Tulalip Bay Work Force Housing Program, Bringing Premium Value to Tulalip



Recently built home at Tulalip Bay. Photos courtesy Tom Eadie, Tulalip Housing Authority Administration Manager.
Recently built home at Tulalip Bay.
Photos courtesy Tom Eadie, Tulalip Housing Authority Administration Manager.


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 


The Tulalip Brand

When non-tribals think of the Tulalip Reservation, what do they think of? Surely some of the first things that would come to their minds are the Four Diamond rated Tulalip Resort Casino, the award winning fine dining restaurants therein, and the luxurious sanctuary that is the T Spa. For the upscale, fashion conscious individuals, they would assuredly think of the Seattle Premium Outlets that brings together the finest brands and cost-savings every day. Then there are those who would think of the essential shopping experiences provided by Quil Ceda Village stores, like Cabela’s and Home Depot.

It’s easy to understand why non-tribals, whether they be locals, visitors, long distance travelers or simply Washington State residents, would think of the exclusive experiences and premium services available to them on the Tulalip Reservation. First and foremost, the Tulalip Tribes has invested vast amounts of resources (money, time, manpower, more money) into creating the present-day image of Tulalip as a destination. From the early days of establishing the original Tulalip Casino in 1992, since rebranded as Quil Ceda Creek Casino in 2004, to the construction of the new Tulalip Bingo in 1999, to the inception of the ever expanding Quil Ceda Village in 2001, to the building of Tulalip Resort Casino in 2003 and followed by its accompanying hotel in 2008, the Tulalip Tribes has gone to great lengths and overcome many obstacles to create, develop, and brand itself as a tribal business leader.

Without question the planning, construction, and continued development of the Tulalip Tribes businesses and gaming enterprise has been first-rate. But those efforts, in large part, were aimed at crafting an enhanced image of the Tulalip Tribes from the outsider’s perspective and to create the market place for building a strong, loyal customer base that yields plenty of return business. Turn inward and we, the Tulalip tribal membership, can see that while the reservation along the I-5 corridor is unrecognizable compared to what it was fifteen to twenty years ago, the heart of the reservation remains relatively underdeveloped and deficient of the exclusive qualities that the Tribes is associated with externally. However, like the memories of the brush and forest that once occupied Quil Ceda Village, that will soon be a distant memory. The entire Tulalip Bay area is about to receive a major upgrade in image.


Creating change by building neighborhoods

The Tulalip Bay Work Force Housing Program, created by the Tulalip Housing department and approved by the Board of Directors, will makeover the heart of the reservation in the same way Quil Ceda Village changed the exterior boundaries of the reservation.

The Tulalip Bay Work Force Housing Program was implemented in early 2014. It is a three step process that will drastically change rural Tulalip, for the better. The first step of the process is taking back the land, that has for far too long been accommodating to non-Tulalips. More specifically, the land within the 1.7 square mile residential area around Tulalip Bay. Piggy-backing off the ideals that led to all the houses being demolished and removed from Mission Beach in 2013, all the non-Tulalip owned homes in the Tulalip Bay area are going to be removed in order to return the land to where it belongs, to Tulalip.

As the land leases expire, one by one each non-Tulalip house will be demolished, either by the residing home owner or by the Tulalip Tribes for a fee.

“New tribal mandates state that those folks living in the Tulalip Bay houses do not have the option to renew their lease because the Tulalip Tribes has made it its mission to take back the land,” says Tom Eadie, Tulalip Housing Authority Administration Manager. “Current Tulalip Bay tenants were told that back around 2003. The owner of the home, when their lease expires, has 90 days to remove their home. If they haven’t removed their home within the 90 days, then we remove their home and charge them the removal costs. At Mission Beach they removed their homes themselves. For Tulalip Bay, the opportunity to restore the beach-front would be available, potentially. We could have a several mile beach walk. It will be amazing, what we can do out there will be phenomenal.”


The second step of the Tulalip Bay Work Force Program is to build first-rate homes complete with top of the line appliances, immaculate fenced yards, and a house alarm. These will be beautiful homes, as evidenced by the first few that have been built already. Each featuring a multi-million dollar view overlooking stunning Tulalip Bay.

The second step also mandates that after the construction of the houses they will then be made available to Tulalip tribal members only, as either part of a home ownership program or as a rental. While most of the houses will be designated for home ownership, a fair share will be designated as rentals for those who are not in a position to buy a home. These newly built houses will become the homes of many Tulalip tribal members who would not otherwise have the opportunity to live on their reservation, and will help supplement the depleted housing market for our growing tribal membership.

“Everyone benefits from it in the long run. We can do a mix of rentals and home-ownership because we understand not everyone wants to own a home. Some people want to come and rent for a while and experience their reservation where their family is, and this gives them that opportunity,” explains Eadie. “You’re not going to find a 1,600-1,700 square feet house, especially on the water or near the water, anywhere else for the low prices we will be offering.

“You get to raise your kids in the heart of your reservation, and we’ll be continuing to develop that area: new sidewalks, light posts, we’re putting in a park, a really nice basketball court park right at Tulalip Bay. We’ll be selling these gorgeous houses within the $220ish price range. The prices are incredibly low when you look at comparable markets. There is no place in the state of Washington with that view and so close to a beach-front that even comes close to what we are selling them for. You’d double that price elsewhere, easy.”

The third and final step of the Tulalip Bay Work Force Housing Program involves the collaboration of both the Tulalip Housing department and the inherent responsibility of Tulalip tribal members. As the brand new houses are nearing completion and put on the market one by one, Tulalip tribal members, whether it’s for home ownership or to rent, must make themselves candidates in order to call a Tulalip Bay house their home. To have suitable, qualified Tulalip citizens and families stake their claim on the Tulalip Bay houses being built for them this means doing the necessities when it comes to preparing to buy or rent a new home on the Tulalip Reservation. Ways to be ready include meeting with a Housing department representative to discuss the qualifying considerations, and meeting with a 184 loan specialist and applying for a 184 loan if you want to become a Tulalip Bay home owner. Eadie explained that the standard operating procedures protect both you and the Tribes’ interests.

