Removal of Christopher Columbus Statues

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2020
CONTACT:
NCAI Statement on the Removal
of Christopher Columbus Statues
WASHINGTON, DC | The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country, does not acknowledge Christopher Columbus as a hero. To Indigenous peoples, he was the opposite:
[O]ut of timbers for the Santa Maria, . . . Columbus built a fort [on Hispaniola], the first European military base in the Western Hemisphere. . . . He took . . . Indian prisoners and put them aboard his two remaining ships. . . . [H]e got into a fight with Indians who refused to trade as many bows and arrows as he and his men wanted. Two were run through with swords and bled to death. Then the Nina and the Pinta set sail. . . . When the weather turned cold, the Indian prisoners began to die. . . .
In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale. . . .
Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 3-4 (1980 Ed.).
“This growing movement across the country to rid our shared spaces of symbols that represent hate, genocide, and bigotry illustrates that it is past time for all cities to stand on the right side of history moving forward,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp.
NCAI also strongly supports the recent actions taken by United States citizens and the international community calling for proper law enforcement reforms and the recognition of basic human rights for the African American community and all communities of color. We are humbled that these voices are including Indian Country’s perspectives. NCAI encourages local governments and their citizens to seek mutual understandings of their diverse perspectives and to develop peaceful solutions that are mindful of all human beings and our rich distinct and shared histories. Together we can build the tomorrow our children deserve to lead.
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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.

