Defeating Racism

‘Today, we celebrate; tomorrow our fight continues’

Rebrand Washington Football members at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The group stands behind the former location of the George Preston Marshall statue, founder of the Washington NFL team. The group was out July 13, handing out free T-shirts and jersey patches to those who want to rebrand. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Indian Country Today)

Dalton Walker

Next up for advocates working to eliminate Native-themed mascots: Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, Atlanta and more

Dalton Walker
Indian Country Today

Shortly after the Washington NFL franchise announced it was finally dropping its racist name and logo after 87 years, advocates took to social media to say their work to rid Native mascot imagery wasn’t done.

Although Washington was often the main target for change, advocates have routinely rallied and marched against other sports teams with stereotypical names, logos and chants.

Now, that momentum aimed at team owner Dan Snyder and Washington all those years is shifting toward the Kansas City NFL franchise, the Chicago NHL franchise and professional baseball franchises in Cleveland and Atlanta, among others.

(Related article: Washington NFL team kicks R-word to the curb)

Amanda Blackhorse, Diné and longtime advocate for Native mascot imagery changes, said Monday that Kansas City, Chicago and Atlanta are next.

“We also must continue to call out other teams,” she said in a statement. “As well as numerous other high schools and junior high schools to change their names and racists traditions. Our work is not done.”

Others are speaking up as well, asking supporters for their thoughts on future steps.

“Today, we celebrate the elimination of this racial slur,” IllumiNative, a nonprofit aimed at increasing the visibility of Native people, tweeted Monday. “Tomorrow, our fight continues. Just one question, which is next?”

The tweet tagged the same three teams Blackhorse mentioned and added Cleveland.

IllumiNative Executive Director Crystal Echo Hawk, Pawnee, expanded it further to include sports teams at any level.

“We will not rest until the offensive use of Native imagery, logos and names are eradicated from professional, collegiate and K-12 sports. The time is now to stand in solidarity and declare that racism will not be tolerated,” Echo Hawk said in a statement Monday.

(Related article: Reactions to the Washington team name retirement)

Even as the Black Lives Matter movement has brought much-needed awareness about racial injustices across the nation, including a window that forced Snyder to change the team’s name, the work continues for many in Indian Country.

On July 3, the same day Snyder announced his franchise would undergo a “thorough review of the team’s name,” the Cleveland baseball team issued a statement saying it was looking for the “best path forward with regard to our team name.” The team only recently removed the controversial Chief Wahoo logo from uniforms and its home baseball field. It kept the name.

(Related article: Mascots honor and Indian who never was)

Meanwhile, the Atlanta baseball team told season-ticket holders in an email Monday that a name change “is not under consideration or deemed necessary.” The team did acknowledge the impact of its tomahawk chop chant and said it has formed a “Native American working group” that includes tribal leaders.

“As it relates to the fan experience, including the chop, it is one of the many issues that we are working through with the advisory group.”

Dropping the chop is possible, as one Native baseball player’s voice proved in 2019.

In October, the team said it reduced the chant in a playoff game with the St. Louis Cardinals after Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, Cherokee, said it was disrespectful. The team said it did not distribute foam tomahawks to each seat or play the accompanying music or use chop-related graphics when Helsley was in the game.

The chop doesn’t end with baseball. It made its way to the Super Bowl in February with Kansas City competing in the NFL’s most popular game. The team has capitalized on stereotypical Native imagery and gestures for years and plays in a venue called Arrowhead Stadium.

The Kansas City NFL franchise has been quiet as other teams with stereotypical mascot imagery have at least issued statements or publicly communicated with fans.

A sports website that covers the football team recently listed potential mascot replacements. The top name replacement was Monarchs, after the 1920 Kansas City baseball team in the Negro Leagues. Another name mentioned, which perhaps makes the most sense, is the Wolves. The football team already has a wolf mascot called KC Wolf, which has been around since 1989.

(Related story: Never say NEVER about social change)

The Chicago hockey team is named after Black Hawk, a historic leader of the Sac and Fox Nation. The team has no plans to change its name or logo.

“We recognize there is a fine line between respect and disrespect, and we commend other teams for their willingness to engage in that conversation,” the team told the Chicago Tribune in a statement last week. “Moving forward, we are committed to raising the bar even higher to expand awareness of Black Hawk and the important contributions of all Native American people.”