Remember that the Tulalip Bay Work Force Housing Program is still in the beginning stages of implementation and houses will be built and made available over the next several years. This means that if you don’t qualify to rent or purchase a Tulalip Bay home right now, that will not prevent you from renting or purchasing one of the many Tulalip Bay homes coming in the near future. Start on the path to becoming a qualified Tulalip Bay home owner or renter now. Start rebuilding your credit now. Start saving money for down payments and first/last month’s rent now. If you want to become a member of what will surely become a thriving Tulalip Bay neighborhood, then now is the time to start investing in that future.


Contact Micheal Rios at mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov 



Native American populations ‘hugely at risk’ to sex trafficking

Sadie Young Bird, the director of the Ft. Berthold Coalition of Domestic Violence, listens during a breakout session during the 2014 statewide summit on human trafficking put on by North Dakota FUSE at the Bismarck Civic Center in Bismarck, N.D. on Thursday, November 13, 2014. Carrie Snyder / The Forum
Sadie Young Bird, the director of the Ft. Berthold Coalition of Domestic Violence, listens during a breakout session during the 2014 statewide summit on human trafficking put on by North Dakota FUSE at the Bismarck Civic Center in Bismarck, N.D. on Thursday, November 13, 2014. Carrie Snyder / The Forum


By Amy Dalrymple and Katherine Lymn, Forum News Service, Bismarck Tribune


NEW TOWN, N.D. – As the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation reels from the impacts of producing a third of North Dakota’s oil, the reservation must add human trafficking to its list of increasing hazards.

“We’re in crisis mode, all the time, trying to figure out these new ways, these new crises that are coming to us that we never thought we’d have to worry about,” said Sadie Young Bird, director of the Fort Berthold Coalition Against Violence. “No one was prepared for any of this.”

The Three Affiliated Tribes are implementing a new tribal law designed to combat human trafficking at Fort Berthold.

“I’m really hoping to send a message that we are not tolerating this on our reservation,” said Chalsey Snyder, a tribal member who helped draft the law.

Meanwhile, victim advocates and leaders of tribal nations in neighboring Minnesota and South Dakota worry about reports of American Indian women and girls being trafficked to the Bakken.

Suzanne Koepplinger, former executive director for the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, said she started to hear anecdotal stories in 2010 and 2011 about a boyfriend or friend telling women and girls, “Let’s go to North Dakota over the weekend and make some money.”

“Because of poverty and high rates of mobility with Native people, it’s not unusual for them to go up to White Earth for a party and then say, ‘Let’s just buzz over to North Dakota and see a friend of mine,’ and then she’s gang-raped over there,” Koepplinger said.

Since 2010, Indian girls in Minnesota have reported to service providers that family members or friends have tried to talk them into going to North Dakota.

“Their girls go missing and then show up in the North Dakota child protection system, or are picked up by law enforcement in Williston, Minot,” Koepplinger said.

Erma Vizenor, chairman of the White Earth reservation in western Minnesota, said sex trafficking of women and girls has been a concern there for a long time, and the proximity of North Dakota’s oil boom adds to that concern.

The White Earth DOVE Program (Down On Violence Everyday) has identified 17 adult victims of sex trafficking last year, said Jodie Sunderland, community advocacy coordinator.

The DOVE program received funding through the Minnesota Safe Harbor law and is connecting Indian youth who are victims of sexual exploitation with services. The efforts will include collaborations with Red Lake and Leech Lake reservations in northwest Minnesota.

The vulnerability of Indian populations to become victims of sex trafficking, particularly at Fort Berthold with the impacts of the oil boom, is a major concern, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said.

“The grooming of the candidate for trafficking tends to go to lower income, tends to go to kids who’ve been victimized in the past, so automatically that puts them in a category that is hugely at risk,” Heitkamp said during a discussion hosted by the McCain Institute for International Leadership and moderated by Cindy McCain.

Mark Fox, recently elected chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, said he hears concerns about human trafficking at Fort Berthold from law enforcement and social services. He’s also noticed it himself.

“You can’t help but sometimes, walking around the casino, you see individuals who would be highly suspect,” Fox said.

Young Bird, whose program has seen a significant increase in domestic violence victims, has assisted some sex trafficking victims, although the women and girls don’t usually identify themselves as victims. Some have returned to South Dakota reservations, she said.

“We see that most of the human trafficking victims want to leave, they just want to get out, they want to go back to where they came from, they want to go back somewhere safe,” Young Bird said.

The domestic violence program, which has a new shelter in Mandaree and a new safe house elsewhere in the Bakken, primarily serves Indian women, but also will serve non-tribal members.

A meth epidemic on the reservation contributes to the violence Young Bird sees, including more severe sexual assaults.

“You can tell when there’s no meth around and you can tell when there’s a new shipment of meth around. The severity is worse when the meth is gone,” Young Bird said. “When the new shipment comes, it’s more that they head out and they leave and they leave their family with nothing. They spend all the money. Then when the wife is asking for money, that’s when the violence occurs.”

Heroin is a major problem for the reservation, too, she said. In one sex trafficking case, the pimp kept the woman compliant using heroin, Young Bird said. The woman did not want to press charges.

“They all want to leave. They don’t want to stay around. And we can’t force them. We’re the advocates; we’re not law enforcement. We’re there to support people,” she said.

A recent law change will allow the tribal court to prosecute human trafficking cases that don’t rise to the level of being charged in U.S. District Court.

“This law allows our reservation to take back ownership and take back the prosecution and penalties,” Snyder said.

The law is called Loren’s Law in memory of Loren White Horne, a behavioral health specialist from Fort Berthold who used to deal with sexual abuse and sexual assault cases on the reservation. White Horne was a driving force behind raising awareness about trafficking and working toward a new law before she died in a vehicle accident in 2013, said Snyder, who continued her work.

The law also requires defendants to pay for any expenses incurred by the victim, such as drug abuse treatment.

“These victims can seek help and they can get help without having to worry about any financial obligations,” Snyder said, if the convicted trafficker has resources or such resources were seized.

Statistics show that minorities represent a disproportionate amount of sex trafficking victims.

That has been true in South Dakota, where the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted sex trafficking cases involving several dozen victims. About half of those victims were American Indian women and girls.

In most cases, the victimization did not occur on the reservations, but in Sioux Falls and other larger cities.

