By: Brandon Adam, Arlington Times, August 29, 2014
MARYSVILLE — The Marysville School District was visited by the Nick of Time Foundation at Marysville Getchell High School.
By: Brandon Adam, Arlington Times, August 29, 2014
MARYSVILLE — The Marysville School District was visited by the Nick of Time Foundation at Marysville Getchell High School.
A group of Oklahoma State University football fans have sparked outrage for a sign they created to hold during ESPN’s GameDay football-preview show.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys play the Florida State Seminoles tonight in a game in Arlington, Texas. The fans in question evidently felt that referencing a historical tragedy would be a clever play on the Seminoles’ name, and created a banner that said “Send ‘Em Home #trail_of_tears #gopokes“.
Influential sports blog Deadspin.com called it “one of the dumbest GameDay signs you’ll ever see.”
The sign is concerning on a few levels. The Trail of Tears refers to the consequence of the Indian Removal Act of 1830: The forced relocation of American Indians from the southeastern United States to Indian Territory, a region which would later be known as Oklahoma. Between 1830 and 1837, some 46,000 Indians were removed, and many thousands died on the journey west. It’s odd, to put it mildly, that Oklahoma State football fans in particular could create a sign (and it’s not a small sign) that so casually treated a tragedy that is an integral part of their own state’s history. According to 2010 statistics, Oklahoma State graduated the most Native American students of any college in the country, and its student body was 9.2% American Indian or Alaska Native.
There’s also something ignorant about a sign that references the Trail of Tears and also says “Send ‘Em Home.” The Trail of Tears wasn’t about sending anybody home — it was about driving Native people from their homes. And in a larger sense, the entire continent was Natives’ “home” until certain uninvited guests showed up, beginning in 1492.
Today is the Cherokee National Holiday; when contacted for comment, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said that the sign was “not going to ruin our holiday. … We’re trying to at least educate our state and other states as well so they truly understand, and we’ve got more work to do.”
From the official @okstate twitter feed, the university addressed the issue with the following statement: “OSU does not condone the insensitive sign shown at today’s GameDay event and have requested that it be removed.”
The general reaction on Twitter has been one of outrage and disappointment, from Natives and non-Natives alike. Mark Charles, Navajo, who tweets as @WirelessHogan, summed up his feelings with the following graphic:
Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/08/30/oklahoma-state-fans-hold-trail-tears-banner-college-gameday-156681
By: Associated Press
BELLINGHAM — Unusually warm water off the Washington coast is sending the vast majority of the sockeye-salmon run to Canadian waters, leaving Puget Sound fishermen with nearly empty nets.
According to data from the Pacific Salmon Commission, nearly 2.9 million sockeye have been caught in Canadian waters, while only about 98,000 have been netted in Washington through Aug. 19.
That means 99 percent of sockeye have gone through the Johnstone Strait around the northern part of Vancouver Island into Canadian waters.
During a typical sockeye-salmon run, about 50 percent of the run goes around the south end of Vancouver Island through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, putting them in U.S. waters, The Bellingham Herald reported.
This year’s diversion rate is unusual. If it stays around this level, it would be the highest diversion rate on record, dating from 1953, said Mike Lapointe, chief biologist for the Pacific Salmon Commission.
The sockeye run is expected to continue for several more weeks, so U.S. fishermen like Pete Granger hope to salvage what they can. Granger is a reefnet fisherman who is operating his boat near Lummi Island. He has been catching fish for the Lummi Island Wild Co-op for the past eight years.
“It could be one of the worst seasons we’ve had in a long time,” Granger said. The fishing numbers in U.S. waters started to improve at the end of last week, with several weeks left in the season.
Several factors could be behind why sockeye decided to head for the Johnstone Strait this summer, but researchers are looking closely at an area of ocean water off the coast that is about 3 degrees Celsius warmer than normal. Nick Bond, a research scientist for the University of Washington, refers to this area as a “warm blob” that developed last winter as the Pacific Northwest went through a period of unusually quiet weather. Last winter, the area had stretches of cool, windless and foggy days.