A Victory: Recommitment to Tribal Sovereignty 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 6, 2020
CONTACT:
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and Native Organizations Encouraged by Recent Decision in Mashpee v. Bernhardt and Now Call on DOI for Recommitment to Tribal Sovereignty
Yesterday, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia rendered a decision in favor of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in the case of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. Bernhardt. In its opinion, Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled:
The Court will grant the Mashpee Tribe’s motion for summary judgment and deny the federal defendants’ and defendant-intervenors’ motions for summary judgment. Furthermore, because the Secretary of the Interior’s September 7, 2018 Record of Decision is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law, the Court remands the matter to the Secretary of the Interior for a thorough reconsideration and re-evaluation of the evidence before him consistent with this Opinion, the 2014 M-Opinion, M-37209 – its standard and the evidence permitted therein – and the Department’s prior decisions applying the M-Opinion’s two-part test.
For the first time since the termination era, the Department of the Interior (DOI) attempted to disestablish a Tribal reservation, ordering the homelands of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to be taken out of trust. The order from DOI Secretary David Bernhardt came on March 27, 2020, as the Tribal Nation worked to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, during active litigation on the status of the land, and following the rescission of the 2014 Carcieri M-Opinion and the issuance of a new 4-part test to qualify under the first definition of “Indian” in the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). On March 30, 2020, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe asked the Court to issue an emergency restraining order to prevent DOI from taking immediate action to disestablish its reservation.
“The DC District Court righted what would have been a terrible and historic injustice by finding that the Department of the Interior broke the law in attempting to take our land out of trust,” said Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman, Cedric Cromwell. “We will continue to work with the Department of the Interior — and fight them if necessary — to ensure our land remains in trust.”
The Court ruled DOI’s 2018 decision that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe did not prove it was “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934, and therefore did not meet the first definition of “Indian” under the IRA—making the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe ineligible to acquire land in trust—was arbitrary and capricious. It remanded the decision to DOI with clear direction to issue a decision consistent with the 2014 M-Opinion’s standard and the evidence permitted therein, as well as DOI’s prior decisions applying the 2014 M-Opinion test. The Court further directed DOI to properly address each piece of evidence, give a reasoned analysis as to whether it is probative, explain any departure from past DOI precedent, and view all probative evidence in concert rather than in isolation. And importantly, the Court’s decision also mandates that DOI maintain the land in trust pending DOI’s new determination and prevents DOI from applying its new 4-part test in this case.
“USET SPF is pleased that the Court acted swiftly and justly to provide necessary certainty to the Mashpee Wampanoag in these uncertain times,” said USET SPF President, Kirk Francis. “The Department of the Interior was under no order to take the land out of trust, and so to attempt to rob the Mashpee of their homelands is nothing short of shameful. The Department should be assisting Tribal Nations as we work to reestablish our homelands after centuries of federal action designed to assimilate and terminate. Instead, actions by this Administration are aimed at perpetuating antiquated and regressive federal policies, resulting in the destabilization of our governments. While we celebrate this victory with Mashpee and all of Indian Country today, the centuries-long fight to protect and restore Tribal homelands is ongoing and we must remain steadfast in our vigilance. We continue to stand with Mashpee as the Department reexamines its evidence on remand.”
“On behalf of the National Congress of American Indians, we congratulate the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on their historic victory. We consider this a win for all of Indian Country,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp. “The Mashpee Wampanoag relationship with the United States is one of political equality, derived from their inherent sovereignty, powers, and authority that long predates the United States. No federal agency or civil servant has the authority to diminish or in any way undermine that unique political relationship and standing. We will remain vigilant and stand united with Mashpee who have shaped and supported this country from the arrival of the first European settlers and will coexist as sovereign equals for generations to come.”
USET SPF and NCAI share a profound commitment to Tribal sovereignty and the restoration of Tribal homelands. In light of this commitment, we have been advocating for a fix to the Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar since it was handed down in 2009. Carcieri has created a deeply inequitable 2-class system, in which some Tribal Nations have the ability to restore their homelands and others do not. This 2-class system serves to deny these Tribal Nations a critical component of the trust relationship, vital aspects of the exercise of inherent sovereignty, and the opportunity to qualify for several government programs.
We continue to call for the immediate passage of a fix that contains the two features necessary to restore parity to the land-into-trust process:
(1) A reaffirmation of the status of current trust lands; and
(2) Confirmation that the Secretary has authority to take land into trust for all federally recognized Tribal Nations.
While this decision is an important step toward righting centuries of wrong against the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, our collective work is not finished. We urge and await a positive determination from DOI on Mashpee’s homelands once and for all. Our organizations will continue to fight for the restoration of Tribal homelands and the full delivery of trust and treaty obligations. We call upon DOI to recommit itself to the restoration of homelands, the trust obligation, and Tribal sovereignty.
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About the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe:
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, also known as the People of the First Light, has inhabited present day Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years. After an arduous process lasting more than three decades, the Mashpee Wampanoag were re-acknowledged as a federally recognized tribe in 2007. In 2015, the federal government declared 150 acres of land in Mashpee and 170 acres of land in Taunton as the Tribe’s initial reservation, on which the Tribe can exercise its full tribal sovereignty rights. The Mashpee tribe currently has approximately 2,700 enrolled citizens.
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 USET Sovereignty Protection Fund (USET SPF):
Established in 2014, the USET Sovereignty Protection Fund (USET SPF) is a non-profit, inter-Tribal organization advocating on behalf of thirty (30) federally recognized Tribal Nations from the Northeastern Woodlands to the Everglades and across the Gulf of Mexico.  USET SPF is dedicated to promoting, protecting, and advancing the inherent sovereign rights and authorities of Tribal Nations and in assisting its membership in dealing effectively with public policy issues.
National Congress of American Indians
Embassy of Tribal Nations
1516 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20005

Again: Permit Invalid

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

 

Published on
by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indigenous Environmental Network @IENearth

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

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A Beautiful Book by John Chao

 

https://www.johnchao.com/standing-rock-add-name/

thumbnailJohn Chao created this beautiful photography book and has a chapter about Standing Rock. Check it out. People who were there have their names listed. I am listed there and am very proud to say that I was there, I was a witness, I contributed, and I tried to help in any way I could by waking up my school community on Sacramento to what was going on in North Dakota.

The struggle continues as we battle through a rogue government and a pandemic.

It will always be the artist, writers, and educators who will document and tell the tale.

 

Earth Day Strike

 

 

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What’s Happening?

