized that his tribe does not oppose economic development, energy independence or national security. “What we oppose is it being done off our backs,” he said. He invoked Lake Oahe, a particularly painful flashpoint for the Standing Rock Sioux, as its creation flooded traditional lands, inundated the childhood homes of tribal members, and obliterated historical and cultural sites.

    “For too long, there are too many cases where tribes have been forced to give and continue to give,” Archambault said.  “Today, we pay for the Missouri River, Lake Oahe Hydropower with Western Area Power Association, so that this nation gets affordable electricity.

    “We should have an opportunity in the future, no matter what, to have a say. The way we’ve been doing that is through prayer and peace. I have to share that with you because we’ve got a lot of attention, and it seems like attention only comes when there’s negativity.”

    Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier—whose tribe is on record as an intervenor in the Standing Rock Sioux’s lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for approving the Dakota Access permits—expressed dissatisfaction with consultation meetings. “We come with authorities from our tribal council to negotiate,” he said. “A lot of times there are no decision-makers sitting across the table from us. They always say they’ll take it back to their superiors and get back to us, and they never do.”

    Yet these authorities “check the box” that says they have consulted, he said, and consider the matter closed. He also noted that under the 1851 treaty, the Sioux retained ownership of the land; the federal government holds it in trust. “And where that pipeline is attempting to cross belongs to all the Sioux tribes.” Ideally, Frazier said, tribes would manage the projects that companies want to build across treaty lands so that federal agencies would not have to act as intermediaries.

    Lakota elder Faith Spotted Eagle pointed out a specific Dakota Access bureaucratic problem—namely, the segmenting of the project for permitting purposes. The U.S. Army Corps Omaha District, St. Louis District, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service each granted its own set of permits. This procedure, she said, diluted the potential for studying the project’s overall impact.

    Spotted Eagle expanded her argument to speak of historical trauma and ongoing attempts to “erase” American Indians. “The reasons 7,000 Natives have gathered [to protest Dakota Access] is because this happens repeatedly,” she said. “An entire realm of Native thought is marginalized, declared unknowable and consequently left out of every serious decision. The arrival of western Columbian philosophy on our shores brought ideas rooted in the concept of Manifest Destiny.”

    Manifest Destiny, she explained, is the notion “that state and federal agencies and people that they authorize are somehow endowed with the right to take whatever was in front of them from the Atlantic Seaboard to the Pacific Ocean.” Citing examples ranging from human trafficking to climate change, she further tied what she called “biopolitical” issues to corporate control over food, water and even human bodies.

    “Corporate-public partnerships have used our sacred lands and waters as dumping grounds,” said another witness, former San Carlos Apache Tribal Chairman Wendsler Nosie Sr., founder of the activist group Apache Stronghold. “The damage to our lands and our sacred sites has been in direct violations of treaty promises and trust obligations.”

    The final witness, Gracey Claymore, age 19 and the delegated youth representative, was clearly choked up when she described what it meant to Standing Rock youth to embrace their cultural heritage and stand up for their rights.

    “We are only coming together to protect our waters,” she said. “It’s not just the Dakota Access issue. It’s so much bigger than that. We have been saying over and over that this is not just a Native American issue, this is a human race issue. We are doing this to protect our human race, because without water we cannot survive. Without this Earth, we will not be here any more.”

    In his closing remarks, Ruiz reminded the audience that three federal agencies had specifically urged the Corps to conduct a more in-depth environmental and cultural study of the areas of the pipeline. He therefore urged bold action: “Cancel the permit.” And he advocated “a full, complete” environmental impact statement. “Only then, ultimately, will the president—who I believe will take your heart with him in this decision—can make an informed decision . . . to do the right thing,” he said.

    To which his colleague Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona) added, “The agencies involved in this decision-making process in Standing Rock, they made a mistake. A big mistake. They were disrespectful, paternalistic and kowtowing to some big money special interests in moving forward with this project. They have to correct that. And they have to correct it in a respectful, meaningful way.”

    Room For Improvement

    ‘It’s time to raise Native issues to a national level’


    Any Secretary of Indian Affairs, says Mescalero Apache President Danny Breuninger, should “be able to cross party lines.”

