Issue 47, November 30, 2016

    A Letter from the Publisher


    Shekóli. In one of the crueler ironic twists in the struggle to preserve the health of the Missouri River against the degradation of the Dakota Access pipeline, water protectors were bombarded by water cannons in frigid weather last week. As Jenni Monet observed in ICTMN, the very thing the activists were determined to preserve was turned against them and used as a weapon by nameless, faceless police in masks—unwitting tools of state and corporate machinery.

    There are deeper meanings here, and the more attention we pay to them, the better we arm ourselves with knowledge for the future. How we as a culture and a society deal with water is at the heart of this and may very well determine the fate of our planet.

    Look at the schizophrenic nature of how corporations and the market economy treat water. Industrial corporations—in energy, manufacturing and even farming—abuse water and pollute it to the point where it is unfit for human consumption. In turn, the pollution has created a new market for bottled water, sold to us by global giants such as Nestlé. These companies are busily securing leases to the planet’s last supplies of fresh, untainted water. Something is very wrong here, and it is all done in the name of profit.

    One look at the incentives at work is all it takes to put the situation in perspective. Corporations seek profits. It’s what they do. Then take Standing Rock. What are the water protectors seeking? They are trying to preserve water, the source of life. Not just their water, but water for millions of people downstream. How does that compare to what the corporations are seeking? Or Morton County? Or the Army Corps of Engineers? What are they trying to preserve? The sheriffs are provoking the violence. Law enforcement is shooting, macing, firing water cannons, sound grenades . . . and for what? So that Energy Transfer Partners can make more money.

    We Indians are not against making a profit. But we are against threatening a vital, precious resource that is the source of life on this planet. The police response at Standing Rock has been unfathomable. In the United States, we are accustomed to seeing protests, marches and even armed takeovers by outliers like the Bundys or mindless destruction in the streets of cities after championship sporting events.

    But we never see the type of militarized police reaction in those instances that we have seen targeted again and again at peaceful protestors. They are attacked simply for being there. At Standing Rock there are no houses under threat, no people being disrupted. Who are the protesters affecting? Who are they bothering? There is nothing out there, nothing for miles around. The confrontations and violence are being created by state law enforcement. They are armed to the teeth and poorly trained if their reaction is to fire weapons or use attack dogs against people praying. Why aren’t these cops situated where they can do some good?

    Things must change. We can—we must—help ourselves. The spirit of NoDAPL that many people embrace must carry forward to address some of the damning realities: According to National Geographic, at least two-thirds of all fresh water global use flows through corporate control. The United Nations projects that by 2030, demand for water will exceed supply by 40 percent. In many parts of the United States, historic water leases (currently being targeted and acquired by corporations) allow for access to water with few limits or costs on amounts, regardless of times of plentiful supply or drought.

    What market forces and unfettered self-interest have unleashed is called the tragedy of the commons. This means that various people and entities, left to their own devices, will deplete and wipe out a shared resource because they put their personal interest ahead of the common good, even though it will result ultimately in terrible harm.

    The right behavior starts at home. We are all responsible for the choices we make. Collectively, choosing which brand to embrace, which company to resist, and how to divest from entities that put today’s profits before the long-term good will lend power to the right message.

    After all, Americans take pride in our belief in what’s right. No matter who is president of this country, we are active around the globe in trying to resolve issues. We are involved far and wide—in Europe, the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan. What does it say to the rest of the world when we can’t resolve peaceful protests here?

    There is no way global observers can endorse the militarization of a situation that requires calm heads and open discussion. Yet we say we are a peaceful, lawful country and that a democracy is the model the rest of the world should follow.

    Given all that, one would think our government could resolve this issue peacefully. Instead, prayerful unarmed people are attacked by armored law enforcement using military-grade weapons and tactics. How did this come to pass? Just because we have the weapons and the world’s best army does not mean we use force to get what we want. The authorities of this democracy should be able to negotiate this crisis by coming to the table in reason, wisdom and, especially, peace.

    NΛ ki wa,

    Ray Halbritter


    Give Trump A Chance

    Native Americans need not fear the presidency of Donald Trump, writes Lynn Armitage:

    Many Natives are worried over a Trump presidency. They should be patient and give it a chance. Have faith that he will build, fix and stimulate the economy of this country—and will have the best interests of Indian country at heart, too.

    Believe it or not, Native Americans have a lot in common with the stomped-on middle class. Both populations have felt disenfranchised for quite some time. “You were in a bubble and weren’t paying attention to your fellow Americans and their despair,” wrote activist filmmaker Michael Moore after the election. “[After] years of being neglected by both parties, the anger and the need for revenge against the system only grew.”

    You’ll be happy to know that candidate Trump reached out to Native Americans during the campaign. Deswood Tome, former chief of staff for the Navajo Nation, earned the Trump team’s attention with a letter he wrote concerning sovereignty and the citizenship of Native Americans. That letter resulted in an hour-long conference call with Trump’s national advisers and 93 top Native leaders.

    Indian country has many priorities to work on with the White House. Relinquishing federal control over tribes and redefining citizenship should be at the top of the heap. “A lot of tribes don’t know this, but we have been statutory citizens for the last 92 years,” Tome said. “The fact that Native Americans’ citizenship derives from a statute passed by Congress makes us second-class citizens, and this needs to change. I’d like President-elect Trump to appeal to Congress to make tribes a priority.”

    Patience, Indian country. We are squarely on the radar of the new Trump administration.

