Continued Vigilance Needed

https://teespring.com/stores/gallery-no8

Greetings again from Bear Soldier District on Standing Rock Nation. I thank you for your dedicated action on behalf of the people here. You’ve sent almost 13,000 emails to the nearly all-white McLaughlin City Council and the town’s mayor telling them to suspend utility shut-offs during the COVID-19 pandemic. And more than one of you made anonymous donations to my son’s family, making it possible for him, his wife, and my grandchildren to return to their home. That’s huge. We know the city is feeling the pressure.

Unfortunately, their reaction has been to circle the wagons. Knowing that increased Native representation at City Hall could make all the difference in fair treatment of the town’s tribal people, they are resorting to what we believe are brazenly illegal means to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Here’s what I mean: a mayoral election is coming up on June 9, and my nephew, Hoksila White Mountain, is a promising candidate. A recent graduate of Sitting Bull College with a BA in social work, Hoksila has life experience and growing support from our Native community. He has already been working hard to remedy the utility shut-off problem.

Hoksila White Mountain
Hoksila White Mountain is being blocked from running for mayor by McLaughlin City Hall.

But now, City Hall has struck him from the ballot. They say they heard through the grapevine he didn’t follow a provincial law requiring him to collect petition signatures himself to enter the race. In fact, he did two separate rounds of signature gathering specifically to meet the standard. Our research tells us he followed all the rules, and yet he was still removed.

Thankfully, our partnership with the Lakota People’s Law project — and with you — could make all the difference. If necessary, the Lakota Law team will take legal action to get Hoksila back into the election.

Please stay tuned, because we’re also investigating which state and/or federal agencies can provide oversight — and we will share an opportunity soon to contact those agencies directly. Together, we are on the verge of creating significant change here in Bear Soldier. With your continued pressure, we’ll ensure that Native people can run for elected office anywhere at Standing Rock.

Wopila tanka — Thank you for helping us change lives for the better!

Robert White Mountain
via the Lakota People’s Law Project

Virus Outbreak at Pine Ridge

I write with unfortunate news: we’re now dealing with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus at Pine Ridge. We’re up to at least five positive tests here, a rapidly growing number that has forced a 72-hour lockdown.

This demonstrates why it’s absolutely critical that many of you have taken the time to tell South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem not to challenge our COVID-19 checkpoints. Fortunately, your pressure is working. You sent more than 15,000 emails to the governor, and she flinched — failing to follow through on her 48-hour legal deadline.

As Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner’s spokesperson and public relations director, protecting the people of this nation and sharing our stories are my sacred duties. I’m proud of the powerful conversation my president had last night with Don Lemon on CNN. Please watch and share it. We must continue to win the public education battle.

Lakota Law

This outbreak is yet another demonstration of Governor Noem’s statewide policy failure with COVID-19. This is why we’ve taken matters into our own hands. We are so obviously on the right side of this that 17 state lawmakers, including a Republican, have penned an open letter to the governor in support of us. Even Fox News is having a hard time spinning this one in the governor’s favor.

I thank you, with all of my heart, for listening and acting in friendship with my relatives. If we stand our ground and keep the conversation going, we will prevail — over ignorance in our state capitol and over this pandemic.

Wopila — my sincere thanks for your attention,

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

Important Online Meeting!

https://350org.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_LUAGAezKT6-xZvgneKG9Og

Organize to Win in 2020
Description

We’re hosting an urgent call to provide updates on the status of Keystone XL, what we’re doing to fight back in the midst of COVID-19, and how we can win in November.

Sign up below to join our call on Thursday, May 14th at 8pm ET/5pm PT to hear from Bill McKibben, key partners, and members of the 350.org team about what’s next.

If you can, please have some paper and a marker or pen available to participate in a quick activity during the call.

Time

May 14, 2020 07:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Regarding Vital Checkpoints!

We have a potentially explosive situation at the Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge Reservations. If you’ve been looking at the news, you may have seen that South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has threatened our tribes with legal action because we have taken the rational step of setting up COVID-19 checkpoints on roads entering our homelands.

Native communities have the right to protect ourselves from the spread of disease, and the law is on our side. You can help. Email Kristi Noem right now and tell her to walk back her threat to Lakota tribes before lives are lost!

Lakota Law
Caption: In our new video, my colleague, Chase Iron Eyes — who serves as public relations director for Oglala president Julian Bear Runner — discusses the urgency of protecting our citizens. (Photo courtesy of Warrior Women Project.)