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It’s more important now than ever to unite and support each other. That’s why, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we’re launching a massive livestream from April 22-24 where you can join activists, celebrities, musicians, and more in an epic moment of community and hope for our future. Together, we’ll:

  • Drive donations to benefit the COVID-19 relief effort
  • Call on world leaders to take emergency action to build a more sustainable and just world
  • Inspire millions to pledge to vote for our future.

For 50 years, we’ve been losing the fight for our planet. But we can make this the century we saved the world — starting on Earth Day. Here’s how you can spread the word and make this as big as possible.

Indian Country’s COVID-19 syllabus

https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/indian-country-s-covid-19-syllabus-EiN-p5Q-XkW-smnaebJV6Q

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer met with the Chinle Service Unit Command Team and Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Region 9 representatives Josh Allan and Ricardo Zuniga on March 31, 2020 to evaluate local facilities in Chinle, Arizona, to discuss the establishment of a federal medical station to help fight the spread of COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer, Facebook)

Indian Country Today

Data, story summaries, lists of closures, resources
Indian Country Today

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States

April 16, 2020 9:15 pm EDT

Cases confirmed in the Indian health system: 1,397

Total deaths in the Indian health system: 55

*** Report COVID-19 cases in your tribe on this Google Form ***

(Confirmed by tribes, the Indian Health Service, state public health agencies or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
(Only updated once a day, Monday through Friday)

April 16, 2020 9:15 pm EDT

Total cases: 632,548 (632,220 confirmed; 348 probable)

Total deaths: 31,071 (26,930 confirmed; 4,141 probable)

COVID-19 Tracker around the world

April 16, 2020 9:15 pm EDT by the World Health Organization

Total cases confirmed: 1,995,983
Deaths: 131,037
213 countries

Indian Country Today story syllabus

Stories that have been posted by Indian Country Today

New life of a trucker: Less traffic. More hours. And so much kindness

Native truck drivers across the U.S. report similar changes tied to the pandemic: long shifts, extra precautions, fewer wrecks and more “thank yous.”

A scary, global race to get home

Good news: Two Phoenix-area women who were living in the U.K. when coronavirus cases began skyrocketing in Europe say they’re relieved to be back with family

Two pueblos have some of the highest infection rates in US

Two pueblos in New Mexico have some of the highest infection rates in the United States. The numbers are stark. Zia Pueblo has 31 confirmed positive cases with a population of 900 people. And San Felipe has 52 cases with a population of 2,200.

Federal rules: Tribal casinos are ineligible for payroll help

‘Congress said ‘any’ small business can get paycheck protection for its people, the SBA has no right to say anything less to small tribal gaming businesses’

‘It’s hard when you love something’

COVID-19 pandemic threatens health in Alaska Native villages and the thousands of workers who usually arrive for the short, lucrative Bristol Bay fishery.

Adorable participants in regalia win the internet

Jayda saw her auntie Tanisha do a #DontRushChallenge video and wanted to do one with her cousins. The result was a well-deserved viral video

‘This is a matter of life and death’

Navajo Nation is an Indian Country COVID-19 hotspot, as medical supplies are dwindling nationally. A summary of COVID-19-related news for Saturday April 4, 2020

Alaska villages ‘scrambling’ after losing essential air service

Ravn Air carried passengers, food, freight and mail to more than 120 communities announced it’s ending service to all but 11 villages. Ravn Air sent the message at 6 a.m. telling employees to stop operations that day.

Governor tells president: ‘Incredible spikes’ could ‘wipe out tribal nations’

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said there are “’incredible spikes” of coronavirus cases in the Navajo Nation and that the virus could “wipe out” some tribal nations, according to a recording of a call between Trump and the nation’s governors obtained by ABC News.

“We’re seeing incredible spikes in the Navajo Nation, and this is going to be an issue where we’re going to have to figure that out and think about maybe testing and surveillance opportunities,” Grisham said.

Indian Country Today Reporters’ Roundtable, March 30

‘It is also our tradition to protect our people,’ the canoes will wait

Another Monday. Another tranche of global COVID-19 cases on National Doctors Day. There are now more than 122,000 cases in the United States, resulting in 2,112 deaths. And in Indian Country there are 190 cases with at least 10 deaths confirmed.

