Indian Affairs’ new regulations concern North Stonington

by Leslie Rovetti, The Westerly Sun

NORTH STONINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs is considering changes to the procedure tribes must follow to gain federal recognition. In this town, that could affect the fate of the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation, which is a concern for First Selectman Nicholas H. Mullane II.

Public hearings on the new regulations are scheduled nationwide between July 23 and Aug. 6., which

DANIEL HYLAND / The PressNorth Stonington First Selectman Nicholas Mullane is worried that Bureau of Indian Affairs' changes in regulations may affect the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation and, in turn, affect the town and its tax rolls.

North Stonington First Selectman Nicholas Mullane is worried that Bureau of Indian Affairs’ changes in regulations may affect the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation and, in turn, affect the town and its tax rolls.

Mullane called “a rather accelerated time frame.” In New England, there will be a hearing in Maine on July 31, and all comments are due by Aug. 16.

Mullane, speaking at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, alleged that the suggested changes relax the criteria for recognition. For example, among the changes is the length of time a tribal group needs to be operating as a community before it can be recognized. The regulations now say a group must have functioned “throughout history,” but the proposed regulations change that to “from 1934.”

His concern, Mullane said, is about the fate of taxable property. Should the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation gain federal recognition, they may claim a reservation area, he said, which would be removed from the town’s tax rolls.

A spokesman for the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation could not be immediately reached. Achieving recognition would provide the tribe and its members with a number of federally funded benefits.

The tribe had already received recognition once, when the Bureau of Indian Affairs combined the Eastern Pequots and Paucatuck Eastern Pequots into a single tribe in 2002. Both tribes shared the roughly 200-acre Lantern Hill Road reservation, and applied for federal recognition at around the same time. However, that recognition was rescinded in 2005. A 2006 appeal was denied.

Recognition would allow the tribe to expand its land holdings. The town would receive no taxes on the tribe’s land, or on homes and cars that belong to tribal members on Eastern Pequot land. However, the town would still be responsible for providing some services, and development would not be subject to the town’s zoning regulations.

An entity calling itself the Eastern Pequot Tribe filed a lawsuit in federal court in 2012 to reinstate the tribe’s recognized status, but that suit was dismissed in April.

In win for fish, oil companies allowed to abandon old rigs

John Upton, Grist

For all the harm that the oil and gas industry inflicts on wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, it does offer the marine ecosystem at least one big benefit. Offshore oil-drilling rigs serve as artificial reefs, providing shelter for animals and an anchor for plants, coral, and barnacles. Yet once a well is tapped, the federal government has required the drilling company to uproot its rig to help clear clutter that could obstruct shipping.

Following complaints from fishermen and conservationists, however, the Obama administration is easing those rules. It announced this week that it is making it easier for states to designate abandoned drilling infrastructure as special artificial reef sites.

The move is a win-win. Fish, turtles, and other wildlife get to keep their underwater metropolises — and drilling companies can save on the costs of rig removal. From Fuel Fix:

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has revised the policies to encourage participation in its rigs-to-reefs program, which allows operators to leave non-producing platforms deep in the Gulf as artificial homes for underwater creatures.

So, um, thanks to all the penny-pinching oil companies out there that don’t want to pay to clean up their crap?

Should the “Nobel prize for food” go to a Monsanto exec?

By Anna Lappe,

In a move that has disturbed many anti-hunger advocates, including 81 global leaders of the World Future Council and laureates of the Right Livelihood Award, the World Food Prize — often known as the Nobel prize for food and agriculture — has given this year’s award to three chemical company executives, including Monsanto executive vice president and chief technology officer, Robert Fraley.

Fraley shares the prize with two other scientists responsible for launching the “technology” behind the biotech business three decades ago, after developing a method for inserting foreign genes into plants. For an award that claims to honor those who contribute to a “nutritious and sustainable food supply,” genetically modified organisms miss the mark on both counts.

GMOs do not create a more nutritious or sustainable food supply. Twenty years after the commercialization of the first GMO seed, almost all are limited to just two types. Either they’ve been developed to resist a proprietary herbicide or engineered to express a specific insecticide. (No surprise, since the product development is led by chemical companies like Monsanto and Syngenta.) While these crops have proven profitable to the companies producing them, they’ve been costly to farmers. And for the cash-poor farmers, who make up 70 percent of the world’s hungry, this technology worsens dependency on purchased seeds, fertilizer, and chemicals. As GMOs exacerbate farmers’ dependency on these inputs — all at volatile and rising prices — many small-scale farmers are driven to despair.

In terms of sustainability, GMOs also do nothing to reduce the agriculture sector’s reliance on fossil fuels, mined minerals, and water — all natural resources that will only get more costly as they become more scarce.

While the genetic engineers promise that their technology can deliver, experts I’ve interviewed here and around the world are doubtful. Instead, they point to the studies showing the productivity and resilience of organic and agroecological methods, especially in the face of drought and other extreme weather. Organic production methods outperform chemical methods in drought years [PDF] by as much as 31 percent. Other benefits? Organic methods can use 45 percent less energy and produce 40 percent less greenhouse gases [PDF]. Real numbers, real solutions.

