Friday, May 30, 2008

Riverside County Official Calls for Change in Soboba Leadership

Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone is calling for a change in leadership for the Soboba Band and he suggested that there could be a repeat of the recent violence at the reservation if that does not take place.

Stone, whose district includes the reservation, made his remarks at a meeting of about 150 residents, but no tribal members, according The Press-Enterprise.

“This pressure pot has been simmering for a long time,” Stone said. He suggested that part of the problem was tribal leadership, which he said needs to be more sophisticated in the way it does its job.

Stone is running for re-election on Tuesday.

Interior Leery of Strong Tribal Advocates

Personnel conflicts at Interior may have lead to Carl Artman’s early departure from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. His duties will be assumed by George Skibine, who will maintain his post deputy assistant secretary for Policy and Economic Development.

According to an article in Indian Country Today, Skibine won out over Artman’s heir apparent Majel Russell, because Russell’s strong advocacy for tribal governments did not set well with Interior Department officials. Artman too was viewed as too supportive of tribal governments, the article said. Hmm ... you’d think that would be viewed as a good quality for the assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. Indian leaders told ICT they expect Skibine to demonstrate the same commitment to tribes.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

U.S. Civil Service Laws Don’t Protect Tribal Employees Performing Contracted Services

A tribal police officer who was fired by the tribal government appealed his dismissal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). He argued that since his duties for the tribe were in fulfillment of a Self-Determination contract with the Department of Interior, he should be considered a federal employee. The MSPB ruled that although the employee’s alleged misconduct had been investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and even though his duties were related to a self-determination contract with the BIA, he was not considered a federal employee. The board noted that he might be considered a federal employee for the purposes of certain laws -- for example he was covered under the Federal Tort Claims Act – but that did not make him a federal employee entitled to a hearing before the board.

What Not to Say to Your American Indian Co-Workers

If you’re working with American Indians on a daily basis and you happen not to be one, inviting your co-workers to an office “powwow” or asking them to “hold down the fort” while you're away, is a sure way to get yourself into trouble, according to an article in Diversity Inc.

Among the other things your American Indian colleagues may find offensive:

Being called “chief,” “Indian-giver” or “Squaw”
Being asked how Indian they are
Being asked if they live in a teepee

But it occurs to us that this doesn't even begin to cover it. If you are American Indian, we know you’ve heard it all. Help your non-Indian colleagues out. Raise their awareness by sharing your stories of workplace insensitivity. Post your comments here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Skibine to Assume Duties of Assistant Secretary at BIA

We're still waiting for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to confirm, but it's already out in Indian Country that George Skibine will assume the duties of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. The job was left open last week when Carl Artman's resignation became effective on May 23.

Skibine, an enrolled member of the Osage Tribe of Oklahoma, has served as acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary since April 2007. Prior to that, he was Director of the Office of Indian Gaming Management and acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Economic Development – Indian Affairs. His experience at the Interior Department includes having served as an attorney and later as Deputy Associate Solicitor for the Division of Indian Affairs within the Office of the Solicitor after having spent several years at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Skibine holds an economics degree from the University of Chicago and a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Snoqualmie Banish Former Chairman

The Snoqualmie Tribe has banished former Chairman Bill T. Sweet and several of his family members, among other supporters, according to Indian Country Today. The decision was made final during a closed-door general membership meeting at the Issaquah Hilton April 28. In addition to voting on the banishments, the tribal council announced that the 43 individuals purged from the rolls failed to meet the blood quantum requirement for membership. According to a tribal press release, some members have already appealed the decision, while others have accepted it.

Councilmember and Chief Nathan Patrick Barker said that Sweet and some of his supporters recently attempted to seize control of bank accounts, shut down health and social programs, fire the entire staff and reach out to the BIA in an effort to receive backup on the effort. They are accused of running a ''shadow government.'' For Sweet’s side of the story check this article on Reuters.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Riverside Sheriff and Soboba Try to Make Peace

Riverside County, Calif., Sheriff Stanley Sniff wants to improve relations with tribes in the area, especially the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, and is taking steps to do that, including appointing an officer to serve as a tribal liaison and recruiting Natives into the force, according to an Associated Press report.

