Friday, May 28, 2010

Kaibab Paiutes and Pipe Spring National Monument Jointly Open Repository

The Kaibab Band of Paiutes and Pipe Spring National Monument have jointly opened a museum repository containing artifacts and archival material of early Mormon settlers and of the tribe, as reported by the Associated Press on May 25. The $2 million facility, 11 years in the planning, is located near Fredonia in northwestern Arizona.

The tribe and monument have shared museum space at the park's visitor center, but now they have a separate repository to preserve materials. Under their 25-year partnership, the monument agreed to provide the building and the tribe the land.

The project is the first time the National Park Service has joined in this kind of collaboration with a tribe.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shoshone-Bannock Ask University to Prohibit Sunrise Ceremony

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have asked Idaho State University to forbid non-tribal members from performing Native American sunrise ceremonies on campus, according to an Associated Press piece published by Idaho on May 23.

A sunrise ceremony, organized by students, was held there on Earth Day (April 22), and objects considered sacred by the tribes were used.

University officials told the AP that the students who organized the ceremony had trouble finding tribal members to perform it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

BIE and Nike Enter MOU to Promote Healthy Lifestyles

Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk announced last week a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and Nike, Inc.

Under the MOU, signed on May 12, the two have agreed to collaborate on promoting healthy lifestyles and choices for all American Indians/Alaska Natives through program activities, like co-sponsored educational/information events, marathons and sports demonstrations.

They have also agreed to collaborate to improve communications with tribes and tribal organizations in the exchange of information relevant to healthy lifestyles to combat diseases such as diabetes, which affects nearly 13 percent of the AI/AN population.

Nike has been working with tribal communities for about 10 years, which includes providing grants for sports and physical fitness programs.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Arizona Immigration Law Won’t Help Tohono O'odham

Even though the Tohono O'odham Nation has 75 miles of U.S.-Mexico border, which an estimated 800 illegal immigrants cross every day, the tribe says Arizona’s new immigration law (SB-1070) will do nothing to help its situation.

Because the tribe is a sovereign nation, the law does not extend into its territory. There will be an impact, however, a negative one that will be felt by its members.

As Chairman Ned Norris Jr. recently told KVOA in Tucson, "Its going to specifically put members of the O'odham Nation at risk because of their inability to document their citizenship because they were born in some remote village some 60-70 years ago, or under a tree and don't have [a] record of their birth."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Free Diabetes Screening Puts Native People at Risk

Anyone who went to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque on April 24 for a free diabetes screening conducted by students from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine Physician Assistant program may have been exposed to diseases like Hepatitis B and C and/or HIV.

The exposure, according to a news report published by The New Mexico Independent on May 14, is the result of the students reusing “finger pricking” blood sugar testing devices meant for one patient, which exposed patients to another person’s blood. Making matters worse, the students had not been properly trained to use the device and did not keep records of the people it used them on.

Though the university says the risk of exposure is slight, it still wants to get in contact with the 51 to 55 people who were tested that day.

To learn more about the incident or to find out who to contact, go to:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Human Rights Commission Holds First in Series of Indigenous Hearings

Indigenous leaders from around Latin America warned of economic development practices that sabotage their communities and the environment at a hearing held in Washington, D.C., last week. The hearing was the first in a series to be held by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Congress.

Ellen Lutz, executive director of Cultural Survival, which worked with the commission to set up the hearings, stated after the session: "The hearings provided Latin American indigenous peoples with their first opportunity to tell the U.S. Congress what happens when governments determine that the resources on indigenous lands actually belong to the state. Invariably the state claims that the lands are not indigenous or that what is underneath them belongs to the public and thus can be exploited by state or corporate interests."

Indigenous representatives from Peru, Panama and Colombia all testified to other consistent patterns of dispossession that have plagued first peoples and placed their environments at risk for decades.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Karuk Tribe Takes National Forest to Court

The Karuk Tribe in California and two environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court against Six Rivers National Forest for allegedly failing to protect spiritual areas as part of a wildfire fuel reduction plan around Orleans, the Times-Standard of Eureka reported today.

The plaintiffs are suing over a portion of the plan for what is known as the Orleans Community Fuels Reduction program. Launched in 2006, the goal of the 2,698-acre project is to remove fire-prone forest material, reduce the density of some forest stands to promote wildlife diversity and enhance the Panamniik World Renewal Ceremonial District.

They claim that Six Rivers has breached several guidelines related to sacred sites and wildlife, including using heavy equipment on a spiritual trail, removing fire-resistant hardwoods and placing log decks along the spiritual trail.

They plaintiffs allege violations of the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Federal Voter Guide Translated in Four Native Languages

The federal election voter guide is now available in the four most commonly spoken Native American/Alaska Native languages, Cherokee, Dakota, Navajo and Yup'ik, languages spoken by about 220,500 Americans.

The guide was translated by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Language Assistance Program to improve voting accessibility for people who speak these languages and have limited English proficiency.

