Lady Hawks play Providence Classical Christian tonight at 6

Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News 

TULALIP– Heritage Lady Hawks will play Providence Classical Christian tonight at 6:00 p.m. at the Heritage High School’s Francy J. Sheldon Gymnasium.

This will be the second match-up between the two teams, who played each other on September 10, and ended in a loss for the Lady Hawks.

Providence Classical, who haven’t  lost one game this season, and is ranked number 2 in the Northwest 1B league behind Grace Academy, will enter the game with a fresh win over Lopez Island on September 24. Lady Hawks will be looking to move up from their fourth place league standing, and secure a win tonight, after a harsh loss against Lopez on September 27.

You can watch live coverage of the Lady Hawks game at


Tribe hopeful its long wait for dam payment will end

by Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Washington Bureau, The Tribune

WASHINGTON — For President Harry Truman, the Grand Coulee Dam in northeastern Washington state helped end World War II by powering the Hanford nuclear plant, which provided the plutonium used to bomb Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.

For the Spokane Tribe of Indians, construction of America’s largest concrete dam brought only hardship: an end to the Columbia River salmon runs that fed the tribe for centuries, the loss of 40 percent of their homes and flooding on more than 3,000 acres.

“We had a big farm: We had horses and cows and a big garden. . . . My mom and dad . . . lost everything,” Marian Wynecoop, 90, a tribal member from the reservation town of Wellpinit, Wash., told a Senate panel in September.

In a reversal of fortunes, the tribe finally may get $53 million for its past suffering.The tribe has had compensation bills introduced in each of the last seven sessions of Congress, but the legislation has always stalled.

Two things are different this time: The Obama administration is backing the legislation, and it’s getting a big push from Washington state Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, who took over as the head of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in January.

“Nothing ever is a slam-dunk, because you’re always at the mercy of somebody somewhere, but I do feel real good about it,” said Rudy Peone, the second-year chairman of the tribe.

Two years ago, the Bureau of Indian Affairs said there was no legal reason to settle with the tribe after it missed a decades-old deadline to seek damages from the federal Indian Claims Commission.

But the administration now says the tribe is morally entitled to a federal payment, a full 80 years after construction on the 550-foot-high dam began.

There’s one big obstacle, however: No one knows where the money will come from.

“We will have to find a way to pay for this settlement,” said Kevin Washburn, whom President Barack Obama appointed to take over as the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs last fall.

Washburn, who testified with Wynecoop before the Indian Affairs panel, said paying the tribe was “the right thing to do.” He noted that in 1994, the neighboring Colville tribe won a similar $53 million settlement for damage linked to construction of the dam, calling it “an accident of history” that the Spokane tribe hadn’t yet received compensation.

“While this outcome can be explained legally, it is difficult to justify morally,” Washburn said.


The change of heart marks a big win for the Spokane Tribe, which was surprised to encounter resistance from the Obama team in 2011.


Up to this point, the tribe has received only one payment from the federal government: $4,700, back in 1940, two years before construction on the dam ended.

“We’ve been waiting for this for three-quarters of a century – a lot longer than I’ve been here,” Peone said.

If the tribe does get the money, Peone said, much of it will be spent on culture and language programs for its 2,900 members.


The dam spurred extensive white settlement in the region and put thousands to work in the 1930s as one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s premier public works projects.

Truman, who succeeded Roosevelt in 1945, boasted of the project’s value when his whistle-stop re-election tour headed for the Pacific Northwest in June of 1948.

“Had we not had that power source, it would have been almost impossible to win this war,” Truman said.

But while the dam was a boon for some, Peone said it had brought “severe devastation” to his tribe, taking away land that held economic, cultural and spiritual significance for its members.

“We were river people,” Peone said. “We were fishing people.”

Wynecoop told the Senate panel that she was attending an Indian school in Oregon when construction of the dam began.“I didn’t know anything about it,” she said. “When I got home, all my mom and dad got was $1,300. . . . They had a hard life after that.”


Peone, who made two trips to Washington, D.C., in September to lobby for the settlement, said the proposed deal was a good one for U.S. taxpayers and reflected good-faith negotiations by tribal officials. He said the $53 million in “back pay” represented roughly half the $100 million in compensation that the tribe had sought from Congress two years ago.

In addition, the tribe would receive roughly $4 million annually in future years, with the exact amount tied to the amount of power generated. Those payments would come from the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal nonprofit agency that markets electrical power in the Pacific Northwest.


