Quinault Nation: Applauding the President’s Drug Control Policy

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The Quinault Nation, based in Taholah, Washington, released the following statement approving the President’s 2013 National Drug Control Strategy, released on April 24. The policy builds on the foundation laid down by the Administration’s previous three strategies and serves as the Nation’s blueprint for reducing drug use and its consequences. The collaborative and scientific-based approach involves 1) prevention through education; 2) expanded access to treatment for Americans struggling with addiction; 3) reform of the criminal justice system to break the cycle of drug use, crime and incarceration while protecting public safety; and 4) support for Americans in recovery by lifting the stigma associated with those suffering or in recovery from substance abuse disorders.

We enthusiastically applaud President Obama’s announcement today that his Administration will pursue a 21st Century Drug Policy to replace the ‘tough on crime’ policy with a new ‘smart on crime policy’,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

Far too long, the U.S. approach to drug control has been focused on a “war” that has long since been proved to be unwinnable, rather than an approach based on holistic healing and education as well as a logical approach that combines enforcement with opportunities for victims and potential victims of drug addiction to overcome and prevent addiction as the disease that it is, said Sharp.

“The failed approaches of the past have cost this country dearly. Every year, the price tag in lost productivity, healthcare and criminal justice has mounted to hundreds of billions of dollars. But the cost in lost lives and lost human potential has gone way beyond dollars and cents, diminishing the potential of hundreds of thousands of individuals, jeopardizing the health and safety of entire families and communities,” she said.

“Indian tribes have by no means been immune to this curse. Right here in the Northwest, and throughout the country, drugs have cost native people dearly, and we have been working hard to meet this challenge head on,” she said.

“This President’s vision is very welcome and way past due. We embrace it and we at Quinault will do all we can to support it,” she said.

This is a disease that can be cured, if we approach it properly. President Obama’s approach is a science-driven plan, backed by clear research and evidence. Progress is already being made under his leadership and guidance. The use of certain drugs is on the decline, as is drug-related imprisonment, said Sharp.

“We absolutely concur with the President’s holistic approach, which is based on attacking drug abuse as public health issue as well as a criminal issue. Tribes have already seen it to be true, that going to the source of the disease and working toward a cure makes far more sense than approaching it through enforcement alone,” she said.

The President’s policy is based on four primary objectives:1)Preventing drug use before it begins through education; 2)Expanding access to treatment for Americans struggling with addiction; 3)Reforming the country’s criminal justice system to break the cycle of drug use, crime and incarceration and 4)Supporting Americans in recovery and lifting the stigma associated with substance use disorders. These policies are based on definitive research that shows drug addiction is a disease of the brain.

“Drug abuse has no place in the lives of our tribal members, or any other American. For generations our Native American people have been healing from a number of challenges and diseases brought on through our interaction with non-tribal society. Drug and alcohol abuse have been among the worst of these challenges. But we are dealing with these challenges, and we are making progress. With the help of insightful policies such as this President’s new policy on drug abuse, combined with our own and with our reliance on the healthy and holistic traditional values of our ancestors, we will continue to make progress, and our people will continue to become all that they can be,” said Sharp.

Most notably, the President’s Budget includes a request for an increase of copy.5 billion over the FY 2012 level to fund drug treatment and prevention services in America – a 16 percent increase over FY 2012.  As a result, the President’s Budget requests more for treatment and prevention—copy0.7 billion—than for Federally-funded domestic drug law enforcement and incarceration – $9.6 billion.

“This is what a 21st century approach to drug policy looks like,” said Sharp. “It will be critically important to assure that an adequate amount of this funding is appropriated to Native American programs.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/04/29/quinault-nation-applauding-presidents-drug-control-policy-149078

Larsen Leads Effort to Secure Funds for Pacific Salmon Recovery

Rep. Rick Larsen and Skagit County Commissioner Sharon Dillon watch juvenile fish swim in a new channel of Hansen Creek, in Upper Skagit in 2010. Photo: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
Rep. Rick Larsen and Skagit County Commissioner Sharon Dillon watch juvenile fish swim in a new channel of Hansen Creek, in Upper Skagit in 2010. Photo: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, led an effort this week to request $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund which is vital to supporting salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest. In a letter to House appropriators, Larsen and nine other members of the Pacific Northwest delegation made the request to continue supporting the recovery of Pacific salmon which are vital to the region’s economy and ecology.

