“Being Frank” Eating Fish Shouldn’t Be Risky

By Lorraine Loomis, Chair, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Gov. Jay Inslee wants to change the cancer risk rate used to set state water quality standards from one in one million to one in 100,000. That is unacceptable to the treaty Indian tribes in western Washington. We refuse to accept this tenfold increase in the risk of getting cancer from known cancer-causing toxins, and you should, too.

The cancer risk rate, along with the fish consumption rate, are key factors in determining how clean our waters must be to protect our health. The more fish we eat, the cleaner the waters must be.

Water quality standards are supposed to protect those who need protection the most: children, women of childbearing age, Indians, Asian and Pacific Islanders, sport fishermen, and anyone else who eats local fish and shellfish. When the most vulnerable among us is protected, so is everyone else.

The federal Clean Water Act requires that states develop water quality standards to ensure our waters are clean enough to provide healthy fish that are safe for us to eat. But the state has been operating under outdated and inadequate water quality standards developed more than 20 years ago, and has missed every deadline since then for updating the standards as required by federal law. The state admits that its current water quality standards don’t adequately protect any of us.

Under his plan, Inslee would correctly increase the fish consumption rate from a ridiculously low 6.5 grams per day (about one bite) to 175 grams per day, the same protective rate as Oregon’s. But he would effectively cancel out that improvement by decreasing our protection under the cancer risk rate.

Further complicating matters, Inslee ties development of the new state water quality standards to a $12 million statewide toxics reduction program that will require legislative approval. That is unlikely given the $2 billion state budget shortfall.

Inslee’s proposal would also require the Legislature to grant the Department of Ecology more authority to regulate toxic chemicals. That is also highly unlikely given the Legislature’s historic reluctance to grant Ecology more power to control chemicals in our environment.

The plan also calls for revising standards for 167 chemicals that the Clean Water Act requires states to monitor in our lakes, rivers and marine waters. But standards for 58 of those – including cancer-causing chemicals like dioxins and PCBs – will stay the same.

At its core, Inslee’s plan does more to preserve the status quo than result in any real improvement to our water quality standards. It is a political solution to a human health issue. The concept of a larger toxics reduction program to tackle pollutants at the source is a good one, but it is not an acceptable substitute for strong water quality rules. We should have both.

We know that Inslee and previous governors have struggled with updating the state’s water quality rules for decades because of complaints by industry that new water quality rules could increase their cost of doing business. But an economy built on pollution cannot be sustained.

Fortunately, at the request of the tribes, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said it will step in to develop new standards this year if the state is unable.

EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran announced in December that the agency will keep a close eye on the progress – or lack of progress – of the state’s effort to update our water quality standards. The agency has begun a rulemaking process in parallel with the state effort now under way. If the state develops standards acceptable to EPA, the agency will pause and work with the state to finalize the new standards. If the state is unable, EPA will continue its process and adopt new standards for the state.

This promise by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Regional Administrator McLerran demonstrates true leadership. They clearly recognize the federal government’s trust responsibility to protect the health and treaty rights of the tribes, which also benefits everyone else who lives here.

We appreciate EPA’s willingness to protect the integrity of our state’s environment and water-based resources that are central to human health and treaty rights. We hope the state will step up before EPA has to step in to make sure our water quality standards protect all of us.

For more information visit keepseafoodclean.org.

Largest Settlement a Turning Point in US-Navajo Nation Relations

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly (L) puts a blanket on the shoulders of U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell after a ceremonial signing of a record multi-million-dollar settlement, in Window Rock, Arizona, at the Navajo Nation, Sept. 26, 2014.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly (L) puts a blanket on the shoulders of U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell after a ceremonial signing of a record multi-million-dollar settlement, in Window Rock, Arizona, at the Navajo Nation, Sept. 26, 2014.

