Quinault Tribe challenges leadership, while leadership challenges U.S. President


Posted by David Haviland November 6, 2013




QUINAULT, Wash. – The Quinault Indian Nation will vote on a recall of their President, Fawn Sharp and three other members of the tribal Business Committee next week. The tribe’s newspaper the Nugguam, states that “A petition to recall Sharp, along with Vice President Andrew Mail, Treasurer Larry Ralston and Secretary Latosha Underwood was signed by at least fifty (50) qualified voters and filed with the Quinault Business Committee.

Tribal members who have spearheaded the vote cite issues with money, land, and legal management of the nation. The special general council meeting will be held in the Taholah School gymnasium for “Enrolled Quinault Tribal Members Only” on Nov. 16 at 10 a.m. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Meanwhile Sharp plans to challenge U.S. President Barack Obama (and his administration) to keep his promises to American Indian Nations at his 5th annual meeting with hundreds of tribal leaders from across the country on November 13 in Washington D.C.. A press release from President Sharp said she will call for an intergovernmental dialogue to back up his often stated commitment to strengthen nation-to-nation relations.

QIN: Advising the new White House Council on Native American Affairs

Source: KBKW.com

Washington, D.C. – The Quinault government issued a white paper to the recently formed White House Council on Native American Affairs during its inaugural session in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. The Quinault paper, issued by Quinault President Fawn Sharp, responds to President Barack Obama’s directives to the new Council that it must work to facilitate “efficient delivery of government services” to Indian communities, and engage Indian and Native Alaskan governments for a “true and lasting government-to-government relationship.”

The document stated that the Quinault government “welcomes this opportunity to offer concrete comments and recommendations … that will strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship” and offered seven specific suggestions for success. It referred to the economic disaster of the last five and-a-half years that has undermined many tribal businesses across the country, and the sequestration of federal funding resulting in an “economic disaster among many tribes creating a profound sense of desperation in Indian Country.”

Commenting on the “chronic underfunding of Indian Country from federal agencies” starting with the Ronald Reagan Administration the Quinault government urged the new White House Council to send representatives to each tribe and Rancheria in the country to “engage in intergovernmental meetings.

According to President Sharp, the economic disaster of the last five and-a-half years has profoundly undermined many tribal businesses across the country, and the sequestration of federal funding resulting from the federal Budget Control Act will result in an economic disaster among many tribes, creating profound desperation in Indian Country in 2014 and 2015.

The White House Council should meet with each tribal government in the country. The purpose of these meetings would be to establish a dialogue with each tribal government to resolve the “disconnect and disparity between federal efforts to meet the needs of Indian Country and the actual on-the-ground needs.”

The Quinault government further urged formulation of federal agency policies based on “understanding current population characteristics, population growth data and the tribal economic environment.” President Sharp specifically urged the White House Council to share census and economic findings with each tribal government to ensure that tribal officials receive information to ensure their “free, prior and informed consent” to decisions that are made.

President Sharp specifically urged establishing funding levels on the basis of “qualified and quantified actual need” through a process of interagency cooperation, intergovernmental cooperation between tribal, state and federal governments, incentives to encourage public-private partnerships and expansion of tribal self-determination. The White House Council should document and assess “tribal government and community needs in terms of types of community needs quantified in terms of financial requirements for the next year and for the next three years,” said Sharp.

To strengthen the government-to-government relationship the Quinault statement to the White House Council called for the designation of representatives from the Department of State, Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce joined by President Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs and Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs to enter into a dialogue with a Tribal Government Contact Group to discuss and negotiate a “framework for intergovernmental relations between tribal and federal governments.” The White House Council was also urged to recommend to President Obama the designation of a Special Counsel with the “authority of the President” to negotiate settlement of intergovernmental disputes between Indian nations and the United States government.

Clearly, my government welcomes the opportunity to offer concrete comments and recommendations to the White House Council on Native American Affairs as we enter another milestone in President Barack Obama’s commitment to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with Tribal Nations, said Sharp.

The new White House Council was established in a June 26, 2013 executive order by President Obama to improve coordination of federal programs and the use of resources available to tribal communities. It is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, and is comprised of the heads of numerous federal executive departments and agencies. The council conducted a nationwide conference call Tuesday to help determine its mission and future activities, intended to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship and facilitate the efficient delivery of government services.

If this new White House Council follows the right path, gets out of Washington D.C., works with the tribal nations on a true government-to-government basis and follows through on the need to work with us to find true solutions to our economic crises, we can and will make progress toward a better tomorrow,” said Sharp.

Big News from the White House

Source: Quinault Nation

TAHOLAH, WA (6/26/13)–“This is an exciting development in advancing a new era of U.S.-Tribal relations,” exclaimed Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians regarding today’s establishment of the White House Council on Native American Affairs by President Barack Obama.

