A State of Emergency

We’re in a state of emergency. For months, the Trump administration withheld our COVID relief funding, and now they’re threatening to replace tribal police with federal cops at Cheyenne River, forcing a lawsuit from the tribe. To add insult to injury, the president will descend upon our homelands this Friday, under the guise of celebrating freedom and independence at Mount Rushmore.

We need your help. Please tell the Department of the Treasury and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to respect tribal health, safety, and sovereignty. COVID relief funds must be sent to tribes on schedule, checkpoints protecting our reservations must remain in place, and uninvited BIA police — and Trump — have no business in our territory.

Lakota Law
In our new video, South Dakota State Senator Red Dawn Foster joins me to talk about our showdowns with the Trump administration.

As you know, even when the virus hit South Dakota hard, Governor Kristi Noem failed to institute common sense protective policies. Then she challenged our tribes over the checkpoints, eventually calling on her friend, Donald Trump, for help. That help is arriving.

The Treasury Department has already bullied tribal nations by failing to disburse our CARES Act funds on time. Now, with the pandemic exploding across the Midwest, infecting around 100 people at Pine Ridge, and devastating the Navajo Nation, administration officials are threatening to withdraw our funding for law enforcement and replace our police force with feds if we don’t remove the checkpoints.

And this week, as we close in on Independence Day, President Trump plans to further desecrate our sacred Black Hills with a dangerous fireworks display, literally illuminating Mount Rushmore — the boldest monument there is to Native subjugation. What about our independence? What about our sovereignty? What about our right to live without tyranny in this “land of the free?”

Governor Noem even went out of her way to say there will be no requirements for masks or social distancing at the event, further jeopardizing South Dakota’s 72,000 Native Americans. So I promise you, we will remain vigilant here on the front lines. We will not remove our checkpoints. We will not stand aside or stand down. Will you stand with us?

Wopila tanka — Our sincere thanks for your friendship and your support,

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
Via The Lakota People’s Law Project

P.S. Nothing is more important than protecting human lives. Please help by emailing the Treasury Department and the BIA: tell them, right now, to stop undermining our health, safety, and sovereignty. Thank you!

Pipeline Decision

In Lakota Country, and especially here in the Cheyenne River Oyate, we’re now bracing for the worst, because the Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to lift permit restrictions on the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.

An April decision by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Montana invoked the Endangered Species Act to limit KXL crossing domestic waterways. That ruling, thankfully, put the pipeline behind schedule and kept my people safer during the COVID-19 pandemic, but everything could change as soon as next week.

Lakota Law
Photo credit: Julia Peter

Despite recent, somewhat surprising decisions upholding rights for the LGTBQ and immigrant communities, the Court can’t be relied upon to continue ruling in favor of the people — or the environment — with its current conservative majority.

We expect a ruling from SCOTUS before it leaves session — at the latest, in early July. Justice Elena Kagan, who oversees the 9th District, set today as the deadline for submission of all legal arguments. Without her diligent oversight, the Court might already have given the green light. Now, the environmental groups who brought the suit at least have a fighting chance.

But the reality is, we can’t bank on a third pleasant surprise. As I wrote to you earlier this week, oil companies are adept at finding every end-run available to circumvent proper pipeline procedures. That includes tapping their friends in the Trump administration and Bill Barr’s Department of Justice to try calling in last-ditch favors from the highest court in the land.

As you probably remember, KXL will bring two-man camps — temporary housing for oil workers — near to our reservation borders. These destructive dens of machismo endanger our families by exacerbating the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. In the age of the coronavirus, contact with pipeline workers could bring even more peril, a key reason why we set up health and safety checkpoints on roads entering our reservations.

So, we prepare again to fight. We’ll maintain our checkpoints at all costs. And, of course, we’ll keep engaging allies from other environmental groups and tribal nations (for instance, we’re already working with a Blackfoot activist in Montana to survey ongoing construction near the Canadian border). We remain vigilant, and I ask that you stay ready to assist us in the likely event that SCOTUS reverts to its troubling pattern of enabling this corrupt, racist White House.

Wopila tanka — Thank you for standing with us to protect our water, our land, and our families!

Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Chehalis v. Mnuchin

NCAI Statement on the Negative Decision in
Chehalis v. Mnuchin
WASHINGTON, D.C. | The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is extremely disappointed in today’s decision by the D.C. District Court in Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation v. Mnuchin.
Although the Court acknowledged that Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) “are not federally recognized Indian tribes but are for-profit corporations established by Congress under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act”, and explicitly limited its decision to “the status of ANCs under [the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act] and the [Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act]”, today’s decision would result in critical congressional funding intended for Indian tribal governments being diverted to state chartered corporate entities with no governance authority and no governmental duties to tribal citizens in Alaska.
NCAI continues to believe that Congress intended for Title V CARES Act funding to be distributed to Indian tribal governments.
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About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.

Cancel of Energy Lease :)

Court rules to cancel energy lease on land sacred to Blackfeet

 

The Associated Press

‘The Badger-Two Medicine is more than just land; it’s an entire way of life’
Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. — A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday to cancel a long-disputed oil and gas lease on land in northwestern Montana considered sacred to tribes in the U.S. and Canada.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overruled a judge’s 2018 decision that had allowed a Louisiana company to keep its lease within the Badger Two-Medicine area of Lewis and Clark National Forest.

That area near Glacier National Park is the site of the creation story of the Blackfoot tribes of southern Canada and Montana’s Blackfeet Nation.

John Murray, the Blackfeet’s tribal historic preservation officer, said the court’s decision will close a “long and painful chapter in the history of our people.”

“These leases should never have been issued in the first place,” Murray said. “Today’s ruling shows that these companies and their lawyers were not just on the wrong side of history but were also on the wrong side of the law when they waged their 40-year crusade to drill our ancestral land.”

“Our traditional practices and traditional lands are the firm ground underfoot that we need to push off into the future,” said Tyson Running Wolf. Running Wolf is a Montana state legislator, former Blackfeet Tribal Business Council member, hunting outfitter and leader among Blackfeet traditionalists. “This is how we heal ourselves, how we heal our communities, how we move forward into success. The Badger-Two Medicine is more than just land; it’s an entire way of life.”

Tim Preso, Earthjustice attorney, argued the case on behalf of intervenors including Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance, Pikuni Traditionalist Association, Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, Montana Wilderness Association, National Parks Conservation Association and The Wilderness Society. These organizations have since joined the Blackfeet Nation in calling for permanent protection of the Badger-Two Medicine.

The lease owned by Solenex LLC was the last active exploratory lease of about 45 issued in the Badger-Two Medicine area since the 1980s.

“We’re obviously very disappointed in the panel’s decision today, particularly their refusal to engage with any of the arguments we raised on appeal,” said David McDonald, attorney for Solenex, which is owned by Sidney Longwell. “We fully intend on continuing to fight for Solenex and the Longwell family, and we’re currently considering all available avenues to do so.”

The company has held the lease for more than 30 years. It had not yet drilled because of bureaucratic delays within the U.S. departments of Interior and Agriculture, prompting the company to sue in 2013.

The U.S. government canceled the lease in 2016, saying a proper environmental analysis had not been conducted, a decision Solenex challenged. A federal judge sided with the company in 2018, saying the long amount of time between the lease being issued and canceled violated federal law.

The three-judge appellate panel ruled the judge’s findings were wrong and that the the government had considered Solenex’s interests.

“Delay by itself is not enough to render the lease cancellation arbitrary or capricious,” the ruling said.

NCAI. org Resource

http://www.ncai.org/COVID-19

NCAI has an unwavering commitment to continue supporting Indian Country, no matter the challenges that stand in our way. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, we are advancing policies and protections that will serve us beyond the pandemic. In addition, we want to provide financial assistance where it’s needed the most. If you haven’t already, please visit our COVID-19 website at ncai.org/COVID-19. On the site under the “Get Involved” tab, you’ll find a link to apply for COVID-19 relief funding. This funding can be used as you see fit, to ensure you can respond to and recover from this pandemic. If your tribal nation or a non-profit organization in your community needs assistance, we encourage you to apply. This website also serves as a resource hub to stay informed on all legislative matters, news, events, and reliable health-related information, including COVID-19 statistics specific to Indian Country.
In addition, NCAI encourages tribal nations to remain active in the fight for racial equity. We frequently express our commitment by consistently partnering with a number of national partners, such as with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, on the issues that matter most to communities of color. We also believe that public education and personal wellness are two additional components to consider. We encourage you to consider developing astrategy for building non-Native allies so that we can have a unified voice in our cries for justice. We also encourage you all to take a moment and check in with yourselves, your families, and your communities to create spaces for prayer and healing. The Native Wellness Institutehas an ongoing series of workshops, activities, and resources to get you started.
I call on you as leaders to come together and rise to the occasion. We must turn this crisis into an opportunity to shape the future for the next seven generations. We can do this together. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of your NCAI Board representatives and NCAI staff members so we can learn more about how NCAI can best support you.
Siokwil,
Fawn R. Sharp (Quinault Indian Nation)
NCAI President