    Kerri Cottle

    Editor’s Note: When sworn in for his first term as president of the Mescalero Apache Tribe in January 2014, Danny Breuninger declared his priorities: enhanced communication, account-ability, long-term planning, and economic diversification. Now, in his second term, he is finding systemic barriers to these goals and is urging reforms—chiefly, the creation of a cabinet-level department devoted to Native affairs.

    ICTMN recently spoke with President Breuninger in his tribal offices in Mescalero, New Mexico. His views do not necessarily represent the Mescalero Apache Tribe and/or the Mescalero Apache Tribal Council.

    * * *

    Is the current relationship between the federal government and tribal governments conducive to the accountability you feel is necessary?

    Under President Obama’s administration there have been advances, such as the appointment of a Senior Policy Advisor in the White House, and the appointment of many American Indians and Alaska Natives to key positions. That has been an amazing advancement.

    But there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Native representation needs to be sitting at the table with the president from a position of strength and respect, from our own cabinet-level department. And tribes should be testifying on all issues that directly affect Native people before Congress about our needs in all of the many urgent areas of governmental concern—federal budgets, historic preservation, natural resources, social services, education, roads and the environment, to name a few.

    Right now the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is our intermediary but often serves as a bureaucratic obstacle.

    The BIA’s website says it has been “evolving as federal policies designed to subjugate and assimilate American Indians and Alaska Natives have changed to policies that promote Indian self-determination.” Is this your experience?

    The BIA has a major role in the success or failure of promoting self-determination. But it’s the ever-changing presidential administrations and congressional leadership in both the House and Senate that have the greatest influence on self-determination.

    Another problem is the grant process. We as tribes are competing with many other tribes and non-tribal state and local governmental agencies. Oftentimes we feel we’re not getting a fair shake, and I’m sure other tribes feel the same way.

    Take, for example, a planning grant we were awarded for our sawmill that’s been defunct for eight years, which we now hope to revive. It’s a crucial economic development project we have in mind to diversify our revenue sources. The tribe owns property in Alamogordo, where we can tie into a rail spur. Our lumber products can be loaded onto rail cars and shipped all over the world. Once we restore the sawmill, I believe we’ll have all kinds of other opportunities.

    But the grant we got this year is the exact same grant we did not get last year. And there’s no guarantee for next year. Let me add that we are very thankful for being awarded the grant. But this process exemplifies the challenges we face.

    Why do you think you would do better with a cabinet-level department?

    Because Native programs and people would be at the center of the discussion. We wouldn’t be in the position of being always underrepresented. I believe it’s time to raise Native issues to a national level and not have them tucked away in an agency whose primary mission is land management, like the Department of the Interior.

    As many know, within the Interior Department, BIA sits alongside the Bureau of Land Management, Fish & Wildlife, National Parks and a few more. They’re all competing for the same dollars and I don’t believe our voices are being heard as tribal leaders. Native Americans make up one percent of the population. The cards are stacked against us. We can holler, kick and scream, but our voices can only go so far.

    Who would you nominate for Secretary?

    I don’t have a specific person in mind, but let me suggest some basic qualifications. The cabinet secretary should be a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe, have a formal education, be passionate about Native America, be versed in the history and struggles of Native America, and be able to cross party lines and speak to anyone at any time regarding contemporary Native American matters.

    Are there existing legal instruments in place upon which you can build your case for structural reform?

    On November 6, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13175, requiring a government-to-government relationship between tribes and the U.S. That would entail having a mechanism for ongoing open dialogue and for having those needed conversations that governments have with other governments, especially those with whom they have borders and other shared interests.

    President Obama has restated that same principle and has met annually with tribal leaders in Washington, D.C. I can tell you that I appreciate that. No other president in history has ever taken that kind of positive interest in Native issues before.

    In my view, a new department of the executive branch devoted to Native issues with a capable leader in the cabinet seat is the most direct way to fulfill the true spirit of self-determination and a sincere commitment to a real government-to-government relationship.

    Cabinet-level departments come and go, several in our own lifetimes. Creating a new one is a matter of political will. Is this an achievable project?

