Cladoosby’s State of Indian Nations: ‘We Must Tear Down Barriers’

Vincent SchillingNational Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby held up an Iroquois Wampum belt as a gesture of mutual respect between all Indian Nations during his State of Indian Nations address last week.

Vincent Schilling
National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby held up an Iroquois Wampum belt as a gesture of mutual respect between all Indian Nations during his State of Indian Nations address last week.

Vincent Schilling, Indian Country Today

 

The National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby (chairman of the Swinomish Nation) delivered the State of Indian Nations Address Thursday in Washington, D.C. at the Newseum Knights television studios to a full house of members of Congress, senior Administration officials, and leaders of tribal nations.

The event, which was livestreamed on the NCAI channel, was viewed all over Indian country with a reported 50 or more ‘viewing parties’ all over the country.

In addition to Cladoosby’s call on Congress and the Obama Administration to act to improve tribal economies, invest in education, and support innovation, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) the new chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, delivered the Congressional response.

In his opening, President Cladoosby optimistically remarked on the growth of Indian country but mentioned that in order to foster continued growth we would need to tear down further barriers. “Indian country is leading. Indian country is innovating.  Indian country is growing. And the state of Indian nations grows stronger by the day.”

“Today, I bring a simple message from the tribes of the 21st Century: We must tear down barriers to growth, simplify regulations that are limiting opportunities, and acknowledge that tribes have the capability as governments to oversee our own affairs,” said Cladoosby.

“Congress and the Administration need to find ways to help bring federal agencies out of the 19th Century and into the 21st Century. We need them to be partners for growth and not barriers to growth.”

When Cladoosby remarked on the historic visit by President Obama to the Standing Rock Sioux Nation last year, he mirrored the words of President Obama by extending a personal invitation to Speaker Boehner (R-OH), Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) – as well as every Member of Congress to visit Indian country in 2015.

“Make it a goal to come to Indian country this year,” said Cladoosby.

Before outlining the plan and discussing the top level priorities of the NCAI Cladoosby personally remarked about the appreciation he had for his own father and for the contributions of the recently passed activist and leader Billy Frank Jr.

“As Billy put it, he wasn’t a policy guy, he was a getting arrested guy,” to which Cladoosby made the light hearted comment that though Billy was arrested more than 50 times for exercising treaty rights, Cladoosby would not be able to match the arrest record.

Cladoosby stated the priorities for the NCAI in 2015 to include their recent 130 page report The FY 2016 Indian Country Budget Request; Promoting Self-Determination, Modernizing the Trust Relationship, outlining a plan for funding the federal government’s trust responsibility through the budget process.

He also remarked on Congress to advance tribal tax reform to enable tribes to raise tax revenue free from overlapping state taxation, and to create incentives for business and jobs.

Other topics of importance introduced by Cladoosby were asking the federal government to partner with the private sector to increase broad band in Indian country, extending access to capital by recognizing the equal status of tribal governments to access tax exempt bonds and ensuring tribal inclusion in the New Markets Tax Credit Program, energy reform and the passage of Indian energy legislation.

Cladoosby also called on Congress and the Obama Administration to ensure that tribal nations should “have a seat at the policymaking table” by consulting with tribes on all policy issues such as the Keystone Pipeline, renewable energy, health care, and education.

Cladoosby emphasized the importance of Education in Indian country and asked Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and should enact legislation that supports Native language programs.

He also expressed thanks to President Obama for introducing that the first two years of Community College should be free.

“I applaud President Obama’s proposal to make the first two years of tribal and community college free. It will finally make k-14 education a reality,” he said.

During the address Cladoosby also called on the Washington Redskins to change their name stating the #Redskin name to be is “the most offensive name to an American Indian. He also later held up an Iroquois Wampum belt as a gesture of mutual respect between all Indian Nations.

After Cladoosby’s address, Senator Barrasso delivered a congressional response to which he outlined his visions on energy and natural resource development, healthcare, juvenile justice, and tribal self-governance.

“The relationship between the United States and Indian tribes has not always been positive – and has not always served the people of Indian country well… As President Cladoosby stated, ‘we are not where we used to be.’

