News from Native American Netroots


Welcome to 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.

cross posted at Native Amercan Netroots

Uranium licenses are upheld by a split federal appeals court

DENVER – Uranium mining, banned on the Navajo Nation, advanced closer to tribal boundaries when the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing of in situ leach uranium mining at four sites near Crownpoint and Church Rock in New Mexico.

The split decision by a three-judge panel March 8 also denied a request for review of one of the sites near Church Rock where Hydro Resources, Inc., whose parent company is Uranium Resources Inc., has a joint venture with Itochu, a Tokyo-headquartered transnational, to begin producing an estimated six to nine million pounds of uranium annually from New Mexico.

Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining, a Navajo community organization; Southwest Research and Information Center, a nonprofit environmental education organization; and two local ranchers were joined by the Navajo Nation in a friend-of-the-court brief asserting that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission violated atomic energy and environmental laws in granting the license.

Oglala Sioux Tribe picks Nebraska site for new nursing home

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls announced Monday the construction of a new nursing home in Nebraska for members of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Two Bulls said the architectural drawings were being prepared, and financing for the nursing home is well on its way to being approved.

“We expect to begin construction sometime this spring, with the completion date in the fall of 2011,” she said.

She said the new facility would house 60 to 70 residents only minutes away from downtown Pine Ridge Village. The facility will sit on 40 acres of tribal land, provide 100 jobs with a variety of skill sets and create jobs for Native Americans.

Program aims to find American Indian victims of radiation exposure

Flagstaff, Ariz. » The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking the help of students to identify American Indians who might be victims of radiation exposure.

Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act in 1990, authorizing funding for people who worked in the uranium mining industry or nuclear weapons testing between 1942 and 1971 and contracted cancer or other diseases from radon exposure.

Most applications are filed by people living in the Four Corners region, but American Indian tradition and customs can make successful claims difficult.

Students can hear more about the part-time internships at Northern Arizona University on March 29, the University of New Mexico in Gallup on March 30 and at Dine College in Shiprock, N.M., on March 31.

Turnover negates boost to tribal police efforts

WASHINGTON – Native American reservations continue to lack adequate police protection, despite federal and tribal efforts to beef up their forces.

High turnover fueled by poor pay and high stress have worsened an epidemic of crime in tribal nations already compounded by a lack of money to hire officers and training programs to certify them, officials told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Thursday.

About 3,000 police officers – a force smaller than the police department of Washington, D.C. – patrol 56 million acres of Indian Country. That’s barely half the level to meet adequate staffing levels, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. That has contributed to violent crime rates that are 2 1/4 times the national average.

Study to examine tribal justice

WASHINGTON – The watchdog arm of Congress will examine justice on Indian reservations to see how well federal authorities work with tribal leaders to address crime rates that are among the highest in the nation.

The Government Accountability Office agreed to do the study at the behest of Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who represent states with some of the country’s largest – and least-protected – reservations. They expect to report back to the Senate by November.

Sherman Alexie wins 2010 Pen/Faulkner fiction prize for “War Dances”

“War Dances” by novelist Sherman Alexie has won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the organizers announced Tuesday.

The prestigious annual award, presented by the Washington-based PEN/Faulkner Foundation, was given to Alexie because of his book’s breadth of topics and innovative style, judges said. “War Dances” consists of short stories interspersed with poems.

US human rights record challenged

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy – the oldest continuous democratic government in North America – has long argued that Indian nations should not expect to win justice from colonizing governments, and instead must act as sovereign nations taking their quest for justice to the United Nations and its human rights mechanisms.

Though it claims to be a defender of human rights around the world, the United States is among the worst offenders of Native peoples’ rights, judging by statistics that indicate Indian women are the most raped and abused in the nation, while rampant poverty, disease, crime and unemployment are a way of life on reservations.

Guardian Angels starting first reservation chapter

HELENA, Mont. – Fed up with growing gang violence, Montana tribal leaders this weekend will start the first-ever American Indian reservation chapter of the Guardian Angels.

The new chapter of the citizens’ crime-watch group — whose members are known by their red berets in New York, Chicago and other U.S. cities — will begin training about 50 recruits on the rural Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The sprawling reservation on the plains of eastern Montana is home to 6,000 of the approximately 10,000 enrolled members of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes.

Chauncey Whitwright III, vice chairman of the Wolf Point Community Organization, said the children of the 3,200-square-mile reservation are vulnerable to gangs that have crept in from the outside.

Lawmakers advance bill to start $100K fund for Whiteclay

Lawmakers in Nebraska voted 25-15 to advance a bill that would create a $100,000 fund to address problems in and around Whiteclay.

Four liquor stores in the town sell 4.1 million cans of beer a year. Most of the customers are from the nearby Oglala Sioux Tribe. The fund represents a portion of tax revenues generated by liquor sales at Whiteclay. According to KELO-TV, the stores make $3 million a year. The fund could be used for law enforcement, health and other programs. The bill still needs to gain final approval.

RI Indians want valuable Navy property in Newport

NEWPORT, R.I. – Hundreds of prime acres are up for grabs in this waterfront city and its neighboring towns, valuable commodity on an island known for prized beaches, lavish homes and natural beauty.

The 260 acres on Aquidneck Island were for decades owned by the U.S. Navy, which says it no longer needs the land and is moving to unload it. The island communities envision the property as untapped economic potential for sweeping new development.

