Quest for federal recognition puts regional tribes at odds


Canoes from the Snohomish tribe and Chinook Indian Nation head down the Columbia River near Kalama in June 2013. Photo/ Roger Werth, TDN
Canoes from the Snohomish tribe and Chinook Indian Nation head down the Columbia River near Kalama in June 2013.
Photo/ Roger Werth, TDN

By Brooks Johnson, The Daily News

In a fight for federal recognition, the Chinook Indian Nation and Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes are each bringing their own history books to the debate.

A bill introduced in Congress this year would recognize Oregon’s Clatsop-Nehalem tribes, granting them the same rights to sovereignty and self-determination as the more than 550 other federally recognized Native American tribes.

That doesn’t sit well with the leaders of the Chinook Nation — 3,000 members comprising Cathlamet, Lower Chinook, Wahkiakum, Willapa and Clatsop tribes. They say the Clatsop-Nehalem are historically part of the Chinook Nation and that recognizing them separately would undercut the Chinooks’ 160-year-old drive for federal recognition.

“We want people to know we are the Clatsop people, and when it comes to that tip of Oregon there (the Lower Columbia), we’re there and we’re not going away,” said Sam Robinson, vice chairman of the Chinook Nation. “To have a group just come out of nowhere is a little bit disturbing.”

But Clatsop-Nehalem Council member David Stowe said the group hasn’t come out of nowhere, and that the history of the confederated tribes has been well-documented.

“The Chinook have a history of sour grapes,” Stowe said. “… but our restoration doesn’t impact the rights of anybody. They’ll have exactly what they have right now, and we hope they get restoration as well.”

At stake for both tribes is the ability to become sovereign and restore rights to land, hunting and fishing rights as well as partake in services offered by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Competing press releases sent out in September from both tribal councils disagree on the history of the Clatsop people.

The Chinook Nation says its 1950 constitution was drafted by its five member tribes in reference to 1851 treaties, and the federal government recognized the Clatsop’s relationship with the Lower Chinook in 1958.

“The history with the Clatsop-Nehalem is pretty fresh, compared to thousands of years of history the Chinook folks have,” Robinson said.

But the Clatsop-Nehalem say that despite centuries of trade along the Columbia River and marriages with other tribes, the Clatsop have been a distinct entity since before Europeans arrived.

About 25 percent of Chinook enrollment is Clatsop, according to the Chinook Nation, and any splintering could lessen those numbers.

“We just feel it’s not right. Because they won’t take all of our folks” for federal recognition, Robinson said.

The Clatsop-Nehalem don’t see the problem, however.

“Clatsop that are enrolled with the Chinook, Quinault, Grand Ronde or Chehalis tribes or other tribes are free to choose their enrollment status,” the Clatsop-Nehalem press release reads. “Our restoration will not change their status or member benefits in any way. We have no desire to make any claims of any kind in the Chinook homeland in Washington.”

Those of Clatsop descent may also have other tribal connections in their bloodline. Robinson gave the example that he is descended from Lower Chinook, Willapa Chinook and Chehalis tribes. The amount of ancestry needed to enroll in a tribe is up to individual tribes’ governments.

BIA Northwest Regional Director Stan Speaks says it’s impossible to know what will happen before recognition is granted, and it is “premature to think fellow members are going to abandon one group and go with the other.”

The restoration bill before Congress, introduced by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), asks for little more than recognition. Land, hunting and fishing rights have all been left out of the equation.

“That’s very contentious,” said Stowe, the Clatsop council member. “(Asking for more) creates a whole whirlwind and lessens our chances of restoration. At the end of the day what’s important to us, what’s important for our identity is recognition of our tribe.”

The term restoration is used by both sides of the debate. The Clatsop and Nehalem tribes were “terminated” by the federal government in the 1950s under the Western Oregon Indian Termination Act. That severed ties between the government and the tribes in a new policy toward Native Americans. The policy was later reversed for many of the terminated tribes, excepting the Clatsop and Nehalem. Stowe says the act of termination is recognition in and of itself because the Clatsop and Nehalem tribes are listed in the law.

The five tribes of the Chinook Nation — including the Clatsop — were recognized at the end of the Clinton administration, only to have the status revoked 18 months later by the Bush administration.

“We felt it was an injustice for them to be recognized and have it yanked form them, that was horrible, and it was equally an injustice we were terminated in 1954,” Stowe said.

The argument between the groups is centered around those living north or south of the Columbia River, though both sides agree that the divide can be arbitrary.

Dick Basch, the vice chairman of the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes, supports efforts to get his tribes recognized, but he is “saddened” by the fighting it has caused.