    I don’t see why not. It makes so much sense. If the federal government is to ever fully live up to and honor its government-to-government relationship and treaty and statutory obligations with tribes, then this is the right thing to do.

    Is there a wrong waiting to be righted?

    I see Native Americans today as an invisible part of the U.S. population. The situation that has unfolded on Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is a classic example. I don’t believe any of the three major TV networks reported from Standing Rock about the pipeline construction. It angers me when I see political polls on TV. Never ever is there a poll number for Native Americans and whom they support. It’s as if our numbers don’t count.

    In the census, we used to have to check the “Other” box. We weren’t even counted. Now we’re counted but our numbers are small. So what if we don’t have the numbers or the largest donors to parties and PACs? The important thing is we are citizens of the United States. We’ve served in every war and still do today. We are the First Americans.

    We as Native Americans must continue to speak out; it’s not that we want anything special. We just want what’s fair and due us—respect, dignity, our own language and heritage, and to maintain our traditional ways of our culture.

    Is Indian country ready to let go of the “devil it knows” and fast-forward its own evolution?

    That’s a good question. There’s some comfort in what’s familiar and I’m sure some may be opposed to change. Certainly we can continue down this well beaten path. But if we don’t call for change, at the end of the day we will only continue to perpetuate the status quo and allow ourselves to be cast aside and accept the kind of attention and services we now receive.

    Omaha Tribe of Nebraska is hiring for the following positions:

    Chief Tribal Officer

    Will direct the planning, organization, staffing, and budgeting of Tribal Government operations providing a variety of Programs and services and procure the support necessary for implementing Programs and providing services.  Coordinates Program issues and status; directs subordinate employees/Directors; develops budgets; participates as a member of the Management Team.


    Under administrative and functional direction of the Chief Financial Officer, the accountant performs critical daily, monthly and annual accounting tasks.  Provides timely accounting and financial data to the Departments Contract Specialists.  Participates in relevant policy and procedure development.

    Carl T Curtis Health Education Center-Clinical Dietician

    All positions are Open Until Filled

    Please send your resume, three references, and a complete application to:

    The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska
    Attn: Human Resources
    P.O. Box 368
    Macy, NE 68039

    Barry Walker, HR Director
    Phone: 402-837-5391 Fax 402-837-4526

    Albert Goodman Plaza is now accepting applications for the waiting list for the development locates at 970 Boston Road. Bronx, NY 10456.

    These apartments are subsidized under the HUD Section 8 program. Applicants must meet the Section 8 program income and family size requirements.

     For interested Applicants, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your name, mailing address and telephone number in your letter.

    Each applicant may submit only one application. Multiple applications by the same applicant will not be accepted. No fee is required to obtain an application. Complete applications must be returned by REGULAR MAIL ONLY to

    Albert Goodman Plaza
    PO. Box 931
    Bronx, NY 10455



    Albert Goodman Plaza does not discriminate on the basis of disability status in the admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its federally assisted programs and activities.

    The Ramah Navajo School Board, Inc., has the following job openings:

    Staff Physician

    Medical Director

    Nurse Practitioner

    High School Mathematics Teacher

    Human Resource Director

    Middle School History/
    Mathematics Teacher

    Staff Dentist
    (Closing Date:  10/10/2016)

    All positions are Open Until Filled unless otherwise stated.

    Applicants must successfully complete and pass a pre-employment criminal background check, character investigation, and drug screening. For additional information visit or call 505-775-3256.

    Ramah Navajo School Board, Inc.
    PO Box 10
    Pine Hill, NM 87357

    Navajo Preference Employer

    Pond View Homes I L.P.
    a 52-unit building including 7 units designed for the handicapped or disabled located at 53A High Court Manhasset, NY 11030 is opening its waiting list for Studio, 1,2, 3, &4 bedrooms rental units to eligible families with limited income.

    Qualifications will be based on
    Low Income Housing Tax Credit guidelines.

    Interested persons may obtain an application in person between 11 am & 3pm at Pond View Homes I L.P. Management Office located at 277 Northern Blvd, Great Neck, NY 11021 or request an application by writing to Pond View Homes I L.P.

    Att: Waiting List
    277 Northern Boulevard,
    Great Neck, NY 11021

    If you have a disability & need assistance
    with the application process, please contact
    Alyssa Kennedy at 516-487-0041 ext 321.



