¨Thankstaking¨

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Season’s greetings to you and yours! I suspect that this year, you may be feeling a bit muted in your celebrations. With the pandemic still raging around the world, many of us won’t have the opportunity to get together with loved ones in the way we’re accustomed. Of course, some of us in Native communities already have issues with Thanksgiving — which I call Thankstaking — because it’s a holiday that unfortunately reminds us of all we have lost.

It seems somehow appropriate then that Giving Tuesday follows closely on the heels of this holiday. It gives us all an opportunity to consider the true spirit of giving differently. By giving to support Native justice now, you have a way to honor Native communities on a painful day. And because a group of our generous patrons has offered to match all gifts we receive between now and the end of next week, your contribution will make twice the impact.

In this week’s members-only event for monthly contributors, Chase and I discussed Thanksgiving and our accomplishments together.

And what an impact we’ve been making together! We’re still joyful about the success we had getting out the national Native vote in partnership with Standing Rock — and now we’ve got our sights set on how we can build on that success. I’ve got one word for you: Georgia.

This week, our staff spent time in Atlanta solidifying partnerships with the NAACP and the Indigenous Peoples Movement so we can effectively work together to get out the vote for the upcoming U.S. Senate run-off elections in the Peach State.

There are almost 40,000 Indigenous people in Georgia. There are also many environmental, Hispanic, and Black voters who share some political values with Native people. The state has the ninth youngest population in America and the third largest Black population. But the historical pattern in Georgia has been that, during runoffs, people of color and younger folks tend to vote in smaller numbers than during presidential elections. We aim to change that. Our focus will be making sure that everyone who voted in November votes again by Jan. 5. 

We aren’t ready to rest. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be back at Standing Rock replicating our successful outreach from tribal members to all voters who will listen to them. And we plan to offer you all a chance to join our phonebank effort as well — please stay tuned! Thank you for being there for us every step of the way! With your support, we can keep the historic wins coming.

Wopila Tanka — thank you, and I wish you well this holiday season!

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

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

Something Done Right…but

*We should re-evaluate the sport franchises we support. ~Michel

Dalton Walker

3 hours ago

Updated: The team says it’s reviewing its philanthropic strategy and will no longer contribute to the Original Americans Foundation

Dalton Walker
Indian Country Today

The Washington NFL team dumped its controversial mascot earlier this year and now, it appears it has dumped its foundation created to help Native people.

The team will no longer make contributions to the Original Americans Foundation and will instead focus its charitable efforts on the Washington Football Charitable Foundation, USA Today reported this week. The Washington Football Charitable Foundation will continue to assist Native communities, according to the newspaper, but it’s unclear how.

“As part of our evolution into a franchise of the future, the Washington Football Team’s new leadership is reviewing our philanthropic strategy,” read a team statement to USA Today.

A spokeswoman for the foundation confirmed the shift away from the Original Americans Foundation and a new philanthropic strategy to Indian Country Today.

Julie Jenson said part of the strategy is working with advisors and leadership within the Native American community that is long term and sustainable. Strategy specifics haven’t been built out yet, she said.

In July, the team said it was retiring its logo and nickname, a dictionary-defined racial slur, after mounting pressure from activists and sponsors. It hasn’t made a public decision on a new name and is competing in this NFL season as the Washington Football Team.

(Related: Washington NFL team kicks out R-word)

The team launched the Original Americans Foundation in 2014. An announcement on its website from that time outlined its goals and cited its ability to “provide resources that offer genuine opportunities for tribal communities.”

According to the post, Synder and his staff traveled to 26 reservations in 20 states and met with 400 tribal leaders.

“The fact is, too many Native American communities face much harsher, much more alarming realities,” Snyder said in the announcement. “I’ve listened. I’ve learned. And frankly, it’s heart wrenching. It’s not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans. We must do more.”

It also noted the foundation had given a new backhoe to the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, among 40-plus projects being processed that year.

USA Today reported that the foundation donated $3.7 million in its first year, $1.6 million in the second, $650,000 in the 2017 fiscal year, $303,000 in the 2018 fiscal year, and $0 in 2019. It’s unclear where the money was spent or which tribes benefited.

The NFL franchise is facing sexual harassment claims that were recently exposed by the Washington Post. The report names Original Americans Foundation Executive Director Gary Edwards as one of the franchise employees accused of sexual harassment.

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Story has been updated to include comment from Washington Football Charitable Foundation

Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.

Indian Country Today is a nonprofit news organization. Will you support our work? All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support Indian Country Today for as little as $10.

Dam Demolition

Deal revives plan for largest US dam demolition

“At its heart, dam removal is about healing and restoration for the river, for the salmon, and for our people,” Yurok Tribe chairman Joseph James said. “We have never wavered from this obligation, and we are pleased to see dam removal come closer to reality through this agreement.”

In this March 3, 2020, file photo, is the Iron Gate Dam, powerhouse and spillway are on the lower Klamath River near Hornbrook, Calif. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus, File)

The Associated Press

Nov 17, 2020

Tribes hope the dam removal will allow the salmon to come back

Gillian Flaccus
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — An agreement announced Tuesday paves the way for the largest dam demolition in U.S. history, a project that promises to reopen hundreds of miles of waterway along the Oregon-California border to salmon that are critical to tribes but have dwindled to almost nothing in recent years.

If it goes forward, the deal would revive plans to remove four massive hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath River, emptying giant reservoirs and reopening potential fish habitat that’s been blocked for more than a century. The massive project would be at the vanguard of a trend toward dam demolitions in the U.S. as the structures age and become less economically viable amid growing environmental concerns about the health of native fish.

Previous efforts to address problems in the Klamath Basin have fallen apart amid years of legal sparring that generated distrust among tribes, fishing groups, farmers and environmentalists. Opponents of dam removal worry about their property values and the loss of a water source for fighting wildfires.

“It is bleak, but I want to have hope that with dam removal and with all the prayers that we’ve been sending up all these years, salmon could come back. If we just give them a chance, they will,” said Chook Chook Hillman, a Karuk tribal member who’s been fighting for the dam removal for years. “If you provide a good place for salmon, they’ll always come home.”

A half-dozen tribes spread across Oregon and California, fishing groups and environmentalists had hoped to see demolition work begin as soon as 2022. But in July, U.S. regulators stalled those plans when they questioned whether the nonprofit entity formed to oversee the project could adequately respond if there were cost overruns or accidents.

The new plan makes Oregon and California equal partners in the demolition with the nonprofit entity, called the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, and adds $45 million to the project’s $450 million budget to ease those concerns. Oregon, California and the utility PacifiCorp, which operates the hydroelectric dams and is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway, will each provide one-third of the additional funds.