The text of the letter follows:
April 16, 2013
The Honorable Frank R. Wolf, Chairman
The Honorable Chaka Fattah, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
H309 Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representatives Wolf and Fattah:
We are writing to thank you for your strong past support of the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) and ask you to continue your support by providing $65 million for this critical and successful program in FY 2014.
PCSRF was established by Congress in Fiscal Year 2000 to reverse the decline of salmon in the region. The goal of PCSRF is to restore, conserve, and protect Pacific salmon and steelhead and their habitats.  PCSRF also seeks to maintain the healthy populations necessary for exercising tribal treaty fishing rights and native subsistence fishing. Under PCSRF, the National Marine Fisheries Service provides competitive funding to the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Nevada, and tribes of the Pacific Coast region to implement habitat restoration and recovery projects that contribute to the sustainability of the species.
PCSRF provides a critical source of stable funding that supports the ability of managers to conduct all phases of restoration and recovery activities, including assessment, planning, implementation, and monitoring.  States and tribes have undertaken 10,214 projects, resulting in significant changes in habitat conditions and availability, as well as establishing concrete planning and monitoring programs that support prioritization and tracking for salmon and steelhead population conservation. Significant accomplishments from the program include:
·        879,194 acres of habitat improved or added for salmonid use
·        5,336 miles of stream made accessible to spawning populations
·        Marking programs tagging 238,643,775 fish, improving stock identification and supporting more effective fishery management practices
These accomplishments contribute to the protection and restoration of these important species of fish that are integral to the economic and ecological well-being of the states where the Pacific salmon thrive.  These efforts aid salmon and steelhead populations through PCSRF and are supporting jobs and providing economic benefits to the communities throughout the region. Continued commitment, collaboration and resources are required to achieve the overarching goal of full recovery and sustainability.
Thank you again for your consideration of this request. We look forward to working with you to ensure the long-term future of salmon in our region.
Rick Larsen
Member of Congress
Peter DeFazio
Member of Congress
Jim McDermott
Member of Congress
Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress
Adam Smith
Member of Congress
Kurt Schrader
Member of Congress
Suzan DelBene
Member of Congress
Suzanne Bonamici
Member of Congress
Denny Heck
Member of Congress
Derek Kilmer
Member of Congress

Sarvey center’s raptors still draw the eagle-eye of kids

A display of its birds of prey in Snohomish impresses kids as the wildlife center continues to request financial support.

Dan Bates / The HeraldSarvey Wildlife Center volunteer Robert Lee holds a red-tailed hawk with only one wing Friday at the Snohomish Library. Having lost a wing, the hawk will remain at Sarvey for the rest of its life, Lee said.
Dan Bates / The Herald
Sarvey Wildlife Center volunteer Robert Lee holds a red-tailed hawk with only one wing Friday at the Snohomish Library. Having lost a wing, the hawk will remain at Sarvey for the rest of its life, Lee said.
By Alejandro Dominguez, The Herald
SNOHOMISH — A line formed in the Snohomish Library 30 minutes before the show started.Eight-year-old Lily Westman and her brother, Cooper, 6, were first in line last week, waiting for the doors to open for the “Raptor Factor” show. They were eager to see all of the birds, but hoped to see a bald eagle.

“I want to know how they take care of them,” said Cooper, who goes to Cascade View Elementary School.

The show is put on by the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center, a nonprofit located between Arlington and Granite Falls that rescues, treats and releases wild animals. It’s one of the outreach efforts by the center that has been around since 1981.

Last month, the center announced that it was having financial difficulties. The center has an operating budget of about $450,000 a year, but donations have been down. Director Suzanne West said last month the center needed $95,000 to continue to care for animals, keep the doors open and continue their programs.

In the last couple of weeks, however, the center has seen an increase in donations and new donors have also appeared. The shortfall has been reduced to $50,000.

“We are still feeling the crunch,” West said. “We have been able to tighten our belts and we have received additional funding.”

Jennifer Cutshall, 44, of Snohomish, heard about Sarvey’s financial problems. She’s hoping that people step up to help out the center. She’s seen the raptor show herself. On Friday she brought her youngest son, Isaac Tavares, 4, for the first time.

“It’s a good chance to see these birds this close,” Cutshall said.

They were about 75 kids, parents, grandparents and others who attended the show and learned about the barn owl, great horned owl, red-tailed hawk and peregrine falcon.

The children asked questions about the birds, such as the length of their wings and how fast they could fly. They were amazed when some of the birds spread their wings.

Most of them gasped when volunteers took out the last bird of the show: a bald eagle named Askate.

Seeing the animal was the favorite part of 5-year-old Kaylee Broome who goes to kindergarten at Machias Elementary School.

“It was so cool,” Kayle said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

More about Sarvey

The Sarvey Wildlife Center is located at 13106 148th St. NE, near Arlington.

For more information on the center, including how to donate and what to do if you find an injured or orphaned animal, go to www.sarveywildlife.org/ or call 360-435-4817.

