Wappo Seek Recognition (News)

Scott Gabaldon is an American Indian tribal leader without any land or, for that matter, an officially recognized tribe.

The 42-year-old contractor from Lake County is the chairman of the Mishewal Wappo Indians, a group composed of 357 descendants of the people who lived for thousands of years along the riverbanks and in the valleys of Napa and Sonoma counties where wine grapes now grow.

Federal recognition of the tribe was terminated a half century ago, and Indian land in Sonoma's Alexander Valley was given away, a government act Gabaldon claims was an egregious treachery he would like to rectify.

Full Article At:  http://bit.ly/Wappo  

Native Protections in the Violence Against Women Act

Native Protections in the U.S. House Version of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization!

The Indian Country Today Media Network is reporting that the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to mark up a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill today that will likely strip out Native American protections from the legislation that passed the U.S. Senate in late April. 

“The House bill … eliminates Senate language that would provide major tribal court jurisdiction and protection order provisions for tribes in the lower 48 states meant to curb the violence epidemic that exists on many reservations,” according to Indian Country Today. “The Obama administration and a bipartisan majority of the Senate have agreed that the protections are necessary. U.S. Justice Department officials have said that provisions are constitutional, and would help curb high crime rates facing many reservations.”

Please take a few minutes NOW to contact your Representative.

For more information and to contact your representatives click here.

Additional Information At:

President Obama Announces U.S. Nomination of Dr. Jim Yong Kim to Lead World Bank (news)

Today, President Obama announced that the United States is nominating Dartmouth President Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a leader who has devoted his career to improving the lives of people in developing countries and championing the cause of global health, to be President of the World Bank. The World Bank’s mission is to reduce poverty and support development, serving as a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries across the globe.

Presidential Proclamation (news)

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

November 01, 2011
Presidential Proclamation -- National Native American Heritage Month, 2011



From the Aleutian Islands to the Florida Everglades, American Indians and Alaska Natives have contributed immensely to our country's heritage. During National Native American Heritage Month, we commemorate their enduring achievements and reaffirm the vital role American Indians and Alaska Natives play in enriching the character of our Nation.

Native Americans stand among America's most distinguished authors, artists, scientists, and political leaders, and in their accomplishments, they have profoundly strengthened the legacy we will leave our children. So, too, have American Indians and Alaska Natives bravely fought to protect this legacy as members of our Armed Forces. As service members, they have shown exceptional valor and heroism on battlefields from the American Revolution to Iraq and Afghanistan. Native Americans have demonstrated time and again their commitment to advancing our common goals, and we honor their resolve in the face of years of marginalization and broken promises. My Administration recognizes the painful chapters in our shared history, and we are fully committed to moving forward with American Indians and Alaska Natives to build a better future together.

To strengthen our economy and win the future for our children, my Administration is addressing problems that have burdened Native American communities for too long. We are working to bolster economic development, expand access to affordable health care, broaden post-secondary educational opportunities, and ensure public safety and tribal justice. In June, I signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Rural Council, to strengthen Federal engagement with tribal governments and promote economic prosperity in Indian Country and across rural America. This comes in conjunction with several settlements that will put more land into the hands of tribes and deliver long-awaited trust reform to Indian Country.

To bring jobs and sustainable growth to tribal nations, my Administration is connecting tribal economies to the broader economy through transportation infrastructure and high-speed Internet, as well as by focusing on clean energy development on tribal lands. First Lady Michelle Obama's recently launched Let's Move! in Indian Country initiative will also redouble efforts to encourage healthy living for American Indians and Alaska Natives. These actions reflect my Administration's ongoing commitment to progress for Native Americans, which was reaffirmed last year when we announced our support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Through a comprehensive strategy where the Federal Government and tribal nations move forward as equal partners, we can bring real and lasting change to Indian Country.

This month, we celebrate the rich heritage and myriad contributions of American Indians and Alaska Natives, and we rededicate ourselves to supporting tribal sovereignty, tribal self-determination, and prosperity for all Native Americans. We will seek to strengthen our nation-to-nation relationship by ensuring tribal nations have a voice in shaping national policies impacting tribal communities. We will continue this dialogue at the White House Tribal Nations Conference held in Washington, D.C. next month. As we confront the challenges currently facing our tribal communities and work to ensure American Indians and Alaska Natives have meaningful opportunities to pursue their dreams, we are forging a brighter future for the First Americans and all Americans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2011 as National Native American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to commemorate this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November 25, 2011, as Native American Heritage Day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


NIEAs Remarks About Our Sister Elouise Cobell

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Dear Andre; 

As you have probably heard, we lost a very important relative.

Elouise Cobell, Little Bird Woman, was a member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe of Montana and a great-granddaughter of Mountain Chief, one of the legendary Blackfeet leaders of the West. Elouise Cobell was a graduate of Great Falls Business College and attended Montana State University.

As Treasurer of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, she established the Blackfeet National Bank, the first national bank to be located on an Indian reservation and to be owned by a Native American tribe. She served on the Board of the Native American Bank and First Interstate Bank.