Further evidence from some of the world’s most important institutions — from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to the World Bank — is showing how ecological methods outperform GMOs, improve nutritional qualities of crops, and benefit biodiversity and soil health, all without leaving farmers in debt and dependent on companies for ever-more expensive inputs. In India, for example, agriculture systems that have turned away from the synthetic inputs GMOs require are hitting record highs in productivity. Thanks to research from around the world, including a three-year groundbreaking study involving over 900 participants from over 110 countries, a growing consensus exists: We know what’s working to improve crop yields, nutrition, and farmers’ livelihoods. And despite the PR talking points from the industry, it’s not GMOs.

Much of the public relations spin revolves around “feeding the world.” Let’s be clear: Global hunger is not the result of a lack of food, but perhaps more importantly, a lack of democracy, as my mother Frances Moore Lappé and her colleagues at Food First have been arguing for four decades. Today, despite the planet producing more than enough food for every man, woman, and child, 870 million people on the planet suffer from extreme, long-term undernourishment, according to the United Nations.

Biotechnology fails to address the roots of this persistent hunger — which include poverty and inequality, and fundamentally a lack of choice over how food is grown, where it’s grown, and who has access to it. A technology like genetic engineering, which has been developed and is controlled by a handful of companies, does nothing to transform this dynamic. Indeed, the technology serves to further concentrate power over our food system: An estimated 90 percent of U.S.-grown soybeans and 80 percent of corn and cotton crops are grown from Monsanto’s seeds. Crops that don’t nourish the world, but instead end up in the gut of a cow, the tank of a car, or the ingredients list of processed foods.

Finally, Monsanto and Syngenta have a long history of working to silence scientists and farmers who are critical of their products, including one case that hit close to home.

In the late 1990s, my father, the scientist Marc Lappé, decided to investigate Monsanto’s claims that the technology would increase yields. He found that the company vastly overstated the potential of the technology. He wrote up his findings in his book Against the Grain, but just before printing his publisher received a threatening letter from Monsanto lawyers. The message: Print at your own risk. The publisher balked. My father eventually found a small progressive press in Maine who had the courage to publish his book, but he lost the imprimatur of a larger publisher. This is just one anecdote of intimidation among many — including the recent buy-out of a research firm linking Monsanto to the global bee crisis known as “colony collapse disorder.”

In its choice this year, the World Food Prize has placed itself decidedly out of step with the international community’s assessment about agricultural biotechnology and the proven approach to promoting nutrition and sustainability.


Anna Lappé is a national bestselling author, sustainable food advocate, and mom. The founding principal of the Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund, her latest book is Diet for a Hot Planet.

Use fireworks in safe, legal manner

Source: Marysville Globe

MARYSVILLE — While the cities of Arlington and Marysville encourage their citizens to celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July holiday in a festive manner, the cities’ police officers and firefighters want  to make sure that those who choose to use fireworks do so in a safe and legal fashion.

The city of Arlington allows fireworks to be sold from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 28, through Thursday, July 4, whereas the city of Marysville allows fireworks to be sold from noon to 11 p.m. on June 28 and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Saturday, June 29, through July 4.

Marysville residents may discharge their fireworks between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on July 4, while Arlington residents may discharge their fireworks between 9 a.m. and midnight on July 4.

Neither city allows its residents to discharge their fireworks on any other day, outside of the New Year holiday, and both cities limit their legal fireworks to Class C, or “safe and sane” fireworks. Neighboring Native American reservations may sell fireworks that do not conform to these laws, but such fireworks must be detonated on reservation lands.

The retail fireworks stands of “Boom City” on the Tulalip Tribal Reservation also provide a lighting and detonation area on site for customers, since not all of the fireworks sold at Boom City are allowed to be detonated off the reservation. Security personnel will monitor the area to ensure that children aged 12 years and younger have adults aged 18 years or older present.

According to Marysville Fire District Division Chief and Fire Marshal Tom Maloney, fireworks that are illegal off tribal lands include bottle rockets, skyrockets, missiles and firecrackers. M-80s and larger, as well as dynamite and any improvised, homemade or altered explosive devices such as tennis balls, sparkler bombs or cherry bombs are likewise illegal explosive devices, and those who possess or use such illegal explosive devices can expect to be charged with a felony.

State Fire Marshal Charles Duffy is reminding Washingtonians that the purchase of fireworks over the Internet is illegal. In Washington state, fireworks must be purchased from a licensed retail fireworks stand during the legal sales period. Orders for fireworks cannot be placed over the Internet, or posted on websites such as Craigslist

In its online list of tips to the public, the Arlington Fire Department noted that illegal fireworks are often unpackaged and wrapped in plain brown paper, and warned against purchasing any fireworks that are not in their original packages, or are in opened or damaged packages.