President Obama established the council in an executive order with the stated objective of promoting and sustaining “prosperous and resilient Native American tribal governments” and in recognition of a government-to-government relationship with tribes throughout the country. “This relationship is set forth in the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders, administrative rules and regulations, and judicial decisions. Honoring these relationships and respecting the sovereignty of tribal nations is critical to advancing tribal self-determination and prosperity,” says the executive order.

“This executive order comes from a President who has taken the time to listen to the American Indian people. It is a document that recognizes our history and struggles and acknowledges our interests and objectives. On behalf of the Native people and the tribes I represent in my elected capacities, I thank him for his foresight and the intent of this very important decision,” said Sharp.          The White House Council on Native American Affairs is primarily coordination. But it could benefit Tribes by addressing the chronic problem of tribal government and tribal program underfunding which had ranged from 50 to 80 percent, said Sharp.

Sharp pointed out that the council is to coordinate its policy development through the Domestic Policy Council which tends to create yet another layer of a federal policy process and was more direct through inter-agency collaboration. There does not appear to be a mechanism for direct tribal government engagement with the Council on “tribal specific” policy and the establishment of effective inter-governmental negotiation mechanisms. The new Council appears to be solely concerned with federal funds, but may not address the conveyance of funds through states to Indian governments. Finally, President Sharp pointed out that the new council does not appear to be concerned with urban and rural Indians and Alaskan Natives and Hawaiian natives now constituting more than half of the total native population in the United States.

The Executive Order goes on to say, “As we work together to forge a brighter future for all Americans, we cannot ignore a history of mistreatment and destructive policies that have hurt tribal communities. The United States seeks to continue restoring and healing relations with Native Americans and to strengthen its partnership with tribal governments. Our more recent history demonstrates that tribal self-determination — the ability of tribal governments to determine how to build and sustain their own communities — is necessary for successful and prospering communities. We further recognize that restoring tribal lands through appropriate means helps foster tribal self-determination.”

The Executive Order establishes a national policy to ensure that the Federal Government engages in a true and lasting government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes in a more coordinated and effective manner, including by better carrying out its trust responsibilities. This policy is established as a means of promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient tribal communities. “Greater engagement and meaningful consultation with tribes is of paramount importance in developing any policies affecting tribal nations,” it reads.

Among other policy direction, the order asserts that it is the policy of the United States to promote the development of prosperous and resilient tribal communities by promoting sustainable economic development, greater access to health care, improvement of tribal justice systems, greater educational opportunities and improved protection of tribal lands, natural resources and culture.

The chair of the new council will be the Secretary of Interior and members will include the heads of numerous federal executive departments, agencies and offices. The order lays out funding sources, meeting frequency, processes for making recommendations to the President and various other objectives. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has stated she will announce further details related to council as soon as tomorrow.

The formation of a White House Council on Native American Affairs recalls the Johnson and Nixon Administrations’ Council on Indian Opportunity (1968-1974) which was chaired by the Vice President of the United States, said Sharp. Like the Johnson and Nixon Council the new White House Council is intended to coordinate federal programs and the use of resources to be delivered to tribal communities. Unlike the earlier Council, the new 31 member Council does not have representatives of tribal governments. Unlike the earlier National Council, the White House Council does not have actual broader policy powers since the earlier body actually conducted meetings around the country, had the Vice President as the Chair and included officials from both the US government and tribal governments.

“It is true that the tribes have struggled tremendously through the decades in this country. But from generation to generation we have also proved our resiliency. We have endured much, and even today there are many who fail to understand us. We do appreciate President Obama’s intents and actions. But as we proceed in the improvement of the federal/tribal government-to-government relationship, it is important that tribal leadership be included in the planning and implementation process at every opportunity,” said Sharp.

“The bottom line is that it is no small thing that the president is doing here, just as it is no small thing that he has embraced Indian Country*. Again, I thank him for his wisdom, his heart and his foresight,” said Sharp.

*In May 2008, Barack Obama became the first American presidential candidate to visit the reservation of the Crow Nation. During his trip he was adopted by Hartford (now deceased) and Mary Black Eagle as a member of the nation. Hartford chose the name “Awe Kooda Bilaxpak Kuxshish,” or ”One Who Helps People Throughout This Land” to formally give to Obama, and the President has had the wisdom and sensitivity to embrace his adopted name and family with dignity and respect.
White House Council on Native American Affairs Executive Order in full:

President Sharp Reacts to Federal IFMAT Report

Quinault Indian Nation

TAHOLAH, WA (6/17/13)— An independent report delivered to the Intertribal Timber Council last week concluded that federal funding levels are lower today than in 1993, leading to reduced tribal staffing levels and disregarding the principles of federal law, according to Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation and Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

The report, the third made since 1993 by the Indian Forest Management Assessment Team (IFMAT), was delivered to the annual ITC symposium hosted by the Menoninee Tribe and Stockbridge Munsee Community in Wisconsin last Tuesday.  The report concluded that federal funding and, consequently, tribal forest staffing levels are far below those of comparable public and private programs. Achieving equitable funding for tribal programs was a primary purpose for the establishment of the Indian Forest Management Assessment Team and the passage of its enabling legislation, the National Indian Forest Resources Management Act (NIFRMA) in 1990.  Still, tribes nationwide have assumed greater leadership roles through self-determination and self-governance.

