Lakota Law

I have two pieces of wonderful news to share with you! As of yesterday, TC Energy at last canceled all remaining plans for the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL). The Zombie Pipeline is finally completely dead! At the same time, I was able to negotiate a deal with the South Dakota state’s attorney and avoid jail time for my KXL protest last year. 

Watch: On “Cut to the Chase,” Lakota Law’s Chase Iron Eyes discusses the end of KXL and my big court win.

It was a good day not just for me, personally, but for all water protectors. This shows that — even as many states around the country continue to pass laws criminalizing protest — the people still have power. Our activism can make a real difference. As my fellow Cheyenne River protester, Oscar High Elk, said yesterday, “Respect our existence, or expect our resistance.”

Of course, as you know, our resistance still has much left to accomplish. I’m grateful that KXL’s immediate threats to our land and water are gone, along with the dangers its mancamps presented to Indigenous women and girls in Lakota Country. But Dakota Access still operates — without a legal permit — and Line 3 presents the same peril to the homelands of our Anishinaabe sisters and brothers in Minnesota.

Now, it’s time to #StopLine3 and continue our #NoDAPL fight. The cards are always stacked against us, but we have shown time and time again our resilience, the power of our movement, and our ability to triumph against the greatest odds.  

Just this week, hundreds gathered at a pump station near the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota, led by my sisters in arms, for the largest Line 3 protest yet. Reports tell us that a Department of Homeland Security helicopter harassed them, kicking up dust and gravel in an attempt to deter my relatives. It didn’t work. More than 100 were arrested, and we aren’t done yet. Like Lakota Law’s team, I’m considering ways I can best support this movement going forward. Because — take it from me — we can win!

Wopila — I’m very grateful for your solidarity with our resistance.
Jasilyn Charger 
via the Lakota People’s Law Project

Done! Finished!

Since I began this blog, this is the best news I have heard!

https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/keystone-is-xl-is-dead

Indian Country Today

The Keystone XL pipeline project is officially terminated, the sponsor company announced Wednesday.

Calgary-based TC Energy is pulling the plug on the project after Canadian officials failed to persuade President Joe Biden to reverse his cancellation of its permit on the day he took office.

The company said it would work with government agencies “to ensure a safe termination of and exit from” the partially built line, which was to transport crude from the oil sand fields of western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska.

“Through the process, we developed meaningful Indigenous equity opportunities and a first-of-its-kind, industry leading plan to operate the pipeline with net-zero emissions throughout its lifecycle,” said François Poirier, TC Energy’s president and chief executive officer in a statement.

The pipeline has been front and center of the fight against climate change, especially in Indigenous communities. Native people have been speaking out, organizing, and in opposition of the project for several years.

“OMG! It’s official,” Dallas Goldtooth, Mdewakanton Dakota and Diné, wrote on Twitter regarding Keystone XL’s termination. “We took on a multi-billion dollar corporation and we won!!” 

Goldtooth is part of the Indigenous Environmental Network. The network said it has been organizing for more than 10 years against the pipeline.

“We are dancing in our hearts because of this victory!” wrote the network in a statement. “From Dene territories in Northern Alberta to Indigenous lands along the Gulf of Mexico, we stood hand-in-hand to protect the next seven generations of life, the water and our communities from this dirty tar sands pipeline. And that struggle is vindicated. This is not the end – but merely the beginning of further victories.”

The network noted that water protector Oscar High Elk still faces charges for standing against Keystone. 

Construction on the 1,200-mile pipeline began last year when former President Donald Trump revived the long-delayed project after it had stalled under the Obama administration.

It would have moved up to 830,000 barrels of crude daily, connecting in Nebraska to other pipelines that feed oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Biden canceled it in January over long standing concerns that burning oil sands crude would make climate change worse.