Parties to the new agreement shared details with The Associated Press in documents and interviews ahead of a news conference scheduled Tuesday.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must approve the deal. If accepted, it would allow PacifiCorp and Berkshire Hathaway to walk away from aging dams that are more of an albatross than a profit-generator, while addressing regulators’ concerns. Oregon, California and the nonprofit would jointly take over the hydroelectric license from PacifiCorp until the dams are decommissioned, while the nonprofit will oversee the work.

Buffett called the reworked deal a solution to a “very complex challenge.”

“I recognize the importance of Klamath dam removal and river restoration for tribal people in the Klamath Basin,” Buffett said in a statement. “We appreciate and respect our tribal partners for their collaboration in forging an agreement that delivers an exceptional outcome for the river, as well as future generations.” 

Removed would be the four southernmost dams in a string of six constructed in southern Oregon and far Northern California beginning in 1918. 

They were built solely for power generation. They are not used for irrigation, not managed for flood control and have no “fish ladders,” or concrete chutes that fish can pass through. 

They have blocked hundreds of miles of potential fish habitat and spawning grounds, and fish populations have dropped precipitously in recent years. Salmon are at the heart of the culture, beliefs and diet of a half-dozen regional tribes, including the Yurok and Karuk — both parties to the agreement — and they have suffered deeply from that loss.

Coho salmon from the Klamath River are listed as threatened under federal and California law, and their population in the river has fallen anywhere from 52 percent to 95 percent. Spring chinook salmon, once the Klamath Basin’s largest run, has dwindled by 98 percent.

Fall chinook, the last to persist in any significant numbers, have been so meager in the past few years that the Yurok canceled fishing for the first time in the tribe’s memory. In 2017, they bought fish at a grocery store for their annual salmon festival.

“At its heart, dam removal is about healing and restoration for the river, for the salmon, and for our people,” Yurok Tribe chairman Joseph James said. “We have never wavered from this obligation, and we are pleased to see dam removal come closer to reality through this agreement.” 

PacifiCorp has been operating the dams under an extension of its expired hydroelectric license for years. The license was originally granted before modern environmental laws and renewing it would mean costly renovations to install fish ladders. The utility has said energy generated by the dams no longer makes up a significant part of its portfolio.

In the original deal, PacifiCorp was to transfer its license and contribute $200 million to bow out of the removal project and avoid further costs and liability. An additional $250 million comes from a voter-approved California water bond.

U.S. regulators, however, agreed only on the condition that PacifiCorp remain a co-licensee along with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation — a nonstarter for the utility.

Residents have been caught in the middle. As tribes watched salmon dwindle, some homeowners around a huge reservoir created by Copco Dam, one of those slated for removal, have sued to stop the demolition. 

They say their waterfront property values are already declining because of news coverage associated with demolition and they worry about losing a water source for fighting wildfires in an increasingly fire-prone landscape. Many also oppose the use of ratepayer funds for the project.

On Tuesday, some Oregon lawmakers issued statements saying Gov. Kate Brown had violated her authority by authorizing the deal without legislative approval.

Further upstream, farmers who rely on two other dams are watching carefully. The removal of the lower four dams won’t affect them directly, but they worry it could set a precedent for dam removal on the Klamath.

More than 1,720 dams have been dismantled around the U.S. since 2012, according to American Rivers, and 26 states undertook dam removal projects in 2019 alone. The Klamath River project would be the largest such project by far if it proceeds.

New Veterans Memorial

Kolby KickingWoman

Nov 11, 2020

‘This memorial is a fitting tribute to their patriotism and deep commitment to this country’

Kolby KickingWoman
Indian Country Today

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., is commemorating Veterans Day 2020 by unveiling the National Native American Veterans Memorial.

The museum originally planned to host a veterans’ procession and dedication ceremony but is looking to reschedule those events for later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The installation sits on the museum’s grounds and is a short walk from the U.S. Capitol. 

The Arts in the Time of Covid

I have used the virtual world for education long before the lock-down restrictions of Covid-19. I invite everyone to visit the educational site – the Wounded Knee Memorial at:

Seaside Dreams in Kitley: grid.kitely.com:8002:Seaside Dreams

First, go to: https://www.kitely.com/ sign up for free and then go to the world, Seaside Dreams. Upon arriving you will see a teleporter to the memorial.

¨Please visit my other world: Seaside Dreams for the interactive Wounded Knee Memorial. This memorial commemorates the massacre December 29th, 1890 in which 300+ Lakota died in a unjust and horrific way by the U,S, Calvary. Please come explore and learn how these past events connect to current events. You will find the teleporter to the memorial upon arriving at Seaside Dreams. hop://grid.kitely.com:8002/Seaside%20Dreams/218/121/22

There was a special discussion and interview: See it here: https://virtualoutworlding.blogspot.com/2018/02/2018-edu-massacre-at-wounded-knee.html¨

Because of Covid-19 we are restricted in attending large gatherings. You will also find at Kitely the world Gallery No. 8 and Town Center.

grid.kitely.com:8002:Gallery No.8 and Town Center

There we host an annual Native American Film festival. Upon arrival you will find information about the festival and where you can find the latest film streaming.

This year´s festival must be virtual and I encourage everyone to support the arts and film makers everywhere you can. The arts are severely affected. Red Nation Film Festival | 2020 Films

November 2020: The Vote

Native vote plays powerful role, especially in swing states

President Donald Trump, left, points towards Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, right, during the second and final presidential debate Thursday at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Election 2020

Oct 29, 2020

Voting advocates predict Native voters will come out in force despite challenges #NativeVote20

Mary Annette Pember 
Indian Country Today

Native American and Alaska Native voters have the power to determine the next president.

“Had Native voters turned out in 2016, we would likely have had a very different outcome in the presidential election,” said OJ Semans, executive director of Four Directions Inc., a Native American voting rights advocacy organization. Semans is a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe.

Native voters stand to play a crucial role in the 2020 election, especially in swing states where they make up significant portions of eligible voters. States in which two major parties have similar levels of support and high numbers of electoral votes are also home to large Native populations.

The approximately 3.7 million Natives and Alaska Natives of voting age are represented in this election’s crucial swing states.