The Lummi Nation in Washington state reported the sharpest increase so far this week. There are now 16 positive cases, 12 of them being Lummi citizens, and nine people who live on the Lummi Reservation. Two of the cases include members of the Lummi Business Council. The identified cases are likely to go up — there are 22 more cases pending, according to the tribe’s public health department.

Youth and Elders test positive for COVID-19 amid calls for donations

Meskwaki Nation among others in Indian Country with confirmed cases

Weekends are usually days when people take time off. Not these days as the number of positive coronavirus cases continue to grow in Indian Country. Over the weekend, tribal nations reported new numbers, instituted new curfews and organizations asked for more donations to send to both students and community members. Others used this time to connect on social media. In Iowa, a 31-year-old Meskwaki woman was confirmed positive for the virus, the Times Republican reported. She has been identified as Lindsey Johnson.

Help is on the way? Depends on the type of small business

‘Three weeks ago we were doing great! And now we’re done.’

It’s a sparse lunch crowd at the Bee Line Cafe in Payson, Arizona. Only four tables have guests seated and eating. Business has slowed considerably in the past week says owner Kassie Sexton.“People are not wanting to come in because they’re afraid they’re going to get cooties.” She laughs nervously as she looks around her nearly empty cafe.

Billion dollar plus for Indian health (is a start) for coronavirus response

Associated Press

The sweeping bill that President Donald Trump signed will help better equip health care systems that serve Native Americans, improve the emergency response time on tribal lands, provide economic relief for tribal members, and help with food deliveries to low-income families and the elderly.

Tribes have been lobbying Congress to help address shortfalls in an already underfunded health care system and to ensure the federal government fulfills its obligation to them under treaties and other acts. While the $10 billion for tribes in the $2.2 trillion package is less than they requested, tribes say it represents progress.

Indian Country’s daily coronavirus update: 103,321 cases now in the U.S.

The number of coronavirus cases is growing globally.

On Saturday, 103,321 cases were reported in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making the U.S. the country with the highest number of confirmed cases and 1,668 people have died from coronavirus-related complications.

Italy’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is the highest in the world, with over 10,000 fatalities.

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states

Federal and state services include monetary and food assistance, unemployment benefits, and more. The National Retail Federation also has over 70 corporations looking for workers

Minnesota tribes affected by stay-at-home order

Updated: New coronavirus cases on the Navajo Nation have increased by 20 on Wednesday, from 49 to 69

Tribes in Minnesota are the latest across Indian Country to fall under a statewide stay-at-home order in the fight to prevent the coronavirus spread.Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order on Wednesday ordering Minnesota residents in nonessential jobs to stay at home. The order begins midnight Friday and is scheduled to run through April 10.

Senate vote expected; $8 billion for tribes

The Senate and White House reached an agreement on the bailout funds for America, the largest in history. The $2 trillion relief package includes $8 billion for tribal governments and $2 billion for emergency supplemental funding for federal Indian programs.

The Senate vote on the agreement is set to happen this afternoon. Even if passed by the Senate, they would need House approval.

Bad news: ‘It’s likely to get worse’

Two Arizona tribes in the Phoenix valley see their first COVID-19 cases while the Navajo Nation adds 20 more reports. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community reported its first case and the Gila River Indian Community has two positive cases.

These new cases bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Indian health system to 64 and two deaths. Eight out of 10 deaths due to the coronavirus in the U.S. have been people 65 and older, according to the CDC.

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President Martin Harvier made the announcement Tuesday afternoon on the tribal government’s Facebook page.

Alaska, Hawaii order mandatory quarantines

Generations and generations … have had to deal with these pandemics and these viruses, and they’ve also had to get up in the morning and feed themselves, and make things run for society’

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people arriving from out of state to slow the spread of COVID-19. On Sunday Hawaii Governor David Ing took the action for travelers headed there.