The agency had opposed previous efforts to settle but is on board with the latest plan, spokesman Doug Johnson said. He said the settlement would create “upward rate pressure,” but that any increase wouldn’t happen until at least 2015. Any added cost from the settlement would be minimal, he said.

“We’re talking about pennies on a retail customer’s bill,” Johnson said.

Washburn told senators that he’s been working on the issue for months, partly at the urging of Cantwell.

“I congratulate you for your persistence,” Washburn told Cantwell at the Sept. 10 hearing. “I am not going to thank you for your patience, because I haven’t seen much.”

Cantwell said it was “vitally important” for Congress to approve the settlement this year, adding that all other options had been exhausted.Noting that previous settlement bills have passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate but never at the same time, she said: “Maybe this Congress will be a charm.”


With Federal Shutdown Looming, Interior Releases Contingency Plan for BIA

Levi Rickert, Native News Network

WASHINGTON – For the first time in 17 years, a federal shutdown is realistic at 12:01 am est Tuesday, October 1.

Late Saturday night, the Republican-controlled US House passed a measure that would fund the federal government at its current level for one year with the stipulation, the Affordable Care Act – most commonly known as Obamacare – would not be part of the federal budget.

This measure is unacceptable to President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party-led United States Senate.

With the US Senate not reconvening until this afternoon, it is looking more and more likely a federal government shutdown will occur at midnight tonight.

What does this mean to Indian country?

The federal shutdown will impact some services in Indian country. The breakdown is broken down into two categories as essential and non-essential services. Essential services include law enforcement and social services to protect children and adults.

“The impact of a Federal government shutdown is elusive to most folks as we, as citizens, generally take government services for granted. The impact in both the short term and long term to Tribes, however, will be devastating. In 1995, the impact was to delay federal checks, impose furlough work days for federal employees, shut down federal tourist and National Park services, and ultimately the cost of both closing down and reopening Federal services at a whopping $1.4 billion ($1.7 billion today with a one percent annual inflationary adjustment),”

commented Aaron Payment, chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, based in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to the Native News Network Sunday morning.

“In some cases, the Sault Tribe subsidizes a large portion of the Federal government’s treaty obligations for “health, education, and social welfare”. One hundred percent of the Sault Tribe’s net gaming revenues are already pledged to pick up the Federal government’s annual shortfall. For some programs – not all – we will be able to rely on Tribal support or casino dollars for a brief period. However, for those programs not subsidized by Tribal Support funds, we will have to consider furloughs. In some cases, federal funds have already been received such that we can operate for a few days during a shut down. However, if the shutdown lasts more than a week, we may need to shut programs down. In this event, we will first try to minimize the impact on services and second on jobs,”

Chairman Payment continued.

“Obviously we are watching the possible shutdown by the federal government. We are trying to balance what we can do at home and we are reviewing what possible services would be impacted by the shutdown,”

commented Erny Zah, director of communications from Navajo Nation President Shelly’s office on Sunday evening.

“Our Council just passed our budget, so we are attempting to see how a shutdown will coincide with our new budget. Our goal is to keep all government services unhindered and uninterrupted as possible.”

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, BIA, is part of the federal government under the US Department of the Interior. Late Friday, the Interior Department released the following contingency plan fact sheet:

Bureau of Indian Affairs
Contingency Plan Fact Sheet

With a potential shutdown on October 1, 2013, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) will be required to administratively furlough all employees unless they are covered in an Excepted or Exempted positions. The BIA will also discontinue most of its services to tribes which will impact most programs and activities.


Services and programs that will remain operational.

  • Law enforcement and operation of detention centers.
  • Social Services to protect children and adults.
  • Irrigation and Power – delivery of water and power.
  • Firefighting and response to emergency situations.

Services and programs that would be ceased.

  • Management and protection of trust assets such as lease compliance and real estate transactions.
  • Federal oversight on environmental assessments, archeological clearances, and endangered species compliance.
  • Management of oil and gas leasing and compliance.
  • Timber Harvest and other Natural Resource Management operations.
  • Tribal government related activities.
  • Payment of financial assistance to needy individuals, and to vendors providing foster care and residential care for children and adults.
  • Disbursement of tribal funds for tribal operations including responding to tribal government requests.