“Most often, it is girls and some women who come from the reservation to Sioux Falls,” said. U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson. “When they are here, if they’re coming without a lot of resources, they’re often targeted by these guys.”

Cladoosby: Tribes will revisit pot after feds’ ruling

William Keeney talks about the variety of cannabis plants he is raising at his marijuana growing facility on Thursday, Dec. 6, in Sedro-Woolley. Keeney, who owns Dank Dynasty, began growing marijuana as a medical marijuana producer, but has since transferred his business over to a fully commerical operation. Brandy Shreve / Skagit Valley Herald
William Keeney talks about the variety of cannabis plants he is raising at his marijuana growing facility on Thursday, Dec. 6, in Sedro-Woolley. Keeney, who owns Dank Dynasty, began growing marijuana as a medical marijuana producer, but has since transferred his business over to a fully commerical operation. Brandy Shreve / Skagit Valley Herald


By Mark Stayton, Skagit Valley Herald


Newly licensed marijuana business owners could find themselves with some unexpected competition.

A new federal policy on pot has opened new business options for Native Americans, and the Swinomish are ready to take a look.

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community will consider the possibilities at a meeting the first week of January, said Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby, following a policy statement recently released by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“We haven’t had an intelligent discussion on it,” said Cladoosby. “It’s definitely something we’d like to look into.”

Meanwhile, marijuana business owners recently licensed under the state Initiative 502 wonder what the impacts will be if marijuana is grown or sold on tribal land, outside of the state-managed system that created a limited number of permits for different processing and retail operations.

Skagit County’s first recreational weed retail store opened in September after the owners were chosen in a lottery that included many months of wrangling for permits and approvals.

“I would think it would negatively impact my business,” said William Keeney, owner of Dank Dynasty, a small marijuana producer and processor in Sedro-Woolley that opened less than two months ago. “I would think that’s going to be hard to compete with.”

A memorandum from the Justice Department has opened the door for Native American tribes seeking to grow and sell marijuana on tribal lands, provided they follow federal guidelines adopted by states that have legalized it.

Priorities for U.S. attorneys listed in the memorandum centered on prevention of serious marijuana-related threats such as trafficking, the funding of gangs and cartels, drugged driving and violence.

The potential for revenue, as well as public health hazards, will need to be assessed by each tribe individually, said Cladoosby, who is also president of the National Congress of American Indians and president of the Association of Washington Tribes.

Cladoosby said the potential for millions if not billions of dollars in revenue might be possible for tribes in Washington alone. Swinomish tribal leaders will review the situation at an upcoming meeting and seek legal advice, he said.

“Even though the state had legalized (marijuana), it is still illegal in tribes. Now we will re-evaluate that to see if that’s something we want to reverse course on,” Cladoosby said.

However, the potential for substance abuse could be a dissuading factor for many tribes, Cladoosby said.

“Native Americans statistically have the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse of any sector of society,” Cladoosby said. “It’s a tough call for tribal leaders because of that problem.”

The Justice Department will deal with tribes on a case-by-case basis, said Justice spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle.

“Some tribes are very concerned with public safety implications, such as the impact on youths, and the use of tribal lands for the cultivation or transport of marijuana, while others have explored decriminalization and other approaches,” Hornbuckle said in an email.

“Each U.S. Attorney will assess the threats and circumstances in his or her district and consult closely with tribal partners and the Justice Department when significant issues or enforcement decisions arise in this area.”

However, the memorandum states it does not alter U.S. authority or jurisdiction to enforce federal law where marijuana is illegal under the Controlled Substance Act.

The state Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday that it does not consider marijuana legal on tribal lands in Washington but offered no further comment.

The original memorandum, issued by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole on Aug. 29, 2013, allowed marijuana businesses and the state regulatory system to move forward without fear of federal reprisal, said Brian Smith, spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board.

“It was an assurance for us that we were on the right track, and it brought a sigh of relief from people in the industry, that if they started a business, the government would not swoop in and seize all their assets,” Smith said.

“We didn’t know, when we were building our system, that the federal government was not going to stop this on a dime.”

The Aug. 29 memorandum notes that “jurisdictions must provide necessary resources and willingness to enforce their laws and regulations in a manner that does not undermine federal enforcement priorities.”

If tribes do start growing and selling marijuana, the structure of the industry would determine impacts to businesses licensed under I-502.

Keeney said he would likely go out of business if tribes could sell on Washington’s marketplace at lower prices.

“If the tribes are allowed to do commerce with the state, we’ll probably have to pack it in. I don’t think we could compete with that. The market will become flooded,” Keeney said.

Nate Loving, owner of the Loving Farms retail marijuana store in Mount Vernon, said he believes in tribes’ right to grow and process on their own land, but was unsure how retail sales would be addressed.

“I think it’s a good deal if they want to grow on their own land. Why shouldn’t they be able to do it?” Loving said. “Being that (the Liquor Control Board) already allotted licenses, I don’t know if they’ll add extra stores. They have a set number of licenses.”

Smith said much is still unknown as to how tribal marijuana business would be regulated and which agency would be responsible for it, or how it would integrate with the state’s recreational marijuana system.

He said the board will first need to convene and talk with its attorneys before taking any other action.

“What the memo seems to say is the Cole Memorandum applies to tribal lands the same way it applies to the state. There’s a lot of moving parts that are involved with that,” Smith said. “I don’t think anyone has any or all of those answers yet. I think people were surprised it was as wide open as it was.”

Swinomish Tribe Prepares For A Changing Climate

EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran meeting with Swinomish Tribal Council Chairman Brian Cladoosby at the Swinomish Reservation to discuss a new $750,000 grant to help the tribe prepare for climate change. | credit: Ashley Ahear
EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran meeting with Swinomish Tribal Council Chairman Brian Cladoosby at the Swinomish Reservation to discuss a new $750,000 grant to help the tribe prepare for climate change. | credit: Ashley Ahear


by Ashley Ahearn, KUOW

La Conner, Wash. — The Swinomish people have lived near the mouth of the Skagit River north of Seattle for thousands of years. Now, climate change threatens their lands with rising seas and flooding.

The Obama administration recently awarded the tribe a large grant to help cope with climate change.