Marysville police are taking enforcement of these laws seriously and will be citing those caught with illegal fireworks between now and the Fourth of July. Under state law, possession or discharge of illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to a year in jail and a mandatory court appearance. City of Marysville Public Information Officer Doug Buell pointed out that Marysville police can issue criminal citations to violators or civil citations, the latter similar to a standard ticket.

Marysville police may issue a civil infraction, or fine, in an amount up to $500, instead of a criminal citation. The criminal misdemeanor fine is consistent with the standard state penalty of an amount not to exceed $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail. Gross misdemeanor offenses carry a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a year in jail, and a person with three or more civil infractions within a two-year time period will be cited for a misdemeanor.

Marysville Police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux explained that such civil infractions enable officers to spend more time on the streets responding to fireworks complaints, and less time processing criminal citation paperwork. He added that the safety of individuals and property is the police department’s utmost concern.

“Use caution and follow safety rules for responsible use of fireworks,” Lamoureux said. “Illegal fireworks in particular pose a public safety and medical hazard, and they have the potential to cause property damage in the Marysville area.”

Although Arlington Assistant City Administrator Kristin Banfield believes that Arlington police are more likely to try and educate those using illegal fireworks, or those using fireworks illegally, she warned that, “If they have to make a repeat trip to your place for fireworks, it’ll probably result in a fine.”

Officials in both cities urge Fourth of July holiday revelers to clean up their fireworks after they’re finished.

“After you light it up, clean it up,” Buell said. “Discarded fireworks the days after the Fourth are a neighborhood eyesore, and smoldering, spent fireworks can still pose a fire hazard if not disposed of properly.”

To dispose of spent fireworks properly, the Arlington Fire Department advises that people let their used fireworks lay on the ground until they are cool and there is no chance that any residue will reignite, after which they should place all the expended firework cases in a bucket of water to soak them thoroughly. Those who use fireworks should keep a bucket of water or a running water hose close by in case of a firework malfunction or fire.

“First and foremost, our fire and police chiefs strongly encourage our residents to stay safe by attending the local public displays, such as the one at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club sponsored by the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce,” Banfield said. “If you do use fireworks, however, only use them as intended, and use common sense. Don’t try to alter them or combine them, and never relight a ‘dud’ firework. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter, and alcohol and fireworks do not mix, so have a ‘designated shooter.’ Only those older than 12 years old should be allowed to handle fireworks, especially sparklers of any type.”

For more information, visit the city of Marysville’s fireworks website at and the city of Arlington’s fireworks website at

For more information about fireworks safety, public fireworks displays and the fireworks laws for your area, check the Celebrate Safely website at

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz relies on dubious coal tech for Obama climate strategy

Sharon Kelly, DeSmog Blog

The key takeaway from President Obama’s major climate change announcement this week was his intent to batten down on coal. But if history is any indication, the man Mr. Obama selected to run the Department of Energy may have different plans.

Ernest J. Moniz has a long history of supporting coal-powered electricity, staking his arguments in favor of coal on a technology that remains entirely unproven: carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Mr. Moniz will be in a uniquely influential position when it comes to confronting these problems. President Obama announced that he would rely on executive agencies instead of Congress, so Mr. Moniz’s Energy Department will play a crucial role in determining precisely how Obama’s strategy is administered.

The day after Obama’s speech, Moniz told Congress  “the President advocates an all-of-the-above energy strategy and I am very much in tune with this.”

What’s wrong with an all-of-the-above strategy? It extends reliance on fossil fuels, at a time when scientists warn that we can only burn twenty percent of current reserves before the world tips past the crucial 2 degree Celsius point. Beyond two degrees, some of the most devastating impacts of global warming will be felt. Keep in mind that, if all of the world’s coal is burned, global temperatures could rise by a jaw-dropping 15 degrees Celsius, a study published in the prestigious journal Nature last year concluded.

The stakes, when it comes to controlling American greenhouse gas emissions, are huge.

In May, carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere reached 400 parts per million – the highest level of carbon dioxide ever recorded in human history. Last year, the continental U.S. experienced its hottest year on record, and the NRDC estimates that climate-related disasters like crop loss, wildfires and floods cost the nation roughly $140 billion last year alone, with much of the tab picked up by taxpayers.

Power plants are the single largest source of American carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for a third of the nation’s total greenhouse gasses. So focusing on power plants is key if emissions are to be reduced.

Coal currently supplies about 40 percent of American electricity, according to EIA statistics, down from fifty percent in 2005. Coal’s decline comes as natural gas from fracking (which has its own worrisome climate impacts, measured in methane rather than carbon dioxide), wind and solar, have risen in their share of the U.S. electric portfolio. Since the beginning of 2010, 145 coal-fired power plantsannounced plans to retire.

But the Department of Energy is focused not on retiring more of these plants, pinning its hopes instead on developing new technologies to make coal cleaner. The plan in rough form, involves collecting carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and burying it, forever, underground.

If that sounds like a heck of a challenge, that’s because it is.