A Canadian Football League team in Alberta is reviewing its controversial mascot and said in a statement that it will have an update at the end of July. “We will be seeking further input from the Inuit, our partners and other stakeholders to inform our decision moving forward,” a statement on the Edmonton football team’s website said.

Retired NHL player Jordin Tootoo, Inuk, said many people have asked for his opinion, and he does not object to the team’s name.

“This does not mean they should keep the name,” he said in a July 8 statement. “But, I think the discussion should be around how the Inuk people feel about it. Some might feel pride. Some might feel hurt. Either way, that is the group that should be consulted.”

At least one professional sports team has moved on from its insensitive logo and has little to no history on its websites of logos or mascots of days past. The Philadelphia Warriors used a stereotypical Native character for years starting when the team formed in the 1940s. It moved to San Francisco in the 1960s and dumped the logo a few years later and changed to the Golden State Warriors. Today, the team is one of the most popular NBA franchises in the league and displays an image of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Native American Journalists Association has been calling for the end of racialized mascots in the media for years.

Once news broke that the Washington name change was coming, headlines on CNN, The New York Times, ESPN, CBS Sports and Washington Post, among others, displayed the R-word.

On June 23, NAJA issued a statement, joined by the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association and the Society of Professional Journalists, calling for immediate discontinuance of race-based sports mascots in media.

“This discontinuance should include clear policy development and implementation that clarifies the harm they cause and the practical editorial methods to avoid their use on all platforms,” the statement read.

“The continued portrayal of racialized mascots in news media directly violates fundamental tenets of professional journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics makes clear that journalists should act to minimize harm.”

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Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter – @daltonwalker

DAPL’s deficient leak detection system

It appears that we’re in for a long, hot summer. People are rising up. Colonizer statues and racist mascots are coming down. And finally, winds of change are making their way to the D.C. courts. As you know, a federal judge ordered the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) shut down by Aug. 5, pending environmental review.

Unfortunately, a D.C. court of appeals has granted DAPL operators short term, temporary relief on that order, extending the deadline for the pipeline to be emptied. The verdict, though, maintains the authority to halt operations at any time. In the interim, we’re releasing footage from our Chase Iron Eyes trial archive to illustrate what makes DAPL so dangerous in the first place and why we must keep pushing for it to be shut down for good. You can take a look at our new video about DAPL’s deficient leak detection system, and we hope you will watch and share it with your networks.

Lakota LawEnergy expert Steve Martin of the Chippewa Nation and attorney Peter Capossela explain the constant risks posed by Dakota Access.

Getting down to brass tacks, DAPL’s leak detection system is criminally inadequate. Actually, at the most critical area of stress for the existing pipeline, there isn’t even a detection apparatus in place. So, if and when DAPL springs a leak, oil could seep into the groundwater and rise to the surface before pipeline officials or local residents have any idea something is wrong.

A leak of this type could take place over the course of months, contaminating the water used to grow food and raise children on the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.

As Indigenous energy executive Steve Martin points out in our video, it’s outrageous that water — the source of all life — isn’t regarded as more sacred. Why do we allow these dangerous pipelines to jeopardize our children’s future? Why is the money made from a barrel of oil more important than my community’s right to clean water and safe food? Not to mention the impacts on climate.

If you’d like to explore the issue further, we’ve also written an in-depth blog on the topic of DAPL’s leak detection system.

We’re in the midst of a great shift. While it didn’t begin with NoDAPL, I know from living at Oceti Sakowin camp for eight months — through police raids, surveillance, and blizzards — that embers from our sacred fires continue to find their way into the current moment. Let’s keep Trump and his oil cronies on the run. Hold the faith. Even bigger change is coming.

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

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

Return the Black Hills

Less than one month ago, we marked the 40-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision awarding more than $100,000 million to the Great Sioux Nation as compensation for the federal government’s taking of the Black Hills. Just a few days later, President Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore highlighted why we have never accepted that payment. No amount of money could possibly alleviate the pain we feel at the repeated desecration of one of our most sacred sites. True justice can only be accomplished one way: the return of the Black Hills to the Lakota people.

We’ve recently seen how people power can tear down monuments of hate and influence public policy — and we’ve also seen the backlash. I ask you today to watch the video of our protest action against Trump’s visit, and sign our Congressional petition to return the Black Hills to the Lakota people. If ever a moment existed when these wrongs could begin to be righted, this is it. Speaking together with one voice, let’s get lawmakers to abide by treaty law and return this sacred land to my people.