The calm weather meant the ocean didn’t do its usual churning of deeper, colder water up to the surface. With this pattern continuing into summer, the warm area has persisted. Sockeye prefer cooler water, which may be why most of the run went north around Vancouver Island.
Bond believes the development of the warm blob is not a direct result of global warming but more of a fluke. Looking back at past data, there has been the occasional season when a cold area has developed off the coast, sending the sockeye south of Vancouver Island into U.S. waters.
This season’s event is giving scientists a chance to learn what impact a warmer ocean would have on this area’s ecosystem, giving them more information to make better predictions.
Given the current weather models, Bond said, the warm blob could be around for a while, possibly well into 2015. There’s also the potential of El Niño developing later this year, bringing warm water to the area. If that’s the case, it could be disruptive for next year’s pink-salmon run as well.
After decades of grassroots advocacy and calls to action, the Violence Against Women Act is putting justice back in the hands of tribal authorities in cases of abuse and violence against Native American women.
By Christine Graef, Mint Press News
WASHINGTON — In March 2013, following nearly two decades of grassroots work and advocate work, President Barack Obama signed a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that offers expanded protections for Native American women.
The reauthorized act extends tribal jurisdiction to non-Native Americans who commit acts of violence or sexual assault against their Native American spouse or partner. While such incidents often go unreported, the amount that are reported reflect a disproportionate number of Native American women will be raped, stalked or physically assaulted compared to their non-Native American peers.
“One of the most basic human rights recognized under international law is the right to be free of violence. While many in the United States take this right for granted, Native women do not,” – Jana Walker, senior attorney and director of Indian Law Resource Center’s Safe Women, Strong Nations.
Also known as VAWA, the amendment goes into effect on March 7, 2015, and all 566 federally recognized tribes will be open to apply it. In February, Congress authorized a pilot project that has already started for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington and the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon.
Federal authorities currently maintain jurisdiction over offenses committed by non-Native Americans coming onto the territories, but with prosecuting attorneys often located hundreds of miles from these areas, reporting is infrequent. From October 2002 to September 2003, 58.8 percent of cases the Bureau of Indian Affairs referred for federal prosecution were declined, compared to the national average of 26.1 percent.
However, VAWA will now allow territories to impose a penalty on non-Native Americans married to a community member, as well as those living in the community or employed by the community. Many hope this newly granted authority will put an end to the notion of reservations as hunting grounds where offenders have impunity.
The initial Violence Against Women Act resulted from grassroots efforts that started in the late 1980s, with advocates from the battered women’s movement, law enforcement, victims services and prosecutor’s offices. It was signed into law in September 1994 as Title IV sec 4001-4073 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act to fund the investigation and prosecution of acts of violence against women and impose restitution. It also established the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice.
Throughout its 20 years of reauthorizations, tribal leaders had partnered with the advocacy groups, having to explain to many in Congress the realities of living on a reservation. Tribal jurisdiction continued to be debated last year — largely around questions of whether non-Native American offenders would be treated fairly in tribal judicial systems.
To be eligible, tribes must have a criminal justice system that provides representation for defendants, provide non-Native Americans in a jury, and inform defendants of their right to file federal habeas corpus petitions. The U.S. Attorneys, state and local prosecution offices continue to hold the same authority to prosecute crimes in Indian country if tribes cannot afford prosecution costs or if further charges are pending.
According to the Indian Law Resource Center: “One in three Native women will be raped in their lifetime, and three in five will be physically assaulted. Native women are more than twice as likely to be stalked than other women and, even worse, Native women are being murdered at a rate ten times the national average.”
These statistics only take reported cases into account, and they also fail to include data on violence against Native American girls, which is estimated to also be “disproportionately high.”