Shake hands? A hug? People don’t seem ready to change

Surgeon General: ‘America … It’s going to get bad’

This morning U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said on national television, “I want America to understand this week, it’s going to get bad.” As if he needed proof, the number of positive cases for COVID-19 listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doubled over the weekend. There are now 33,404 cases and 400 people across the country have died.

Ammo & fuel for hunters to feed others

‘We’re just going to get in front of the things that may come up’

Some tribes are postponing powwows, closing casinos, and commanding their employees to work from home.

Three Alaska tribes have another plan to fight COVID-19 and serve citizens.

Beyond a statistic: When the virus hits home

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan: Someone feeling well could still be carrying the virus … ‘then you walk past the next Ron, my big brother, in public’

Indian Country Today Reporters’ Roundtable, March 24

Five days tells the coronavirus story: Caseload jumps from two to 26

Researchers estimate that the undetected cases are “11 times more than has been officially reported”

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Navajo Nation grew from two on Tuesday night to 26 Saturday night. Five days.

Dancing for the people (virtually)

Zibaaska’iganagooday is the exploding sound in the Ojibwe language and it has a long history of healing

Community song and dance have always been a part of healing and prayer for Native people. In this time of social distancing, however, people are putting a digital spin on these healing traditions. People all over Indian Country are organizing virtual powwows and other social dances via social media as a means to offer hope and spiritual support during the Covid19 pandemic

Bored? This Indigenous list is for you

Swords, rez dogs, Indian Country adventures and more

Bored at home? Nonsense. Practicing safe social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic can also mean opportunity. We can finally catch up on all the streaming shows, Native YouTubers, read all the books we never have time for and listen to all the saved podcast episodes tucked away on our devices.

‘Native artists are resilient. We’ll get through this’

Native artists, musicians, comedians, actors and writers speak on careers affected by the COVID-19 virus. Freelance Artist Resources website hopes to provide relief

A week of hell (or business as usual?)

People are not taking COVID-19 serious, said Dean Seneca. Unfortunate if it takes mass casualties to ‘open people’s eyes

Homeless. Vulnerable. And no option for ‘self isolation’

American Indians and Alaska Natives clustered in camps or on the streets; ‘It’s been a crazy time’

Every major city has a virtual suburb for the homeless. Homes consisting of tents, scrap wood, shopping baskets and cardboard boxes. In shelters, a family dwelling might have a common kitchen and bedrooms with bunk beds. Others may have a large room filled with dozens of bunk beds or canvas cots. Some have dozens of rubber-coated thick pads placed a foot apart in rows laid across a concrete floor.

Spike reported in Navajo Nation cases

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Navajo Nation has grown to 14, a dramatic increase from the three confirmed cases reported only a day ago.

The announcement came hours after a 55-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen was the first coronavirus related death in Oklahoma. Before the Navajo Nation announcement late Thursday, March 19, there were nine cases confirmed in the Indian health system.

New data and a Cherokee Nation death

The Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma have confirmed the first COVID-19 related death, according to the Cherokee Phoenix. A 55-year-old Cherokee man died on March 18 after fighting a cold and then contracted the coronavirus disease.

The death of a tribal citizen that has been confirmed is one of the nine cases reported in the Indian health system as of March 19. On Wednesday, the Navajo Nation confirmed its third case, a 62-year-old Navajo man.

New cases at Lummi; long-term care facility outbreak traced back to sick workers

The Lummi Nation in Washington state has confirmed three positive COVID-19 cases, according to Tony Hillaire, chief of staff of the Lummi Indian Business Council. This adds to the total of seven within the Indian health system; one in the Portland Area of the Indian Health Service, one in the Great Plains area and two in the Navajo region.

Of the three Lummi cases, one is a Lummi citizen who resides on the reservation. The other two cases are residents of King and Whatcom counties.

 

#StandWithMashpee

Aƞpétu wašté (Good day)! I hope you are staying well, and I want you to know that we’re praying for all our relations impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. One benefit of sheltering in place is that we’re able to keep our eyes peeled for important news. In case you missed it, I wanted to highlight a recent attack on Indigenous sovereignty and ask for your solidarity for our Mashpee relatives.