There’s not a single large commercially-operating carbon sequestration plantanywhere in the world.

That’s despite over $25 billion in government subsidies worldwide from 2008 to 2012.

Nevertheless, Mr. Moniz told Congress that “the Administration has already committed about $6 billion to [carbon capture and sequestration] demonstrations, and success of the forthcoming projects will be a critical step toward meeting the President’s climate goals.”

The $8 billion in total subsidies adds up to more than the wind and solar industries combined receive – and those are industries that have proven themselves to be commercially viable.

Undaunted, Moniz told The New York Times on Thursday that carbon capture and sequestration was a vital part of the country’s climate change strategy. He called for CCS to be commercialized first for coal-fired power plants. He added that natural gas’ carbon emissions, though half those of coal, are still too high to meet Obama’s long-term goal of slashing emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 — so he called for the same speculative technology to resolve that problem as well.

The transition to an electric industry that captures its greenhouse gasses instead of releasing them into the atmosphere makes the challenges associated with developing renewables like wind and solar look easy in comparison.

Professor Vaclav Smil, author of the “Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate” – See more at:…

Professor Vaclav Smil, author of “Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate” has calculated that to sequester just a fifth of current carbon dioxide emissions:

“… we would have to create an entirely new worldwide absorption-gathering-compression-transportation- storage industry whose annual throughput would have to be about 70 percent larger than the annual volume now handled by the global crude oil industry whose immense infrastructure of wells, pipelines, compressor stations and storages took generations to build.”

Carbon capture is also grossly inefficient. “By some estimates, 40 percent of the energy generated has to go to the carbon capture and sequestration process,” Josh Galperin, associate director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy,said after the climate strategy was released. DeSmog’s Kevin Grandia describessome further technical hurdles that carbon sequestration has yet to overcome.

In a key indication of how shaky the science is behind carbon sequestration, not even the World Bank will fund it. Concerns about climate change led the Bank to restrict its financial support for coal projects except in “rare circumstances,” a draft strategy leaked to the press earlier this week indicates. In a glaring omission, the strategy says nothing about carbon capture and sequestration as an alternative.

None of this seems to matter to Mr. Moniz, whose support of the coal industry and faith in sequestration has been longstanding.

A 2009 report he helped produce focused on how to reduce CO2 from coal plants, touting the potential for so-called “clean coal.”

“It’s cheap,” he told Scientific American when the report was released, “there’s lots of it and there’s lots of it in places with high demand, namely the U.S., China and India.”

In 2007, Moniz co-authored an MIT report titled “The Future of Coal” that aimed to examine “how the world can continue to use coal, an abundant and inexpensive fuel, in a way that mitigates, instead of worsens, the global warming crisis.”

Moniz’s faith in carbon sequestration has remained unshaken up to the present day.

“It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but I believe in this decade we will have demonstrated the viability of large-scale storage” of carbon-dioxide from industrial operations, he told the Associated Press on Thursday. “The president made clear that we anticipate that coal and other fossil fuels are going to play a significant role for quite some time on the way to a very low carbon economy,” he added.

Meanwhile, broader concerns about the President’s climate plans remain.

“We’re happy to see the president finally addressing climate change” said Bill Snape, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, “but the plain truth is that what he’s proposing isn’t big enough, and doesn’t move fast enough, to match the terrifying magnitude of the climate crisis.”

And if the clean coal technology Mr. Moniz is counting on doesn’t pan out, prospects may be even dimmer.

Fracking Troubles Atlantic First Nations After Two Dozen Protesters Arrested

Via APTN NewsAnti-fracking protesters in New Brunswick in early June.

Via APTN News
Anti-fracking protesters in New Brunswick in early June.

David P. Ball, Indian Country Today Media Network

One week after 12 fracking protesters were arrested in New Brunswick, Mi’kmaq critics of the controversial extraction industry relit their sacred fire on the road to a seismic testing site and vowed to continue their opposition.

On June 19, fracking opponents held a sunrise ceremony beside a ceremonial fire they said was extinguished during the arrests, which included seven indigenous protestors, among them a pipe carrier and a ceremonial firekeeper. Another 12 people were arrested on Friday June 21, National Aboriginal Day.

“We’re not going to stop,” Amy Sock, a member of Elsipogtog First Nation, told Indian Country Today Media Network. “We don’t want shale gas to come to New Brunswick. To be honest, we have a big nuclear plant here. Once fracking goes on—once we start getting earthquakes—I’m afraid that thing is going to blow up. That’s one of my fears. Our priority is Mother Earth.”

Sock said that despite some tribal leaders’ support for shale gas exploration by SWN Resources Canada, which is preparing for seismic testing in Kent County, most Mi’kmaq are against the project. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process in which high-pressure chemicals are injected deep underground to break apart the shale rock layer and pump oil out. Government studies in the U.S. and U.K. have concluded the process can cause earthquakes, but proponents argue that they are not significant or dangerous tremors. (Related: Fracking Suspected in Dallas-Area Earthquakes)

“I can cry, get mad, pray, forgive, and do my pipe ceremony to keep my strength and courage up,” Sock said, “but this is one tough battle. We live by the river… Our regular diet—fish, clams, eels, bass, salmon, and lobster—that’s what we eat. I want to continue eating that without getting sick [from pollution].”