Lakota LawRenowned Artist Shepard Fairey created this beautiful mural in Los Angeles and later teamed with Lakota Law to distribute t-shirts with his incredible design.

The high court’s ruling shows that the law is on our side. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 assigned the Black Hills to us in perpetuity, but it didn’t take long for miners to violate that edict in search of gold. The federal government essentially allowed it to happen, eventually imposing upon us our current reservation boundaries. We have never accepted those boundaries nor the taking of our treaty land. The Black Hills are not for sale — and they never were.

Unless we act together to stop it, there’s no end to the colonial disrespect of our lands, sovereignty, and safety. Trump’s moronic, divisive visit to Mount Rushmore underscores the dangers to our democracy and the Lakota people. Predictably, COVID-19 is again on the rise in South Dakota, and community spread is especially serious around Mount Rushmore and our Oglala Nation.

That’s why we protested his coming, and that’s why it’s critical that you help us demand safety, justice, and the return of the Black Hills. Once we reach our goal of 20,020 names, our petition will go to Congress demanding #LandBack2020.

Wopila tanka — thank you for standing with us to restore the sacred!

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

News from Lakota People´s Law Project

I thank you for always standing with the Lakota people. Your attention to the work my father, Chase Iron Eyes, does on behalf of our tribal nations means more than I can say. Recently, I joined my dad, my auntie Madonna Thunder Hawk, and Lakota Law’s chief counsel Daniel Sheehan for an amazing Zoom session with The Nation Magazine. We’ve produced a short video with key outtakes. Please take a look!

Lakota Law

Our friendship with The Nation has translated not only to excellent press coverage and great online events like this Zoom conference, but, in addition, the magazine has become sort of a sponsor for Lakota Law’s Native-run foster home on Standing Rock Nation. The home currently houses five children in need and has already provided shelter and safety for many more since the beginning of the year. Now that summer has arrived, the team has been busy devising ways to get the kids out into nature where they can be active and engaged while remaining safe during the pandemic.

I count myself fortunate not to rely on such assistance, and we must continue to work together on making sure all our vulnerable populations stay out of harm’s way. Much of our video focuses on our two recent wins against the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, wonderful for our frontline communities at Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, and here at Pine Ridge. Those victories show me that what we do together works. But as Auntie Madonna says, we also know these battles are ongoing.

To her point, on Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an administrative stay temporarily preventing the DAPL shutdown from taking effect. So the oil will keep flowing after all — for the moment — and Standing Rock has until Monday to file new briefs.

We have to stay strong, and we mustn’t get complacent. Just last week, we got two pieces of great news. Now, we see again how hard it is to win this fight. That’s why we need to continue to stand together — across generational, racial, and all artificially constructed boundaries — and, if we do, I have faith that there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.

Wopila tanka — my gratitude for your attention and care!

Tokata Iron Eyes
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.

Regarding Illegal Taking of Nation’s Missouri Riverbed Property Rights

July 15, 2020
NCAI Statement on Legal Filing by Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation Regarding Illegal Taking of Nation’s Missouri Riverbed Property Rights
WASHINGTON, DC | Today, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) took steps to prevent the illegal taking of the Nation’s property rights to minerals beneath the Missouri River on its Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) holds firm its position in support of the MHA Nation’s land and mineral rights, and has advocated for government-to-government consultation between the MHA Nation and the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor to confirm the longstanding Executive and Congressional actions declaring that the Missouri River bed within the Fort Berthold Reservation is owned by the MHA Nation.
“The MHA Nation’s rights to the Missouri River bed minerals have been reaffirmed through a history of longstanding, well-settled, and still applicable legal precedents, and there should be no question as to the validity of the Nation’s claims,” says NCAI President Fawn Sharp. “We cannot reiterate strongly enough that consultation with tribal nations and upholding treaty obligations is not optional. It is mandatory.”
For these reasons, NCAI urges the Department of the Interior to immediately withdraw Solicitor’s Opinion M-37056 as an unwarranted threat to longstanding tribal trust assets. The fiduciary obligation of the United States is to protect and preserve tribal trust assets in order to ensure tribal nations have the resources needed to provide permanent homelands for present and future generations of their citizens. Instead, M-Opinion 37056 does the opposite, and completely reverses course on the Department of the Interior’s longstanding legal position with little or no rationale for doing so. NCAI stands with the MHA Nation in its fight to preserve its trust assets.
To view NCAI’s resolution on this issue, please click here.
About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit

DAPL parent company vows to defy court order

DAPL parent company vows to defy court order
Thu, Jul 9, 2020 3:20 pm
Madonna Thunder Hawk, Lakota Law ( Details

Inconceivable! Energy Transfer Partners (ETP)—the parent company to the Dakota Access Pipeline—just announced that they will ignore Judge James Boasberg’s order to shut down oil flow through the pipeline by August 5th. An ETP spokesperson said in a statement yesterday: “We are not shutting down the line. We believe Judge Boasberg has exceeded his authority and does not have jurisdiction to shut down the pipeline.” Outrageous!