“Young women on the reservation live their lives in anticipation of being raped,” said Juana Majel Dixon, 1st vice president of the National Congress of American Indians and co-chair of the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women. “They talk about, ‘How will I survive my rape?’ as opposed to not even thinking about it. We shouldn’t have to live our lives that way.”
The Indian Law Resource Center, the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women, Clan Star, Inc., National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, and other Native American women’s organizations have also turned to the international human rights community for help in the past.
In the summer of 2010, nearly 2,000 Indigenous representatives from around the world gathered at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York for the ninth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Discussion turned to the issue of people from outside Indigenous communities entering these communities to commit abuses against Indigenous women, effectively making such behavior part of these women’s homes and communities. Speakers from Mexico, Kenya and New Zealand emphasized the necessity of Indigenous communities establishing programs relevant to them, as well as holistic approaches, environmental health and government policies to eliminate abuses such as genital mutilation.
Women of the Haudenosaunee, the Maori of New Zealand, Wara Wara of Australia, the peoples of the Lakota, Tibetan and Hawai’i nations came out of the shadows and spoke of disruptions to womanhood.
The U.N. and the Organization of American States began examining the situation of American Indian women. In 2011, Rashida Manjoo, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, presented her report to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, telling the United States to “consider restoring, in consultation with Native-American tribes, tribal authority to enforce tribal law over all perpetrators, both Native and non-Native, who commit acts of sexual and domestic violence within their jurisdiction.”
After touring Native American territories for a month in the U.S., James Anaya, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, went before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2012 and recommended that the U.S. put creating legislation to protect Native American women as an immediate priority.
The reality of the lives of women around the world started being documented in 1946, when the U.N. created a Commission on the Status of Women. At first focusing on the need for education and employment, by the spring of 2013 the theme of the 57th session of the commission was “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.”
When it became clear that a cooperative environment could promote protections, space was made to include the Indigenous voice to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the U.N.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
The 2013 report by the U.N.’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum was called “Breaking the Silence on Violence against Indigenous Girls, Adolescents and Young Women,” based on analysis of data from Africa, the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America. The Indigenous Women’s Rights, Violence and Reproductive Health forum, meanwhile, underlined the need for grassroots programs that reach community members and can set precedents.
In February 2013, Manjoo and Anaya urged the U.S. House of Representatives to approve a revised version of VAWA that would extend protections to not only Native American women, but also to immigrant and gay victims of violence and sexual abuse.
“Congress should act promptly to pass key reforms to the Violence Against Women Act that bolster indigenous tribes’ ability to prosecute cases involving violence against indigenous women,” Anaya said, urging the House to approve the version of the act already approved by the Senate that month.
The OAS’ 2011 Inter-American Human Rights Commission also produced a report, “Violence Against Native Women in the United States,” expressing concern about violence against women in Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia and the U.S., urging laws, policies and programs in collaboration with the women.
Given the porous borders of reservations, there’s usually frequent interaction between Native Americans and non-Native Americans and a limited scope for ensuring public safety in Indian country.
“VAWA was really needed in Indian Country,” said M. Brent Leonhard, an attorney for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla who was instrumental in crafting the language of VAWA applied in the tribe. “Historically, the federal government didn’t prosecute and it didn’t get reported to them.”
He detailed the historic evolution of VAWA in a 2012 paper titled “Returning Washington P.L. 280 Jurisdiction to Its Original Consent-Based Grounds.”
According to statistics cited by the Indian Law Research Center, more than 88 percent of violent crimes committed against Native American women are committed by non-Native Americans over which tribal governments lack any criminal jurisdiction under U.S. law. In 66 percent of the crimes in which the race of the perpetrator was reported, Native Americans victims indicated that the offender was not Native American.
Leonhard told MintPress that the latest changes to VAWA will give communities more confidence in their tribe’s ability to deal with an assault and be more comfortable in reporting it.
“We’re seeing at least 80 percent of those who come to our family violence program have not reported incidents to the police,” he said. “They seek help here but they won’t go to outside systems.”