The entire Swinomish reservation is pretty much at sea level, on a spit of land tucked into Skagit Bay.

Tribal chairman Brian Cladoosby says that as the waters rise, his people have been some of the first to feel the effects.

“We are experiencing it,” Cladoosby said Thursday. “We are witnessing it. For us here on Swinomish, we live on an island.”

The tribe has nowhere else to go. Flooding has put the tribes commercial areas and infrastructure at risk.

So, more than a decade ago, the Swinomish started planning.

Larry Campbell Sr., the tribal historic preservation officer, remembers.

“We took the stance where at the federal government level the scientists were still arguing, ‘is climate change a reality?’” he recalled. “We said ‘no, it’s a reality. What are we going to do to mitigate it?’”

The federal government took notice of the tribe’s climate change preparations.

“The Swinomish is a tribe that has shown leadership on climate in the past,” said Dennis McLerran, the Northwest Regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has awarded the Swinomish a $750,000 grant. McLerran met Thursday with tribal leaders to discuss their plans.

The money will be used to map where sea level rise will affect tribal infrastructure and sacred places. It will also fund an assessment of how climate change will impact tribal health and natural resources – like salmon.

“We think this is money well spent. The work that they’re doing here is work that we think will be valuable in a variety of other places and particularly for vulnerable communities and for tribal communities,” McLerran said.

Scientists project that sea levels could rise by more than 3 feet by the end of the century.

Legalized Pot Is a Mess of Trouble for Tribes


lamar-walterBy: Walter Lamar, Indian Country Today


While a patchwork of state laws have given marijuana quasi-legal status in 24 states, status on many tribal lands remains prohibited, or at best uncertain. Many tribes are content to adhere to federal prohibitions, but in PL 83-280 states (notably Washington, with legal recreational use), some are considering or even embracing the economic development potential of growing and distributing marijuana.

In general, medical marijuana laws have not been recognized on tribal lands, with some tribal members even facing exile for using state-licensed cannabis on their reservations. Many non-tribal members have also been cited for possession on the reservation, and although some legal experts hold that jurisdiction is unclear, the Salt River Maricopa-Pima Indian Community has successfully defended impounding cars of card-holding medical marijuana patients. Other tribes have requested their state’s licensing authority not to permit dispensaries near reservation boundaries.

Tribes in most states—including Colorado, where recreational use is also legal—follow federal law on marijuana use, possession, production and distribution. While some at the Ute Mountain Ute reservation have recommended initiating community discussion on the topic, the Southern Ute have come out very strongly against adhering to Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws.

The fact of the matter is that tribes have experienced more harm than good by illegal growing, cartel activity, and children being endangered by adult use or being recruited into gangs. Other tribal leaders cite problems with allowing marijuana in Indian Country such as losing subsidies for low income housing and BIA funding; IHS and tribal health services capacity strained by already high rates of drug and alcohol abuse; adding a burden to tribal law enforcement departments, courts and other agencies; and loss of employment due to failing drug tests. This last could spell big problems for recruiting and retaining a number of public trust positions, such as firefighters and police officers.

Those who support tribes’ participation in legal marijuana programs point to traditional uses for cannabis, economic development potential, reduced rates of prescription drug overdoses, and lifting the burden of patrol, monitoring, detention and probation from tribal public safety agencies. What advocates don’t want to discuss is the increase in specific risks involving children, particularly increased hospitalizations due to edibles, diversion from family members, and children perceiving marijuana use as “safe.”

Troy Eid, chair of the federally commissioned Indian Law and Order Commission acknowledges the dangers—especially for already at-risk Native youth—but argues that tribes should have the option to opt out of the federal system in order to resolve the jurisdictional “chaos that exists today.” He points out that some of the confusion came from both the Colorado and Washington laws being passed by voter initiatives, and so were without tribal consultation. In an interview with Time Magazine, he also made the argument for pursuing economic development: “The tribes are going to be left behind, because there’s been no change in state law that applies to them … These are some of the poorest areas in the country. They could be involved in this business as well, but instead they’re being prohibited from being part of what’s happening.”

Washington tribes may end up establishing precedent for a thoughtful approach to establishing marijuana laws that suit the needs of the community. Yakama has not only come out strongly against allowing recreational or medical use, but has extended its ban to all the tribe’s ceded territory, and the Washington State Liquor Control Board is automatically denying grow or distribution applications within the disputed area. Likewise, most of the tribes on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula are upholding federal law, in part because of strong community commitment to drug abuse prevention, and in part because of prohibitions on adjacent National Park Service and Forest Service lands.

On the other hand, the Pullayup have aligned their tribal criminal code with the Washington State code to permit recreational marijuana use, and several retail outlets have opened in and nearby tribal lands. The Suquamish have approached the state about permitting sales by the tribe and tribal business, but the state is seeking federal guidance before considering the application. The S’Klallam initially came out strongly against it, but are now taking a “wait and see” approach.

The Department of Justice is busy trying to sort these problems out as well. In a 2013 memo to all U.S. Attorneys, Deputy Attorney General James Cole points out several concerns that translate into public safety priorities, which should concern local police as much as federal law enforcement. These priorities include preventing distribution to minors; revenue from going to cartels and gangs; other drug trafficking under the guise of “legal” distribution; environmental degradation by illegal grow operations; possession where prohibited; violence and the use of firearms in cultivation or distribution; and drugged driving.

From initial statistics in Colorado, the state laws have been completely ineffective at preventing distribution to minors or preventing possession where prohibited, including neighboring states, public lands, and tribal areas as far away as South Dakota. Tribes are wise not to let the dollar signs blind them to the potential public safety, health and other issues that allowing marijuana use might bring, until all the Attorney General’s concerns are appropriately addressed. Finally, no matter what decisions the federal government ultimately makes regarding marijuana regulation, all governments should be respectful of individual tribes who wish to prohibit the drug on their lands. As Harry Smiskin, Yakama Nation Chairman said, ” I cannot tell you what to do on state lands in Seattle or elsewhere — I can tell you how it is going to be on Yakama Lands. The use of marijuana is not a part of our culture or religions or daily way of life. Nor is it one of our traditional medicines. Please respect our lands and our position.”