(Ongoing Enbridge series: A pipeline runs through it)

In this Feb. 18, 2020, file photo, a protester plays a drum and sings while joined by other Native American protesters opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline at the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre. Major construction projects moving forward along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico amid the coronavirus pandemic are raising fears workers could spread infections within nearby communities, including several Native American tribes. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves)

In this Feb. 18, 2020, photo, a protester plays a drum and sings while joined by others opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline at the South Dakota Capitol. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves, File)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had objected to the move, although officials in Alberta, where the line originated, expressed disappointment in recent weeks that Trudeau didn’t push Biden harder to reinstate the pipeline’s permit.

Alberta invested more than $1 billion in the project last year, kick-starting construction that had stalled amid determined opposition to the line from environmentalists and Native American tribes along its route.

Alberta officials said Wednesday they reached an agreement with TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, to exit their partnership. The company and province plan to try to recoup the government’s investment, although neither offered any immediate details on how that would happen.

“We remain disappointed and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding the Keystone XL project, including the cancellation of the presidential permit for the pipeline’s border crossing,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement.

The province had hoped the pipeline would spur increased development in the oil sands and bring tens of billions of dollars in royalties over decades.

Attorneys general from 21 states had sued to overturn Biden’s cancellation of the pipeline, which would have created thousands of construction jobs. Republicans in Congress have made the cancellation a frequent talking point in their criticism of the administration, and even some moderate Senate Democrats including Montana’s Jon Tester and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin had urged Biden to reconsider.

Tester said in a statement Wednesday that he was disappointed in the project’s demise, but made no mention of Biden.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, was more direct: “President Biden killed the Keystone XL Pipeline and with it, thousands of good-paying American jobs.”

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on TC Energy’s announcement.

This is a developing story.

ICT logo bridge

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

…oil flowing

Lakota Law

In case you missed it, a recent decision in the legal saga of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) will keep the oil flowing while an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is done over the next nine months — and the courts have essentially stepped away from responsibility to shut operations down. Sadly, in his latest opinion, D.C. Judge James Boasberg has basically stated that his hands are tied by a higher court ruling.

Watch: Lakota Law chief counsel Danny Sheehan joined me to discuss the developments on Cut to the Chase.

As a reminder to you about what got us here, Boasberg (an Obama appointee) ruled last July to vacate federal permits for Dakota Access. He reasoned then that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to conduct a full EIS, as demanded in a lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes. Then, in August, an appeals court affirmed Boasberg’s decision to invalidate the permit, while simultaneously overturning his decision to empty the pipeline. DAPL has been operating unpermitted ever since — a completely unheard-of scenario, and a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 
 
Boasberg has since been essentially asking the Corps to make a political decision on whether it’s acceptable for this pipeline to operate without a valid permit on federal land. So far, the Corps (an executive branch agency now under president Biden’s leadership) has shown no desire to do the right thing. Rather than issuing an order to halt operations until proper environmental review is complete, Biden and the Corps are ducking responsibility.
 
Our legal analysis is that there’s still a potential path forward in the courts. At this stage, the tribes could go directly after the Army Corps under the Administrative Procedures Act. This could lead to a court-order forcing Biden and the Corps to make a decision on whether to continue allowing DAPL’s operation in violation of NEPA. 
 
Lakota Law, its supporters, and a host of like-minded organizations and allies continue to ask Biden to step up and shut DAPL down. We’ll continue to closely examine all the legal and political angles, assessing potential leverage points to push the Corps. Stay tuned.

Wopila tanka — thank you, always, for standing with Standing Rock!
Chase Iron Eyes
Co-Director & Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Over 100 Arrested

https://www.democracynow.org/2021/6/8/headlines/over_100_water_protectors_arrested_in_minnesota_as_mass_civil_disobedience_targets_line_3_pipeline

In northern Minnesota, over 100 water protectors were arrested Monday in the largest act of civil disobedience to date aimed at halting the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. If completed, Line 3 would carry more than 750,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands oil a day through Indigenous land and fragile ecosystems, endangering lakes, rivers and wild rice beds. The day of action began when over 1,000 water protectors blockaded a pipeline pump station north of the town of Park Rapids. Many of the activists locked themselves together or to heavy machinery, including bulldozers and diggers.