The Umatilla are located near the city of Pendleton, where the FBI is stationed and can respond quickly to crimes. But for other reserves, federal law enforcement bodies may be as many as four hours away. For example, in Alaska, Leonhard said, “the problem is horrendous.”
In his analysis, “Closing a Gap In Indian Country Justice: Oliphant, Lara, and DOJ’S Proposed Fix,” Leonhard addresses the complexity of arguments and court rulings that had to be overcome against VAWA.
The act legislatively reversed the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Oliphant v.Suquamish Indian Tribe, 435 U.S. 191 (1978), which held that inherent tribal sovereignty did not exist and “Indian tribes do not have inherent jurisdiction to try and to punish non-Indians.”
Leonhard said the Obama administration has been supportive of issues in American Indian territory. On July 21, 2011, Ronald Weich, assistant attorney general for the Office of Legislative Affairs, wroteto Vice President Joseph Biden and proposed the amendment to VAWA thatwould create the pilot project.
Since the pilot program began in March, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe has tried more than a dozen cases involving non-Indians abusing Native American women.
VAWA does not cover crimes committed against Native American women by strangers or those who may live or work on a reservation but are not considered to be dating or in relationship with a Native American woman.
There’s a lot being defined as the process moves forward. “Dating,” for instance, is being questioned: Can it apply to a chance meeting at a restaurant between two people who have just met?
“We’ve found most of our defendants have been in relationships,” Alfred Urbina, the tribe’s attorney general, told MintPress. “Most have been contacted by tribal police six to 10 times, already have felonies on their record or are unemployed.”
To exercise the authority, a tribe must guarantee that a defendant’s rights are similar to those guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, such as the right to a public defender and effective assistance of counsel. Tribes must also include non-American Indians in jury pools. For tribes with many enterprises that employ non-Native Americans, this is not an issue, but for those without such enterprises, this presents a problem.
Meanwhile, tribes must provide a public defender only if the offender is indigent,which also raises questions regarding who pays the costs associated with probation or treatment, or if an offender is homeless or if an offender needs to be monitored in another town.
“These are all questions we’re running into,” Urbina said. “We’re near Tucson and able to draw on defense attorneys and other resources. But for others who are remote from metropolitan areas, for instance the Diné, this will be difficult.”
Under the Indian Civil Rights Act, nations are limited to the amount of time they can sentence an offender to prison. The Yaqui constitution currently limits sentences to one year, while other tribes can sentence offenders to up to three years. For a case involving strangulation or another form of attempted murder, these sentencing limitations often mean that the cases are sent to U.S. Attorneys for further prosecution.
Meanwhile, some opt to leave criminal matters to the Bureau of Indian Affairs or FBI. The federal government deals with regional problems, so one reservation may be just a small part of an agent’s 100-mile radius. “It could be days before a person gets out to investigate a crime,” said Urbina.
While it’s brought benefits to those under the three pilot projects, Urbina said most reserves won’t have resources to put the program in place. (He estimated that about 30 would have adequate resources for implementing the program.)
The number of Native American women reporting abuse represents just small percentage of the reality, he added.
“If you don’t have jurisdiction over these crimes, you’re not going to collect data,” he said. “It can be decades a community puts up with rape and violent cases. You’re not going to find trust.”
Most tribes have victims services and access to federal grants to fund help for victims, and VAWA strengthens the trust Urbina mentioned by putting the response back into the hands of the nation’s people.
By Herald staff, The Everett Herald
TULALIP — A woman killed in a car accident on the Tulalip Indian Reservation earlier this week has been identified as Gina M. Fletcher, 47, of Chelsea, Oklahoma.
The one-car crash happened about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday on Marine Drive at Hermosa Beach Drive. Fletcher was believed to be the passenger. She died at the scene.
A 49-year-old man who was believed to be the driver was injured and taken to the hospital.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. No additional information has been released.