By Isabela Cocoli, Voice of America News
WASHINGTON—A record multi-million-dollar settlement between the United States government and the Navajo Nation has been seen as a turning point in relations between the Federal government and the entire Indian nation. It is the largest sum ever paid by the U.S. government to a single Indian tribe.Within the territory of the United States are 562 nations — ethnically-, culturally- and linguistically-diverse Native American tribes recognized by the United States as sovereign governments. The largest is the Navajo Nation, whose territory stretches more than 70,000 square kilometers across three western states.While the tribal governments enforce laws on their territory and license and regulate activities, the federal government holds the vast majority of Indian lands, money and resources in trust for the tribes, and is required to manage them in a way that benefits the tribes and individual Native Americans.

The Navajo Nation sued the federal government in 2006 and sought $900 million in damages for mismanagement of resources and trust accounts since at least 1946.

Significant investment needed

The claims in the case involved essentially three things: one, the Federal government as trustee was responsible for negotiating a contract for the extraction of natural resources for the Navajo Nation’s property; two, the government was responsible for monitoring the performance under the contract to make sure that the Navajo Nation was paid the royalties due; and three, as trustee the United States was obligated to invest the proceeds in a commercially appropriate way.

Andrew Sandler, who represented the Navajo Nation in the suit, said the settlement for $554 million is an equitable deal for both parties. It comes at a time when the Navajo Nation needs significant investment in several areas — from education to housing — and he said it will go a long way toward addressing those needs.

“The Navajo Nation is plagued by an unemployment rate as high as 50 percent. It is in desperate need for educational resources, for infrastructure resources, for roads, for water, and many other things,” said Sandler. “This $500-plus million will go a long, long way to improving the quality of life for the Navajo people.”

The signing ceremony took place late last month in Window Rock, Arizona, which serves as the capital of the Navajo Nation. Navajo official Rick Abasta told VOA that there were compromises on both sides.

“There was a little bit of compromise on the Nation’s part in accepting this $554 million settlement. But I think the bigger picture was to end the litigation against the federal government, because of course that has a cost as well, and move forward with improving the Nation and utilizing these funds,” he said.

Aiding tribal communities

In various public statements, U.S. officials had acknowledged that the Federal government had failed in its obligation as trustee. However, the deal reflects Washington’s commitment to upholding its trust responsibility to Indian Country and to building strong, prosperous and resilient tribal communities.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said the agreement was symbolic of the evolving relationship between the Navajo Nation and the U.S. government.

“The $554 million represented in this settlement is more than just the end of a legal battle. It is not just fulfilling the trust responsibility of our trustee, nor is it full compensation for the loss of revenue and the harm caused by the federal government’s actions over decades,” he said. “This settlement marks a turning point in our relationship with the federal government, and I’m hoping to see that before Obama leaves.”

U.S. tribes have filed more than 100 lawsuits against the federal government. Since early 2012, the government has resolved about 80 of them, amounting to $2.5 billion.

Connecticut presses BIA to scrap Indian recognition proposal

By Ana Radelat, The Connecticut Mirror

Washington — The administration of Gov. Dannel Malloy has asked the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to scrap proposed rule changes the state believes could lead to recognition of additional Indian tribes in Connecticut.

The BIA has been considering the rule changes for months. The state says the changes could open the door to large land claims and expanded Indian gaming in Connecticut. Yet Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, has said he’s determined to fix what he’s called a “broken” federal recognition process.

The federal tribal recognition rules in place require a tribe to prove its continuous community and political authority since first contact with European settlers. Washburn’s proposal would change that to allow a petitioning tribe to demonstrate it has maintained a state reservation since 1934. Washburn‘s new regulation would also allow tribes that have been denied recognition to apply again.

“The proposed rules represent a dramatic departure from the standards and process governing acknowledgment decisions for nearly 40 years,” Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said in comments filed before a midnight deadline Tuesday. “If adopted as proposed, petitioners could gain recognition in circumstances completely at odds with fundamental principles of tribal acknowledgement. These proposals…are unjustified and should be rejected.”

A new, final Indian recognition rule will be posted within 60 days. It could be modified again based on the comments of the Malloy administration and others, including Connecticut’s tribes.