    Stop The Language Of Assimilation

    Don’t buy into the threadbare and deceptive phrases and notions that the federal government has foisted on Indigenous Peoples, urges Peter d’Errico:

    The U.S. has tried to make Indigenous Peoples forget who they are through boarding schools, the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, “termination” and other programs that work like missionary efforts, and so on. This country aims to convert Indigenous Peoples into something else—“American Indians” or “Native Americans.”

    The success of this pretense manifests itself in big ways and small. Like the U.S. flag at powwows, even though that flag carries stains of Indigenous blood going back centuries. Or “tribal leaders” meeting with the President of the United States, who assures them they “have a seat at the table,” even though they are legally still “wards.”

    And, as applied by U.S. courts, the trust doctrine is interpreted to mean the U.S. Congress can do as it pleases with Indigenous Peoples’ lands. But a federal “trust” concept creates a relation of domination by one government over the other. Indigenous leaders must understand that—and stand up for a true government-to-government relation against those who try to undermine Indigenous Peoples and grab their lands.

    It is not sufficient for Indigenous leaders to talk about being Americans, or to pretend that we are all part of the same country, as the saying goes. It is not sufficient for Indigenous leaders to rely on federal Indian law principles, either, because those principles deny Indigenous sovereignty.

    Indigenous leaders must articulate and insist on the fundamental difference between Indigenous self-determination and a domestic, dependent nation. No one else has the interest or the motivation to do that. If Indigenous leaders don’t do it, the other side will dominate the field.

    Natives Didn’t Go For Hillary

    You would think that Native voters would have embraced Hillary Clinton—but they didn’t, writes Mark Trahant:

    If you look at a color-coded 2012 election map, Indian country pops out. There are bright blue pools of voters in deeply red states. Shannon County (now Oglala Lakota County) voted 93.4 percent for Barack Obama. That’s Pine Ridge. Obama won three-quarters of the vote in Rolette County, North Dakota, which includes the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewas.

    Next door in Montana, voters from the Fort Peck Reservation came out and led the county with 56.5 percent voting for Obama. But blue faded in the red states this election. Donald Trump picked up 200 more votes than Mitt Romney in 2012. More significantly, there were nearly 600 fewer voters for Clinton than there were for Obama. It was the same story in Oglala Lakota County. Clinton won, and by a large margin, but with 500 fewer votes than Obama.

    In Rolette County there were nearly 1,300 fewer votes for Clinton. The red states did not change because of that, but it’s a good indication about how tepid the support for Clinton was, even in Indian country.

    This story played out in blue states, too. More than 2,000 voters disappeared in McKinley County on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. And, in swing states, such as Arizona, that slight difference—a few hundred people who did not vote here and there—added up into real numbers. In Apache County, where the majority of the voters are Navajo, 17,147 picked Obama four years ago. In this election, only 12,196 voted for Clinton.

    I think it’s clear that Clinton took Indian country for granted.

    ICT News

    kauffmanWhite House Exceeds Goal Of 500,000 Acres Of Land Into Trust


    With less than two months to go before it departs the White House, the Obama administration has met—and exceeded—its stated goal of placing half a million acres of land into trust for tribal nations.

    That goal was reached in October when President Obama signed into law the Nevada Native Nations Lands Act, which conveyed more than 71,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands into trust status for six Nevada tribes. The act brought the total acreage of land restored into trust during the last eight years to 542,062.

    The administration’s goal stems from a promise that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made during the fifth White House Tribal Nations Conference, in November 2013.   Since 2009, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has processed 2,265 individual trust applications, comprising acreage that is roughly 12 times the size of Washington, D.C.

    “Probably the most important thing the Obama Administration did for Native Americans was restore land to tribes,” Kevin Washburn, former assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, told ICTMN. “From the start, Obama prioritized Indian lands, and during his presidency, more land was taken into trust than during any other administration.”

    John Dossett, general counsel for the National Congress of American Indians, cautioned that the trust process may slow down when Obama’s time in office comes to an end. “The Obama administration set this goal and met it, but what happens next?” he asked. “What happens when the urgency ends? What will the next administration do?”

    Interior Cancels 15 Oil And Gas Leases In Blackfeet ‘Cathedral’


    The Interior Department has canceled Devon Energy Corp.’s 15 oil and gas drilling rights leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana, which is considered the “cathedral” of the Blackfeet Nation. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement on November 16.

    “These were set many years ago in an area that should have never had oil and gas leases to begin with,” Jewell said. “I’m sorry it took so long to get to this point.”

    The 200-square-mile site, comprising the heart of Blackfeet spirituality, was largely untouched by outsiders until 1981, when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Reagan administration began issuing oil and gas leases. The determination was based on the U.S. Forestry Service’s finding that development would have “no significant impact.” However, the federal government failed to consult tribal leaders. When the BLM approved the first drilling application in 1985, the Blackfeet protested, prompting some leaseholders to pull out.

    State and federal advocates ultimately succeeded in getting oil and gas leasing activity suspended, and in 2007 President Bush made permanent a Forestry Service moratorium on reissuing leases that had been sold or relinquished. By 2010, five more leaseholders relinquished their leases as well. Of the remaining leaseholders, Solonex, LLC, sued to drill in 2013. But their action prompted the Blackfeet to issue a comprehensive account of the area’s religious and cultural value and, in turn, a review of the Forestry Service’s findings.

    Two outstanding leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area still await resolution.

    Mortgage Lending To Indians Is Up But Still Lags National Average


    American Indians received $1 billion more in mortgage money in 2015 than they did in 2014, according to data reported by lenders to the federal government. However, the loan amounts received were considerably less than the national average.

