North Dakota Today, Washington State Tomorrow?



By: Water4fish


TAHOLAH, WA (5/6/15)– The exploding oil train near Heimdal, North Dakota early Wednesday morning serves as the latest reminder that the oil trains traveling the tracks here in Washington are unsafe, according to Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation.

“This was just the latest in a series of oil train derailments that have resulted in crashes, followed by explosions, mountains of thick, black, toxic smoke and inevitable spills of poisonous oil that at some point make their always way into water systems, streams, rivers or marine waters,” she said.

  “Let there be no doubt. These trains are dangerous, and we are seeing more and more of them on our tracks all the time. Tribes are very concerned about them for many reasons. Not only do they jeopardize our citizens, because they are explosive and too heavy for the tracks they travel on; the oil that inevitably spills from them poisons our treaty-protected waters and aquatic resources. Also, fossil fuels are the primary cause of climate change. We all need to make some important decisions about the future.  Do we accept the major expansion of these poisonous fuels and the impacts they have on our environment, or do we opt to be good stewards of the land and work to phase them out and replace them with clean energy sources and wiser choices?”

 “These are our choices here in the Northwest, and in states across the country.  At Quinault Nation we have taken a stand against the proposed expansion of oil train traffic and terminals,” said President Sharp. Sharp is also President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, an organization of 57 Tribes encompassing six Northwest states, and Area Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians, a national organization of more than 500 Tribes.

This morning’s derailment is very similar in many ways to all the others, which have occurred in Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well as numerous close calls, including Seattle, she said.  Cars run off the track, the tanks are pierced, and a spark ignites the highly volatile crude, which either comes from the North Dakota Bakken fields or oil sands in Alberta.

 In the case of this morning’s accident, a waterway known as the Big Slough runs north of the tracks near Heimdal and drains into the James River.

There were no reported injuries from the derailment of the BNSF train near Heimdal, thank God. All the residents of the tiny town did have to be evacuated, as did farms anywhere near this morning’s explosion. That was only a few dozen people. But it could have been Aberdeen, or Seattle. Then it would have been thousands, and timely evacuation could be a virtual impossibility.

 The National Transportation Safety Board sent five people the site, and the Federal Railroad Administration sent 10 investigators. But inspecting is about all they could do.  The fires caused by these explosions must burn themselves out. They’re simply too hot to handle. Some of the oil leakage could be stopped, but not much, said Sharp.

 Last week, federal regulators passed new safety rules governing crude by rail, which has become a booming business thanks to the growth in U.S. oil production. Nearly 450,000 tankers of crude moved through North America last year, up from just 9,500 in 2009.

 “The Washington State Legislature just passed a bill to enhance safety, as well, and although all safety efforts are welcome, the fact is they are not enough. The simple truth is there is no such thing as a safe oil train, no matter how strict safety standards might be.  Rail and bridge infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and renewal. But even if and when that is achieved, there will be absolutely no guarantee of safety,” she said.

“The only safe oil train is one that has no oil in it. And as painful as it may be for the oil industry to consider, the best option is to phase out the use of fossil fuels. That will take time. But this is a critical situation that needs more focus, and investment, now,” she said.

Tomorrow’s Salmon

By: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission


Effects of climate change and the ongoing loss of salmon habitat came home to roost at this year’s tribal and state salmon fishing season setting process. The result was some of the most restrictive salmon fisheries ever seen in some areas.

A record low snowpack, low stream flows and increasing water temperatures, combined with the results of ongoing habitat loss and declining marine survival, forced the co-managers to sharply cut harvest this year to protect both hatchery and naturally spawning chinook stocks.

The co-managers set seasons based on the need to conserve the weakest salmon stocks. The goal is to protect the weakest stocks while also providing limited harvest on healthy stocks which are mostly hatchery fish.
Last year’s salmon runs throughout Puget Sound returned far below expectations. Those fish that returned faced low stream flows that led to water temperatures soaring to 75 degrees or more in some places. Water temperatures 70 degrees or higher can be lethal to salmon. Last year many adult salmon – both hatchery and wild – died before they could spawn or reach a hatchery.

This year’s returns of hatchery and wild salmon are expected to be about 30 percent lower across the board than last year’s poor returns. Lake Washington chinook provide a good example of why this year’s fishing seasons needed to be more restrictive.

Hatchery and wild salmon returning to Lake Washington must pass through the most urbanized parts of western Washington where they are confronted by polluted stormwater runoff, barriers and low stream flows. When combined with the effects of elevated stream temperatures, the results can be deadly for salmon.

