White House Hosts Tribal Youth, The ‘Heart Of The American Story’

"I know that you may have moments in your lives when you're filled with doubts, or you feel weighed down by history ... But when you start to feel that way, I want you all to remember one simple but powerful truth — that every single one of your lives is precious and sacred, and each of you was put on this earth for a reason," Michelle Obama said addressing the gathering.Jacquelyn Martin/AP
“I know that you may have moments in your lives when you’re filled with doubts, or you feel weighed down by history … But when you start to feel that way, I want you all to remember one simple but powerful truth — that every single one of your lives is precious and sacred, and each of you was put on this earth for a reason,” Michelle Obama said addressing the gathering.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP




First lady Michelle Obama spoke to Native youth at the White House last week, saying their customs, values, and discoveries “are at the heart of the American story.”

“Yet as we all know, America hasn’t always treated your people and your heritage with dignity and respect. Tragically, it’s been the opposite,” Obama continued.

Obama addressed the inaugural White House Tribal Youth Gathering, which brought together more than 1,000 youths from around the country. The conference featured sessions on safety, health and education, moderated by young people.

“Your traditions were systematically targeted for destruction,” she said, speaking about forced relocation, young people sent to boarding schools and other regulations that “literally made your cultures illegal.”

“While that kind of blatant discrimination is thankfully far behind us,” she said, “you all are still seeing the consequences of those actions every single day in your Nations. You see it in the families who are barely getting by. You see it in the classmates who never finish school, in communities struggling with violence and despair.”

Obama embraces Deandra Antonio, 17, of Whiteriver, Ariz., after her speech.Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Obama embraces Deandra Antonio, 17, of Whiteriver, Ariz., after her speech.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Obama read the names of some of the 240 tribes represented.

The gathering coincided with an announcement from Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who announced new funding and grants devoted to education in tribal nations. Education was a focus for many at the gathering as well, including a session with Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, who spoke on the importance of science and technology.

Obama also touted Gen-I, the President’s initiative focused on empowering Native youth. To be invited to the conference, individuals ages 14-24 were required to enter the Gen-I Challenge.

The afternoon sessions ended with remarks from Cheyenne Brady, Miss Indian World and member of the Sac and Fox Nation in North Dakota. Brady emphasized the importance of education to the American Indian population. The day also included a performance from Canadian artist Inez Jasper, who encouraged the youth to join her on stage.

The first lady was introduced by 15-year-old Hamilton Seymour, a member of the Nooksack Indian Tribe in Bellingham, Wash., who wore traditional attire, as many attendees did.

“We have made a difference,” Seymour said. “This day signifies that our voice has been heard.”

White House to host first-ever Native youth conference on July 9

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met with youth from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in June 2014. Photo from Center for Native American Youth / Facebook
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met with youth from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in June 2014. Photo from Center for Native American Youth / Facebook




The White House is hosting the first-ever Native youth conference this summer.

The White House Tribal Youth Gathering will take place July 9 in Washington, D.C. American Indian and Alaska Native youth will meet with Obama administration officials and the White House Council on Native American Affairs to talk about their issues and needs.

The conference is open to Native youth ages 14-24. Applicants must complete the Gen-I Native Youth Challenge to be eligible to attend.

Applications are due May 8 so Native youth have just a couple more weeks to engage community as part of the challenge.

“The Tribal Youth Gathering, a collaboration between the White House and Unity Inc., will continue to build upon the President’s Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative and his commitment to improve the lives of Native youth across the country,’ the White House said today. “President Obama launched the Gen-I initiative at the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference to focus on improving the lives of Native youth through new investments and increased engagement. This initiative takes a comprehensive, culturally appropriate approach to ensure all young Native people can reach their full potential.”



The Final Indian War in America is About to Begin

Lakota members during the annual Liberation Day commemoration of the Wounded Knee massacre. Photo: Deep Roots United Front/Victor Puertas
Lakota members during the annual Liberation Day commemoration of the Wounded Knee massacre. Photo: Deep Roots United Front/Victor Puertas


Notes from Indian Country, November 16, 2014
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)
© Native Sun News

Source: Huffington Post

(Note: This column will appear before the Senate votes on the Keystone XL Pipeline. The House has already approved the construction of the Pipeline)

South Dakota’s Republican leadership of John Thune and Kristi Noem always march lockstep with the other Republican robots. Neither of them care that South Dakota’s largest minority, the people of the Great Sioux Nation, diametrically oppose the Pipeline and they also fail to understand the determination of the Indian people to stop it.