Early this month, two Soboba tribal members were fatally shot by Riverside deputies after the pair opened fire with assault rifles on a tribal guard station, according to a Los Angeles Times report on May 13. There have been a total of six shootings on or near the reservation in recent months, with three, including the latest two, still under investigation.
Last week, Soboba Chairman Robert Salgado had accused deputies of coming to the reservation to "blow people away.”

On May 16, the tribe and sheriff’s department met in a closed-door meeting to work through their differences. Representatives from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the office of Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, the county Board of Supervisors and a federal mediator from the U.S. Department of Justice were also at the meeting. The two met again yesterday at the Soboba Springs Country Club.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

EPA Questions $1.7 Million in Indirect Costs Charged by Grantee

In a just released audit report, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has questioned $1.7 million in indirect costs charged by a non profit grantee. The report recommends that the EPA disallow all the indirect costs charged as the grantee had no approved indirect cost agreement in place. The report also states that the organization used an inequitable method for allocating indirect costs to various EPA awards. We are aware that the EPA has been warning grantees without approved IDC agreements not to charge indirect cost to their EPA grants.

Casinos Feel Pinch from Economic Slump

The 2 percent semi-annual payment that the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, owner/operator of the Soaring Eagle Casino, makes to local governments is 14 percent less than what it was a year ago, the Morning Sun reported this morning. Add to that a 9.4 percent drop from 2006 to 2007.

It’s a sign of tough of economic times. A consequence of record high gas prices, which have impacted just about everything people purchase, and a national economic slump, fewer are putting their dollars on the line at casinos. From Las Vegas to Atlantic City to the Gulf Coast to Indian reservations, they are all feeling the pinch.

In Mississippi, casino revenues dropped 19.4 percent from March to April. In Louisiana, revenues fell 7.2 percent. In 2007, Atlantic City casinos saw their revenues decrease for the first time ever, falling 5.7 percent. In the first quarter of 2008, it dropped 6.4 percent. The new casino smoking ban will not help at all as the year progresses. In Nevada, gaming revenues dropped 5 percent in January, and are still dropping.

In Indian Country, the impact has been just as harsh. Many tribal casinos across the country are feeling the squeeze, or soon will. The Mohegan Sun Gaming Authority, for instance, was hit with a double-digit drop in earnings in the first quarter of 2008. Foxwoods’ slot revenue fell 7 percent. In addition to the slow economy, Connecticut tribes are feeling the effects of increased competition to the north.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Obama Rallies on the Crow Reservation

On Monday, Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama visited Montana, making the Crow Tribe’s reservation his first stop. It was the first time a high-profile candidate ever visited any of the state’s seven reservations.

At a rally attended by a couple of thousand Native Americans, according to the Flathead Beacon, he promised he would honor long-ignored treaty obligations and revamp health care and education on reservations across the United States, programs and services that have suffered due to a lack of funding.

"Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans, the first Americans," Obama said at the rally. "That will change when I am president of the United States."

At a private ceremony before the rally, Obama was adopted into the Black Eagle family. His new Indian name: Awe Kooda Bilaxpak Kuuxshish ("One Who Helps People Throughout the Land”).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

MGM Grand at Foxwoods Opens

MGM Grand at Foxwoods, located on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation in Connecticut, had its grand opening last weekend, the long-awaited occasion celebrated with a star-studded gala.

The $700 million property includes a 50,000-square-foot casino, with 1,400 slot machines and 53 table games; a 26-story, 825-room hotel; a 21,000-square-foot spa; 115,000 square feet of meeting space; a 4,000-seat theater; and a dining and retail concourse. The project, a partnership between the tribe and MGM Grand, has created about 3,000 jobs.

The Mashantucket Pequot owns/operates Foxwoods, located next door to the new facility. Foxwoods covers 4.7 million square feet, with 340,000 square feet of gaming space, making it the largest casino in the world. The complex attracts more than 40,000 vistors daily.

The tribe’s expansion does not end with the MGM Grand at Foxwoods. Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners, a joint venture between Foxwoods Development Company, L.L.C., and a group of investors operating as Washington Philadelphia Investors, L.P., was awarded a Category 2 Gaming License by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to develop a 3.7 million-square-foot casino-resort on a 16.5-acre parcel in Philadelphia, Penn. Called Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia, the project will cost an estimated $986 million.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tribal Employees Get Gas Discount

The Saginaw Chippewa tribal council announced last week that its 4,200 employees will get a 10 cent per gallon discount at the tribe’s two gas stations, the Sagamok and Saganing Sagamok convenience store gas stations, the Morning Sun reported this morning.