At the end of last month, the Department of Interior announced that 321 acres of land will be taken out of trust, effectively revoking the reservation status of the Mashpee Wampanoag people of Massachusetts. For those who learned the Thanksgiving story in elementary school, the Wampanoag people broke bread with the Pilgrims in Plymouth colony, and it was Wampanoag land that the Pilgrims took. And now, in the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic, President Trump’s cabinet is moving to rescind the sovereign status of these people.

The Lakota People’s Law Project stands with the Mashpee Wampanoag in the struggle to defend their birthright to live on the land of their ancestors, and we ask that you take a few moments to watch my video and #StandWithMashpee too.

Lakota Law

President Obama placed the land in question into trust in 2015, but that decision has been reversed under Trump. A reinterpretation by our executive branch of a 2009 Supreme Court decision now only grants trust status to tribes recognized before 1934, when the Indian Reorganization Act was signed. Because the Mashpee weren’t federally recognized until 2007, they’ve now lost their status. As Jessie Little Doe Baird, vice chair of the tribe, said “they came for our children and took them to Carlisle because we were ‘too Indian.’ Today, they tell us we are not Indian enough.”

The Mashpee, who have lived in the Massachusetts area for over 12,000 years, are being denied their right to autonomy. With federal trust status comes the right to manage, develop, and tax a parcel of land. This “disestablishment” of the Mashpee reservation will likely force the closure of the tribal court and police department; it will cost Native people their livelihoods in an already barren economic landscape.

This blatant land-grab isn’t even court-ordered — the directive came from Trump’s Department of the Interior. Now, the Mashpee have asked a D.C. court to issue an emergency restraining order to prevent the dissolution of trust status, and Massachusetts senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey have vowed to combat this assault on the tribe’s self-determination, saying “We will not allow the Mashpee Wampanoag to lose their homeland.”

We Native people have struggled to retain less than 2.5 percent of our lands since European contact. The Indian Wars, in essence, have never truly ended. The United States’ long history of systemically suppressing Native rights continues, and in 2020, land trust removal is the latest iteration of that same legacy of colonialism. We are disheartened, but as Indigenous people and allies, we have each others’ backs in the face of adversity. You can stand for sovereignty by standing with the Mashpee people in their time of need.

Wopila — thank you. Solidarity forever,

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

Halt Keystone XL construction in his state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lakota Law

First of all, from my home in Cheyenne River to yours wherever you may be, I hope you are staying safe and well. Over my years, I’d come to think maybe I’d seen it all — but not so! One thing I know is that we’ll only get through this period of separation and hardship by sticking together. So I write to you today with an opportunity to help make a real difference that could save lives.

Please email Montana Governor Steve Bullock and tell him to halt Keystone XL construction in his state during the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter what our president says, KXL man camps do not enable “essential work” — instead they represent cauldrons of potential coronavirus transmission and threats to nearby communities, including tribal nations such as mine in South Dakota.

Lakota Law
Please join us in telling Montana stop KXL construction now, before it spreads COVID-19 on tribal nations.

As I have shared with you previously, we Native women have been hard at work organizing our communities to prepare for the dangers KXL poses. The man camps that house oil workers were already scary before we knew they could become petri dishes for the virus. Allowing two of them near our reservation just increases our peril.

But allow them, Trump will. He’s cynically using the pandemic to take full advantage of our inability to engage in grassroots organizing on the ground. On March 31, TC Energy announced a final decision to complete KXL, explicitly thanking the president for giving the go-ahead. Three days later, Trump tweeted his happiness.

Though TC Energy has claimed it will follow procedures to limit the spread of the virus, Republican Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has said that he won’t expect workers traveling from out of state to be quarantined. Meanwhile, here in South Dakota, Republican governor Kristi Noem has steadfastly refused to institute shelter-in-place mandates or close businesses, despite 447 documented positive tests and six deaths in our state.