Grants to Help Farms & Ranches Build Resilience to Drought

Source: USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
WASHINGTON, April 4, 2013 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the recipients of $5.3 million in Conservation Innovation Grants that will help develop approaches and technology that show producers how to adapt to extreme climate changes that cause drought.
Last year’s drought was the worst since the 1950s, having large impacts on producers across the country. With another possible drought this year, this grant program is one of the ways the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is working to help producers prepare.
“USDA is working diligently to help American farmers and ranchers rebound from last year’s drought and prepare for future times of climatic extremes,” Vilsack said. “Conservation Innovation Grants are an excellent way to invest in new technology and approaches that will help our farmers, ranchers and rural communities be more resilient in the future.”
The grants will address drought-related issues, such as grazing management, warm season forage systems, irrigation strategies and innovative cropping systems.
Recipients plan to evaluate innovative, field-based conservation technologies and approaches, leading to improvements like enhancing soil’s ability to hold water, evaluating irrigation water use and installing grazing systems that are more tolerant to drought.
Examples of projects include:
  • South Dakota State University: Received $713,000 to establish four grazing management demonstrations on South Dakota and Nebraska ranches. Producers can observe and demonstrate the impacts of innovative grazing management practices on their land’s ability to recover from the 2012 and future droughts through the use of rainout shelters.
  • Texas AgriLife Research: Received $233,000 to develop guidelines for managing irrigation under drought conditions and computer programs for linking weather stations with irrigation scheduling.
  • University of Florida Board of Trustees: Received $442,000 to address adaptation to drought by demonstrating and evaluating innovative approaches for improving irrigation water use efficiency of agricultural crops under drought conditions.
  • Colorado State University: Received $883, 000 to demonstrate synergistic soil, crop and water management practices that adapt irrigated cropping systems in the central Great Plains to drought and lead to efficient use of water.  An existing model will be modified to allow farmers to calculate water savings from different conservation practices.
  • Intertribal Buffalo Council: Received $640,000 to evaluate how traditional/historical practices aided tribes in dealing with drought, developing a best practices database, and using that information for training and demonstration projects. This grant will support 57 tribes in 19 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
Summaries of all projects selected for 2013 Conservation Innovation Grants are available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/cig/index.html.
NRCS has offered this grant program since 2004, investing in ways to demonstrate and transfer efficient and environmentally friendly farming and ranching practices. This specific announcement of program funding was in response to last year’s historic drought.
Conservation Innovation Grants projects are funded by the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and awarded through a competitive grants process. At least 50 percent of the total cost of projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient.
For more on grant recipients or Conservation Innovation Grants, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/cig/index.html
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act.
USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $700 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America’s farmers and ranchers conserve the Nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment.
Follow NRCS on Twitter. Checkout other conservation-related stories on USDA Blog. Watch videos on NRCS’ YouTube channel.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

Seattle Times Editorial: Honor treaties with Native Americans, restore salmon

A federal judge told the state of Washington to get working on repairing, replacing or abandoning culverts that create barriers to salmon passage.

Source: The Seattle Times Editorial

FIX it, pay for it, get it done. A federal judge is virtually that blunt in telling the state of Washington to repair culverts that block passage to salmon habitat.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez reminded the state it has a narrow and specific treaty-based duty to ensure Northwest tribes access to healthy fish runs.

Martinez’s order last Friday in Seattle ended an extended phase during which the state and tribal parties were to sit down and work out what would come next. Nothing much happened.

The legal obligation to honor commitments made in the 1850s was not a question for the judge. Accountability for delivering on the promise is the issue.

“The Tribes and their individual members have been harmed economically, socially, educationally and culturally by the greatly reduced salmon harvests that have resulted from state-created or state-maintained fish-passage barriers,” Martinez wrote in his ruling.

The judge put the state departments of fish and wildlife and parks, which have done some work, on a path to fix culverts by 2016.

The state Department of Transportation has a 17-year timeline for an extensive to-do list.

Martinez said the state has the capacity to accelerate work because of expected growth in transportation revenues in years ahead. Separate budgeting for transportation and the general fund, the ruling notes, prevents harm to education and social programs.

The point was also made that culvert repairs will work:

“Correction of fish-passage barrier culverts is a cost-effective and scientifically sound method of salmon-habitat restoration.”

It provides immediate benefit in terms of salmon production, as salmon rapidly recolonize the upstream area and returning adults spawn there,” the opinion states.

In another case that echoes in the news, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March that water runoff from logging roads was more like runoff from farms, and not the same as industrial pollution from a factory.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which was overturned, had found no exemption for logging.

Fish in streams have no options. They are vulnerable to the sediment collected, channeled and discharged into waterways from all activities, including logging.

Washington’s Prison Pow Wows Are Good for Inmates and Their Families

By Jack McNeel, Indian Country Today Media Network

There are no tipis, no horse parades, no trailers selling frybread. There’s not even any grass or dirt, but there’s no question that this is a pow wow—an important, meaningful pow wow. The smiles on the faces of the inmates, the laughter, the hugs and kisses, the families mixing freely with the prisoners—all this makes you momentarily forget that you are in a Washington state prison, in a large concrete room, surrounded by iron bars and razor wire.

What made the 2012 pow wow even better than the previous year’s is the kids, who were for the first time allowed to attend. The printed program provided at Airway Heights Corrections Center says: “This ceremony is dedicated to the shorties. We love you.”

In 2010 the state of Washington removed various traditional practices and religious rights from Native inmates because of budget constraints. One of those was access to pow wows. Some of those rights were reinstated in 2011, thanks to the work of tribal leaders and tribal lawyers. Common sense also prevailed, with people recognizing that the rehabilitation of inmates would be enhanced if these religious and cultural practices were permitted.

The Pacific Islanders bring the noise at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. (Jack McNeel)
The Pacific Islanders bring the noise at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. (Jack McNeel)

A new organization was formed to help Native prisoners receive better opportunities for cultural and religious activities aimed at rehabilitation. It’s called Huy, from a Coast Salish word meaning “See you again / We never say good-bye.” Gabriel S. Galanda, chairman of the board for that group, says, “Our imprisoned relatives are virtually forgotten, even by tribal communities. Huy intends to keep them in our hearts and minds, and to improve their tribal ways of life behind bars.