Major changes to legislation co-authored by Alejo
By Phillip Molnar, Monterey Herald
SACRAMENTO >> Native American legislation seemingly opposed by thousands was significantly altered before it was passed by the California Senate on Wednesday.
AB 52, a bill co-authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, is designed to give Native American tribes more power in the state’s environmental laws, but it galvanized non-federally recognized tribes not included in the bill.
Non-federally recognized tribes pestered lawmakers for months and started an online petition which gathered 8,386 signatures.
In the amended version, both federally and non-federally recognized tribes are included in the definition of a tribe and non-federally recognized tribes were included in the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.
“Although there are still a few sections where we have some reservations, overall, AB 52 in its final draft reflects the two big changes our coalition requested,” said Angela Mooney D’Arcy, executive director of the Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples.
Alejo spokesman John de los Angeles said the assemblyman passed on concerns some Native Americans had with the bill, especially from his own district, to its main author, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles.
Efforts to reach Gatto were unsuccessful.
The bill passed in the Senate 35-0. It must now go back to the Assembly because of the many amendments in the Senate. After that, it can go to Gov. Jerry Brown.
After the changes were announced, signers of the petition on Changes.com expressed delight.
“Congratulations to all the CA tribes,” wrote Carolyn Kualii. “This is a move in the right direction!”
The bill still faces major opposition from business groups because they fear it will result in more CEQA litigation because of claims of tribal heritage at development sites.
The Sacramento Bee editorial board put AB 52 on its “three bills for the governor to kill” list because of classifications of “sacred places” and “cultural resources.”
“The definition is left so open-ended it would add a new layer of anxiety to what is already a horror movie of an environmental review process,” it wrote.
There are 110 federally recognized tribes in California and 78 tribal communities petitioning for recognition, including three in Monterey County, according to the Judicial Council of California.
Louise Miranda Ramirez, tribal chairwoman of the local Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation, said she was still concerned about some of the language which allows lead agencies in some cases to “consider” mitigation measures (rather than “select,” as it said before.).
Ultimately, she said she was pleased with the changes but questioned why the bill “was so broken in the first place.”
Phillip Molnar can be reached at 831-726-4361.
By Jen Graves, the Stranger
Wendy Red Star’s great-grandfathers played themselves in the 19th-century vaudeville show Buffalo Bill’s Wild West & Congress of Rough Riders of the World. They also played themselves, or not, in a human-zoo-style exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Now Wendy Red Star has curated the first-ever all-Native contemporary art exhibition at Bumbershoot, on the grounds built for Seattle’s World’s Fair in 1962—which was not immune from such exoticizing expos, creepily featuring Japanese “feminine pearl divers” in an “authentic Japanese village.” Her title for the Bumbershoot show is itself an appropriation: Wendy Red Star’s Wild West & Congress of Rough Riders of the World.
“This is our chance now, to show what we want to show, how we want to be represented,” she says in a phone conversation from Portland, where she lives. She grew up on the Crow reservation in Montana, the daughter of a proud Crow man and a proud Irish American nurse. The two met on the reservation, where Wendy grew up called a “half-breed” without any malice at all. Her sister, Chelsea, is Korean, born in Korea and dropped on the proverbial stoop of an orphanage, the story goes. While serving as a nurse in the US military in Korea, Wendy’s mother adopted Chelsea as an infant—years before the independent Irishwoman moved to the Crow reservation for another nursing job, and met Wendy’s father.
Chelsea became the last of the Crow speakers. She came home from preschool singing Crow songs and responding to her father in Crow; by the time Wendy was born, there was only English at preschool. Chelsea still dreams in Crow.