On Sunday, gas prices hit an all-new record high of $3.79 per gallon, a 17 cent increase over a two-week period, according to Reuters.

"I think (the tribal) council is aware of the tough economic times our employees are going through," Tribal Chief Fred Cantu told the Sun. "And we know that there are people who work here that drive from as far away as Lansing and Saginaw.”

To get the discount, employees have to show either an employee badge or a paycheck stub. The discount is not available for pay at the pump.

The Saginaw Chippewa owns several enterprises, including the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort and Saganing Eagles Landing Casino. The discount is available to all tribal government and enterprise employees.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ethics: Should Tribes Allow Personal Use of Tribal Property?

Q. Jack has been employed by the ABC Tribe as a mechanic in the maintenance department for 10 years. He is considered a model employee within the department, reliable and diligent in performing his job responsibilities. One day, Jack requests permission from his supervisor to use the department’s power washer at home. He is staining his deck and needs to clean the wood surface. Jack’s supervisor notes that his department does not need the power washer for a couple of days and readily agrees to Jack’s request. Although Jack promptly returns the power washer in the same condition as he removed it, other employees in the maintenance department learn that Jack was able to “check out” a tool for his own use. Soon Jack’s supervisor begins receiving several requests a week from department workers to take various maintenance shop items out for employee use. Initially, he consents to the requests, but after tools become lost or damaged while away from his shop the supervisor puts an end to the “employee loan policy.”

How should tribes treat requests by employees and elected officials for personal use of tribal property?

A. See the answer in the current issue of American Indian Report.

Joseph M. Paiement is a tribal attorney and an instructor for Falmouth Institute, teaching Ethics, Tribal Constitutions and American Indian Law.

Have an ethics question? Post it in the comments section and we'll address the best questions in future blogs.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Holiday for Maryland Native Americans

On May 1, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill designating the Friday after Thanksgiving as American Indian Heritage Day.

The ceremony for the signing of the new state holiday was attended by Indian people from around the state, including members of the Accohannock Indian Tribe and the Piscataway-Conoy Tribe, many dressed in their ceremonial garb.

Though there are no federally recognized tribes in Maryland, the state is home to about 121,000 American Indians. The holiday “helps tell the world that we’re still here,” David “Longeye” Holland, treasurer of the Accohannock, was quoted as saying in a press report.

Other states have also designated days to honor their Native American populations, including California, Nebraska and South Dakota. Many of these state holidays have replaced Columbus Day. For years, Native groups and some federal lawmakers have pushed for a national Native American Day, a paid holiday, thus far with no luck.

IHS hospital limits hours, emergency services

The Indian Health Service has limited emergency services at the Crownpoint Hospital in New Mexico due to an acute shortage of technical staff, it was reported this week in the Farmington Daily Times. The limited hours are expected to last until mid-June.

The Indian Health Services hospital, which serves a population of about 20,000 Navajo people, will not offer emergency services during nights or weekends until more staff members are hired. In the meantime, patients needing emergency services at night or on weekends are instructed to go to nearby facilities in Gallup, Fort Defiance and Shiprock.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

BIA attempts to restore peace to Soboba Reservation

The Bureau of Indian Affairs will hold a meeting Friday among Soboba tribal leaders, representatives from the Riverside County, Calif., sheriff's department and state representatives in the hopes of calming the growing friction between the county law enforcement officers and residents of the reservation – the site of three deadly shootings by sheriff’s deputies in the last week, according to today’s Los Angeles Times.

Sheriff’s deputies shot two tribal members dead Monday. Both tribal members were suspects in a shooting at the guardhouse at the reservation entrance. Monday's fatalities were the second and third tribal members in the last week killed by deputies in gun battles. There have been three other shootings on or near the reservation near San Jacinto since December.

The situation has deteriorated so much that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said last week it would no longer enter the 6,000-acre reservation without a police escort.