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    Oglala Sioux Tribe

    Department of Public Safety
    PO Box 300 Pine Ridge,
    South Dakota 57770
    Phone (605) 867-5141
    fax (605)867-1340


    The Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety is interested in obtaining proposals for General Liability, Auto and Crime Insurance, Effective September 1, 2016 and ending October 1, 2017. No unilateral changes or modifications of proposals will be allowed after they have been delivered to the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety.

    The OST Department of Public Safety is seeking quotes for the following lines of coverage:



    General Liability to include Law Enforcement Liability


    Excess Workers Compensation

    Umbrella/Excess Liability

    Bids will be due October 14, 2016 @ 4:00 P.M. A review will be made by the (Acting) Chief  Financial Officer, Mason Big Crow of your proposal, and given to the Board of Directors for approval. The OST Department of Public Safety will award the contract that best serves the company’s interest.

    Please submit two original copies of your proposal to:

    Mason Big Crow
    Acting Chief Financial Officer
    OST Department of Public Safety

    PO Box 300
    Pine Ridge, SD 57770
    605-867-5141 ext. 8119


    This FULLY OCCUPIED development for Families and Single persons will provide applications to persons of limited income interested in being placed on the waiting list for FUTURE VACANCIES Qualification will be based on section 8 Federal Guidelines.

    Applications must be requested by regular mail only from:
    (Please send a self addressed stamped envelope with each request)

    Clinton Manor Associates L.P.
    P.O. Box 1003
    Bronx, New York 10465

    Completed application must be returned by regular mail only to the P.O. Box indicated on the application and must be postmarked by November 21, 2016




    The Week in Photos


    Shelley Morningsong (right), with her musical partner and husband Fabian Fontenelle, was named Artist of the Year at the 16th Annual Native American Music Awards.

    Courtesy Myaamia Center Archives

    Daryl Baldwin, who has helped reclaim the linguistic, cultural and intellectual heritage of the Myaamia, is one of 23 winners of a 2016 MacArthur “genius grant.”

    Courtesy National Center

    Gary Davis became executive director for the Native American Financial Services Association on October 1.


    Cannonball Ranch, home to hundreds of sacred burial sites and artifacts, has been sold to Dakota Access LLC.

    Headlines from the Web

    Upcoming Events


    October 7-8: Carlisle Journeys Conference
    “Celebrating the American Indian Sports Legacy” will explore the tensions and achievements of Native American athletes. The second in a series of biennial conferences, the event is an initiative of the Cumberland County (Pennsylvania) Historical Society, which houses the most complete collections of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills (Oglala Sioux) will be the keynote speaker.
    Location: Cumberland County Historical Society, Dickinson College and 1st United Church of Christ, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

    October 9-14: NCAI Annual Convention and Marketplace
    “Prosperity Through Sovereignty” is the 79th annual gathering of the National Congress of American Indians. In addition to procedural matters, the event will offer lectures, discussions, roundtables and breakout sessions, among them “International Advocacy to Protect Tribal Sovereignty,” “The National Drug Epidemic: Tribal Nations Respond” and “Constitutions for Modern Tribal Governments.” Other features include tours of Fort McDowell, visits to Grand Canyon West, and a performance of the new Native American rock opera “Something Inside Is Broken.”
    Location: Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Arizona

    October 9-12: International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums
    The theme of this year’s program is “Culture Builds Communities: Preserving the Past, Shaping the Future.” Sessions include “If These Walls Could Talk: A Community Effort to Restore Historic Buildings,” “Socially Engaged Practice: Collaboration and Dialogue with Native American Museums and Artists” and “The Little Village That Could: A Community-Based Effort to Build a Heritage Center.” Field trips to local sites including Mission San Xavier del Bac, the Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Center, and the Him-Dak Eco and Huhugam Ki museums will also be offered.
    Location: Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa, Gila River Indian Community, Phoenix, Arizona

    October 12-13: Ontario First Nation Economic Forum
    Workshops will focus on provincial and federal governments; resource revenue sharing; development corporations; gaming; energy; sales and customer service; infrastructure; training and skills; marketing and e-commerce; climate change and environmental protection; legal and tax immunity; and small businesses. Speakers include Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
    Location: Sheraton Centre, Toronto, Canada