Will you stand with us against Big Oil’s lawlessness by making a donation today?

Perhaps they’re taking their inspiration from the father of the Trail of Tears, Andrew Jackson. In response to the 1832 Supreme Court decision that established tribal sovereignty in the U.S. — Worcester vs. Georgia — President Jackson declared: “[Chief Justice] John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it.”

But this is not 1832. And no matter how much Trump may want to do his best Andrew Jackson impersonation, we will not let him. We will not let this corporation, this pipeline, or this President trample on our sovereignty. It’s time to keep Indigenous voices as strong as possible in our collective defense of Mother Earth.

Standing Rock Protest Video

In 2016-17, more than ten thousand people of conscience traveled to Standing Rock to exercise grassroots power over commercial disregard for basic rights. We will stand again like this if we have to. And the Lakota Law legal team will explore options for submitting more amicus briefs to support Standing Rock and EarthJustice in court. One way or another, we won’t permit ETP to unilaterally disregard judicial decisions designed to protect Native health and sovereignty on treaty land. We will go toe to toe with Big Oil, and this time we will have the Constitution — not just Natural Law — clearly behind us.

Wopila — I thank you for your solidarity!

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

P.S. You can ensure that our response to  this imminent threat from Energy Transfer Partners and the Trump administration is strong. Please give today so we can do the legal work and grassroots organizing needed to help our movement win!

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.



Supreme Court ruling ‘reaffirmed’ sovereignty

Kolby KickingWoman

UPDATED 5:40 p.m. Eastern: ‘In holding the federal government to its treaty obligations, the U.S. Supreme Court put to rest what never should have been at question’

Kolby KickingWoman
Indian Country Today

In a decision being hailed as a win for tribal sovereignty, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a large portion of eastern Oklahoma remains a reservation.

In the 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court said Congress never explicitly “disestablished” the 1866 boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,” according to the majority opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Gorsuch was joined in the majority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Jonodev Chaudhuri, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, said the decision is a huge win for Indian Country and a profoundly impactful day for the tribe.

“Many folks are in tears,” said Chaudhuri, ambassador of the tribal nation. “Despite a history of many broken promises, as is true with many tribal nations, the citizens feel uplifted that for once the United States is being held to its promises.”

Chaudhuri said the decision provides jurisdictional clarity and that the tribe will continue to work to improve the health, safety and welfare of tribal members and non-tribal members alike.

“Creek Nation has a long history of working with its local, state and federal partners to protect the interests of all people in its boundaries and the clarity brought by today’s positions will only enhance that,” he said.

Jonodev Chaudhuri - Photo - Vincent Schilling
Jonodev Chaudhuri, ambassador of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. (Photo by Vincent Schilling, Indian Country Today)

In fact, the Oklahoma congressional delegation said in a joint statement that they are reviewing the decision and are ready to work with tribal and state officials. The group of legislators want to ensure consistency and stability in the application of law and bringing criminals to justice.

“Indeed, no criminal is ever exempt or immune from facing justice, and we remain committed to working together to both affirm tribal sovereignty and ensure safety and justice for all Oklahomans,” the delegation said.

Additionally the state, along with the Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole Nations are working on an agreement to send to Congress and the Department of Justice addressing any issues related to the decision.

(Related: Q&A: What does McGirt ruling mean?)

“The Nations and the State are committed to implementing a framework of shared jurisdiction that will preserve sovereign interests and rights to self-government while affirming jurisdictional understandings, procedures, laws, and regulations that support public safety, our economy, and private property rights,” the statement said. “We will continue our work, confident that we can accomplish more together than any of us could alone.”

Sarah Deer, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, expressed the same sentiment, saying that the sky is not falling on non-Native residents within the reaffirmed reservation boundaries.