    Six billion dollars in mortgage loans was extended last year to those who designated themselves Native American, up from $4.9 billion in 2014. This includes people who designated their race as Native American (which includes Alaska Natives) and their ethnicity as Hispanic. Some 25 percent of Indians who received loans last year designated themselves as Hispanic.

    First lien loans to Natives averaged $201,000, and second liens $42,000. But the national averages were $261,000 for first liens and $65,000 for second mortgages and home equity loans. Native mortgage lending was overwhelmingly for first liens last year, at more than 99 percent of volume.

    About 32,000 mortgages were made to Natives last year, with 8,000 going to Indians who claimed Hispanic ethnicity. (The federal government considers Hispanic to be an ethnicity, while it considers Native Americans and Native Hawaiians to be races.) Lending skewed heavily to upper income Natives, with more than 51 percent ($3.2 billion) coming from those at the upper levels of area median income. Low- and moderate income lending made up just 16 percent of mortgage dollars granted, while middle income accounted for 23 percent.

    The data is derived from Home Mortgage Disclosure Act reports that were filed by some 7,000 lenders with the Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council, an agency of the Federal Reserve, and other federal agencies.

    ‘People Were Being Brutalized’

    Conflicting accounts mark latest oil pipeline clash


    Bottom Line: Escalating tensions over the Dakota Access project reached a new and dangerous high four days before Thanksgiving.

    In subfreezing temperatures, authorities sprayed Dakota Access pipeline protesters and unleashed other violence on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

    Adam Alexander Johansson

    The November 20 confrontation between opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline and law-enforcement authorities, perhaps the most violent clash yet of the two parties in the ongoing conflict, has been marked by very different accounts of what happened that night.

    The water protectors say that authorities unnecessarily blasted hundreds of them with water for seven hours in subfreezing temperatures and pelted them with rubber bullets and concussion grenades. By contrast, representatives of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said they were responding to acts of violence.

    Ground zero was State Highway 1806, just north of the Oceti Sakowin Camp. As a group of water protectors attempted to remove two burned-out vehicles and prevent them from blocking the road, authorities arrived and sent a barrage of rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray, concussion grenades and freezing-cold water at people gathered on Backwater Bridge.

    “There were people getting rushed, being carried by medics, semi-conscious, bleeding, shaking uncontrollably, swollen faces, in shock, shot body parts, bleeding,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal member Wasté Win Young.

    “People were just being brutalized,” said one participant, Kevin Gilbertt. “From where I stood, I saw numerous tear gas canisters fired into the enclosed bridge. [Protesters] couldn’t go left, or right, or forward, and they were spraying right into them.”

    “Police were aiming for people’s heads, shooting rubber bullets,” said attorney Angela Bibens, who is associated with the Water Protector Legal Collective, a nonprofit organization coordinating criminal and civil litigation in partnership with the National Lawyers Guild. “I’m just absolutely shocked by the lack of regard for the sanctity for human life shown by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.”

    According to the department, the authorities reacted with necessary force because police officers armored in riot gear, helmets and face shields felt threatened by stones and logs that were reportedly being thrown. “The number one thing has still been the safety for everybody,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier on November 21. “The actions that were taken last night were just for that purpose.”

    Morton County maintains that aggressive fires set by the water protectors prompted the use of the water hoses. But protesters deny that they set the fires. “There were no fires before the water cannons,” said Bibens. “They did this to punish water protectors.”

    Temperatures on the night of the altercation dipped toward 20 degrees Fahrenheit and into the teens during the earlier hours of the morning. The wind-chill factor made it feel at least ten degrees colder, and hundreds were treated for hypothermia throughout the night and the next morning.

    “The first fires were started by a device from Morton County,” said Gilbertt. “Fires were [later] set on the side by water protectors, controlled fires to keep people warm. That was not fire to be used in an offensive way.”

    The human fallout was immense. “Approximately 300 injuries were identified, triaged, assessed and treated by our physicians, nurses, paramedics and integrative healers working in collaboration with local emergency response,” said the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council. “At least 26 seriously injured people had to be evacuated by ambulance to three area hospitals.”

    Some injuries were severe. Graphic photographs have circulated of Sophia Wilansky, 21, of New York, whose arm was torn apart by what may have been a concussion grenade. Other victims included an elder who lost consciousness, a young man who suffered a grand mal seizure, a woman shot in the face by a rubber bullet, a young man who vomited blood after a rubber bullet injury to his abdomen, and a man shot near his spine by a rubber bullet, causing blunt force trauma and a severe head laceration.

    Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II chastised authorities for what he said was excessive use of force. “Law enforcement is using way too much force, way too much aggression,” he told KFYR-TV News. “Every time something happens, law enforcement takes excessive force. They need to be held accountable.”

    Amnesty International USA has formally protested Morton County’s use of force. “Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict is inevitable rather than possible, escalating tensions between protesters and police,” said Executive Director Margaret Huang.

    “We can use whatever force [is] necessary to maintain peace,” said Mandan Police Chief Jason Ziegler.

    Do Indian Lives Matter?

    ‘We can work together to ensure this never happens again’


    Bottom Line: In Washington State, police killings of Natives reflect a growing national concern and activists are rallying.

    Lisa Earl has called for justice in the shooting death of her daughter, Jackie Salyers.

    Joe Zummo

    It is a bright morning, and in a small crab vessel in Puget Sound, north of Tacoma, Washington, Puyallup tribal member James Rideout is baiting and tossing overboard some one dozen wire-mesh crab pots. As the vessel navigates the sound, with its forested islands and peninsulas, Mount Rainier’s massive snow-covered peak seems to glide around the horizon.