 

COVID-19 in Indian Country

https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/indian-country-s-covid-19-syllabus-EiN-p5Q-XkW-smnaebJV6Q

Indian Country Today COVID-19 tracker, data, story summaries, lists of closures, resources
Indian Country Today

COVID Tracker - June 10, 2020

As of June 10, 2020 11:45 am EDT in the Indian health system (spreadsheet).

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Confirmed by tribes, tribal health clinics, urban Indian programs, the Indian Health Service, state public health agencies or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Indian Country Today needs your help to gather positive COVID-19 cases and deaths related to COVID-19 in your tribal community.

Let us know if there are any confirmed positive COVID-19 cases or deaths related to COVID-19 in your tribal nation or announced by your tribal nation. Submit the case(s) in the Google Form above.

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c19T-Headline-CDC (1)

Total cases: 1,256,421
Total deaths: 110,925

As of June 10, 2020 at 12:45pm EDT

c19T-Headline-Worldwide (1)

Total cases confirmed: 7,145,539
Deaths: 408,025
Countries: 216

As of June 10, 2020 at 12:45pm EDT
 by the World Health Organization

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Explanation stories

Coronavirus. A person watches live data reporting the worldwide spread of Coronavirus as the UK continues in lockdown. Picture date: Monday March 30, 2020. A total of 1,228 patients are reported to have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire URN:53238940 (Press Association via AP Images)
(Press Association via AP Images)

The power of data to predict where the coronavirus will hit next

Just like a massive evacuation can save lives in a Category 4 hurricane, social distancing and shuttered workplaces can slow the rate at which the virus spreads.

China or Italy? A stark contrast on the coronavirus front
Thursday was a day of contrasts on the front lines of the battle against the new coronavirus. In a sign of hope, the Chinese city of Wuhan reported no new homegrown infections, but in a stark warning for the world, Italy appeared set to surpass China’s death toll from the virus.

The two milestones were a dramatic illustration of how much the global outbreak has pivoted toward Europe and the United States. They also showed how the arc of contagion can vary in different nations, as Italy with 60 million people braces to see more carnage than China, a nation of 1.4 billion.

The science: How coronavirus spreads from person to person
Each infected person spreads to two or three others on average, researchers estimate. It spreads more easily than flu but less than measles, tuberculosis or some other respiratory diseases

Coronavirus Q&A: What is it? The symptoms. And how it spreads
An explainer of every frequently asked question in relation to COVID-19.

c19T-Headline-Resource-Center

Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.

Democrats propose sweeping police overhaul; Trump criticizes

https://indiancountrytoday.com/outside/democrats-propose-sweeping-police-overhaul-trump-criticizes-X6S-hJT6OkeoRWRCJ-HJRQ?utm_source=maven-coalition&utm_medium=salish&utm_campaign=email&utm_term=notification&utm_content=featured

The Associated Press

Outlook is deeply uncertain for Dems’ proposed police overhaul
Lisa Mascaro
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats proposed a far-reaching overhaul of police procedures and accountability Monday, a sweeping legislative response to the mass protests denouncing the deaths of black Americans in the hands of law enforcement.

The political outlook is deeply uncertain for the legislation in a polarized election year. President Donald Trump is staking out a tough “law and order” approach in the face of the outpouring of demonstrations and demands to re-imagine policing in America.

“We cannot settle for anything less than transformative structural change,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, drawing on the nation’s history of slavery.