The Muckleshoot Tribe, which tracks salmon migration into the lake through the Ballard Locks, quickly realized the extent of last year’s low returns and took action to protect the remaining fish. The tribe sharply reduced or eliminated planned harvests, including culturally important ceremonial and subsistence fisheries. But by then most of the damage had already been done. Despite tribal sacrifices, Lake Washington wild chinook populations were further diminished and hatchery egg-take goals were unmet.

Given last year’s poor returns and the increased effects of climate change and habitat loss, the tribes were stunned when the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife – apparently at the prodding of sport fishermen – proposed even higher chinook sport harvest this year. Their proposal included a mid-Puget Sound fishery targeting chinook in an area where the weak Lake Washington run congregates. But the tribes rejected the proposed harvest increases and the fisheries were withdrawn, leading to howls of protest from some anglers.

The package of fisheries developed by the co-managers for 2015 reflects the reality of lower abundance and reduced fishing opportunity for everyone. Good salmon management requires us to balance the needs of the resource against the desire by some to catch more fish every year. That is why we must have strong leadership to make the tough decisions needed to protect the resource.

The treaty tribes believe that salmon must be managed in the best interest of those who will follow seven generations from now. We will not allow tomorrow’s salmon to be sacrificed for today’s harvest.

Tribes urge restart of background checks in child placement

FILE -- In this Jan. 26, 2004, file photo, Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, listens to testimony in Olympia, Wash. Washington tribes and the country’s largest American Indian organization say when a state agency recently stopped running criminal background checks for emergency child placement situations, they put children at risk. The groups are urging officials to reinstate the background check process or let tribes have access to the national database for these emergency situations. McCoy, a state Democrat who represents the Tulalip district, said the dispute is yet another problem tribes are having with access to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (AP Photo/Louie Balukoff, File)
FILE — In this Jan. 26, 2004, file photo, Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, listens to testimony in Olympia, Wash. Washington tribes and the country’s largest American Indian organization say when a state agency recently stopped running criminal background checks for emergency child placement situations, they put children at risk. The groups are urging officials to reinstate the background check process or let tribes have access to the national database for these emergency situations. McCoy, a state Democrat who represents the Tulalip district, said the dispute is yet another problem tribes are having with access to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (AP Photo/Louie Balukoff, File)


Martha Bellisle, The Associated Press

SEATTLE — Washington tribes and the country’s largest group representing Native Americans are asking for state and federal help in getting background checks when a tribe needs to place a child with a foster parent in an emergency situation.

The state’s Children’s Administration, a division of the Department of Social and Health Services, had conducted the criminal background checks for the tribes for years. But Jennifer Strus, the agency’s assistant secretary, sent a letter to the tribes in June saying that service would no longer be provided effective July 1, 2014.

Following a parent’s arrest, injury or unexpected death, background checks would be conducted before a social worker placed a child in a foster home, said Robert Calkins, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol.

Strus told staff in a letter acquired by The Associated Press that the State Patrol informed the Children’s Administration that it was not authorized to provide the information to the tribes, and federal law prohibits the agency from providing the background checks.

“Therefore, Children’s Administration staff must not share the Record of Arrests and Prosecutions, RAP sheet, verbally or in writing (email) with any external entity,” she said.

Tribal officials say the state’s actions compromise child safety.

Sen. John McCoy, a Democrat and a member of the Tulalip Tribes, said child placement is just one area in which the tribes are hampered by a lack of access to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, administered by the FBI.

Another problem area was revealed after a high school student used his father’s gun to kill four friends and himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High School last year.

The father, Raymond Lee Fryberg Jr., was later arrested for illegally possessing a firearm. Fryberg was the subject of a domestic violence protection order issued by a tribal court, which should have caused him to fail a background check during a gun purchase. But the order was never entered into the criminal database, as it would have been if issued by a state court. He pleaded not guilty Thursday to the federal firearms charge.

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced it would host a meeting with tribes in August to try to fix that problem.

However, the emergency child placement problem is a reverse of that issue. Instead of not being able to enter orders into the database, tribes are not allowed to access information to make sure a person who is taking a child in an emergency situation does not have a criminal history involving children or domestic violence.

McCoy said both problems need to be fixed.

“I’ve been in communication with folks to try to resolve this for years,” McCoy said.

John Dossett, general counsel for the National Congress of American Indians, agreed, saying the federal criminal database system is a cooperative between the FBI and the states.

“It’s a national network, but it’s been hard for individual tribes to participate,” he said.

Calkins said the State Patrol discovered that the department was providing background checks for tribes when his agency conducted a routine audit. Since Washington law says only the state social and health services department can run criminal background checks for emergency child placements, the Children’s Administration was told to stop giving data to tribes.