    October 13-15: National Diversity in STEM Conference
    The 2016 gathering of SACNAS (the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) will afford current science, training, mentoring and cultural activities that reflect the organization’s leading role in promoting multicultural and multidisciplinary efforts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
    Location: Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, California

    Letters to the Editor

    Re Johnny Rustywire’s September 19 column, “Hashke: The Angry One”:

    Thank you for sharing. Hashke reminds me of a loved one from my family. Despite their hardness on the outside, they love and are loved back from those closest to them, regardless of their faults.

    Deborah Abeita
    Isleta, New Mexico


    Native Americans were created with humility and are strangers to the mater-ial world that we live in today. They are the treasure core of the nation. The sun painting their faces as they look over the horizon means that God will not forsake them but rather their enemies.

    Their blood has been spilled and their territories taken, but their courage and
    heritage will live within their future generations for ages ever.

    Mario H. Ochoa



    Top News Alerts


    Cannonball Ranch in North Dakota has been sold to Dakota Access LLC, the builders of the Dakota Access pipeline. The ranch is not the site of the Standing Rock Camp, where thousands of protesters have gathered against the pipeline, but it is home to hundreds of burials and artifacts. David and Brenda Meyer sold the ranch on September 22 for liability reasons, reported MyNDNow; Mr. Meyer said that too many people were congregating on the property. “It’s a beautiful ranch, but I just wanted out.”


    More than 1,200 archaeologists and museum officials signed a letter to the federal government urging that a full Environmental Impact Statement be completed along the Dakota Access pipeline’s route, as well as a complete survey of the area’s cultural resources. “If constructed, this pipeline will continue to encourage oil consumption that causes climate change, all the while harming those populations who contributed little to this crisis,” read the September 22 letter in part. It also warned of  “the destruction of these sacred sites.”


    Gary Davis is now executive director for the Native American Financial Services Association. Davis assumed the position on October 1, having stepped down from his nearly five-year tenure as president and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. In that post, he stressed economic empowerment, strengthened the National Reservation Economic Summit (RES), and launched RES events across the country. Davis also actively took Indian country’s economic message to international audiences to promote business partnerships.


    Wikipedia hopes to expand its entries on Indigenous Peoples at the WikiConference North America 2016, to be held October 7-10 in San Diego. The gathering will include an “edit-a-thon” that will focus on filling content gaps. Kelly Doyle, the Wikipedian in Residence for Gender Equity at West Virginia University Libraries, urged the inclusion of any “issue that has to do with Indigenous People, even creating new articles, as long as they are notable enough.”


    Northern Michigan University has received nearly $300,000 from the National Science Foundation to launch a two-year pilot project designed to increase the number of American Indian and Alaska Native female college graduates, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The project also aims to address the lack of American Indian teaching methods within the sciences education curricula. Thirty-seven projects nationwide received the first awards; the university’s Center for Native American Studies and its Office of Diversity and Inclusion will implement the program.

    How Did I Miss That?

    The Hillary Clinton topical ointment meme, alcohol and Indians on two continents, and the ever-evolving Godzilla


    Photo courtesy Steve Russell Steve Russell

    Eric Trump said his father has “gone from just about nothing” to become as rich as he is. Donald Trump himself has stated, “My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.” This is a reality check akin to Mitt Romney suggesting that a student complaining about student loans should borrow $50,000 from her parents and start a small business—and come back to school after the business is rolling.

    “The kid,” my Cousin Ray Sixkiller laughed, “probably hopes his daddy will start him out with a similar small loan.”

    * * *

    Stephen Colbert, who is playing himself on TV these days, claimed that Hillary Clinton was so ready for the first presidential debate that “her new nickname is Preparation H.” The evidence is how she “soothed the Bern” in the Democratic primaries.

    * * *

    For those who like a beer with their burger, The Washington Post warned that the Indian state of Bihar is getting serious about alcohol prohibition. Since April, 14,000 people have gone to jail and 43,000 gallons of booze have been seized. All adults in a family can be prosecuted if one of them drinks. Homeowners can be arrested if a tenant drinks. An entire village can be fined if somebody in the village has a still.