In Indian country, uneven access to Plan B

Despite progress, the fight for emergency contraception access continues in Native American communities

Activist Donna House of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, left, participates in a forum on access for American Indian women getting emergency contraceptive Plan B, in Albuquerque, in October 2012.Russell Contreras/AP

Activist Donna House of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, left, participates in a forum on access for American Indian women getting emergency contraceptive Plan B, in Albuquerque, in October 2012.Russell Contreras/AP

by Rachel Friedman, ALJAZEERA America

A slender woman with long, dark hair stands silently flipping through a series of handwritten cards. “Afraid? Worried?” the first says. The questions go on. “Unprotected sex?” “Missed your pills?” “Condom broke?” “Raped?”

The simple, 40-second video, overlaid with an Indigo Girls soundtrack and available on YouTube, ends with the message, “You’re going to be OK” and the information that the morning-after pill is now available for free at Indian Health Service (IHS) clinics. The woman holding the cards smiles as the screen fades to black, “Native Sisters … love you.” It’s an important message to spread in a community that continues to struggle with accessing emergency contraception.

One of the women who helped produce the video, Micha Bitsinnie, a former community health worker (recently turned schoolteacher) at First Nations Community HealthSource, is trying hard to change that. She says that although the laws governing access to the morning-after pill have been loosened, not all Native American women know to ask for it — and when they do, they are faced with various barriers that hamper access.

The morning-after pill, also known as the emergency contraceptive pill or EC, is a form of birth control intended to disrupt or delay ovulation and prevent a pregnancy when taken within five days after unprotected sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when taken within 72 hours, EC can reduce the chance of pregnancy by roughly 75 percent. Even minor delays drastically reduce the effectiveness of the pill, which makes it imperative that access be unfettered and timely. (About half of the 6.7 million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended and the teen birth rate, although declining, is higher for Native versus non-Native women.)

Around the country, EC costs anywhere from $30 to $65, but it’s free for approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska natives through IHS, which is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ agency, through their 161 facilities in 35 states.

1 in 3 Native women are raped

Access to emergency contraception is especially vital in Native American communities because of the exceptionally high rate of sexual assault (more than one in three Native women is raped in her lifetime versus fewer than one in five for American women overall). Bonnie Clairmont, a victim advocacy specialist at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, believes the “true number is higher, but that there is a real lack of baseline data.” When she goes into Native communities, Clairmont says, women talk not about if, but rather when, they will be victimized.

Moreover, the community’s struggle to access emergency contraception has been hard-fought and has made headlines over the past two years. In 2012, a Lakota activist, Sunny Clifford, launched a petition campaign to ask the head of the IHS to issue a formal directive allowing EC for Native American women 17 and older; to date, it has garnered almost 130,000 signatures.

This past year has been one of mounting success for advocates of emergency contraception: In April, U.S. District Judge Edward E. Korman ordered one version of the pill, Plan B One-Step, to be made available for all ages without a prescription, overturning previous restrictions for girls 16 and younger. In June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Plan B for unrestricted sale on the shelf. A spokeswoman for Teva Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures the pill, said Plan B would be available on shelves by August 1, though many pharmacies stocked it even earlier.

With these court decisions — and the assurance of manufacturers that EC has been in stock for almost two months — why are Native American women still finding it so hard to access basic medication that is vital to their reproductive health?

Spreading the knowledge

That’s what Bitsinnie, a Diné (Navajo) woman, and a group of other health workers set out to address last July in an Albuquerque meeting. Then a community health worker who worked with women who had been raped, trafficked and abused — the very constituency that needed EC the most — Bitsinnie “had no idea that there was a new regulation passed and [that] Plan B was available for all ages” until she participated in this information session last year.

She soon found that she was hardly alone, and helped make the public-service announcement in an effort to “get the everyday person informed. We wanted to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.”

Part of the reason people in her community weren’t aware of the changing regulations, Bitsinnie said, has to do with the phrasing used by mainstream media. “We don’t use the phrase ’emergency contraception’ in our communities. We call it ‘Plan B’ or ‘the morning-after pill,'” she said, so any reference to “EC” would likely have been a source of confusion.

Maya Torralba has known pregnant girls as young as 12. A member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and a community wellness advocate in that state, she believes that if they or their parents or grandparents or someone knew about emergency contraception, the situation could be different. “A young woman in that position feels so alone,” Torralba said. “Put the information up in the bathroom stalls at the library or get something on the radio — anything that’s accessible to them.”