“I think it’s a little too soon to know for sure what the ramifications will be outside the context of criminal jurisdiction,” said Deer, a professor at the University of Kansas. “I think that some of the media is overplaying it as, oh we’re going to start kicking everyone off of their land or something, but it will offer some new opportunities, I think, for the state and the tribe to collaborate to make everyone’s lives better.”

She was happy to see Gorsuch as the author of the court opinion with the first sentence carrying a lot of weight.

“As a Native person, as a Native attorney, you know, he starts out his decision with ‘On the far end of the trail of tears was a promise’ and, that very short sentence, I think it will make every Native person feel complete,” Deer said. “You know, that the court recognized that what happened to us was wrong but it’s time to make it right.”

The case has long kept Indian Country on pins and needles through two Supreme Court terms.

John Echohawk, Pawnee and executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, said the tribe endured a long and hard fight to protect their homelands.

“In holding the federal government to its treaty obligations, the U.S. Supreme Court put to rest what never should have been at question,” Echohawk said. “We congratulate the Nation on its success.”

Fawn Sharp, Quinault and president of the National Congress of American Indians, joined much of Indian Country in voicing support and congratulations to the tribe for their historic court win.

“This morning, NCAI joins the rest of Indian Country in congratulating the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and proudly asserting that its lands remain, and will forever be considered, Indian country – as guaranteed in their treaty relationship with the United States,” Sharp said in a statement.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, of New Mexico noted that Thursday’s decision sets an important precedent and affirms the federal government’s obligation to uphold and honor treaties.

“As we move forward addressing longstanding broken promises, this decision will serve as a marker to ensure the federal government honors its promises to Native Nations,” Haaland said.

(Related: ‘Good day to be Indigenous’: High court ruling cheered)

The case involved tribal citizen Jimcy McGirt, Seminole, who was convicted of molesting a child but argued state courts lacked authority to try him for a crime committed on reservation.

The ruling means his case falls under federal jurisdiction. It does not mean McGirt’s conviction is nullified, rather he should have been tried in federal court under the Major Crimes Act. He is serving a 500-year prison sentence and could potentially be retried in federal court.

Ian Gershengorn, one of the lawyers who argued on behalf of the tribe in the May hearing, said in an emailed statement to Indian Country Today that the Supreme Court upheld promises made by the United States.

“The Supreme Court reaffirmed today that when the United States makes promises, the courts will keep those promises,” Gershengorn said. “Congress persuaded the Creek Nation to walk the Trail of Tears with promises of a reservation — and the Court today correctly recognized that this reservation endures.”

Robert Anderson, a law professor at the University of Washington School of Law, said in the larger scope of things the biggest changes will come in the future with the application of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the federal government prosecuting more cases.

“That’s what they [federal prosecutors] do in Indian Country all the time, is they prosecute cases where there’s an Indian defendant or whether there’s an Indian victim,” Anderson said. “It’s routine. And the fact that they haven’t been doing that for the last 100 years just shows us that a lot of people weren’t following the law, which is not unusual in Indian law.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. reiterated that fact in an emailed statement to Indian Country Today.

“This ruling does not mean that those who commit crimes on reservation lands will not face justice, no tribe would ever welcome that, and now we will continue to work with the state of Oklahoma and our federal and tribal partners on legal parameters under the decision today,” Hoskin Jr. said.

Among the justices, Anderson said he felt Gorsuch was the swing vote among the nine justices.

Anderson, Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, spoke with Indian Country Today before the decision was handed down. He thought Gorsuch’s questions during arguments in the case indicated he was “very much in the tribe’s camp.”

McGirt v. Oklahoma was granted review by the court and tied to an earlier case heard during the 2018 term. In that case, Carpenter v. Murphy, Gorsuch recused himself as he had already ruled on the case during his time on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Anderson added that Gorsuch, with his time served on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Sotomayor, through her own interest and undertaking, are the two justices with the most background and experience in federal Indian law.

At the time, Anderson said they most likely would have some sort of influence over their colleagues.

“It’s just human nature to defer to somebody to some degree who’s an expert in an area, I would hope, even on the Supreme Court,” Anderson said. “It’s interesting that, you know, Justice Gorsuch is a very conservative and Justice Sotomayor is probably the most liberal, and they seem to be on the same page on these Indian law cases, which is great.”

(Previous story: U.S. Supreme Court weighs ‘transfers of sovereign right’)

In the minority were Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh. Roberts filed the dissenting opinion, joined by Alito and Kavanaugh and Thomas also filed his own.

