Issue 42, October 26, 2016

    A Letter from the Publisher


    Shekóli. This campaign season, the phrase “the rule of law” has been invoked on different occasions, usually to tout how the United States differs from countries that operate in a seemingly much less rational way. The rule of law implies logic, consistency and fairness. It would be nice to add clarity to the list, but that isn’t always the case. Hence, the need for lawyers, judges and arbitrators who step in to translate just what the law was meant to intend. Or perhaps what it might intend. Or once did but no longer does.

    “We can only hope the spirit of Section 106 may yet prevail,” wrote three judges of the Washington, D.C. District Court in their rejection of an appeal to overturn a decision against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt work on the Dakota Access Pipeline. With the announcement of that ruling on October 9, Energy Transfer Partner’s bulldozers fired up their engines and proceeded to plow through more historical Great Sioux Nation territory inside a formally designated, 20-mile construction exclusion zone. Today, according to many reports, DAPL has encroached and trenched through 17 miles of ground to put its latest staging area within three miles of the Missouri River, the source of Standing Rock’s drinking water and so much more.

    What is Section 106, and why are judges appealing to its spirit—while regretfully noting the “narrow and stringent standard” of the law regarding appeals that compelled them to rule against the Sioux? In this week’s feature, “The Painful Appendix C,” we learn that Section 106 is a piece of the National Historic Preservation Act. It is designed to mediate the types of problems that DAPL has made manifest, particularly the disregard of the legal right to consultation granted to sovereign Indian nations.

    However, each federal agency is allowed to formulate its own interpretation of Section 106. For years, tribal leaders have railed against the Army Corps of Engineers for its application of Section 106, known as Appendix C. The good news? Appendix C guidelines have been defeated in courts before, and the Corps has yet to issue permits for key sections of the pipeline.

    As the story unfolds we shall see if the spirit of Section 106 indeed prevails. Either way, we know the spirit of community in Indian country will live on, DAPL or NoDAPL, as long as the grass grows and rivers flow.

    NΛ ki wa,

    Ray Halbritter


    A Candidate Natives Can Trust

    If Natives want a true White House standard bearer, writes Charles Kader, they should look outside the mainstream:

    I recently asked the top four ranked presidential campaigns about what the election of their candidate would mean to Native American culture and tribal voters. From the Clinton campaign, within 10 minutes, I was referred to their campaign web page. I looked over it to no avail. There was literally nothing mentioning Native Americans.

    That was the high point of my outreach response. No other major campaign—the Republicans, the Libertarians or the Greens—bothered to acknowledge the inquiry.

    If my one vote made a difference, I would send it to Barry Lester Johnson, a soft-spoken man I met in Cleveland in July. He was wearing a turquoise choker and a cowboy hat with a small metal cross. He proudly said that his fiancée was a Cherokee tribal member and that her Cherokee mother had given him her blessings for them to marry. His only campaign material was a modest business card that stated “Johnson for President” and “$5 maximum donation.”

    He looked me in the eye in a way that made his words come alive. He said that his beautiful jewelry was once worn by Geronimo. He also said that at his inauguration, each and every tribal nation would be invited to ring the White House in a circular encampment “in their own honor” since they are the only true Americans. Finally, he said he would ask them to remain there during his term, as a daily reminder of the debts owed them by all of America.

    From the least likely of representatives came the truest words I heard in this long campaign, now coming to a close and not a day too soon for me.

    Clowning Around With Native Costumes

    Maybe the way to eliminate Native-themed costumes, writes Tiffany Midge, is by emulating the current bizarre clown craze:

    Prompted by a creepy clown threat posted on a student’s Facebook account—along with the onslaught of creepy clown sightings and situations in two dozen states—several Colorado public schools have banned clown costumes and apparel during the Halloween season. That’s understandable. What isn’t understandable is that Native American-inspired costumes remain perfectly acceptable.

    Native activists have been speaking out against Native-themed costumes for many years. But companies still produce them. When I contacted the costume supply store in my small town and complained, the owner said they couldn’t afford to stop selling them—their Pocahottie, Indian Brave, and Big Chief costumes were their top sellers.

    Why are scary clowns more threatening than say, racism? I’m reminded of when Cecil the Lion was killed last year and international media attention and outrage resulted. The feminist and author Roxane Gay responded with her now famous Tweet about how to draw attention to police violence in America: “I’m personally going to start wearing a lion costume when I leave my house so if I get shot, people will care.”

    Yet no one would dream of tailoring a Pocahottie, Chief, or Indian Brave costume to sinister ends. Leave aside the fact that these costumes are already heinous and disturbing. Would dressing up in Native American-inspired costumes, and lurking around the edges of housing developments and neighborhood parks, be enough to cause a public crisis? Would taking back the image of the “bloodthirsty savage” strike fear and panic in the hearts of ordinary citizens?

    Would roving Pocahottie hoards be enough to banish such costumes for Halloween, or even forever?

    In North Dakota, Life And Death And Good And Evil

    The struggle over the Dakota Access pipeline is far more metaphysical than you might think, argues Duane Yazzie, president of the Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation:

    In struggles throughout history there are positive and negative sides—justice versus injustice, good against evil. The standoff at Standing Rock is such a story. Here stand Energy Transfer Partners, with the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) and its supporters on one side; and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its supporters on the other.