Gov. Malloy, the Connecticut congressional delegation and most of the state’s political establishment, have pushed back harder than anyone on the proposed rules, even after the BIA changed them to include a provision aimed at blocking three tribes that have long sought recognition in Connecticut — the Eastern Pequots, the Schaghticokes and possibly the Golden Hill Paugussetts.

The BIA had given the Eastern Pequot and Schanghticoke tribes acknowledgement, then withdrew it after an appeal by the state.

At the behest of Connecticut officials, the proposed rules were modified so those who opposed the tribes’ recognition previously would have veto power over a new attempt at recognition.

That infuriated Connecticut’s tribes.

“The BIA failed to consider the long, oppressive history of the state of Connecticut,” wrote Kathleen Sebastian Dring, an elder of the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation, in her comments to the agency.

Dring told the BIA that, “The third-party veto undermines the BIA’s attempt to create an equitable and objective process for the tribes” and was “imposed by the BIA after political pressure from Connecticut.”

“As citizens [Eastern Pequot tribal members] are entitled to the equal protection of laws in accordance to the U.S. Constitution,” Dring said.

Chief Richard Velky of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation told the BIA that giving third parties the right to object to new petitions for federal acknowledgement “does not, I believe, comport with the due process and equal protection principles of our Constitution.”

“Nor does the U.S. Constitution provide that a state and its political subdivisions may exercise an absolute veto over the exercise of constitutional authority vested exclusively in the United States government,” Velky wrote.

Meanwhile, Jepsen said the veto provision isn’t a comprehensive enough protection to keep the Connecticut’s tribes from suing the state if it doesn’t  consent to recognition, and “the outcome (of the litigation) is uncertain.”

Jepsen also said he is concerned the proposed regulations wouldn’t block “splinter groups” of Indian tribes from seeking recognition.

Under the proposed rules, the Schagticoke Indian Tribe, a group of Indians that rejected the leadership of the Schagticoke Indian Nation, might be able to apply for federal acknowledgement – and since they were never denied recognition, no veto provision would apply.

Jepsen also called the proposed elimination of the Board of Indian Appeals, which allowed Connecticut to challenge the Eastern Pequot and Schaghticoke recognitions “patently unfair.”

The BIA had granted a Malloy administration request for more time to submit its public comments. The deadline was pushed back from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30.

The entire Connecticut congressional delegation signed a letter that supported the administration’s objections to the proposed recognition rules.

“We…agree the process should be improved,” the letter said, but it recommended more transparency and perhaps a bigger budget, instead of “weakening the longstanding standards for federal recognition.”

The letter backed all of the Malloy administration’s objections and asked the BIA to eliminate the proposal that allowed rejected tribes to petition again for recognition, because the consent requirement or third-party veto, would be challenged in court.

“We note that at least one party is objecting to the consent requirement, contending it may be unconstitutional,” the lawmakers’ letter said.

In all, 255 comments were filed. Many came from tribes and most, like the comment from the National Congress of American Indians, supported Washburn’s efforts.

“Connecticut politicians and their special interests seek to derail justice for Native Americans,” said an unsigned comment. “Please don’t allow the process to become politicized by special interests BIA. Stick to what you believe is fair to Native American tribes.”

Kaine urges Bureau of Indian Affairs to be more flexible in recognizing Va. tribes

The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Virginia — U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine is arguing anew for federal recognition of Virginia’s Indian tribes.

The Virginia Democrat is appealing to the Bureau of Indian Affairs regarding the federal acknowledgement of American Indian tribes. He’s encouraging the bureau to adopt greater flexibility in its recognition process to overcome the barriers Virginia’s tribes have confronted.

One hurdle to recognition is that many of the tribes’ records were held in courthouses that were burned during the Civil War.

Kaine and Sen. Mark R. Warner introduced legislation in 2013 to grant federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes. A companion bill in the House was introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim Moran.

Kaine says he continues to push for passage of the legislation.

How to support tribal self-determination

Why today€’s congressional policies fail to empower tribes economically

By Dennis Worden, Al Jazeera America

Kristoffer Tripplaar / Getty Image

Kristoffer Tripplaar / Getty Image

Nearly 45 years ago, President Richard Nixon delivered a special message to Congress on Indian affairs.