From that history, Red Star spins art that provokes, remembers, jokes, and reinterprets. The other 10 artists she’s chosen for Bumbershoot are her “dream team,” their work ranging from photography to video games to painting and beyond. There is no “Native style” here, none of the fixed aesthetic that often attends even contemporary group exhibitions by Native artists in museums and galleries. Da-ka-xeen Mehner, for instance, is showing 11 Years of Beards, which is literally his hair. It just happens to grow in half-blond and half-brown, due to a scar on his chin, and he happens to be Tlingit/N’ishga and white. Another artist, Skawennati, made a video game where futuristic characters can revisit historical moments, just not change them. A Mohawk warrior from the future can witness a massacring of Mohawks in the past.
Don’t trip over Custer. The foolish US Army commander who died along with all his men in the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn will be lying dead on the gallery floor, in a life-size sculpture by Demian Diné Yazhi’. Playing on a wall will be Peter Morin’s video compilation, on endless repeat, of all the sequences of Pocahontas’s animated hair waving in the Disney wind in the Hollywood cartoon. John Feodorov made a giant warbonnet for the middle of the gallery. Another artist, Tanis S’eiltin, uses found photographs of her mother visiting the Seattle World’s Fair to stage a re-creation.
Red Star’s own career is on fire, but this is the very first time she’s shown in Seattle. In the last year, she’s had four solo museum exhibitions. Her work is part of a traveling group show now in Paris that next spring goes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It’s a show that combines artifacts and new art. “When else do you get to collaborate with your ancestors?” Red Star says. The group show includes her celebrated Four Seasons series, a quartet of photographs in which she poses in majestic Crow regalia in the midst of fake nature: cheesy landscape paintings for backdrops, thrift-store objects for props, including a blow-up deer. The portraits are deadpan, contemplative.
She made those in 2006; now she’s tackling history directly. For a coming show at the Portland Art Museum, she’s commissioned custom stuffed animals based on drawings a Crow chief made in 1880. Medicine Crow was one of seven Crow chiefs essentially kidnapped in Washington, DC, until they signed over railroad rights on their land. While there, the US agents took them to the zoo, where they came across caged animals native to Crow country—and those are what Medicine Crow drew. The drawings, photographs, and stuffed animals will join a traditional Crow jacket from the museum’s collection that resembles one worn by the delegation.
For Saint Louis Art Museum, Red Star made Crow dresses bedecked with prestigious elk teeth. She finished them at the last minute and shipped them to the museum without getting to try them on. When she met the dresses in St. Louis, she told the curator she had to put one on. “The two museum installer guys were so mortified that they had to leave,” she says, cracking up. “When I did that, it felt like all the objects in there were having a good laugh, because they don’t get that treatment, they don’t get to see their community.”
For Bumbershoot, Red Star is restaging a famous photograph taken of John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their media-frenzied 1969 Bed-ins for Peace. Red Star and a friend replace the couple, but wearing warbonnet headdresses, while touting the message of peace. “I know we’re the only all-Native exhibition there,” Red Star said. “I guarantee we’re going to see some hipsters in headdresses.”
Click the highlighted link below to download the September 3, 2014 Tulalip See-Yaht-Sub
Last winter, months before your Facebook feed started filling with videos of folks taking the “ice-bucket challenge,” Native Americans did the “winter challenge.” Participants jumped in ice-cold streams or banks of snow and challenged others to do the same. Imagine what could happen if Indian Country focused social media on addressing health or civic issues.
Last winter, Native Americans adapted an old practice of private challenges to the new platform of social media. A swarm of Canadian cold-water plunges resulted.
I remember getting in trouble as a teenager. The story beat me home. I was stunned at the velocity of information in a small community. The chain went like this: Something happened. People talked. And the story spread. Fast.
I guess that’s why social media, to me, is an old form of storytelling. It’s how we naturally tell stories, spreading the word to one friend (or follower) in real time. And then another. And again. But while the forum is essentially the same, there are two new twists: the use of digital tools and the increased size of our network. (A generation ago our “network” might be a few friends gathered for coffee at the trading post. Today it’s a thousand friends on Facebook, their thousand friends, and definitely more on Twitter, Tumblr or Snapchat.)