    Standing Rock and multitudes of people oppose inflicting more damage to the earth. The pipeline will destroy waters of life and further contaminate the environment. Our grandchildren will inherit the permanent consequences of climate change.

    In this confrontation between the Destroyers and the Protectors, the Destroyers have the power of physical advantage. But the Protectors have the power of spiritual advantage. And the spiritual always prevails over the physical.

    The only recourse the Destroyers have is to exert more brute force. This has its raw limitations. The arrogant taunting with massive and lethal physical force can do two things: It can intimidate its target into submission or provoke injury and possible loss of life. The show of force has failed in its intent, as the Protectors are not intimidated.

    It is clear who will prevail and who must back off. We want life, whereas DAPL and such “developments” across the world threaten life. The confrontation is beyond the pipeline. It is a battle over the waters and earth that will sustain the life of our children into the future. It is an ultimate stand that may determine the future of life on the Earth Mother.

    ICT News


    Obama Creates Native Children Commission


    President Obama has signed a major bill creating a Commission on Native Children, whose purpose is to improve the lives of its subjects by identifying their challenges throughout the country. The commission will undertake a comprehensive study of available programs, grants, and resources through government agencies and on the ground in Native communities. Its ultimate goal is to develop a sustainable system that delivers wraparound services.

    Obama signed the bill on October 14 following its unanimous passage by both the House and Senate. The new commission will address a broad range of issues bearing on Native youth; these include levels of post-traumatic stress similar to newly returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan; dramatically increased risks of suicide; and lower high school graduation rates than any other racial or ethnic demographic in the country.

    “This is just the beginning stages,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), who sponsored the bill with Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “We need to make sure this commission is held in a way that achieves results and we measure the success based on outcomes.”

    “I am so pleased to see this piece of legislation cross the finish line,” said Murkowski. “I can cite many examples of young Native people who are living healthy lives and doing great things for their people. Yet far too many have found themselves in a world of despair.”

    The body will be called the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, after the former Chairwoman of Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation in North Dakota, and the Alaska Native elder and statesman, respectively.

    Charges Dropped Against Journalist Covering Dakota Access Protests

    A North Dakota judge has dismissed criminal charges against the journalist Amy Goodman for her reporting on last month’s conflict at a Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) construction site.

    The state of North Dakota had initially charged Goodman, the creator and host of the news program Democracy Now!, with criminal trespass for her presence when dogs and pepper spray were used against water protectors on September 3. Compelled to drop those charges for lack of evidence, prosecutor Ladd Erickson had asked for them to be changed to rioting. Judge John Grinsteiner, citing a lack of probable cause, declined to sign the state’s complaint, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

    “It is a great honor to be here today,” Goodman said outside the courthouse on October 17. “The judge’s decision to reject the state’s attorney Ladd Erickson’s attempt to prosecute a journalist—in this case me—is a great vindication of the First Amendment and of our right to report.” She vowed to continue to “fight to ensure that the First Amendment is protected.”

    “It was never a case. The trespass charge was frivolous,” said Goodman’s attorney, Tom Dickson, adding that the rioting charge “was beyond salvation.” More than 200 people agreed, showing up at the courthouse to support Goodman and then breaking into raucous cheers and whoops when she emerged to announce the outcome.

    Erickson’s characterization of Goodman as a “protester” rather than a journalist prompted First Amendment defenses of her work from a wide variety of media outlets, including Rolling Stone, Vogue and The Nation.

    Improvement Of Rez Flooding Tied To Congressional Water Act


    The Senate has incorporated a bill to address reservation flooding issues into its latest version of the Water Development Resources Act (S. 2848). The fate of the bill, known as “DRIFT” (Dam Repair and Improvement for Tribes), depends on whether the Senate’s version of S.2848 is signed into law.

    Authored by Indian Affairs Committee Chair John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the bill provides for a “High-Hazard Indian Dam Safety Deferred Maintenance Fund,” with $22 million allocated annually from FY 2017-2037, as well as $10 million in the same period for low-hazard maintenance. Also included is the reform of the Army Corps of Engineers Tribal Partnership program, whereby the Corps would pay the first $100,000 of any feasibility study “for a water resources development project or project for the preservation of cultural and natural resources.”

    Proponents cited the example of Washakie Dam on the Wind River Reservation, which is part of Barrasso’s home state. This summer, Wind River received over six inches of rain in one day, according to Mitch Cottenoir, the tribal water engineer for Wind River Reservation’s two tribes, the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho.

    “Part of the DRIFT Act allows for rehabilitation of existing BIA dams,” said Cottenoir, “in some cases, to take care of flooding potential in an area.” Washakie Dam is one of 137 high-hazard dams for which the Bureau of Indian Affairs is responsible, besides over 700 low-hazard dams.

    S.2848 awaits House passage. However, the House has its own version of a Water Development Resources Act, H.R. 5303, which likewise sits on the Senate side. If S.2848 passes the House, DRIFT will go to the White House.

    ICT News


    Nooksack Disenrollment Debacle Continues With Federal Disavowal


    The Interior Department has disavowed any actions taken by the Nooksack Tribal Council of Washington State since late March, effectively bolstering the case of the “Nooksack 306,” a group that is fighting council efforts to disenroll them.