One of his key recommendations was to empower tribes economically. The policy shift was intended to enable tribes to govern their own affairs rather than “terminating” them — a failed policy from the 1950s in which the United States attempted to end its relationships with tribal governments recognized as sovereign.

In the decades since Nixon’s message, there have been significant changes — mostly for the better — to embolden tribes in the areas of health, education and business development. But great needs remain because of widespread unemployment, housing shortages and high suicide rates. While progress has been made since 1970, challenges remain, and the potential to slide back toward de facto termination is real.

The good and the bad

As a result of Nixon’s policy, tribes are recognized as sovereign entities that have the right and responsibility to foster and grow their economies for their citizens. Tribes engage in business ventures on the basis of the needs of and resources available to their communities, and if tribes undertake ventures that utilize local resources and expertise, they are more likely (or at least better positioned) to succeed. Economic growth is essential because many tribal communities have suffered from chronically high unemployment.

This is the essence of self-determination: enabling tribes to decide for themselves what works best. Self-determination is critical because cookie-cutter programs lack the flexibility and nuance to acknowledge the diversity of resources and opportunities that might enable each tribe to create its own strong economy.

There are some examples of economic successes, such as Ho-Chunk Village, in Winnebago, Nebraska, which has garnered praise for its strong economic growth and has dropped unemployment to approximately 10 percent, down from more than 50 percent in 1994, primarily through government contracting. Its reinvestment of profits to create housing and job opportunities in the community has also drawn praise. But such successes are generally considered outliers in the public consciousness, which tends to view tribal communities as destitute, plagued by high unemployment or reliant solely on gaming ventures. Because of that, the public may not fully comprehend the degree of desperation — and potential for success — embedded in Indian Country today and Congress’ role in its continuance.

Though Nixon left other harmful legacies, the ideal of tribal self-determination remains just and powerful.

Recent congressional policies regarding Native American communities gravely erode the possibility for economic success through empowerment. Over the past several years, there have been efforts to restrict gaming and opportunities for government contracting as well as strong resistance to the resolution of legal issues regarding Indian land that deters outside investment.

There are two distinct problems with Congress’ approach to considering and enacting legislation that affects tribal economic development.

First, Congress has largely acted on tribal economic legislation in piecemeal fashion; one hand does not know what the other hand is doing. Instead, Congress and Indian Country need to use a more holistic approach by building consensus around policies that promote continued economic growth in tribal communities rather than tackling individual issues. And legislators need to understand communities’ capital, educational, regulatory and other needs as an entity in order to provide the best chance for success.

Second, in recent years, there have been more deliberate efforts to restrict programs or authorities that facilitate various economic opportunities for tribes. As tribal enterprises grow, so does congressional attention to tribal businesses and, increasingly, proposed policies have emerged that would hinder growth.

For instance, efforts to restrict tribal gaming — particularly off-reservation gaming — have been obstacles for at least a decade. In addition, efforts to take away provisions in federal contracting programs that provide unique participation of businesses owned by entire tribal communities would undermine Native American communities that do not have significant gaming resources and thus must find other economic ventures.

The proposed changes would treat Native American community-owned businesses (providing for hundreds or thousands of people) the same as individually owned businesses for purposes of qualifying for federal small business programs. But these programs work well. Gaming and federal contracting programs account for more than $35 billion in revenue to tribal communities, which is a large sum, though nowhere near enough to meet the needs of 566 communities across the country.

Third, the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act significantly diminished tribal tobacco manufacturing and distribution on reservations. The law prohibits tobacco distribution through the U.S. Postal Service, making it extremely difficult to process tobacco sales made through the Internet, a niche in the market where tribes and individual Native Americans were particularly successful. When it took effect in 2010, the Seneca Nation anticipated the law would result in 1,000 jobs lost on its territory alone.

Land trusts

Perhaps most significant, Congress has not been able to address the devastating 2009 Supreme Court decision Carcieri v. Salazar, which limited the ability of the federal government to take land into trust for tribes. This has had wide-ranging effects on tribal economic development.