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal Chantal Farrah issued a statement following the first spate of arrests, saying that work crews had been blocked from the company’s operations.

“They were attempting to block the heavy equipment from traveling on the road,” she said. “Now the people who were doing so were breaking the law and they were informed that they were breaking the law and that they needed to move. They refused and 12 people were arrested, so of those people there were seven men and five women.”

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) also issued a statement after the arrests, saying it supported band leaders who were working with government and industry for “responsible and sustainable natural resources development for the benefit of all in the province,” but did not mention the protests or arrests.

“We stand in full support of the New Brunswick First Nations leadership as they are asserting and protecting their rights on natural resource development for the future and betterment of their communities,” said National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo. “As stewards of the land, First Nations have a sacred duty to protect the lands, waters and vital resources bestowed upon them. It is our responsibility to fulfill the vision of our ancestors—a vision of shared prosperity and success for all our peoples. This requires supporting First Nation governments in driving their own economies and engaging meaningful business opportunities and partnerships, through the basic and standard principles of free, prior and informed consent. This is the road to productivity and prosperity for all of us.”

A warrior chief of Elsipogtog First Nation, John Levi, issued a call for support from other Natives.

“We’re fighting with SWN gas company, which is doing seismic testing here in New Brunswick,” he said. “We invite all the reserves to come support our cause, because if it comes to your province, we’ll be there, we’ll support you. We’re asking for your help now.”

Sock said that every day, non-Native supporters have come to the protest site with gifts of food and other supplies, and also brought in portable toilets. She said many residents in the region are farmers as concerned as First Nations about fracking’s impact on the environment.

On June 24, two SWN company shot-hole drillers involved in gas exploration were set ablaze. No charges have been laid in the arson. Several other pieces of SWN equipment were seized by gas opponents.



Indian Child Welfare Act: Supreme Court ‘Saved Baby Veronica’ — But From What?

Commentary, Jacqueline Keeler, New America Media

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided to “save Baby Veronica” by ruling the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) does not protect the parental rights of her Cherokee father, in the case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. I say “save” because that’s what the Capobianco family (the white family that attempted to adopt Veronica from her Hispanic birth mother) implored the public to do on their signs.  They wanted us to help them “Save Veronica.”  And I, a Native American mother, looked at that sign with a picture of the beautiful, curly-haired, brown-skinned girl, and couldn’t help but ask the logical question: “From what?”

In the Capobianco’s view, Veronica, 3, now in the custody of her biological father (who she has been living with since December 2011) was akin to her being kidnapped by Indian relatives, much like Audrey Hepburn’s adopted Kiowa girl in the original 1960 version of the movie, “The Unforgiven.”  Although the title of that movie referred to a white family that adopted an Indian child after slaughtering her family, I can’t help but feel that the role has now been reversed — we, the Indians, are the Unforgiven, simply by virtue of being Indian.

It’s this idea – this “original sin” of being Indian — that is still holds sway, as evidenced by evangelical leader and 700 Club regular Cindy Jacobs’ recent comments on her “God Knows” TV show. In 2013, she advised her viewers: “If you have in your bloodline… Native American blood… you might want to renounce that and repent for the generational iniquity.”

So today, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision, I ask what is this “generational iniquity” and why because I am Indian, do some Americans want to save my children from it. To find an answer I must take a long, hard look at my country and its treatment of Native children.

The Supreme Court in this case was not asked to look at the adoptive parents’ willful defiance of federal law in their attempts to circumvent the adoption procedures of ICWA.  The South Carolina Supreme Court had already found the Capobianco’s adoption to be invalid.  In bald terms, the invalidation of the adoption means the Capobianco’s kept a Cherokee child a thousand miles away from her biological family in Oklahoma without any legal right to do so.  The law was clear — they had to follow the adoption procedure laid out by the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which was passed by Congress to prevent the wholesale removal of Indian children from their families and their tribes.

Instead, Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority of the court, repeatedly made comments about the child’s blood quantum, a factor that had no bearing on the case because Veronica’s eligibility for citizenship is determined by the Cherokee Nation, which is a sovereign nation.  The implication is that this was an issue of racial identity. Yet, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out in her dissent, it is the Federal government that requires blood quantum, not tribes.  Historically, Native nations had naturalization processes that were just like those of other nations worldwide.

No, Justice Alito’s dismissive comments about Veronica’s blood quantum  were useful not as legal analysis but for undermining the true political nature of tribal citizenship.  The comment sections of news articles about the decision were filled with incredulous comments about Baby Veronica’s one percent Cherokee blood quantum, equating it with the “one drop rule” from the era of anti-miscegenation laws that barred interracial marriage.