She was a warrior for the Cobell v. Salazar case. This was a class-action lawsuit led by Elouise Cobell
and others against two departments of the United States government, and in 2010 the current administration offered a settlement of $3.4 billion of the longstanding class action suit.  

Our President Mary Jane Oatman-Wak Wak said this of our NIEA 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient:

"Our nation has lost an incredible leader with the passing of Eloise Cobell.  She stood for accountability, doing what is just and fair, and honoring the trust responsibility of the federal government to American Indians. She was also a longtime supporter of education for American Indians and the chance at a better life that a quality education would bring.  We will miss her and we honor all the good that she accomplished during her life. " 


As we look to our leaders for strength, please remember to take a few moments for our sister Elouise. She was victorious in her battle, because she chose to fight and stand up for her rights.  



National Indian Education Association 

Elouise Cobell Passes

Elouise Cobell

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HELENA, Montana (AP) - Elouise Cobell, whose 15-year fight to force the U.S. to account for more than a century of mismanaged Indian land royalties led to the largest government class-action settlement in the country's history, died Sunday. She was 65.

Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet tribe who was born with the name Little Bird Woman, died at a Great Falls hospital of complications from cancer, spokesman Bill McAllister said.

Cobell was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in 1996 claiming the government had misspent, lost or stolen billions of dollars meant for Native American land trust account holders dating back to the 1880s.

After years of legal wrangling, the two sides in 2009 agreed to settle for $3.4 billion. The beneficiaries are estimated to be about 500,000 people.

Asked what she wanted her legacy to be, she said she hoped she would inspire a new generation of Native Americans to fight for the rights of others and lift t heir community out of poverty.

"Maybe one of these days, they won't even think about me. They'll just keep going and say, 'This is because I did it,'" Cobell said. "I never started this case with any intentions of being a hero. I just wanted this case to give justice to people that didn't have it."

Cobell said she had heard stories since she was a child of how the government had shortchanged Native Americans with accounts for royalties from their land that was leased for resource development or farming.

Cobell said she became outraged when she actually started digging into how much money the government had squandered that belonged people who were living in dire poverty on the Blackfeet reservation in northwestern Montana.

She realized the amount mismanaged since the 1880s could be hundreds of billions of dollars. She said she tried for years working with two U.S. government administrations to resolve the dispute, then decided to sue with four other Nat ive Americans as plaintiffs when no progress was made.

The government dug in. Over the next 14 years, there were more than 3,600 court filings, 220 days of trial, 80 published court decisions and 10 appeals until the 2009 breakthrough.

Under the settlement, $1.4 billion would go to individual Indian account holders. Some $2 billion would be used by the government to buy up fractionated Indian lands from individual owners willing to sell, and then turn those lands over to tribes. Another $60 million would be used for a scholarship fund for young Indians.

Cobell spent the next year shuttling back and forth between her home to Washington, D.C., to lobby individual congressmen to approve the deal. She also logged thousands of miles traveling across Indian country to explain the deal to the potential beneficiaries.

She found unexpected resistance among some Native Americans. They questioned why it was so little, how much would be going to her and they attor neys or why it didn't include a more complete accounting of what happened to the money.

Congress approved the deal and President Barack Obama signed it in December of 2010, a year after it was first proposed. A federal judge approved the settlement in June, though there are still appeals of the settlement pending.

Cobell discovered she had cancer just a few weeks before the judge's approval in June. She traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for surgery.

Cobell was the great granddaughter of the famous leader Mountain Chief. She grew up with seven brothers and sisters on the Blackfeet reservation.

She was the Blackfeet nation's treasurer for 13 years, and in 1987 helped found the first U.S. bank to be owned by a tribe, the Blackfeet National Bank, which is now the Native American Bank.

Cobell was the executive director of the nonprofit Native American Community Development Corp., which promotes sustainable economic development in Indian Country.

She won a $300,000 "genius grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1997 and used most of the money to help fund the lawsuit.

Cobell lived on a ranch with her husband Alvin. Her only son, Turk, lives in Las Vegas with his wife Bobbie and their children Olivia and Gabriella. 

Freedmen Expelled (news)


The so-called Cherokee Freedmen will be expelled from membership in the Cherokee nation, the tribe's Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The Freedmen, descendants of black slaves brought to Oklahoma by American Indian owners in 1838 during the forced removal known as the "Trail of Tears," were given membership in the tribe after the Civil War.

The tribe voted in 2007 to revoke the membership of the 2,800 Freedmen, and the court upheld the vote one day before the election to choose the tribal chief. Another 25,000 Cherokee Freedmen could have been eligible to join the tribe, Reuters reported.

"This is racism and apartheid in the 21st century," Marilyn Vann, the Freedmen leader who sparked the lawsuit, told Reuters.

Tribal spokesmen did not respond to Reuters' request for comment. A lawsuit concerning the Freedmen is still pending in a federal court in Washington.