The case turned on the court’s interpretation of a key law passed in 1934 that allows the government to take land into trust only for tribes that are “now under federal jurisdiction.”

The court determined Congress meant only tribes recognized by the government in 1934, not a tribe that is currently under federal jurisdiction.

Land trusts facilitate housing, commercial construction and other tribal projects. Trust status ensures the land cannot be alienated and eliminates state and local taxation of that land. With the status of tribal trust land in question, external investors and businesses are wary of investing in tribal communities. Congress’ inability to enact a positive resolution results in lost economic opportunity for tribes.

Critical health

The interstate commerce clause of the Constitution states that Congress has the power to regulate commerce among the states and among the Indian tribes. Now is the time for Congress to reinvigorate this clause and the origins of self-determination in order to empower tribes, create jobs and honor the responsibilities of the United States toward Indian tribes.

As midterm elections loom and politicians on both sides of the aisle fret over unemployment of 6 to 7 percent, unemployment on tribal reservations is nearing 19 percent. In some communities it climbs higher than 60 or 70 percent. The need for economic development in Indian Country is critical to the health of the entire country because tribal communities are part of rural America, and when tribes succeed, surrounding communities succeed too. It means more people are employed, that more capital is circulating in local economies and that the government has to provide less financial assistance to individuals to meet basic needs.

Today we should recall that Nixon urged Congress to “support and encourage efforts [that] help Indians develop their own economic infrastructure.” Though Nixon left other harmful legacies, this ideal of self-determination remains just and powerful. Congress must recommit to the ideals of self-determination by enacting comprehensive legislation to further empower tribes economically.

Dennis Worden is a fellow with the Center for Global Policy Solutions Greenhouse through the OpEd Project. He is a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the legislative director for the Native American Contractors Association.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.

Olympian: State’s failure to fix culverts violates treaty rights

 

Billy Frank Jr. stands on top of a culvert in 2008.

Billy Frank Jr. stands on top of a culvert in 2008.

 

Source: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

 

The Olympian wrote an editorial urging the state to heed a federal injunction to fix fish-blocking culverts:

Imagine you are driving on the freeway, returning from a long trip, longing with all your heart just to be home. Suddenly you are forced to a complete stop because the freeway is broken and you are facing a 10-foot cliff. There’s no way forward, and as cars pile up behind you, no way back.

That’s pretty close to what a salmon experiences when, returning to its native stream from its long journey out to sea, it confronts an impassable culvert under a highway. Every cell in its body is consumed by the desire to go upstream; that is the life goal of every salmon. If it can’t go upstream to spawn, it can’t perpetuate its species.

According to the Washington Department of Transportation, there are 1,987 barriers to fish passage in the state highway system. As of 2013, 285 fish passage projects have unblocked 971 miles of potential upstream fish habitat. But a U. S. District Court injunction has mandated that 1,014 more be corrected by 2030.

Failing to correct culverts that block fish passage violates the treaty rights of tribes whose way of life depends on healthy salmon runs. Treaties are, by definition, the supreme law of the land. We like to think that the days of breaking treaties with Indian tribes are in the past, but the sad fact is we’re stilling doing it – and the result is the same as it has always been: broken treaties threaten the survival of tribal culture and livelihood, as well as the extinction of wild salmon.

Culvert repair is part of the state’s transportation budget – or would be, if the legislature could muster the political will to actually pass a transportation budget, which it has repeatedly failed to do. And even if and when a transportation budget is passed, there will be intense pressure to put the transportation needs of people ahead of the needs of fish and treaty rights.

The Washington Department of Transportation estimates the cost of complying with the federal court injunction – which applies only to tribes in Western Washington – at $2.4 billion, or $310 million per biennium. In the current biennium, they will spend $36 million. At this rate, it will take centuries, not decades, to complete this work.

Secretary of WSDOT Lynn Peterson wryly describes the federal court injunction as “Transportation’s McCleary decision,” a reference to the state Supreme Court order for the Legislature to fully fund public education, even if it means taking truly drastic action, such as closing down other state agencies. When a federal court orders the state to do something – in this case, obey treaties – the state surely ought to heed the injunction.

