How a staffer brought a powerful senator around to reform U.S. Indian policy

The new book on how congressional staffer Forrest Gerard and Sen. Henry Jackson changed national policy for Native Americans Cover by JiaYing Grygiel

The new book on how congressional staffer Forrest Gerard and Sen. Henry Jackson changed national policy for Native Americans Cover by JiaYing Grygiel


A new book by former “Seattle Post-Intelligencer” Editorial Page Editor Mark Trahant tells how Sen. Henry M. Jackson, an advocate of policies that could have killed Native Americans’ cultural heritage, changed while working with a Native American congressional staffer.

By Pete Jackson,

The following registers a 10 on the chutzpah meter, the platinum standard for subjective book reviews: Noodling a volume about a critical period in the struggle for Indian self-determination — a publication supported by a foundation that I’m involved with — that analyzes the legacy of one of my long-deceased family members. Hmmm.

Notwithstanding my credibility-defying baggage, Mark Trahant’s The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars: Henry M. Jackson, Forrest J. Gerard, and the Campaign for the Self-Determination of America’s Indian Tribes, is very much worth a gander. It illustrates better than anything I’ve read in years that politics is not a Skinner Box or series of algorithms. Politics revolves around human nature, egos, and ambitions seen and unseen.

With this history, Trahant, the former editorial page editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, sets the burst of 1970s legislative progress affecting Indian Country within the broader context of major misfires, in particular the odious policy of “termination” that aimed to liquidate tribal sovereignty across the land.

Forrest Gerard, an unsung congressional insider and member of the Blackfeet tribe (who eventually became an assistant Secretary of the Interior during the Carter administration), is the tale’s hero. Gerard had the credibility, bureaucratic savvy, and political smarts to convince his boss, the bete noire of Indian Country, that it was time for a wholesale shift.

Henry “Scoop” Jackson is the boss and Interior Committee chairman, the unmovable senator who moves. And Abe Bergman, the Seattle pediatrician and star of Ric Redman’s The Dance of Legislation, is the gadfly finagler for Indian healthcare. Throw in presidential ambitions, Bobby and Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, James Abourezk, an Oklahoma senator’s wife, turf battles, the National Congress of American Indians, and the farsighted (you heard me) leadership of Richard Nixon and his aide, former Seattle land-use attorney John Ehrlichman. The first line of Trahant’s book could have been, “No one could have made this stuff up.”

Termination was conceived during the Truman Administration and found full expression during the Eisenhower years. The mission was to assimilate American Indians by paying off outstanding claims and neatly extinguishing — terminating — the special government-to-government relationships.

There was a progressive, fix-it undercurrent to the new paradigm that resonated with members of both parties, although most leaders in Indian Country knew that termination spelled cultural genocide. Jackson, who helped create the Indian Claims Commission in the 1940s in a similar fix-it vein, quickly embraced termination. In 1958, he sponsored the Senate companion bill to the notorious House Concurrent Resolution 108 that enshrined the policy.

At the time, most Indian issues fell within the purview of the Senate’s Interior Committee, which conflated America’s first inhabitants with questions of natural resources, territories, and national parks. It was a systemic reality reflecting the federal government’s patronizing approach: Just lump Indians in with minerals, mines, and public lands.

The beginning of a sea change came with New Mexico Sen. Clinton Anderson’s failure to stop the return of Blue Lake to the Taos Pueblos. With even President Nixon and Colorado’s Rep. Wayne Aspinall advocating the return of the sacred lands, Anderson came up with an ill-considered last hurrah, a bill to give the Taos Pueblo Indians use of the area while denying them the title to it. Scoop, Anderson’s successor as Interior chairman, unwisely followed his mentor’s lead (the transfer was, nevertheless, approved in a 70-12 vote). Trahant frames this as an issue of personal loyalty within the gentlemen’s-club culture of the United States Senate (Disclosure: In the 1960s, Anderson introduced his recently divorced twenty-something secretary to a middle-aged Scoop. At least one of its byproducts is grateful for that).

Scoop’s voting on the Taos Pueblos’ question is a stickler, one that fuels cynicism about American politics. Consider, similarly, Sen. Dan Inouye’s support a few years ago for opening the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. Was it a thoughtfully considered move or evidence of brotherly piety for Ted Stevens? Both? Loyalty shouldn’t trump the greater good, we know. We also know that men aren’t angels and governing involves compromise, sometimes too much, in fact.