The House vote was 252-161 favoring the bill. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) who is trying to take the senate seat from Democrat Mary Landrieu, They are headed for a senate runoff on December 6 and Landrieu has expressed a strong support of the bill in hopes of holding her senate seat.

Two hundred twenty-one Republicans supported the bill which made the Republican support unanimous while 31 Democrats joined the Republicans. One hundred sixty-one Democrats rejected the bill.

Progressive newsman and commentator for MSNBC, Ed Schultz, traveled to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota this year to meet with the Indian opponents of the Pipeline. Firsthand he witnessed the absolute determination of the Indian nations to stop construction of the Pipeline.

He witnessed their determination and reported on it. Except for Schultz the national media shows no interest and apparently has no knowledge of how the Indian people feel about the Pipeline nor do they comprehend that they will go to their deaths stopping it. What is wrong with the national media when it comes to Indians?

As an example of the national media’s apathy, the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota have turned their backs on the $1.5 billion dollars offered to them for settling the Black Hills Claim and although they are among the poorest of all Americans, the national media does not consider this news.

Why do they protest the XL Pipeline? Because the lands the Pipeline will cross are Sacred Treaty Lands and to violate these lands by digging ditches for the pipelines is blasphemes to the beliefs of the Native Americans. Violating the human and religious rights of a people in order to create jobs and low cost fuel is the worst form of capitalism. Will the Pipeline bring down the cost of fuel and create thousands of jobs?

President Barack Obama has blocked the construction of the Pipeline for six years and he said, “I have constantly pushed back against the idea the somehow the Keystone Pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices. Understand what this project is. It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. That doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”

In the meantime Senator Landrieu conceded that it is unlikely that the Senate and the House will have the two-thirds majority needed to override an Obama veto.

Wizipan Little Elk of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and a coalition of tribal leaders from across the Northern Plains and the United States have pulled no punches on how they intend to fight the Pipeline to the death if that is the only way to stop it.

South Dakota’s elected leadership has totally ignored the protests of the largest minority residing in their state. They have also totally underestimated and misunderstood the inherent determination of the Indian people. This is a huge mistake that will have national implications and it is taking place right under their Republican noses.

What is even worse South Dakota’s media has also buried its collective heads in the sand even though Native Sun News has been reporting on the Keystone XL Pipeline since 2006. Award-winning Health and Environment Editor for Native Sun News, Talli Nauman, has been at the journalistic forefront of this environmental disaster about to happen from day one and she has been rewarded by the South Dakota Newspaper Association with many awards for her yearly series of articles on this most important topic. Until this issue became a political football, the rest of South Dakota’s media had been silent.

The Keystone XL Pipeline that is being pushed by TransCanada may well be the beginning of the final war between the United States government and the Indian Nations. A word of caution to TransCanada and the U.S. Government: please do not disregard the determination of the Indian people when they say they will fight this Pipeline to their deaths if need be. They mean it!

When asked if he truly thought that a handful of Indians could stop the construction of the Pipeline, Little Elk simply said, “Try us!”

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is the editor and publisher of Native Sun News. He can be reached at editor@nsweekly.com.



Native Americans key to border security success

By Chuck Brooks, Contributor, The Hill

According to the most recent stats from the Pew Research Center, 11.7 million illegal aliens resided in the United States as of March 2012. To put that into perspective, there are 46 states that have a population less than 11.7 million. Fox News reported that from October 2013 to the end of May 2014, 162,000 people from countries other than Mexico have entered the U.S. across the southern border and 52,000 were unaccompanied children. This is approximately a 100 percent increase from the previous year and it is estimated that 150,000 minors might attempt to cross the border next year.

For this reason, illegal immigration, which has ties to drug smuggling and human trafficking, is continuing to get a lot of attention. In fact, according to Gallup, Americans recently cited immigration as the No. 1 issue in the U.S.; ahead of dissatisfaction with government, the general economy, unemployment/jobs and healthcare.