Walter Lamar, Blackfeet/Wichita, is a former FBI special agent, deputy director of BIA law enforcement and is currently president of Lamar Associates. Lamar Associates’ Indian Country Training Division offers culturally appropriate training for Indian country law enforcement and service professionals with both on-site and online courses.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/09/01/legalized-pot-mess-trouble-tribes

Moving Back Home Together – Rarest Native Animals Find Haven on Tribal Lands

 Yellowstone bison were released at the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana in 2013. Native American tribes have created a host of programs to aid unique Western species. Credit Jonathan Proctor/Defenders of Wildlife
Yellowstone bison were released at the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana in 2013. Native American tribes have created a host of programs to aid unique Western species. Credit Jonathan Proctor/Defenders of Wildlife


FORT BELKNAP AGENCY, Mont. — In the employee directory of the Fort Belknap Reservation, Bronc Speak Thunder’s title is buffalo wrangler.

In 2012, Mr. Speak Thunder drove a livestock trailer in a convoy from Yellowstone National Park that returned genetically pure bison to tribal land in northeastern Montana for the first time in 140 years. Mr. Speak Thunder, 32, is one of a growing number of younger Native Americans who are helping to restore native animals to tribal lands across the Northern Great Plains, in the Dakotas, Montana and parts of Nebraska.

They include people like Robert Goodman, an Oglala Lakota Sioux, who moved away from his reservation in the early 2000s and earned a degree in wildlife management. When he graduated in 2005, he could not find work in that field, so he took a job in construction in Rapid City, S.D.

Then he learned of work that would bring him home. The parks and recreation department of the Pine Ridge Reservation, where he grew up, needed someone to help restore rare native wildlife — including the swift fox, a small, tan wild dog revered for its cleverness. In 2009, Mr. Goodman held a six-pound transplant by its scruff and showed it by firelight to a circle of tribal elders, members of a reconvened warrior society that had disbanded when the foxes disappeared.


A black-footed ferret at Fort Belknap in 2013. Credit Jonathan Proctor/Defenders of Wildlife

“I have never been that traditional,” said Mr. Goodman, 33, who released that fox and others into the wild after the ceremony. “But that was spiritual to me.”

For a native wildlife reintroduction to work, native habitat is needed, biologists say. On the Northern Great Plains, that habitat is the original grass, never sliced by a farmer’s plow.

Unplowed temperate grassland is the least protected large ecosystem on earth, according to the American Prairie Reserve, a nonprofit organization dedicated to grassland preservation. Tribes on America’s Northern Plains, however, have left their grasslands largely intact.

More than 70 percent of tribal land in the Northern Plains is unplowed, compared with around 60 percent of private land, the World Wildlife Fund said. Around 90 million acres of unplowed grasses remain on the Northern Plains. Tribes on 14 reservations here saved about 10 percent of that 90 million — an area bigger than New Jersey and Massachusetts combined.

“Tribes are to be applauded for saving so much habitat,” said Dean E. Biggins, a wildlife biologist for the United States Geological Survey.

Wildlife stewardship on the Northern Plains’ prairies, bluffs and badlands is spread fairly evenly among private, public and tribal lands, conservationists say. But for a few of the rarest native animals, tribal land has been more welcoming.

The swift fox, for example, was once considered for listing as an endangered species after it was killed in droves by agricultural poison and coyotes that proliferated after the elimination of wolves. Now it has been reintroduced in six habitats, four on tribal lands.

“I felt a sense of pride trying to get these little guys to survive,” said Les Bighorn, 54, a tribe member and game warden at Montana’s Fort Peck Reservation who in 2005 led a reintroduction of swift foxes.

Mr. Speak Thunder, who took part in the bison convoy, agreed. “A lot of younger folks are searching, seeking out interesting experiences,” he said. “I have a lot of friends who just want to ride with me some days and help out.”

Over the last four years in Montana, the tribes at Fort Peck and Fort Belknap, along with the tycoon and philanthropist Ted Turner, saved dozens of bison that had migrated from Yellowstone. Once the food staple of Native Americans on the Great Plains, bison were virtually exterminated in the late 19th century; the Yellowstone bison are genetic descendants of the only ones that escaped in the wild.

This spring, by contrast, Yellowstone officials captured about 300 bison and sent them to slaughterhouses. Al Nash, a park spokesman, said they were culled after state and federal agencies “worked together to address bison management issues.” The cattle industry opposes wild bison for fear the animals might compete with domestic cows for grass, damage fences or spread disease.

Emily Boyd-Valandra, 29, a wildlife biologist at the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, is emblematic of new tribal wildlife managers working around the Northern Plains. She went to college and studied ecology. (Nationwide, the rate of indigenous people in America attending college has doubled since 1970, according to the American Indian College Fund.)

Diploma in hand, Ms. Boyd-Valandra moved home, took a job with her tribe’s department of game, fish and parks, and found a place for what she called “education to bridge the gap between traditional culture and science.”

Blending her college lessons with the reverence for native animals she absorbed from her elders, she helped safeguard black-footed ferrets on her reservation from threats like disease and habitat fragmentation. The animal was twice declared extinct after its primary prey, the prairie dog, was wiped out across 97 percent of its historic range; since 2000, ferrets have been reintroduced in 13 American habitats, five of them on tribal land.

“Now that we’re getting our own people back here,” Ms. Boyd-Valandra said, “you get the work and also the passion and the connection.” One of her mentors is Shaun Grassel, 42, a biologist for the Lower Brule Indian Reservation in South Dakota. “What’s happening gives me a lot of hope,” he said.

Though each reservation is sovereign, wildlife restoration has been guided to a degree by grants from the federal government. Since 2002, the Fish and Wildlife Service has given $60 million to 170 tribes for 300 projects that aided unique Western species, including gray wolves, bighorn sheep, Lahontan cutthroat trout and bison.

“Tribal land in the U.S. is about equal to all our national wildlife refuges,” said D. J. Monette of the wildlife agency. “So tribes really have an equal opportunity to protect critters.”

Nonprofit conservation organizations have also helped. But tribe leaders say that what drives their efforts is a cultural memory that was passed down from ancestors who knew the land before European settlement — when it teemed with wildlife.

“Part of our connection with the land is to put animals back,” said Mark Azure, 54, the president of the Fort Belknap tribe. “And as Indian people, we can use Indian country.”

