News from Native American Netroots


Welcome to the first edition of News from Native American Netroots, a weekly series focused on indigenous tribes primarily in the United States and Canada, but inclusive of international peoples also.

Our format will be evolving and our focus of coverage will broaden as the series develops.

News from Native American Netroots is unique as a news digest in the fact that this it is based on community contributions.  Articles can be submitted in the commment thread or posted at Native American Netroots each week.

Attorney General Announces Significant Reforms to Improve Public Safety in Indian Country

Attorney General Eric Holder today announced sweeping reforms intended to improve public safety on tribal land. The new directive is part of a larger Justice Department initiative to create better communication and coordination to fight crime and promote justice in Indian Country.

“The public safety challenges we face in Indian Country will not be solved by a single grant or a single piece of legislation,” Holder said. “There is no quick fix. While today’s directive is significant progress, we need to continue our efforts with federal, state and tribal partners to identify solutions to the challenges we face, and work to implement them.”

Taxpayers’ money involved in financing controversial tar sands companies

Indigenous Environmental Network

New report exposes RBS involvement in Canada’s “blood oil

Bank executives meet in Toronto and discuss concerns about public backlash over involvement in tar sands

Environmental and development groups announce a week of protest around the RBS AGM in April over the bank’s tar sands investments.

Sacred Wind donates $35,000

Sacred Wind Communications Inc. is donating $10,000 to the American Indian Graduate Center and $15,000 to the Navajo Technical College.

The Albuquerque firm was voted the most inspiring small business in America in the American Express/NBC Shine a Light contest last October. It received $50,000 in cash, half of which Sacred Wind immediately donated to Native scholarship programs.

Utah Senate OKs more money to oversee Navajo fund

A bill that would double the state’s administrative budget in overseeing the Navajo Revitalization Fund cleared the Senate 24-0 on Tuesday.

According to Utah Housing & Community Development, the goal of this fund is to make the most of the state’s oil and natural gas severance taxes to reduce the impacts of those industries on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County.

“It’s our fund, and we elect to give it back to the Navajo tribe,” said SB169’s sponsor, Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, in explaining the state’s authority to expand the administrative portion.


WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced legislation this week that would ramp up federal efforts to prevent and treat diabetes among American Indians and Native Alaskans. Joining Dorgan as lead co-sponsor are Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The legislation, S. 3058, targets one of the leading health problems among American Indians and Native Alaskans. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, 17 percent of all American Indians and Native Alaskans have diabetes – nearly one in five – the highest rate of any racial or ethnic group in America.

The bill reauthorizes the Special Diabetes Program, which funds both prevention and treatment research for Type I diabetes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a special prevention and treatment program for American Indians and Native Alaskans through the Indian Health Service (IHS). Each of those two programs is currently funded at $150 million annually. The new legislation would increase funding for each program by one third — to $200 million annually — for each of the next five years.

Report: Prospects good for 2010 spring runoff

New Mexico’s spring runoff forecast for March through July is looking good, according to a water-supply report released Friday.

The New Mexico portion of the Rio Grande Basin sports the fifth-best snowpack in 16 years, said Wayne Sleep, snow surveyor for the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Native America Calling

Native America Calling is a live call-in program linking public radio stations, the Internet and listeners together in a thought-provoking national conversation about issues specific to Native communities. Each program engages noted guests and experts with callers throughout the United States and is designed to improve the quality of life for Native Americans. Native America Calling is heard on 52 stations in the United States and in Canada by approximately 500,000 listeners each week.

Utah Senate OKs more money to oversee Navajo fund

A bill that would double the state’s administrative budget in overseeing the Navajo Revitalization Fund cleared the Senate 24-0 on Tuesday.

According to Utah Housing & Community Development, the goal of this fund is to make the most of the state’s oil and natural gas severance taxes to reduce the impacts of those industries on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County.

“It’s our fund, and we elect to give it back to the Navajo tribe,” said SB169’s sponsor, Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, in explaining the state’s authority to expand the administrative portion.