“We are Lower Columbia Indians that should be supporting each other and working for the benefit of all of us,” Basch said. “We’re all Indian people and just because some of our families went south and others went north doesn’t mean that we have to battle each other.”

Robinson and the Chinook agree on the principle of unity.

“Some folks say, “Well they’re Oregon Clatsop or they’re Washington Clatsop.’ … But the river wasn’t a divider — it was just a highway for us.”

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.

Treaty Council’s 40th Conference Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Rights

 The first indigenous delegation to go to the UN in Geneva demanding their treaty rights.
The first indigenous delegation to go to the UN in Geneva demanding their treaty rights.


Gale Courey Toensing, 9/1/14, Indian Country Today


The International Indian Treaty Council turned 40 this year and its annual conference will celebrate the past, share experiences and cultures of the present, and develop plans and strategies to meet the ongoing struggles of Indigenous Peoples worldwide.

When the First International Treaty Council of the Western Hemisphere held its first conference on the land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on June 8-16, 1974, around 5,000 representatives from 97 indigenous nations from across North and South America attended. The conference established the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), a non-profit organization that works for Indigenous Peoples’ human rights, sovereignty, self-determination, and the recognition and protection of treaties, traditional cultures and sacred lands. The organization 40th Annual International Indian Treaty Council Conference (IITC) – a huge and historic event – will take place on the family land of Phillip Deere, a Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizen and one of IITC’s original co-founders, in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, September 10-12. The theme of the conference is “Commemorating 40 years Defending the Rights and Recognition of Indigenous Peoples.”


A Conversation with Phillip Deere, Muskogee-Creek Elder

The 1974 conference also adopted the IITC’s founding document – the Declaration of Continuing Independence. The groundbreaking document was the precursor to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that followed more than 30 years later – minus the compromising language of Article 46 in the U.N. document.

The first words of the Declaration of Continuing Independence set its tone. “The United States of America has continually violated the independent Native Peoples of this continent by Executive action, Legislative fiat and Judicial decision. By its actions, the U.S. has denied all Native people their International treaty rights, treaty lands and basic human rights of freedom and sovereignty. This same U.S. Government, which fought to throw off the yoke of oppression and gain its own independence, has now reversed its role and become the oppressor of sovereign Native people.”

Bill Means, Oglala Lakota, and an IITC board member, will be one of the many notable speakers at the conference. “It’s a milestone in the history not only of treaty rights in this country but also of the coming together and advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ human rights throughout the world,” Means told ICTMN. “This is a very important conference to mark and record some of that history since 1974.”

Means, along with his brother the late Russell Means, was a leader and participant in the 1973 occupation and resistance action at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation – events that led directly to the first Treaty Council conference. He will talk about the early days of the American Indian Movement (AIM), but, he said, “We didn’t do this by ourselves. We [AIM] did the organizing, but we had the wisdom and the support of the chiefs and headmen as well as the strong women of the Lakota people at the [first] treaty conference. It was a culmination of many different forces coming together at Wounded Knee in 1973.”

RELATED: Native History: AIM Occupation of Wounded Knee Begins

RELATED: A Tour of Wounded Knee: Why It Matters, Why It Hurts

The inspiring message from the chiefs and headmen continues to this day, Means said. “They talked about treaty rights as the foundation of our people as a nation – not necessarily as a tribe. Long before reservation days we were a nation of the Lakota People and that’s how we signed the treaties so it’s important for the recognition of our people as nations in the international community,” Means said. “I think that with the advent of reservations in the United States people forget that we come from very powerful Indian nations and under international law we meet all the criteria for nationhood. So part of our work has always been nation-building and the unity of our peoples throughout the world.”

Chief Wilton Littlechild, a citizen of Ermineskin Cree Nation, an attorney and former Member of Parliament in Canada, agreed that treaties are unparalleled in importance. “It was treaties that first gave Indigenous Peoples their voice at the U.N. and in the international arena,” he told ICTMN. “The 1974 Declaration of Continuing Independence from IITC’s first conference laid the groundwork for what would become the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its international recognition of treaties.”

Littlechild is International Chief for Treaties 6, 7 and 8 in Canada – three of a series of 11 treaties signed between the aboriginal peoples in Canada and the reigning British monarchs from 1871 to 1921. He is currently a member of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and also served for six years as the Indigenous expert from North America on the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Littlechild will speak at the conference about the 40 years of work for the international recognition of treaty rights on a panel with Means, IITC Board President Francisco Cali, Maya Kaqchikel, and IITC Executive Director Andrea Carmen, Yaqui.