“My main priority is to help the people of Indian country live better lives. There are two tribes in my home state of Wyoming: the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Tribe. The tribal leaders of these two tribes have stated to me over the years how important good jobs, health care and public safety are to their communities,” Barrasso said.

“Addressing these fundamental needs can contribute significantly to improving the lives of Indian people. As Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, my top priorities are jobs, energy and natural resource development, healthcare, juvenile justice, and tribal self-governance,” he remarked.

“The more progress we can make on these issues, the more progress we can make in helping families.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/01/26/cladoosbys-state-indian-nations-we-must-tear-down-barriers-158859

Cladoosby: Tribes will revisit pot after feds’ ruling

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

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

 

By Mark Stayton, Skagit Valley Herald

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Cladoosby Lays Out NCAI’s Priorities in Time for Lame Duck Session

Swinomish Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby

Swinomish Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby

Gale Courey Toensing, Indian Country Today

 

The National Congress of American Indians members passed more than five dozen new resolutions at its annual meeting recently, but one of the first things the organization will deal with during the lame duck session – the period of time between Election Day and when the new legislators enter Congress in the new year – is a three-year-old resolution opposing the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.

“As Congress opens the lame duck one of the first issues will be the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Brian Cladoosby, NCAIpresident and chair of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, told ICTMN following NCAI’s 71st Annual Convention & Market held this year in Atlanta. “NCAI has a resolution opposing Keystone as tribes in that region are concerned about the potential impact to their aquifer.”

NCAI members’ resolutions set the organization’s policies and guide its advocacy until the issue is resolved or the resolution is withdrawn. In the case of the pipeline, NCAI members passed its resolutionin June 2011 opposing the $8 billion pipeline that would transport oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico. The resolution cites the pipeline’s negative impacts on cultural and environmental resources and expresses solidarity with the First Nations in their struggle to protect their communities, aboriginal lands and treaty rights against the pipeline and other extraction industries’ devastation.

The Keystone issue flared up in 2012 but receded from the headlines until recently when House Republicans in their post-election victory mode suddenly brought it to the floor for a vote. On Friday, November 14, the House voted 252-161 to pass legislation that would force the $8 billion TransCanada pipeline project to move forward. The Senate rejected the bill  on Tuesday, November 18. Fifty-nine senators voted for the bill, one short of the 60 votes needed to clear a filibuster. Fourteen Democrats joined the Senate Republicans in voting for the bill. The vote was 59-41.

RELATED: Rosebud Sioux Tribe Calls House Keystone XL Passage an ‘Act of War,’ Vows Legal Action

So with its Keystone and other older policies in place and more than 60 new resolutions pointing the way, NCAI is ready to deal with the new post-election political landscape – even if it’s a little obscure at the moment.

“NCAI is fully committed to strong and effective action to advance tribal priorities. First, we will be navigating the lame duck session of Congress, and then next year will be a new environment in Congress particularly with the new leadership in the Senate,” Cladoosby said. “It is too early to predict exactly how next year will go, but we are already identifying opportunities.”

In addition to the Keystone pipeline issue, appropriations and spending will loom large during the lame duck session. Congress has not yet finalized a spending plan, Cladoosby said. “We are strongly urging adoption of House Interior Appropriations, as it has higher spending levels for both Indian Health and education,” he said.

In July the House Committee on Appropriations voted 29-19 to approve the fiscal year 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. The legislation includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), the Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, and various independent and related agencies. In total, the bill includes $30.2 billion in base funding, an increase of copy62 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and a reduction of $409 million below the President’s request.

Indian country won a victory this year with the passage of the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014, but here’s more work to be done in the area of tax reform. Tax extenders are up for renewal during the lame duck, Cladoosby noted. There are nearly 55 tax provisions, known as extenders, which expire at the end of this year, including important charitable giving incentives. Congress needs to renew the provisions in order for people, businesses and tribes to use them in filing taxes in 2015. “Tribes have some very important tax incentives for job development in Indian country that are up for renewal. That includes accelerated depreciation and the Indian employment tax credit,” Cladoosby said. “We really need to make these tax incentives permanent, and these discussions will be a springboard for tax reform discussions in the next year.” Cladoosby said NCAI will advocate for reforms to the tax code that will “respect tribal sovereignty and create jobs in tribal communities.