We understand the Legislature’s dilemma. Voters hate taxes. Legislators like to get re-elected. But when both state and federal courts rule that we’re not meeting our obligations to the next generation of children or of salmon, it ought to be a wake up call.

Both legislators and voters must recognize that it’s time to move beyond our own self-interest, and to do what’s right for our children, the tribes, and the salmon.

National Park Service Announces Grants to Help Native Americans Identify and Repatriate Human Remains, Cultural Objects

 
 
Source: Office of Public Affairs-Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior

 

Washington – The National Park Service today announced more than $1.5 million in grants under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) to assist museums, Indian tribes, and Alaska native villages to document and return human remains and cultural objects to their native people. 
 
Grants were awarded both to support the efforts of museums, Indian tribes, Alaska native villages and Native Hawaiian organizations in the documentation of NAGPRA-related objects (consultation/documentation grants), and to pay for the costs associated with the return of the remains and objects to their native people (repatriation grants). This year, 29 grants totaling $1,471,625.00 are going to 24 recipients for consultation/documentation projects, and $95,423.40 is going to eight repatriation projects.
 
“NAGPRA provides an opportunity to correct the mistreatment of native peoples’ ancestral dead by returning the sacred objects and cultural heritage that have been removed from their communities,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.  “These grants will continue the process by which more than 10,000 Native American human remains and one million sacred objects that have been returned to tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations.
 
Projects funded by the grant program includes consultations to identify and affiliate individuals and cultural items, training for both museum and tribal staff on NAGPRA, digitizing collection records for consultation, consultations regarding culturally unaffiliated individuals, as well as the preparation and transport of items back to their native people.
 
Enacted in 1990, NAGPRA requires museums and federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections, and to consult with federally recognized Indian tribes, including Alaska Native villages, and Native Hawaiian organizations regarding the return of these objects to descendants or tribes and organizations.  The Act also authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to award grants to assist in implement provisions of the Act.
 
For additional information regarding these awards, contact Sherry Hutt, National NAGPRA Program Manager, at 202-354-1479 or via e-mail at sherry_hutt@nps.gov.
 
 
FY2014 NAGPRA Consultation Grant Recipients
Arkansas Archaeological Society
AR
$63,946.00
Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
AK
$83,180.00
University of Alaska Museum of the North
AK
$12,300.00
California State University – Sacramento, University Enterprises, Inc.
CA
$89,740.00
Elk Valley Rancheria
CA
$52,008.00
Greenville Rancheria
CA
$12,300.00
Greenville Rancheria
CA
$70,000.00
Ione Band of Miwok Indians
CA
$90,000.00
Koi Nation of California
CA
$12,300.00
Koi Nation of California
CA
$90,000.00
Marin Museum of the American Indian
CA
$12,300.00
Table Mountain Rancheria
CA
$28,480.00
Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians
CA
$12,300.00
Wiyot Tribe
CA
$90,000.00
History Colorado
CO
$53,424.00
The Field Museum – Hopi Collection
IL
$86,197.00
The Field Museum – Quinault Collection
IL
$6,000.00
Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas
KS
$12,300.00
Crow Tribe of Indians
MT
$12,300.00
Crow Tribe of Indians
MT
$40,000.00
Western New Mexico University Museum
NM
$90.000.00
Fallon Paiute Shoshone
NV
$90,000.00
Delaware Nation
OK
$87,460.00
Pawnee Nation
OK
$12,300.00
Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation
OR
$30,547.00
Texas Archeological Research Laboratory
TX
$90,000.00
Nooksack Indian Tribe
WA
$12,300.00
Nooksack Indian Tribe
WA
$40,000.00
Wisconsin Historical Society
WI
$89,943.00
 
Subtotal – consultation grants                                                                                 $1,471,625.00
 
