Friday, April 30, 2010

Drug Czar Unveils Indian Country Anti-Meth Ad Campaign

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske has unveiled a new anti-methamphetamine ad campaign targeting Indian Country, according to a press release issued April 28.

The campaign, which will launch in the 15 states with the largest Native American populations, includes TV commercials, print and radio ads and billboard advertising.

The advertising builds on Native American culture and pride. For youth, the messages are unifying and empowering and they celebrate Native American culture. They give them reasons not to use meth. For adults and elders, the ads encourage them to take appropriate steps to protect their children.

The ads will run until August, and Native organizations will be able to download and use the ads as free PSAs in their local communities.

This is the third year that ONDCP’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has coordinated the Native American Anti-Meth Campaign. It is the only national anti-meth advertising campaign tailored to both youth and adults in Indian Country and Alaska Native lands.

According to national data, the meth usage rate for the American Indian/Alaska Native population is almost two times higher than other groups.

“The data about methamphetamine abuse in the Native American community are troubling,” said Kerlikowske. “This ad campaign will supplement the important work for prevention and treatment already being done by the Native American community, local prevention groups, law enforcement, and treatment providers.”

For more information about the campaign, go to

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Supreme Court Asks DOJ for Its Views on ICWA Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has asked the Department of Justice for the views of the federal government to help it decide whether to accept Hogan v. Kaltag Tribal Council, a case in which Alaska questions whether federally recognized tribes can resolve Indian Child Welfare Act cases, as reported by on April 26.

The case involves a mother who was convicted of murder and had a drinking problem. The father did not want anything to do with the child. The Kaltag tribe took custody, and the child was adopted, with the consent of all parties involved, by a Native family that lives in Huslia. But the state’s attorney general, contending that the state's court system takes precedence over a tribal court, wants to put a stop to it.

To learn more about the case, go to:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Torres-Martinez Can Use Federal Funds to Pay Penalty

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families has decided to allow the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians to use federal funds to pay a $1.5 million penalty imposed upon the tribe in 2007 for the misuse of federal dollars its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program received in 2002 and 2003, as reported by the Desert Sun yesterday.

Though some are decrying the decision, the tribe is applauding it. “With one less challenge on our list, we can take positive strides towards perfecting the services in all areas relating to the education, employment, health and safety of the members of the reservation,” Torres-Martinez Tribal Chairwoman Mary Resvaloso told the paper.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wisconsin Assembly Passes Indian Mascot Bill

Wisconsin’s State Assembly has passed a bill that would give the state school superintendent the authority to ban American Indian mascots and logos, according to an Associated Press report published on April 21.

Here’s how the law would work: A resident complains, objecting to the use of a discrimination-promoting nickname, logo or mascot; the state superintendent would have a hearing on the complaint; if it is found to be offensive, then the district would have to comply within a year or face fines of up to $1,000 a day (with an extension available should the cost for compliance be more than $5,000).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

“Buy Indian Act” Tribal Consultations Scheduled

Tribal consultation meetings on draft regulations to implement the Buy Indian Act (25 U.S.C. 47) have been scheduled for later this month, according to a press release issued on April 16 by Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk.

The Buy Indian Act provides the authority to set aside procurement contracts for qualified Indian-owned businesses. It was first enacted in 1910 to promote the employment of American Indians and the sale of American Indian-made products.

The Indian Affairs Office of Acquisition and Property Management is developing a rule to describe uniform administrative procedures that Indian Affairs will use at all of its locations to encourage procurement relationships with eligible Indian economic enterprises in the execution of the Act.

The consultations, to be conducted by OAPM, will be held in Portland, Ore., on April 26; Rapid City, S.D., on April 28; and Tulsa, Okla., on April 30.

The deadline for written comments is May 15, 2010. They can be sent to OAPM by email, regular mail or overnight carrier.

For more information, go to:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Navajo Nation Could Make Sexual Exploitation of Children via the Internet a Punishable Crime

Navajo Nation lawmakers, who have convened today for the spring session, are considering a bill that would make sexual exploitation of children via the Internet a crime punishable by the tribe, according to an AP story published April 18 in the Durango Herald News.