The cost of ignoring the problem and leaving our borders vulnerable is one that we cannot risk. The White House is unable to handle the growing issue and asked for $3.7 billion in emergency funding. Furthermore, thousands of troopers are being deployed to help protect our borders.While I believe that additional security funding is necessary, I also think there is a group that can help immensely and they should not be ignored: Native Americans.Gary Edwards, CEO of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association, states that there are 25 tribal reservations located on and/or across the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico and 41 tribal reservations are within 100 miles of those international U.S. borders. Since Native Americans are around a large part of our borders, they are, and should continue to be, a part of our border security initiatives.

Cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Native Americans has already played a significant role in our boarder security, especially in remote areas where drug smugglers and citizens try to enter the U.S. illegally. Today, more than 22,000 Native Americans serve in the Armed Forces and have the highest per capita serving in the military of any ethnic group protecting the homeland.

Additionally, the “Shadow Wolves” are Native American trackers who are part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since 1972, the Shadow Wolves have been tracking aliens and drug smugglers attempting to cross the border by looking for footprints, tire tracks, items snagged on branches, bent or broken twigs or even a single fiber of cloth. Their patrol area covers 2.8 million acres and officers estimate that recently they have seized an average of 60,000 pounds of illegal drugs a year.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the DHS need to remember the dedication, skill set and strategic geographical intelligence that Native Americans bring to the mix. In order to create a lasting relationship that utilizes their knowledge and aptitude, tribes must have complete access to intelligence and information pertinent to border security. This is something that the government needs to ensure because uninformed tribes will not be useful when protecting the homeland.

Brooks serves as vice president/client executive for DHS at Xerox. He served in government at the DHS as the first director of legislative affairs for the science & technology directorate. He also spent six years on Capitol Hill as a senior adviser to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and was adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University where he taught homeland security and Congress. Brooks has an M.A. in international relations from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in political science from DePauw University. He is widely published on the subjects of innovation, public/private partnerships, emerging technologies and issues of cybersecurity. He can be followed on Twitter @ChuckDBrooks.

NCAI Announces Native American Task Force for My Brother’s Keeper

 Source: National Congress of American Indians


WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama announced this morning that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has committed to lead a Native American Task Force to advance the important work of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. NCAI is proud to have the following organizations join our initial team of partners for this task force: Center for Native American Youth, Native American Boys and Girls Clubs of America, National Indian Child Welfare Association, National Indian Education Association, and UNITY Inc. This task force will coordinate and serve as the central point for sharing important work, opportunities, and resources for our youth. Included in the task force’s initial work plan, is the Native Youth Resilience Project and First Kids 1st Initiative.
Indian Country has a shared responsibility to address the issues facing our children and families. NCAI urges other interested partners to join this task force to strengthen opportunities for our Native youth. 
NCAI President Brian Cladoosby released the following statement, “The National Congress of American Indians and its partners in the task force look forward to working with the White House on this important initiative. Our tribal nations’ most important resource and responsibility are our Native youth. We must work hard every day to enhance opportunities and create better lives for our younger generations and generations yet to come.”

Indian affairs receives 1.2 increase in fiscal 2015 budget request

By Ryan McDermott, Fierce Government

washburn_aaaBureau of Indian Affairs programs would receive a 1.2 percent increase over this year’s enacted amount under the White House budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

The budget request totals $2.6 billion for Indian Affairs – $33.6 million more than fiscal 2014 enacted, said Interior Department Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee Wednesday hearing.


Tribal self-determination and self-governance programs have eclipsed direct service by the Indian Affairs Bureau at DOI, Washburn said.

More than 62 percent of the appropriations are provided directly to tribes and tribal organizations through grants, contracts and compacts for tribes to operate government programs and schools, Washburn said.


But committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said the budget request isn’t enough.


“Every line item is deficient,” Tester said. “1.2 percent is not right. This needs some work.”


He said the percentage increase for Indian Affairs pale in comparison to increases at other part of the DOI. The National Park Service request is for 22.2 percent more than this year and the Land Management Bureau request is 6.1 percent more.


But Washburn argued that Indian Affairs budgets under Obama have been larger in the last five years than another other parts of the DOI. The BIE budget request for fiscal 2015 makes up $2.6 billion of the agency’s $11 million total request.