The lack of information also has to do with the how rural, isolated and impoverished some Native communities are. There are no reservations in Oklahoma, but in Torralba’s area there are seven tribes in one county and very high poverty levels. “That means lack of access to a cell phone or social media or cable and newspapers,” said Torralba. “It’s a very ‘survival’ kind of environment. It’s ‘Where can I get the next meal for the kids? Can I pay the rent?'”

Roughly 43 percent of IHS pharmacies did not carry EC at all, about half carried it but required a prescription, and just 11 percent offered it over the counter — an option that has been legal since 2006.

“For the most part Native women don’t understand Plan B and don’t know they need to ask for it within 72 hours of having sex,” said Pamela Kingfisher, a Cherokee and member of the Bird Clan. “Everyone is convinced that it is an abortion pill.” While EC prevents a pregnancy, mifepristone (previously known as RU 486) is taken to terminate an early-stage pregnancy. Kingfisher, who lives in Oklahoma and is an organization-development consultant, says women are under pressure from tribal bosses, husbands and other family members, churches and traditional Native practitioners not to attend meetings where emergency contraception will be discussed. “We are in the buckle of the Bible Belt here,” she adds.

Torralba is also familiar with local attitudes toward EC. “There’s an abstinence-only curriculum in the school systems,” said Torralba, who started the Anadarko Community Esteem Project for young women in her community. “There are religious factors. And when it comes to Native American women, there just isn’t enough information out there. We’re a minority that is invisible. If you’re not told by your aunty or grandma or mother, there’s nothing.”

“Last year we started meeting with women in our communities throughout South Dakota, New Mexico and Oklahoma,” said Charon Asetoyer, a member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, and co-founder and CEO of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center (NAWHERC). Asetoyer and Kingfisher have been on a grassroots mission to educate women about emergency contraception and their rights to access it. They’ve compiled an EC tool kit, which they hand out at pow-wows, conferences and other gatherings around the country. (A digital version will be available soon.) And they’re the ones who coordinated the outreach session for health care workers that Bitsinnie attended in July.

NAWHERC released a report last September that found that of the 63 IHS pharmacies contacted in a phone survey, roughly 43 percent did not carry the drug at all, about half carried it but required a prescription, and just 11 percent offered it over the counter — an option that has been legal since the FDA approved it for women 18 and older in 2006.

Torralba, Bitsinnie, Kingfisher and Asetoyer were among 60 women who contributed to a 2012 roundtable report on the accessibility of Plan B as an over-the-counter product at HIS facilities, which was a powerful education tool for the women. “I was already counseling young women and I didn’t know we had access to it,” Torralba said. “After that roundtable, I let people know when and where they could get it.”

Other barriers

Lack of information and confusion between EC and the abortion pill aren’t the only barriers to Native women exercising their reproductive rights. Twenty-two percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives live on lands classified as “reservations.” On these reservations, Clairmont believes problems accessing emergency contraception are part of a larger deficiency of family planning resources. She notes a lack of providers and an inadequate number of IHS clinics plus the assumption in many tribes that a woman’s primary duty is to have children. She says that women who take leadership positions and advocate for family planning resources are often assumed to be promoting abortion and are ostracized from the community for doing so. This is what happened when, for example, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council fired President Cecelia Fire Thunder, who tried to open an abortion clinic on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

“I don’t want to say all reservations lack good access to family planning,” Clairmont explained. “But those I’ve visited are seriously lacking.”

Part of the reason for this is political. “A lot of tribal leadership aren’t supportive of health programs for women,” said Clairmont. “Some have bought into a kind of paternalism and don’t see the importance of allocating resources to family planning. We’re struggling within our own tribes with women’s sovereign status to control their own bodies.”

The situation is much worse for women who have been sexually assaulted. Clairmont said that in tribal communities there is still a lot of scrutiny and victim blaming, not to mention fear of retaliation. Though there have been improvements, Clairmont said, very few tribes have comprehensive services for rape victims. “Only a small percentage have the capacity to provide forensic exams and emergency contraception. It’s a really sad situation for Native women who are raped. They have to go outside the reservation to get services and they shouldn’t have to.”

Going off the reservation to the closest pharmacy stocking EC isn’t always easy. Depending on her location, a woman might need to travel many miles. She would require a means of transportation, time, money. The average price of Plan B is $48 and the average price for other brands is $40, whereas it is free at IHS clinics.