‘Night of 1,000 Stars’ kicks off extra patrols though New Year

Arlington Police Officer Erik Moon checks his computer before driving his patrol car out for the ‘Night of 1,000 Stars’ impaired driving emphasis on Dec. 13.— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

Arlington Police Officer Erik Moon checks his computer before driving his patrol car out for the ‘Night of 1,000 Stars’ impaired driving emphasis on Dec. 13.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

By Janelle Kohnert, Marysville Globe

SMOKEY POINT — Arlington Police Officer Erik Moon has taken part in three of the annual “Night of 1,000 Stars” impaired driving emphasis patrols in Snohomish County over the course of the past seven years. When he headed out to cover the south Arlington, Smokey Point and north Marysville areas on the evening of Dec. 13, he already had a pretty good idea of what he could expect to find, although he acknowledged that this year would offer a few new wrinkles.

“The holidays can be depressing for some people, so they drink a bit too much,” Moon said. “What’s different now is that people can smoke marijuana in their homes, but then they might decide to go for a drive to the store. It’s not alcohol, but it’s still driving under the influence. We have to administer a blood draw to test for that, since you can be high on marijuana and blow all zeros on the breathalyzer, so that does no good as a test. Still, it’s like the adjustments we went through when they lowered the blood alcohol limit a while back. It’s just another learning curve.”

According to Moon, those who drive under the influence tend to be in their 20s and 30s, although he recalled one intoxicated driver who was 87 years old.

“It caught me off guard a little bit, but I processed her the same as I would any other DUI,” Moon said. “We can’t be choosy when it comes to protecting the public.”

Moon was one of 10 police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Snohomish County, working an average of eight hours of overtime each, who made contact with 167 drivers on Friday, Dec. 13, the first night of Washington state’s 23rd annual “Night of 1,000 Stars,” which ran through Sunday, Dec. 15.

“Five suspected impaired drivers were arrested,” Snohomish County DUI and Target Zero Task Force Manager Tracy McMillan said. “Most were booked into the Snohomish County Jail. Two of the suspected drivers reported drinking at a north Marysville alcohol establishment, which Washington State Liquor Control Board officers are investigating, while 24 other drivers were cited for no insurance, and four individuals were arrested for outstanding warrants. Washington State Liquor Enforcement officers visited 14 alcohol establishments that Friday night, and 20 alcohol establishments and retailers that Saturday night. Unfortunately, two stores sold alcohol to minors and were cited.”

Indeed, in his first hour on patrol that Friday night, Moon hadn’t caught any intoxicated drivers, but he had pulled over two drivers whose headlights were out within minutes of each other.

“Intoxicated drivers like to drive without their lights on,” Moon said. “I look at a lot of things for possible indicators of a DUI. Some intoxicated drivers will sit at green lights because they’re nearly passed out, while others will make wide turns or slow turns. They could be intoxicated, or they could be distracted by things like texting, but either way, they’re unsafe. Intoxicated drivers’ cognitive functions are not all there, and if they do get into collisions, they’re actually the least likely to be injured by them, because their muscles are already relaxed.”

Even after the “Night of 1,000 Stars,” extra patrols are planned to continue through the New Year.

“Officers, deputies and troopers will also be on the lookout for people who speed, drive aggressively, aren’t wearing seat-belts or are violating other traffic laws,” McMillan said. “Wintertime driving can be hazardous, but it can be deadly when it’s mixed with alcohol or drugs.”

“Impaired driving as the result of drugs or alcohol is the number one cause of vehicle collision deaths in our county,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said. “We want to everyone to make it home safely this holiday season.”

An average of 49 people lose their lives in traffic collisions between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in Washington state, but in November of this year, not a single person lost their life in a motor vehicle collision in Snohomish County.

“That’s a tremendous accomplishment, but we need to remain vigilant,” Snohomish County Executive John Lovick said. “We want drivers to be safe throughout the holidays.”

These special overtime DUI and Target Zero emphasis patrols are paid for by a special grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to reduce traffic deaths and disabling injuries to zero by the year 2030. The “Night of 1,000 Stars” is a cooperative effort with law enforcement, liquor enforcement and traffic safety task forces throughout Washington state.

Umatilla Schimmel Sisters Play on National Television Sunday – ESPNU

Both sisters are expected to start on Sunday’s nationally televised game

Both sisters are expected to start on Sunday’s nationally televised game

By Levi Rickert, December 27, 2013, Native News Online

LOUISVILLE — The pride of Indian country, Umatilla sisters Shoni and Jude Schimmel, will play on national television Sunday at 3:00 p.m. on ESPNU as their Louisville Cardinals women’s basketball team play SMU at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Cardinals have a 12-1 record this season and have a five-game win streak going. SMU has a 9-2 record. The two teams last met on November 29, 1996.