    Toward evening, Rideout will return to collect the crabs. They will be cooked for one of the regular family meetings that have followed the police shooting of his niece, Jackie Salyers.

    Shortly before midnight on January 28, Tacoma patrol officers killed Salyers during a failed attempt to apprehend her boyfriend, who was wanted on drugs and weapons charges. Minutes after the officers approached the couple, one of them shot Salyers in the head. The boyfriend escaped into the night. A mother of four, Salyers was pregnant at the time of her death.

    At her funeral her mother, Lisa Earl, called for justice—not only for her daughter, but on behalf of everyone affected by police violence. The Puyallup Tribe took up the challenge, under the banner “Justice for Jackie, Justice for All.”

    As they continued to meet, others in the region who had similar experiences and concerns started joining them. This makes sense culturally to the Puyallup, whose name translates as “the generous and welcoming people.”

    “When the police killings happened to people who didn’t have a tribe to back them up, they were alone, on their own,” said Rideout. “When our tribe took a position on this issue, we realized we had an opportunity to take care of them all, to bring them along with us.”

    As time went by, non-Natives and members of other tribes began to join the family gatherings at the tribe’s Little Wild Wolves Youth/Community Center. In a traditional talking circle, they told stories of tragedy and survival, then shared a meal. Participants at a recent meeting included African-American mother Crystal Chaplin, whose two sons were shot (both survived but one is paralyzed), and Silvia Sabon (Tlingit), whose family lost a young Latino friend.

    * * *

    Washington is not the only state that has seen its share of Native killings by police. According to Mike Males, senior researcher at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, 1999–2014 data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention medical examiners shows that Natives are more likely to be killed by police than any other group.

    When the fatalities are divided by age, Natives ages 20–24, 25–34 and 35–44 are three of the top five groups to lose their lives during arrest or while in custody prior to sentencing, Males said. The other two groups are African-Americans ages 20–24 and 25–30.

    Yet little attention has been paid to the Native deaths, even as the country has been shocked and periodically convulsed by riots after other police killings.

    In a research paper presented in April, Roger Chin, Jean Schroedel and Lily Rowen found that in six states—Mississippi, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Alaska and North Dakota—death rates for Native Americans ranged from a high of 1.19 down to .27 per 10,000 of the population. All six were higher than the highest rate for African Americans—in California, at .19 deaths per 10,000. In 87 percent of the cases, the Natives were shot or died in the custody of off-reservation police.

    The paper focused on media coverage of police killings of Natives and public awareness of them. The researchers looked for articles about deaths-by-cop in the top 10 U.S. newspapers by circulation—the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and others—over a recent 15-month period. The only sustained look at a Native death in that time frame among these major papers, they found, was in the Denver Post.



    Protests have kept pace with police killings of Native Americans in the Evergreen State. Facebook/Justice for Jackie


    Chin, Schroedel and Rowen noted that racial issues in the United States tend to be framed as involving blacks and whites, while other groups are ignored. They cautioned, however, that their goal was not to criticize the reporting on non-Native deaths and the work by Black Lives Matter advocates and families. Nor did they seek to judge whether police actions were justified.

    Rather, they sought to ask whether the lack of reporting on Native deaths indicates that Native lives are devalued to an extreme degree and their issues swept aside by both the public and policymakers.

    * * *

    In Washington, the group that has gathered under the Puyallup umbrella has both organized and attended protest marches. And they are gathering the 250,000 signatures needed for a ballot initiative that would improve police accountability in the state.

    Other tribes, groups such as the NAACP and individuals have joined them. If successful, the initiative would place before the legislature a measure to remove an escape clause in Washington law for officers who kill.

    Currently, Washington police who use lethal force cannot be charged with a criminal offense unless it can be proved that they acted with malice. But since malice is a state of mind, it is impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, said Tacoma attorney Ben Barcus.

    One of Barcus’s clients is Marilyn Covarrubias, whose son Daniel, a Suquamish tribal member, was gunned down in 2014 by Lakewood, Washington officers who say they mistook his cell phone for a gun. Barcus is preparing a civil case that will seek monetary damages to help provide for Daniel’s seven children.

    Marilyn described her son, who was 37 when he died, as a beadwork artist, horseman and devoted father who loved to have fun with his children and nieces and nephews. “Every one of them has been deeply and terribly affected,” she said. “A good man was lost.”

    Advocate Lisa Hayes, who wrote the ballot-initiative text, said it has started a statewide conversation. “We want the discussion of police shootings and use of excessive and deadly force to be at every dinner table and on every porch. This is one reason the initiative idea is so powerful.”

    Though many throughout the state are helping gather signatures, Hayes believes the economically and politically powerful Puyallup Tribe is critical to the effort.

    “Change will happen,” she said. “It is long past time, and the involvement of the tribe will be a big part of this.” In a recent development, tribal council member Tim Reynon has been appointed to a statewide commission on the police violence issue.

    * * *

    Indigenous Peoples have long seen maintaining their cultures as a bulwark against despair. And so it is during the present pain following the death of Jackie Salyers. One of her cousins, Chester Earl, is chairman of the Puyallup tribal canoe society. On another pleasant morning, he supervised dozens of tribal members—from kindergartners to retirees—as they practiced for an upcoming multi-tribal canoe journey, working on technique and building strength as they plied the reservation shoreline.

    Earl points out that historically, canoeing was more than a way to get around; it was an expression of cooperation, caring and a spiritual relationship to the world. “Our connection to the water kept us alive.”

    “None of us who have lost family and friends to police violence will ever really get justice, because nothing will bring them back,” said James Rideout. “But we can work together to ensure that this kind of thing never happens again.”