Swing states and percentage of eligible Native voters:

  • Arizona — 5.6 percent
  • Colorado — 2.5 percent
  • Michigan — 1.4 percent
  • Minnesota — 1.8 percent
  • Nevada — 2.5 percent
  • North Carolina — 2.1 percent
  • Wisconsin — 1.5 percent
OJ Semans is executive director of Four Directions Inc, a Native American voting rights advocacy group. (Photo courtesy Four Directions)
OJ Semans is executive director of Four Directions Inc, a Native American voting rights advocacy group. (Photo courtesy of Four Directions)

At first glance, it might appear that the numbers are insignificant; however, if President Donald Trump’s narrow margin of victory in several states during the 2016 presidential election is any indication, the Native vote stands to play an important role in this election.

“Trump won the state during the 2016 election by 0.7 percent. We could have very well have swung that election,” said Guy Reiter of Menikanaehken Inc., a grassroots organization based on the Menominee reservation in northeast Wisconsin. In addition to working to revitalize its community, Menikanaehken Inc. is working to increase voter engagement and registration.

In the 2016 presidential election, however, only 1.8 million Native voters turned out, about half of the eligible voters.

According to the National Congress of American Indians, the voter rate among Native Americans is five to 14 percentage points lower than that of other racial groups.

These low rates have been attributed to a number of issues, including barriers to voting such as lack of polling places near or on reservations, voter registration requirements that call for physical mailing addresses (many Native folks on remote reservations maintain post office boxes rather than receive mail at home) and a general history of disenfranchisement and distrust of the federal government that goes back generations.

COVID-19 is creating further barriers for Indian Country as many turn to mail in voting as a means to mitigate exposure to the virus that has hit Native communities such as the Navajo Nation and Wisconsin tribes hard. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court decision rejecting a lawsuit brought by six Navajo voters seeking to allow an extra 10 days for ballots mailed from the Navajo Nation to be counted. Similarly, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Wisconsin voting laws rejecting efforts to allow absentee ballots to be counted sent back to election officials on or just before election day.

Despite these challenges, Native leaders and voting advocates are confident that this election will be a game changer.

According to the newly released Indigenous Futures Survey — directed by IllumiNative, the Native Organizers Alliance and the Center for Native American Youth — Native Americans, especially youth, are highly engaged in the political process. About 5 percent of youth respondents were not old enough to vote in the 2016 election.

A high level of engagement in the political process such as signing petitions, sharing political content online, participating in a community action group, attending a protest both before and after the death of George Floyd, are predictors of greater voter turnout, according to survey authors.

The survey was conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley from June 23 to Aug. 15, with responses from 6,460 Native people of voting age across the U.S. representing 401 tribes.

The survey was conducted online due to restrictions of the pandemic.

According to its findings, Native people living in battleground or swing states report higher voting rates than those in other locations.

Fifty-one percent of respondents identified as Democrats, 26 percent as independent, 9 percent as Democratic Socialist and 7 percent as Republican. The remainder identified as Libertarian, Green Party or Socialist.

The large number of Native candidates in local and state elections will also influence greater voter turnout, according to the survey’s authors.

Native voting rights advocates such as Reiter and Semans agree that more Native people will vote during this election, especially youth.

“There’s greater interest in this election cycle, especially among young people. They are really excited about voting; they are seeing the opportunity for us to make sure that Wisconsin goes in a way that represents Indigenous people,” Reiter said.

Maria Dadger is executive director of the Intertribal Council of Arizona. (Photo by Patty Talahongva)
Maria Dadger is executive director of the Intertribal Council of Arizona. (Photo by Patty Talahongva)

According to Maria Dadger, executive director of the Intertribal Council of Arizona based in Phoenix, Native youth have been especially responsive to the council’s social media voting outreach.

“The response from Native voters between 18-24 has been phenomenal,” she said.

Environmental quality, health and education are huge issues of concern for tribes, according to Dadger.

Indeed, researchers with the Indigenous Futures Survey found that health care, especially mental health, and the environment were among respondents’ top concerns.

Candidates take notice

Notably both the Biden and Trump campaigns are courting the Native vote; Joe Biden and Kamala Harris met with tribal leaders last month in Phoenix and later released their 15 page “Biden-Harris Plan for Tribal Nations.”

Joe Biden met with tribal leaders at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. (Photo by Carina Dominguez)
Joe Biden met with tribal leaders at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. (Photo by Carina Dominguez, Indian Country Today)

According to their plan, a Biden administration will fully fund the Indian Health Service and potentially make funding mandatory rather than discretionary. The Biden-Harris plan also commits to aim to achieve net-zero emissions and ensure that investments in clean energy reach Native communities. Biden has also promised to end fossil fuel subsidies.

Later in October, Trump released his three-page policy vision for Indian Country, shortly after his son Donald Trump Jr. launched the Native Americans for Trump coalition in Williams, Arizona.

In his “Putting America’s First Peoples First: Forgotten More!” plan, Trump promised to respect tribal sovereignty and self-determination, promote safe communities, build a thriving economy with improved infrastructure, honor Native American heritage, improve education and deliver health care.

The Trump campaign launched its Native American Coalition in Williams, Arizona. (Photo by Carina Dominguez)
The Trump campaign launched its Native American Coalition in Williams, Arizona. (Photo by Carina Dominguez, Indian Country Today)

In a follow-up email to Indian Country Today’s request for details about Trump’s plans to deliver health care, Jennifer Kelly, advisor for regional communications and Hispanic median engagement wrote: “The Federal government remains committed to meeting existing federal trust and treaty obligations. Unfortunately, politicians of both parties, including some who have been in Washington, DC for several decades have fallen short. Thankfully, President Trump is not afraid to tackle long-overlooked challenges, just as he has done with the issue of Missing and Murdered Native Americans. A few examples of elevating the commitment to the trust relationship in the plan surround the provisions to improve education and healthcare in Indian Country. President Trump’s FY 2021 budget, for example, proposed a $185 million (3 percent) increase for Indian Health Service (IHS) funding totaling $6.2 billion. The President also launched the IHS Task (Force) to tackle long overlooked abuses in the IHS.”

Trump also promised to empower tribes to pursue responsible energy development on their lands.

Trump’s record on the environment and support for fossil fuel development, mining and pipelines that frequently impact Native lands and communities, however, has not gone unnoticed in Indian Country.

Trump famously approved the Dakota Access Pipeline, the subject of months-long opposition, near the Standing Rock Reservation within a month of taking office. The president has been an enthusiastic supporter of oil and gas pipeline development, the coal industry, mining in areas such as the Boundary Waters in Minnesota and opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling. During his administration, the Environmental Protection Agency has streamlined the environmental review process and timeline for pipelines and mining projects.

According to Dadger, access to clean, safe water is paramount to Native people in Arizona; the fallout from coal and uranium mines continue to pollute drinking water on the Navajo reservation.

“In Arizona, water is gold,” Dadger said.