However, tribal police can do the checks, Calkins said.

“We’re disappointed someone would imply that we had cut off tribal access to criminal history information without making clear that this is a very narrow limitation related to emergency child placement only,” Calkins said.

But Dossett said tribal police aren’t allowed access to the database for civil purposes, like the emergency child placement background checks. That information is critical when a child is transferred to foster care, he said.

The FBI allows states to define who has access to the data, and in Washington’s case, state statute restricts access to the “department,” which is the Children’s Administration, he said.

The Tulalip Tribes of Washington passed a resolution in March asking state officials to add new language to the statue that would allow “an authorized agency of a federally recognized tribe” to request a federal criminal history record check.

The National Congress of American Indians went further in an October resolution.

It asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to direct the Justice Department to work with the tribes to provide full access. It also asked the FBI to work with tribes “to encourage the state of Washington and other states to modify their statutes and regulations” to include direct access to the databases by the tribes.”

Without access, the resolution said, serious consequences could result “to a tribe’s most vulnerable population, its children.”

NOAA plan will speed up review of hatcheries

By Kimberly Cauvel, Skagit Valley Herald


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has withdrawn its draft environmental impact statement on Puget Sound salmon and steelhead hatcheries.

The draft was in preparation of a full review of all 133 hatchery genetic management plans into one EIS.

Reviews will now proceed on a smaller scale with individual or watershed-level plans, according to NOAA’s March 26 announcement.

NOAA West Coast Region fisheries manager Rob Jones said the withdrawal will allow the federal agency to move through the review process more quickly.

“We can move ahead right now with review and approvals as the plans come in the door,” he said. “What we’re going to do is take advantage of all the work that was done — to get to a draft EIS — and then we’re going to put that to use as we receive updated plans from the state and tribes.”

The review is needed to ensure compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Steelhead and chinook salmon are listed as threatened under the act, meaning they are at risk of becoming endangered.

The National Environmental Policy Act requires NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to assess the impacts of the hatchery genetic management plans through an environmental review. Part of the review process is deciding whether an EIS is necessary.

“We think this is a better and faster way to comply with the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act,” Jones said. “We’re working on (updated plans) as they come in the door instead of waiting to do all 100 or so at the same time. That means decisions are going to start rolling out the door this spring.”

Three hatcheries operate in the Skagit River system — the Marblemount, Upper Skagit and Baker Lake. Six hatchery programs run out of those facilities contribute to chinook, coho, chum and sockeye runs.

Five of the six programs were submitted to NOAA for review a decade ago, but were held back while the federal agency waited to have all 133 plans in hand, Jones said. By the time NOAA was prepared to proceed, a lot had changed in the way hatcheries are managed.

The plans need to be updated to reflect the 2007 listing of Puget Sound steelhead under the ESA, new scientific information and the closure of some facilities.

State and tribal representatives say NOAA’s review is important to ensure hatcheries are not at risk of litigation, as in the case of last year’s lawsuit by the Wild Fish Conservancy, which resulted in a 12-year closure of the Skagit River’s winter steelhead program.

Area tribes support the federal agency’s decision to withdraw the draft study.

“NOAA fisheries determined, and tribes agree, that a watershed-specific approach would be a more effective approach to focus and assess the potential environmental effects of hatchery programs,” Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission spokeswoman Kari Neumeyer said in an email.

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community fisheries manager Lorraine Loomis, who is chair of the commission, agrees.

“Many of these hatchery programs are critically important to maintaining treaty-protected fishing rights,” Loomis said in a prepared statement. “We are quickly approaching a crisis in the Pacific Northwest as salmon runs and their habitat continue to decline. It is important that NOAA is provided the resources to complete its statutory responsibilities under the ESA (Endangered Species Act) as quickly as possible.”

Though NOAA had already started its review of the state’s hatcheries, Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, introduced in the state Legislature this year Joint Memorial Bill 8007, which calls on the federal government to review Puget Sound hatchery genetic management plans to avoid lawsuits.

Pearson also sees the withdrawal as a step in the right direction.

“NOAA knows that the joint memorial (Bill 8007) is coming, and this is helping put pressure on them to get our hatcheries certified. I’m very pleased to see some movement on this front and I hope all of our hatcheries can get certified soon,” he said in an email.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound treaty tribes co-manage all but one of the region’s hatcheries. The only one not co-managed by the state and tribes is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hatcheries are a tool to help provide fish for harvest, but should be managed with consideration for threatened or endangered species, according to the fisheries service.