But another suitor — the Narragansett Indian Tribe — says the land falls under its ancestral footprint and is mounting a bid that may conflict with local development plans.

Earth lodge at archway builds bond

KEARNEY, Neb. – When the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma returns to Kearney for a powwow in June, its members will be getting building lessons from their long lost cousins, the Arikara of North Dakota.

Plans are rapidly coming together to build an authentic earth lodge near the Great Platte River Road Archway.

Decades ago, some American Indian tribes of Nebraska occupied earth lodges built of saplings, earth and sod stacked over frames of heavy timbers.

Grant to fund high-speed Internet on Navajo Nation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The federal government is investing more than $32 million in stimulus funds to help the nation’s largest American Indian reservation, the Navajo Nation, build a high-speed Internet highway that will connect thousands of homes and businesses across the sprawling reservation.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the grant Thursday, saying Navajo communities in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah will benefit.

Locke says 60 percent of homes on the reservation lack basic telephone service and many Navajo communities have unemployment levels that exceed 40 percent.

Stewart Udall, former Interior secretary, dies

WASHINGTON – Stewart Udall, U.S. Interior secretary during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, has passed away at 90. He was the last original Cabinet member of the Kennedy era.

According to a statement from his son, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., he died March 20 in his home in Santa Fe, N.M., surrounded by his children. Natural causes after a fall were cited as the reason.

Udall was born Jan. 31, 1920, in St. Johns, Ariz. Before serving in the executive branch, he was a member of Congress. He and several of his family members have been advocates for Native American issues both inside and outside of government.

New face at the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs

DENVER – Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, chair of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, has announced the appointment of Carol Harvey, Navajo, a former energy attorney, as the new CCIA executive secretary.

The CCIA head acts as liaison between the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes, the urban Indian population and state of Colorado. Harvey replaces Ernest House Jr., Ute Mountain Ute, who resigned Jan. 22 to become director of governmental affairs for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Harvey, a veteran of 28 years in legal work for the oil and gas industry, comes to the CCIA from a law practice in Santa Fe, N.M. Her MBA and JD degrees are from the University of Denver, where she also obtained undergraduate degrees in political science and economics.

Building Strong Sovereign Nations

Tribal Goverance Training Conference

Mich. Gov. Granholm Instructs Mich. AG Cox to Defend Obama Health Care Program

It’s not Indian law, but it is pretty amazing……

Native Stations Directory

Native Americans have built a strong network of 33 public radio stations that provide a lifeline to their communities. These stations bring a contemporary voice, often in Native languages, that evokes the oral traditions of a cultural heritage centuries in the making.

Native radio is local radio. It reaches vast stretches of tribal lands that still hold pockets of villages and isolated homes, some without electricity. Radio’s portability and 24/7 presence help Native stations carry the information that no other media is there to deliver.

Records in Arizona sweat lodge case offer details

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) – Documents released Thursday in the case of a motivational speaker charged with manslaughter expand on the already wide range of experiences participants reported having during an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony.

James Arthur Ray, who led the ceremony as part of his “Spiritual Warrior” retreat, faces manslaughter charges in the deaths of three people who entered the sweat lodge near Sedona last year, and suffered heat stroke and hyperthermia. Ray has pleaded not guilty.

The more than 50 people inside the pitch-black sweat lodge all could be called to testify during Ray’s trial slated to begin Aug. 31. Prosecutors also have identified as potential witnesses more than two dozen other people who attended past events led by Ray and about 10 people who worked for him.

Twelve jurors could end up hearing more than 55 days of testimony from witnesses.

New report details renewable energy resources on tribal lands

The New Energy Future in Indian Country: Confronting Climate Change,

Creating Jobs, and Conserving Nature

Washington, DC (March 23) – Indian Tribes are disproportionately bearing the brunt of climate change. But the huge potential on tribal lands to generate clean energy from renewable resources presents tribes with the opportunity to be a significant part of the solution through climate policy that creates green jobs and protects natural resources, detailed in a new report.

“Tribal households pay significantly more in home energy expenses than other Americans,” said Bob Gruenig, senior policy analyst, National Tribal Environmental Council. “The vast potential on tribal lands to generate clean energy from renewable resources means that Indian Tribes can help to provide for their own energy needs, generate clean power for a new energy future in Indian Country, and put American on the path to energy independence.”

Snippets of History

Friday, March 26, 2010

On this day in 1958, the White Alice or the frozen north ALaska Integrated Communications and Electronic system began operating. Alaska Native people participated in the U.S. Air Force project that was built to enhance defense and provide telephone and telegraph service to the Alaskan public.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

During this week in 2009, the White House announced President Obama intended to nominate Dr. Yvette Roubideaux as leader of the Indian Health Service. The Rosebud Sioux member was nominated and confirmed as Director of the IHS and currently oversees the agency that serves nearly two million people across the country.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On this day in 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. The spill had devastating impacts on subsistence resources for Alaska Native people and commercial fishers. Court battles led to compensation for victims nearly two decades after the spill.

Monday, March 22, 2010

During this month in 1909, the Navajo National Monument was established. Three intact cliff dwellings are preserved at the site in Arizona. Various groups have lived in the Four Corners region for thousands of years. Most of the remains date between 700 and 1500 years ago.

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