Court Upholds Benefits Denial

A Standing Rock Sioux man who was denied increased retirement benefits by the Bureau of Indian Affairs lost his appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The man, Phillip Lawrence, has been employed for many years by the BIA. He was denied increased retirement benefits payable to employees whose duties include firefighting. He sued, alleging that the BIA failed to notify him of an application deadline for retroactive reclassification. As a result he missed the deadline and benefits were denied him. He claimed that the BIA’s failure to notify him constituted a violation of the federal trust responsibility towards Indians, the Indian Preference Act and employment discrimination due to race. The district court granted summary judgment for the BIA, and the 9th Circuit confirmed. The case is Lawrence v. Department of Interior.

In order to qualify for the enhanced benefits, Lawrence, who served in a position not approved as a firefighter was required to apply for credit and prove that his duties included firefighting. In 1987, the Civil Service regulations were changed so that credit would be extended for only one year prior to the application date. The change was published in the Federal Register. Under the new regulation, the existing employees could receive credit for their entire career if they filed before September 30, 1989.

The BIA notified agency personnel officers, superintendents and division chiefs of the change and instructed them to remind employees who may be eligible under the “special retirement provisions.” However Lawrence received no actual notice of the change until nine years later when he attended a retirement workshop for firefighters and law enforcement personnel.

In its opinion, the 9th Circuit said that the agency’s failure to provide employees with “actual and timely notice of the regulatory change is regrettable – particularly in light of the agency’s repeated written instructions to supervisors to provide such notice – but trust doctrine imposes no special notice obligation …” The court also found that Indian Preference did not apply in this case.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

IBIA Sides with Tribe in Realty Transaction with BIA

The Interior Board of Indian Appeals dealt a setback to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in its effort withhold money from a realty contract with the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. On appeal by the BIA, the board upheld the administrative law judge’s decision that the BIA had not proven the duties performed by a Realty Specialist were functions that could not have been contracted to the tribe under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. The BIA had withheld funding to the tribe because, it said, a portion of the available funding needed to be retained by the BIA to hire a realty specialist to perform duties that were federal responsibilities and that could not be contracted to the tribe. The tribe appealed to the Administrative Law Judge who ruled that the BIA's formula for calculating funding to the tribe was arbitrary and unreasonable. The ALJ also said that the BIA had not proven that the duties performed at the agency level could only be performed by federal employees. Therefore, the ALJ determined, the agency’s entire realty service budget was available for Self-D contracting.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Duwamish Sues Federal Government to Reverse “Extinct” Status

The Duwamish Tribe in Washington filed a lawsuit on May 7 against the federal government to reverse its determination that the tribe is an “extinct” group of people, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on May 7.

In the lawsuit, filed with the U.S. District Court in Seattle, the tribe is seeking a declaration from the court that makes the Duwamish a federally recognized tribe. The suit alleges that the U.S. Interior Department ignored evidence in favor of the tribe due to political motivations and challenges the competency and fairness of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its team of lawyers.

The 500-600-member tribe — which had received federal acknowledgement near the end of the Clinton administration, only to have it reversed in 2001 due to “procedural errors” — has so many reasons to want federal recognition, with a huge one being getting access to federal funding for housing, health care, education and cultural programs. Federal recognition may also prevent Duwamish people from assimilating into the general population, which could ultimately lead to extinction.

San Manuel Casino Event Raises Big Bucks for Darfur

Hundreds of poker players showed up at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino on May 8 for a tournament to raise funds for and awareness of the crisis in Darfur, Sudan, where violence, disease and starvation has claimed at least 400,000 lives since 2003. While tournament players, which included some Hollywood celebs, a few sports stars and pro poker players, were the attention-grabbers, it was the tribe that was the real champion with its $500,000 donation to the cause. All proceeds are going to Ante Up For Africa’s Not On Our Watch Project (NOOW). NOOW, founded by actors George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, is a non-profit organization that focuses global attention and resources toward putting an end to mass atrocities around the world. The crisis in Darfur is the group’s inaugural campaign.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Couple Awarded $1.3M in Lawsuit

A federal jury has awarded $1.3 million in damages to a couple who farmed for 17 years on leased land at Santa Ana Pueblo before its then-governor barred them from baling hay at night. The couple, Bob and Sue Burrell, said the governor's order, stemming from a noise complaint, effectively curtailed their farm operations in 1997, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The litigation had previously been dismissed by a tribal court judge and by the U.S. District Court before making its way to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The appeals court reversed the district court, ruling that, while the pueblo was protected by sovereign immunity, pueblo officials acting outside the scope of their authority were not.