Minty LongEarth, an enrolled Santee Indian Nation of South Carolina tribal member, is the Native American Religious Services program director with the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation in Seattle. She basically oversees all the prison pow wows throughout the state. “There are 12 Washington prisons and at those 12 there are 20 Native circles,” she said.

An inmate from Montana who is a member of the Gros Ventre Tribe is at Airway Heights Corrections Center. He is grateful that someone had brought the pow wow back to his prison. “It’s a beautiful thing—all of us gathered together,” he says. “It’s a gathering of all our family, loved ones.… We’re one family, one circle. We dance and we sing and we pray and everything comes together.”

His nephew grabs a bite of food as his mother adjusts his regalia. He then joins his uncle in the dance area, moving to the beat of the drum, very much at ease despite the prison’s concrete walls. “It’s sharing,” he says. “Sharing gifts, stories, meeting new people, new tribes, different nations, different people. I take this walk seriously, this red road seriously. I’m a true believer in everything—the sweat lodge, pow wow, anything sacred.

“I had to come to prison, but prison isn’t always a bad thing. There’s good that comes with it—like this. It helps me get through the year. It’s the happiest I’ve been for a while. I can’t thank the Creator enough for this time and opportunity to be with my family and share this moment. I carry this deep within my soul, my heart, my spirit.”

Another inmate, from Fort Peck, Montana, also treasures the pow wows. “You can’t really put into words how much this means to us,” he says. “It’s the one day of the year that we’re able to show our families we’re better than what they saw us out there doing. Today was the first time that I’ve seen so many grown men in here shed a tear—[that happened] when they saw the little shorties out there dancing.” He says he still has a long time left on his sentence, 25 years, but, “this will help me get through the whole next year. Right after today we’ll start planning and looking forward to the next one.”

Joseph Luce, the chaplain at Airway Heights, also praises the monthly opportunities for Native inmates to engage in cultural activities: “Once a week they get to go out to the sweat lodge area. Twice a month they’ll sweat. The weeks they’re not sweating, they’ll go out and do a pipe ceremony outside. Once a week they’ll be drumming. They get together on average a couple times a week. We also offer special classes to work on drum skills and work on beading skills.”

The pow wow at the Coyote Ridge prison has a slightly different feel from the one at Airway Heights. Security seems a little tighter, but the smiles are equally broad and the drums equally busy.

“These kids coming to prison now are getting younger and younger,” says one inmate who has spent many years in prison. “How are we going to change that cycle? Inside prison, through this program, we’re able to bring up the younger kids, the 18-, 19- and 20-year-old kids and change their lives around by giving them a tool, by giving them a skill. Having them interact with United Indians of All Tribes. Just maybe through that collaboration they’ll be able to get some kind of help when they do get out.

“This is the biggest event of the year for the prison,” he says. “Without this event, life would really suck. This is a really happy event. You see all the men with smiles on their face. There’s a lot of unity here. Unfortunately, in the cells, that unity isn’t there. Here we come together as a family, as a fellowship. We can look at each other and think, That‘s my brother, my friend. This is almost like being free.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/04/03/washingtons-prison-pow-wows-are-good-inmates-and-their-families-148509

Environmentalists signal they’ll sue BNSF over coal dust

The Sierra Club and four other environmental groups Tuesday said they intend to file a federal lawsuit to force BNSF Railway and six coal companies to better contain the coal being shipped in open-topped trains.

By Hal Bernton

The Sierra Club and four other environmental groups Tuesday said they intend to file a federal lawsuit to force BNSF Railway and six coal companies to better contain the coal being shipped in open-topped train cars.

In a legal notice sent to the companies, the environmental groups contend that the trains are spewing coal dust and chunks of debris into the Columbia River, the Lake Washington Ship Canal and other Northwest waterways in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

The legal challenge comes as environmental groups are campaigning against proposals to build new coal-export terminals in Washington and Oregon that would greatly increase the amount of coal trains moving through the Northwest.

“This action today seeks to stop illegal pollution and keep our river free of dirty coal,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of the Columbia Riverkeeper. “The threat of coal export makes this lawsuit even timelier.”

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities also signed on to the intent-to-sue letter.

In a statement released Tuesday, BNSF said that the railroad has ”safely hauled coal in Washington for decades. Yet despite the movement of so much coal over such a long period of time, we were not aware of a single coal dust complaint lodged with a state agency in the Northwest or with the railroad until the recent interest in coal export terminals.”

“This is nothing more than the threat of a nuisance lawsuit without merit, that is part of an ongoing campaign to designed to create headlines to influence the review process for proposed export terminals,” the statement said.

In Washington state, major new export terminals are proposed for Longview and Cherry Point near Bellingham to send Montana and Wyoming coal to Asian markets. Some coal already is being shipped through Washington for export from British Columbia, and some is shipped to coal-fired plant near Centralia.

That legal notice was accompanied by a listing of more than 20 sites in Washington where coal has spilled since the beginning of 2011.

The document also includes photographs that depict coal dust blowing off a train as it passes along the Columbia River near Horsethief Lake. They also show what appear to be nuggets or chunks of coal at other locations, including near the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle.

In a teleconference with reporters, several Washington residents spoke about their experiences with coal from the trains. Don McDermott, of Dallesport, Klickitat County, says that coal dust has blown off the trains and settled on his grapevines that grow beside the railroad track in a fish pond.