Kerry Labrador: “I’m a mother of three children. I trooped out here from Boston. I’m a Mi’kmaq woman. And I’m here because they need backup. They need voices. There’s strength in numbers. You know? All these kids out here — I’m going to say it over and over and over again: All the kids out here deserve the future that we, as parents, promised our kids. And if this is how I have to fulfill that promise, then this is how I’m going to fulfill that promise, and not just for my kids, but for every kid sitting out here in this world.”

Protesters are calling on President Biden to shut down the pipeline.

Image Credit: Sadie Luetmer
Lakota Law

Osiyo,

With a heavy heart but with clear eyes, I write to you today as Lakota Law’s newest team member. Global Indigenous communities are mourning over the recent discovery of a mass grave containing the human remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential school in Canada. This discovery is not the first and will not be the last. Residential and boarding schools occupy a long and bloody, but recent, chapter in the story of Turtle Island’s colonization. The last school didn’t close until 1978.

This reality is not isolated to Canada. America has and will continue to discover similar tragedies. I therefore ask for your solidarity. Please sign and share our petition to Congress and the president. Tell them to form a Truth and Healing Commission today. America must begin to confront its own history of genocide and Indian boarding schools.

stop line 3

Watch, then take action: Chase provides real talk about the tragedy of 215.

Since our inception, the Lakota Peoples’ Law Project has focused on protecting the health and safety of Lakota children. In partnership with the tribes and Native communities in the Dakotas, we have years of experience fighting to keep Native kids in Native care and for the proper implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Most recently, your support has helped us establish a Native-run foster home on the Standing Rock Nation, as another means of dismantling this practice of forced assimilation. 

We did not stumble upon this undertaking. Our work grew from the same sense of urgency — shown to us by Lakota grandmothers as their grandkids were being stolen by the state — that you are now experiencing as you read about the children found in a mass grave at The Indian Residential School at Kamloops. This “breaking news” is an all-too-familiar reality for Indigenous children and families. Generations of Native communities have suffered from the deadly and traumatizing boarding school experience.

We should not be surprised that countries founded on the ideals of the Doctrine of Discovery — an ideology that supports the dehumanization of those living on the land and their dispossession, murder, and forced assimilation — would have so much to answer for.

I have written an article to attempt to explain this history and its present-day implications for allies. This is not an easy read. It was not an easy write. I wrote it to eliminate the need for any other Native person within our network to suffer by having to explain this senselessness. 

Wado — thank you for reckoning with the harsh realities we Indigneous People continue to endure. 
Sarah Rose
Social Media Coordinator
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Heartbreaking

The description of ¨heartbreaking¨ and ¨painful reminder¨ to this news is not enough. Apologies are not enough. I want the names of the people responsible. I want the government to actually perform some act of repayment for what was done. I am tired of the governments in the world sadly shaking their heads – and then continuing with the rape, pillage, killing, and the stealing of indigenous resources. These things continue because there has never been a full accounting or payback. Until they are forced to actually pay for what they have done – it will continue. I also want names of the people responsible. I want those names remembered for their atrocious deeds. What we have are un-named victims and un-named perpetrators. The killers hide in anonymity and that has to end. IMHO

Anna Mehler PapernyFri, May 28, 2021, 3:19 PM

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – The remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, were found at the site of a former residential school for indigenous children, a discovery Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described as heartbreaking on Friday.

The children were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia that closed in 1978, according to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation, which said the remains were found with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist.

“We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify,” Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir said in a statement. “At this time, we have more questions than answers.”

Canada’s residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families, constituted “cultural genocide,” a six-year investigation into the now-defunct system found in 2015.

The report documented horrific physical abuse, rape, malnutrition and other atrocities suffered by many of the 150,000 children who attended the schools, typically run by Christian churches on behalf of Ottawa from the 1840s to the 1990s.