The two Umatilla sisters won the hearts of many in Indian country as the Louisville team advanced to the NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball title game in April. The Schimmel sisters are the only American Indians to ever play in a NCAA Division 1 basketball title game. They are tribal citizens of the Confederated Tribe of Umatilla Indians, based in Pendleton, Oregon.

Both sisters are slated to start for the Louisville Cardinals.

Shoni Schimmel, No. 23, is a 5-9 senior. Last Saturday, she led the Cardinals to victory over Colorado with a season high 30 points. She is averaging 16.1 points per game this season and is sharing the team lead in assists with her sister Jude at 4.2 per game.

Jude Schimmel, No. 22, is a 5-6 junior. She is a guard. In addition to her assists, Jude is averaging 7.5 points per game this season with 3.6 rebounds. She gained her first start earlier this year against Austin Peay. Jude dished out a career-high of 9 assists against Wright State.

The Cardinals will play in eight nationally televised games this second half of the season, so check your local listings for exact channel information.

Editor’s Note: contributed to this article.

Tulalip Tribes partner with others to restore salmon habitat

Brett Shattuck, forest and fish biologist for the Tulalip Tribes, stands beside the wood debris that was installed during this fall’s restoration of Greenwood Creek to make it a better salmon habitat.— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

Brett Shattuck, forest and fish biologist for the Tulalip Tribes, stands beside the wood debris that was installed during this fall’s restoration of Greenwood Creek to make it a better salmon habitat.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

By Kirk Boxleitner, Marysville Globe, December 30,2013

STANWOOD — The coastal stream at 18510 Soundview Drive NW in Stanwood began as a “degraded straight ditch,” according to Brett Shattuck, forest and fish biologist for the Tulalip Tribes, but the gulch came to reclaim its old name of Greenwood Creek in the wake of its restoration as a salmon habitat this fall.

“We spent years studying all the coastal streams in the Whidbey basin, looking for which ones were used the most by juvenile chinook salmon, and we found the highest number of them here,” said Shattuck, who reported that Tulalip Tribal Natural Resources staff counted 280 chinook, out of a total of 600 juvenile salmon that also included coho and other species, during a single day’s electrofishing survey. “Even though this property is owned by Snohomish County and in a public right-of-way, it was an ideal restoration site, so we spent the past year pursuing that. Our neighbors were very supportive, and the county was willing to work with us and the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation to find a strategy that was beneficial to the county, the local residents, the Tribes and the fish.”

Shattuck explained that crews pulled back the banks of the stream to widen it, cleared out invasive species such as blackberry brambles, installed large wood debris to foster a better habitat for the salmon, and planted a dense variety of native vegetation to help hold back the stream banks and provide shade for the salmon.

“We’ve got about 300-400 trees and shrubs, not including the live stakes, all about two feet apart from each other,” said Shattuck, who listed willow, red cedar and red twig dogwood as among those species. “Volunteers and Tribal Natural Resources staff did most of the planting in about a day. The county donated the plants and wood debris, and their staff helped us with the permitting and engineering of the site. Again, the stream’s neighbors were really behind us, and it was good working with the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation’s contractor. Our funding source was the Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund.”

According to Shattuck, the contractor work ended in September and the planting took place in October, and all that’s left now is to install the interpretive sign for the site — which he expects will be completed within the next couple of months — and to continue the monitoring work that led the Tribes to select the stream in the first place.

“We monitored this site for three years prior to implementing anything,” Shattuck said. “This is a pilot program, because there are plenty of other drainage streams in the basin that could be made into better habitats for their fish.”

“If we are truly committed to seeing salmon stocks rebound to harvestable levels, we must work together on recovery projects both large and small,” Tulalip Tribal Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. said. “Greenwood Creek represents a small project with a huge benefit. The Tulalip Tribes look forward to working with Snohomish County on future projects to solve our salmon crisis.”