“My primary concern is that there is trespass on my property,” McDermott said. “The railroads need to contain their loads. The shippers need to contain their loads.”

The legal notice by environmental groups cited industry studies that indicated from 250 to 700 pounds of coal were lost from each rail car during transport.

Courtney Wallace, the BNSF spokeswoman, said that past studies were rough estimates, and indicated the coal losses fluctuated, primarily while the trains were within the Powder River Basin in southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming.

She said the studies were done before 2011, when new regulations to reduce coal dust were put in place.

Wallace says the new coal-loading rules require shippers to take added measures to address coal loss, including putting chemicals known as “topper agents” on the coal that reduce most of the coal-dust loss.

The chemicals also have stirred some concern.

In a Jan. 22 letter to agencies that will prepare the environmental-impact statement for the proposed Cherry Point terminal, the Washington Department of Natural Resources notes that one of these chemicals used in cleaning up the 2010 Gulf Oil spill has “been implicated in subsequent fish and shellfish deformities.”

Casino Battle: Why the Opposition to Spokane Tribe’s Anti-Poverty Plan?

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a final report in February endorsing a large, off-reservation casino and hotel development for the Spokane Tribe in eastern Washington, but observers of Indian gaming say this doesn’t quite mean the tribe can start up the earth-movers.

The project requires both federal and state approval, and only five tribes across the U.S.—including the neighboring Kalispel Tribe, which is opposing the Spokane on this project—have been granted such two-part permission for off-reservation gaming in the 25 years under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

In addition, the Spokane’s quest to build a casino close to the city of Spokane, which has nearly 500,000 people in its greater metro area, has encountered strong opposition from groups that say what’s good for the Spokane would be bad for them. This includes the Kalispel, whose Northern Quest Resort & Casino is less than four miles away on trust land, and local business groups that fear the new casino could destroy the regional economy if it endangers the area’s largest employer, Fairchild Air Force Base. The Spokane Tribe’s property is about two miles from the base, which has raised concerns about encroachment of flight paths, potentially making Fairchild vulnerable to a future round of base closures by the federal government.

The BIA, in its final environmental impact statement, gives lengthy rebuttals to the encroachment issue, noting that Fairchild officials—as well as the United States Air Force—participated in joint land-use planning efforts and concluded the Spokane’s casino and hotel development does not pose a significant safety threat to the base. In addition, Spokane Tribal Chairman Rudy Peone and others say Fairchild is short-listed as one of the bases that could house the new Boeing KC-46 military aerial refueling and strategic transport aircraft. Supporters of the Spokane’s casino see this as a vote of confidence against closure.

Opponents of the proposed casino in Spokane County government and regional business say the BIA has not fully addressed the encroachment concerns and plan to keep fighting, likely lobbying new Washington Governor Jay Inslee or the Department of Interior’s Secretary-nominee Sally Jewell, who is the chief executive officer of the Seattle-based outdoor gear retailer, REI. They say 5,000 jobs at Fairchild are too significant to the local economy to risk for a casino project. “Communication now is really critical for people who want to get their voice heard,” says Rich Hadley, president and CEO of the pro-business group, Greater Spokane, Inc., which opposes the Spokane’s

The project would include retail space.
The project would include retail space.

proposal. Hadley and Spokane County officials previously stated that the 30-day comment period on the Final environmental impact statement, which ended March 4, was too brief. After a request from Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, (R-Washington), writing on behalf of the county, the BIA has extended the comment period to May 1. The Spokane Tribe wrote the agency to say it did not oppose the extension.

Still, Hadley said opponents will likely focus their attention on Jewell (if appointed) and Inslee. So, “when you think about who do you communicate with, you are probably naming them,” Hadley adds.

Ben Stuckart, president of the Spokane City Council, counters, “I really think a lot of the opposition boils down to economic encroachment. I don’t think that’s ever a reason to oppose a project that will bring jobs and alleviate poverty.” The city council split four to three to oppose a new casino. Spokane’s mayor, David A. Condon, is also an opponent.

Examination of the proposal—for which gaming would grow to 2,500 electronic gaming machines, 50 table games and 10 poker rooms—now goes to the BIA’s Office of Indian Gaming and, ultimately, to the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs at the Department of Interior, before the feds release a Record of Decision, an open-ended review process which is expected to take months. The proposal is for more than just a casino. The Spokane Tribe Economic Project also includes a 300-room hotel, several restaurants ranging from fast food to fine dining, a standalone big-box retail site along with a shopping mall, a 10,000-square-foot tribal cultural center and a tribal police and fire station.

The big issue for the BIA will be weighing benefits to the Spokane against harm to the Kalispel, several observers of Indian gaming say. On the benefit side, the casino will rescue the tribe’s economy, says Peone, citing roughly 50 percent unemployment in recent years and reduced funding to tribal services as once-robust timber contracts have shriveled. So has income from two small casinos—among the first in Washington—in the decade since Northern Quest has opened on the outskirts of Spokane. The Spokane Tribe’s two casinos are each an hour’s drive or more from the city. “It’s a no-brainer,” Peone says of gamblers going to Northern Quest. “So we really had a lot of cuts.”

