Monday, December 29, 2008

ABC Casting Hosts Workshop for Native American Actors

The ABC Casting Department will be hosting a two-day workshop for Native American actors on January 8 and 9, 2009. 


The workshop will give 20 Native American actors the opportunity to work on auditioning techniques, receive feedback and have a Q & A session with a panel consisting of ABC casting executives.   


The casting department has been working closely with members from the SAG local Hollywood American Indian Committee, AFTRA, American Indians of TV & Film and the American Indian National Center for Television and Film to outreach to various Native American committees and organizations. They are currently reviewing submissions and will be making their selections soon.   


More information on the workshop and chosen participants will be made available closer to the workshop date.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Navajo Nation in danger of losing $3.5 million

The Farmington Daily Times reports that the Navajo Nation is about to lose $3.5 million in loans, as two banks are calling the loans because two Navajo businesses have failed to make payments. The companies, Biochemical Decontamination Systems Manufacturing Inc. and Diné Poultry Products, both are in danger of defaulting on their loans. The combined loss will consume more than half of the Navajo Dam Escrow Account, which is valued at about $6 million.

Senators Seek $2 billion in aid for Indian Country

Twenty-two senators have sent a letter to President-elect Barack Obama, asking him to support the foreign assistance bill signed into law in July, which contains $2 billion in aid for Indian Country projects, including: $1 billion for water projects on reservations nationwide; $750 million for public safety on reservations, including money to build detention centers and pay for tribal police and courts and $250 million for contract health service, construction and rehabilitation of Indian health centers, and domestic and community sanitation facilities serving tribes. Read more here.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seminole Council Member Pleads Guilty to Obstruction of Justice

Former Seminole Nation Development Authority trustee Ricky Van Deer, 48, pleaded guilty Thursday to obstruction of justice in a case centering on allegations of bribery for securing favorable actions for a gaming machine company.  Deer, who was also a Seminole Nation Council member, was indicted in March for allegedly accepting more than $44,000 in bribes from Ivy Kwok Ong of Carlo Worldwide Operations. 

Ong pleaded guilty in September 2007 to one count of tax-evasion conspiracy and one count of bribery. He was sentenced in May to 39 months in federal prison for his role in bribing at least three Seminole officials. Ong also was ordered to pay $199,610 in restitution. He forfeited a Choctaw home and a Kentucky horse farm valued at more than $1 million. Read more about it here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Supreme Court Sets Feb. 23 for Oral Arguments in U.S. v. Navajo

On Monday, February 23, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in U.S. v. Navajo Nation (07-1420), which examines the federal government’s duty to protect Indian tribe’s mineral rights. 

The Navajo Nation complained that the Secretary of the Interior, who supervises and regulates the development and sale of mineral resources on Indian reservations, acted in the interests of a coal mining company, and not in the interests of the Navajo Nation, when negotiating the rate of royalty payments owed on coal mined from Navajo land. The Court of Federal Claims dismissed the complaint, ruling that although the United States had breached its fiduciary obligations to the Navajo Nation, this breach was not actionable because the United States did not have a trust relationship with the Navajo Nation and monetary relief was not available. The court of appeals reversed, holding (1) that a trust relationship existed and exists with the Navajo Nation, and (2) monetary damages are an available remedy for breach of this trust.

On appeal the court will decide whether the court of appeals properly held that the United States is liable to the Navajo Nation for up to $600 million in damages for breach of fiduciary duty. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Navajo and Hopi to Protest Peabody Coal Permit Today at 1 p.m. MST

A large delegation of people from the Hopi and Navajo tribes has traveled to Denver to meet with top officials in the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and hold a press conference and rally in downtown Denver to protest the pending decision that will grant the Peabody Coal company a "life-of-mine" permit, expanded mining operations and rights to tap the fresh water of the Navajo aquifer. The protest is scheduled for 1 p.m. MST outside the OSM, 1999 Broadway.

Navajo and Hopi citizen's were given 45 days to comment on a revised "Black Mesa Project" Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and were never offered a public commenting period.  Requests for commenting period extensions were denied by OSM as well as requests for OSM to come to Navajo and Hopi lands for question and answer meetings.

Arizona Congressman, and leading candidate for Secretary of Interior in the Obama Administration, Raúl M. Grijalva has asked current Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne to suspend further consideration of Peabody's permit. "At present, OSM is rushing to approve a life-of-mine permit, first without making the permit revisions sufficiently available for public review, and then without adequate environmental review."

Friday, December 5, 2008

University of Wyoming Offers Grad Courses in Native American Education

The University of Wyoming is now offering a graduate certification program to prepare teachers working with Native American students, the Casper Star-Tribune reported this week.

The five-course program, which started as a pilot earlier this year, is being taught by professors Tim Rush and Angela Jaime. Open to all teachers, it teaches educators how to include Native American culture and history in their curriculums. It was developed with input from tribal leaders and educators.

"These courses really open up eyes on how to teach Native American students," Marty Conrad, a teacher who completed the pilot course, told the Star-Tribune. "There are some differences. Some people don't know that."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Contract Appeals Board Cites Cherokee v. Leavitt Against the Tribe

Citing Cherokee v. Leavitt, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals said recently that the Indian Health Service was justified in denying the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe’s claim for more money to cover services it was providing at its clinic under a 638 contract with the agency.

In this complex case (Fort Mojave Indian Tribe v. Department of Health and Human Services, CBCA 547-ISDA), the tribe charged that the IHS acted unlawfully by refusing to pay the tribe the full amount that the agency would have spent to provide services for the tribe’s service community, as required by section 106(a)(1) of the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA). Specifically, the tribe said that (1) the IHS refused to pay for patients it served from nearby communities, (2) for the tribe’s full share of the service unit’s funding unlawfully designated by the IHS as “contractible but not divisible funding” and (3) for the full share of the service unit’s “historical funding.”  

The agency contends that the tribe entered into a contract with the agency for specified services to be provided for a specified amount (emphasis added). The agency paid at least the amount requested in the contract and the tribe provided the services specified “and no other services” in exchange for the payments. “Therefore the contract has been fulfilled.”

 The board sided with the IHS, noting that in Cherokee v. Leavitt – a 2005 case that centered on whether the IHS had provided full contract support costs in light of limited appropriations – the Supreme Court said that an ISDEAA contract between a tribe and a government agency was the same as any other procurement contract.  “There can be no more straightforward application of this principal than to this situation:  where an offer and acceptance were freely made, an agreement was entered into, and each party has fulfilled its promise, nothing remains to dispute,” the board wrote.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

San Pasqual Cannot Eject Members

The Bureau of Indian Affairs says the San Pasqual Indian Band cannot eject about 60 members, but the tribe can appeal the decision about the disputed members' ancestry. 

Though many tribes determine membership issues on their own, the San Pasqual's constitution gives the BIA that authority. It's unclear what the decision means to an ongoing tribal leadership split that is threatening the tribe's government and its ability to operate the Valley View Casino.

Read more about it here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Court Says Havasupai May Sue Universities

The Havasupai Tribe may sue the Arizona state university system over claims that researchers took blood samples from tribal members under false pretenses. 

The Arizona Court of Appeals on Friday overturned a trial judge's conclusion that the Havasupai Tribe did not comply with legal requirements before filing suit. That gives the tribe and some individual members the chance to sue for damages.

The tribe argues that researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona are doing analysis on the blood samples that was not authorized by the tribal members. The tribe charges that the research being done directly undermines their core religious convictions. That includes the belief that tribal members always have lived in the Grand Canyon and their ancestors did not, as the research seeks to show, migrate across the Bering Strait from Asia. Read the full story here.