In late 2013, during the painful federal sequestration that forced layoffs on reservations, Mr. Azure authorized the reintroduction of 32 bison from Yellowstone and 32 black-footed ferrets. That helped secure several thousand dollars from the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife and kept some tribe members at work on the reintroduction projects, providing employment through an economic dip and advancing the tribe’s long-term vision of native ecosystem restoration. The next project is an aviary for eagles.

One night last fall, Kristy Bly, 42, a biologist from the World Wildlife Fund, visited the reservation to check on the transplanted black-footed ferrets. Mena Limpy-Goings, 39, a tribe member, asked to ride along because she had never seen one.

They drove around a bison pasture under the Northern Lights for hours, until the spotlight mounted on Ms. Bly’s pickup reflected off the eyes of a ferret dancing atop a prairie dog burrow.

“Yee-hoo!” Ms. Bly cheered. “You’re looking at one of only 500 alive in the wild.”

Ms. Limpy-Goings hugged herself.

“It is,” she said, “more beautiful than I ever imagined.”

US Interior Dept. poised to let West Valley casino move forward

By Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal

A controversial casino development in the West Valley is taking a big step forward.

The U.S. Department of the Interior is notifying Arizona lawmakers and other Native American communities that it is looking favorably on an effort by the Tohono O’odham Nation to take a parcel of land at 91st and Northern avenues into trust. The Southern Arizona tribe wants to develop a $500 million casino on the parcel.

This move sets the stage for full federal approval, according to an official familiar with the casino plans.

“The handwriting is on the wall,” the official said.

U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn told other tribes of his decision to approve the O’odham’s application for the land to be an extended part of their reservation.

This would propel the casino toward construction after a prolonged legal fight.

“Today’s ruling by the Department of the Interior allows the Nation to move another step closer to benefiting from the United States’ promise to the Nation that we would be able to replace our destroyed reservation lands. The Nation is eager to move forward to use our replacement land to create thousands of new jobs in the West Valley,” Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris, Jr. said in s statement.

The O’odham casino has faced opposition — including lawsuits and legal appeals — from some state lawmakers as well as the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community. Those two tribes, which already operate casinos in the Phoenix area, cite concerns about the O’odham casino’s impact on state gaming compacts.

A federal 1986 law allows the O’odham to replace lands lost to a federal dam built in Southern Arizona with unincorporated parcels in the Phoenix area. The tribe quietly bought the West Valley parcel in 2003.

The O’odham have prevailed in lawsuits brought against the project, and efforts by U.S. Rep. Trent Franks to change the 1986 law have not progressed in Congress.

Officials involved in the casino scrap were still trying to figure out the implications of the federal actions today.

Interior officials and some Arizona players involved in the issue either could not be reached or declined requests for comment.

Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community President Diane Enos voiced disappointment with the ruling.

““The Community absolutely disagrees with Washburn’s decision for both legal and policy reasons. The Tohono O’odham Nation has asserted a right to create three additional Indian

reservations on county islands in Maricopa County to locate casinos. This is why many Valley mayors have been standing by tribes in asking for a resolution by Congress, fearful that their

city is next,” Enos said.

Gila River Indian Community Governor Gregory Mendoza released the following statement Friday:

“While our Community is disappointed by today’s decision, we are not surprised. As Assistant Secretary Washburn noted, he was faced with interpreting an ambiguous provision of a law passed by Congress decades ago. That’s precisely why our Community believes Congress is the best entity to decide this matter and uphold the will of Arizona’s voters. We hope voters across the state will contact their members of Congress to weigh in on this matter.

“It’s also critically important to note that this decision does not give the Tohono O’Odham Nation permission to game on this land. The Department of Interior has yet to decide that point and the majority of tribes in Arizona – including non-gaming tribes – remain opposed to the Nation’s casino because it poses a direct threat to the balance of tribal gaming in our state.

“We will review this decision thoroughly in the coming days and decide whether to take legal action.”

VAWA Already Improving Life for Pascua Yaqui Tribe

Jacelle Ramon-SauberanPascua Yaqui Tribe Attorney General Amanda Lomayesva and Pascua Yaqui Tribe Chief Prosecutor Alfred Urbina are working to improve the Pascua Yaqui community through the Violence Against Women Act.
Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan
Pascua Yaqui Tribe Attorney General Amanda Lomayesva and Pascua Yaqui Tribe Chief Prosecutor Alfred Urbina are working to improve the Pascua Yaqui community through the Violence Against Women Act.


By Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan, Indian Country Today


The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is making progress in Southern Arizona after being chosen to take early advantage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). “So far VAWA is helping us analyze our own process and the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council is really interested in how this is going to work out,” said Amanda Lomayesva, Attorney General for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

On February 6, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington and the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon were chosen by the Obama Administration to exercise criminal jurisdiction over certain crimes of domestic and dating violence, regardless of the defendant’s Indian or non-Indian status, under the 2013 VAWA law.

Lomayesva (Lumbee) said the Pascua Yaqui Tribe became interested in VAWA when they wanted to expand their tribal jurisdiction. “I think it really started to gain steam in 2007 when people started talking about problems in Indian Country –about crimes that were reoccurring and not being taken care of,” said Chief Prosecutor for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Alfred Urbina.

Not to mention, the Domestic Violence is the main crime on the Pascua Yaqui reservation, he said.

Prior to the assertion of VAWA, when a non-Native American committed a crime on the Pascua Yaqui reservation, the Pascua Yaqui Police officers would drop them off on the edge of the reservation, Lomayesva said.

Also, prior to 2010, tribal members accused of a crime would only be incarcerated for one year and the Pascua Yaqui jail was not fit for anyone. The office was in a house and the jail was a cage, said Urbina (Pascua Yaqui).

In 2010, the Tribal Law and Orders Act changed that allowing the tribe to sentence criminals up to three years of incarceration per offense with a maximum of nine years.

RELATED: Three Tribes to Begin Prosecuting Non-Indian Domestic Violence Offenders

And the tribe was able to have a multi-purpose justice complex built through a $20 Million American Reinvestment Recovery Act in 2010.  “There has been a real tribal effort to address these problems and a challenge to not only our courts, but all tribal courts to protect tribal members,” said Lomayesva.