On the harm side, the Kalispel have risen from dire poverty thanks to Northern Quest, which has recently undergone a $210 million expansion. The tribe, which has closed its enrollment at roughly 425 members since the casino opened, has constructed a wellness center and helps members with housing, health care and education. It also is robustly funding language preservation and other initiatives.

The Spokane Tribe, “should be encouraged,” that the BIA endorsed the full Class III gaming-plus-hotel-plus-retail option in the final environmental impact statement, says Ron Allen, longtime chairman of Washington’s Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and chairman of the board of the Washington Indian Gaming Association. But, he adds, “When a tribe already has a casino and they want another location, a better location, the bureau takes that into serious consideration.” Also, Allen says, protection of a gaming tribe’s debt load is a significant and fairly new consideration for the BIA when weighing the risks of another tribe’s entry into the market.

The Kalispel Tribe, which did not agree to interviews for this story, has made protection of its revenue stream from Northern Quest a central argument against the Spokane Tribe’s proposal.

In a prepared statement, the Kalispel cite the conclusions of two third-party market-analysis firms: “[If] the Spokane Tribe is allowed to move forward with their proposal, it would devastate our tribe’s ability to provide services, such as health care and education, to our members, and we submitted comments to the BIA demonstrating that harm.”

Northern Quest is the Kalispel’s only method of funding tribal services, Chairman Glen Nenema has pointed out in letters to the BIA. He and others note the Kalispel reservation is small, remote and that much of it is a floodplain, severely restricting commercial opportunities.

Patrick D. Rushing is mayor of the city of Airway Heights, located between the Kalispel’s Northern Quest and the Spokane Tribe’s 145-acre site. He is enthusiastic about both projects. He says he’s optimistic about the chances of a new casino, citing a December 11 and 12 visit by Interior’s Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn. “He went out and looked at the Kalispel Tribe’s reservation and all of the improvements that were made and went through Northern Quest and saw all this nice stuff. The next day, he went out to Two Rivers and Wellpinit [on the Spokane reservation] and on to the Chewelah casino and could see the vast difference,” Rushing recalls.

In its impact statement, the BIA devoted an appendix to addressing the Kalispel contentions that a new casino will reduce its revenues by as much as 50 percent and will not expand the market. A report by the New Orleans–based Innovation Group in the final Environmental impact statement disputes this, offering many examples around the country of a new casino entering a market and all casinos seeing increased revenue.

Peone vows that the Spokane will develop the site with or without gaming. “We recently had our 132nd year since we’ve been placed on the reservation. I view that as survival. We’ve been here for thousands and thousands of years and we will remain. We will survive.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/29/casino-battle-why-opposition-spokane-tribes-anti-poverty-plan-148438

Girl’s death prompts hard look at state’s child welfare

By Diana Helfey, The Herald

Family photoNineteen-month-old Chantel Craig died Oct. 8. She and her sister were found in a car on the Tulalip Reservation. The girls were suffering from malnutrition and severe dehydration.
Family photo
Nineteen-month-old Chantel Craig died Oct. 8. She and her sister were found in a car on the Tulalip Reservation. The girls were suffering from malnutrition and severe dehydration.

TULALIP — They were asked to inspect the net.

Maybe somehow it can be woven tighter so another little girl won’t fall through, dying before she learns to twirl on tiptoes or color inside the lines or dream of being a princess or a firefighter.

It seems an insurmountable job — searching for all the potential gaps. How do you predict the unimaginable?

It happened in October down a dirt road on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. Chantel Craig and her sister were left in a broken down car, going without food or water for days. The toddlers’ world was restricted to the car seats they were kept buckled into. Their bodies were covered with sores, feces and maggots.

Chantel wasn’t breathing. She had no pulse. She suffered, for how long no one can really say, and then her body gave out. Her sister, 3, fought to stay alive.

Chantel died from neglect, five months shy of her second birthday. Her mother, Christina Carlson, is charged with murder.

Last month, state social workers faced tough questions about their interaction with the girl’s family as a team of experts reviewed the circumstances surrounding Chantel’s death. The examination was required by state law. Findings were made public Thursday.

After six hours of discussion the team didn’t find what the state calls “critical errors” on the part of Children’s Administration employees.

Instead, the panelists made some findings and recommendations for the future, mainly focused on what child welfare workers do to locate families. There’s a need for experienced social workers to handle the cases governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act and consistent review by supervisors. And the girls’ case demonstrates the need to more clearly define the responsibilities of state and Tulalip tribal social workers when conducting joint investigations.

The six-member fatality review committee included a medical doctor, a Marysville police detective, a Snohomish County human services manager and three other professionals connected to social services. They asked questions of the state social worker and her two supervisors. Panelists agreed they were there because of a horrible tragedy. Their conversation, however, was tempered. They all work with families, often in crisis. They know others will slip through.

“These reviews are so important,” said Cammy Hart-Anderson, the division manager for Snohomish County Human Services Department. “I volunteer as a way to assist, offering my perspective from the alcohol and drug field.

“I also believe it’s a way to honor the child who died. We’re trying to do something so her death won’t be in vain.”

The law required the state Department of Social and Health Services to convene the search mission into Chantel’s death — to look for any gaps in a system that relies on cops, courts and social workers to save other people’s children and to help patch together families, many affected by generational poverty, addiction and violence.