It found more than 4,100 children died while attending residential school. The deaths of the 215 children buried in the grounds of what was once Canada’s largest residential school are believed to not have been included in that figure and appear to have been undocumented until the discovery.

Trudeau wrote in a tweet that the news “breaks my heart – it is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history.”

In 2008, the Canadian government formally apologized for the system.

The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation said it was engaging with the coroner and reaching out to the home communities whose children attended the school. They expect to have preliminary findings by mid-June.

In a statement, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee called finding such grave sites “urgent work” that “refreshes the grief and loss for all First Nations in British Columbia.”

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Action Item

Lakota Law

Aŋpétu wašté,

Winter has turned to spring here in the Dakotas, and the yearly promise of new life and fresh growth has arrived. In that spirit, I write to you today with an update on the progress of our new Standing Rock teen center project, which I’m happy to say your generous support is making into a reality. As can happen with projects of this magnitude, we’re working through a small snag. But we won’t let anything get in the way of its completion!

Please watch this original music video produced by our co-director, Daniel Paul Nelson, about violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act by South Dakota.

As of a few weeks ago, we’d identified a wonderful building for sale on Main St. in the city of McLaughlin, Standing Rock’s second largest town. It’s just a couple blocks from our foster home, and we were excited about the location. Importantly, our vision for putting the teen center on Main St. includes helping revitalize the primary artery in a community struggling to keep businesses open and buildings from decaying.
 
Sadly, though, the non-Native property owner of the building — once he realized our goals — took the building off the market “due to family issues.” So it’s disappointing, to say the least, that his for-sale sign came down for just two weeks before it was back up in the window. Surprise, surprise, blatant racism is alive and well in South Dakota, even at Standing Rock. So we’re now talking to lawyers about the Fair Housing Act and considering a threat to sue, as we also look at other properties in town.
 
It has been more than five years since Standing Rock had a safe, fun place for teenagers to go after school. Even as Standing Rock captured the attention of the world during NoDAPL in 2016, the children of this community had no place to enjoy themselves in the afternoons. As managers of McLaughlin’s Lakota-run foster home, we’ve seen youth drift into substance abuse and other bad behavior because of neglect. Making kids feel supported is so important; that’s why, in partnership with you, we’re continuing to do our part.
 
We’ve been protecting Lakota children now for 15 years; our work began with a focus on fixing the foster care crisis in Lakota Country, and we still prioritize efforts to enforce the Indian Child Welfare Act. In solidarity with the children, Lakota Law co-director Daniel Paul Nelson produced this original music video highlighting the urgent need to make South Dakota stop taking Native kids from Native communities. We hope you’ll accept a gift from us and download the tune for free here.
 
Wopila — thank you for standing with our children!
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Give It Back

Nanette Kelley
Special to Indian Country Today

Small museums and private institutions that accept federal CARES Act money or other stimulus funds could be forced to relinquish thousands of Indigenous items and ancestral remains now in their collections.

Under the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, museums or other institutions that accept federal funding must compile an inventory of Indigenous cultural items and initiate repatriation of the collections and remains to tribes or family members.

At least two museums are now facing possible scrutiny – the nonprofit Favell Museum of Native American Artifacts and Contemporary Western Art in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and the End of the Trail Museum, which is connected to the Trees of Mystery gift shop in the redwood forest in Klamath, California.

Hundreds of other small museums and institutions could also face scrutiny of their Indigenous collections if they have accepted federal funds.

“This will likely have an impact on private collections that previously did not have NAGPRA obligations,” Melanie O’Brien, manager for the national NAGPRA program, wrote in an email to Indian Country Today.

Museum representatives did not respond to requests for comment from Indian Country Today.

RELATED STORIES:
— Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act turns 30
— Unexpected crisis at Vassar: Human remains on campus
— Justice for Ishi: UC Berkeley removes hall’s name

California Assembly member James C. Ramos, a citizen of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the first Native American elected to the state’s legislature, said institutions should step up and comply with NAGPRA.