University of Washington celebrates grand opening of wəɬəbʔaltxʷ, Intellectual House

University of Washington officials and Elders Committee members cut a cedar ribbon, symbolizing the grand opening of wəɬəbʔaltxʷ.Photo/Micheal Rios
University of Washington officials and Elders Committee members cut a cedar ribbon, symbolizing the grand opening of wəɬəbʔaltxʷ.
Photo/Micheal Rios


by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On Thursday, March 12, the University of Washington held the open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the brand new longhouse-style building named Intellectual House. In the Lushootseed language its wəɬəbʔaltxʷ and is phonetically pronounced “wah-sheb-altuh”.

The modern interpretation of a Coast Salish longhouse on the University of Washington Seattle campus fulfills a 45-year-old request by Native Americans to construct a building where Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Indigenous students from around the world can gather and share their unique cultural interests.

wəɬəbʔaltxʷ is the third longhouse-style facility to be built on a Washington State college campus. The other two are located on the Evergreen State College in Olympia and on the Peninsula College in Port Angeles.

Ana Mari Cauce, University of Washington President, stated, “I’m very deeply honored to meet the elected leaders of our region’s tribal governments who have made the journey to join us here today.  We stand on traditional Duwamish land and it is very apt that we have wəɬəbʔaltxʷ here. The University of Washington is very, very dedicated to serving the educational needs of our Native American undergraduate and graduate students.  This is a historic day for both the University of Washington and for the Native tribes of our region. It’s our sincere hope that this place be a home for indigenous people across the Northwest, the U.S. and indeed around the world.”

Built on university grounds that once belonged to the villages and longhouses of the Duwamish people, the Intellectual House represents a dream over four decades in the making. It will provide a comfortable Native environment to assist and contribute to the cultural comfort level of Native/Indigenous students who attend the prestigious Seattle campus.


UW officials and tribal leaders from the 22 federally recognized tribes in the Washington State held their annual tribal summit in the Intellectual House.  Photo/Micheal Rios
UW officials and tribal leaders from the 22 federally recognized tribes in the Washington State held their annual tribal summit in the Intellectual House.
Photo/Micheal Rios


The $6 million, 8,400-square-foot longhouse-style building is designed with the architectural elements of a traditional Coast Salish longhouse, including cedar planks and posts. It features a gathering space that can seat 500 people, a large kitchen suitable for teaching about Native foods and medicines, a smaller meeting room, and an outdoor area with a fire pit where salmon can be cooked in the traditional way.

“I don’t want people to walk by and think, ‘That’s where the Indians go,’” said Intellectual House Director Ross Braine, who is Apsáalooke. “I want it to be, ‘That’s our longhouse.’ That’s what I want to hear.”UW-4-drummers

Intellectual House was designed by Johnpaul Jones, architect and founding partner of Jones & Jones and a Cherokee-Choctaw Indian. The main feature of Intellectual House is a large, open room paneled in cedar, with benches that run along one side.

Hundreds of Native American officials, University of Washington faculty and staff, and casual observers convened at 3:00p.m. on March 12 for the open house of Intellectual House, followed by an annual summit of Native and UW leaders. All those in attendance were treated to a complimentary meal featuring a twist on traditional Native American foods, such as teriyaki Pacific salmon skewers, trio of deviled eggs: fresh herbs, classic and smoked salmon, chipotle grilled sweet corn, and roasted green beans with sea salt.


Native Americans are one of the smallest minority groups on the Seattle campus, with only 394 undergraduates. That’s about 1.3 percent of all undergraduates, a number that is similar to the national percentile of Native American students attending collegiate universities. It’s the Universities hope that with the creation of the wəɬəbʔaltxʷ they can being to see those numbers increase as Native Americans can see the commitment and dedication to their culture. The longhouse will help with recruitment and graduation rates of Native American students.

“We’ve always kept it in our hearts what drove this project,” said Charlotte Coté, a UW American Indian Studies associate professor and member of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. “And that was to have a cultural and intellectual space here on campus that honors us as Indigenous peoples, that recognizes us as Indigenous peoples. A place where we can come and feel safe, we can feel comfortable, we can feel at home, and we can be together. That’s what ωəɬəβʔαλτξʷ represents, that’s what it symbolizes. This place just isn’t a building, it has a spirit. It is alive. wəɬəbʔaltxʷ represents a spirit of sharing, of cooperation, but above all that community. A place where you will see the University committed to Indigenous education, to Indigenous knowledge, and to community here on campus.”