    “The Department will only recognize those actions taken by the council prior to March 24, 2016,” wrote Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Lawrence S. Roberts to Tribal Chairman Bob Kelly last week. “On that date the council fell below quorum when several council members’ terms were up and no new elections had been held to replace them.”

    In March, the council fired Court Chief Judge Susan Alexander as she prepared to force the council to hold an election to fill the open seats and reestablish a quorum. Critics speculated this was done to prevent the 306 from voting and potentially unseating members who favored disenrollment. During that same period, the council disbarred the lawyers representing the Nooksack 306 from practicing in tribal court, and refused to accept any motions they attempted to file.

    Roberts’ letter arrived on the same day as a newly created Nooksack Supreme Court was set to begin expediting disenrollment of the Nooksack 306 (who now number 331). The letter, however, stated, “We will not recognize any actions until duly elected officials are seated in accordance with the tribe’s constitution and bylaws.”

    In his letter, Roberts suggested that his department might bypass the council and begin administering services directly to tribal members: “The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) will examine any self-determination contracts or funding agreements it has with the tribe to ensure the tribe’s compliance with all contract provisions. In the event of non-compliance, BIA will take action to reassume the particular federal services in whole or in part.”

    Police Charge Driver In Columbus Day Hit-And-Run Incident


    Nick Mahaffey, who drove his White Nissan pickup through a mostly Native crowd of 40 people who were protesting Columbus Day in Reno, Nevada, injuring five, has been charged with provoking assault and released on a $1,000 bond, police said. Police also charged two protesters, James Fletcher and Samuel Harry, with simple battery.

    According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the protestors stopped under the Reno Arch on Virginia Street on Columbus Day, October 10, to pose for a photograph when Mahaffey approached the group in his truck. A live Facebook video shows the group marching down the street, mostly on the sidewalk, holding anti-Columbus Day signs and #NODAPL signs while drumming and singing. After stopping under the Reno Arch, Mahaffey approaches the group honking and revving his engine.

    The video also records a handful of men approaching the truck and an argument ensuing among Mahaffey, his passenger and the protestors. As more people approach the truck, the situation escalates until Mahaffey plows into the remaining group under the arch. Police told the Gazette that Mahaffey stopped “several blocks away and called police to provide his account of the events.”

    “Public safety is our highest priority, and I want all Reno residents to know that we are working swiftly and diligently to make sense of the events,” said Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and the Reno City Council in a joint statement. “I respect an individual or group’s right to conduct lawful protest, and encourage people to express their First Amendment rights.”

    White House Combats Meth Abuse


    The Indian Health Service has almost doubled the number of grants for meth and suicide prevention among youth in American Indian communities with the announcement of 42 new awards to support President Obama’s Generation Indigenous Initiative. The 2016 Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) funding, amounting to more than $7 million, will go to tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian organizations and IHS programs. The allocation augments the $13.2 million in MSPI grants awarded last year.

    MSPI has funded 156 programs, with awards totaling more than $21 million; 88 of those projects support President Obama’s Gen I initiative, launched at the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference to improve the lives of Native youth by removing barriers to their success.

    Methamphetamine, a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant, has become widely available in Indian country. “Native Americans now experience the highest meth usage rates of any ethnic group in the nation,” reported the Justice Department.

    President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2017 budget for IHS includes funding to further expand the MSPI program and its renaming as “Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention.” Of the $49 million proposed for expanding (as distinguished from maintaining) health care services for AIAN persons, $15 million would go to Gen I substance abuse and suicide prevention projects.

    The 42 entities awarded grants in this funding round include the Fairbanks Native Association, the Pueblo of Acoma, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Fort Defiance Indian Hospital, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Urban Indian Health Board of Minneapolis and the Urban Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition.

    The Painful ‘Appendix C’

    ‘They get insular and get their blinders on’


    Bottom Line: An obscure and often problematic federal law may well determine the fate of the Dakota Access pipeline.

    Heavy construction on projects like the Dakota Access pipeline begins with a bevy of bureaucracy.


    Most pressing issues between Indian country and the federal government are steeped in legalese and long numerical references to laws and regulations. The very stuff of Native life and its protection, however, is referenced and hidden within these drily worded documents.

    One example is a set of regulations created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Called “Appendix C,” it may determine the future of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, as well as other projects for which the Corps issues federal permits.

    Tribes have been complaining about the legality of Appendix C for years, and with good reason. Appendix C spells out how the Corps will meet its obligation to fulfill Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), created to protect places of historic, architectural and/or cultural significance.


    A law unto itself?

    Part of Section 106 requires that agencies carry out the process in consultation with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, and identify and assess impacts to properties of traditional religious and cultural significance to tribes. All federal agencies may create their own means by which they fulfill the terms of the section.

    But the Army Corps has chosen to streamline the process by creating its own regulations. Tribes and other federal agencies argue that these regulations not only fail to meet 106 requirements but also directly conflict with the law.

    Take the case of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. It is an independent federal agency charged by Congress with overseeing implementation of the National Historic Preservation Act. But the Corps contradicts several of its regulations with its own process as spelled out under Appendix C.

    The differences between Section 106 regulations and Appendix C are substantial. Chief among them are the Corps’ decision in the Standing Rock case to review each river crossing of the Dakota Access pipeline as a separate project, rather than considering the entire pipeline as one project.