Carmen became involved in the IITC in the mid 1970s. She became a full time IITC staff member in 1983 and has been its executive director since 1992. She reflected on IITC’s work over the past four decades and her involvement with the organization in anticipation of the upcoming conference.

“Working for the IITC for most of my adult life, I have been able to be part of many historic changes for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights internationally, with real impacts ‘on the ground’ – where it counts,” Carmen told ICTMN.



The 30 years of work on the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from 1977 when the first delegation of Indigenous Peoples – many of whom had attended the first Treaty Council conference three years earlier – went to the U.N. in Geneva to demand their treaty and other rights until 2007 when the Declaration was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, transformed global discussions and understandings about Indigenous Peoples, Carmen said.

“The world community had to realize that we still exist, we have inherent and treaty rights that can’t be ignored and that we also have essential contributions to make in global dialogues on human rights, racial justice, bio-diversity, sustainable development, climate change, food sovereignty and many other issues,” she said. “Many challenges still remain, and our work is far from over. But if we stand together, the international Indigenous movement will continue to prevail in defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights and ways of life. IITC will continue to be an active part of that movement.”

The conference will be held at the Phillip Deere Roundhouse on Muscogee (Creek) Nation land. Deere was a traditional healer, spiritual leader, civil and human rights activist, oral historian and storyteller. He served as a spiritual guide for the American Indian Movement (AIM), spokesman for IITC and participated in the United Nations International Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Deere passed into the spirit world in 1985. The re-building of the Roundhouse has been a dream of Deere’s family. The Muscogee Nation provided financial support for the project and the 40th Annual International Treaty Council Conference will be the first event to be held in the new space.

The two-and-a-half day conference is packed full of presentations, discussions and cultural events beginning with a sacred fire lighting ceremony at 6 a.m. on September 10. An agenda and more information are available on IITC’s website.



On the Heels of Historic Presidential Visit to Indian Country, Secretary Jewell Announces Interior Initiatives to Support Tribal-led Economic Development

Infrastructure easements, land leasing efficiency, and market improvements part of package to strengthen Tribal self-determination and create jobs 

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of President Obama’s commitment to support tribal self-governance and self-determination, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced a package of regulatory initiatives intended to help tribal leaders spur investment opportunities and economic development in Indian Country.

Highlighted by the President during his historic visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe last week, the Department’s actions will help remove regulatory barriers to infrastructure and energy development in Indian Country; increase tribal community access to expanded, high-speed Internet resources via broadband; eliminate leasing impediments to land development; and support the growth of new markets for Native American and Alaska Native businesses.

“Over the 14 months on the job, I’ve had the great privilege of visiting just as many tribal reservations,” said Secretary Jewell, who chairs the White House Council on Native American Affairs. “Last week, on the heels of the President’s visit to Indian Country, I joined Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault on a tour of his tribal lands.  As Secretary, I have seen first-hand both economic success stories and the dramatic challenges tribes still face to generate employment and develop infrastructure within Indian Country.”

Jewell further said, “While some tribes are experiencing economic progress in recent years, many others continue to face formidable economic hardship. Providing greater deference to tribes under the principles of self-determination and improving our federal regulations to meet the needs of the 21st century means we can help remove some of these barriers to economic development on tribal lands and lay a solid foundation for economic development as well as improve the quality of life for American Indians and Alaska Natives in their homelands.”

The package of Interior regulatory initiatives includes:

Facilitating Indian Country Infrastructure Development
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is proposing new regulations for issuing “right-of-way” approvals on Indian land for all purposes. The rule would modernize and streamline the process for obtaining BIA approval for infrastructure development, providing tribal leaders, private companies, utility firms and energy developers greater certainty when designing or implementing infrastructure, including expanded Internet capacity through broadband access, transmission lines, and water, road and energy projects.

The new regulations propose strict timelines for BIA approval of all requests; eliminate the need for BIA approval of pre-development surveys, and limit the situations in which BIA may disapprove a right-of-way, all in an effort to provide faster approvals of right-of-way applications, facilitating economic development and greater deference to tribal priorities.

Removing Barriers to Land Development through Increased Tribal Self-governance
The BIA will conduct a series of training sessions to help tribal leaders implement the Helping Expedite & Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act.  When a tribal business needs to build a factory or a family wants to purchase a new home on a reservation, the lease generally requires BIA approval.  Since 2012, however, the HEARTH Act provides tribes the opportunity to establish and enforce their own land leasing regulations in order to expedite the process for long-term leasing of tribal trust lands for residential, business, renewable energy and other purposes. Twenty-one tribes have submitted proposals to assume leasing responsibilities, and 12 have already received approvals for their regulations.  The new BIA training supports tribal self-governance by helping to increase the number of tribes able to control leases on their land without BIA approval.  This builds on Interior’s progress in strengthening tribal control over tribal resources.