Under the proposed law, anyone caught using a computer, digital camera, telephone, video recorder or other electronic equipment to prey on minors would be subject to prosecution and, if convicted, could face up to one year in jail, a $5,000 fine or both. They also would be required to register as a sex offender with the tribe.

The bill, sponsored by Hope MacDonald Lone Tree, would also make the possession of child pornography a crime under tribal law.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Alaska Natives Urged — Down to the Wire — to Return Census Forms

Tribes and Native organizations made a last-ditch effort on Thursday to urge Alaska Natives to return their U.S. Census forms before the April 16 deadline.

As of yesterday, only 57 percent of Alaskan households had returned their Census forms, putting the state in last place in terms of participation rates, according to the U.S. Census.

Organizations like the National Congress of American Indians and the First Alaskans Institute were encouraging Alaska Natives to take action.

“As Alaska Natives, we must participate in the Census, even if we think it is an inconvenience or intrusive; the link is too important to ignore — turning in your census form leads to funding for important services for our peoples, and it impacts our political voice in state lawmaking,” said Elizabeth Medicine Crow, vice president of the First Alaskans Institute and director of the Alaska Native Policy Center, in a press release issued yesterday by the National Congress of American Indians.

“This is one of the opportunities for Indian Country to be heard,” said Jacqueline Johnson Pata, NCAI’s executive director. “For states like Alaska, which depend on the data for housing and other services, it’s so vital to get an accurate count.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

IHS Director Praises Health Insurance Reform Law

In a statement issued today, Indian Health Service Director Yvette Roubideaux praised the recent passage of the health insurance reform legislation, which included the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

“This law will improve the quality of health care and make it more accessible and affordable for the American people, including American Indians and Alaska Natives,” she said.

Her statement highlighted several provisions that will benefit Native American people specifically:

• Health insurance reform creates a state-based health exchange through which individuals and small businesses can purchase health insurance coverage. This will create more affordable insurance options and allow comparison of plans.

• American Indians and Alaska Natives who purchase health insurance through the exchange do not have to pay co-pays or other cost-sharing if their income is under 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

• The value of health services/benefits from IHS-funded health programs or Tribes will be excluded from an individual’s gross income so it cannot be taxed.

• Health insurance reform also expands Medicaid coverage to individuals with incomes up to 133% of poverty level.

• For individuals who have Medicare Part D coverage (medication costs), I/T/U spending will count toward the coverage gap (donut hole).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tribes Get $4.5 Million to Provide Food Assistance to Low-Income Families

Tribal organizations and states operating the USDA Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) have received over $4.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding appropriated for the purchase of equipment and the improvement of facilities needed to provide food assistance to low-income families on and near Indian reservations, according to a press release issued by the USDA on April 8.

Through FDPIR, USDA purchases food that is provided to low-income households, including the elderly, living on Indian reservations and to Native American families residing in designated areas near reservations and in the State of Oklahoma, the release said.

About 271 tribes are receiving benefits under FDPIR through 98 tribal organizations and five state agencies. Nearly 90,000 low-income individuals receive a monthly FDPIR food package.

Funding amounts awarded range from $147,687, which the Navajo Nation received, to $2,250, the amount awarded to the Shoshone Paiute Tribe.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sault Tribe Promotes Fitness with “Cash” Competition

The Sault Tribe Strategic Alliance for Health has teamed up with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to offer an incentive-driven walking competition to residents, according to a piece published yesterday in the Daily Press of Escanaba, Mich.

Called “Let's Get Moving,” the competition gives cash awards to Sault communities that are the most active. There are four communities that will be participating.

Prizes will be based on how many miles residents within each community log from May 1 to June 30. The community with the most average miles per team member will receive $2,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield; second-place gets $1,500; third-place $1,000; and fourth-place $500. Winners are required to use the prize money in a way that will help keep community members active.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rally Planned to Demand Removal of Sisseton-Wahpeton Chairman

About 100 members of the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe are expected to rally today to demand the removal of Tribal Chairman Michael Selvage, according to an article published this morning by North Dakota news Web site INFORUM.

Selvage is part of an inquiry from the Internal Revenue Service, the article reported. IRS investigators have requested financial documents related to tribal business operations from Jan. 2005 through Dec. 2009. They are specifically looking for information on dealings involving Selvage, Edward Red Owl and Red Shield, Inc. with tribal enterprises, including the Dakota Magic Casino, and the tribal college and housing program.

The rally, to take place at 10 a.m. at the tribe’s headquarters, was organized by Michael J. Roberts, who used to oversee the tribe’s casinos. He was fired last year after bringing allegations of financial wrongdoing to the tribal council, according to the article.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Former Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller Passes

Wilma Mankiller, 64, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, died this morning. She was suffering from pancreatic cancer, which she announced just weeks ago. A complete obituary appeared today in the New York Times.

Mankiller served 10 years as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, beginning in 1987. She was the first woman elected to that position.

In 1998, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton. The Medal of Freedom is the highest honor given civilians in the United States.

President Obama issued this statement today:

"I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Wilma Mankiller today. As the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief, she transformed the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the Federal Government, and served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country and across America. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she was recognized for her vision and commitment to a brighter future for all Americans. Her legacy will continue to encourage and motivate all who carry on her work. Michelle and I offer our condolences to Wilma’s family, especially her husband Charlie and two daughters, Gina and Felicia, as well as the Cherokee Nation and all those who knew her and were touched by her good works."

Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith issued this statement:

“Our personal and national hearts are heavy with sorrow and sadness with the passing this morning of Wilma Mankiller. We feel overwhelmed and lost when we realize she has left us but we should reflect on what legacy she leaves us. We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness. When we become disheartened, we will be inspired by remembering how Wilma proceeded undaunted through so many trials and tribulations. Years ago, she and her husband Charlie Soap showed the world what Cherokee people can do when given the chance, when they organized the self-help water line in the Bell community. She said Cherokees in that community learned that it was their choice, their lives, their community and their future. Her gift to us is the lesson that our lives and future are for us to decide. We can carry on that Cherokee legacy by teaching our children that lesson. Please keep Wilma’s family, especially her husband Charlie and her daughters, Gina and Felicia, in your prayers.”

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bonus Awards Given to Tribes for Promoting Breastfeeding Among WIC Participants

The Navajo Nation received a $50,000 bonus award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for doing an exceptional job in promoting and supporting breastfeeding among mothers participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), according to a press release issued last week by the USDA. The Navajo Nation was among the top five large state agencies with the highest breastfeeding rates.

The bonus was part of about $5 million awarded to state agencies for improving and achieving high breastfeeding rates. Authorized by the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-80), this is the first time the USDA has given them out.

The Santo Domingo Tribe, the Pueblo of Zuni and the Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos, all in New Mexico, each received a $5,000 bonus for having the greatest breastfeeding rates among the smaller agencies.

Several tribes, including the Ute Mountain Tribe in Colorado, the Omaha Nation in Nebraska and the Osage Nation in Oklahoma, received bonus awards of approximately $5,000 each for making the greatest improvements in breastfeeding rates.

To read the full release, click here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Guardian Angels Coming to Indian Country

The Guardian Angels have long been synonymous with the inner cities of New York, Chicago and Orlando, where violent crime is often a way of life. But, according to an article published yesterday in Char-Koosta, the crime-fighting organization is coming to Indian Country.

The first-ever Guardian Angels chapter to be located on an Indian reservation will be launching this weekend, Char-Koosta reported. Based on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, a vast reservation in eastern Montana and home to about 6,000, the new chapter will train approximately 50 recruits.

The main reason for starting the chapter? Gangs.

Chauncey Whitwright III, vice chairman of the Wolf Point Community Organization, told Char-Koosta: “There are all kinds of gangs roaming around up here. Our kids are in danger, they’re being influenced, they’re being targeted. It’s going on every day of the week ... and they’re busy recruiting.”

Curtis Sliwa, the Guardian Angels’ founder, said the chapter will be a model for other reservations in the United States and Canada.