    Heitkamp’s Road Ahead

    ‘I think there will be a learning curve on treaty rights’


    Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (r.) is determined to continue her work on behalf of Natives.

    Editor’s Note: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs, has been a major advocate for many Native American issues, ranging from gaming to the needs of young people. Here, she holds forth on the incoming Trump administration’s lack of expressed Indian policies, her expectations for congressional bipartisanship on Native matters, her desires for the Commission on Native American Children, and possible conflicts of gaming interest in the White House.

    * * *

    I want to start off by getting your impression of how Indian country will fare, given the makeup of the new Congress and the incoming Trump administration. Is it all going to be doom and gloom, as some tribal leaders fear?

    Given the businesses of President-elect Trump—which [includes] the casino business—there is a lot of concern about whether Indian gambling will be curtailed in any way. You know, we have to be mindful that it wasn’t Congress that gave tribes the authority to engage in gaming. It was, in fact, their sovereignty and the Supreme Court.

    I think there probably will be a learning curve on what treaty rights are, a learning curve on case law regarding tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, and I expect that is going to present some challenges. I don’t think that there will be challenges in the Congress, because there hasn’t been a lot of turnover, or an inability to understand these issues at the Committee [on Indian Affairs]. The committee has always worked in a bipartisan fashion. I think you’ll see a lot of continuation of that.

    You can’t really address problems of rural poverty without having a discussion of treaty rights and Native Americans, so I hope that instead of [Indian Affairs] being an asterisk and being kind of relegated to the Department of the Interior, that we talk about this in a broader fashion.

    If bipartisanship continues to be the norm on Indian issues, can you all work together to influence the administration?

    It’s always a challenge, even for people who are inclined to be incredibly sympathetic about past [injustices]. If you are from a place like North Dakota or Wyoming or Alaska or New Mexico, and you have been at all involved in public policy in your state, then these are issues you have been involved with. And so, it’s really incumbent upon those of us who have those special relationships and who have treaty tribes to continue to speak about the necessity of understanding what those treaty rights mean.

    It sounds like you are confident that you will be able to continue to work in a bipartisan manner on Indian issues.

    That’s always been the tradition of the committee. And we can go back throughout history and look at [positive] things that have happened for Indian country. Nothing has ever happened when it hasn’t been bipartisan.

    Do you have any personal insights on how President-elect Trump feels about Indian policy and American Indians in general? He has testified before Congress in the past about Indian gaming in ways that many in Indian country felt were misguided at best, perhaps racist at worst.

    Instead of sounding the alarms without knowing exactly where we’re headed, I like to believe that there’s an opportunity to educate. If you repeal the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, you haven’t changed outcomes for the tribes. The tribes still have the authority through treaty rights and sovereignty to engage in gambling. It can’t be touched by any administration. I think we need to be clear on the extent of the authority. To understand this, you have to understand the unique relationship between the federal government and treaty tribes.

    Are staffing and funding for the Commission on Native Children issues that could be addressed in the waning days of the Obama administration?

    I don’t think that we can afford to wait. This was my first bill that I introduced (to create the commission). I’ve been working on this now for three years. It’s not simply about getting the pen to the paper, the signature of the president—that was just an initial first step. I can make an argument that this is the best path forward to focus collaborative interventions that will change outcomes for Native American kids. If we change outcomes for Native American kids, we will change outcomes for all of Indian country.

    Are you going to make a big push to strengthen the commission during this lame-duck period, or are you going to wait to do so under the Trump administration?

    I am pushing every day. We don’t know what the structure is going to look like if there is going to be a continuing resolution [to fund government programs], or if it’s an omnibus. But we are going to continue to do everything that we can to get this commission going sooner rather than later.

    If there is any inclination by the Trump administration to cut Indian programs, what can you do from your position in the Senate minority?

    I think a lot of people appreciate that in the Senate we have to be more collaborative and more bipartisan in order to get anything done. We started out this Congress with 46 Democratic members; we’ll have 48 when we begin again. We have some great western legislators, and we have some great allies on both sides of the aisle.

    How have non-Indian voters in your state reacted to your strong support for Indian issues? Has it been a wedge issue in your state?

    I don’t think so. I have been pretty clear. I have been doing this work for 30-plus years. My awareness of the challenges for children has only gotten more passionate, especially with what I am seeing with opioid and methamphetamine abuse, and the lack of availability of treatment. I’m a senator for all of North Dakota, and I fight for the things that I think are important.

    Race issues played a major role in the recent presidential election. Are racial issues a big problem in North Dakota?

    You need to realize that in four years the people of this country don’t change so dramatically [in terms of racism] that they would go from electing Barack Obama to electing Donald Trump. We have to quit looking at this through a racial lens, and we have to start looking at this through an economic lens. When we talk about economic opportunities and jobs and strengthening our environment for small business, that’s when we all win.

    Tribal citizens, in many instances, have been struggling economically for so long. Do you think that President-elect Trump sees the work that needs to be done in terms of economic growth for Native communities?

    I don’t think that he’s gotten that granular. By that I mean I think he sees certainly the work that needs to be done economically across the board to create opportunity. One of the things that we’ve done that I think you [would] find broad support for is supporting entrepreneurship. We’ve invested a lot in entrepreneurship and small business programs.

    There are underutilized opportunities. I could see a path forward for strong bipartisan support to build entrepreneurship and small business opportunities in Indian country in ways that will actually create more sustainable long-term economic opportunities. I’m kind of excited about that piece of it.