Richard S. Coles

“Dick” Richard S. Coles (Dick) passed peacefully in his sleep December 20, 2013. Dick was born July 20, 1934 in Everett, WA. He married Yvonne Joseph in 1968. He loved racing and working on cars, and had a special love for fishing. Dick was preceded in death by his son, Rickey, and wife, Yvonne. He is survived by his son, Robert Joseph Sr.; daughter in law, Lucinda; grandsons, Robert Jr. and Brandon; great-grandsons, Jordan and Braden; sister, Dorothy Wilson; special nieces and nephews, Donna Chambers, Adrian Henry, Alice, J Lee, Carrie, Randy Henry, Mike Johnson, Matt Joseph, Leroy Joseph, David, Larry, Laurie; and special caregiver, Alex Hatch. Funeral services will be held at Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home December 26, 2013 at 11 a.m., with burial to follow at Mission Beach Cemetery.

Forage Fish Important to Salmon Diet

Point No Point Treaty Council biologists are counting forage fish eggs so they can get a better idea of what food is available for salmon.

Point No Point Treaty Council biologists are counting forage fish eggs so they can get a better idea of what food is available for salmon.

Source: NWIFC

Shannon Miller and John Hagan keep a close eye on the phases of the moon so they can determine the best time of the month to collect samples of pinhead-sized translucent forage fish eggs.

“We found that the moon phases may be a potential spawning cue,” Miller said. “There are more eggs around the new moon and full moon phases during the fall and winter months, so we schedule our surveys around that and the tides. That makes for an interesting work schedule.”

Miller and Hagan are Point No Point Treaty Council (PNPTC) biologists who are studying the spawning rates of surf smelt and pacific sand lance, both important food sources for salmon. The PNPTC is a natural resources management agency for the Port Gamble and Jamestown S’Klallam tribes.

Past studies have focused on the presence or absence of eggs in the intertidal zone but have not necessarily tracked egg densities,” Miller said. “We’re trying to build a better quantitative data set to see if they’re reproducing enough offspring for salmon to eat. They’re an important part of the food chain and an indicator of the health of the sound’s ecosystem.”

Since 2011, they have been collecting bags of sand from beaches on Indian Island, in areas with prime forage fish habitat, which includes sandy gravel shores. The bags are taken back to the PNPTC lab, where the eggs are separated from the sand and then individually counted. In the 2011-2012 sampling period, more than 450,000 eggs were sampled.

“We’re finding many more eggs than in past studies, but we are also sampling more intensively,” Miller said.

This five-year project will also look at the timing of incubation and emergence of forage fish embryos, as well as the environmental conditions for spawning, such as water temperature, that determine successful spawning rates.

Partners in the project include the U.S. Navy, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Puget Sound Partnership and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Record Chum Salmon Run in Hood Canal

Skokomish tribal member Annette Smith hauls in chum salmon in southern Hood Canal.

Skokomish tribal member Annette Smith hauls in chum salmon in southern Hood Canal.

Source: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Fishermen in Hood Canal saw a record number of fall chum salmon return this year with an expected runsize of 1.4 million.

Tribal and state managers reported that tribal and non-tribal fishermen caught 1.186 million fall chum in Hood Canal when the expected return was only 324,000. Last year, fishermen caught nearly 582,000 from a final runsize of 674,000.

Skokomish Tribe fishermen in particular were inundated with the amount of fall chum, most of which are produced from WDFW’s Hoodsport and George Adams Hatcheries and the Skokomish Tribes’ Enetai hatchery.

“With the large amount of salmon returning this fall, our fishermen and buyers attempted to keep up with the non-treaty fleet consisting of purse seine and gillnet vessels,” said Joseph Pavel, the tribe’s natural resources director. “The market was flooded by the non-treaty purse seine fleet, landing more than 442,000 fall chum in the last week of October.”

Excess salmon were recycled at a composting facility on the reservation. A local yard and garden supplier has been brought in to manage the composting operation.

Tribes partner in marine survival research

Source: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Treaty Indian tribes have invested millions of dollars in hatchery programs and habitat restoration, but poor marine survival continues to stand in the way of salmon recovery.

Marine survival rates for many stocks of chinook, coho and steelhead that migrate through the Salish Sea are less than one-tenth of what they were 30 years ago.

“We have a solid understanding of the factors that affect salmon survival in fresh water,” said Terry Williams, commissioner of fisheries and natural resources for the Tulalip Tribes. “To improve ocean survival, we need a more complete understanding of the effects of the marine environment on salmon and steelhead.”

The Tulalip, Lummi, Nisqually and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes are among the partners in the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, which also brings together state and federal agencies from the United States and Canada, educational institutions and salmon recovery groups. The Salish Sea is the name designated to the network of waterways between the southwestern tip of British Columbia and northwest Washington. It includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Strait of Georgia, the waters around the San Juan and Gulf islands, as well as Puget Sound.