Contact Micheal Rios at

Short Strokes: 2015 Canoe Journey Will Be Several Mini-Journeys

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today
ICTMN file photoThe Quinault hosted the 2013 Canoe Journey Aug. 1-6, 2013 in Quinault, Washington.
ICTMN file photo
The Quinault hosted the 2013 Canoe Journey Aug. 1-6, 2013 in Quinault, Washington.


The 2015 Canoe Journey will consist of several regional canoe journeys. When no indigenous nation stepped forward and offered to host in 2015 after the 2014 Canoe Journey/Paddle to Bella Bella, the annual gathering of Northwest canoe cultures appeared to be headed for a hiatus. But canoe skippers wanted to see the journey continue, and so a new approach emerged: Instead of one large Canoe Journey, there will be several journeys hosted in various regions of the Salish Sea.

At a Canoe Journey skippers meeting on Jan. 24, in the Suquamish Tribe’s House of Awakened Culture, the plans for this summer’s gathering – or gatherings – started to take shape.

Dates aren’t set yet – the Canoe Journey usually takes place in July — but it appears there will be a journey hosted this summer by the Ahousaht First Nation, on the west coast of Vancouver Island; the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, near Port Angeles; the Sliammon First Nation at Campbell River, B.C.; and the Semiahmoo First Nation in Surrey, B.C.

Bennie Armstrong of Suquamish’s Tana Stobs Canoe Family told ICTMN he’s filed permits, and is in talks with Seattle’s parks department regarding use of Genesee Park for a hosting in Seattle, the ancestral land of the Suquamish and Duwamish peoples. He said there would be a couple of days of protocols – songs, dances and cultural sharing – but canoe families would be responsible for their own meals.

The Canoe Journey is a considerable logistical and financial undertaking. Planning and fundraising takes at least a year, and some host nations have installed roads, developed camping areas and parks, and built buildings to accommodate the festivities and thousands of guests. The host nation also hosts breakfast and dinner each day for all guests, and closes that year’s Canoe Journey with a potlatch.

Based on past fundraising goals, host nations usually expect to spend at least copy million.

Canoe families – those in the canoes, as well as support crew and family members – travel, sometimes up to three weeks, from their territories to the host territory, visiting indigenous nations along the way to participate in traditional protocols and share languages, songs, dances, and traditional foods. Once all canoes arrive at the final destination, a weeklong celebration follows.

The series of regional journeys will help keep costs down for everyone while “keeping the spirit of tribal journeys alive in 2015,” Armstrong said.

The Nisqually Tribe is scheduled to host the 2016 Canoe Journey. The Sliammon First Nation is scheduled to host in 2017.



Home Safe Home: Permanent Housing Is Key to Helping Domestic Violence Survivors



Lynn Armitage, Indian Country Today 

When Irene Moses was 13, she fell into a relationship with a 24-year-old man and ran away from her foster home to be with him. At 14, she became pregnant with his child, and that’s when all the abuse began.

“He beat me, threw me down and threatened to kill me,” the Lummi Native recalled the terror. As is typical with many domestic violence victims, Moses stayed with her abuser for another eight years, even marrying him. During that nightmarish time, she said he caused a miscarriage, kidnapped her and their one-week-old daughter (their second child) and beat them both, and tried to sell Moses into sexual slavery.


Irene Moses: "I never lost hope in providing for my children."
Irene Moses: “I never lost hope in providing for my children.”


Despite all the violence waged against her and her children, the young mother always returned to her abuser because she had no other place to go. “There weren’t a lot of women’s shelters at the time that would take a teenager with two children,” and she said staying in an abusive home was preferable to being homeless.

As hard as it is to believe, Moses’ story is far from unusual. “We have known for a long time that lack of financial resources and not having a safe place to live was the No. 1 reason why people who are in an abusive relationship and leave have to eventually return,” said Judy Chen, director of strategic initiatives for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV), a nonprofit network of more than 70 domestic violence programs in Washington that also includes a number of tribal programs.

WSCADV partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF), a pilot program in Washington that helped 681 domestic violence victims and their children over the last three years—including Moses—find permanent, safe housing to rebuild their lives so that they would never have to live with their abusers again out of desperation.

Three tribes were chosen for the pilot project: the Lummi Nation, the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. “We have a great number of tribes in the state and are very aware of domestic violence on reservations,” said Chen, stating that 35 percent of the program participants were Native women. “Finding solutions that are rooted in Native communities is very important to us.”

Chen said the DVHF program was based on a tried-and-true model that has already worked successfully in the low-income housing and homeless field. “The philosophy is that housing is a human right and the problems in people’s lives that may have led to homelessness, such as losing a job or medical issues, are best dealt with when somebody is housed and they don’t have to worry day to day about where they are going to live.”