The state of Wisconsin repealed its mining moratorium during the Trump administration while the president has sought to fast-track mining projects, offering grants and loans to help companies pay for equipment.

Environmental health is a big concern for Native voters in Wisconsin, according to Reiter.

“I don’t think there’s a tribe here in Wisconsin that isn’t fighting some sort of environmental threat from mining or pipelines. As Indigenous people, we don’t have the luxury of relocating. This is our land,” Reiter said.

“If you still need an excuse to vote, I don’t know what world you’re living in,” he said.

Although voters in Indian Country continue to experience barriers, Semans is hopeful for this election.

“In a matter of a week, we registered 1,600 people in Minnesota, 1,700 in Arizona and 1,800 in South Dakota. I’m really excited for Indian Country,” he said.

Professor Arianne Eason of the University of California-Berkeley, a researcher with the Indigenous Futures Survey, agrees.

“We saw really high rates of civic and political engagement among respondents. That being said, there were still a lot of barriers that Indigenous people were facing, and some of it is really access to polling places. At the same time, we see that people really are taking very seriously what’s going on. And so when we look at what motivates people to vote, what people are really reporting, is caring about candidates’ platforms and their track record on Native and tribal issues.”

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Mary Annette Pember, a citizen of the Red Cliff Ojibwe tribe, is a national correspondent for Indian Country Today.

5 Alaska tribes protest groundwork for Tongass logging

Joaqlin Estus

Oct 20, 2020

‘We refuse to endow legitimacy upon a process that has disregarded our input at every turn’

Joaqlin Estus
Indian Country Today

Five tribal nations of southeast Alaska are objecting to a federal agency decision that leaves the U.S. Forest Service poised to open 9 million acres in the Tongass National Forest to logging.

The federal agency recently recommended lifting a 2001 rule that bans new road construction and commercial logging in the Tongass, the country’s largest national forest at nearly 17 million acres.

The five Tlingit and Haida tribes say they’re deeply disappointed with the agency’s choice.

Last week, they sent a strongly worded letter to the U.S. secretary of agriculture and chief of the Forest Service opting out of “cooperating agency status,” which had allowed them to enter the planning process at the earliest stage and contribute to environmental analyses.

“After two years of consultations, meetings, providing input and commenting on drafts, the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement shows that our participation in this process has not actually led to the incorporation of any of our concerns in the final decision,” the letter said. “We refuse to endow legitimacy upon a process that has disregarded our input at every turn.”

The tribes said they had differences among them on details of the alternatives laid out in the environmental impact statement, but they were unanimous on one point. “We were united in our opposition to a full exemption” of the Tongass from the so-called roadless rule.

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Tongass National Forest (Mark C. Brennan, Courtesy of Creative Commons)
Tongass National Forest (Mark C. Brennan, Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Proponents of Tongass logging say the rule change is needed to boost the Alaska economy. They say it would result in logging of only about 1 percent of the most valuable old growth forest, while still allowing other uses, including mining, renewable energy and recreation projects.

But the tribes said the agency’s selection reflects political expediency rather than the public or environmental best interests. It “closes the door to any further collaboration in the Alaska Roadless Rule process, as the agency has shown that they have no interest in addressing the concerns of our Tribes, and the public at large.”

The tribes said they are opting out of cooperative agency status because “we do not wish to confuse the American people into believing that the listing of our Tribes as cooperating agencies on the first page of the impact statement means that the final recommendation made by the document is in any way reflective of the input that we gave during the rulemaking process.”

They said they will not be party to a decision that will lead to the “degradation of our homelands and our way of life.”

The tribes added full exemption from the roadless rule does not provide solutions or contribute to prosperity.

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The Organized Village of Kasaan, Hydaburg Cooperative Association, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Hoonah Indian Association, and Angoon Community Association asked that an updated version of the environmental impact statement be released to reflect their withdrawal as cooperating agencies.

Under the Trump administration, a handful of large resource development proposals in Alaska have already received or appear to be on the verge of getting federal approval. All have been embroiled in controversy for years, most for decades. The proposed projects include the opening of 1.5 million acres for oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, development of the nation’s largest copper mine in the fisheries-rich Bristol Bay region, and construction of a road through wilderness to the Ambler mining district.

The Forest Service will issue a final decision on the roadless rule in the Tongass sometime after Oct. 25.

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Joaqlin Estus, Tlingit, is a national correspondent for Indian Country Today, and a long-time Alaska journalist.

Indian Country Today is a nonprofit news organization. Will you support our work? All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support Indian Country Today for as little as $10.

Voting Information

Lakota Law

In this final week before the election, as we dive into the homestretch at Standing Rock to get out the vote here and in battleground states, we’re working harder than ever to make sure America hears our voices and counts our ballots. Lakota Law’s new video provides you with an inside look at our phone bank, as our Standing Rock members call into two states where the Native vote has the most potential to make a difference for Grandmother Earth: Arizona and North Carolina.

Phone bank leader Melanie Thompson demonstrates to Chase Iron Eyes exactly what a successful call to a 2020 voter looks like.

As part of this massive effort, we’ve dialed more than 55,000 numbers and had 3,000 meaningful conversations with voters in North Carolina. For example, we’ve spoken to almost 1,000 voters in Lumbee tribal territory — the counties of Cumberland, Hoke, Scotland and Robeson — who have already voted or committed to voting.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, following in the footsteps of former Vice President Biden, President Trump visited Robeson County and pledged to federally recognize the Lumbee — North Carolina’s largest tribe. It’s all part of a pattern of candidates increasingly courting the Native vote, after so many election cycles where the opposite was true. 

Of course, Native Americans still face many barriers to voting, and thankfully the press is helping to shine a light on our plight. Lakota Law’s Phyllis Young, phone bank leader Melanie Thompson, and I did interviews with the Associated Press last week, and the story dropped today. I urge you to give it a read

The bottom line is that we insist on Native voices being heard this election cycle — and it seems that the world has begun to listen in a new way, thanks in large part to the support you give to our Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and to the Lakota People’s Law Project. I cannot thank you enough.

Wopila tanka — it means the world that you stand with Standing Rock!

Terry Yellow Fat
Tribal Elder
Via the Lakota People’s Law Project
 

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

Vote 2020

Lakota Law header

It’s an exciting week at Standing Rock as we’re in full swing with our Vote 2020 call center! On Wednesday, our media team hit the ground running, and we trained a full room of 25 Standing Rock members to call and activate voters around the U.S.


Watch our new video: Standing Rock members call potential voters in North Carolina.