On remand, the jury found Leonard Armijo, the Santa Ana governor and acting police chief in 1997, and Lt. Gov. Lawrence Montoya violated the civil rights of the Burrells and "conspired with the intention to violate plaintiffs' civil rights regarding their farm lease."

If the courts are going to allow lawsuits against tribal officials under the Civil Rights Act, what does that mean for Tribal Sovereignty? Once you violate someone's civil rights you are acting outside the scope of your authority and therefore you can be held liable for damages. Have non-Indians found a loophole they can use to sue tribes?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

South Carolina College Abandons “Indians” Nickname

This week, Newberry College in South Carolina announced that it has dropped its “Indians” nickname and its sports teams will go without a name for about a year, as part of its agreement with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). According to press reports, it will cost the school $118,000 to remove the name/imagery from uniforms and equipment.

In 2005, the NCAA adopted a policy banning the use of Native American-offensive nicknames and mascots. Institutions with hostile or abusive references had to “take reasonable steps” to cover up the offensive references at any NCAA championship site that has been previously awarded, effective Feb. 1, 2006. Effective Aug. 8, 2008, institutions displaying or promoting hostile or abusive references on their mascots, cheerleaders, dance teams and band uniforms or paraphernalia are not allowed to wear the material at NCAA championships.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Former Mashantucket Pequot Official Charged with Fraud

It’s a rough day for the tribes in Connecticut.

Newsday reports that federal agents arrested a former executive for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino. Christopher Pearson was charged with wire fraud for alleged bilking investors out or more than $500,000. Pearson is a former deputy chief operating officer for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

Then the Pocono Record writes that Pennsylvania gaming regulators have discovered that the Mohegan Sun has a relationship with a corrupt developer in Wisconsin. In that past the gaming board has suspended the license of those accused of hiding connections with reputed underworld figures. No such action has been taken against Mohegan yet, but the company did cut its ties to the developer. Mohegan Sun, operates Pocono Downs racetrack and four off-track wagering sites, in Pennsylvania, as well as the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Navajo Study Finds Council Micromanaging

A 2005 study commissioned by the Navajo Nation Council to evaluate its effectiveness found that it has poor legislative record-keeping, delegates are prevented from dealing with issues that should be heard by the full Council but often are not, and oversight committees spend more than half their time micromanaging executive branch functions. Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr., said the report documents what is commonly known among tribal employees and division directors and that as a report card, the report gives the council a low grade.

The Navajo Council is not alone. All too often elected officials feel they know how to run the operation or division better than the people hired to do so even though they have little or no experience. And as the report notes, micromanaging the government agencies leaves the council little time for addressing broad policy issues. At our sessions held for government or nonprofit managers, the most often voiced complaint is that the council or board is always telling them how to do their job. The best advice for elected officials or board members is that they let managers manage and they concentrate on the big picture. They need to put their efforts into policy-making and community leadership. There is a distinction between the leadership that is provided by elected and appointed officials and the leadership provided by management. If you are an elected or appointed official, focus on leading and leave day-to-day operations to the managers.

So the question becomes, how do you make sure your tribal employees are implementing the policy and goals established by the elected council or appointed board? An effective tribal council or board must first detail the duties of the people who directly report to them. This is done by providing people with position descriptions and establishing goals, objectives and directives. The goals, objectives and directives for staff are a result of the development and annual review of the government's or organization's Strategic Plan. A quarterly review for the high level staff that reports to the council or board will ensure that their agencies or departments are on track with the overall goals and objectives of the council or organization.

This evaluation process holds the staff accountable while allowing them a degree of decision- making discretion. The governing body must agree on and conform to a chain of command when interacting with the staff and other shareholders. These boundaries may already be in existence in the bylaws or in the written policy and procedures of the governing body. If not, a Code of Ethics or some other written policy document should be considered to establish an official procedure for communications to staff and for decisions on day-to-day operations.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Army Papers Document Start of the Trail of Tears

Some long forgotten documents stashed among some boxes at Chattanooga-Hamilton County Public Library may offer Cherokee citizens more insight into the infamous Trail of Tears, according to historians.

