Remote Tribe Wins Some EMS Funding

By Mike Heuer, Courthouse News Service

(CN) – The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in remote northwestern Nevada won partial federal funding for its emergency medical services program serving the Fort McDermitt Tribe.
U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper on Tuesday partially granted the tribe’s motion for summary judgment in its complaint against the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Indian Health Services, which denied it funding this year.
The Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone tribes, collectively called the Fort McDermitt Tribe, live in a small, remote community along the Nevada-Oregon border, where Indian Health Services (IHS) has operated a tribal health clinic since the 1970s. The clinic provides primary medical, dental and mental health care and drug and alcohol treatment programs.
The IHS has provided emergency medical services for the tribe since 1993, but the program’s costs increased greatly after a 2010 IRS rule requiring contract workers to be classified as employees, Judge Cooper Found. In 2012, the EMS incurred $502,611 in costs against $102,711 in revenue. The difference was paid through clinic revenue and IHS discretionary funds.
The Fort McDermitt Tribe last year designated the Pyramid Lake Tribe as its tribal organization in accordance with the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act. Cooper says the Pyramid Lake Tribe requested $502,611 plus another $196,739 for startup costs and $136,139 for contract support costs from the IHS.
Previously, the Fort McDermitt Tribe designated Humboldt General Hospital as its base hospital for emergency medical services, but Cooper says the hospital in August 2013 notified the IHS it no longer would be the tribe’s base hospital.
“The agency explained that IHS had ‘ceased operation of the Fort McDermitt emergency medical services program’ due to its large operating deficit. Because IHS had discontinued the program, it reasoned that the base amount available for contracting was zero,” Cooper wrote in his 15-page opinion. “It therefore declined the tribe’s proposal as being ‘in excess of the applicable funding amount.'”
The Pyramid Lake Tribe responded by suing the IHS and Health and Human Services “seeking to require IHS to enter into a self-determination contract with the tribe to operate the Fort McDermitt emergency medical services program.”
Both sides sought summary judgment. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell also sought dismissal, “for failure to join indispensable parties, namely, other area tribes whose funding may be affected by the outcome of the case.”
Cooper held a hearing on the motions on Aug. 28.
Summing it up, Cooper wrote that Burwell “argues that because the tribe’s proposal implicates the budget for other tribes served by IHS in the region, each of these tribes is a necessary party to this action. She reasons further that because the other tribes are protected by sovereign immunity, they cannot be joined and the case therefore must be dismissed.”
After citing four other cases in Native American law, Cooper says: “The Secretary’s position is that the Pyramid Lake Tribe’s proposal would unfairly benefit the Fort McDermitt Tribe by enabling it to receive more than its share of funding, to the detriment of neighboring tribes.”
The judge says Burwell “argues in her motion for summary judgment that IHS calculates funding for programs based on the ‘tribal share’ that supports the programs that are to be transferred to the tribe” and “contends that the funding level in the Tribe’s proposal was in excess of the tribal share IHS determined the Fort McDermitt Tribe was entitled to receive.”
Burwell claims that share amount came to just $38,746, according to Cooper’s analysis. The judge added that Burwell “argues even if the emergency medical services program remained in existence,” the Pyramid Lake Tribe’s proposal exceeded that sum.
However, “IHS never advanced this tribal share argument in declining the tribe’s proposal,” Cooper found. “It cannot now be used as a post-hoc to justification for the agency’s decision.”
In denying Burwell’s motions and partially granting the tribe’s, Cooper says that while “the court will issue an order declaring that the Secretary violated the ISDEAA by denying the tribe’s proposal outright, it will not direct her to enter into the tribe’s contract at the 2012 amount.”
“Rather, it will direct the Secretary to negotiate with the tribe over what the Secretary ‘would have otherwise provided’ for the emergency medical services program had IHS continued to operate it, plus the administrative and startup cost.”  

Performance Artist Explores Stereotypes In ‘The Last American Indian On Earth’


Imagine a man dressed in stereotypically “traditional” Native American garb, donning a massive white feathered headdress, an ornamental tunic, and face paint. Now imagine that man performing mundane tasks in Washington, DC, like grocery shopping, riding an escalator or having lunch at a local restaurant.


The Huffington Post  |  By Katherine Brooks   |  09/03/13


What is your reaction?

The bizarre quandary is put forth by performance artist Gregg Deal, a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe originally based in northwestern Nevada. In a striking film project titled “The Last American Indian on Earth,” Deal dresses himself in purposefully questionable attire and goes about his daily business, daring passersby to confront their own preexisting ideas about the modern Native American person.

“The purpose of this project is to raise questions about Native people, often viewed as a relic, and how they’re perceived
in the modern age,” Deal explains in a press statement about the work. “How will [people] react if they saw me, a Native dressed in buckskin and a headdress, doing something as mundane as shopping for cereal at the grocery store? How will they react if they saw me eating Chinese food in China Town or taking pictures of buffalo at the National Zoo?”

The project began filming last month and so far the reactions to Deal’s out-of-place appearance have included a pedestrian shouting “How!” and holding up a hand in salute, as well as a teenage girl exclaiming outloud, “Look, a real live redskin.” Another bystander chanted “hi-a-wat-ah-hi-a-wat-ah” upon seeing Deal in costume, prompting a videographer, Emmanuel Soltes, to follow him up for an explanation. As you can see in the clip above, the man proclaimed that he was not trying to be offensive, and if he had, he would have mentioned the Dallas Cowboys.

In other shots, Deal can be seen carrying signs that read “Thank the creator for Johnny Depp” or “White guilt release station, inquire with indian.”tumblr_mrvv46Cw5k1sdij4yo1_1280

“The performances will include a number of things that are simple, mundane, funny, political, over the top, satirical, ironic, and even sad,” Deal wrote on his Indiegogo campaign.

Deal plans to submit “The Last American Indian on Earth” for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. In the meantime, you can scroll through images of Deal in action below. Let us know your thoughts on the concept in the comments.