It’s been said a thousand times: this is the most important election of our lifetime. With so much wrong in the world, we can turn the tide — right now. I’m confident that we’ll successfully combat attempts to disenfranchise Native people and make our voices heard loud and clear on Nov. 3. 

We’re encouraging everyone we speak with to vote — and whenever possible, we’re making sure they can do so early. This election offers us a chance to turn what is usually a particularly hard time of year for us in Native communities into a time of hope. While it’s always a challenge being Indian in America, as we go from October into November, our pain intensifies. Beginning with Columbus Day and continuing through Thanksgiving, the wider culture seems to constantly celebrate calls for erasure of Indigenous personhood.

That history is exactly why we’re calling on each other to speak truth to power, to envision who we want to be in the times to come. This election is a test: Who are we, really, when the going gets tough? As Americans, it’s critical we work together to be our best selves. Yes, this is a hard, trying time — but as Indigenous peoples and nations, this has always been the case. 

Standing Rock Protest Video
Callers celebrate a day of effective outreach.

Let me be clear: we believe in American ideals as much as anyone. We want liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So this November, we’re doing everything humanly possible to make sure the Earth is respected, fascism is rejected, and our democracy is protected.

Wopila — thank you, always, for your generosity and heart.

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

Environmental Oversight

EPA gives Oklahoma environmental oversight on Indian lands

In this Aug. 18 photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt answers a question during a news conference at the Central Oklahoma PPE distribution warehouse in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Kolby KickingWoman

Oct 5, 2020

Ramifications stemming from McGirt decision in July seep beyond criminal jurisdiction

Kolby KickingWoman
Indian Country Today

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the state of Oklahoma’s request to administer environmental regulatory programs in Indian Country.

Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Cherokee, made the initial request to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler near the end of July, 13 days after the Supreme Court ruled in McGirt v. Oklahoma. 

That decision stated Congress never explicitly disestablished the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reservation and much of eastern Oklahoma remains Indian Country.

While the McGirt case dealt with criminal jurisdiction, it appears tribal and state governments believe the ramifications of the decision extend beyond that single area.

A map submitted as an exhibit in the Supreme Court case about the boundaries of tribal reservations in Oklahoma.
A map submitted as an exhibit in the Supreme Court case about the boundaries of tribal lands in Oklahoma. (Image: The Supreme Court)

The EPA’s letter to Stitt, dated last week, applies to more than two dozen federal environmental programs overseen by Oklahoma agencies, including the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Water Resources Board and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. It gives the state approval for a hazardous waste program, experimental use permits, Clean Air Act programs and more. The approval does not apply to lands held in trust for tribes or those that qualify as Indian allotments, the letter says.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. called the announcement disappointing.

“Unfortunately, the governor’s decision to invoke a 2005 federal law ignores the longstanding relationships between state agencies and the Cherokee Nation,” Hoskin said in a statement. “All Oklahomans benefit when the Tribes and state work together in the spirit of mutual respect and this knee-jerk reaction to curtail tribal jurisdiction is not productive.”

Pictured: Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. gives remarks during the tribe's Economic Impact forum at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. (Photo: Cherokee Nation)

The federal law allowing states to seek environmental oversight in Indian Country was authored in 2005 by Oklahoma’s Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a staunch ally of the oil and gas industry.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation was similarly disappointed and through the tribe’s press secretary said concerns brought forth by the tribe during two consultations seemed to go unheard.

“The underlying law is a one-section provision surreptitiously inserted as a midnight rider in the massive (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act) of 2005 that treats Oklahoma tribes differently than other tribes throughout the United States,” the tribe said in a statement. “Like the SAFETEA Act itself, this was a swift move meant to circumvent the federal government’s trust, duty and obligation to consult with the tribal nations concerned.”

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation said it submitted a request for tribal consultation just two days after the governor submitted his request.

“The MCN was granted two consultations, but it seems the concerns raised did not suffice. The MCN will continue seeking remedies to the situation.”

Stitt said in a statement Monday that he was pleased with the EPA’s decision. He said it would help better protect the state’s public health and environment “by ensuring certainty and one consistent set of regulations” for all citizens of Oklahoma, including tribal citizens.

“As Administrator Wheeler’s letter correctly points out, the State of Oklahoma did not seek to expand or increase its regulation over new areas of the state, but rather to continue to regulate those areas where the state has consistently implemented these environmental programs under the steady oversight of the U.S. EPA,” Stitt said.

The EPA decision was particularly welcomed by the state’s oil and gas industry, which was concerned that the Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma could ultimately lead to a patchwork of various tribal environmental regulations across the state, said Brook Simmons, president of the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma, an oil and gas industry trade group.

“This decision grants the state no more or no less authority than it had prior to the McGirt decision,” Simmons said. “Since 1947, the state of Oklahoma has had primacy to regulate oil and gas operations in Indian Country. This does not have any new effect on that precedent.”

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 for the Washington Bureau. For hot sports takes and too many Lakers tweets, follow him on Twitter – @KDKW_406. Email – kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

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The Truth and Healing Act

Lakota Law

Hihanni waste,

In the U.S., some of the ugly realities of our history continue to unfold, but there is always hope when we push back. We’re seeing this now in the continued struggle for racial justice, a movement that is playing out not only on the streets but in the halls of Congress. We’re grateful that last week, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced a new bill in the House of Representatives to bring to light the injustices suffered by my people at the hands of the federal government. 

The Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy in the United States Act aims to establish a formal commission to expose the atrocities committed by the federal boarding school policy, and give a voice to the descendants dealing with the resulting trauma. It is co-sponsored by a long list of congressional reps, including Rep. Sharice L. Davids (D-Kan.), a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Davids and Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) were recently the first two Native women elected to the House.

Between 1879 and 1918, more than 10,000 Native American children from 140 tribes attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. 158 graduated.

As you may know, the Indian boarding school era is one of the darkest chapters in the history of American Indian policy. Under a government-approved goal to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man,” our children were taken and forcibly assimilated into colonized ways of thinking. Their braids cut and the speaking of their languages prohibited, these children were subjected to repeated physical, sexual, and mental abuse — and too many never made it back home. The horrible reality is that hundreds, if not thousands, of these children still lie in boarding school graveyards around the country instead of resting in their homelands with their ancestors. 

This history is not removed from modern day, either. My sister and I were sent to boarding school back in the 1940s, and this awful practice didn’t end until the ‘60s. I witnessed this genocidal policy firsthand. 

Here at LPLP, we’ve long been proponents of Truth and Healing. Back in 2015-’16, about 50 Native nations signed onto our petition for a congressional committee modeled after Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation effort. We stand with the many other tribal leaders supporting the creation of this commission under Haaland and Warren’s bill.