FY2014 NAGPRA Repatriation Grant Recipients
White Mountain Apache
AZ
$15,000.00
Regents University of Colorado
CO
$14,194.00
Ball State University
IN
$5,539.00
Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
MI
$15,000.00
Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe of Michigan
MI
$8,717.00
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
NV
$6,973.40
University of Wisconsin
WI
$15,000.00
Wisconsin Historical Society
WI
$15,000.00
 
Subtotal – repatriation grants                                                                                       $95,423.40
 
TOTAL FOR ALL GRANTS                                                                $1,567,048.40
 

National Park Service Awards Historic Preservation Grants to Indian Tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian Organizations

Source: National Park Service

 

WASHINGTON – National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today announced more than $700,000 in historic preservation grants to 18 American Indian tribes and Alaskan Natives organizations.
 
“These grants help America’s first peoples in preserving significant tribal places, culture and tradition,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Whether used to create oral history programs, operate museums and cultural centers, or develop training and education programs, the grants help all Americans gain a greater appreciation of our nation’s rich traditions and cultures.”
 
The competitive grants can also be used to fund projects such as nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, preservation education, architectural planning, historic structure reports, community preservation plans, and bricks-and-mortar repair to buildings.
 
Congress provides these grant appropriations each year with revenue from Federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. The National Park Service administers the grants through the Historic Preservation Fund on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior.
 
For more information about the National Park Service tribal preservation programs and grants, please visit: http://www.nps.gov/tribes/Tribal_Historic_Preservation_Officers_Program.htm.
 
HISTORIC PRESERVATION FUND APPORTIONMENT TO
INDIAN TRIBES, ALASKA NATIVES, AND NATIVE HAWAIIANS
 
Ahtna Heritage Foundation (Alaska)                         $39,523
Igiugig Village Council (Alaska)                                $26,691
Native Village of Ambler (Alaska)                             $39,942
Seldovia Village Tribe, IRA (Alaska)                         $40,000
Hoopa Valley Tribe, (California)                                $40,000
Ione Band of Miwok Indians (California)                  $40,000
Sherwood Valley Rancheria Valley Band of Pomo Indians, (California)      $40,000
Kohe Malamaiam O Kanaloa(Protect Kaho’olawe Fund), (Hawaii)             $34,175
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (Michigan)            $40,000
The Prairie Island Paiute Tribe (Nevada)                    $39,421
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (Nevada)                           $36,902
Navajo Nation – Fort Defiance Chapter (New Mexico)      $40,000
Pueblo of Santa Ana (New Mexico)                           $38,579
Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, (Oklahoma)                      $30,925
Peori Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma (Oklahoma)        $48,000
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma (Oklahoma)               $40,000
Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, (Oklahoma)      $59,692
Confederated tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua,
     and Siuslaw Indians (Oregon)                               $39,066
 
TOTAL                                                                      $712,916
 

Johnson Legislation Helps Indian Country Adoption Tax Credit

By Mark Brown, KELO.com

Washington D.C. (KELO AM) – U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD), James Inhofe (R-OK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today introduced the Tribal Adoption Parity Act. The legislation ensures parents adopting American Indian and Alaskan Native children through tribal courts are treated fairly under our nation’s tax code by making it easier for adoptive parents across Indian Country to claim the full adoption tax credit for “special needs” children.

“The Tribal Adoption Parity Act will provide financial relief for families in South Dakota by making it easier for adoptive parents in Indian Country to claim the full adoption tax credit,” Johnson said. “It is unacceptable that parents who adopt an Indian child through a tribal court are prevented from accessing the financial relief that is provided to adoptive families in non-tribal areas. This bill addresses an oversight in our tax code by ensuring that adoptive parents throughout Indian Country receive fair tax treatment.”

Under current law, parents adopting a child who has been determined by a State as “special needs” can claim the full adoption tax credit regardless of their qualified adoption expenses.  Congress created the “special needs” determination to provide an added incentive for parents adopting children who might otherwise be difficult to place in adoptive homes.  In Fiscal Year 2011, 84 percent of the nearly 50,000 children adopted through public agencies were designated as having “special needs.”  Parents adopting children through tribal courts, however, are currently ineligible for the special needs adoption tax credit.  This unfortunately results in parents and children throughout Indian Country unfairly missing out on an important tax credit that would make a significant difference in their day-to-day lives.  Becoming eligible for the special needs adoption tax credit would help further reduce the financial costs associated with adoption and lessen administrative burdens.