“The accomplishments of Indian tribes in improving management of our forests, fish, wildlife, and water have truly been impressive.  Tribes have some of the best scientists and natural resource management programs in the country. We have proven that tribal forests can be managed to provide Indian and non-Indian jobs, support tribal and overall economic development, and sustain our fish, wildlife, water, foods, medicines, and cultures. Healthy forests mean healthy waters, air, animals and people. On the Quinault Reservation, we manage for sustainability of the environment, the economy, and our cultures. As stewards of the land, we take our responsibilities seriously, knowing that today’s decisions will affect our people for seven generations,” said Sharp.

The IFMAT Report does, however, show that our forest resources and forestry programs are suffering from the lack of equitable federal funding.  The potential for tribal management to serve as models for sustainable forestry cannot be fulfilled unless the enormous funding disparity between tribal and non-tribal programs is corrected, according to Sharp.

“We build the best teams and the best programs because we know we must care for the land and natural resources to honor Mother Earth. We have always been here and will always be here. We invest in our natural resource programs for the long run—not just for ourselves, but for our children, and the generations to come, tribal and non-tribal alike. We are appalled that the federal government continues to fail to provide the resources needed to fulfill its fiduciary trust responsibilities for management of Indian forests.  The independent, blue ribbon panel of experts of IFMAT concluded that an additional $100 million and 800 staff positions are needed nationwide to meet even minimum requirements.  The federal government promised to help us protect these lands in nation-to-nation treaties.  In the 1970’s, the Quinault people were forced to sue the United States for mismanagement of our forests.  We know the country faces serious fiscal challenges, but that’s not an acceptable excuse.  We are only asking the United States to keep its word and fulfill its treaty and trust obligations,” said Sharp

When NIFRMA passed in 1990, it called for IFMAT reports every 10 years to be delivered to Congress and the Administration. The law declared (1) that the United States has a trust responsibility toward Indian forest lands and (2) that federal investment in Indian forest management is significantly below the level of investment in Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or private forest land management (25 USC Sec. 3111).

The IFMAT reports are national in scope and focus on: Management practices and funding levels for Indian forest land compared with federal and private forest lands; the health and productivity of Indian forest lands; staffing patterns of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal forestry organizations; timber sale administration procedures, including accountability for proceeds; the potential for reducing BIA rules and regulations consistent with federal trust responsibility; the adequacy of Indian forest land management plans, including their ability to meet tribal needs and priorities; the feasibility of establishing minimum standards for measuring the adequacy of BIA forestry programs in fulfilling trust responsibility and recommendations of reforms and increased funding levels.

In the 49 states outside of Alaska, there are 18 million acres of Indian forests and woodlands on 294 separate Indian reservations. Of this land, nearly 10 million acres are considered commercial woodlands or timberlands. The states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Minnesota and Wisconsin have the greatest concentration of tribal forests.  IFMAT visited the Quinault, Makah, Tulalip, Yakama, Colville, and Spokane tribes as part of the third assessment of the status of Indian forests and forestry.


President of Quinault Nation to attend VAWA signing ceremony

Reported by Indianz.com

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fawn Sharp, the president of the Quinault Nation of Washington, will attend the signing of S.47, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, on Thursday. Sharp was invited to join President Barack Obama for the ceremony. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” she said.

The bill includes landmark provisions that recognize tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit domestic violence offenses. “The very moment that President Obama signs that bill will be one that should be memorialized in history as a turning point in Indian/non-Indian relations in this country,” Sharp said.

American Indian and Alaska Native women suffer from the highest rates of violence, according to government statistics. Most of the perpetrators are non-Indian.

“Our tribal police will be able to arrest, and our tribal courts will be [able] to legally prosecute those who have literally gotten away with murder and rape for years,” Sharp said.

“This is a time to celebrate a hard-earned victory. We are so grateful for those who have helped make this happen—the tribal leaders as well as the congressional leaders and, of course, the President. He stood up for this, strongly and consistently, and I am honored to be able to join him at the signing,” Sharp concluded.

The ceremony is due to take place at the main Interior Department building on Thursday afternoon.