Governor Noem has failed to mandate common sense protections for tribes and all the people of her state during the COVD-19 pandemic, so the Oglala and Cheyenne River Nations have taken matters into our own hands by setting up these checkpoints on reservation roads to limit the pandemic’s spread.

They are not roadblocks, and there is no truth to Governor Noem’s repeated assertions that essential or emergency traffic is being detained or turned back. Here at Cheyenne River, we are requiring visitors to fill out a health questionnaire or travel through the reservation without stopping. And just yesterday, two more positive cases at Pine Ridge forced a 72-hour lockdown to enable contact tracing and keep folks safe.

Although Governor Noem asserts that the tribes have not engaged in adequate consultation with state officials, both the Oglala and Cheyenne River Nations have interacted with a swath of state agencies on this issue. 17 state senators have now published an open letter declaring that she has no legal authority to regulate activity on reservation roads without tribal consent.

Governor Noem in no position to issue threats. She’s failing to protect her own constituents within our jurisdiction, so we will. This is a life or death situation, and we have a right to live.

Wopila tanka — my gratitude for your action!

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

Again: Permit Invalid

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/12/again-finding-us-permit-invalid-federal-court-upholds-block-climate-busting-keystone

 

Published on
by

Again Finding US Permit Invalid, Federal Court Upholds Block on ‘Climate-Busting’ Keystone XL Construction

“Our courts have shown time and time again that the law matters.”

A federal judge on Monday denied the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ request to amend his earlier ruling regarding TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline, reaffirming that a permit issued by the Army Corps was invalid.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled again that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) violated the Endangered Species Act when it issued Nationwide Permit 12, which allows companies to construct energy projects at water crossings.

“The court rightly ruled that the Trump administration can’t continue to ignore the catastrophic effects of fossil fuel pipelines like Keystone XL.”
—Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity

Climate action and Indigenous rights campaigners have for years fought the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which if built would cross bodies of water hundreds of times along its nearly 1,200-mile route from Alberta to Nebraska. TC Energy plans to send tar sands oil along the route, which opponents say would put Indigenous communities as well as wildlife at risk for dangerous leaks and exposure to toxic waste.

“The court rightly ruled that the Trump administration can’t continue to ignore the catastrophic effects of fossil fuel pipelines like Keystone XL,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “Constructing pipelines through rivers, streams, and wetlands without analyzing the impacts on imperiled species is unconscionable.”

The USACE had asked Morris to narrow his April 15 ruling, but the judge only changed his decision on Nationwide Permit 12 to allow non-pipeline construction, such as electrical transmission lines, to move forward.

“Our courts have shown time and time again that the law matters,” said Cecilia Segal, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) attorney. “Today’s ruling makes clear that climate-busting pipelines like Keystone XL cannot be built until the federal government does its job and properly analyzes these projects’ devastating effects on their surrounding communities and wildlife. If that analysis is based on science and facts, pipelines like Keystone XL will never see the light of day because they remain, and always will be, a dire threat to our water, wildlife, and climate.”

Indigenous Environmental Network @IENearth

Ft. Peck Assiniboine Sioux Kokipasni youth organizer Prairiedawn has been speaking out against @TCEnergy‘s KXL pipeline because she and her friends are afraid of the increase in man camps bring to Indigenous communities. https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/cancel-kxl-halt-all-keystone-xl-construction-due-to-coronavirus-public-health-emergency 

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Virus widens gap between internet haves, have-nots

https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/virus-widens-gap-between-internet-haves-have-nots-edAUSKUn8U-eGLVng05BAA

Joaqlin Estus

‘At no other time in history has robust and universal broadband been more important to the most vulnerable among us’

Joaqlin Estus

Indian Country Today

When the Hopi village of Bacavi had its first positive COVID-19 diagnosis in early April, the decision to close its doors to nonresidents was slowed by poor internet access.

Stay-at-home orders prohibited meetings in the Arizona community, so tribal leaders had to make decisions about closures via phone calls, said Bacavi resident Barbara Poley, Laguna and Hopi.

“Zoom would have really helped,” she said. “But the [village] governor could not receive my information because her internet service was not working.”

The communications hurdles on the rural Hopi reservation are all too common in Indian Country. The Federal Communications Commission estimates approximately a third of those living on tribal lands lack access to high-speed internet, though others say the figure is far higher.

Advocates say the problem is more urgent than ever with people lacking access to everything from public health information and telemedical services to educational and employment services during a pandemic.

“At no other time in history has robust and universal broadband been more important to the most vulnerable among us,” according to the Congressional Native American Caucus, led by U.S. Reps. Deb Halland, (D-NM) and Tom Cole (R-OK).