The Children’s Administration, a division of DSHS, is tasked with completing a fatality review within six months after a child under state care or receiving state services dies unexpectedly, or nearly dies. The idea is to closely examine how state workers were involved with the child and family, and whether policies and practices can be changed to tighten the safety net.

“We would all love to have a system in place where we never have a child in these circumstances,” said Ronda Haun, a critical incident review specialist with the Children’s Administration.

The state invited a Herald reporter to observe the typically closed-door discussion. The reporter agreed not to attribute to individual participants any statements made during the process. The Herald also agreed not to report information about the child or her family that hadn’t already appeared in public records. The newspaper also delayed publishing a story until the review was completed and available to the public on the state’s website.

Tribal law prevented anyone from the tribes to formally participate in the review.

The committee was advised at the start that they weren’t being asked to conduct a forensic, criminal or personnel investigation. They also were reminded of the complex legal framework that limits the actions of state social workers.

The courts have called parental rights natural and sacred, said Sheila Huber, an assistant attorney general who represents the Children’s Administration.

“Parents have constitutional rights when it comes to the care, custody and control of their children,” Huber said.

There are restrictions on when the state can interfere with those rights, she added.

State and tribal social workers had been investigating allegations that Chantel and her sister were being neglected after receiving a call from their grandmother in December 2011.

Generally the law requires state social workers to close a Child Protective Services investigation within three months. In this case, the social worker kept the investigation open for 10 months, citing concerns because of the mother’s past and her lack of contact with her own family. By keeping it open, the state could offer voluntary services to the parents. In a terrible coincidence, state social workers closed the case hours before Chantel died because they hadn’t been able to find her or her mother.

The state social worker last saw the girls on Dec. 14, 2011. There was no evidence then that they were in imminent danger, which would have been necessary to remove them. There also were no signs of abuse or neglect. The social workers agreed to continue to try to assist the family.

About two weeks after the first visit, the tribal social worker learned that the parents weren’t seeking help for their alcohol and drug abuse problems, as they claimed they were.

The fatality review committee last month questioned the state social worker about the protocols followed to locate families. The team was concerned that there appeared to be a stretch of time that no attempts were made to find the children.

Social workers are allowed to check state databases, including the rolls for those receiving state benefits. Police generally aren’t asked to get involved unless there is concern that a child is a victim of a crime.

Relatives told social workers that Carlson likely was hiding from authorities. She had lost custody of at least three other children because of her drug use and neglect, court papers said.

It is unclear if the Tulalip authorities continued to search for the family.

The Tulalips declined to participate in last month’s child fatality review.

Tribal authorities sent a letter to the state, explaining that the Tribes’ own laws prevent anyone from the tribes from commenting on their social service investigations. That is done to protect children and avoid stigmatizing families, tribal officials told The Herald last year.

Tribal social workers are allowed to share sensitive information with state social workers to assist protecting children and to provide them and their families with services. However, tribal laws don’t contain provisions about information-sharing once a child has died. That conflict prevented the tribal social workers from participating in the review.

In the letter, the Tribes asked the panel to begin the review with a prayer, seeking guidance and healing. The daylong session opened with a moment of silence.

The committee acknowledged the challenge of fully understanding the history of the case without input from tribal social workers. They knew that they were only receiving part of the story and would be left with unanswered questions.

“They were asked to look at the state’s work. I think that objective was accomplished by the committee,” said Haun, who served as one of facilitators. “We are not in the position to review the work of the Tulalip Tribes. That is their responsibility.”

The Tulalips and DSHS have an agreement sharing responsibility for child welfare investigations and providing services to Tulalip children. The agreement is meant to define the role of the state and create cooperation between the two governments.

The role of tribal and state social workers varies depending on the local agreements with specific tribes. There are additional layers of complexity because of the state and federal Indian Child Welfare Acts. The laws govern how states should respond to cases involving Indian children and spell out the tribes’ jurisdiction over their children. The federal act was passed in 1978 in response to the disproportionate number of Indian children being removed from their homes and placed in non-Indian homes away from their tribes.

The Tulalips began assuming jurisdiction over dependency cases more than a decade ago. Their child welfare services program, beda?chelh, investigates all reports of child abuse and neglect. This includes any allegations that aren’t accepted for further investigation by the state.

Among the main recommendations, the panelists encouraged the state and the Tulalips to revisit their local agreement for handling child welfare cases. They concluded that state social workers need more clarification about their individual responsibilities.

For example, state workers have protocols to locate families, but aren’t allowed to seek out tribal families without permission from the tribes to be on the reservation.

The team also urged the state to provide more consistency and stability in the unit specifically assigned to investigate allegations involving tribal children. Social workers need to be familiar with the Indian Child Welfare Act. They should be seasoned workers. Increased stability in the unit would go a long way in building relationships with tribal social workers, the group said.

The team also recommended that if a supervisor leaves the unit, the cases should be reviewed by both the outgoing and incoming supervisor to make sure complex cases don’t get overlooked. The team pointed out that the Carlson case hadn’t been reviewed by a supervisor for months. They questioned whether that was because there had been a change in supervisors.

The panelists also concluded that DSHS should make it a priority to hire CPS social workers and supervisors.