Energy legislation, trust reform and transportation reauthorization are also NCAI priorities. NCAI has been “strongly supporting” Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-WY) tribal energy bill – the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Acts Amendments of 2014(S. 2132). The bill will give Indian tribes more tools to develop their energy resources and to remove unnecessary barriers to economic development. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, of which Barrasso is vice chairman, passed the bill unanimouslyin May.

NCAI will continue to prioritize legislation for the elusive “Carcieri fix” to restore the Interior Secretary’s authority to take land into trust, and will support voting rights initiatives, and the Department of the Interior Tribal Self Governance Act of 2014, Cladoosby said. It also backs reauthorization of The Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Actof 1996 (NAHASDA), which provides grants and financing guarantees to tribes for affordable housing. A couple key NCAI priorities, Cladoosby said – are a reportjust released from the Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence “that will drive attention and I believe there will be a need for hearings,” proposed new regulations for the right of way on Indian lands, trust land in Alaska, and federal recognition.

And in the very near future, there is President Obama’s sixth White House Tribal Nations Conferenceto look forward to on December 3 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. The conference will provide leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the president and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs.

“I think tribes will be working up even more ideas for administrative action as we head into the summit with the president in the first week of December,” Cladoosby said.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/19/brian-cladoosby-lays-out-ncais-priorities-time-lame-duck-session-157907

Cladoosby Hopes to Initiate Repatriation Discussion With France

Courtesy Brian CladoosbySwinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby introduces President Obama as the "first American Indian president" of the U.S., at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference. Cladoosby and his wife will be the Obamas' guests at the White House State Dinner for French President Francois Hollande, February 11.

Courtesy Brian Cladoosby
Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby introduces President Obama as the “first American Indian president” of the U.S., at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference. Cladoosby and his wife will be the Obamas’ guests at the White House State Dinner for French President Francois Hollande, February 11.

National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby doesn’t expect he’ll have more than an opportunity to shake the hand of French President Francois Hollande at a White House state dinner February 11.

But he hopes that introduction will open the door to negotiation of an agreement for the repatriation of Native American objects in French museums.

Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Tribe, and his wife Nina were invited by President Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama to the state dinner being held in honor of the French president.

During the French president’s visit to the U.S., Obama and Hollande “will discuss opportunities to further strengthen the U.S.-France security and economic partnership,” Obama said in a statement posted on www.whitehouse.gov.

“Michelle and I look forward to welcoming President Hollande … on a state visit to the United States,” Obama said.

“The United States and France are close friends and allies, including through NATO, and our countries have worked together to support democracy, liberty, and freedom at home and abroad for more than two centuries.”

The state dinner comes two months after a French judge’s decision to allow an auction house in Paris to sell 24 sacred Native American artifacts, despite the protests of the Hopi Nation, the U.S. Embassy, and indigenous civil rights organization Survival International.

RELATED: Sad But True: Another Hopi Katsinam Auction Planned in Paris

The Annenberg Foundation intervened, submitting a winning bid of $530,000 U.S. for the sole purpose of returning the objects to their rightful owners – 21 items belong to the Hopi Nation, three to the San Carlos Apache.

RELATED: Surprise! Charity Buys 21 Sacred Katsinam for Hopi at Auction in Paris

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act gives indigenous nations in the U.S. a way to reclaim funerary objects and ceremonial items from federal agencies and museums in the United States. The law, however, does not apply to items held internationally.

Christopher Marinello, executive director and general counsel of Art Loss Register London, the world’s largest private database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectables, told ICTMN in April 2013 that the Hopi and Apache objects should have been repatriated under the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. France ratified the convention in 1997.

RELATED: Hopi Katsinam and Nazi Art Theft: An Expert Discusses Principles of Repatriation

According to the convention, “the [Hopi and Apache] pieces should have been pulled off, parties should have had a discussion to see which pieces could be sold, which were not genuine, what were the moral claims, what was important to the tribe, what is the compensation,” Marinello told ICTMN.