The four pillars of the program include:

—Temporary financial help with expenses such as rent, rental deposits, utilities and child care;

—locating housing for survivors and advocating for them with landlords;

—survivor-driven solutions to give victims voice and choice on where they want to live;

—establishing partnerships between advocates and community organizations, such as community colleges and car repair shops, to help get victims back on their feet.



WSCADV recently released its findings of a three-year study on the effectiveness of the DVHF project. According to Chen, the program was a huge success and made a big difference in many peoples’ lives.

“After 18 months, 96 percent of survivors were still in their own housing—even those with very low incomes,” said Chen. The study also reports that 84 percent of participants felt safer after participating in the DVHF program. “Some women said, ‘My kids don’t look out the window in fear anymore. Now they just look out the window to be looking.’”

Bear Hughes, a Spokane tribal council member, said that with the $250,000 his tribe received from the program, they were able to help 35 women (mostly Spokane enrolled Natives) get settled into permanent, safe housing over a period of three years. He said the biggest challenge was trying to find housing on the reservation, as many women felt safer surrounded by their families and a familiar Native community.

“We lack housing on the rez for victims. It’s something we are working on as a government. Maybe in about six more months to a year, we will have a domestic violence shelter here,” Hughes said hopefully.

Lummi Victims of Crime (LVOC), the first Native American domestic violence shelter in Washington, also received a generous $250,000 grant from the DVHF program. “Over the past three years, we were able to help 134 women move out of our shelter and transitional housing and into their own homes. Of those, only five have lost their homes. The rest still have them,” said Nikki Finkbonner, an LVOC coordinator. “I wish it was still going on, as there are so many other people we could have helped.”

Returning to Moses … she is one of the LVOC success stories. Now at 32, this woman who was abused for so much of her childhood is a happily married mother of six (two are step-children). She is safe in her own four-bedroom home in Bellingham, Washington, free from the fear of homelessness that had trapped her in an abusive relationship with a man who she now realizes was a sexual predator all along.

“I was turned down many times for housing because landlords thought I was a high risk. But I never lost hope in providing for my children,” said the very resilient Lummi Native. “Through the program, I also got me GED, took parenting classes, my kids went to school every day and I’m working on my degree in marine biology. I couldn’t have done any of this without DVHF.”

Contributing writer Lynn Armitage is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribes of Indians of Wisconsin.



Cooperation Keys Salmon Management, Recovery

“Being Frank”


By Lorraine Loomis, Chair, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

As we begin our third decade of the annual state and tribal salmon co-managers’ salmon season setting process called North of Falcon, it’s a good time to look at how far we’ve come and talk about our hopes for the future.

There were some tough days in the decade following the 1974 ruling by Judge George Boldt in U.S. v Washington, which upheld tribal treaty-reserved fishing rights and established the tribes as co-managers of the salmon resource with the state of Washington.

At first the state refused to implement the ruling under the mistaken idea that the Boldt decision would be overturned on appeal. There was chaos on the water. It got so bad that Judge Boldt suspended the state’s authority to manage salmon for several months and turned the state’s management authority over to the federal government.

It took time, but gradually the state and tribes learned to trust one another and work together. We realized the value of working cooperatively together to manage the resource rather than spending our time and money on attorneys fighting each other in court.

Out of that need for trust and cooperation, the North of Falcon process was born. It is named after the cape on the Oregon Coast that marks the southern boundary of the management area for fisheries harvesting Washington salmon and it extends north to the Canadian border.

While North of Falcon negotiations begin in earnest this month, the state and tribal co-managers have been hard at work for weeks developing pre-season forecasts, conservation goals and estimates of impacts to specific salmon stock at various levels of fishing effort.

This year the process has a new participant in Jim Unsworth, who recently replaced Phil Anderson as director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. We look forward to working with him to develop management plans and fishing seasons that will address our salmon recovery goals while providing some fishing opportunity. We will also work with Mr. Unsworth to protect and restore salmon habitat and to properly manage our fish hatcheries that we need to support fishing opportunity.

We have a lot of work to do together in the years ahead to recover salmon and address the many conservation challenges we face. But we know that our communities – and our shared natural resources – are stronger when the co-managers work together.

After all, we have much in common. With the current condition of the degraded habitat in our rivers and marine waters, we all need hatcheries to provide salmon for harvest. We also need good habitat for our fish. Whether hatchery or wild, salmon need plenty of clean, cold water, access to and from the ocean, and good in-stream and nearshore marine habitat where they can feed, rest and grow.

