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

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

Staggeringly Ignorant

Lakota Law

In case you missed it, CNN commentator and former Pennsylvania GOP Senator Rick Santorum brazenly displayed his staggering ignorance once again last week. Speaking at a conference for conservative youth, he made sure to misinform young people by claiming that European colonizers “birthed a nation from nothing” and “there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.” 

I know ratings are king — and that controversial comments beget ratings — but it’s past time this man was fired by CNN and removed from any position of influence. I urge you to watch Takin’ Out the Trash, a new segment we introduced on the most recent episode of “Cut to the Chase.” I discuss the former senator’s ridiculous statements and some of the many ways in which Native culture informs the larger society.

Because Rick Santorum’s racist rhetoric is obviously a steaming pile of hot garbage, we took him out with the trash on this week’s episode of “Cut to the Chase.”

As a Lakota Law supporter, you’re already aware of the breadth and depth with which Indigenous cultures of the Americas have long made and continue to make deep impacts. From Native cultivation of corn, to the world’s oldest representative democracy (demonstrated by the Iroquois nation), to the movement we birthed against the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock, our contributions are legion. It’s no accident that the names of several states and countless cities, towns, and counties pay homage to the Native peoples who first inhabited these lands.

It sure would be great if media outlets like CNN would stop platforming people like Rick Santorum so we can move beyond harmful, whitewashed notions of history. To create a better future — one in which we consistently progress based upon lessons learned from our past — we must be willing to take previously subverted perspectives into account, revise inaccuracies, and understand the deeper implications. Because, while Native cultures have already given much to those who came to our shores, we still have far more to say to the ears that know how to listen.

Wopila — thank you for lending your ear!
Chase Iron Eyes
Co-Director & Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project

A Beautiful Book Project: 50 Year Vision Quest

I was very excited about ordering this book because of John Chao´s section about Standing Rock. Everyone who went to Standing Rock was encouraged to have their names listed in the book. After the many years of struggle, we see there is progress being made in ending the oil pipelines and the stealing of indigenous lands. This book is just a small testament that there are people in the world who care about our collective environment and the indigenous who have never lost their connection to the land, a connection all of us must re-establish.

Please go online and order this beautiful book and never forget that anything worthwhile always requires a great deal of love, struggle, sweat and tears.

We will persevere, we will continue to work to make the world a better place than when we arrived. Peace.

Aftermath of Vote 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regarding Mascots

Lakota Law

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

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

Lakota Law

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

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

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

Wopila tanka — my gratitude for your continued action!

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

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 (info@lakotalaw.org)To:you 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.

More Good News!

I have great news: this morning, District Court Judge James Boasberg ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to be shut down within 30 days! In this momentous ruling, Judge Boasberg found that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to fully consider the environmental impacts of Energy Transfer’s crude oil pipeline, and that there were too many safety concerns to allow its continued operation. While this order only shuts DAPL down for 13 months while the Army Corps completes additional environmental assessments and safety planning, there is a good chance that when the oil is drained in 30 days, that oil will never flow again!

Lakota LawShares in DAPL’s parent company—Energy Transfer Partners—dropped 7% today.

We commend the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and their legal team at EarthJustice for years of dedication and persistence in this struggle to defang the Black Snake. And we are proud of the amicus brief that our legal team submitted in the lead up to this decision. We’re also elated that Judge Boasberg cited many of the questions we and our allies have raised since the beginning of the NoDAPL struggle. First, that it’s simply wrong to conduct an environmental assessment of a pipeline after it’s already been built. Second, that DAPL’s leak detection abilities are so poor it could be leaking more than 6,000 barrels of oil every day without detection, and Energy Transfer’s abysmal pipeline safety record raises that risk even further. Third, that there is no proper cleanup plan for a wintertime spill, when freezing Dakota winters make response the most difficult. Boasberg even went one step further, concluding that the drop in oil demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic makes shutting down the pipeline now less harmful to North Dakota’s economy.

So what comes next? First, Energy Transfer has to drain and shut down DAPL by August 6th. The Army Corps of Engineers then has 13 months to further study potential pipeline leaks and the dangers they pose. This ruling could still be appealed in the Federal District Court of D.C., but our analysis tells us that such an appeal is unlikely to succeed.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your tireless support, and for staying with us throughout this journey.

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

P.S. This has truly been a week of good news: just yesterday the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, slated to run from West Virginia to North Carolina, was canceled. In a joint statement, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy cited ongoing delays, expected cost increases, and legal challenges from environmental and other groups as threats to the project’s viability. The trend away from fossil fuels is becoming stronger with each passing day, thanks to your activism and the support of so many others like you.

 

More about this:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2020
CONTACT:
Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association
NCAI Press
Mauda Moran
Great Plains Tribes Win Important Legal Fight to Protect Tribal Water and Treaty Resources
The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association (GPTCA), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the National Congress of American Indians Fund (NCAI Fund) applaud the D.C. District Court’s decision today to vacate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lake Oahe easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline, and to require the removal of all oil flowing through the pipeline by August 5, 2020. This decision ensures that the treaty-reserved rights of the plaintiff tribes – the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe – are adequately addressed, along with any other land and natural resource considerations, in a full-fledged and well-documented environmental review process.
GPTCA, NARF, and NCAI Fund participated in a coalition of Native organizations submitting an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff tribes during the latest proceedings in the D.C. District Court and are encouraged by this outcome. We hope that this decision helps pave the way for full and proper environmental impact studies as well as meaningful consultation with tribal nations that have direct or indirect stewardship over the lands under review. Our organizations will continue to work to ensure that every time tribal lands and resources are at stake, the environmental review processes meet all legal standards and respect the federal government’s trust obligations to tribes set forth in federal laws.
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About the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association:
Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association is made up of the 16 Tribal Chairmen, Presidents, and Chairpersons in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Their purpose is to provide a forum for sharing information on matters of interest to its member Tribes, develop consensus on matters of mutual importance, assist member Tribes in their governmental and programmatic development consistent with their goals for self-determination, and self-sufficiency and provide for effective public relations and education program with non-Indian communities. For more information, please visit http://gptca.net/index.html
About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.
About the Native American Rights Fund:
Founded in 1970, NARF is the oldest and largest non-profit dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and individual Indians nationwide. For the past 50 years, NARF has represented over 275 Tribes in 31 states in such areas as tribal jurisdiction, federal recognition, land claims, hunting and fishing rights, religious liberties, and voting rights. For more information, visit www.narf.org.