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act that gives Indian tribes exclusive jurisdiction over custody proceedings involving Indian children within a reservation.  The special needs adoption tax credit currently fails to recognize the authority that tribal governments have over adoption proceedings of Indian children. The Tribal Adoption Parity Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide fair tax treatment to parents adopting Indian children through tribal courts.  As a result, a tribal government would be permitted to designate an adoptive Indian child as having “special needs.” This legislation would ensure that families in Indian Country are treated fairly by providing the same financial relief that adoptive families currently receive across the nation.

The bill has been endorsed by organizations such as the National Indian Child Welfare Association, the Child Welfare League of America, Voice for Adoption, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, the Donaldson Adoption Institute, and the Joint Council for International Children’s Services.

In 1996, Congress created the adoption tax credit to ease the initial financial burden for adoptive parents.  The adoption tax credit provides a tax credit of up to $10,000 and is adjusted for inflation. The credit was $12,970 for tax year 2013. Since 2003, families adopting children with “special needs” are allowed to claim the full adoption tax credit regardless of their qualified adoption expenses. The definition of “special needs” varies from state to state. Examples of factors that can qualify a child for the “special needs” determination include: age; membership in a minority or sibling group; ethnic background; medical condition; or physical, mental, and emotional handicaps.

The National Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service, recommended the adoption tax credit be amended to recognize tribal governments in its 2012 Annual Report to Congress, which can be accessed here.

 

Renewable Energy Takes Root In Northwest Indian Country

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Eastern Oregon is home to the Northwest’s first wind turbine on tribal lands. The turbine will generate 25 percent of the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute's power.Courtney Flatt

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Eastern Oregon is home to the Northwest’s first wind turbine on tribal lands. The turbine will generate 25 percent of the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute’s power.
Courtney Flatt

 

By Courtney Flatt, Northwest Public Radio

PENDLETON, Ore. — You can spot one of the Eastern Oregon’s newest renewable energy projects from Interstate 84. It doesn’t look like other wind projects east of the Cascades.

A single wind turbine rises over the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

The turbine blades gain momentum as the wind picks up. The tribes’ executive director, Dave Tovey, said this cultural institute turned out to be the perfect spot for the first turbine erected in Northwest Indian Country. The place where the tribes broke ground for the cultural institute is notoriously windy.

“A lot of our elders would just shake their heads as say, ‘You guys know, the wind always blows up there.’ We always thought, like Indian tribes, and like we do with so many other things here, we turn a seeming disadvantage into an advantage, or even an opportunity,” Tovey said.

Many Northwest tribes have been exploring ways to get more of their electricity from renewable sources that don’t pollute, like coal-fired power plants do, or harm fish — a concern when it comes to hydroelectric dams.

David Mullon is the chief counsel for the National Congress of American Indians, based in Washington, D.C. He said renewable energy is one way tribes can protect natural resources.

“A major portion of the tribal population is located on the reservation homelands. Protecting and conserving the resources on those very small places is an important consideration,” Mullon said.

There are plenty of examples in Northwest Indian Country: Idaho’s Nez Perce Tribe and Washington’s Yakama Nation are looking into generating electricity by burning woody debris in biomass plants. The Colville Tribes in Eastern Washington get energy from biomass and solar panels, too.

In Oregon, the turbine at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute will generate about 25 percent of the building’s electricity.

 

Jess Nowland helps manage the building, which serves as a gathering place and museum for the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes.

Before putting up the wind turbine, the tribes were working on conservation at the center. Nowland said they’ve reduced its energy consumption by about 70 percent, saving more than $700,000.

“The reality is that there are buildings everywhere that you can achieve this kind of savings on,” Nowland said.

This wind turbine is the beginning of renewable energy on the Umatilla reservation. Next up: the tribes plans to install solar panels at the cultural institute.

Related Links: