Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Colorado Interstate Gas Resolves Clean Air Act Violations on Uintah and Ouray Reservation

Colorado Interstate Gas Company (CIG), the operator of the Natural Buttes Compressor Station located on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation near Vernal, Utah, has agreed to pay more than $1 million and install environmental controls at its facility as part of a consent decree that resolves violations of the Clean Air Act.

According to a complaint filed along with the consent decree, CIG installed engines at its Natural Buttes Compressor Station but failed to obtain a permit and control and test emissions sources at its facility on the reservation. The violations of the Clean Air Act were discovered through EPA inspections and EPA-required emission testing at the facility. Read the press release.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recovery.gov Adds Tribal Component

You can now track Indian Country’s economic recovery progress on Recovery.gov, which recently added two areas devoted specifically to tribal governments. The link to tribal resources lists the specific federal agency programs dedicated to tribal governments or for which tribal applicants are eligible. Tribal news tracks the progress in distributing funds and in making money available for Indian Country.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New IHS Director Dr. Yvette Roubideaux

Yvette D. Roubideaux (Rosebud Sioux), M.D., M.P.H., was confirmed as the director of the Indian Health Service by the U.S. Senate in May. Since then, she has been very busy. Sure, she has been putting a lot of time into administering a $4.3 billion national health care delivery system, but she has also been fielding loads of inquiries from the media. Roubideaux is, after all, the first woman to head the IHS in its 54-year history.

AIR caught up with Roubideaux this summer. We posed some questions on why she was picked to lead the IHS, what she hopes to accomplish, about the big boost the agency got from the Recovery Act and could get in the federal government’s FY 2010 budget and health care reform. [Read more]

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Keweenaw Bay Tribal Member Sentenced for Theft of Tribal Property

The Department of Justice reports that Robert Charles Genschow, Sr., 60, of L’Anse, Mich., was sentenced on July 7 to 10 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for destroying trees on the Keweenaw Bay Indian reservation. Genschow was also ordered to perform 250 hours of community service and to pay $47,200 in restitution owed to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

Genschow claimed to be Chief Lonewolf of the Ontonagon Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and asserted that, as Chief, he had the right to remove timber from the land in question. During the trial of this case, former Keweenaw Bay Tribal President Susan LaFernier testified that the Ontonagon Band of Lake Superior Chippewa ceased to exist in 1936, when the Band voted to join with the L’Anse Band to create the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Yup'ik Speakers to Receive Language Assistance in Bethel Elections

Yupik-speaking voters in Bethel, Alaska, will receive additional language assistance for municipal elections, according to a settlement reached by the city, the Native American Rights Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Yup'ik is the primary language of a majority of citizens in the Bethel region. The settlement agreement follows a lawsuit filed against the city by NARF and the ACLU on behalf of the two local Alaska Natives.

The lawsuit Nick, et al. v.
Bethel, et al., remains pending in the federal district court for the District of Alaska against the State of Alaska. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the same Alaska Natives who agreed to the current settlement as well as two other Alaska Natives and four tribal governments.

Under the settlement agreement, the city of Bethel will provide enhanced language assistance to Yup'ik voters, including trained poll workers who are bilingual in English and Yup'ik; sample ballots for election measures in written Yup'ik; a written Yup'ik glossary of election terms; advance notice of translator services; election announcements on the radio; and pre- and post-election reports to the Federal District Court for Alaska tracking the city's efforts.

U.S. Attorney Steps up Efforts in Montana Indian Country

Here’s an interesting bit of information reported yesterday by the Great Falls Tribune: only six burglaries were prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montana’s Indian Country last year, despite the fact that for the two previous years, the Bureau of Indian Affairs records show that about 400 burglaries were reported each year on six reservations. U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer indicated that law enforcement officials are not referring the cases, and in some cases, may not be aware that the cases should be referred to his office.

Mercer drafted memos to all BIA law enforcement leaders, tribal prosecutors and county sheriffs in Montana's Indian Country to inform them of the types of cases his office should be aware of. In the letter, he asked that those officials fax his office details of the crime immediately, rather than waiting until an investigation is complete.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Master Key and SmarteSoft Announce Partnership

SmarteSoft Inc., the industry leader in easy-to-use, high-return on investment software test automation products and services, and Native-owned Master Key Consulting, a provider of verification and validation (V&V) services to the Federal Government, are partnering to offers federal government clients enhanced access to expert IT support services linked to automated software testing.

Gary Bowers, SmarteSoft's Vice President of Sales, notes that Master Key's considerable presence in the federal sector represents an excellent opportunity for SmarteSoft.

"Our partnership with Master Key Consulting offers us the ability to assist more government agencies, plus they’ll have access to a vital, cost-effective suite of QA software," said Bowers. "It's an ideal partnership."

Master Key Consulting Chief Executive Officer, Jonathan Wilber, believes the key to a successful verification and validation engagement is to push software testing to the front of the project life cycle for faster, better and less costly product delivery.

Since opening in 2000 with three employees, Master Key Consulting has won federal contracts totaling more than $100 million and has grown to a team of more than 140 individuals in eleven states and the District of Columbia. The company’s commercial and federal projects include work with the Environmental Protection Agency; the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security. The company’s key services include program management, information technology, grants management support, testing and training. Another Master Key niche involves working with agencies and organizations that serve Native people.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tribal Members Protest, Allege Nepotism

Eight Saginaw Chippewa Tribal members gathered outside the tribal casino to protest the appointment of Charmaine Benz to Tribal Council. She was appointed to fill the vacant District 1 seat originally held by former Council Member Simon Jackson, who was suspended from office on May 6. He was later convicted of felony drunken driving.

Protesters say that Benz, who was sworn in to office on Tuesday, is related to tribal leaders. Protesters held signs that read "No Democracy Axis of Evil Appointment." Another sign read “Stop nepotism appointment.”

You can read more about it here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tribal Leader in Arizona Pleads Guilty to Theft of Tribal Funds

Evelyn James, a Tribal Council member of the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe in Arizona, pleaded guilty on July 1 to false statements, theft from a tribal government receiving federal funds and money laundering, according to a report released last week from the Justice Department.

James, 54, admitted to stealing almost $300,000 in tribal funds. James intermittently served as the Tribal President of the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe and in that capacity, completed, signed and submitted false statements and records to obtain funds for the tribe from the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. James submitted falsified accountings in which she asked for reimbursement from the COPS program for expenditures that were never made by the tribe. The false submissions indicated that the tribe hired and paid three police officers when no peace officers were ever hired, trained or employed.

James will be sentenced in September.