    “This allows the Corps to dismiss the potential for effects to historic properties that may be located within the broader project area of an undertaking,” according to an August 2, 2016 letter from the Advisory Council to the Corps.

    The final sentence of the October 9 court ruling denying the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s appeal to halt work on the Dakota Access pipeline alludes to the enormity of the Corps actions under Appendix C.

    “We can only hope the spirit of Section 106 may yet prevail,” wrote judges Janice Rogers Brown, Thomas B. Griffith and Cornelia T.L. Pillard in their October 9 ruling. There is a world of meaning, history and possibility in those few words.


    A problematic mandate

    The ways in which Appendix C regulations fail to protect historic properties and traditional cultural properties for tribes are significant, Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman recently wrote in an internal document. They include:

    • Significant decrease in the Area of Potential Effect. Corps regulations, unlike the Advisory Council limit the Area of Potential Effect to the permit area—rather than the geographic area where a project may directly or indirectly alter the character or use of historic properties.
    • Narrow definition of adverse effects. The Corps’ Appendix C limits the agency’s responsibilities by narrowing the definition of adverse effects—thus ignoring Advisory Council regulations that consider the direct and indirect effects of projects.
    • No requirement for tribal consultation. Appendix C states that tribes may be consulted as part of the district engineer’s investigations, unlike Advisory Council regulations, which require tribal consultation. The Corps also grants itself the sole right to terminate consultation.
    • Failure to fully protect confidentiality. Unlike the NHPA and Advisory Council regulations, the Corps only protects information from disclosure when there is a substantial risk of harm, theft or destruction.

    “Congress did not explicitly or implicitly delegate regulatory authority to the [Corps] to promulgate its own Section 106 regulations under an authorizing statute,” Forsman has written. “A federal agency does not have independent legislative power.”


    Maj. Gen. Donald “Ed” Jackson of the Army Corps of Engineers spoke of the Corps’ role in infrastructure projects at the National Congress of American Indians conference this month. Mary Annette Pember


    “What do you do when a federal agency violates its own rules?” asked Standing Rock Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Jon Eagle, referring to the Corps’ permitting process for Dakota Access.

    Some of the problems may lie with the Corps’ mission, which includes an emphasis on economic development. Forsman believes this may be the underlying basis for the Corps’ stated regulatory policy to avoid unnecessary regulatory controls when giving the go-ahead for infrastructure projects.

    Forsman, however, lauded the Corps for its May 2016 denial of a permit for what would have been the nation’s largest coal terminal, Gateway Pacific Terminal, in Washington State. The Lummi Nation said the terminal would have threatened the tribe’s fishing rights, protected by treaties. In this case, the Corps agreed.

    “If the Corps would be more transparent and do more outreach they could avoid a lot of these problems,” said one tribal leader during the recent National Congress of the American Indians gathering in Phoenix, Arizona. “Unfortunately, they get insular and get their blinders on.”

    The Corps now considers the Section 106 process closed. But it is far from over for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Several points, including the Corps’ dependence upon Appendix C to complete its Section 106 responsibilities, will be argued in lawsuits, Eagle promised. Indeed, he feels, there may be something approaching a legal precedent.

    “We have heard that the Corps has consistently lost lawsuits in which the legality of Appendix C has been questioned.”

    Successful Pushback

    The use of Appendix C has indeed been challenged successfully in court several times, according to Javier Marques, associate general counsel of the Advisory Council. He cited a 2001 decision that held that the Corps could not issue a Clean Water Act permit for a wastewater treatment plant without first considering other issues under Section 106—even though some of those issues fell outside the permit’s scope.

    Also in 2001, a court rejected the Corps’ narrow interpretation of the area within which to consider impacts and effects on historic properties as contrary to Section 106.

    In 1985, a court ruled in favor of the Colorado River Indian Tribes’ claim that the Corps’ practice of limiting its historic preservation review to Appendix C’s narrowly defined “permit area”—as opposed to the broader area in the Advisory Council’s Section 106 implementing regulations—was a breach of its 106 responsibilities.

    The Army Corps did not respond to questions about its use of Appendix C in its permitting process. Nor could Marques comment about the DAPL case, because it is currently in litigation. But he discussed the overall situation relating to the Army Corps’ use of Appendix C.

    “Our position has always been that the Corps does not have the authority to issue regulations implementing Section 106,” Marques said. “The only agency in the federal government with this authority is the [Advisory Council on Historic Preservation]. Although Appendix C has been on the books for many years, we have never seen the authority that the Corps claims to have to issue these regulations.”

    ‘America’s Gray Ghosts’

    Kootenai Tribe works to revive a disappearing species


    Bottom Line: The last dozen caribou in the contiguous United States are hanging by a thread. But their tribal defenders are doing everything they can to preserve them.

    In seven years, the Selkirk caribou have been depleted by almost 75 percent.

    Bart George, Kalispel Tribe (2016 census)

    In 2009, on Kootenai tribal territory in the Idaho Panhandle, the last remaining caribou in the contiguous United States took a severe drop—from 46 down to 12 animals. Those same dozen caribou continue to roam the Selkirk mountain range near the Canadian border. A recent New York Times article spotlighted the severity of the situation, referring to the species as “America’s gray ghosts.”