There’s also the issue of anonymity at IHS facilities. “When you’re there you can see relatives,” said Torralba. “The pharmacy window is right there in the waiting area.” She explains this lack of anonymity might deter young women interested in emergency contraception. Long wait times are a factor as well. A 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office reported average wait times of two to six months at some facilities for primary care services such as women’s health care, physicals and dental care and a 2010 GAO study confirmed that the situation didn’t improve much in the years immediately after. Even once you have an appointment, Torralba and Bitsinne both noted their and others experiences of spending a substantial portion of the day waiting to be seen — a problem for those unable to take off work, say, or for teenagers who can’t get out of school.

No official IHS policy

It’s young people to whom Asetoyer and Kingfisher have turned their attention since Plan B was approved for sale over the counter to all ages in June. Back in February, Asetoyer represented the Native American Community Board in filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the policies governing EC access at IHS facilities.

The FOIA request stated that only 10 percent of IHS unit pharmacies made Plan B available over the counter, that 37.5 percent of pharmacies only offered an alternative, prescription EC; and that the remaining pharmacies — approximately 53 percent — had no form of EC available at all. But the IHS has yet to respond to the FOIA request about their official policy.

Just last week, though, the Indian Health Service announced that their facilities have been given a “verbal directive to provide Plan B to women 17 years and older at pharmacy windows without a prescription.” However, no official policy has been released. Alexa Kolbi-Molinas is the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who worked on the FOIA request. She says “more data is needed now to determine if IHS facilities are making Plan B available to all women without a prescription” — which is exactly what Asetoyer and fellow advocates are currently collecting. They are asking clinics across the country if they provide emergency contraception without age restrictions.

“If we find ones that say yes,” Asetoyer says, “we’ll see if we can find women to go in and test it out.”

Asetoyer says the IHS has had enough time to get organized. “The IHS hasn’t lifted that ban on age restrictions. They aren’t in compliance with FDA regulations. We’re still waiting for a policy. We are the only race of women being denied access to Plan B upon request.”

Being Frank: One small stream could mean better water quality statewide

By Billy Frank, Jr., Chairman, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

OLYMPIA – A little creek in eastern Washington was at the center of an important water quality ruling recently by the Washington State Supreme Court, reaffirming the state’s right to regulate nonpoint sources of pollution in streams. Nonpoint pollution takes many forms, such as higher water temperatures, sediment, stormwater runoff, fecal coliform bacteria from failing septic systems and agricultural practices.

For 10 years the state Department of Ecology (DOE) tried to work with rancher Joseph Lemire to keep his 29 head of cattle out of Pataha Creek, a small stream that runs through his property near Dayton. Lemire’s cattle had unrestricted access to the creek, leading to manure in the stream, eroded streambanks and increased sediment in the creek.

When DOE finally ordered Lemire to stop polluting by fencing cows out of the creek, the rancher appealed, claiming that a fence would restrict use of his land and therefore was an unlawful “taking” of his property. The state Supreme Court disagreed in an 8-1 ruling.

The fact that it took nearly a decade to get one rancher to do the right thing is made even more disturbing because Pataha Creek was selected as a model watershed in 1993 by the Bonneville Power Administration. BPA and other agencies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars working with ranchers and farmers to provide everything from streamside fencing to tree and shrub planting to help improve the creek.

Twenty years of voluntary efforts haven’t turned the tide of nonpoint pollution in many Washington watersheds. As the Lemire example shows, sometimes it takes more than money and voluntary efforts to protect our resources. And sometimes, all it takes to jeopardize our work is one landowner who’s not willing to do the right thing.

Thankfully, the state has the authority to control these sources of pollution, and was willing to take the case to the state Supreme Court to defend it. That’s encouraging, because the ruling wasn’t anything new. It’s just a matter of the state having the will to use its authority to regulate nonpoint source pollution. We shouldn’t have to look to the courts for leadership.

Let’s hope the court’s ruling will translate into better water quality protection on this side of the mountains, too. Our treaty rights depend on it.

Our treaties guaranteed us the continued right to fish and gather shellfish, which depends on good water quality to ensure healthy salmon habitat and shellfish that are safe to eat. Nonpoint sources of water pollution constantly threaten our natural resources. When a shellfish harvest area is closed because of pollution, or salmon runs are reduced because of poor water quality, our treaty rights are denied altogether.

We all live downstream – every one of us. We need to keep that in mind and work together to restore and protect water quality in this state.