The papers, known as Army ration papers, were donated to the library in the 1940s. Only in recent months did anyone realize what the ration books represent, the beginning point of the Trail of Tears. About 4,000 Cherokees died on the forced march of about 15,000 Cherokees from their homes in Georgia to reservations in Oklahoma. The story appears in the Sunday edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Recorded by Albert S. Lenoir, a federal Indian commissioner during the Cherokee and Creek removal from 1836 to 1838, the papers list names of Cherokee families who were at the encampment at New Echota, a Cherokee capital just north of Calhoun, Ga. The records show the changing numbers of people in the families there and that family unit usually decreasing numbers. And they show that the rations corn, beef, bacon and salt also were varied but most often were sparse.

Photocopies of the records are available for viewing. The original documents are being stored at the library.

Health Consortium Publishes Nutrition Guide for Alaska Native Cancer Patients

In order to meet the needs of Alaska Natives undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium cancer program published in April a full-color, 142-page nutrition guide for patients and their families. The "Traditional Food Guide for Alaska Native Cancer Survivors" highlights traditional foods that can and should be eaten by cancer patients. It includes nutrition information and recipes, as well as stories and anecdotes from a variety of Alaska Native cultures. A story in the Anchorage Daily News tells you more about it and how to order it.

Amnesty International Calls for Protocol for Rape Victims at IHS

Amnesty International USA is asking people to join forces with American Indian and Alaska Native women in demanding that the Indian Health Service standardized protocols for treating the victims of sexual assault. Go here for more details.

Last year, Amnesty International USA published Maze of Injustice, a report documenting sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native Women. More than one in three American Indian or Alaska Native women will be raped at some point in their lives, according to the report. In at least 86 percent of reported cases, survivors report that the perpetrators are non-Native men, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The IHS lacks consistent protocols for treating sexual assault survivors, according to Amnesty International. This includes failing to ensure that all IHS facilities have "rape kits" available and nurses who are trained to administer them. Forensic examinations, including examinations conducted with rape kits, are crucial to prosecuting cases and holding perpetrators accountable.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Native Public Media Welcomes New Director of Development

Native Public Media (NPM) just announced that it has named Sarah Shelley as its new director of development.

Loris Taylor, NPM executive director, said, “Sarah Shelley will provide leadership, management and coordination in our development activities. She will be our point person to stimulate the involvement and support of friends, corporations, foundations and tribal nations in our major gifts program and in creating awareness of Native Public Media and its mission.“

Shelley was most recently executive director of All Classical 89.9 Public Radio in Portland, Ore., where she successfully led a campaign to purchase the station’s license. She also produced the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival for seven seasons and was artistic and administrative director of Center Arts, the campus presenter for Humboldt State University in Arcata. Shelley is a graduate of Wesleyan College and earned a MFA from Florida State University.

“It is an honor to work for Native Public Media in their commitment to increase the capacity of Native people to access, operate, produce, participate in and control their own media,” said Shelley.

NPM, a project of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, offers and provides support to the nation’s 30+ Native American stations.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wiyot and Schwarzenegger Sign Unique Deal

The Wiyot Tribe and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a unique compact this week. Under the agreement, the tribe will forego gaming on its trust land in exchange for a revenue share with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians.

The Wiyot decided on this path because it does not want to build on its ecologically sensitive ancestral lands. Table Bluff Reservation is located at the south end of Humboldt Bay, one of the state’s largest coastal estuaries. Its wildlife residents and visitors include more than 200 kinds of migratory birds.

Tribal Chairwoman Cheryl A. Seidner stated in a press release, “While some like to focus on conflict between tribes, this agreement is a tribute to what can be achieved through cooperation and mutual respect. We are pleased that we have created a model for economic cooperation that will build a brighter future for each of our tribes, for the state of California and for the environment.”

The North Fork Rancheria will develop and maintain a casino-resort in its ancestral territory in Madera County. The facility envisioned by the tribes will feature a casino, hotel, spa, restaurants, gift shops, entertainment lounges and other amenities.

The tribes will not seek legislative approval of the compacts until the land for the proposed casino-resort is taken into federal trust.