Before unveiling the package, House and Senate Democrats held a moment of silence at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, reading the names of George Floyd and many others killed with police interactions. They knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — now a symbol of police brutality and violence — the length of time prosecutors say Floyd was pinned under a white police officer’s knee before he died.

Trump, who met with law enforcement officials at the White House, characterized Democrats as having “gone CRAZY!”

As activists call for restructuring police departments and even to “ defund the police,” the president tweeted, “LAW & ORDER, NOT DEFUND AND ABOLISH THE POLICE.” He declared later, “We won’t be dismantling our police.”

Democratic leaders pushed back, saying their proposal would not eliminate police departments — a decision for cities and states — but establish new standards and oversight.

Joe Biden, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, “does not believe that police should be defunded,” said spokesman Andrew Bates.

The Justice in Policing Act, the most ambitious law enforcement reforms from Congress in years, confronts several aspects of policing that have come under strong criticism, especially as more and more police violence is captured on cellphone video and shared widely across the nation and the world.

The package would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force incidents and ban police choke holds, among other changes.

It would revise the federal criminal police misconduct statute to make it easier to prosecute officers who are involved in “reckless” misconduct and it would change “qualified immunity” protections to more broadly enable damage claims against police in lawsuits.

The legislation would ban racial profiling, boost requirements for police body cameras and limit the transfer of military equipment to local jurisdictions.

Overall, the bill seeks to provide greater transparency of police behavior in several ways. For one, it would grant subpoena power to the Justice Department to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations of potential misconduct and help states conduct independent investigations.

And it would create a “National Police Misconduct Registry,” a database to try to prevent officers from transferring from one department to another with past misconduct undetected, the draft says.

A long-sought federal anti-lynching bill that has stalled in Congress is included in the package.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., a co-author with Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Democratic senators, will convene a hearing on the legislation Wednesday.“

The world is witnessing the birth of a new movement in this country,” said Rep. Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is leading the House effort. She called the proposal “bold” and “transformative.”

While Democrats are expected to swiftly approve the legislation this month, it does not go as far as some activists want. The outlook for passage in the Republican-held Senate is slim.

Republican campaign officials followed Trump’s lead in bashing the effort as extreme.

“No industry is safe from the Democrats’ abolish culture,” said Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the House Republican campaign committee, in an email blast. “First they wanted to abolish private health insurance, then it was capitalism and now it’s the police.”

Democrats fought back.

“This isn’t about that,” Pelosi said. Congress is not calling for any wholesale defunding of law enforcement, leaving decisions to local cities and states, Democrats noted. Some cities are shifting police resources to other community services in response to the protests.It is unclear if law enforcement and the powerful police unions will back any of the proposed changes or if congressional Republicans will join the effort.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose Louisville hometown faces unrest after the police shooting of Breonna Taylor in her home, said he would take a look at potential Senate legislation.Republicans are likely to stick with Trump, although McConnell was central to passage of a 2018 criminal justice sentencing overhaul the president signed into law, and some key GOP senators have similarly expressed interest in changes to policing practices and accountability.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.,chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said his panel intends to hold a hearing to review use of force and other issues. And Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has said he’d like to review the package coming from Democrats.

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, who marched in support of Floyd in Houston, penned an op-ed Monday about how his own black father instructed him as a teen driver to respond if he was pulled over by the police. Hurd offered his own proposals for changes in police practices.

What started with the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has transformed with the killings of other black Americans into a diverse and mainstream effort calling for changing the way America polices its population, advocates say.

“I can’t breathe” has become a rallying cry for protesters. Floyd pleaded with police that he couldn’t breathe, echoing the phrase Eric Garner said while in police custody in 2014 before his death in New York.“

All we’ve ever wanted is to be treated equally — not better, not worse,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

Biden’s former presidential primary rivals, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.Y., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are co-authors of the package in the Senate.

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Associated Press writer Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.

 

Mashpee Wampanoag ruling a ‘win for all of Indian Country’

Supporters cheer Massachusetts tribe’s victory in lawsuit against U.S. Interior Department over its reservation status

Kolby KickingWoman

Indian Country Today

Support is pouring in for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe following a ruling in its favor in a lawsuit against the U.S. Interior Department.