Monday, the caucus wrote to the Federal Communications Commission asking for a quick fix by authorizing use of frequencies that cover larger areas but carry less signal than others.

It asked the agency to authorize temporary use of available 2.5 GHz spectrum and other efficient, available and cost-effective spectrum on all tribal lands, both reservations and allotments. The commission has a program to authorize use of unassigned 2.5 GHz on rural reservation lands by individual application. Under that program, tribes cannot use 2.5 GHz frequencies under license to someone else even if it is unused.

In an email, commission spokesman Will Wiquist said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai “has seen the digital divide on Tribal lands and is committed to finding solutions to keep Americans on Tribal lands connected.”

“That’s why he championed a priority window for rural Tribes in the 2.5 GHz band, and that’s why granting requests for special temporary authority have been prioritized for requesting Tribes,” Wiquist said.

The agency website shows 29 tribes have applied for emergency use of the 2.5 spectrum. He said two applied on the Navajo and Zuni reservations, and those requests were “acted upon/granted within two business days of receiving the information necessary to grant use of the spectrum.”

He said entities also can apply for special temporary authority to available spectrum other than 2.5 GHz. He said “COVID-related STAs have typically been granted for 60 days, but can be extended as circumstances warrant.”

In explaining the need, the caucus’ letter said: “Connectivity barriers have created enormous disadvantages for tribal members and others living on reservations, limiting access to basic telehealth services, and making it difficult to perform fundamental activities like quickly sending patient information between health facilities and adequately uploading information.”

A 2019 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota’s Center for American Indian Development found only 55 percent of the households on reservations in the U.S. Southwest, Northern Plains and Intermountain West have broadband access, well below the national average of 78 percent.

The report said lower incomes are linked to less broadband access. And lack of access may add to economic development challenges.

“The net effects of enhanced access are generally considered positive for economic vitality, including through channels such as increased productivity at local businesses, increased sales to consumers outside the reservation, improved lifestyle and government services that attract residents, improved medical and educational services, and more,” the report stated.

The lack of internet service in Indian Country is playing out during the pandemic with people dying, and suffering physically, emotionally, and spiritually, according to Loris Taylor, Hopi and Acoma. She is president and CEO of the nonprofit Native Public Media, a support and advocacy group for tribal media.

Taylor was one of the panelists in a Right2Connect town hall meeting hosted by the advocacy group MediaJustice.

“In places where infrastructure is limited, the anxiety is even more pronounced,” she said. “I am hearing from people [in Indian Country] who have no running water, no electricity, who live on unpaved roads and who have no internet, from people who want information from hospitals, law enforcement, hazard management, and government.”

She said parents without internet access take their children to parking lots where they can access hotspots so the kids can do their homework, if they have a handheld device, which is more than some families can afford. “It’s not right,” Taylor said.

She also urged the Federal Communications Commission to allow tribes to access unused 2.5 GHz spectrum on reservations.

Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel noted during the virtual town hall that millions of people have lost their incomes due to COVID-19. They are at risk of getting their internet cut off due because they can’t afford it, at a time “when the pandemic compels people to head online like never before,” she said.

The commission provides low-income subscribers with a monthly discount of $9.25 for basic telephone and broadband Internet access service, or voice-broadband bundled service purchased from participating providers. It recently temporarily waived usage requirements and de-enrollment for Lifeline, to keep Americans connected during the coronavirus pandemic. The waiver ensures no Lifeline subscribers are removed from the program until May 29.

“As this virus places enormous strains on our economy and households, we’re going to have to double down on our efforts to make sure nobody is left behind when it comes to communications,” Rosenworcel said.

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Joaqlin Estus, Tlingit, is a national correspondent for Indian Country Today, and a longtime Alaska journalist. She serves on the board of Native Public Media.

Indian Country Today LLC is a nonprofit, public media enterprise. Reader support is critical. We do not charge for subscriptions, and tribal media (or any media, for that matter) can use our content for free. Our goal is public service. Please join our cause and support independent journalism today. We have an audacious plan for 2020, and your donation will help us make it so. #MyICT

Miss Shoshone-Bannock makes masks

https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/miss-shoshone-bannock-makes-masks-during-at-home-reign-C5hZA89pvkq3kbGBk6AkuA

 

‘Most of the time, I’m sewing fashion items for people that want them. This time, I’m sewing masks for people that need them’

Madison Laberge

Cronkite News

PHOENIX – As Miss Shoshone-Bannock, Stormie Perdash has represented her people all across the United States. Now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, she’s representing them in a different way.