    Last year, the Kootenai Tribe began leading efforts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners—the states of Idaho and Washington, British Columbia, the U.S. Forest Service, the Kalispel Tribe, and the Ktunaxa Nation—to devise a plan to save the Selkirk caribou from extinction.

    “Seven years ago, we weren’t having this discussion,” Norm Merz, wildlife biologist for the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, told Indian Country Today Media Network. “We had 46 animals, they were reproducing, and things were going good. And then the population fell off a cliff.”

    Merz attributes that drop largely to heavy predation by wolves and cougars. But caribou face another chief disadvantage: they are slow to reproduce. Whereas other hoofed mammals (ungulates), including deer, elk and moose, generally reproduce during their second year of life, caribou generally don’t until their third year. And they only produce one calf.

    “A species with low reproduction has to compensate by having longevity in the adults,” Merz said. “With caribou, what we’re seeing in the Selkirks and actually throughout most of southern British Columbia is our animals are succumbing to predation, and so they’re not living as long, and they don’t reproduce fast. And therefore the population is declining.”

    Shortly after birth, caribou calves struggle to their feet and begin following their mothers. Despite their early mobility, many quickly meet their death due to predators or natural causes, according to a report by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.

    The Kootenai Tribe plans to implement maternal penning, “in which we would capture the females in the herd and bring them into a predator-free enclosure around March,” said Merz. “That would allow them to calve, get their calves good and strong, and sometime around July or after we would release them back into the wild.” The operation would be modeled on several successful pilot projects tested in British Columbia and in the Peace River region near Alberta, home to the Little Smoky caribou herd.

    But the most effective method of caribou protection has been wolf management. “Since British Columbia implemented the wolf management in caribou habitat, we haven’t documented any additional wolf mortalities,” Merz said.

    Canadian government sharpshooters are eliminating wolves that invade caribou habitat from helicopters. Just 19 wolves have been killed in the Selkirk mountain range thus far. Merz stresses that wolves are only shot when caribou fatalities are a risk.

    “British Columbia is tracking animals” with GPS-equipped radio collars, he said. “So they’re monitored and not removed. The animals that move into caribou habitat that pose a threat are removed. It’s not an ‘every wolf is bad’ situation. It’s: ‘We’ve got to try and limit mortality of caribou, and this is one way we can do it.’”

    Unlike the caribou herds that migrate across the barren Alaskan tundra, southern mountain caribou live in small, localized groups. They stick to high terrain, dense with old-growth forests that offer heavier lichen loads and trees that intercept snow. Perhaps most importantly, the thick woods allow caribou to avoid predators—most commonly wolves, cougars, bears and wolverines—that generally prey on other ungulates that live in areas with younger forests or clearings.

    “They don’t migrate, other than some elevational migration during different seasons,” Merz said. “They pretty much stay in the same general vicinity.”

    Thus, it is a particularly vicious cycle when their caribou country is devastated. Logging, mining and resource extraction are common ways that humans destroy caribou habitat.

    “When the habitat is modified through logging or large-scale forest fires, you’re talking 150 years for that to regenerate to provide caribou habitat,” Merz said. “And in that 150 years, while it’s regrowing into caribou habitat, it’s providing for deer, elk and moose along the way, which is drawing predators into the higher [elevated caribou] country.”

    Despite extreme challenges, Merz remains optimistic that revival efforts will prove successful. “I think it’s very possible to get to a self-sustaining population, but it’s going to take work, it’s going to take effort, and it’s going to take money. But I think it’s possible, and I think it’s realistic to think so.”

    An Activist Education

    ‘We don’t just sit around and talk. We study serious subjects.’


    Bottom Line: Children currently camped out at Standing Rockare getting a workout in life lessons from protesting parents and teachers.

    At the Oceti Sakowin School, children whose parents are involved in the Dakota Access pipeline protests are learning both traditional lessons and cultural skills.

    Mary Annette Pember

    “We aren’t just sitting around out here talking bad about the pipeline,” said Tashubi B., an 11-year-old Sicangu Lakota girl.

    As more and more protesters have gathered to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline project, they have increasingly brought their children with them. And these children must go to school. But where—and how?

    That is where the fledgling Oceti Sakowin School, near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, comes in. The fully operational school combines conventional classes with real-world experience. For instance, Tashubi and her classmates are creating documentaries about their lives and perspectives at the camp.

    “They said they were tired of reporters coming to the camp and telling stories about them and the school,” said Teresa Dzieglewicz, an Oceti Sakowin teacher. “They decided they wanted to tell their own stories.”

    Dzieglewicz and her colleagues are working with students as they first create written proposals and later gather interviews and information to tell their stories. “Our plan is to have all the documentaries online for everybody to see,” she said.

    Started by Standing Rock schoolteacher Alayna Eagle Shield, the camp school has attracted a core group of committed teachers and support staff, among them Dzieglewicz and her colleagues Blaze Starkey and Jose Zagney. Although Dzieglewicz initially planned to stay only two days when she arrived more than a month ago, she has since decided to put her MFA studies in St. Louis on hold and stay on. Previously she had taught elementary school on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.