Citgo will once again donate heating fuel to tribal residents

Applications Currently Available

AKWESASNE TERRITORY – The long-awaited fuel assistance program in

partnership with the CITGO Petroleum Corporation will once again be a

reality for the Mohawk Tribe. CITGO’s partnership with Citizens

Programs Corporation recently confirmed that they will be providing

$1,081,000 of financial support for the Akwesasne Community for home


“It’s for tribes in the north for whom heating becomes a survival

issue,” said David T. Staddon, director of public information for the

tribe. “We are the northernmost tribe in the state.

Native protesters block road between Crofton and Chemainus

Members of the Halalt First Nation have erected a blockade in front of their Chemainus Road band office as part of an ongoing dispute with the District of North Cowichan.

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Cpl. Kevin Day said the Halalt blocked the road between Crofton and Chemainus Thursday afternoon by parking several vehicles across it. A provincial negotiator has been called in, Day said.

The Halalt are peacefully protesting the Chemainus Wells project, said Tyler George, a Halalt Tribe councillor.

South Dakota not a ‘Race to the Top’ finalist

SIOUX FALLS – South Dakota is not one of the 16 finalists for a federal grant that would have helped the state build a residential school designed to improve academic achievement among Native American students.

The U.S. Department of Education named the finalists Thursday in the first round of its “Race to the Top” competition, delivering $4.35 billion in grants aimed at encouraging and rewarding states that help improve student success.

Under South Dakota’s proposal, partners would have established a year-round, residential school — likely in the Black Hills — for ninth through 12th grades and two years of postsecondary education. Curriculum would have focused on science, technology, engineering and math to address the need for scientists and engineers, while infusing Native American family culture.

Special thanks to our new group of researchers, advisors and diarists who make up NATIVE AMERICAN NETROOTS:

4Freedom, Aji, bablhous, Bill in MD, Chris Rodda, Deep Harm, exmearden, KentuckyKat, Kimberley, Kitsap River, Land of Enchantment, No Way Lack of Brain, Oke, ParkRanger, Richard Cranium, Soothsayer99, swampus, TiaRachel, tlemon, translatorpro, Diogenes2008, birdbrain64, lexalou, marthature, meralda.


Rosebud Reservation Photobucket




Pine Ridge Reservation Photobucket

Autumn Two Bulls

Kevin Killer, State Rep. Pine Ridge SD Dist. 27


Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots

 An ongoing series sponsored by the Native American Netroots team focusing on the current issues faced by American Indian Tribes and current solutions to those issues.



  1. I think people will appreciate this more and more as we proceed every week. We all know from reading the ndn newspapers that there are hundreds of stories out there every week. I hope that in the future we can gather some of the more political stories for the series. Hell there’s an entire industry of lawyers, lobbyists and tribal advocates in Washington D.C. in addition to the fact that every excutive branch Dept now has an “Indian Desk”, including the WH.

    Soon we’ll be in the political season and native people will be courted for our votes around the nation, I’d like to show the folks at dkos just how much our votes mean to democrats around the nation. Here in SD any democrat like Senator Johnson and Congresswoman Herseth/Sandlin must carry the ndn vote big time to get elected. When Dashele was defeated by Thune no pundits understood that it was because he had lost the native vote by helping the state take a bunch of land from the tribes along the Missouri river.

  2. over at dk, and saw a bunch of new commenters I hadn’t seen in the South Dakota rez diaries, and a lot of interest. Lots of expressions of shock. I truly had no idea, either, that the situation on the reservations was so desperate until I read navajo’s first storm emergency diary and began getting involved in the Native Netroots group. Being an expat, I’ve had more than enough occasion to be embarrassed for and ashamed of my birth country, but nothing is as horrifying as our own treatment of the First Americans. This series will do a lot to help raise awareness in general, by educating a receptive audience. Thank you so much to all of you for making this possible. I can begin to be proud again…

  3. Source:


    JOURNALISTS and First Nations elders won’t be barred from a hearing into whether Canada must hand over hundreds of secret documents that could prove Ottawa culpable for hydro-dam flooding that devastated three northern reserves.
    On Monday, a federal court judge rejected a Crown request to ban journalists, aboriginal elders and the public from court while lawyers haggle over whether 259 briefing notes, legal opinions and letters are covered by lawyer-client privilege and must be kept secret forever.