On Friday evening, Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., blocked the federal government from rescinding the Massachusetts tribe’s reservation status, ordering the department to reexamine a decision that took the tribe’s more than 300 acres out of trust.

Massachusetts’ two Democratic U.S. senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, said in a joint statement that the ruling marks an important victory for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. But they said the fight is not finished, and they will continue to hold the Trump administration accountable.

“The Mashpee Wampanoag have a right to their ancestral homeland,” the statement said. “We are glad that the Court acknowledged the importance of the arguments we made in the bicameral, bipartisan amicus brief we filed with our colleagues opposing the U.S. Department of the Interior’s cruel actions.”

The amicus brief submitted to the court was led by Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, and signed by more than 20 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.

Haaland, a New Mexico Democrat, said the relationship between tribes and the federal government must be upheld and that the Interior Department had blatantly abused its power.

“Tribal sovereignty and the government-to-government relationship must be respected, but the Department of Interior clearly used a public health emergency to illegally move land out of trust,” said Haaland in a statement.

FILE - In this June 6, 2018, file photo, Deb Haaland, a Democratic candidate for Congress for central New Mexico's open seat and a tribal member of the Laguna Pueblo, sits at her Albuquerque home. More than 100 Native Americans are seeking seats in Congress, governor's offices, state legislatures and other posts across the country in what political observers say has been a record number of candidates. Congressional races in New Mexico and Kansas could determine whether Congress has its first Native American representative. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)
In this June 2018 photo, Deb Haaland, then-Democratic candidate for Congress, sits at her Albuquerque home. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)

The Interior Department said in a brief statement Monday that it is examining Friedman’s ruling.

“The Department is reviewing the decision and our options to proceed, and remains committed to upholding our trust responsibilities to Indian Country,” the statement said.

The agency previously told The Associated Press that it was obligated by a recent federal court decision to remove a lands designation bestowed in 2015 under then-President Barack Obama.

Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman Cedric Cromwell told Indian Country Today on Friday it was a great day for Mashpee and that Friedman stood up for justice.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell addressed Indian Country in a video posted to Facebook on Sunday. (Photo by Cedric Cromwell / Facebook)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell addressed Indian Country in a recent video posted to Facebook. (Photo by Cedric Cromwell / Facebook)

“Very happy justice reigned supreme but the battle is not over,” Cromwell said. “We’re praying the Trump administration will do the right thing and stand with Mashpee.”

(Previous story: Mashpee Wampanoag: US Court ‘stood up for justice’)

Also congratulating the Mashpee on its victory was the National Congress of American Indians. The organization’s president, Fawn Sharp, Quinault, said the organization will continue to stand with Mashpee as the process plays out.

“We consider this a win for all of Indian Country,” Sharp said. “The Mashpee Wampanoag relationship with the United States is one of political equality, derived from their inherent sovereignty, powers, and authority that long predates the United States. No federal agency or civil servant has the authority to diminish or in any way undermine that unique political relationship and standing.”

Per Judge Friedman’s ruling, the case has been remanded to the Interior Department, where Interior Secretary David Bernhardt must follow a 2014 “M-Opinion” to determine whether the Mashpee were “under federal jurisdiction before 1934.”

Interior 1
(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

M-Opinions are opinions from the interior solicitor, the department’s head attorney, and are a source for the department’s interpretations of particular laws.

Robert Anderson, Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, is a law professor at the University of Washington School of Law and said it seems the Interior Department and the current administration have put a lot of resources into this case, and are splitting hairs to prevent recent federally recognized tribes from receiving the same benefit as other tribes.

The Mashpee Wampanoag gained federal recognition in 2007.

“It’s another example of this administration sort of being, you know, going out of its way to chip away at Indian rights in a sort of a mean-spirited, nitpicky way,” Anderson said. “I think it’s really a bad thing.”

As the Interior Department reexamines its decision, the 321 acres of Mashpee Wampanoag land has been placed back into trust, and Cromwell said the tribe will work so that it remains that way.

“We will continue to work with the Department of the Interior — and fight them if necessary — to ensure our land remains in trust,” Cromwell said.

ICT Phone Logo

Kolby KickingWoman, Blackfeet/A’aniih is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is from the great state of Montana and currently reports and lives in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter – @KDKW_406. Email – kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

Indian Country Today LLC is a nonprofit news organization owned by the nonprofit arm of the National Congress of American Indians. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently.