    Urban Outfitters Suit Is Settled

    Navajo Nation will work jointly on authentic products


    Bottom Line: A bitter legal battle over tribal patterns and identity has ended with an agreement to purvey officially licensed merchandise.

    No longer will Urban Outfitters sell these products and others like them without Navajo Nation approval.

    Nearly five years after the Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters, claiming the clothing retailer appropriated their name and tribal patterns, the two parties have agreed to work together to create and market authentic Navajo products.

    The two parties’ license and supply agreement, signed by a district court judge on September 29, was formally announced on November 17. Most of the details remain confidential. But it is known that both the plaintiffs and the defendants will collaborate to produce genuine Navajo jewelry.

    “We applaud [Urban Outfitters] for acknowledging the validity of the Navajo Nation trademark and are glad we have settled this matter,” said Navajo President Russell Begaye. “The Navajo Nation is proud of its strong history and welcomes working in collaboration with [Urban Outfitters] and other retailers to highlight our unique culture.”

    “We take the rights of artists and designers seriously, both in protecting our own and in respecting the rights of others,” Azeez Hayne, general counsel for Urban Outfitters, said in a prepared statement. “As a company, (Urban Outfitters) has long been inspired by the style of Navajo and other American Indian artists and looks forward to the opportunity to work with them on future collaborations.”

    The bitter legal dispute erupted when Urban Outfitters and its subsidiaries, including Anthropologie and Free People, began using the Navajo name on its products. Among the items were apparel, outerwear and jewelry labeled as “Navajo” or “Navaho.” The retailers also marketed a liquor flask that was decorated with Navajo patterns and a “Navajo hipster panty.” These items in particular sparked outrage on the Navajo Nation, where alcohol is prohibited and modesty is paramount.

    In February 2012, the Navajo Nation filed suit in U.S. District Court in New Mexico, claiming Urban Outfitters was unlawfully using the Navajo name. In its original complaint, the tribe argued that the Pennsylvania-based retail giant was appropriating the Navajo name and tribal patterns and was violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

    The tribe holds at least 10 trademarks on its name, covering clothing, footwear, household products, textiles and online retail sales. It has used the name “Navajo” since 1894 and has 86 trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    By labeling items as “Navajo,” the company and its subsidiaries were in direct competition with Navajo artisans and its tribal arts and crafts enterprise, which is protected by federal law. The labels also deceived and confused potential customers, the tribe’s complaint stated.

    Urban Outfitters, whose portfolio includes more than 2,300 specialty stores, catalogs and websites in the U.S., Canada and Europe, countered that the Navajo Nation does not own its name, and that American Indian-inspired prints have long been a staple of the fashion industry. It sought a declaration of non-infringement and cancellation of the tribe’s federal trademark registrations, according to court records.

    “The term ‘navajo’ is a common, generic term widely used in the industry and by customers to describe a design/style or feature of clothing and clothing accessories, and therefore, is incapable of trademark protection,” the company said in court documents. Moreover, Urban Outfitters argued, the Navajo Nation had not taken action during the years that third parties used the term, and thus abandoned its rights to the name.

    The company also asserted that it sells “hip clothing and merchandise” to “culturally sophisticated young adults” and in no way competes with Navajo arts and crafts, which generally are not sold in “specialty retail centers, upscale street locations and enclosed malls.” Indeed, “nothing in the title of the store, the layouts of the stores or the manner in which any of the goods are marketed or sold suggests in any way that Urban Outfitters is marketing or selling products supplied by the Navajo Nation,” the company asserted.

    Begaye said the tribe now expects companies to seek permission when considering using the Navajo name, designs or motifs. “We are a proud nation with talented artisans, scientists, lawyers and professionals who together represent the Navajo Nation. We believe in protecting our Nation, our artisans, designs, prayers and way of life.”

    Bois Forte Tribal Government

    Housing Department


    The Bois Forte Housing Department in Nett Lake, MN, is soliciting Proposals to study the needs of our maintenance program and to provide policy updates to improve the timeliness, cost and quality in the delivery of our services.

    All proposals are due by December 23, 2016 by 4:00 P.M.

    Inquiries concerning this RFP should be mailed to:

    Dani Pieratos, Office Manager

    Bois Forte Housing Department
    5344 Lakeshore Drive
    Nett Lake, MN 55772
    P: (218) 757-3253
    F: (218) 757-3254
    Or e-mailed to:

    This invitation is unrestricted; however, preference shall be given to Indian Organizations and Indian Owned Economic Enterprises in accordance with 24 CFR 1000.48, 1000.50 and 1000.52.

    The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians is seeking a TGA Director for the Angel of the Winds Casino. The perfect candidate will report to the Tribal Gaming Commission (TGC). This is a full time position with excellent benefits/ holiday and vacation, medical, dental, discounts at many of our other businesses and much more!! Please don’t hesitate and apply today!!


    Directs the regulation, compliance, control, safety, security, enforcement and management operations of the Tribal Gaming Administration (TGA) as authorized and identified by the Stillaguamish Gaming Commission (SGC) in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA),the National Indian Gaming Commissions National Register statutes, the Washington Administrative Codes (WAC), the Revised codes of Washington (RCW), the Stillaguamish-Washington State Compact Agreement, and the Stillaguamish Tribal Gaming Ordinance of 2008.

    Please submit application and resume.

    Applications can be found at

    Mailing address: Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians PO Box 277 Arlington, WA 98223

    TITLE: TGA Operations Manager

    LOCATION: Angel of the Winds Casino

    REPORTS TO: TGA Director

    STATUS: Exempt

    GRADE: $35.95

    DATE: 11/7/2016


    Responsible for regulatory enforcement, compliance, security and control of the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians Gaming Operations (TGO) as authorized by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, national Indian Gaming commission, the Tribal/State Compact, the Washington State Gambling commission, the Stillaguamish Gaming Commission and Stillaguamish Gaming Ordinance of 2008.