House Bill Puts American Indian Sacred Sites at Risk

Proposed Resolution Copper Mine Impact area

Proposed Resolution Copper Mine Impact area

Source: Native News Network

WASHINGTON – The California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA) is voicing its opposition to the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013, HR 687.

This House bill would authorize a land swap in Arizona between the federal government and the Resolution Copper mining company in order to facilitate the extraction of mineral resources from government lands.

California Tribal Business Alliance recognizes that there are a number of significant fiscal and public policy implications surrounding the legislation. The legislation and ultimate land swap will result in economic stimulus and the extraction and use of valuable ore. However, it does so at a cost. The legislation will also result in the loss of irreplaceable sites sacred to Native Americans.

It will remove protections for the environment.

Moreover, it does so without engaging the respective tribes in any meaningful government to government consultation in regard to their sacred cultural resources or surrounding environment.

This is in direct conflict with existing policies and laws, such as, the Memorandum of Understanding executed in December 2012 among various departments to coordinate and collaborate with tribal governments for the protection of Indian sacred sites. It also conflicts with the President’s Executive Order of June 2013 which establishes a national policy to ensure that the Federal Government engages in meaningful consultation with tribes on any policies affecting tribal nations. Moreover, the legislation establishes timeframes to complete the analysis of any historic or sacred sites in the exchange area that are inconsistent with the requirements of the Native American Graves Protection Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

We are at a time in history when the Federal Government is moving in a direction to establish and strengthen policies for meaningful government to government consultation with tribal governments and to protect tribal sacred sites and resources. HR 687 would retard the current policy direction and place native peoples’ heritage and sacred resources at risk, and it does so without affording the tribes the benefit of any meaningful consultation. For these reasons, the California Tribal Business Alliance is opposed to HR 687.

The House finished their business for the day without having the final vote on the bill. They also only voted on two out of the three amendments offered, both of which failed. An amendment offered by Representative Ben Lujan, D-New Mexico, that will be considered on the floor that gives

“the Secretary unilateral authority to remove Native American sacred and cultural sites from the conveyance in consultation with affected Indian Tribes.”

A recorded vote was requested on the Lujan sacred sites amendment, but further action was postponed. We expect votes on both the amendment and the final bill to take place early next week.

The California Tribal Business Alliance urge you to join them by contacting your local member of Congress to articulate concerns about HR 687.

Book Review: Washington Football Team Remains Clueless When it Comes to Its Name

Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins

By Thomas G. Smith
Beacon Press | 277 pp | $20.48
ISBN 9780807000748

Levi Rickert, Native News Network

Reading “Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins” allows the American Indian reader a fast clue as to why the ownership of the football team, located in the nation’s capital city, has remained clueless as to why the vast majority of American Indians oppose its name.

Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins

Washington “Paleskins”


I know there have been surveys done that proclaim the opposite. And, I know the media have a way of finding someone’s uncle Indian Joe, who is eager to get on television to declare he thinks it is an honor when non-Indians use Indians as mascots.

I honestly don’t believe the surveys and feel sorry for uncle Indian Joe from the Does-Not-Get-It Tribe. I know a survey can be commissioned to deliver desired results for the entity commissioning the survey. The tobacco companies did it all the time when they were attempting to prove second-hand smoke does not injure the non-smoker.

I know the vast majority of American Indians I know find the term “redskins” akin to the “N” word. Even the Merriam-Webster defines the word as offensive.

I must disclose the book is not about the name of the team per se. The author devotes less than a full page to the fact American Indians took the use of the name to court in the early 1990s.

“Showdown” discusses how the National Football League was behind Major League Baseball in integration of African Americans into its ranks. The book is about how the Washington football team was the last team to have an African American on its roster.

The book’s central figure is the Washington football team’s owner, George Preston Marshall, who was a brazen racist.

“Blinded by racism,” author Thomas G. Smith writes,

“Marshall refused to tap into the pool of African-American talent,” despite the franchise’s shortcomings on the field. ”

Smith suggests that to keep in good favor with his mainly white, Southern fan base and not hurt his profit margin, Marshall refused to draft black players from 1946 through 1961, making his team the only team in the professional league to have an all white team. During this time, the team had a dismal record of 69 wins, 116 losses and 8 ties and went through eight coaches.

However, Marshall’s racist hiring policy would be challenged by President John F. Kennedy’s Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall.