It is obvious we have not made it clear enough to non-native Americans that Tribes are political nation states that predate the United States and still possess jurisdiction over 56 million acres of lands within U.S. borders, and rights to the mineral resources of those lands and substantial rights to the ever more precious water in the West.  We are more than simply a “special interest group” or an “out of control” minority group as some American commentators have called us.

When ICWA was passed in 1978, 25-30 percent of all Indian children were routinely being removed from their homes for reasons as minor as having an aunt or uncle living with them or having an outhouse.  At that time, my grandparents’ home on the Navajo reservation did not have running water or utilities until 2001. This was common on reservations due to court restrictions on land use and because Tribal lands often do not receive adequate funding for infra projects from the state or the federal government.  These were factors my family had no control over.  But still, my cousins who lived with my grandparents at that time were at risk of being removed and placed into the homes of non-native families.  The wholesale removal of children falls under Article 2 in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”  It is an effective tactic used worldwide against unwanted populations because without children, they cease to exist.  And indeed, before ICWA there were tribal communities where all the children had been removed.

Today, things have not improved in some states.  In 2011, NPR did a 3-part series on South Dakota’s continued massive theft of Native children, entitled “Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families,” where it was reported that even though Native children in the state comprised only 15 percent of the child population, they accounted for over 50 percent of all the state’s children in foster care.  The report also found that the State of South Dakota was awarded $90,000 in Federal dollars per child for this, while only $9,000 of which went to the child’s actual care and the rest was pocketed by the state, amounting to nearly $100 million over several years.

Featured in the NPR report was a grandmother, Janice Howe, who had her grandchildren taken away by a state social worker, based on false rumors of her daughter using drugs.  The family was not reunited until the Crow Creek tribal council issued a resolution demanding the return of her grandchildren and threatened the state with prosecution for abduction.  The children were returned within a few weeks with no apologies or reason for the year and half removal from their family.  The two eldest were hoarding food, and another was traumatized after being forced to wear soiled underwear on her head during her time in foster care.  This story is repeated across the nine reservations in South Dakota, although, most without the happy ending.  Former Governor Bill Janklow, said when asked by NPR how important the federal money is to the state, “Incredibly important.  I mean, look, we’re a poor state… We’re like North Dakota without oil. We’re like Nebraska without Omaha and Lincoln. We don’t have resources. We don’t have wealth.”

In South Dakota, clearly, ICWA was not being enforced; there was no federal oversight to the massive removal of the tribes’ children. And Indian foster families, which are supposed to be given first placement under ICWA, were being bypassed while nearly 600 children a year were being placed in White foster families.

Obviously, South Dakota’s main motive was money, but what about the Capobianco’s?  Why, according to court testimony did they actively seek to circumvent the law and hide her Native American ancestry?  And why was their rallying cry, “Save Veronica?”  It’s true, Native children do have the highest rates of poverty in the country, but not in Oklahoma.  The Brown family appears able to provide Veronica with a beautiful pink bedroom, a loving father, grandparents, and by all accounts, a stable home.  So what does she need saving from exactly?  There are so many children in greater need even in South Carolina where they live, why secretly transport an Indian child from Oklahoma and falsify documents, keeping her family and the Cherokee Nation in the dark?  Once again, I ask, why?

This desire to save the child at the cost of her Native American family, calls to mind the 19th century slogan, “Kill the Indian and Save the Man.” This led to the creation of boarding schools where Native American children were sent to far from home. Many died there and there parents never knew what became of them. Others returned after having been sexually abused at the school broken and seeking solace in the bottle. But, this was still more progressive than another sentiment expressed at the time encapsulated in Colonel Chivington’s orders to his men, “Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice”  before the massacre at Sand Creek.

It also makes me think of my mother’s words preparing me for what I might face in this world.  She would make a litany of all my relatives who had graduated from college, had successful careers and had done great work for their tribes and families and yes, the United States.  And, she told me small lies like “No one in your family is an alcoholic.” She did these things as she buttoned my coat against a cold day and straightened my hair. “Don’t let them tell you Indians are drunks or no good, I’ll tell you who we are.”  And that voice, her voice, is still inside of me and it’s what I try, in my own way, to tell my children.

Petting zoo, zombies, planes, more weekend fun

Mark Mulligan / The HeraldQuaid Jones of Lake Stevens can't believe the herd of goats surrounding him and his sister, Tessa, at the Forest Park petting zoo in 2012.

Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Quaid Jones of Lake Stevens can’t believe the herd of goats surrounding him and his sister, Tessa, at the Forest Park petting zoo in 2012.

Source: The Herald

Meet the animals: The Animal Farm at Forest Park in Everett opens on Saturday. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Aug. 25. Kids (and their adults) can meet sheep, ducks, hens, rabbits and pigs. It’s free, but donations are appreciated. More information is here.

Garden tour: See how homeowners on Camano Island have turned their yards into habitat for wildlife at a free tour on Saturday. Get details in our story here.

Free fly day: The Flying Heritage Collection will show off some of its planes at a free demonstration from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Get the details here.