Marinello said there are no international agreements specifically addressing Native American artifacts, and said “it is something that the Americans should be convening and discussing because the laws in the USA protecting those Native artifacts have no weight overseas.”

That’s what Cladoosby hopes to initiate, noting, “We want to ensure our most sacred items are treated the same way” as those covered by other repatriation conventions.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/07/cladoosby-hopes-initiate-repatriation-discussion-france-153409

NCAI President Commits To Strengthening Partnership With Boys And Girls Clubs Of America

Source: NCAI Press Release
 
 WASHINGTON, DC – Swinomish Tribal Chairman and President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Brian Cladoosby had the chance to meet with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and members of the Tulalip Tribe to discuss the importance of supporting Native youth through positive youth development programs. The Boys & Girls Clubs in Indian Country serves over 85,000 Native youth in over 200 clubs nationwide in Indian country.  After the meeting with Tulalip Tribe – the 6th Tribal Club – and Tulalip Chairman Mel Sheldon, President Cladoosby said:
 
“What an inspiration to see the incredible work of the Boys and Girls Clubs! There is nothing more important than supporting young people and encouraging them to make positive decisions. I am excited to continue working with the Clubs on bringing education, career, and healthy living choices to Native youth and the children of all communities.”
 
Providing opportunities for the next generation is the greatest responsibility of this generation. With that duty in mind, President Cladoosby has focused on education and Native youth in his first months at NCAI. He and the organization are committed to strengthening the partnership between NCAI and the Boys and Girls Clubs.
 
Boys & Girls Clubs in Indian Country began over 20 years ago and has grown dramatically ever since. Under the leadership of Brian Yazzie, the National Director of Native American Services for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Boys & Girls Clubs offer multiple programs specific to tribal communities. These programs include the On the T.R.A.I.L. (Together Raising Awareness for Indian Life) to Diabetes Prevention Program which provides youth with tools to prevent type 2 diabetes through self-esteem and prevention activities. The T.R.A.I.L program has served nearly 12,000 Native youth in 85 tribal communities. Robbie Callaway, of FirstPic, Inc. who was instrumental in beginning the Boys & Girls Clubs in Indian Country initiative stated:
 
“President Cladoosby and NCAI’s support for Boys & Girls Clubs in Indian Country has the ability to help increase opportunities for Native youth across the country and create sustainable programs throughout Native communities.”
 
NCAI has a long history of working hand in hand with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, including the passage of a resolution in 2004 endorsing a permanent endowment for the Boys and Girls Clubs for their work in Indian Country.  FirstPic, Inc. has worked with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and NCAI throughout this initiative to implement high quality programming for Native youth.  Executive Director Jacqueline Pata sits on the Native American Advisory Council for the Clubs and has made the partnership between NCAI and the Boys and Girls Clubs a priority for the organization.

NCAI President On Five Promise Zones: This Is The First Step In Realizing The Potential Of Indian Country

Source: National Congress of American Indians
WASHINGTON, DC – In response to the news that President Obama included the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in his Promise Zones initiative, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Brian Cladoosby issued the following statement:
 
“It will be exciting to see how the already innovative Choctaw Nation utilizes the Promise Zones resources to achieve even greater successes in tribal job creation, education, and resource development. I want to congratulate the Choctaw on their inclusion in the initiative and thank President Obama for making Indian Country a priority in this new program.
 
President Obama’s Promise Zones initiative gives a clear roadmap for how the administration plans to support and invest in communities across the country. The goals of the program are in line with the goals tribal leaders have set forth for decades: investing in tribal economic development and growth is beneficial for the surrounding communities and the rest of the country.
 
Indian Country faces many challenges but also has great potential for success. Investing in tribal lands through this program is just the first step towards realizing that potential.”

5 More Native American Visionaries in Washington State

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today Media Network

As the holidays kick in and people start looking ahead to the coming year, it is only fitting to acknowledge the leaders who will take Indian country into the future. Last month we brought you five Native leaders who are protecting rights, exercising sovereignty, building intercultural bridges and meeting future energy needs, among other accomplishments.