Hart-Anderson said she also walked away from the review convinced that more needs to be done to offer drug and alcohol treatment resources to families.

The county used to partner with DSHS and stationed drug and alcohol counselors in local CPS offices. They were an immediate resource for parents. That program was cut about five years ago for lack of funding.

“Alcohol and drugs are so prevalent in so many CPS cases,” Hart-Anderson said.

In the Carlson neglect case, she is accused of leaving her girls alone for hours on Oct. 8 while she tried to contact a drug dealer. Witnesses told investigators that the 36-year-old mother smoked heroin in the car while the girls were in the backseat. Tests showed that the surviving child had been exposed to opiates.

It is hard to fathom a parent’s neglect for a child, Hart-Anderson said.

“Addiction is a very powerful disease, so powerful that some people are not capable of parenting, and their number one priority is their addiction,” she said.

Social workers have an overwhelming job, Hart-Anderson said.

“As a society we don’t appreciate that enough,” she added.

Inslee on budget: ‘I choose education over tax breaks’

By Jerry Cornfield, The Herald
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee prescribed his plan Thursday for pumping $1.3 billion more into the state’s public school system then challenged lawmakers to buck up and pay for it by ending popular tax breaks and extending taxes set to expire this summer.The first-term governor wants to fund full-day kindergarten in high poverty schools and make preschool available for more children of low-income families.

He also wants to pay for smaller kindergarten and first grade classes, beef up reading intervention and dropout prevention programs and hire 1,400 secondary school teachers in order add courses in middle and high schools.

And he’d pour half of the new money into shouldering a greater share of the bill for school bus service and the purchase of materials and supplies in each school district.

Most of the investment is a first step toward complying with a Supreme Court decision last year that found lawmakers in violation of the state Constitution by not adequately funding public schools.

“To govern, it is said, is to choose,” Inslee said after releasing a broad blueprint of his priorities for the next two-year state budget. “Today, I choose, and I believe we should all choose, education over tax breaks, and to make good on our constitutional and moral duty to quality schools for our children.”

Republicans in the House and Senate didn’t object to how Inslee wants to spend the money only his reliance on taxes to pay for it. They wished he’d looked harder to trim government spending and not put as many dollars into salaries and benefits of state employees.

“I don’t see one on there I can support,” Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville said of the list of tax breaks. “You’re not choosing between kids and tax cuts. You’re choosing between bureaucrats and tax hikes.”

House Democrats said Inslee’s plan spending and tax proposals are on the same scale as the ones in the budget they are writing.

“Overall I think the budget reflected the values of our caucus pretty well,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington.

To pay for his education plan, Inslee wants to generate $565 million by repealing or revising 11 tax exemptions most of which have been a political hit list before and survived.

Among them are ones that could lead to bottled water getting taxed and Oregon residents paying sales taxes.

Time and again Thursday, Inslee said it comes down to preserving those breaks or preparing the next generation of engineers and scientists.

“I challenge anyone, anyone in any part of the state in any industry to argue that any single one of these tax breaks is more important than the STEM education of these students,” he said.

Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, serves on the Senate budget committee that will have to approve any of them.

“I don’t think anything is more important than education other than getting our economy going again,” she said. “Adding more taxes on businesses has a dampening effect on growth.”

Inslee also wants to make permanent a hike in the business and occupation tax paid by doctors, lawyers and accountants and a 50-cent-per-gallon tax on beer. He also wants to expand the beer tax to cover all producers; today it only applies to those making in excess of 60,000 barrels a year.

Inslee hopes to bring in $661 million from these taxes which were enacted in 2010 and are set to expire June 30.

Inslee, who campaigned against raising taxes, said his plan doesn’t backtrack on that. He said he repeatedly pledged to close tax break and not seek a general tax increase.

“I am fulfilling on my commitment to the ‘T’,” he said.

For owners of small breweries the change in the beer tax means they the tax they pay on each 31-gallon barrel produced could rise from $4.78 to $20.28.

“We’re going to pass it through and it will go through to the beer drinker,” said co-owner Phil Bannan, co-owner of Scuttlebutt Brewing Co. in Everett. “Beer is a common man’s drink so this is going to hit the common man in the wallet.”

Kegs, which hold 15.5 gallons and cost around $135 apiece today, could go up in price by about $10, he said.

“I don’t disagree with the priority of education,” he said. “But I disagree with his way of solving it.”

What Inslee released Thursday was his spending priorities for the two-year budget which begins July 1.

With a projected shortfall of $1.3 billion, Inslee is proposing to save $321 million by suspending the cost-of-living raises for teachers required under Initiative 732. He also suggests cutting $29.8 million in funding for alternative learning experience programs which cover costs of online and home school programs.

In other parts of his budget proposal Inslee backs full expansion of the Medicaid program. That move, he said, will reportedly save the state nearly $300 million as the federal government picks up the cost of covering the estimated 255,000 adults who could become eligible.

He wants to hire more child and adult protective services caseworkers, restore the 3 percent pay cuts for state employees and put $23.7 million into state parks.

With release of his proposal, Inslee kicked off the budget debate in Olympia.

The Republican-dominated Senate Majority Coalition expects to release its budget early next week followed by the House Democrats.

The 105-day legislative session is scheduled to end April 28.