In these days of deception and disease — when our rights are once again being violated by officials who seek to limit our power at the polls — a new way forward must be found. Truth and healing is exactly what we need.

Wopila tanka — In solidarity!

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

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

Voting Efforts

Lakota Law

As you know, the Lakota People’s Law Project does all we can to ensure that my fellow Native Americans can cast their ballots each election cycle. In recent weeks, we’ve been writing to you about our effort to pass the Native American Voting Rights Act (NAVRA). Now we’re taking things to the next level. We’ve partnered with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and leading up to the election we’ll run a joint phone bank where tribal members activate their neighbors and Native voters in swing states like North Carolina and Arizona. We’re doing all we can to see that Indian Country makes a big noise in the 2020 election.

Lakota LawOur first team members feel the joy after a day of making a difference in the 2020 election.

We’ll hire and train about 30 tribal residents as get-out-the-vote organizers. Using data-driven targeting and leveraging the latest tech to increase efficiency, we’ll have tens of thousands of conversations with voters. In addition to boosting the number of people casting ballots in important regional elections, this will put Standing Rock’s citizens to work learning valuable skills at a time when earning money is harder than ever on the reservation.

Lakota LawDana Yellow Fat works the phones to Standing Rock the Vote.

Meanwhile, growing support for NAVRA has moved it closer to getting out of committee and into law. Over the past month, partly because of our efforts, the bill gained five new sponsors in the House of Representatives (including some in critical swing states). We’re also engaged with investigative journalists at national press outlets to ensure high-level coverage of the suppression tactics and other difficulties faced by Native voters in 2020.

We’ll maintain our ambitious media and video production calendar to make sure you’ve got a clear window into the work. As always, your support makes all we do possible — and I can’t thank you enough for helping us lead the struggle. Let’s stay committed!

Wopila tanka — my gratitude for continuing to propel this movement forward.

Phyllis Young
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

October 12th: Indigenous Peoples Day

Visit the Many Nations of America
Participants in Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2020 (from left to right): Performing artist Frank Waln; Youth in Action panelists Brook Thompson, Dylan Baca, Lina Krueck, Julian Brave NoiseCat, Michaela Pavlat (moderator), and Alberto Correa III
Visit the Museum in Washington, DC
To reserve your free, timed-entry passes to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, please visit our website. The museum location in New York remains closed at this time.

Can’t make it to our museum on the National Mall? Visit our wide range of resources online, including exhibition websites.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Mascots, Monuments, and Memorialization Monday, Oct. 12, 1 PM ET
Streaming online at americanindian.si.edu/online-programs
How do people’s memories of the past inform and influence the current racial and social landscape? As part of the museum’s new series Youth in Action: Conversations about Our Future, participants can hear from young Native activists who are propelling this conversation forward and addressing the tension between history, memory, and the current movements happening across America. Featured panelists include Brook Thompson (Yurok and Karuk), Julian Brave NoiseCat (Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen and Lil’Wat Nation), Lina Krueck (Oglala Lakota), Dylan Baca (White Mountain Apache), and Alberto Correa III (Taíno).

This event will feature an introduction by Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian, and a musical performance by hip-hop artist Frank Waln (Sicangu Lakota). The panel will be moderated by museum cultural interpreter Michaela Pavlat (Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa Indians).

You can find more ideas for celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day from home on Smithsonian Voices.

WNYC’s The Greene Space Presents First Peoples Week
Through Saturday, October 12
Full schedule available at https://thegreenespace.org/series/first-peoples-week/
Celebrated Native creators, artists, podcasters, poets, photographers, and others take center stage during First Peoples Week at The Greene Space. This free, online program series features conversations that touch on COVID-19, land treaties, mascots, storytelling, and more, led by This Land host Rebecca Nagle, director and producer Madeline Sayet, community leaders from the Lenape Center, and Iakowi:hi’ne’ Oakes, director of the American Indian Community House.

Native New York in your classroom
October 8 and 15, 4 PM ET
Register online
These free, hour-long webinars are designed for education professionals who teach about the Native Nations of New York State. Educators whose primary teaching focus is social studies, English language arts, or library sciences, and who work with students in grades 4–12 are encouraged to register. We also invite homeschoolers, parents, and others looking for digital educational resources about Native Americans.

The Great Inka Road | El Gran Camino Inka
Learn about the ingenuity of the Inka who built an empire, through our bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibition website. The site includes sections on ancestors of the Inka, the Inka universe, the invasion of the empire, and the Inka Road today.

New in our Smithsonian Store online: face masks!

The museum’s online store now carries adult face masks designed by Native artists in several patterns: Eagle Vision, Orca Family, Sasquatch, and Tradition. For these and other gifts and accessories, visit the museum’s shop on the Smithsonian’s website.

Stay Connected with the Museum

Follow the museum at AmericanIndian.si.edu, or via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The National Museum of the American Indian is able to reach people everywhere thanks to generous support from individuals like you. Thank you.



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Standing Rock

Thu, Oct 1, 2020 6:36 pm Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota Law (info@lakotalaw.org)To:you Details

Lakota Law

Warm greetings! As we look to escape the shadow of the most embarrassing presidential debate in the history of our still-young nation, our team here at Standing Rock has begun assembling tribal phone bankers. Our mission? We must remind Native voters in battleground states that their voice matters and help them cast their ballots. Much more news to come soon on that front. 

Meanwhile, I share with you a powerful new video about our NoDAPL stand, produced by VICE News in conjunction with the Lakota People’s Law Project. As we’ve continued to work with students at Loyola University to compile our archive of NoDAPL resources, we’ve also been releasing videos to tell you the full story of our stand to protect Standing Rock’s water. Another key reason for compiling these materials is to allow journalists, like our friends at VICE News, to help tell that story effectively. 

About a month ago, VICE News sent their “I Was There” production team to meet me in South Dakota so we could talk about what really happened at Standing Rock. We also provided their team with access to our archival resources. Using all of that plus other sourced footage, they produced “I was There: DAPL Protests.” I urge you to watch it to gain a fuller picture of the timeline and meaning of our movement, and how it fits into the present cultural moment. I hope that you will find it informative.

Please know that, as we ramp up our Vote 2020 campaign to protect the future of our right to be heard in this democracy, we won’t stop our continued efforts to defeat DAPL — and Keystone XL — once and for all. This year has shown us so clearly that we must take our vigilance to new levels to protect one another. We have to fight on multiple fronts and make sure that the truth always comes to light. We’re so grateful for responsible journalists like the team from VICE News who help us do that. And, of course, we couldn’t be more appreciative of you for helping us stay in the fight every single day.