RELATED: 5 Visionaries Who See a Brighter Future for Indian Country

Now we bring five more who are rocking the world with their forward thinking, their innovation and their sense of social justice. With 29 of the 566 federally recognized indigenous nations located in what is now Washington State, the Evergreen State is a hotbed of visionary ideas.

1. Brian Cladoosby, Swinomish Tribe: Political and Environmental Leader

Brian Cladoosby
Brian Cladoosby

The Swinomish Tribe chairman and recently elected president of the National Congress of American Indians has been at the forefront of calls to study and adapt to climate change, especially in Indian Country. During his chairmanship of the Swinomish, Cladoosby developed an initiative to determine how climate change may affect coastal communities, assess the possible impacts and develop an action plan, including coastal protection measures and development code changes.

RELATED: Brian Cladoosby Is President of National Congress of American Indians  

Cladoosby collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey to launch the Canoe Journey Water Quality Project. Canoes participating in the journey carry probes that collect information on water temperature, salinity, pH levels, dissolved oxygen and turbidity in the Salish Sea. The data is used to identify and map possible sources of water quality degradation.

RELATED: Swinomish Chairman Cladoosby Honored

Under Cladoosby’s leadership the Swinomish have reclaimed lands, including environmentally sensitive lands and tidelands, lost during the allotment era or by executive order—Kiket Island in 2009, and this year more than 250 acres that had been removed from the reservation by the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant.

The Swinomish Police Department is the first tribal police department in Washington state to earn state accreditation, giving it the same authority as municipal departments to enforce state law.

“A visionary dedicated to serving the needs of his people, Brian brings together a strong focus on environmental stewardship, productive dialogue, and spiritual connectedness,” Ecotrust wrote of Cladoosby in bestowing its 2012 Indigenous Leadership Award.

RELATED: Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award Honors Five, Welcomes Them to Rising Leadership Network

2. Tracy Rector, Seminole/Choctaw: Taking the Art of Storytelling Digital

Tracy Rector (Photo: Lou Karsen)
Tracy Rector (Photo: Lou Karsen)

Rector’s Longhouse Media is using new media to give voice to a young generation of indigenous storytellers.

Longhouse Media teaches digital filmmaking and media skills to indigenous youth to foment self-expression, cultural preservation and social change. Since 2003, Native youth have created more than 20 short films that have screened on television and in national and international film festivals.

RELATED: Seventh SuperFly Film Workshop Wraps in Seattle

Native youth worked on the award-winning feature-length documentary March Point, which chronicles the journey of two young men as they investigate the impact of oil refineries on their community. Other films explored the significance of the canoe in the Coast Salish way of life, the impacts of domestic violence, the dangers of drug abuse among young people and the importance of leading by example, the negative affects of spreading rumors, the connection between eating healthily and living healthy, and hip-hop music and dance as a way of staying sober and making healthy choices.

“We believe in Native youth telling their own stories about life, culture, and community, and understand the power of this process to change peoples’ lives,” said Rector, who was appointed this year to the City of Seattle Arts Commission, writing on her website.

RELATED: 3 Washington Native Leaders, Quinault Adviser Named to Key Positions

3. Matika Wilbur, Tulalip/Swinomish: Erasing Stereotypes, Photo by Photo

Courtesy of Matika Wilbur
Courtesy of Matika Wilbur

Wilbur’s Project 562 is changing the way the world sees America’s First Peoples. One year into a three-year project photographing Native America, it is already spawning exhibits. Last June she participated in a prestigious TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Seattle, speaking about “Surviving Disappearance, Re-Imagining & Humanizing Native Peoples.”

Wilbur is traveling across the U.S. by car and RV with her Mamiya film camera and Canon EOS 7D, with the mission to photograph people from every indigenous nation in America—peoples and cultures that are not only alive but also are thriving, a force in American life.

“People understand that we survived, but the stereotypes remain,” Wilbur said in an interview. She said her goal is to “build cultural bridges, abandon stereotypes, and renew and inspire our national legacy” and to reveal the enduring richness and complex variety of Native America.

“Our goal is to unveil the true essence of contemporary Native issues, the beauty of Native culture, the magnitude of tradition, and expose her vitality,” Wilbur states on her website.

RELATED: Photographer Matika Wilbur’s Three-Year, 562-Tribe Adventure

The number 562 represents the number of indigenous nations that were federally recognized when she began developing the project; there are now 566. “The number 562 is a ‘jumping-off point,’ if you will,” she said, adding that she intends to include people from non-recognized Nations as well.

The project is funded by donations generated mostly by a Kickstarter campaign. When completed, the work will comprise a book, exhibitions, lecture series, website and a curriculum.

RELATED: Video: Meet Matika Wilbur: She’s Coming to Your Nation Soon, Smile!

It’s the fourth major project by the social documentarian. Previously Wilbur photographed Coast Salish elders for the exhibit “We Are One People.” She put Native people in contemporary settings for the exhibit “We Emerge,” and photographed young Native people expressing their identities in modern ways in “Save the Indian and Kill The Man.”

Matika Wilbur: Indian Enough Photography Exhibit Opens in Ohio

4. Fawn Sharp, Quinault: Taking Tribes Global

Fawn Sharp
Fawn Sharp

Sharp has turned the Quinault Nation presidency into a bully pulpit on national and international issues. She has called for the seating of representatives of indigenous nations at the U.N.; doing so will foster dialogue to “eliminate violence against indigenous nations caused by rampant development which pollute lands and waters and force Indigenous Peoples out of their territories.”

RELATED: Fawn Sharp Calls for Seating of Indigenous Nations in United Nations

Sharp also called for establishment of a permanent indigenous body with authority to promote and monitor the rights of indigenous peoples; for an international conference on violence against indigenous women and children; and for U.N. members to formalize government-to-government negotiations between them and indigenous governments as a principal method for conflict resolution.

RELATED: The Quinault Nation’s New Era of International Diplomacy  

The federal government’s shutdown also came in her sights.

“Those who are responsible for this mismanagement will be held to account come election time,” she vowed at the time.

Sharp is a lawyer who serves as president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and regional vice president of the National Congress of American Indians.

“I spent many hours away from home and from my family carefully cultivating key relationships to build a positive, strong and respectable reputation for the Quinault Indian Nation,” she wrote this year in the Quinault newspaper, The Nugguam. “Developing such political muscle has opened doors for us that otherwise would not be open, giving us the credibility we need to … protect sovereignty, protect the environment, secure funding and open international trade opportunities.”

RELATED: Fawn Sharp: Conference Appreciated but ‘We Need More’

5. Gil Calac, Paiute: Getting Veterans Their Due

Gil Calac (Photo courtesy Valerie Calac)
Gil Calac (Photo courtesy Valerie Calac)

A Vietnam War veteran living on the Yakama Reservation, Calac’s tireless campaign is winning official recognition of, and starting the healing process for, his fellow Vietnam veterans.

When U.S. military personnel came home from Vietnam, many with injuries and memories that still haunt them decades later, there was no welcome.

“They were not treated like heroes as those who returned from Korea and World War II,” said Washington State Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Toppenish. “Instead, they were portrayed as baby killers, warmongers and other things.… That had a traumatic effect on these soldiers that is still painful to these days as many of them refuse to talk about their experiences.”

Calac’s efforts this year led to the adoption of State House Bill 1319, which establishes March 30 of every year as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in Washington state. The bill, introduced by Johnson and co-sponsored by 38 state House members, was unanimously approved by the House and Senate.

RELATED: Native Warrior’s Efforts Lead Washington State to Observe Annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day

Thanks to Calec, all public buildings and schools are required to fly the POW/MIA flag every March 30.

The veteran’s compelling testimony moved legislators to act quickly on the bill. At a hearing before the Senate Committee on Governmental Operations, Calac said that Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day would help veterans “put away our guilt, the shame, the grief and despair,” and heal from the animosity veterans faced when they returned home.

Calac hopes to see Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day established nationwide.

RELATED: Natives Lead All Star Cast of Veterans at MLB Midsummer Classic

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/12/03/5-more-native-american-visionaries-washington-state-152528

NCAI Prez Demands New Farm Bill After Blizzard That Killed 100,000 Animals

Christina RoseDead cattle await burial on the Pine Ridge Reservation after the record-breaking, rogue blizzard that hit South Dakota in early October. Newly elected NCAI President Brian Cladoosby is urging Congress to pass the stalled farm bill, which would help aid those who lost livestock in the disaster.


Christina Rose
Dead cattle await burial on the Pine Ridge Reservation after the record-breaking, rogue blizzard that hit South Dakota in early October. Newly elected NCAI President Brian Cladoosby is urging Congress to pass the stalled farm bill, which would help aid those who lost livestock in the disaster.

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Fresh from his election as the 21st president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Brian Cladoosby has made it a priority to get aid for tribal members whose homes or livestock were wiped out by the record-breaking, early-season blizzard that devastated South Dakota and the Pine Ridge Reservation earlier this month.

RELATED: Brian Cladoosby Is President of the National Congress of American Indians

The government may have reopened, but in the wake of its 16-day shutdown, a key farm bill still languishes that would provide assistance to ranchers and landowners who lost millions when 100,000 cows, horses and other animals died in the blizzard, many of them on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

RELATED: Entombed in Snow: Up to 100,000 Cattle Perished Where They Stood in Rogue South Dakota Blizzard

“As I begin my term, my thoughts and prayers are with the South Dakota tribes,” Cladoosby said in a statement, his first since being elected on October 17. “The Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes have been devastated by the recent storm that swept the Great Plains—and the federal government failed, again, to maintain treaty agreements that ensure disaster relief is provided when citizens are in distress. When the federal government neglects citizens in times of emergency, the effects can be long term.”

One of the bill’s provisions would be to make disaster relief available under the Livestock Indemnity Program, which would pay ranchers part of the animals’ market value, Reuters reported on October 8. The deadline to extend the 2008 farm bill was October 1—the very day that the government stopped working. Now the government is back in business, but a vote has yet to be held.

Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are scheduled to meet next week to try and reconcile their respective versions of the bill, according to the Billings Gazette. It had already been stalled for months before the shutdown.

During the shutdown, livestock producers could not file the paperwork on their losses with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Agency, Reuters said. All that state and tribal authorities could do was tell them to carefully document the losses as they buried their cattle and horses in mass graves.

RELATED: The Government Shutdown Hits Indian Country Hard on Many Fronts

Cladoosby, who is also chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, said thresholds for assistance should be lowered for federal tribal disaster assistance and urged Congress to make Native issues a priority in the “post-shutdown calendar.”

Collapsing homes and widespread livestock losses are just the beginning, Cladoosby said, since the damage will cause tribal ranchers and farmers in South Dakota for years “as they will now have to rebuild their livelihoods from scratch.”

The first step, he said, should be to pass the farm bill.

“Allowing the current Farm Bill to lapse without action, coupled with the government shutdown, meant that support systems at the Department of Agriculture were unavailable to Native farmers and ranchers during this terrible storm,” Cladoosby said.

“Congress must pass a Farm Bill that will support tribal nations and others around the country who are in dire straits and it must keep nutrition programs with farm policies because there should never be a disconnect between food production and feeding people,” he said. “Congress must act immediately to provide rapid recovery for our tribes and work to ensure that political gamesmanship and inactivity does not harm Native peoples again.”

Help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can go only so far, even with the Stafford Act allowing tribes to apply in their own right, Cladoosby said, because aid doesn’t kick in at the amounts of money that people make, and lost in the disaster. The dollar amount triggering aid eligibility needs to be lower, he said.

“The high monetary damages threshold hampers impoverished areas because what is lost by low-income citizens often does not meet the required amount,” Cladoosby said. “The federal government has a fiduciary duty to protect tribal citizens, but without changes to the threshold, tribal citizens will continue to suffer from the consequences of disasters.”