The ice-bucket challenge to raise money to prevent ALS — Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — or Lou Gehrig’s Disease is a great example of how social media works. The brilliant campaign has earned more than $70 million with the goal of creating a world “without ALS!”
Every day my Facebook feed has new posts from someone taking this challenge.
Of course this whole challenge thing is familiar anyway. It’s a lot like the Winter Challenge that spread across Canada and Indian Country. Carielynn Victor, from Chilliwack, B.C., told Global News Canada that the idea was not a new one, but the concept of taking it public was new.
So why ALS? It’s a fabulous cause and worth doing. That said: What if Indian Country could harness social media to affect the diseases that are killing most of our friends and family?
So heart disease is the leading killer in Indian Country. What if we raised money for research and action for American Indians and Alaska Natives? Or diabetes? Or any disease that affects most of us. It could be money targeted to make a real difference in our lives.
Then, the power of social media is not just about money. Imagine what we could do to health disparities if social media challenged tens of thousands of people to walk more. Or eat better. Then post results in real time so that we all stay on task.
Beyond disease and public health, social media could be used to “challenge” American Indians and Alaska Natives to register and vote at levels that are unprecedented. If the same intensity of the winter challenge, or the ice bucket challenge, or any social media phenomenon, was applied to November’s balloting, well, it would upend the status quo. Guaranteed.
One reason the winter challenge and the ice-bucket challenge worked so well is that they were simple to do, and easy to pass along virally. It’s fun to see a friend jump in a creek. We laugh at the way people met their challenge. (I did a snow angel in the shadow of Denali courtesy of Laura John at the Montana Policy and Budget Center.)
So any election challenge must be simple and fun. And be specific. Laura challenged me. Then I added friends, creating an exponential network.
There have already been some really smart efforts to increase Native voting. Indeed, the last election cycle produced record numbers. In New Mexico and Montana, for example, Native Americans voted at a higher percentage than the general population, 77% and 64%. That could be across the country. Especially in Alaska, Oklahoma, Arizona, the Dakotas. Already this year, the National Congress of American Indians has called for a summer of action for the Native Vote (there was a Google hangout that explores details) to do just that.
Now it’s time to add to those efforts and tap the awesome power that is social media. If we can ask our friends to jump into a creek, we sure as hell can ask them to vote. We ought to do that in a video and on our Facebook page. Let’s take the ice bucket into the voting booth and really change the country.
Mark Trahant serves as the Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.
Washington, DC – The Department of Justice released today its second report to Congress entitled Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions, which provides a range of enforcement statistics required under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, as well as information about the progress of the Attorney General’s initiatives to reduce violent crime and strengthen tribal justice systems.
The report, based on data compiled from the case management system used by U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAO), shows prosecutors in 2013 continued to bring substantial numbers of cases to federal court (a 34 percent increase over FY 2009 numbers) and prosecute a substantial majority of all cases referred to them. Of the cases that were declined for federal prosecution, most were declined for insufficient evidence or because they were referred to another prosecuting authority, such as the tribe, for potential prosecution.
“As detailed in this report, the Department of Justice is making good on our commitment to strengthen cooperation with sovereign tribes, reduce violent crime, and ensure justice for every individual,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “From our work to empower Indian women under the landmark Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, to the task force we established to safeguard children in Indian country from violence and abuse, we have made significant strides – in close partnership with tribal nations – to bolster the safety and security of all American Indian and Alaska Native communities. As we move forward, we will continue to expand on this critical work; to deepen our ongoing efforts; and to reaffirm our dedication to the promise of equal rights, equal protection, and equal justice for all.”
Although declination rates are an imperfect means of evaluating the effectiveness of criminal justice in Indian country or elsewhere, the report shows that with few exceptions, areas where the largest populations of American Indian people live and suffer from the most serious crime rates, such as the Southwest and the northern plains states (which together handled approximately 70 percent of the 2,542 cases resolved in 2013), federal declination rates were the lowest in the nation. For instance, South Dakota had the second to highest number of cases resolved in the country last year, 470 cases, and one of the lowest declination rates of 26 percent. Arizona resolved the highest number of cases, 733 cases, and had a declination rate of 28 percent.