“If these museums across the state and nation received federal funding in the form of the CARES Act, maybe now is the opportunity for those items to be given back to Indian peoples,” Ramos said.

California Assembly member James C. Ramos is a member of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the first Native American elected to the state’s legislature. (Vince Bucci / AP Images for San Manuel)

California Assembly member James C. Ramos is a member of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the first Native American elected to the state’s legislature. (Vince Bucci / AP Images for San Manuel)

The CARES Act – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act – was signed into law in March 2020, providing $2.2 trillion in stimulus funds to families, expansion of unemployment benefits and loans to small businesses, corporations and state and local governments.

A subsequent law, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, invested $200 million in pandemic funding for libraries and museums, including nearly $24 million in California, $19 million in Texas and $14 million in Florida, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Favell Museum

Data provided by the NAGPRA office in Washington, D.C., indicate the Favell Museum received two loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to “aid small businesses in maintaining a work force during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The museum received a loan for $24,200 on May 6, 2020, and one for $24,273 on Jan. 23, 2021, according to data collected at USAspending.gov.

As of May 11, the museum’s website stated that it “receives no government funds and little money from grants.”

Founded by Klamath Falls businessman Eugene “Gene” Favell and his wife, Winifred, the museum opened in 1972 with the family’s private collection of artifacts, including Indigenous baskets collected by Favell’s mother, Ruth.

Today, the museum is home to more than 100,000 Native artifacts, including a fire opal arrowhead from Nevada’s Black Rock Desert along with other arrowheads, obsidian knives, Native clothing, stone tools, beadwork, baskets and pottery, according to the museum website. It also houses a collection of contemporary Western artists, including an original painting by Charles M. Russell, and century-old photos of Native people from Edward Curtis.

It is not known to have any human remains, as are found in holdings of other museums. But information presented on the Favell website implies cultures represented at the museum from throughout the Americas are now extinct.

According to the museum’s collections page, “The collections on display give the visitor a suggestion of the richness and variety of societies no longer here and they illustrate how creative and adaptive the native people were.” Some of the living tribes and cultures referred to in the past tense are the Chumash, Klamath, Modoc, Apache, Washoe, Pomo and Tlingit people.

Favell purchased the fire opal arrowhead and some other artifacts from California dentist H.H. Stuart, another collector, according to the museum website.  Scholar and author Tony Platt said in his book, “Grave Matters: Excavating California’s Buried Past,” that Stuart collected items from hundreds of burial sites.

In a recent interview with Indian Country Today, Platt said that during his last visit to the Favell Museum, he noticed that labels on Stuart’s items indicated that the bulk of the collection came from Yurok and Wiyot graves.

Three years before he died in 1976, Stuart sold many of the items to Favell for $13,500, Platt reported in his book.

Favell died in 2001 at age 75 but the museum has continued on without him.

A Favell representative responded to a request for comment from Indian Country Today by saying via email that the museum manager was on vacation and that the person who had overseen the collections had retired. A subsequent request has not been answered.

Ted Hernandez, chair of the Wiyot Tribal Council, said the tribe has not received a list of Favell holdings.

“All of our art, they have a spirit and a life and they (the Favell) are not taking care of our ancestors as they should be,” he said. “Each basket is a living being. They are too close together in those cases, so they can’t breathe.”

End of the Trail

About 200 miles southwest of the Favell Museum, the End of the Trail museum operates as part of the Trees of Mystery roadside attraction in northern California.

Trees of Mystery has received three federal Small Business Administration loans totaling $650,000 related to the pandemic, according to USAspending.gov.

On April 28, 2020, and again on Feb. 25, 2021, Trees of Mystery received two SBA loans, each for $250,000, to provide help in maintaining a work force during the pandemic. The business also received a $150,000 loan from the SBA on June 11, 2020, to help restore the company to pre-disaster conditions, according to government records.