Wopila tanka — thank you for standing with us and with Standing Rock!

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

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

Latest DAPL News

Lakota Law

I hope you’re hanging in there in what has become a more difficult and surreal year with every passing month. As if 2020 hadn’t hit hard enough yet, the death this week of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg landed yet another troubling blow to the health and safety of our democracy. But we’re pushing back in Indian Country.  

The fate of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) is one among many issues that could be adversely affected, if the Senate confirms a conservative nominee from President Trump as Justice Ginsberg’s replacement. But because Joe Biden’s team has announced his intention to shut down both DAPL and Keystone XL (KXL), the courts could be removed from the equation entirely should he become president.

In our new DAPL Archive video, SD Rancher Marv Kammerer — the personification of what mutual understanding and alliance-building should look like — discusses appropriate stewardship of land and water.

No matter what happens in November, we must stand unified, together, across dividing lines real and imagined, to protect our future in this homeland. To see exactly what that looks like, I invite you to watch our latest DAPL Archive video. In 2017, I wrote an op-ed in The Hill about DAPL’s continuation of the age-old battle between cowboys and Indians. I’m happy to say that, in 2020, we have now evolved a small cowboy-Indian alliance against DAPL and KXL. Listen to our ally, rancher Marv Kammerer. You’ll be inspired.

At the end of the day, it is our shared values — not our racial differences — that must determine where we stand and where we’re going. By giving our common values a chance to resonate, we can heal the past and present and create the future we want. 
 
Please stay with us as we begin to hire and train dozens of Standing Rock tribal members to call voters in states like Florida and Arizona between now and Nov 3. We’ll make sure Native votes are cast and counted in this all-important election. Despite the challenges 2020 has brought, America will hear our voice. As Marv so eloquently puts it, we must be proper stewards of this land. So let us rise to the occasion.

Wopila tanka — thank you for being part of our alliance!

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

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

The Pebble Mine Project

https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/pebble-mine-ceo-resigns-after-recorded-comments-released-rOdR6lVo-E-uvJxurb2sqQ

‘We are dealing with a company that has lied to everyone’

Joaqlin Estus
Indian Country Today

Corrected: Added tribal affiliation for the director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay 

The head of a proposed copper and gold mine near a prime Alaska salmon fishery has resigned after covertly filmed videos showed him talking about elected and regulatory officials and unreleased plans for the huge project.

Northern Dynasty, owner of Pebble Limited Partnership, announced the resignation of Pebble Limited CEO Tom Collier in a statement Wednesday.

The Environmental Investigation Agency, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group, this week released secretly recorded Zoom conversations between Collier, Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen and activists posing as investors. The conversations occurred in August and earlier this month.

In the videos, the mine developers describe their plans for a much bigger and longer-lasting mine than they’ve presented in the permitting process. They also claim their political connections are working to their benefit.

Become a Member: Lakota Law Project

Lakota Law header

Despite COVID tearing through the Dakotas in the wake of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and wildfires threatening our team in California, we’re as committed to lifting up our communities as we ever have been. No doubt about it, 2020 has been a challenging year. It’s forced us to develop new strategies for securing justice and achieving our goals. <a rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank" href="https://click.everyaction.com/k/19205198/252206446/1958792018?utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mlfh&utm_content=textlink&sourceid=1042976&amp;

rac=,lpnl

&nvep=ew0KICAiVGVuYW50VXJpIjogIm5ncHZhbjovL3Zhbi9FQS9FQTAwMS8xLzU4MDcwIiwNCiAgIkRpc3RyaWJ1dGlvblVuaXF1ZUlkIjogImRlMTY4NjBhLTZmZjgtZWExMS05OWMzLTAwMTU1ZDAzOWU3NCIsDQogICJFbWFpbEFkZHJlc3MiOiAiYXp0ZWM4ODg4QGFvbC5jb20iDQp9&hmac=ke7PoBOq6ZnUqC2Qe0IQ_hFLFUE7lPUxAbGUF9lImFQ=&emci=5e2001a3-9cf3-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&emdi=de16860a-6ff8-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&ceid=2659296″>That’s why we’re launching a membership program for Lakota Law, and we want you to be one of the first to join. Because a donor has promised to match all gifts, your generosity will do twice as much good.

What does membership with us mean? It means that together, we can make an even bigger impact on our journey to justice for the Lakota People. It will give you new ways to build community with like-minded supporters, contribute to the projects that matter most to you, and ensure stability for our work during turbulent times.

We know the value of stability. Last year, we realized a longtime dream when we bought a house on the Standing Rock Nation and opened a foster home for some of the reservation’s most at-risk children. In partnership with community members, the home has provided a safe place — in Native care — for 25 Lakota kids in 2020. And it has given those children stability. <a rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank" href="https://click.everyaction.com/k/19205199/252206447/1958792018?utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mlfh&utm_content=textlink&sourceid=1042976&amp;

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&nvep=ew0KICAiVGVuYW50VXJpIjogIm5ncHZhbjovL3Zhbi9FQS9FQTAwMS8xLzU4MDcwIiwNCiAgIkRpc3RyaWJ1dGlvblVuaXF1ZUlkIjogImRlMTY4NjBhLTZmZjgtZWExMS05OWMzLTAwMTU1ZDAzOWU3NCIsDQogICJFbWFpbEFkZHJlc3MiOiAiYXp0ZWM4ODg4QGFvbC5jb20iDQp9&hmac=ke7PoBOq6ZnUqC2Qe0IQ_hFLFUE7lPUxAbGUF9lImFQ=&emci=5e2001a3-9cf3-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&emdi=de16860a-6ff8-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&ceid=2659296″>Renee, will you join us by becoming a member of the Lakota People’s Law Project today?

<a rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank" href="https://click.everyaction.com/k/19205200/252206448/1958792018?utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mlfh&utm_content=piclink&sourceid=1042976&amp;

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&nvep=ew0KICAiVGVuYW50VXJpIjogIm5ncHZhbjovL3Zhbi9FQS9FQTAwMS8xLzU4MDcwIiwNCiAgIkRpc3RyaWJ1dGlvblVuaXF1ZUlkIjogImRlMTY4NjBhLTZmZjgtZWExMS05OWMzLTAwMTU1ZDAzOWU3NCIsDQogICJFbWFpbEFkZHJlc3MiOiAiYXp0ZWM4ODg4QGFvbC5jb20iDQp9&hmac=ke7PoBOq6ZnUqC2Qe0IQ_hFLFUE7lPUxAbGUF9lImFQ=&emci=5e2001a3-9cf3-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&emdi=de16860a-6ff8-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&ceid=2659296″>Some of our foster kids with their tribal foster parent, at our kinship care home on Standing Rock Nation.