Supporting the Growth of New Markets for Native American and Alaska Native Small Businesses 
Interior’s Indian Affairs bureaus and offices will increase federal procurement opportunities by issuing a new directive improving implementation of the Buy Indian Act and increasing Indian Affairs’ procurement purchases from Native American-owned small businesses by 10 percent. The Buy Indian Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to set aside certain qualifying acquisitions for American Indian-and Alaska Native-owned and controlled small businesses. These purchasing contracts issued by Indian Affairs offices and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education will help increase economic activity and provide greater employment opportunities in Indian Country.

“Underlying these initiatives is the Administration’s firm belief that tribal leaders must have a seat at the table,” said Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn. “These initiatives we are announcing are part of a coordinated federal effort outlined by the President that builds on the significant progress this Administration has made in partnering with tribes on a nation-to-nation basis to promote prosperous and resilient communities.”

DOJ’s ‘Operation Choke Point’ Infringes on Tribal Trust

By Barry Brandon, American Banker

Tribal sovereignty is the most valuable of all American Indian assets. Tribal governments’ inherent rights of self-government and self-determination are the foundation of tribal communities and tribal identity.

Tribal governments have worked hard to strengthen our partnerships with the federal government through self-determined economic development and the co-creation of new institutions, including the National Indian Gaming Commission, housed within the Department of Interior.

The relationship between tribal governments and the federal government goes beyond the DOI, however, to include Congress and the White House, which has a long-running formal policy of consultation with tribal governments. These complex and interdependent relationships, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, are summarized as the “trust relationship” or even “trust responsibility,” so named because it captures the special fiduciary responsibility by the federal government towards tribes.

Recently, however, the relationship between some tribal governments and a particular division of the federal government, located in the Department of Justice, has been severely damaged by an internal campaign known within the DOJ as “Operation Choke Point.”

This behind-the-scenes attempt to shut down legal tribal businesses has disrupted our long-held tribal-federal partnership. It represents a total departure from more than a century of respect for, and engagement with, tribal governments as partners and co-regulators on issues ranging from law enforcement to economic development to education.

At issue in the short term are the legal, licensed and regulated e-commerce lending services that many tribes have established. What is at stake, however, is the long-term viability of the trust relationship itself.

In other economic ventures such as gaming, tribal governments have found strong opposition from state governments who see us as a competitor or, worse yet, as a willful violator of state regulations. It thus disturbs tribal governments that, in the case of legal online lending, the DOJ – our supposed federal partner – continues to attack and undermine our legal businesses.

As a member of the “federal family,” the DOJ has a mandate to exercise their trust responsibility to tribal governments. They have a responsibility to do this in a way that protects tribal businesses engaging in honest business practices, as ours do.

Like gaming enterprises operated by tribal governments, our online lending businesses are legally owned, operated and regulated under tribal regulatory authority. They are created pursuant to tribal law and our authority to create them is acknowledged in the Dodd-Frank Act. As with gaming, we have created partnerships with the federal government and federal regulatory bodies to ensure that consumers across the country have access to the services they need in a way that also drives economic growth on reservations.

Thus, we support and echo the concerns of House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, as reported in American Banker, that the Justice Department’s dragnet does appear to be an effort to stomp out all short-term lending, including legal tribal government-owned enterprises.

In light of the fact that the Dodd-Frank Act treats tribes as states in the context of financial services, tribal governments have created the Native American Financial Services Association to collectively establish a model for self-regulation, and we have sought meaningful consultation with federal regulatory bodies to strengthen and operationalize our relationship as co-regulators.

In an election year, however, the successful negotiation of a co-regulatory environment is not deemed as newsworthy as “choking off” legal tribal businesses. It is this abandonment of the federal-tribal trust relationship that has allowed “Operation Choke Point” to run amok and allowed legislators to blindly prop it up.

In the wake of this abandonment, rather than focusing on the true bad actors in the industry, “Operation Choke Point” is having the opposite effect. As the DOJ’s blanket actions continue to choke the illegal businesses, they also drown the legal ones, like ours, leaving consumers further underserved and tribal communities further isolated. At NAFSA, we will continue fighting to strengthen our tribal laws and regulations, work with our federal partners and educate state governments about our legal right to offer these businesses.

We can only hope that the DOJ, as a member of the “federal family,” will abide by their obligation to consult with us before taking unilateral actions, especially those that do not consider our special “trust” relationship and damage the fragile economic strides we are seeking on isolated reservation lands.