    But it was a somewhat hollow victory.
    Federal Court Prothonotary Roger Lafrenière, a special judge who handles many pretrial and administrative matters, said the court must always err on the side of openness.

    But if the lawyers find they need to discuss the content of any disputed document, the courtroom will need to be cleared to protect Ottawa’s possible claim of confidentiality.

    That means the 50 or so elders and First Nations leaders who jammed the courtroom Monday morning may only get a hint at what the documents say, who authored them and how much liability Canada believed it had, if any.
    It’s the latest snafu in a case that’s dragged on for nearly 20 years and will likely last years more.

    At issue is whether Ottawa failed in its duty to protect three bands — Grand Rapids, Chemawawin and Opaskwayak — in the early 1960s when Manitoba Hydro and the province built the Grand Rapids dam and flooded thousands of aces of prime hunting and trapping land.

    The case could be worth tens of millions in compensation to the bands.

  4. Source:


    Eleven police officers serving the Blackfeet tribe have been furloughed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Great Falls Tribune reported on March 6.

    At issue is the tribal department not conducting complete background checks, as required by the federal agency, on the officers, all who have been with the department since last January. The officers have been trained and certified but only passed preliminary background checks.

    The tribal department is pointing the finger at the BIA. Henry Devereaux, the department’s interim director, said the agency never adjudicated the officers with the more in-depth background checks.

    Yet the BIA tosses the blame back. Elizabeth Hall, deputy special agent for the BIA in Billings, said: “That’s not our responsibility. … The tribe is supposed to do the background checks.”

    Also, before January, the BIA had not conducted a review of the two-year-old program, which is under a three-year contract.

    The furloughed officers have been replaced with nine BIA officers, who will remain in place until the background checks are done.

  5. Dozens of First Nations elders were punted out of court this morning as lawyers haggled over flood documents Canada wants to keep secret…Elders, band members, the public and the media are barred from the courtroom once lawyers start dicussing the substance of the documents. Chiefs and band councillors can stay, but none did, to show solidarity with the elders.

    This is what they are up against:

    The federal government gave 96 of the 259 documents to the First Nations on at least three occasions over the years as the case plodded along. It’s absurd to argue they should now be kept confidential, Schachter said.

    Canada is asking the bands to return the documents and may even ask that Schachter resign from the case because he has seen too much. The lawyer said the Canadian government is also arguing its officials hadn’t actually read the documents before handing them over to him years ago.

    and potential judicial bias and as always time:  

    In an unusual moment during Monday’s hearing, about 50 elders from three northern bands held an impromptu meeting in the courtroom to debate whether to ask for a new judge. Perched on the corner of a lawyer’s table, slipping in and out of Cree and English, Grand Rapids Chief Ovide Mercredi quietly described the situation to the elders. At issue was whether the judge might be seen as biased because he once worked for the Department of Justice Canada. “It’s Justice that’s destroying this case for us,” Mercredi told the solemnly hushed room. “That’s what I am nervous about. I don’t feel good about it.” But Mercredi said the judge alerted the court to his old job, an honest move. As discussion began, one gentleman noted a delay to find a new judge might mean some of the elders with stories of the flood could die before ever sharing their knowledge with the court or seeing the case concluded.

    will keep you updated…

  6. Story:

    WASHINGTON – Indian leaders are increasingly weighing in on President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for 2011. A general sense of satisfaction is in the air – especially given an overall federal focus to clamp down on spending – although desired areas for improvement are becoming clear


  7. I don’t know if that is good or bad; there was one final day scheduled and then I assume the judge is preparing to make a ruling.

    But this is the information from a 1985 report which was released; it makes you wonder what is in the reports they don’t want released

    The Cree were on their own, with no provincial organization to aid them, no lawyers or consultants of their own and limited English. Field officers from the province and Indian Affairs wrote to their supervisors, worried the Cree didn’t grasp the incredible magnitude of the flooding.

    After one 1962 meeting where no band members asked any questions, one Indian Affairs field representative said he “left with the distinct feeling that no one could care less as to whether the people sink or swim.”

    Ottawa knew how serious the damage might be and how vague the offers of provincial compensation were but was unwilling to rock the boat by demanding a better deal for the Cree, according to the report.

    Thanks for your interest – if there is a ruling, I will post it here when it happens.

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