The tribe currently has 12 VAWA investigations that have lead to arrests of non-Native Americans, said Urbina. “We had two individuals that were wanted felons by the State of Arizona hiding out on the reservation,” he said. “This happens on our reservation a lot, and other surrounding reservations.”

RELATED: Justice Long Denied Comes to Indian Country; First Post-VAWA Trial Set

Also, they are finding that majority of the women involved in the cases are single, young females with children. Typically, both parties are unemployed, alcohol is involved and the accused are repeat offenders.

Urbina admits it is too early to start drawing conclusions. But he’s beginning to see what some of the key issues are, and is asking questions. “VAWA is giving us an opportunity to do an assessment and look into bigger problems,” he said.

Lomayesva admits that a couple of the VAWA cases have fallen apart, and it has led them to question what the tribe can do to help support domestic violence victims.

Tribal members Lourdes Escalante and Feliciano Cruz Sr. both believe VAWA will have a positive effect on their community. “As a community member I think it is about time the tribe start prosecuting non-Natives,” Cruz said. “If they live on our reservation they should abide by our laws.”

Cruz believes that domestic violence on the Pascua Yaqui reservation has gone on long enough and is happy to see that non-Native Americans who are accused won’t be “slapped on the back of the hands anymore. They commit the crime, they go to do the time.”

As for Escalante, a law student at the University of Arizona, is interested to see what VAWA does for her tribe. “I like that my tribe was one of the first to take this on,” she said. “Hopefully, it makes a huge difference; but since it is still kind of new, we will have to wait and see.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/09/vawa-already-improving-life-pascua-yaqui-tribe-155209?page=0%2C1

The hard lives — and high suicide rate — of Native American children on reservations

Youths’ suicides rattle Indian country: The silence that has shrouded suicide in Indian country is being pierced by growing alarm at the sheer numbers of young Native Americans taking their own lives — more than three times the national average, and up to 10 times the average on some reservations.
Youths’ suicides rattle Indian country: The silence that has shrouded suicide in Indian country is being pierced by growing alarm at the sheer numbers of young Native Americans taking their own lives — more than three times the national average, and up to 10 times the average on some reservations.

By Sari Horwitz, Washington Post

SACATON, ARIZ. The tamarisk tree down the dirt road from Tyler Owens’s house is the one where the teenage girl who lived across the road hanged herself. Don’t climb it, don’t touch it, admonished Owens’s grandmother when Tyler, now 18, was younger.

There are other taboo markers around the Gila River Indian reservation — eight young people committed suicide here over the course of a single year.

“We’re not really open to conversation about suicide,” Owens said. “It’s kind of like a private matter, a sensitive topic. If a suicide happens, you’re there for the family. Then after that, it’s kind of just, like, left alone.”

But the silence that has shrouded suicide in Indian country is being pierced by growing alarm at the sheer number of young Native Americans taking their own lives — more than three times the national average, and up to 10 times on some reservations.

A toxic collection of pathologies — poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, sexual assault, alcoholism and drug addiction — has seeped into the lives of young people among the nation’s 566 tribes. Reversing their crushing hopelessness, Indian experts say, is one of the biggest challenges for these communities.

“The circumstances are absolutely dire for Indian children,” said Theresa M. Pouley, the chief judge of the Tulalip Tribal Court in Washington state and a member of the Indian Law and Order Commission.

Pouley fluently recites statistics in a weary refrain: “One-quarter of Indian children live in poverty, versus 13 percent in the United States. They graduate high school at a rate 17 percent lower than the national average. Their substance-abuse rates are higher. They’re twice as likely as any other race to die before the age of 24. They have a 2.3 percent higher rate of exposure to trauma. They have two times the rate of abuse and neglect. Their experience with post-traumatic stress disorder rivals the rates of returning veterans from Afghanistan.”

In one of the broadest studies of its kind, the Justice Department recently created a national task force to examine the violence and its impact on American Indian and Alaska Native children, part of an effort to reduce the number of Native American youth in the criminal justice system. The level of suicide has startled some task force officials, who consider the epidemic another outcome of what they see as pervasive despair.

Last month, the task force held a hearing on the reservation of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale. During their visit, Associate Attorney General Tony West, the third-highest-ranking Justice Department official, and task force members drove to Sacaton, about 30 miles south of Phoenix, and met with Owens and 14 other teenagers.

“How many of you know a young person who has taken their life?” the task force’s co-chairman asked. All 15 raised their hands.

“That floored me,” West said.


A ‘trail of broken promises’

There is an image that Byron Dorgan, co-chairman of the task force and a former senator from North Dakota, can’t get out of his head. On the Spirit Lake Nation in North Dakota years ago, a 14-year-old girl named Avis Little Wind hanged herself after lying in bed in a fetal position for 90 days. Her death followed the suicides of her father and sister.

“She lay in bed for all that time, and nobody, not even her school, missed her,” said Dorgan, a Democrat who chaired the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “Eventually she got out of bed and killed herself. Avis Little Wind died of suicide because mental-health treatment wasn’t available on that reservation.”

Indian youth suicide cannot be looked at in a historical vacuum, Dorgan said. The agony on reservations is directly tied to a “trail of broken promises to American Indians,” he said, noting treaties dating back to the 19th century that guaranteed but largely didn’t deliver health care, education and housing.

When he retired after 30 years in Congress, Dorgan founded the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute to focus on problems facing young Indians, especially the high suicide rates.

“The children bear the brunt of the misery,” Dorgan said, adding that tribal leaders are working hard to overcome the challenges. “But there is no sense of urgency by our country to do anything about it.”

At the first hearing of the Justice Department task force, in Bismarck, N.D., in December, Sarah Kastelic, deputy director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, used a phrase that comes up repeatedly in deliberations among experts: “historical trauma.”

Youth suicide was once virtually unheard of in Indian tribes. A system of child protection, sustained by tribal child-rearing practices and beliefs, flourished among Native Americans, and everyone in a community was responsible for the safeguarding of young people, Kastelic said.

“Child maltreatment was rarely a problem,” said Kastelic, a member of the native village of Ouzinkie in Alaska, “because of these traditional beliefs and a natural safety net.”