    “I believe deeply in environmental and indigenous rights issues,” Dzieglewicz said. “I decided that I needed to care about them here rather than from far away in St. Louis.”

    Parents and students are very engaged with the home schooling curriculum. For instance, after realizing that the kids wanted to tell their own stories about the camp and share their feelings about the pipeline, Dzieglewicz arranged for the donation of 15 tablets and solar chargers with the help of attorney Eric DeWeese of Portland, Oregon, who has volunteered as Oceti Sakowin’s legal counsel.

    “I saw the elders in a tipi talking and I thought, Wow, they must have amazing stories to tell,” said DeWeese. “I thought it was an incredible opportunity.”

    The students were a little weary from several days of media attention when an ICTMN reporter arrived. This made Tashubi initially reluctant to discuss her project—until she learned that one of her teachers had said she was a very sharp girl.

    “Well, of course,” she quickly agreed. “My project is about the resources that we have here at camp. I want people to see that we have lots of things here and that we can take care of ourselves in a good way. We have a school, a kitchen, security and supplies.”

    She wanted people to know that the camp school is a serious place. “We don’t just sit around and talk. We study serious subjects like math and science. We also get to learn about Lakota values and language. Mostly I want people to know that we are unarmed; we are humble and peaceful people who are praying for a new way to live on the Earth.”

    Not everyone agrees that the school is a good thing. North Dakota Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Kirsten Baesler has told the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council that the Oceti Sakowin camp school is operating illegally and does not fit the official definition of a home-schooling operation, the Bismarck Tribune reported. She has offered to bus students to Mandan public schools, the newspaper said.

    Dzieglewicz responds that Oceti Sakowin adheres strictly to the state’s home schooling requirements and standards, and helps parents work on completing home-school paperwork. But according to Baesler, North Dakota regulations governing home schooling require that parents must be the primary educators for students.

    Dzieglewicz is a former certified teacher; Blaze Starkey, one of the main teachers at the camp, has a bachelor’s degree in language arts. Neither has ever made any pretense of operating the school as an accredited institution, they told the Tribune. Moreover, North Dakota law is not precise about stating that parents must be the educators in home schooling students, said Dan Beasley, a staff attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association.

    Amid the more formal instruction are cultural lessons about Lakota values and traditional skills. For this, Dzieglewicz and her colleagues have been able to draw from some of the most talented and skilled Native teachers and artists in Indian country, as they cycle regularly through the camp.

    Among the instructors is Steve Tamayo of the Milk’s Camp community on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, who has spent several days with the children teaching traditional skills such as tipi and drum making. (For the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, he painted the tipi that was presented to President Obama in 2014 to help raise awareness about the Keystone XL pipeline.)

    Tamayo integrates sacred Lakota symbolism and spirituality, as well as knowledge of plants and their uses in his lessons. For instance he incorporates the spiritual Lakota significance of the numbers four, seven and 13 into teaching about tipi building. At the same time, he creates a valuable lesson in math and problem solving. The students are working with Tamayo to create a winter count using Lakota symbols that will tell the story of their experience at camp.

    Currently Tamayo works as manager and cultural arts specialist with the Native American Advocacy Program (NAAP) in Herrick, South Dakota. NAAP is a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk youth build a cultural identity based on the traditional Lakota way of life. Its executive director, Marla Bull Bear, has also worked with children at the camp, teaching them a Lakota morning song every day.

    “Your prayers count,” she told the group as they sat in a circle around her. She led the students in song, quietly at first, then building to a crescendo that silenced the surrounding camp conversations.

    With the help of teachers at Oceti Sakowin, the Sacred Stone camp has also started a school of its own just across the Cannonball River. Mary Paniscus of Berlin, as well as other volunteers, had just finished organizing the huge number of donated books and school supplies when ICTMN visited.

    “I was just telling my mother this morning that I was thinking I might return to teaching,” Paniscus said with a laugh. “Now, this afternoon, I find that I’m the principal of the Sacred Stone Camp School.”

    Paniscus, who teaches genetics in Germany, had just arrived with her mother. After teachers and students posed for their first-day-of-school photo, she shooed parents and visitors out.

    “You’ll have to excuse us now,” she said. “It’s time for class.”


    The Salish & Kootenai Housing Authority (SKHA), a Tribally Designated Housing Entity (TDHE) for the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CS&KT) of the Flathead Indian Reservation, located in Pablo, Montana, is soliciting proposals for three (3) consecutive twelve (12) month audits, with a separate report for each year.

    The contract will begin with fiscal year ending December 31, 2016.  CPA firms or individual(s) responding to this Request for Proposal must have substantial previous audit experience with TDHEs, and must be very knowledgeable of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) and the organizational structures of TDHEs.

    Interested parties must submit written proposals to the Salish & Kootenai Housing Authority, so they are received, in person or by mail, on or before 4:30 p.m. Mountain Standard time, Friday, December 9, 2016.

    For a complete copy of the Request for Proposal for Audit Services with background, scope of services, contents of the proposal, and selection process go to SKHA’s website at or contact Carolyn Weivoda at
    406-675-4491, ext. 1512.