Carnival: The Smokey Point Carnival is Friday to Sunday at Smokey Point on the Airport, 172nd St. NE and 51st Ave. NE. Tickets are $19.

Zombies: A release party is Friday for book 3 in the Grace Series, a series about zombies written by Snohomish author M. Lauryl Lewis. The books are set locally, too. The party will have beer, wine and zombie cupcakes. Doors open at 6 p.m. and a reading starts at 7 p.m. at Historic Everett Theatre. Get details here.

Roller derby: Tilted Thunder, banked-track roller derby, has a bout on Saturday at Comcast Arena. Doors open at 4 p.m. and the bout starts at 5 p.m. Get the details here.

Laugh: Three comedians will headline a show at One Eyed Jacks in Lynnwood on Saturday. The show with John Keister, Brooks McBeth and Duane Goad starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12. Get them here.

Dig Deep: Learn about earthquakes, volcanoes and fossils with the Pacific Science Center at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Mountlake Terrace Library. The event is free and meant for kids 5 and older. Get more details here.

Splash: Wakeboard riders will show their stuff on Friday and Saturday at Lake Tye in Monroe. There is also a learn-to-wakeboard clinic on Sunday — make reservations at 206-295-6845. Get more information here.

Salute to Summer: The Hometown Hootenanny will perform songs with a summer feel at a show on Saturday in Everett. Get the details in our story here.

Art and music: Art at the Barn is Saturday and Sunday in Oso. The show includes photography, paintings, pottery, glass work, jewelry, basket weaving and woodwork. There will also be plenty of live music. Details are in our story here.

Plan ahead: See more of what’s coming in Splash, our annual guide to summer events.

More things to do: Check out our new, improved calendar for more upcoming events in and around Snohomish County.

Overdue White House Native Council Lacking Budget Control and Natives

Rob Capriccioso, Indian Country Today Media Network

President Barack Obama, following the lead of at least three presidents before him, established a White House Council on Native American Affairs on June 26.

The council is expected to oversee and coordinate the progress of federal agencies on tribal programs and consultation with tribes across the federal government.

“This policy is established as a means of promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient tribal communities,” Obama said in his executive order announcing the Council. “Greater engagement and meaningful consultation with tribes is of paramount importance in developing any policies affecting tribal nations.” (Related story: Obama Establishes White House Council on Native American Affairs)

Jodi Gillette, Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs with the White House Domestic Policy Council, was direct in describing the need for the Council during a press conference call on June 27. “We need to do more, and we need to do it better,” she said. “Tribal leaders have told us we aren’t talking to each other enough.”

The Council will have no financial powers—those still belong to the Office of Management and Budget, which will continue to control how much money is spent on Native programs throughout the federal government.

Secretary of the Department of the Interior Sally Jewell, who is designated chair of the Council by the president, told attendees of a meeting of the National Congress of American Indians in Nevada on June 27 that she would like to have the ability to curb cuts to Indian programs. During a speech there, she called sequestration “stupid,” and she noted that it has targeted tribal programs that are supposed to be protected under the federal-tribal trust relationship. She also wiped tears from her eyes when she said she realized the depth of her commitment to Indian issues over Memorial Day Weekend.

Despite this budgetary limitation, the president’s move is being applauded by tribal officials, including some involved with NCAI, who say that such a development is overdue under the Obama administration to better organize its response to Indian issues.

At the same time, some are concerned that this new Council is not currently scheduled to have tribal seats, although the administration has promised to consult with tribal leaders on issues the Council addresses.

Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, has been pressing for the creation of a Native American White House council based on the model established under President Lyndon B. Johnson that would make tribes actual members of the council and give the council stronger powers (including OMB and budget powers).

Hall would especially like to see that model in place because OMB, earlier this year, decided to sequester Native programs, despite the federal trust responsibility to tribes. If the White House Native council had more budgetary power, this problem could have been averted.

Officials involved in past presidential Native American councils have also questioned why it took so long into Obama’s tenure to establish the Council since similar to ones that have proven to be useful under past administrations, including those of Presidents Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.

Mike Anderson, an Indian affairs lawyers and past leader with the Clinton Native-focused council, said that he suggested to White House officials and to Indian affairs officials with the Department of the Interior during Obama’s first term that a similar council be created as the one he successfully worked on during the Clinton administration.

“[I’m] glad they are finally doing it,” Anderson said, adding that this group could have pushed for the federal agencies complete tribal consultation policies in compliance with the president’s request from 2009 that went unheeded by some for years after his request.

Anderson said it would have also been helpful for the Treasury Department, in particular, to hear perspectives on Indians during the president’s first term, since that Department has had some recent tax dealings with tribes that continue to perplex tribal leaders and citizens.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), chair of the subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs in the House, is expressing concern that the creation of the council is symbolic, and he fears it does not focus enough on helping poverty-stricken tribes.