According to the Trees of Mystery website, the End of the Trail Museum is attached to the gift shop, which provides the only access into the free museum.

The Trees of Mystery attraction on storied Highway 101 has operated in some form in Klamath, California, since the 1930s. It first opened as a fishing camp and evolved into the Wonderland Redwood Park, the Kingdom of Trees and then the Trees of Mystery. In 1946, Marylee and Ray Thompson purchased the site and began operating the attraction, according to RoadsideAmerica.com.

The attraction features walkways through the redwood trees, a crude carving of “The End of the Trail” statue and a large statue of Paul Bunyon, according to RoadsideAmerica.com.

A newly constructed Redwood Canopy Trail includes a suspended walkway 50 to 100 feet off the ground that winds through the trees. The new canopy trail opened just as the pandemic was forcing shutdowns but has since reopened, according to the website.

The museum opened on March 10, 1968, largely to display items collected by Marylee Thompson.

It is described on the museum’s website as “one of the largest privately owned world class museums,” and cites “artifacts and history of the First Americans.” Photos on the website show display cases filled with basketry, cradle boards, drums, masks, carvings, Native clothing and other items.

A Trees of Mystery representative responded to a request for comment from Indian Country Today by asking that questions be emailed to a museum owner identified only as Debbie. That person has not yet responded to the questions.

The Better Business Bureau lists Trees of Mystery as a sole proprietorship with four employees, though far more workers can be seen there on a typical day. The owner is listed as John Thompson, who has been identified as the son of Marylee and Ray Thompson.

Repatriation has begun

NAGPRA has already hit a number of other museums across the nation, including the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

The California State Auditor’s office conducted an analysis in 2019 of the university system’s compliance with the federal NAGPRA law and a state counterpart, known as CalNAGPRA, and found that the university had fallen short of requirements for repatriation of ancestral remains and artifacts.

Berkeley had nearly 500,000 Native American remains and artifacts as of 2019, and had returned only about 20 percent, the auditor’s office concluded.

The remains and objects are stored at the Hearst Museum and are not on display. Research on them has stopped, and they are not accessible to the public, students or faculty, university officials told Indian Country Today.

The auditor’s office found that the three universities reviewed – the Berkeley, Los Angeles and Davis campuses – needed to do more to comply with NAGPRA.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, meanwhile, issued an apology in March over its handling of ancestral remains and funerary objects and pledged to work with tribes to facilitate the returns. The Yale University Peabody Museum of Natural History is also working to repatriate some of its collections.

Several hundred ancestral remains and artifacts are being repatriated to the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma by the state of Mississippi. Shown here on March 19, 2021 in Jackson, Mississippi, are, from left, Meg Cook, director of the archeology collections for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Jessica Walzer, archaeology collections manager; Robert Waren, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act collections manager; and Arianna Kitchens, archaeology collections manager. They are standing by one of the work carts with pottery and lithics that still have not been fully identified. The items will be gathered into hand-constructed muslim for repatriation. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Several hundred ancestral remains and artifacts are being repatriated to the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma by the state of Mississippi. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The state of Mississippi recently returned items to the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. The remains had largely been found during excavations over the past 50 or more years, and more than 1,000 still must be identified and returned to tribes.

And Indiana University also returned more than 700 ancestral remains excavated from the Angel Mounds State Historic Site. The remains had been in the university’s Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology since 1971.

Spiritual ties

For California assembly member Ramos, repatriation is personal.

Baskets woven by Ramos’ great-grandmother and great-great-aunt were recently returned to the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians by a local county museum. During a celebration of Yaamava’  which means Spring in the Serrano language – they honored the baskets with a ceremony that included Serrano Bighorn sheep and Cahuilla bird songs.

Ramos said the songs that welcomed his elders’ baskets home now live inside him and aid in his continuing efforts to bring cultural artifacts home.