Growing up on the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho, Perdash remembers just how badly she wanted the Miss Shoshone-Bannock title – or Miss Sho-Ban for short.

“She was like the coolest thing ever,” Perdash said.

She spent her preteen years on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana and lived in Los Angeles after graduating from high school, and figured her pageant dream was over. But last summer, she returned to Fort Hall for a visit and decided to enter the pageant for 18- to 25-year-olds – which she won.

“My first six months were amazing. I went and represented in Hawaii, South Dakota, Los Angeles,” she said in an interview. “Oh, Wisconsin! Also, our local community events – I’ve been here for those as well.

“And then COVID happened.”

Unable to travel and remaining indoors to guard her health, Perdash began making face masks after a tribal representative sought her help.

Despite no formal training, Perdash had sewn for years, mostly traditional dresses and ribbon skirts – which symbolize resilience, survival and sacredness. She’d never sewn face masks until a month ago, when she made 15 and shared them with her 39,000 followers on Instagram and more than 4,000 Twitter followers. She quickly was flooded with questions about selling the masks.

Perdash now has made close to 1,000 face masks and shipped them to Colorado, Texas, California and New York. She has even shipped a few to Canada. The $5 or $10 prices help cover supplies and shipping.

pageant
These face masks were made by Stormie Perdash, who lives near the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho. She now has made about 1,000 masks and shipped them to several states and Canada. (Photo courtesy of Stormie Perdash)

Her sister, Kree Burnett, is creating a map of all the places to which the sisters have shipped.

Perdash’s biggest worry is going to her local Walmart to get supplies. On one shopping trip, all the cotton fabric, interfacing material, elastic and ribbon were sold out. She has now turned to online retailers like Amazon.com to get supplies. She recently paid $25 for expedited shipping so she could continue making and shipping masks to those in need.

“Most of the time, I’m sewing fashion items for people that want them. This time, I’m sewing masks for people that need them,” she said.

“I tend not to think of it as helping others … but it really does. If you’re a beginner seamstress or an advanced seamstress, I encourage you to make masks.”

___

Cronkite News is reporting on acts of humanity, sharing the big and small ways people are helping each other in the era of coronavirus.Shoshone

https://indiancountrytoday.com/coronavirus/virus-darkens-prospects-for-solar-wind-projects-t-ygmz5iakSVtpBTDF1Wow?utm_source=maven-coalition&utm_medium=salish&utm_campaign=email&utm_term=notification&utm_content=featured

 

Virus darkens prospects for solar, wind projects

The Associated Press

‘The industry was on a tremendous roll right up until the last month or two. That reversal is stunning and problematic.’

Cathy Bussewitz, John Flesher and Patrick Whittle

Associated Press 

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. renewable energy industry is reeling from the new coronavirus pandemic, which has delayed construction, put thousands of skilled laborers out of work and sowed doubts about solar and wind projects on the drawing board.

In locked-down California, some local agencies that issue permits for new work closed temporarily, and some solar companies furloughed installers.

In New York and New Jersey, SunPower CEO Thomas Werner halted installation of more than 400 residential solar systems, fearing for his workers’ safety.

As many as 120,000 jobs in solar and 35,000 in wind could be lost, trade groups say.

“There are many smaller companies going out of business as we speak,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Up to half our jobs are at risk.”

Leaders are confident the future is bright. But the worldwide slowdown is delaying a transition to cleaner energy that scientists say is not happening quickly enough to curtail climate change.

Even as some states move toward reopening, executives fear diminished incomes and work disrupted by layoffs and social distancing will do lasting damage.

The wind industry is plagued by slowdowns in obtaining parts from overseas, getting them to job sites and constructing new turbines.

“The industry was on a tremendous roll right up until the last month or two,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “That reversal is stunning and problematic.”

Residential solar business has been hit especially hard, Hopper said, with door-to-door sales no longer feasible and potential customers watching their wallets. Deals with commercial buyers also have slumped.

New solar installations could be 17% lower worldwide than expected this year, and wind turbine manufacturing could fall up to 20%, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

“Pre-pandemic, there were great dreams and aspirations for a record-setting year,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of Longroad Energy, a utility-scale wind and solar developer. “I’m sure we’re not going to have that.”

Fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal remain the leading providers of the nation’s electricity, with nuclear power another key contributor, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

But renewable sources — wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal — have jumped in the last decade as production costs have fallen and many states have ordered utilities to make greater use of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Renewables produced nearly one-fifth of the country’s energy last year.