“This announced council is symbolic and a gesture rather than concrete action,” said Young spokesman Michael Anderson (no relation to Indian affairs lawyer Mike Anderson). “This is the phenomenon of government people creating a ‘blue ribbon panel’ to buy time so they can figure out how…to improve Indian reservation economies.

“Indian country’s unemployment situation, from all appearances, has not improved since Obama took office,” Anderson added. “If it has, we wouldn’t know it because the Secretary of the Interior has failed to produce annually required tribal labor reports. There are precious few job-producing non-government projects the Obama administration has approved in Indian country.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, is much less critical of the Council and the president’s efforts. “This council recognizes the unique government-to-government relationship that exists between tribal governments and the federal government, and can help federal agencies work more effectively with tribes all across the nation,” she told Indian Country Today Media Network. “I look forward to working with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on innovative ways to strengthen tribal self-governance and self-determination.”

Some Obama administration officials say the creation of the Council is the next step in the evolution of the president’s strong commitment to Indian country.

“This announcement today is the next evolution of what is already a wonderful approach toward Indian tribes,” Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn said in a press conference call on June 27. “I am confident that this will make the administration even more effective at working with tribes in the future.”

Administration officials have not addressed why tribal officials were not invited to hold positions on the Council, as has happened with past presidential councils, nor why one wasn’t created sooner.



New Study Discusses Influencers on Indian Education

Arizona State UniversityHayden Lawn on the Tempe, Arizona campus of Arizona State University. ASU is among the universities named as influential by the recent study.

Arizona State University
Hayden Lawn on the Tempe, Arizona campus of Arizona State University. ASU is among the universities named as influential by the recent study.

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

A new study has put a spotlight on what organizations, universities and people influence American Indian/Alaska Native education the most.

The study, “For Our Children: A Study and Critical Discussion of the Influences on American Indian and Alaska Native Education Policy,” was done by Hollie J. Mackey, University of Oklahoma assistant professor of education, and Linda Sue Warner, special assistant to the president on Indian affairs at Northeastern A&M College in Miami, Oklahoma. Their intent was to “determine and describe the baseline influential studies, organizations, information sources, and people for American Indian/Alaska Native education policy through the lens of indigenous education experts in the field.”

The two studies they found to be most influential were first The Kennedy Report published in 1968 and the Merriam Report of 1928. The study points out how both studies have had an enduring role in Indian education legislation and policy.

“Unfortunately for Indian tribes, these reports, separated by nearly five decades, have similar recommendations. The conclusion would appear that similar problems remain identified and unsolved,” says the study. “The primary similarity between the two is Collier’s intention to promote economic rehabilitation as a means to tribal self-governance.”

John Collier was the Superintendent of Indian Affairs at the time who commissioned the Merriam Report. Congress’s response to the report was the Indian Reorganization Act.

The study found a number of organizations to be influential in Indian education, among them are the National Indian Education Association, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and the National Congress of American Indians. All are non-profits.

“It is interesting to note that neither the Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education Programs or the Bureau of Indian Education, both largely responsible for financing Indian education, were included in participants’ responses as influential organizations,” says the study.

Haskell Indian Nations University was among the universities named as influential by the recent study. (
Haskell Indian Nations University was among the universities named as influential by the recent study. (

The study noted six highly influential universities in Indian education as well: Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona; Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas; Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, The Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania; The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

The study noted a number of influential sources of information for Indian eduction including the Journal of American Indian Education and the Tribal College Journal.

Websites and print media outlets were another source of influence noted by Mackey and Warner. The top websites were,, and Influential media outlets included The Gallup Independent, Heartbeat Alaska, Indian Country Today Media Network, Lakota Times, Navajo Times, and the Washington Post.

There was also a category for influential universities as sources of information. Those included Haskell Indian Nations University, Harvard University, The Pennsilvania State University, Stanford University, The University of California-Los Angeles (American Indian Studies Center), The University of Oklahoma. Federal agencies and offices as sources of information included the Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Education; the Department of Education, Office of Indian Education; Mid-Continent Regional Education Lab; and the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

Professor John Tippeconnic, Comanche and Cherokee, has been recognized as one of the most influential people in Indian education. (Arizona State University)
Professor John Tippeconnic, Comanche and Cherokee, has been recognized as one of the most influential people in Indian education. (Arizona State University)

A number of influential people were also named in the study including professors, tribal college administrators, K-12 administrators, political figures and federal employees and organization representatives. Some of those names include John Tippconnic, the Comanche and Cherokee director of the American Indian Studies department at Arizona State University, and Dr. Henrietta Mann, the founding president of Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College. Political figures like former senator Byron Dorgan, who established the Center for Native American Youth at The Aspen Institute.

“This study might begin a critical conversation about the education of American Indian and Alaskan Native students that would not only include them in the broader context of American education, but also provide insight into the people themselves; what they value, who they trust, and what is most influential and important to them in terms of the future of their children,” the study says. “It is our hope that our study will provide educators and scholars alike a snapshot of the state of influence in both policy and practice and will provide a catalyst for researchers beginning their careers.”

Read the full study, here.