We must lean on the Democrat, Bullock, to do the right thing. He has, at least, waffled on KXL. On the one hand, he said, “Look — if it’s done right, we can’t take it off the table.” On the other hand, he’s commented that the Department of State failed to adequately consider the pipeline’s environmental impacts, and he’s expressed concern about the threat to Montana’s water from a leak or spill. Bullock has also criticized the Trump administration’s failure to adequately consult with Native American tribes affected by the pipeline — a major reason to hope he’ll listen to us now.

It’s worth noting that KXL has many of the same weaknesses in its design and approval process as the Dakota Access pipeline, which — partially due to safety concerns including an inadequate leak detection system — just had its federal permits revoked by a court ruling. Let’s protect public safety and stop KXL construction.

Wopila tanka — I thank you, sincerely, for your life-saving activism!

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

P.S. I’ll tell you what’s essential: your participation. Please band together with us in calling for an end to pipeline construction during the COVID-19 crisis.

 

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 DAPL/COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the nation, we’re aware that it could have an outsized impact on Indian Country. Relief programs may not provide needed tests and medical supplies for us — or anyone — on an appropriate scale. Please know we are monitoring this, and as my colleague Chase Iron Eyes mentioned a few days ago, we’ll keep you updated on developments. May we all stay safe and healthy.

In the meantime, I write with some wonderful news. Just yesterday, Standing Rock won a big victory in the ongoing legal battle against the Dakota Access pipeline when a federal judge granted the tribe’s request to strike down DAPL’s federal permits!

Lakota Law

Thank you for all you have done to aid our struggle! Today I ask that you take a few moments to watch our video about the win in court and send a note of solidarity to Standing Rock. I will deliver your messages to the tribal chairman and tribal council. This is a big moment!

The judge ruled that Trump’s Army Corps of Engineers must complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) — the much more comprehensive review we’ve all been demanding since the beginning of this movement (and that President Obama required, only to be reversed by Trump). The Corps fell short in three specific ways, according to the judge.

First, the Corps failed to respond adequately to claims by the tribe’s experts that DAPL’s leak detection system is wholly inadequate. Second, the company’s dreadful history of oil spills wasn’t properly addressed. Finally, the oil company failed to account for the adverse repercussions a “worst case discharge” might have on our treaty rights — our ability to hunt, fish, and perform traditional religious ceremonies near Lake Oahe, which the pipeline crosses under.

I was asked by the tribal chairman to represent Standing Rock’s interests at the hearing in Washington, D.C., but I couldn’t go because of Coronavirus travel restrictions. I’m gratified that, despite our troubles, we have been victorious, at least for now.

The logic of the judge’s ruling suggests the pipeline should not remain operational without a federal permit. The ruling actually references both the Titanic and Chernobyl concerning the possibility of human error, and I’m hopeful shutting down the flow will be the judge’s next step. He has now requested legal briefs on that issue.

Please stay tuned, as we hope to share more good news soon. In the meantime, stay safe and please listen to the medical professionals with knowledge about the requirements of this pandemic. We’re all in this together.

Wopila tanka — as always, we’re so grateful to you for standing with Standing Rock and Mother Earth.

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

 

Lakota People's Law Project

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

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.

Montana, Navajo-owned company reach deal on sovereign immunity

https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/montana-navajo-owned-company-reach-deal-on-sovereign-immunity-g-y4lyhK0UGjTLyqturwCw

The Associated Press

Matthew Brown

Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana regulators have reached a deal allowing the state to enforce environmental laws at a large coal mine bought by a Navajo-owned company, officials said Thursday.

For months, executives from the Navajo Transitional Energy Company and state officials had been unable to resolve demands the company waive its immunity as a tribal entity from future lawsuits.

The mine shut down briefly in October when the dispute over sovereignty first emerged. Thursday’s agreement came a day before a temporary waiver agreement was set to expire.

The Navajo company bought the 275-worker Spring Creek strip mine along the Wyoming border and two mines in Wyoming last year from bankrupt Cloud Peak Energy.https _images.saymedia-content.com_.image_MTcxMTA1NzUzODk2MDY5MTA1_ap_20007830298569