Over the years, your support has created a better world for Lakota children and families. In the beginning, I formed the Lakota Child Rescue Project. In 2012, we hosted an Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Summit. We transported dozens of Standing Rock families to Rapid City. There, tribal members from across South Dakota testified about the state’s Department of Social Services removing our children to illegally place them in non-Native care.

Now, your support can help fund a youth center adjacent to our Standing Rock foster home. We’re optimistic that, with your help, we could break ground as early as spring of 2021! So much of the suffering on our reservations — the suicide rates, the substance abuse, the juvenile offenses — could be solved by providing more resources for our young ones. We must work together to provide consistent places to sleep, learn, and play. That’s what building real stability looks like.

Wopila tanka — my deep gratitude to you for your committed friendship!
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
 

P.S. Lakota Law members join a community of like-minded supporters and give us financial stability, ensuring that our work together is both strategic and effective. As a member you’ll receive meaningful benefits, including new ways to connect with us — and with each other. <a rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank" href="https://click.everyaction.com/k/19205202/252206450/1958792018?utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mlfh&utm_content=pslink&sourceid=1042976&amp;

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&nvep=ew0KICAiVGVuYW50VXJpIjogIm5ncHZhbjovL3Zhbi9FQS9FQTAwMS8xLzU4MDcwIiwNCiAgIkRpc3RyaWJ1dGlvblVuaXF1ZUlkIjogImRlMTY4NjBhLTZmZjgtZWExMS05OWMzLTAwMTU1ZDAzOWU3NCIsDQogICJFbWFpbEFkZHJlc3MiOiAiYXp0ZWM4ODg4QGFvbC5jb20iDQp9&hmac=ke7PoBOq6ZnUqC2Qe0IQ_hFLFUE7lPUxAbGUF9lImFQ=&emci=5e2001a3-9cf3-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&emdi=de16860a-6ff8-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&ceid=2659296″>Please visit our website to learn more; and become a member by Saturday, Sept. 26 to join us for our special Membership Launch Event that day with me, Chase Iron Eyes, and our Lakota Law leaders!

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

Victory for Red Fawn!

The best news I have heard this year! She should never have been arrested in the first place. It was a clear set up and attempt to intimidate protestors.

Image Credit: Twitter: @lakotalaw

An Indigenous water protector who was arrested during protests against the Dakota Access pipeline has been released from federal prison. Prosecutors accused Red Fawn Fallis of firing three shots from a handgun as police in riot gear, wielding batons, surrounded her to make an arrest amid mass protests against the pipeline in 2016. Red Fawn’s uncle, Glenn Morris, welcomed her release Thursday, telling Indian Country Today, “The real criminals continue to pump oil through the pipeline in violation of the 1851 and 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaties and US environmental laws.”

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/9/11/headlines/standing_rock_water_protector_red_fawn_fallis_leaves_federal_prison

Regarding Mascots

Lakota Law

This year has called on us to respond with unprecedented creativity to unprecedented challenges. We’ve had to use the platforms we have to think big, make bold statements, and create rapid change. That’s why I was so heartened last week to see players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) take their position and influence seriously. After a police officer shot yet another black man — Jacob Blake — seven times in the back, players refused to take the court for their playoff games. Then they met, formed a plan, and got buy-in from team owners and the league to use NBA arenas as polling places and voting centers in November.

Unfortunately, no other American pro sports league approaches the NBA’s level of social justice awareness. Just weeks ago, after years of pressure, Washington, D.C.’s pro football team finally announced it would change its name from the most offensive in all of sports. But sports mascots and branding appropriated from Native culture are still all too common. This includes the Superbowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and baseball’s Atlanta Braves. Please sign and share our petition to change offensive sports mascots and branding, and watch my video about why it’s so important.

Lakota Law

So many people watch and participate in sports, on every level from little league to the pros. Offensive team names, mascots, and logos impact all of us from a young age. Minor league baseball teams and college programs — like the Florida State Seminoles, whose fans often display the offensive “tomahawk chop” in stadiums — are guilty, just like the pros. A long time ago, I did all I could to help change my own alma mater’s nickname from the North Dakota State Fighting Sioux to the Fighting Hawks. Now I can be proud of my school.

These symbols rely upon stereotypes which demean Native culture and have real, negative effects on Indigenous children. Their continued existence perpetuates bullying and alienation. 

Now, the NBA has shown a new way for sports to approach social justice. And the players’ solution — making voting in black and brown communities easier — is wonderful. On that subject, I urge you also to read about our effort, in concert with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and two members of Congress, to pass the Native American Voting Rights Act. We stand in solidarity with the NBA players. Let’s increase turnout from communities of color, this November and beyond. Our voices must be heard!

Wopila tanka — my gratitude for your continued action!

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

Aftermath of Vote 2020

Lakota Law
image

There is only one way to start today’s message: thank you, thank you, thank you! From the bottom of my heart, and from so many of us here at Standing Rock Nation, we feel blessed and grateful to have you on our side.

Our Vote 2020 Campaign has been a resounding success on so many levels, and we couldn’t have done it without you. We formed important new bonds, trained 40 tribal members on voter outreach, and created powerful media that reached hundreds of thousands. Most importantly, all the work we did made a definitive difference in the election — and I urge you to read much more about this in our new Lakota Law blog.

Halle Martinez, one of our outstanding Standing Rock calling team members.

Your support allowed us to reach out to more than a quarter million Native and environmentally conscious voters. Ultimately, we had 11,000-plus activating conversations with people in battleground states like Arizona. Now, due partly to the Native vote, we’ll have new national leadership, more Indigenous people in office, and the chance to heal this nation. 

We saw exactly how loud the voices of Native people can be in Arizona. We had nearly 2,500 conversations with voters in the Grand Canyon State. Turnout was high in Indian Country, and the state will now have a Senator who should stand up for the environment. 

I think most of you are aware that Donald Trump has not conceded victory and isn’t stopping his attacks on the will of the people. We must not rest on our laurels, become the least bit complacent, or stop working together for justice and the health of our democracy.

There is much still to accomplish together moving forward. I’m confident we can continue forming critical partnerships down the road to bring about even more positive change. That could be as soon as January with Georgia’s two U.S. Senate run-off elections. Regardless, I’m excited about what the future holds for Standing Rock, the United States, and our shared world.

Wopila tanka — my deepest gratitude for your participation in our democracy!

Phyllis Young
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project