    Technical Support Representative
    or Advisor (NASIS)

    This position plays a critical role in the overall success of the Native American Student Information System (NASIS) Technical Support team and the assurance of customer satisfaction with Infinite Campus products.  Primary responsibility is to be the main point of contact for customers with questions, requests, or troubleshooting problems related to Infinite Campus products. BA/BS degree or equivalent work experience. Previous experience in a technical support ctr or customer service organization. Work experience within K-12 education desired. Familiarity with web, contact mgmt. systems and PC based applications.

    View full job description and or apply online

    Infinite Campus, 4321 109th Ave.
    NE Blaine, MN 55449 attn.
    Gina Weihrauch

    The Week in Photos

    Kerri Cottle

    Isaiah Chinana, from Jemez Pueblo, performed his original composition “Lavender Willow Trees” at the SITE Santa Fe biennial festival this month.

    Chuck Burton/AP Images

    The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina is slowly recovering from Hurricane Matthew, which slammed its stronghold of Lumberton.


    Angela Heikes has been named president and CEO of Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Gaming Enterprise, responsible for both the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino.


    A baby, as yet unnamed, was born to Zintkala Mahpiya Wi Blockowl (“Sky Bird Woman”) at a Dakota Access protest camp on October 12.

    Headlines from the Web

    Upcoming Events


    October 27 and November 2: Tribal Input on Federal Infrastructure Decisions
    The federal government established this series of meetings on September 9 in response to the Dakota Access pipeline situation, seeking to establish formal, government-to-government relations concerning the decision-making process behind federal infrastructure projects. The consultations will address two major issues: 1) Within the existing statutory framework, what the federal government should do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources and water rights; and 2) whether new legislation should be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.
    Location: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico and DoubleTree by Hilton, Billings, Montana

    October 31-November 2: Native American Contractors Association Annual Business to Business Conference and Expo
    For its fourth annual conference and expo, NACA will be providing presentations on government-business relationships in the diverse market of Native 8(a) federal contracting, upcoming elections and impacts for Native businesses, federal rules and regulations, and more. Panel, training and discussion topics will include “Native Corporations and Communities,” “Market and Policy Intersections,” “How to be Effective in Advocacy,” “Federal Spending Trends,” “Commercial Contracts and Acquisitions,” “Business Management and Development Systems,” “IT/Cyber Security” and “Financial Management/Access to Capital.”
    Location: Hard Rock Casino & Hotel, Catoosa, Oklahoma

    November 1-2: Tribal Cannabis and Hemp Symposium
    The conference will address tribal responses to the 2014 Justice Department decision that unexpectedly opened the door for tribes to grow and sell marijuana on reservation lands. Emphasis will be placed on business issues of cannabis and hemp production in all aspects, including economic opportunity and step-by-step production roadmaps. The proceedings will also be devoted to suitability, legal and regulatory issues, concerns over reservation health impacts, and potential negative effects on local tribal gaming operations. Presented by Victor-Strategies and
    Location: Tulalip Resort Casino, Seattle, Washington

    November 1-3: Moving Forward on First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Reform
    The forum and trade show is designed to gather input and recommendations on the delivery, funding and management of First Nations housing and infrastructure and how it can be reformed to better address community needs. Chiefs and their representatives will have the opportunity to provide their views in a number of areas including: a First Nation-led National Housing Strategy; infrastructure programs and the approval process; housing reform; and improving the management and delivery of safe drinking water and proper sanitation programs. Sponsored by the Assembly of First Nations.
    Location: RBC Convention Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba

    Letters to the Editor

    Re Mike Myers’ opinion piece about the challenges involving building “green” reservation housing (“Engaging in Indigenous Development,” October 17):

    Has Mr. Myers considered building round houses (geodesic domes)? They are easy to make in repetitive, prefabricated units—easy to construct on site and much less expensive per square foot than the author’s stated prices. Additionally, they are much more storm-resistant than conventional square or rectangular homes.

    Manufactured solar collectors can be pre-fitted into the sections and heat ducts are easily hung and routed throughout the home. Partial or full basements are easily utilized. And the available solar/LED lighting combination is a great choice as well.

    Sammy Snake
    St. Charles, Missouri

    Re President Obama’s eighth and final White House Tribal Nations Conference (October 3):

    God bless President Obama for his interest in the concerns of Native Americans. He is very caring of all humanity, no matter what creed or color. It will be sad to see him leave office.

    —Gwen Woznicki
    Erie, Pennsylvania



    Top News Alerts

    For the first time, the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) has endorsed a presidential candidate, in this case Hillary Clinton. The endorsement was approved on October 18. The AFN said it was determined “to elect a president who will continue working with us to achieve further self-determination and legal empowerment as sovereign, self-governing Indigenous peoples, with a firm foothold in the larger economy and strong Native institutions, full of hope and confidence for our children and grandchildren.”

    The school board of Seattle, Washington has called for federal recognition of the Duwamish Tribe. On October 12, the board unanimously approved a resolution for Washington to extend treaty rights and benefits to the tribe, recognizing them as “the original people of our area.” The resolution also stated that the board’s approval would contribute to “a supportive environment for Native education in Seattle Public Schools.” The vote came on the second anniversary of the board’s replacement of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

    The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) has expressed its “relief and gratitude” that criminal trespass charges were dismissed against Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman regarding her coverage of Dakota Access pipeline protests. “These charges were an outrageous abuse of power and naked attempt to intimidate and discourage journalists from covering events that government officials want to remain out of public view,” NAJA said. “We applaud the action of the court to dismiss this frivolous motion.”