It is the amount and quality of salmon habitat – more than any other factor – that determines the health of the salmon resource. We must carefully manage the habitat, the hatcheries and the fisheries if we are to return salmon to abundant and sustainable levels.  Successful salmon recovery depends on it.

Tribal Leaders to Discuss Formation of Tribal Cannabis Association

Indian Country Today


The first national Tribal Marijuana Conference will take place in nine days at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Quil Ceda Village, Washington and with interested parties already in attendance, Henry Cagey has announced a meeting to discuss forming a Tribal Cannabis Association to be held February 28.

Cagey, the former chair of the Lummi Nation and current council member, looks to take advantage of tribal leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, and Native health and social work professionals, and law enforcement personnel in attendance on February 27 to explore how tribes could work together to address marijuana development in their sovereign tribal territories.

Cagey’s meeting will be held in the same location as the Conference.

Medical marijuana is currently legalized in 23 states, is legal for persons over the age of 21 in four states, and legalized for recreational use in Washington and Colorado. The United States Department of Justice in October 2014 issued a “Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country.” Within the statement, the DOJ addressed law enforcement concerns by stating it will continue its enforcement priorities “in the event that sovereign Indian Nations seek to legalize the cultivation or use of marijuana in Indian country.”

RELATED: Groundbreaking Conference to Discuss Legalizing Marijuana in Indian Country

“I believe that the development of marijuana businesses in Indian country raises important issues that tribal leaders need to discuss,” Cagey said in a press release announcing the meeting.

Recently, reports surfaced that at least 100 tribes were exploring their options of growing medical marijuana with the Pinoleville Pomo Nation in California set to be the first tribe to begin cultivation according to an ICTMN story.

RELATED: Proceed With Caution: A Warning to Tribes Wanting to Grow Medical Marijuana

“We’ve been contacted by more than 100 tribes from coast to coast that want to get into the business in one way or another,” Barry Brautman, president of FoxBarry Companies, a group of Kansas-based operations that specialize in developing Native business enterprises, said.

The Conference and Cagey’s meeting appear to be arriving at just the right time for the surge in interest of a new economic train throughout Indian country.

RELATED: La Push Kush, Lummi Yummy, Apache Gold? When the Rez Smoke Shop Goes to Pot

“There exists enormous new market potential for commercial marijuana initiatives on Native lands,” Hilary Bricken, one of the foremost legal experts and premier cannabis business attorneys in the country, said when the Conference was announced. “This is an unparalleled opportunity for tribes to participate in a growing sector of commerce and diversify their economies, yet there is much to be considered to ensure successful implementation of tribal policy and law.”

“Given recent developments, we are excited to announce this historic opportunity for tribal leaders to gain a better understanding of the implications of marijuana legalization in their territories,” Robert Odawi Porter, Conference co-sponsor and organizer, a leading attorney in tribal sovereignty and treaty rights protections and former president of the Seneca Indian Nation, said. “We are bringing together some of the best, most experienced lawyers and commentators at the intersection of Indian law and marijuana law to share their experience in addressing the evolving issues surrounding recreational and medicinal marijuana usage in Indian country. Our goal is to pursue a balanced discussion of the important legal, business, social, and cultural questions that would inevitably affect Native societies were legalization to occur.”

Throughout the organization of the meeting, Cagey focused on certain topics that should be discussed, such as: setting policy on medicinal or recreational usage, the need to develop model tribal regulatory laws, defining protocols for tribal self-regulation and oversight, and establishing formal consultation with federal and state officials to support tribal sovereignty.

“The promise of substantial revenues that are coming from this will lure some tribes into it blindly,” Walter Lamar, president of Lamar Associates, a Native-owned consulting and professional services company, recently told ICTMN.

RELATED: Marijuana Legalization Must Remain Public Policy Debate

The meeting will be open to tribal government officials and representatives, tribal citizens and tribal attorneys at no charge, though registration is required to attend.

“Whether one supports legalization efforts or opposes them, there is much research and legal development that must be done. Tribes should work together whenever possible to protect our sovereignty and help our Native people,” Cagey said.

For more information on the Tribal Cannabis Association and to pre-register, contact: Megan Nord at megan@harrismoure.comor by phone at (206) 224-5657. Registration to attend this meeting ends on February 27, at 8 p.m.



Obama Wants Tribal Contract Support Cost Payments to be Non-Discretionary

IHS Acting Director Yvette Roubideaux
IHS Acting Director Yvette Roubideaux


Rob Capriccioso, Indian Country Today


In a dramatic change of policy that is likely to be welcomed by tribes, the White House is seeking to turn the money tribes annually spend on federally mandated health and social services for tribal citizens into a temporary entitlement.