Roberts wrote that the decision is not warranted and took the view that over the years, Congress disestablished the Creek reservation through a series of statutes leading up to Oklahoma statehood.

“What has gone unquestioned for a century remains true today: A huge portion of Oklahoma is not a Creek Indian reservation,” Roberts wrote.

At the May hearing in the case, several justices raised concerns that a ruling in favor of the tribe could have broad jurisdictional ramifications on things like taxes and other criminal cases. But Gorsuch indicated that so far, no signs of major consequences had emerged.

In the opinion, Gorsuch wrote that the federal government promised the Muscogee (Creek) Nation a reservation in perpetuity. While the reservation has been diminished over time, it was never explicitly disestablished.

“Yes, promises were made, but the price of keeping them has become too great, so now we should just cast a blind eye. We reject that thinking. If Congress wishes to withdraw its promises, it must say so. Unlawful acts, performed long enough and with sufficient vigor, are never enough to amend the law,” Gorsuch writes. “To hold otherwise would be to elevate the most brazen and longstanding injustices over the law, both rewarding wrong and failing those in the right. The judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma is Reversed.”

This story is breaking, stay tuned for more updates and information at

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

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Regarding the Canadian Pipeline

Pipeline gets green light from Canadian court

Supreme Court of Canada (Creative Commons photo)

The Associated Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government approved Trans Mountain in 2016 and was so determined to see it built that it bought the pipeline
Rob Gillies

Associated Press

TORONTO — The Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday dismissed an appeal from British Columbia First Nations against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that would nearly triple the flow of oil from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast

The court dismissed the appeal from the Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the Ts’elxweyeqw Tribes and Coldwater Indian Band, effectively ending the years long legal battle over the project.

The pipeline would end at a terminal outside Vancouver, resulting in a sevenfold increase in the number of tankers in the shared waters between Canada and Washington state.

Some First Nations successfully halted federal approval of the project in 2018 when the Federal Court of Appeal said Ottawa had failed to properly consult affected First Nations, which argued that the project would damage their lands and waters.

Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah George-Wilson and Syeta’xtn of the Squamish Nation will be hosting a virtual news conference later Thursday.

But in February the same court dismissed another challenge by the same groups against the government’s June 2019 decision to approve the project a second time after another round of Indigenous consultation.

As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for Thursday’s ruling.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government approved Trans Mountain in 2016 and was so determined to see it built that it bought the pipeline.

It still faces stiff environmental opposition from British Columbia’s provincial government but construction is underway. Natural Resource Minister Seamus O’Regan said consultations will continue as construction continues.

“To those who are disappointed with today’s SCC decision — we see and hear you,” O’Regan said in a statement. “The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous people and understands that consultations on major projects have a critical role in building that renewed relationship.”

The pipeline would allow Canada to diversify oil markets and vastly increase exports to Asia, where it could command a higher price. About 99 percent of Canada’s exports now go to refiners in the U.S., where limits on pipeline and refinery capacity mean Canadian oil sells at a discount.

July is the Month of Good News!

It’s time to celebrate for a second day in a row, because we have amazing news from the U.S. Supreme Court. Yesterday late in the day, SCOTUS announced its ruling effectively halting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL)! Based on the Endangered Species Act, the Supremes upheld a lower court ruling preventing the pipeline from crossing domestic waterways. This is on top of Monday’s court decision to shut down oil flow through DAPL, making yesterday a truly good day for the environment and Indigenous sovereignty.

Lakota Law

Let’s be clear: TC Energy, the pipeline’s operator, is not going to take this lying down. This is not KXL’s death-knell. So, we need to remain vigilant. For now, the Supreme Court has simply let stand U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris’ injunction against construction while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reviews the pipeline company’s appeal.

It’s likely there will be further legal wrangling and attempts by TC Energy to circumvent proper environmental review. We can expect the same from the Trump administration, should Trump be re-elected in November. On the other hand, Joe Biden has publicly pledged that his administration will cancel KXL, should he win the presidency.

For now, we can be thankful. Construction of KXL will remain stopped — a win for Unci Maka, our Grandmother Earth, and for our Lakota families here on the front line. We can be grateful that our people will retain access to clean water and a measure of safety from man camps, which might otherwise have spread COVID-19 and contributed to our epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

I thank you for standing with us against KXL so far. We’ll keep you informed of all developments going forward — and I hope I can count on you to stay with us, come rain or shine.

Wopila tanka — My sincere gratitude for your spirit and resolve!

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