    The Danish firm that brews Carlsberg built a new bottling plant in Bihar in 2012 and the 600 workers from that plant are now out of work. Conferences and upscale weddings have moved elsewhere and bootlegger prices are triple what legal prices were. “We have to create spies and informers among the communities,” said Manu Maharaj, a senor police officer. “Only then will prohibition be successful.”

    Cousin Ray was in rare snarky form: “Like it was in the U.S. or like it is on Indian reservations?”

    * * *

    The Post also commented on a review of the new Godzilla movie, quoting Mark Schilling of Japan Times as calling its tone one of “soft nationalism.” The U.S. does not come off particularly well and the military hardware is deployed by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

    The original Godzilla was an unfortunate byproduct of atomic testing that played on the Japanese anxieties from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The latest version mines anxieties from Fukushima Daiichi. In the review, we learn that Japanese has a way with neologisms like many American Indian languages; one such expression literally translates as “zone that is difficult to return to.”

    In Japan, the new film is coining money as Shin (“New”) Godzilla. It will be released in the U.S. next month as Godzilla Resurgence.

    I caught Cousin Ray pondering again the disappearance of an animal common in our childhood. He was wondering if the success of Godzilla would help him raise the money to shoot his script about the Southwestern U.S. It’s called Revenge of the Horny Toad.

    * * *

    The Cherokee Phoenix reported that the Cherokee Nation is in negotiations with the Oklahoma Historical Society to buy Sequoyah’s home, a one-room log cabin once occupied by the man who invented the Cherokee syllabary. Oklahoma has cut funding for the Historical Society by 40 percent in the last eight years.

    Sequoyah’s invention caused literacy to spike among Cherokees and by the time of the Trail of Tears more Cherokees could read and write than could the settlers waiting to take Cherokee land.

    Sequoyah went west in advance of the Trail of Tears and built the cabin that would be his home from 1829 until his death in 1843 while on a trip to Mexico to persuade Cherokee refugees to return to Indian Territory. The cabin was designated a National Historical Landmark of the U.S. in 1965.

    Cousin Ray noted that the Oklahoma Historical Society was spending $100,000 a year to maintain Sequoyah’s home. And he had to wonder: How could Sequoyah afford to live there?

    Upcoming Pow Wows


    Lakota Dakota Nakota Language Summit & First Nations Education Convention

    444 Mount Rushmore Road
    Rapid City, SD

    Cherokee of Georgia 36th Annual Fall Pow Wow

    110 Cherokee Way
    St. George, GA

    San Manuel Pow Wow

    5500 University Parkway
    San Bernardino, CA

    Oklahoma State University Native American Student Association Pow Wow

    4518 Expo Circle East
    Stillwater, OK

    Indigenous Peoples Celebration

    Randalls Island
    New York, NY

    Indian Plaza Pow Wow

    1475 Mohawk Trail Route 2E
    Charlemont, MA

    American Indianist Society Pow Wow

    92 McCormick Rd
    Spencer, MA

    Waccamaw Siouan 46th Annual Tribal Pow Wow

    Waccamaw Siouan Tribal Grounds in the Buckhead Community
    Bolton, NC

    Indian Education Pow Wow and 35th Annual Fall Festival

    2910 Hobson Pike
    Hermitage, TN

    Chattahoochee River Park Pow Wow

    269 River Landing Road
    Chattahoochee, FL
    850-209-7083 or 850-277-1026

    Wolf Den Pow Wow

    Wolf Den Drive
    Junction of Routes 44 & 101
    Pomfret, CT

    National Championship 4th Annual Indian Pow Wow

    9333 SW Loop 410
    San Antonio, TX

    Hibernia Harvest Festival and Pow Wow

    Hibernia Park
    1 Park Road
    Coatesville, PA

    Hunting Moon 12th Annual Pow Wow

    UW Milwaukee Arena
    Milwaukee, WI


    The Big Picture

    Social Dancer Guy Narocomy (Comanche, Cuddo, Seminole, Chirichan, Lippan Apache) performed at recent Apache coming-of-age rites. Kerri Cottle