Other parts of the DOI might see a larger percentage increase under the request, Washburn said, but they make up much smaller parts of the agency so the comparison is apple to oranges.


For more:
go to the hearing page (webcast and prepared tstimony available)


Congress Seeing Dollar Signs When Tribal Leaders Visit DC

By Rob Capriccioso, ICTMN

The week of September 9 was a big one for tribal visits to Washington, D.C.

There was a fancy shindig at Vice President Joe Biden’s house where Indian bigwigs including Jackie Johnson Pata, John Dossett, Terri Henry, Jodi Gillette and others celebrated the passage of the pro-tribal sovereignty Violence Against Women Act earlier this year. A meeting of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), focusing on the budget crisis, sequestration, and tax issues, saw dozens of tribal leaders express concerns. There were Indian health-focused meetings with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget. A Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing (sparsely attended by any senators) focused on water rights issues facing several tribes.

Tribal leaders used their time in Capital City to lobby federal officials for protection of the federal-tribal trust relationship, while trying to stave off budget cuts, enhance tribal sovereignty, and get more federal dollars flagged for reservation economic development.

Congress members, while sympathetic to the cause, couldn’t help but see dollar signs. Ever worried about winning the next election cycle, legislators from both sides of the aisle were quick to hit up tribal leaders for big bucks.

On the Republican side, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) hosted a breakfast for his good friend Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) September 12 at the exclusive Capitol Hill Club. The event was publicized and promoted by NCAI as part of its “Impact Days” meeting, and tribal leaders were encouraged to attend. Tickets ranged from $500 to $2,500. Organizer Shelly Roy has not responded to questions on how much money was raised, but the event was said to be well attended.

Cole told Indian Country Today Media Network that he was proud to host the breakfast, as he believes it is important for Indians to support Simpson. “Mike Simpson has been a real leader as chairman of the Interior appropriations subcommittee,” said the Chickasaw Nation citizen. “He deserves it.”

Democrats got in on the fundraising action in an even bigger way, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on September 13 hosting a tribal fundraiser coffee reception at the Democratic National Committee headquarters where tickets also ranged from $500 to $2,500.

Tribal leaders were asked to support the campaigns of Democrats Ron Barber (AZ), Ami Bera (CA), Julia Brownley (CA), Lois Capps (CA), Suzan DelBene (WA), Pete Gallego (TX), Joe Garcia (FL), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Dan Maffei (NY), Patrick Murphy (FL), Bill Owens (NY), Scott Peters (CA), Raul Ruiz (CA), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ). Organizer Mary Ryan Douglass did not respond to questions about how much money was raised in total.

Chris Stearns, a Navajo lawyer with Hobbs Straus and a Native-focused campaign organizer, said he is proud of Democrats for reaching out to tribal leaders, and he thinks the current situation in Congress reflects a growing level of tribal clout in the American political system.

“I think that…tribes have now demonstrated success at the local and state levels in a way that is very powerful and deep,” Stearns said. “You are seeing a trickle-up effect. In fact, many of the new members of Congress already have a good familiarity with tribes from their days in lower office. So, tribes still bring the money, but now they bring more political clout, ties, and collegiality.”

Tribes have also presented themselves as major financial players on the national level. Data from July 2012 shows that tribes by then had given approximately $4 million to President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and the Democratic and Republican Parties—not to mention localized and state-centric donations where tribes in Washington state alone have spent copy.1 million on political campaigns since the beginning of 2011.

Kalyn Free, a long-time Democratic Indian strategist and a Choctaw Nation citizen, also sees positives in the growing campaign finance outreach from Congress to tribes.

“As the fundraising increases, so does tribal influence with key lawmakers,” Free said. “We have made huge strides in a relatively short amount of time. As tribes become more comfortable in the political dialogue, it in turn raises the profile of issues critical to Native communities.”

Still, not all tribal leaders are convinced that these expensive fundraising festivities are worth it.

“Our so-called friends in Congress are not always willing to go to bat to take lumps for us,” said Ed Thomas, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribe, as he lamented the current national budget situation and cuts to tribal programs at the same time tribes are being asked for major financial donations.

“I expect our friends to do something bold for us,” Thomas said. “If we are going to support them, we have to see results.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/09/18/congress-seeing-dollar-signs-when-tribal-leaders-visit-dc-151339