He added the lack of action not only violated treaty and sovereignty rights but also cut off food supply to many tribal members.

“These failures of Congress prolong the claims process and inhibit Native food production and economic development,” Cladoosby said. “Further, with no Farm Bill and the lack of government funding for food assistance programs, many tribal citizens were left without access to food all while these vital programs are used as political bargaining chips. No one—especially our tribal citizens most in need—should ever have to go without food while being used as pawns in the lawmaking process.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/10/27/cladoosby-demands-end-farm-bill-gridlock-help-tribes-wake-blizzard-killed-100000-animals

Statement from Newly Elected NCAI President Cladoosby

New NCAI President Brian Cladoosby:
“Congress Must Act Immediately To Provide Rapid Recovery For Our Tribes And Work To Ensure That Political Gamesmanship And InactivityDoes Not Harm Native Peoples Again.”
Source: National Congress of American Indians
LaCONNER, WA- In his first statement after being sworn in as the 21st president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Brian Cladoosby – Chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community – called for reduced thresholds for federal tribal disaster assistance and challenged Congress to prioritize Native peoples in the post-shutdown legislative calendar, including acting on the Farm Bill:
 
“As I begin my term, my thoughts and prayers are with the South Dakota tribes. The Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes have been devastated by the recent storm that swept the Great Plains – and the federal government failed, again, to maintain treaty agreements that ensure disaster relief is provided when citizens are in distress. When the federal government neglects citizens in times of emergency, the effects can be long term.
 
Tribes are now eligible for federal disaster assistance under the Stafford Act, however the high monetary damages threshold hampers impoverished areas because what is lost by low-income citizens often does not meet the required amount. The federal government has a fiduciary duty to protect tribal citizens but without changes to the threshold, tribal citizens will continue to suffer from the consequences of disasters.
 
The immediate problems caused by collapsing homes and widespread loss of livestock are only the beginning. Tribal ranchers and farmers in South Dakota will feel the economic impact of this storm for years to come as they will now have to rebuild their livelihoods from scratch. Allowing the current Farm Bill to lapse without action, coupled with the government shutdown, meant that support systems at the Department of Agriculture were unavailable to Native farmers and ranchers during this terrible storm. These failures of Congress prolong the claims process and inhibit Native food production and economic development. Further, with no Farm Bill and the lack of government funding for food assistance programs, many tribal citizens were left without access to food all while these vital programs are used as political bargaining chips. No one – especially our tribal citizens most in need – should ever have to go without food while being used as pawns in the lawmaking process.
 
Congress must pass a Farm Bill that will support tribal nations and others around the country who are in dire straits and it must keep nutrition programs with farm policies because there should never be a disconnect between food production and feeding people. Congress must act immediately to provide rapid recovery for our tribes and work to ensure that political gamesmanship and inactivity does not harm Native peoples again.”
 
About The National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit www.ncai.org

National Congress of American Indians Elects New Executive Committee, Bids Farewell To President Jefferson Keel

Source: National Congress of American Indians
Tulsa, OK – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) elected a new Executive Committee today at the 70th Annual Convention & Marketplace. The Executive Committee is charged with advancing the mission of NCAI to protect and advance tribal sovereignty by representing the issues and priorities of tribal nations throughout the country.
 
President: Brian Cladoosby, Chairman, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
First Vice President: Michael Finley, Chairman, Colville Tribes
Recording Secretary: Robert Shepard, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
Treasurer: Dennis Welsh, Jr., Tribal Council Member, Colorado River Indian Tribes
Regional Vice Presidents: Announced Friday, October 18th
 
The Executive Committee is elected by NCAI membership: the President, First Vice President, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer are elected by the entire membership; and the twelve Regional Vice Presidents are elected by each respective region. Each of these officers is a member of the NCAI board and serves a two-year term to begin Friday, October 18, 2013.
 
Two-term President Jefferson Keel will step down Friday, October 18th. President Keel honored NCAI with his leadership, elevated the role of the organization, and served tribal nations well. He remains a valued and respected leader within NCAI and throughout Indian Country.