    Manages the day-to day functions of the TGA Operations Department. Investigates, documents, monitors, and enforces compliance of rules, regulations, control, and security of gaming operations in accordance with applicable Tribal, State and Federal Regulations. Submits reports and findings to the TGA director and provides recommendations for sanctions and/or compliance consistent with established policies and procedures.

    Please look at our website for more details and to submit an

    Burns Paiute Tribe

    Burns, Oregon

    Job Description

    Position: Community and Economic Development Director

    Accountable to: General Manager

    Salary Range: TBD/DOE

    Classification: Management, Regular, Full-time


    The Burns Paiute Tribe has both a comprehensive plan and a community and economic development strategic plan identifying a number of strategic priorities to improve the economic vibrancy and overall quality of life. The Community and Economic Development Director (CEDD) provides a leadership role for the planning, coordination and implementation of the strategic priorities identified in the plans. Working under the direct supervision of the General Manager, the CEDD is accountable for successful execution of the strategic direction while ensuring the Tribal culture and heritage is sustained and enhanced.

    Indian Preference:

    Indian preference will be given to candidates showing proof of enrollment in a federally recognized tribe. In the absence of Indian applicants meeting the qualifications as listed above, all applicants not entitled to or who fail to claim Indian Preference, will receive consideration without regard to race, color, sex, political preference, age, religion, or national origin.


    The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work to be performed by the individual assigned to this position.

    For a more detailed description go to:


    December 13th, 2016 COB

    Please submit application & resume to:

    Burns Paiute Tribe, Human Resource Department
    100 Pasigo St.
    Burns, OR 97720
    541-573- 8013

    The Week in Photos

    Turk Cobell, the son of the late, legendary Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet), accepted her Medal of Freedom from President Obama on November 22.

    Clearwater Film LLC

    Jane Fonda served Thanksgiving dinner to Stand Rock protesters.


    The First Nations author Janet Rogers (Mohawk/Tuscarora) has published her fifth volume of poetry, Totem Poles and Railroads.


    Among the teepee-themed items being purveyed by Target for the holiday season is this pillow for $12.48.

    Headlines from the Web

    Upcoming Events


    December 5-7: National American Indian Housing Council Leadership and Training
    “Admissions & Occupancy Program Management” is an interactive course designed to enhance the job performance of occupancy specialists and other tribal housing professionals working on admissions and occupancy issues. This course will cover the application and selection process, eligibility, calculating annual income, determining monthly rental or homeownership payments, occupancy standards, collections practices and compliance, effective communication techniques with residents, and lease agreement compliance.
    Location:  The Mirage, Las Vegas, Nevada

    December 6-7: First Nations Housing & Infrastructure Forum
    Limited budgets on First Nations reserves require unique approaches to generate needed capital sources for key infrastructure. The forum will address these challenges through such sessions as “Enabling Financing Through Empowering First Nations,” “Market Based Housing and Improved Housing Management,” “Building Bridges and Closing the Infrastructure Gap,” “Pipeline to Better Water Treatment” and “Communicating the Road to Better Relationships.” Conducted by the Canadian Institute.
    Location:  DoubleTree By Hilton, Toronto, Ontario

    December 6-8: Indigenous HR Skill Builder Conference
    Beginning with an “HR Boot Camp, From Orientation to Termination,” the conference will cover “Unlocking the Door to Employee Motivation,” “Compensation Basics 101,” “Better Safe Than Sorry: Dealing With Substance Abuse at Work,” “Leadership Change: Forging New Relationships for Opportunity” and related subjects.
    Location:  Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel, Richmond, British Columbia

    December 7: Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing
    The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will conduct an oversight hearing devoted to “Examining the Department of the Interior’s Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, Four Years Later.”
    Location:  Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

    December 7-10: Native Wellness Institute Sessions
    The Native Wellness Institute will conduct several concurrent events devoted to its goal of promoting the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of North America’s Indigenous Peoples. A gathering of the Native Youth Leadership Academy will focus on young people, emphasizing leadership development, healing, spirituality and healthy risk taking. “Adults Working with Native Youth Training of Trainers,” intended for adults who work with Native youth, offers a curriculum applicable to a variety of youth programs. “Healthy Relationships Trainer Refresher” will provide skill-building tools and exercises to facilitate healthy community relationship training. “Storytelling: A Tool for Personal, Family, and Community Healing” will stress oral tradition and other forms of storytelling as healing tools.
    Location:  Bahia Resort Hotel, San Diego, California

    Letters to the Editor

    It is going to be interesting to see how the North Dakota court system handles the actress Shailene Woodley. She was arrested along with hundreds of others for participating in the Dakota Access pipeline protests. They face various charges, including criminal trespass and rioting. Woodley is scheduled for trial sometime before Christmas.

    My question is this: If she is acquitted and found not guilty, shouldn’t everybody else who was charged be free to go as well? If North Dakota lets her go home and convicts every one else, that would look bad.

    All the while, big oil is laughing at us.

    Dean Birds Bill
    New Town, North Dakota


    Should American Indians vote in United States elections? I say no. By voting, Natives are supporting an oppressor nation.

    Voting against your own best interests is a form of ignorance and a continuance of a march toward death. Dividing Indian peoples over the white man’s election is hubris.