But these child-rearing practices were often lost as the federal government sought to assimilate native people and placed children — often against their parents’ wishes — in “boarding schools” that were designed to immerse Indian children in Euro-American culture.

In many cases, the schools, mostly located off reservations, were centers of widespread sexual, emotional and physical abuse. The transplantation of native children continued into the 1970s; there were 60,000 children in such schools in 1973 as the system was being wound down. They are the parents and grandparents of today’s teenagers.

Michelle Rivard-Parks, a University of North Dakota law professor who has spent 10 years working in Indian country as a prosecutor and tribal lawyer, said that the “aftermath of attempts to assimilate American and Alaska Natives remains ever present . . . and is visible in higher-than-average rates of suicide.”

The Justice Department task force is gathering data and will not offer its final recommendations to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on ways to mitigate violence and suicide until this fall. For now, West, Dorgan and other members are listening to tribal leaders and experts at hearings on reservations around the country.

“We know that the road to involvement in the juvenile justice system is often paved by experiences of victimization and trauma,” West said. “We have a lot of work to do. There are too many young people in Indian country who don’t see a future for themselves, who have lost all hope.”

The testimony West is hearing is sometimes bitter, and witnesses often come forward with great reluctance.

“It’s tough coming forward when you’re a victim,” said Deborah Parker, 43, the vice chair of the Tulalip Tribes in Washington state. “You have to relive what happened. . . . A reservation is like a small town, and you can face a backlash.”

Parker didn’t talk about her sexual abuse as a child until two years ago, when she publicly told of being repeatedly raped when she “was the size of a couch cushion.”

Indian child-welfare experts say that the staggering number of rapes and sexual assaults of Native American women have had devastating effects on mothers and their children.

“A majority of our girls have struggled with sexual and domestic violence — not once but repeatedly,” said Parker, who has started a program to help young female survivors and try to prevent suicide. “One of my girls, Sophia, was murdered on my reservation by her partner. Another one of our young girls took her life.”

Stories of violence and abuse

Owens recalls how she used to climb the tamarisk tree with her cousin to look for the nests of mourning doves and pigeons — until the suicide of the 16-year-old girl. The next year, the girl’s distraught father hanged himself in the same tree.

“He was devastated and he was drinking, and he hung himself too,” Owens said.

She and a good friend, Richard Stone, recently talked about their broken families and their own histories with violence. When Owens was younger, her uncle physically abused her until her mother got a restraining order. Stone, 17, was beaten by his alcoholic mother.

“My mother hit me with anything she could find,” Stone said. “A TV antenna, a belt, the wooden end of a shovel.”

Social workers finally removed him and his brothers and sister from their home, and he was placed in a group home and then a foster home.

Both Owens and Stone dream about leaving “the rez.” Owens hopes to get an internship in Washington and have a career as a politician; Stone wants to someday be a counselor or a psychiatrist.

Owens sometimes rides her bike out into the alfalfa and cotton fields near Sacaton, the tiny town named after the coarse grasses that once grew on the Sonoran Desert land belonging to the Akimel O’Odham and Pee Posh tribes. She and her friends sing a peaceful, healing song she learned from the elders about a bluebird who flies west at night, blessing the sun and bringing on the moon and stars.

One recent evening, as the sun dipped below the Sierra Estrella mountains, the two made their way to Owens’s backyard. They climbed onto her trampoline and began jumping in the moonlight, giggling like teenagers anywhere in America.

But later this month on the reservation, they will take on an adult task. Owens, Stone and a group of other teenagers here will begin a two-day course on suicide prevention. A hospital intervention trainer will engage them in role-playing and teach them how to spot the danger signs.

“In Indian country, youths need to have somebody there for them,” Owens said. “I wish I had been that somebody for the girl in the tamarisk tree.”

Navajo Nation president blocks tax on junk food

By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation president has vetoed a proposal to impose an additional tax on chips, cookies and sweetened beverages on the country’s largest reservation, but the legislation could be resurrected later.

President Ben Shelly supports the idea of a junk food tax as a way to combat high rates of diabetes and obesity among tribal members and encourage healthy lifestyles, his adviser Deswood Tome said Wednesday. But Shelly said the legislation isn’t clear on how the tax on snacks high in fat, sugar and salt would be enforced and regulated, according to Tome.

“There are a lot of supporters out there for the tax, and again, the president wants a plan that works,” Tome said. “He’s asking the (Tribal) Council to take back this initiative and redo it so that the burden is not on the government to implement a law that is going to create hardship, especially in the collection of taxes.”

The Dine Community Advocacy Alliance and tribal lawmakers had been positioning the Navajo Nation to become the leader in Indian Country when it comes to using the tax system to press tribal members to make healthier choices.

School districts across the country have banned junk food from vending machines. Cities and states have used taxes and other financial incentives to encourage healthy choices, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but not all the efforts have been met with overwhelming support.

The legislation in the Navajo Nation Council did not have a smooth ride either.

Denisa Livingston of the Dine Community Advocacy Alliance said the group worked for two years to get tribal lawmakers to pass the legislation. Dine is the Navajo word for “the people.”

Livingston said American Indians are more likely to suffer from diabetes and other chronic health problems than the average American.

She estimated that imposing an additional 2 percent tax on junk food sold on the Navajo reservation would result in at least $1 million a year in revenue that could go toward wellness centers, community parks, walking trails and picnic grounds in tribal communities. The tax would have expired at the end of 2018.

“Every one of our Navajo families has someone who is suffering from chronic disease,” she said. “This is the initiative we wanted to take because we see our families suffering.”

About 14 percent of the people in the area of the Navajo Nation have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the federal Indian Health Service.

American Indian and Alaska Native adults are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites, and Native children ages 10 to 19 are nine times as likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the agency said.

Opponents of the tax in Navajo communities in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah argued it would burden consumers and drive revenue off the reservation.

Shelly also vetoed a companion bill to eliminate the tribe’s 5 percent sales tax on nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables. Tome said Shelly would like lawmakers to revise the legislation to address his concerns.

The Tribal Council can override Shelly’s vetoes with a two-thirds vote of its 24 members. Livingston said she would pursue that option with lawmakers.

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2014/02/12/2981159/navajo-nation-president-blocks.html#storylink=cpy