Under the plan, released February 2 as part of the president’s budget request to Congress, a large portion of federal funding for tribal contract support costs (CSC) for three years starting in 2017 will be moved from the “discretionary” to “mandatory non-discretionary” column within the federal budget.

If the idea passes muster with the GOP-controlled Congress, it will mean that the negative impacts of federal budgetary sequestration in recent years on tribes will no longer impact the tribal CSC bottom line, according to members of the Indian Health Service (IHS) CSC Workgroup. Group members believe that stabilizing this funding will better ensure continuity of essential programs and services to tribal citizens.

“On the national scale, the president’s proposal for [the Indian Health Service] alone would make CSC funding reoccurring and mandatory in the amount of $800 million in the first year, $900 million in year two and copy billion annually in year three,” said Aaron Payment, chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and a member of the IHS CSC Workgroup. The Bureau of Indian Affairs would see more modest mandatory CSC appropriations under the plan, but still vast increases over current levels.

Payment, who serves on the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes and the National Congress of American Indians, added that this CSC funding would not be subject to cuts if tribes do not spend all their funds in a single fiscal cycle.

IHS Acting Director Yvette Roubideaux has told tribal leaders that the plan will not start earlier than 2017 in order to allow for tribal consultation and for the enactment of necessary congressional authorizing legislation.

For years, tribes have been forced to spend tens of millions of dollars on critical health and social services, despite federal law and legal court rulings that have said these costs are supposed to be paid by the federal government due to its constitutionally- and legally-mandated trust responsibility to tribal citizens.

Tribes that could afford to do so have ended up racking up millions of dollars in debt that is supposed to be reimbursed by the federal government, but which has seldom happened. Tribes that could not afford to offer the services did not, and their citizens suffered for it.

In recent years, hundreds of tribes have sued the federal government for reimbursement of unpaid CSC. Legal settlements have been happening more frequently of late after some intense legal negotiations between tribes and the Obama administration throughout 2013-2014. Tens of millions of dollars have been reimbursed in recent months after the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs asked Roubideaux to negotiate in good faith.

A temporary solution to the federal government’s lack of CSC payments was passed by Congress last year after the White House and Congress agreed to pay all CSC for tribes for the current fiscal year. Yet tribes soon found that this promise was a double-edged sword because the full payment of CSC meant that the funds for other services offered by the federal government to tribes, mainly from the Departments of Health and Human Services and the Interior, were cut as budgetary trade-off.

Before that latest quagmire, tribal leaders in 2012-13 had been battling with Obama administration officials, including Roubideaux and the Office of Management and Budget, who offered unpopular plans to dramatically cap CSC payments to tribes–no matter their need and despite Supreme Court rulings that called for full reimbursement. Congress members from both sides of the aisle called out the administration’s actions here, which led to the temporary solution of 2014 that ended up shortchanging other tribal programs in exchange for CSC reimbursement.

Lloyd Miller, a lawyer with Sonosky Chambers who has successfully represented many tribes that have sued the federal government to obtain CSC settlements, says tribal leaders have not let up in demanding that both tribal programming and CSC payments be honored.

“Last year’s reprogramming likely made people [both in the administration and in tribes] realize that the threat to ongoing operations by this mandatory funding obligation is not theoretical, but real, and must be taken seriously,” Miller said.

Geoffrey Strommer, an Indian affairs lawyer with Hobbs Straus, said it is unclear at this point whether the Republican Congress will sign off.

“I don’t know for sure if the Republican Congress will pass legislation implementing this concept,” Strommer said. “This really is the best long-term policy solution to what has been a difficult problem, so I hope they seriously consider it. If the administration can show an offset somewhere else in the budget that should go a long way towards making Republicans comfortable with this initiative.”

Miller is hopeful. “Adding any kind of mandatory funding is swimming uphill in Congress, especially in the face of budget hawks. But then again, this is a Congress that has given pretty bipartisan support for CSC funding,” he said.

A key factor will be how the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scores the plan in determining how much it will cost the federal government.

“In my opinion, it should be zero because the contracts by law must be paid, and therefore any funding mechanism, even a ‘mandatory’ mechanism, will not add to outlays from the Treasury,” Miller said. “But the CBO works in mysterious ways.”

Payment said that he and other tribal leaders are preparing to educate the Republican-controlled Congress on why this is a positive solution to a problem that has plagued the federal and tribal governments for decades.

“[We will] urge Congress to uphold their constitutional and trust responsibility in honoring the treaties by permanently enacting this legislation to make CSC funds mandatory,” Payment said. “It looks promising as they insisted on full funding this year and appropriated it.”