Associate Attorney General Tony West announced the findings in remarks to the Four Corners Indian Country Conference today on the Navajo Nation in Flagstaff, and met separately with the Attorney General’s advisory subcommittee on Native American issues to discuss the report, among other matters.
“We are witnessing an unprecedented era of collaboration among U.S. Attorneys’ offices and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors across the country,” said Associate Attorney General West. “This report shows the fruits of this continuing partnership between the federal government and American Indian tribes, including enhancing training and capacity building for tribal court systems and improving responses to victims in Indian country.”
“Over the past five years, the Justice Department and our tribal partners have taken important steps forward on our journey toward a safer Indian Country,” said Timothy Purdon, U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota and chair of the Attorney General’s advisory subcommittee on Native American issues. “Vigorous enforcement of federal laws is vitally important to strengthening public safety on American Indian reservations. We are pleased to see in this report that U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country continue to work hard to remove the most dangerous offenders and work closely with tribal law enforcement and prosecutors. These promising numbers are the direct result of this enhanced communication and collaboration.”
“The FBI continues to be committed to public safety in Indian Country,” said FBI Assistant Director Joseph S. Campbell. “Our partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal agencies remains strong as we continue to aggressively address violent crime and victimization in tribal communities.”
The information contained in the report shows the following:
The most common reason FBI Indian country investigations were closed administratively without referral for prosecution was that the investigation concluded that no federal crime had occurred.
Other important developments in FY 2013:
VAWA Pilot Projects
The fight against domestic violence in Indian country has been an especially important priority for the Department of Justice, and in 2013, Congress and this administration took an historic step forward with the passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013), which the President signed into law on March 7, 2013.
Congress, in VAWA 2013, provided new tools to fight domestic violence in Indian country, and the department spared no time utilizing them. From the date the act took effect, March 7, 2013, through the end of fiscal year 2013, U.S. Attorneys with prosecutorial responsibilities in Indian country have charged defendants with the amended provisions of the federal assault statutes that strengthened penalties for domestic assault offenses, such as strangulation and stalking. And, while the new law’s tribal criminal jurisdiction provision takes effect generally on March 7, 2015, under VAWA 2013’s “Pilot Project” provisions, the department recently approved three tribes’ applications voluntary “Pilot Project” to begin exercising special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction sooner. These tribes – the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon, and the Tulalip Tribes of Washington – will be the first tribes in the nation to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over crimes of domestic and dating violence, regardless of the defendant’s Indian or non-Indian status, under VAWA 2013.
Strengthening Partnerships and Support for Tribal Self-Governance
Strengthening partnerships and tribal self-governance was a major theme of the Attorney General’s message to tribal leaders on Nov.13, 2013, at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where he announced a proposed statement of principles to guide the department’s work with federally recognized tribes. As the Attorney General said, “ As a result of these partnerships – and the efforts of everyone here – our nation is poised to open a new era in our government-to-government relationships with sovereign tribes.”
U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country are engaged in an unprecedented level of collaboration with tribal law enforcement, consulting regularly with them on crime-fighting strategies in each district. One important example of this is the department’s enhanced Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) program. Tribal SAUSAs are cross-deputized tribal prosecutors who are able to prosecute crimes in both tribal court and federal court as appropriate. These Tribal SAUSAs serve to strengthen a tribal government’s ability to fight crime and to increase the USAO’s coordination with tribal law enforcement personnel. The work of Tribal SAUSAs can also help to accelerate a tribal criminal justice system’s implementation of TLOA and VAWA 2013.
Read the entire report at www.justice.gov/tribal/tloa.html
Read about the Justice Department’s efforts to increase public safety in Indian County at www.justice.gov/tribal/accomplishments.html