“Regaining those baskets opens up advocacy that those items are tied spiritually to a people,” he said.

(Related: Bringing ancestors home)

Ramos said some museums don’t understand the importance of non-funerary items and do not recognize them as part of the Indigenous cultural identity. Many tribes recognize baskets as relations, he said.

“Different cultures throughout the state of California that weave baskets breathe life into those baskets,” he said.

Looking ahead

What happens next is unclear.

When asked about possible investigations of museums or institutions that received pandemic funds, O’Brien said her office was unable to comment on the status of any investigations regarding failure to comply with NAGPRA.

Officials with the Wiyot and Hoopa Valley tribes, however, said they had not received any notifications from the Favell or the End of the Trail museums about cultural items contained within the collections.

Hernandez said the Wiyot Tribe is ready to send out a cultural liaison to validate any inventory of items they might receive.

“The museums that have our items and are not taking care of them,” he said, “it’s a high disrespect to the Native community.”

Indian Country Today - bridge logo

Nanette Kelley, Osage/Cherokee, is the 2021 California Arts Council Administrators of Color Fellow for the Greater Northern Region.

Technical Issue

https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/instagram-explains-apologizes-for-mmiwg-erasures

Joaqlin Estus
Indian Country Today

Tens of millions of stories disappeared from Instagram last week.

While the stories were from different parts of the world, they shared a common theme: protests against injustice, including posts about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, protests in Colombia, and unrest in East Jerusalem.

(Previous: MMIWG movement erased online)

Because of the common theme, people said the social posts removal was a deliberate action by Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Instagram says that’s not so.

I do not believe the excuse. It is too convenient to blame it on a technical issue. If your platform is that bad that it erases content on such a massive scale, then maybe you are in the wrong industry. To truly be free, we need to build our own networks and platforms. Screw Facebook, Google, and Instagram. We need to make and support our own and stop propping up these elite platforms that do not give one iota for the people. WE DON¨T NEED THEM; WE DO NOT NEED ANYTHING FROM THEM: MAKE FOR OURSELVES.

Voting Rights in the State of South Dakota

Lakota Law

As you know, after the past election cycle, American democracy is in trouble. Not because of phantom issues with fraudulent voters, as some people would have you believe, but because far too many voters — especially those of color — continue to be discriminated against and disenfranchised through obscene voter suppression tactics. And that’s why the Lakota People’s Law Project is going to fight back in court.

We’ve joined a lawsuit — as a plaintiff — against the State of South Dakota. Because the state has consistently violated elements of the National Voter Registration Act, tribes like the Oglala and Rosebud Nations, organizations like us, and individuals like McLaughlin city council member Hoksila White Mountain have valid cause to sue. 

Lakota Law

The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) will represent the tribal entities in the suit. We hope the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will also join as a plaintiff and seek monetary compensation from South Dakota for failure to offer voter registration opportunities in a way consistent with federal law. 

Lakota Law and Hoksila, among others, will be represented by Demos, a legal organization dedicated to winning voting rights justice. This will be a true team effort, bringing a number of great legal minds and passionate people together to fight for the community and expose the state for its litany of abuses.

As an example, you may recall that we have already shared quite a bit about the troubles in McLaughlin, the Standing Rock Nation’s second largest town. Hoksila was kept from mounting a valid mayoral campaign, and he was only granted a promised vacant city council seat in his own ward after intense pressure you helped us create.

McLaughlin also has suspicious zoning, seemingly designed to prevent its Native residents from voting in local elections. So NARF will provide support as we undertake an effort to improve voting access within the town. As you can see, access for people of color is an issue on our reservations in the Dakotas, just as it’s a national and statewide problem in places like Georgia and Arizona. Bottom line: we must fight, right now and on every level, to protect our democracy from those who want to move it backward. We’re drawing a line in the sand — and I’m so grateful you’re standing with us for fairness.

Wopila tanka — thank you for helping us make good trouble!
Chase Iron Eyes
Co-Director and Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project