In 1961, the same year the Kennedy administration came into power, Marshall purchased a 30 year lease for a newly built 54,000 seat stadium, writes Smith. The landlord was the federal government. When President Kennedy issued an executive order creating the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, Secretary Udall, after consulting Interior Department attorneys and decided to move against the Washington “Paleskins”, as he referred to the NFL franchise.

Citing a no-discrimination provision in the stadium lease, Udall gave Marshall an ultimatum, integrate the team or lose the stadium.

“Showdown” does a good job of describing how the team relented and became integrated. However, Marshall – even after his death in 1969 – stipulated in his will that the Redskins Foundation with funds from his estate was not to direct a single dollar toward “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.”

Unfortunately, the team, through a couple of different owners since Marshall, remains clueless as to the use of the word it uses for its name – much to the gross disrespect of American Indians across the nation.

Photo of the Week: Federal Marshals Showing Up on Tribal Land Shows How Vulnerable Tribal Sovereignty Is

US Marshal vehicles out in front of the Jack Brown House on Monday evening.

US Marshal vehicles out in front of the Jack Brown House on Monday evening.

Source: Native News Network

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – In the age of social media, it is sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction. So much misinformation gets sent out in social media.

So, Monday evening when news began to emerge that federal marshals were on their way to pick up Veronica Brown from her biological father’s care, we at the Native News Network decided to send a photographer to Tahlequah to capture photos of the events.

There were several rumors out there. One was the tribal lands were “locked-down” by Cherokee Nation marshals and no visitors would be allowed on to tribal land. Yet, there went out a call to get as many American Indians up to the filed outside the Jack Brown House, where Dustin Brown and his family, including Veronica, were staying.

By the time our photographer arrived outside the Jack Brown House, there were some US marshal vehicles were already there. Additionally, there were vehicles that belonged to the Cherokee Nation.

By the time the transfer took place some 15 law enforcement vehicles were there.

Our photographer, Linda Sacks, sent some photos from outside the Jack Brown House from her cell phone.

Soon the photo that became our Photo of the Week was posted on our facebook page. Reaction from our readers was swift. One reader posted on our Facebook this comment:

“18 UNITED STATE CODE § 1151 “INDIAN COUNTRY!” and note: there has been NO Federal Court order.”

During the next intervening minutes word came Veronica was taken from her biological father and his family.

The Photo of the Week is a reminder that tribal sovereignty is very vulnerable at best. It would take Indian law scholars to explain how it is federal marshals can come onto tribal land and take an Indian child.

Gathering of Nations Named One of the Top Events in North America

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The Gathering of Nations powwow, the world’s largest gathering of Native American and indigenous people, has been designated as one of the Top 100 Events in North America for 2014 by the American Bus Association.

“Each year, more than 100,000 people from throughout the United States, Canada, and around the world attend the powwow and we want to make sure that it is a positive experience for everyone,” Derek Mathews, founder of the Gathering of Nations, said in a press release. He also said that it was an honor to be recognized as one of the Top 100.

The 31st annual event is to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico from April 24-26, 2014. The powwow was selected from hundreds of nominated festivals, parades, theaters and shows. The judging committee considered the event’s broad appeal, its accessibility to motor coaches and skill at handling large groups, and a variety of relevant criteria to make their final decisions.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Kentucky Derby and Mardi Gras made up the list of top 100. The Star-Spangled Spectacular in Baltimore, was listed as the No.1 event in America; and the Québec City International Festival of Military Bands was the No. 1 event in Quebec, Canada.

Peter J. Pantuso, ABA’s president and CEO, said in a news release that this honor gives the powwow an important boost in visibility. “The Gathering of Nations has been recognized as a potential magnet for tourism dollars, at a time when reenergizing domestic tourism is so important to our spirit and our economy.



Disenrollment Is Bad for the Bottom Line

Jared Miller, Indian Country Today Media Network

If you are following efforts by the Nooksack tribal government to purge 306 members from its rolls, you probably hold one of two views on the matter.

You may believe tribal disenrollment is patently unjust and requires some kind of federal or international intervention on behalf of the “Nooksack 306.” Or you may feel that disenrollment is solely a matter for the Nooksack Tribe to sort out, and non-tribal authorities should stay out of it.

Allow me to propose a third possibility.

Disenrollment is a business matter. That’s because tribal governments abandoning members en masse will harm their own bottom line by engendering negative media and investor perceptions. More critically, they threaten the bottom line of Indian businesses everywhere. As such, Indian people and tribal governments across the country have an interest in seeing that ugly disenrollment fights like the one on the Nooksack Reservation in Washington State do not happen. They should act to protect that interest.