The EIA predicts renewable energy, despite recent setbacks, will grow 11% this year — an indication of the sector’s strong surge before the economy tanked. Meanwhile, coal-fired power is expected to decline 20% and gas generation to grow just 1%.

The setback for renewable energy still has been painful — even in California, where residential solar demand took off due to frequent blackouts and state laws requiring to new homes to produce as much energy as they consume.

“A lot of companies are just trying everything they can to just limp along and keep their workforce,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association.

All 20 employees were temporarily furloughed at Cinnamon Energy Systems, which sells residential and commercial solar systems in Northern California.

“I’m sure we’ll bounce back, just smaller,” CEO Barry Cinnamon said, adding that people might not spend as much as they once did, because their income will likely be down. “Whether that’s months or years, nobody knows.”

Luminalt, a San Francisco solar company, furloughed most of its 40 employees. And when work resumes, CEO Jeanine Cotter expects that projects will take longer and cost more to keep installers safe.

“Think about working on a roof with a mask,” Cotter said. “And think about not being able to pass a power tool to somebody unless you disinfect it before you pass it on.”

Since his furlough in mid-March, Luminalt solar technician Tom Hicks has been collecting benefits but no salary — and he’s worried about mortgage payments.

“My 401k got crushed by 30% just like everyone else,” said Hicks, 55. “How much time do I have to recover?”

Still, there are hopeful signs. The Boston-based developer Longroad recently began a utility-scale solar project in California and secured new financing for another in Texas.

Sunnova Energy International, a Houston-based residential solar and energy storage service provider, is doing more videoconferencing and fewer in-person dealings with customers. But CEO John Berger said, “Our installations are still moving ahead, service is still moving ahead, we still see customers paying us.”

In eastern Kansas, construction has continued at Southern Power’s 200-megawatt Reading Wind Facility despite delayed parts shipments, company spokeswoman Helen Northcutt White said. Sixty-two turbines are planned for the facility, scheduled to go online in mid-May.

The wind and solar industries have asked lawmakers and federal agencies for help, including an extension of their four-year deadlines for completing projects without losing tax benefits. Similar assistance was granted during the 2008-09 recession.

The renewable energy industry’s health is crucial to improving the climate and to a strong economic recovery, said Matthew Davis, legislative director for the League of Conservation Voters.

“These businesses, these workers deserve immediate relief,” Davis said.

It’s important to push for more responsible energy use as the economy reopens worldwide, said Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer with Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine, which studies climate change and oceans.

“My hope is that we would use this as an opportunity to build toward an economy that doesn’t depend on burning coal and oil and that is more resilient to the climate impacts that are heading our way,” Pershing said.

___

Flesher reported from Traverse City, Mich. and Whittle reported from Portland, Me.

Tragic News

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/29/coronavirus-andrea-circle-bear-federal-prison-death

I write to you today with sad news that highlights so many of the layers of injustice we face as Native people.

Here at the Lakota People’s Law Project, we’ve seen a lot and worked hard to address a variety of important issues over the past 15 years — among them criminal justice reform for American Indians. Now, in the coronavirus era, this problem has raised its ugly head again: a 30 year-old woman from my tribal nation, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, died in federal custody in a Texas prison on Tuesday, Apr, 21, just three weeks after giving birth. The cause of her death? COVID-19.

Lakota Law
Andrea Circle Bear and her newborn.

How is it that one of our tribal members was taken from my homelands into custody by South Dakota state officials bent on ignoring the threat of coronavirus, and then shipped to a prison in another state that also ignores science — Texas — where she contracted a preventable disease that killed her?

At no point in this process did Andrea have the power to protect herself — an age-old crisis here in Indian Country: lack of sovereignty. Who will someday explain to Andrea’s infant child how and why her mother died in the hands of the enemy?

For a fuller picture of the circumstances surrounding Andrea’s premature and avoidable death, I encourage you to read this chilling article in The Guardian.

Andrea’s tragic story shows why your attention to our Indigenous communities is so important. In the coming days, the Lakota People’s Law Project media team will work with journalists to ensure they have support on the ground as they uncover what happened to Ms. Circle Bear. Moreover, we will redouble our efforts to resist willful ignorance in states like South Dakota and Texas in the face of this pandemic, and we’ll work in every way we can to strengthen tribal nations. We live in poverty and we are vulnerable, but we know how to fight.

Please stay with us. With courage, everything is possible.

Wopila — My gratitude for your solidarity,

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