Removal of Christopher Columbus Statues

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2020
CONTACT:
NCAI Statement on the Removal
of Christopher Columbus Statues
WASHINGTON, DC | The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country, does not acknowledge Christopher Columbus as a hero. To Indigenous peoples, he was the opposite:
[O]ut of timbers for the Santa Maria, . . . Columbus built a fort [on Hispaniola], the first European military base in the Western Hemisphere. . . . He took . . . Indian prisoners and put them aboard his two remaining ships. . . . [H]e got into a fight with Indians who refused to trade as many bows and arrows as he and his men wanted. Two were run through with swords and bled to death. Then the Nina and the Pinta set sail. . . . When the weather turned cold, the Indian prisoners began to die. . . .
In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale. . . .
Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 3-4 (1980 Ed.).
“This growing movement across the country to rid our shared spaces of symbols that represent hate, genocide, and bigotry illustrates that it is past time for all cities to stand on the right side of history moving forward,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp.
NCAI also strongly supports the recent actions taken by United States citizens and the international community calling for proper law enforcement reforms and the recognition of basic human rights for the African American community and all communities of color. We are humbled that these voices are including Indian Country’s perspectives. NCAI encourages local governments and their citizens to seek mutual understandings of their diverse perspectives and to develop peaceful solutions that are mindful of all human beings and our rich distinct and shared histories. Together we can build the tomorrow our children deserve to lead.
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About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.

Black Lives Matter

I trust that, as a supporter of Lakota sovereignty, you believe in justice and equity for all people. So I hope you’ll join me in standing with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. My experience as a lifelong activist gives me insight into what a moment that shifts society looks like. It can look messy, it can look dangerous — it can look just like this.

Lakota Law
Lisa Skye and I stand with BLM at the Cheyenne River Reservation border. Photo courtesy of Warrior Women Project. Please click the play button above to watch this video message from me.

As you are no doubt aware, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police on a Minneapolis street, our nation is on fire. This follows the recent murders of Breonna Taylor by police in her home and Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes on a Georgia street.

Now, every day and every night, thousands march and kneel and vocalize to end police brutality and demand a new respect for Black bodies, lives, and communities. A few days back, Lakota Law’s Chase Iron Eyes and his daughter, Tokata, helped lead one such protest in Rapid City.

As a nation, many of us are listening to, and gaining further understanding of, the pain suffered by communities of color for centuries in this land. With that understanding, hopefully we will feel compelled to offer support and advocacy in whatever ways are most appropriate or asked of us. Whatever lane each of us occupies, we can find our role in the struggle.

I and many people of the Oceti Sakowin and other Indigenous nations can empathize with the pain wrought by institutional racism. Seeing the young people of today demonstrating and standing up for what is right takes me back to my own youthful days organizing for Red Power — once upon a time, right there in that same place, the Twin Cities. It reminds me of our American Indian Movement, born from Lakota, Dakota, and Ojibwe activism in that northern midwest metropolis.

And, of course, it reminds me of the #NoDAPL protests at Standing Rock. Anyone surprised to see the president unleash militarized police, security forces, and tear gas on peaceful protesters wasn’t paying attention in 2016 and ‘17. For decades, from Sitting Bull to MLK, from the American Indian Movement to Black Lives Matter, Black and Brown communities have taken turns leading the movement for understanding, equality, and justice.

The struggle is now being live-streamed, and it’s not easy to watch. We know that a few irresponsible people on our side and, more often, counter-protesters with hate-filled hearts are infiltrating, looting, and trying to paint legitimate civil disobedience with the brush of violence. But we know the difference. We know that we are not terrorists, and neither is anyone who truly seeks justice and calls out tyranny.

The world is changing, and it’s long overdue. I hardly need to remind you that Black and Native people die at the hands of police and are incarcerated at far higher rates than white folks. So yes, I empathize. And I offer you my deep gratitude for your compassion. Thank you for standing with us through our struggle. I hope we can all say we also stand arm-in-arm with Takomni Hesapa Wiconi Heĉha — #BlackLivesMatter.

Wopila tanka — Thank you for your friendship and your support,

In solidarity, always,
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project