    Washington State coastal tribes eluded major damage from two recent storms. The Quinault, Hoh, Quileute and Makah endured 90 mph winds and 30-foot waves that battered their main oceanfront village, Taholah, on October 13. But the village’s seawall held, sparing the 1,000 residents and tribal administration offices. Two days later the Chinook, Shoalwater Bay and Swinomish Tribes were relieved when a monster storm predicted for October 15 turned out to not be as strong as had been feared. The storms were fueled by remnants of super typhoon Songda.

    An Ontario judge turned down a legal challenge to ban the Cleveland Indians from using their Chief Wahoo logo during the team’s American League postseason games against the Toronto Blue Jays. The challenge also asked that Major League Baseball and Rogers Communications, the owners of the Blue Jays, not be permitted to use the mascot. Superior Court Justice Tom McEwan dismissed the application, stating he would give his reasoning at a later date. The Indians advanced to the World Series on October 19.

    How Did I Miss That?

    Ghost peppers, emissions in Chicago and Trump on Pluto


    Photo courtesy Steve Russell Steve Russell

    WFLA reported that Elisha Griggs was denied service in a Bradenton, Florida McDonald’s because of her service dog, a Pomeranian named Onyx. Mickey D’s demanded “paperwork,” so Griggs went back to her car and retrieved a doctor’s note. The manager refused to accept the doctor’s note and wanted to cross-examine her about her disability.  She was finally served after calling the sheriff.

    * * *

    KRON reported that a man got a 2 1/2 centimeter hole in his esophagus from eating a hamburger smothered in ghost pepper puree. On the Scoville measure of heat, a habanero rates a paltry half a million but a ghost pepper is twice that.  A jalapeño is practically ice cream, at only 2,500 to 8,000.

    When I lived in Wisconsin, I could win bar bets by chomping jalapeños. In those days, things Mexican were so obscure that they gave you the hairy eyeball if you ordered a drink containing tequila.

    * * *

    People who are fond of exotic rock formations like the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Badlands—which is Navajo property claimed by New Mexico—might wish to book a future SpaceX vacation in an area similar to that photographed by NASA’s New Horizon probe. Gizmodo has published the high-resolution results, which come from the body formerly known as a planet called Pluto.

    My cousin Ray Sixkiller, certain that there will be a Trump golf course there soon, was composing a letter to Pluto’s inhabitants, explaining that they have been “discovered.”

    * * *

    Rachel Maddow reported that the Santa Barbara, California News-Press became the first daily newspaper in the U.S. to endorse Donald Trump. She also reported paying ten dollars to get past the pay wall so she could find out why. It turns out they didn’t say why.

    The News-Press was last a media story when Wendy P. McGraw bought it from The New York Times Company in 2000. According to staffers, McGraw began to treat the paper as an instrument of her personal politics, claiming she was demanding slanted news coverage.

    On July 6, 2006, five editors and a columnist resigned. There were subsequent resignations and firings; the employee count went from about 250 to 25. Yet the editorial staff won the Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism in 2007.  The editors who quit in 2006 and three additional staffers received an ethics in journalism award from the Society of Professional Journalists. So you might say Trump was endorsed by what was left of the News-Press.

    Cousin Ray wondered if they skipped the custom of saying why, because everybody who could write an editorial either quit or got fired.

    * * *

    According to a poll from the Center for Public Opinion at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, 53 percent of people ages 18-35 would rather have a giant meteor destroy the planet than have Donald Trump become president. Thirty-four percent, by contrast, would prefer the killer meteor to President Hillary Clinton. Twenty-three percent would prefer planetary annihilation to either.

    And 39 percent would prefer that Barack Obama declare himself president for life.

    * * *

    If Trump’s attack on the U.S. electoral system is not a sign of the apocalypse, some academics would cite Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Dylan, characteristically, has said nothing.

    * * *

    The Chicago Tribune reported that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will shut down the last two emissions testing facilities in Chicago on November 1 “to reduce costs and streamline operations.”

    I thought this was an attention-getting lead and that the full story would show something more reasonable than the third largest city in the country having no place to have a car tested. I was wrong. The Illinois EPA is serious and they expect to save $11 million per year by grossly inconveniencing Second City car owners.

    * * *

    Fox News reported that a bus chartered by the Democratic National Committee was photographed dumping waste into a storm drain in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Cousin Ray said that was a perfect metaphor for this entire election.

    Upcoming Pow Wows


    Roy Track 33rd Annual Memorial Mesa Pow Wow

    525 East Main Street
    Mesa, AZ

    Stone Mountain Park Indian Festival and Pow Wow

    US Highway 78 East
    Stone Mountain, GA

    Red Mountain Eagle Pow Wow

    1839 North Longmore Road
    Scottsdale, AZ

    Austin Pow Wow and American Indian Heritage Festival

    3200 Jones Road
    Sunset Valley, TX

    Awi Akta Cherokee Veterans Pow Wow

    635 South West Gage Boulevard
    Topeka, KS

    The Big Picture

    The Oceti Sakowin kitchen is operating nearly nonstop to feed Dakota Access pipeline protesters. Christine Geovanis, Facebook