Nooksack tribal officials endeavor to end forever the affiliation of 306 members. Disenrollment by the tribe could mean loss of benefits like housing, healthcare and education. Even more painful, according to some Nooksack members facing disenrollment, termination of tribal membership means a heart-rending loss of formal contact with their community and their culture.

As expected, the Nooksack 306 are fighting hard in courts and elsewhere to maintain tribal connections, and to secure rights to all the tangibles and intangibles that emanate from their identities as tribal people. Lawsuits are pending in tribal court and tribal appellate court, as well as federal court.

The battle is a public one. Local reporters have been on the story for some time. On August 25, the Seattle Times waded into the fray with a piece detailing the saga. Even more recently, Al-Jazeera introduced its growing audience to the story. Suddenly, what was essentially a family fight has become a very public airing of Nooksack dirty laundry.

Reporters have focused on a couple of angles. Some highlight accusations that greed, corruption, and racism aimed at tribal members with Filipino ancestry are driving disenrollment efforts. Others report that Nooksack officials may have ignored their own laws by failing to provide due process throughout the disenrollment process. All the coverage paints an unflattering picture.

Similar stories are trending across Indian country. According to Stephen L. Pevar’s book, The Rights of Indians and Tribes, “thousands of tribal members have been disenrolled from their tribes, usually from those with profitable casinos whose remaining members would then receive a larger share of the profits.” Another noted Native American professor has called the disenrollment era a “sort of tribal civil war.”

So what can be done?

Predictions about the disenrollment trend are bleak. For example, University of Minnesota Professor David E. Wilkins, in a June 4, 2013 column for Indian Country Today Media Network, predicted that “native disenrollments will continue unabated” until either Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court intervene. His column suggests potential avenues of short-term redress for individuals facing disenrollment, but Professor Wilkins seems to assert that only federal authorities can provide comprehensive relief.

Let’s hope he’s wrong. For one thing, enrollment (or disenrollment) is a matter for tribes to decide. It is rarely advisable for outsiders to intervene in tribal infighting, and federal law is clear that non-Indian courts generally have no jurisdiction in matters of tribal membership (save for habeas corpus or a collateral federal question). Inviting Congress or the Roberts Court to intervene should send shivers up your spine.

Moreover, there is reason for optimism. Tribal governments have shown a stunning talent for pragmatism and savvy in matters of tribal business and finance. Walk into most any Indian-owned casino and you’ll experience a level of professionalism and service that scoffers never predicted, to cite just one example.

And let’s be clear: Disenrollment is a business issue. Ugly battles like the one at Nooksack have potential to deeply affect tribes’ bottom lines. That’s partly because non-Indians may view such controversies as indicators of greed and corruption. Investors may also conclude that partnering with a tribal government engaged in abandoning its own citizens is not worth the risk to investment.

And non-Indians viewing disenrollment through the lens of old stereotypes may extrapolate those notions to tribes generally. It shouldn’t happen, but it does.

There is a price attached to everything. Tribes mulling disenrollment need to focus on the cost to business. They must consider that disenrollment can spook investors, and the negative financial impacts can be long term, widespread and devastating. (Just Google “Nooksack disenrollment” to see what potential business partners will read when they research the Nooksack Tribe.) Native American leaders should pause to understand that a tribe going to war with itself drives down the stock price of all of Indian country.

In addition to financial interests, there is a real risk that Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court might one day make new law in the area of tribal citizenship. We just saw the Court diminish Indian child welfare law and tribal cultural identity in the “Baby Veronica” case. Now imagine how the Roberts Court might undermine tribal citizenship if given the chance.

For these reasons, tribal governments and tribal officials should employ the forces of regional and national intertribal politics to pressure officials pursuing disenrollment. It is time to pick up the phone, or the pen, or write an email. Get creative. Too much is at stake to remain silent.

Pressure on the Nooksack government should begin now. Journalists and potential Indian-country investors are closely watching this fight, and they will take note as it unfolds. It would go a long way to shape media and investor perceptions of tribal governments if the Nooksack government could wake up to the big picture and resolve its problems without throwing hundreds of members off the rolls.

But no matter where you stand on the Nooksack fight, putting an end to disenrollment is critical for the bottom line in Indian country.

Jared Miller is a lawyer practicing tribal law and federal Indian law in Washington State.