    Sammy Snake
    St. Charles, Missouri



    Top News Alerts

    Two major rock concerts on November 27 spotlighted the efforts of the Dakota Access pipeline water protectors, with the proceeds going to benefit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters. Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne were among the performers at the “Stand in Solidarity Standing Rock” concert in Fort Yates, North Dakota, while Dave Matthews, Graham Nash and Lakota Thunder were featured in “Stand With Standing Rock” at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

    Members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island filed a lawsuit on November 18 to uphold an October impeachment of Chief Matthew Thomas. A new tribal council that was elected on July 30 voted for the impeachment on October 1. Among the claims are that Thomas is a Florida resident, thereby violating tribal requirements that he reside either in or close to Rhode Island, and that he created a tribal government that is illegally using tribal funds. Matthews has held office for two decades.

    The Academy Award-winning actress and activist Jane Fonda arrived at the site of the Dakota Access pipeline protests last week and helped serve dinner to hundreds of water protectors at Standing Rock Community High School on Thanksgiving Day. Fonda, who visited the Oceti Sakowin camp, donated seven butchered bison for a celebratory meal that was hosted by the actress Shailene Woodley. “I’ve rarely seen so much love, gratitude, determination, devotion,” she said.

    To commemorate Native American Heritage Month, AT&T has contributed more than $1 million for Native American education. The donation comprises $600,000 to the American Indian College Fund and $450,000 to George Washington University. The contribution to the College Fund will serve about 700 Native students at tribal colleges and local high schools in Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arizona; the GWU donation will establish the university’s AT&T Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy. AT&T has contributed $7.5 million over the last five years to support Native education.

    The Chickasaw astronaut John Herrington has published a new children’s book, Mission to Space (White Dog Press). The book shares the author’s passion for space travel and offers a look at his astronaut training. Herrington became the first registered member of a Native American tribe in space in 2002 during mission STS-113 aboard the space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station; he spent 330 hours in space, including 19 hours and 55 minutes in spacewalks.

    How Did I Miss That?

    The shadow of The Shining, disenrollment among the Nooksacks and further dispatches from Trumpworld


    Photo courtesy Steve Russell Steve Russell

    An odd horror story factoid leaped out at me when I was doing some research on memorable public works projects. The Shining was filmed around one of those Great Depression projects built by the Works Progress Administration—the iconic Timberline Lodge resort in Oregon. Management asked director Stanley Kubrick not to use room 217 (the site of much horror in the book) because the association with gore would make it impossible to rent the room.

    Kubrick agreed and moved the action to a room that does not exist, No. 237. It appears that lots of fans of the movie also read the book, because the most requested room in Timberline Lodge to this day is . . . 217.

    My cousin Ray Sixkiller piped up in his best Ray Parker Jr. Ghostbusters imitation, “I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost!”

    * * *

    Newsmax offered a series of reports from Trumpworld worthy of The National Enquirer: Melania Trump will not move to the White House so that she can keep son Barron in his $40,000 tuition prep school. The president-elect’s ex-wife Ivana wants to be named ambassador to the Czech Republic. Trump’s ex-wife Marla Maples wants The Donald to lobby the U.N. to appoint her ambassador to “somewhere in Africa.”

    Cousin Ray insisted that I pass on the rumor from DuffelBlog that Ashley Madison will be named to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. DuffelBlog quoted Trump asking, “Who has serviced our veterans more than Ashley?”

    * * *

    Back in 2012, some Republican heads exploded when Malia Obama opted in to her school trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, where the students volunteered at an orphanage in addition to playing tourists. Judicial Watch complained that the trip cost her Secret Service detail $115,500.87. The White House requested that the details of the trip not be reported in the interest of safety, but the right wing echo chamber was all over it.

    I was reminded of the controversial school trip when NBC reported that Secret Service security for the Trump family is costing $2 million a day before he’s even sworn in. I’m guessing the Trump children and their children are not going to stay home because of the cost of security when they travel.

    * * *

    Richard B. Spencer claims to have coined the term “alt-right” and if that’s so then he gets to say what alt-right means. The “core idea,” he told The New York Times, is “white identity.” Further, “to be white,” Spencer told a convention of alt-righters, “is to be a creator, an explorer, a conqueror.” Of the United States, he claimed, “It is our creation; it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”

    In what alternate universe? In pre-industrial America, wealth was land and labor. The country prospered because it was hard to invade across the Atlantic or the Pacific and there was abundant land to be stolen from Indians and farmed with labor stolen from Africans imported for the purpose.

    Cousin Ray observed, “It sounds less glamorous when you say it that way.”

    * * *

    Navajo Times reported that Radmilla Cody was collecting supplies for Standing Rock and delivering them herself. Geronimo Son was doing the same in Austin. Cousin Ray suggested that it’s not a good idea to get on the bad side of entertainers because they are all opinion leaders and they can put the hurt on you with a guitar.

    * * *

    The Nooksack Nation has now disenrolled 289 citizens, an act the Bureau of Indian Affairs refuses to recognize because the Tribal Council lacks a quorum. The terms of four council members have expired but there have been no elections to replace them.

    Lawyer and sometime ICTMN contributor Gabe Galenda told the Associated Press that as many as 10,000 tribal citizens have been kicked out of 80 tribes in 18 states. If Galenda’s numbers are correct, we are getting rid of ourselves faster than the U.S. cavalry once got rid of us.

    “Tell the last Indian out the door,” Cousin Ray grumbled, “to turn off the chandelier in the casino ballroom.”

    The Big Picture

    Vietnam veteran Charles LittleEagle (Kiowa) appeared in patriotic regalia at the 2016 Stone Mountain Pow Wow in Georgia. Amy Morris/Ciraphotography