Led by the non-profit Long Live the Kings and the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the project is coordinating and standardizing data collection to improve the sharing of information and help managers better understand the relationship between salmon and the marine environment.

The project is entering a five-year period of intensive research, after which the results will be converted into conclusions and management actions.

“A new collaborative approach is being taken,” Williams said. “The question is, what do we do with the information we have and how do we make predictions?”

For more information, visit the Long Live the Kings website.

New Year’s Eve Flash Mob Round Dance Plans Spark Arrest Threat From Mall of America


The organizers of a flash mob round dance to celebrate the second winter of Idle No More at the Mall of America on New Year’s Eve have been threatened with arrest.

On Christmas Eve, Idle No More Duluth founder Reyna Crow received a letter from Mall of America officials.

“It has come to our attention that your group is planning a political protest at Mall of America in connection with Idle No More, a tribal group opposed to recent Canadian legislation,” reads the Mall of America’s letter, which was delivered to Crow by courier.

“Any attempt by your group to conduct a protest is a violation of MOA policies and will subject your group to removal from MOA property, and potential arrest by tthe City of Bloomington police department,” the letter read. “Although your group attempted a gathering last year on MOA property, a similar attempt will not be tolerated and we will utilize additional actions to prohibit any such gathering, including trespassing the organizers of the protest.”

Among other egregious effects, “The Idle No More group caused disruption to our customers, tenants and employees, and resulted in a significant commitment of time and resources by our security and management teams,” the letter continued. “Mall of America is a private commercial retail center, and we prohibit all forms of protest, demonstration and public debate, including political activity aimed at organizing political or social groups.”

As far as Idle No More Minnesota’s Facebook Page is concerned, the celebration of the second winter of the movement, which began as a series of teach-ins at the end of 2012, is still on.

“The characterization of the Round Dance as a protest is not only incorrect, it is insulting”, said Crow in a statement on Christmas Day. “If the Idle No More flash mob Round Dance that was held there last year is a ‘protest,’ so are the Christmas carols and the other flash mob events that have been held there.”

RELATED: Idle No More, Indeed

Idle No More began at the end of 2012 as a series of teach-ins conducted by four women, and it was low-key until Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence began a hunger strike. This brought national and then international attention to the movement, which morphed into a broader attempt to show the world the ways in which so-called indigenous issues are everyone’s issues.

RELATED: One Year Later: From Idle No More to Elsipogtog

The letter’s characterization of the round dance as a protest was completely wrong, Crow wrote in an editorial in the Duluth News Tribune last January.

“A flash mob is a large group of people who gather, ideally in an instant, to perform a unified action in a public place, often a song or dance. In this case, participants are performing a round dance,” she wrote.

“While it is true that INM has organized around gravely serious causes, … the characterization of the round dances as ‘protests’ is not just incorrect, it’s insulting,” Crow continued. “Not understanding is one thing. Telling a substantial segment of the community that it is unwelcome to make use of the mall—which does seem to gladly function as a sort of public square when it comes to Santa Claus and Christmas trees—to hold a brief and joyous dance with song reflecting traditional Anishinaabeg cultural values—is a message this community should be ashamed of.”

Indeed, the four women who founded Idle No More and first coined the hash tag—Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean and Nina Wilson—were named by Foreign Policy magazine as among the 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013.

RELATED: Idle No More Founders Make Foreign Policy Magazine’s ‘Leading Global Thinkers’ List

Disruption or celebration? Perhaps the video below of last year’s Idle No More Mall of America flash mob round dance will shed some light.



Video: Yakama Nation’s Work to Bring Back the Salmon

Time was when the salmon ran so thick you could walk on their backs to cross the river.

That’s how the elders tell it.

Then came the dams. The dams cut off key points in salmon migration, preventing the mighty fish from returning to their birthplace to spawn future generations. It was obvious to the indigenous experts that this was going to affect not only the well being of the fish species but also of the entire forest—and ultimately, of the tribes themselves.

But now, 100 years later, Turtle Island’s Indigenous Peoples are using that same knowledge to restore the habitat. Northwestern tribes have toiled for decades to stop the degradation of salmon habitat and bring back the fish’s numbers.

The video below looks at the efforts of the Yakama Nation and its innovative programs. It was recently posted to the site of the website Washington Tribes, dedicated to disseminating information about the ways in which the state’s 29 tribes contribute to the economy, business, environment and many other areas. The site’s environment page is a treasure trove of examples of how other indigenous nations in the Northwest have toiled in similar, parallel efforts as well.