The guide explains the basics of ballot casting as well as special voting procedures, such as early voting, absentee voting and military and overseas voting.

“Part of EAC’s mandate under the Help America Vote Act is to assist states in making voting more accessible to all citizens. These translations are important in carrying out this work,” said EAC Chair Donetta Davidson in a press release issued on May 7.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BIE Schools Unprepared for Violence, Report Says

School violence is on the rise nationwide, and campuses in Indian Country are not immune to this trend. In fact, they could be more of a breeding ground for violent activity than mainstream public schools.

A new evaluation report published by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General found that the nation’s Bureau of Indian Education schools have many indicators of potential violence, deficiencies in school policies to prevent violence and substantial deficiencies in preventative and emergency safety procedures.

Indian Country in general, as the report stresses, has a violent crime rate that is two to three times higher than the national average. This statistic alone should keep the red flag raised, but there is more.

The report states that 37 percent of BIE students have reported carrying a weapon on campus, compared to 6 percent of public school students. And 75 percent of gang members in Indian Country are school age.

Making BIE schools more prone to violence is the lack of security measures. Around 80 percent lack adequate fencing, and only just about half have a security guard. While most have video surveillance systems, the report says the equipment is often flawed.

Further, the report says, many BIE school staff members have not received even basic training in violence prevention, like anger management, bullying prevention and gang awareness.

In the 2007-2008 school year, the year the report is based on, there were 184 BIE schools in 23 states, with about 48,000 students enrolled.

To read the full report, click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Study Shows Greater Reproductive Health Risks for Urban AI/AN Women

American Indian and Alaska Native women living in urban areas are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to report non-voluntary first sexual intercourse, unintended and teen pregnancies, unprotected first sex and first sex with older partners, according to a study released last week by the Urban Indian Health Institute, a division of the Seattle Indian Health Board.

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • About 17 percent of urban AI/AN women have experienced non-voluntary sex their first time, compared to 8 percent of white women.
  • Nearly 14 percent of urban AI/AN women said their first sex partner was seven or more years older, compared to 9 percent of white women.
  • Urban AI/AN who had unprotected sex in the past year, had sex before age 15 and who had more than two sex partners in the past three months are 77 percent more likely to have had an unintended pregnancy than whites with the same sexual risk status.
  • Urban AI/AN reports of two or more abortions are twice that of NH-whites (10 percent vs. 5 percent).
To view the full report, click here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

DOJ Allocates 33 New Prosecutors to Indian Country

Indian Country justice just got tougher with the allocation of 33 new Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) positions to 21 judicial districts that contain tribal lands.

The new AUSA allocation is the result of $6 million provided in the U.S. Department of Justice FY 2010 budget for hiring prosecutors in Indian Country.

In a press release issued on May 4, DOJ said that these new prosecutors will enable the agency to work with tribal and state law enforcement to improve public safety in tribal communities.

"Violent crimes, and particularly crimes against women and girls, continue to devastate tribal communities across the country, and the U.S. Attorney community is crucial to the Department of Justice's response," Attorney General Eric Holder said in the release.

DOJ has also launched three Indian Country Community Prosecution Teams. The pilot projects will be initiated with three tribes: the District of New Mexico will launch a pilot with Navajo Nation; the District of South Dakota will launch a pilot with the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation; and the District of Eastern Wisconsin will launch a pilot with the Menominee Indian Tribe.

To learn more about this initiative, go to:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Alaska Native Groups Demand a Halt to Oil Exploration in the Arctic

As the oil leak at the floor of the Gulf of Mexico continues to gush, at the rate of about 210,000 gallons a day, Alaska Native groups are demanding the halt of oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea and Camden Bay in the Beaufort Sea, which is supposed to begin this summer, until the federal government knows what caused the spill in the Gulf and can guarantee that kind of accident does not occur in the waters off Alaska.

In a call to action sent out this week, the Native Village of Point Hope, located on the coast of the Chukchi Sea, has created a sample letter asking Ken Salazar, Secretary of Interior, to stop Shell Oil’s exploratory drilling in the Arctic.

The letter states: “The impacts of a major spill in the Arctic would be widespread, long-lasting and disastrous. At risk are endangered whales, polar bears, seals, walruses, birds, fish and the Inupiat people’s subsistence culture.”

To view the letter, go to

Monday, May 3, 2010

Helicopters Cause a Stir at Wounded Knee

Over the weekend, three helicopters attempted to land at the site of Wounded Knee, the place where, in 1890, about 300 Sioux were massacred by U.S. soldiers, as reported by on May 2.

Located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the Wounded Knee site is considered very sacred by the Sioux people, so, not surprisingly, those who saw the helicopters try to land at the site late morning on Saturday were outraged.

Charley New Holy was among the witnesses. He told KOTA: "One chopper landed 50 feet from the cemetery, just for a moment.”

No one knows who owns the helicopters or their reasons for being there, according to the report.