Native Sacred Sites Bill Passes (politics)

Native American sacred site bill passes

Assemblyman Luis Alejo 'extremely pleased'

A bill that originally upset local Native Americans has been signed into law after significant changes.

AB 52, co-authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week.

"The first few versions of this bill were contentious; however, we worked with all stakeholders and tribes," Alejo said in a statement. "I am extremely pleased to note that the bill includes support of almost all of California's tribes — both federally recognized and unrecognized — to ensure that the cultural heritage of all Native American people is protected."

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, was the bill's principal author.

The legislation changes the California Environmental Quality Act to require the lead agency on a project for environmental assessments to consult with a Native American tribe within 30 days of receiving their request.

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Mother Tongue (language/politics)

Language Becomes Key Issue In Navajo Presidential Race

By  Laurel Morales
September 22, 2014

One of the leading contenders in the Navajo presidential election this November might be kicked out of the race later this week.

Why? Because he didn’t tell the complete truth about how well he spoke the Navajo language.

That’s an issue because many tribal elders speak only Navajo. However, some voters are saying it shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Chris Deschene is working on his Navajo. When he introduces himself, he identifies his clans in the native language.

Last spring when he decided to run for president he took an oath saying he spoke the language fluently. He later admitted his language skills did need some work.

Complaints against Deschene’s alleged embellishment of the truth have gone all the way up to the Navajo Supreme Court. It will rule later this week on whether Deschene can even stay in the race.

Indigenous Peoples: Declaration of Rights (politics)

Share from April Skinas



Introduced by Assembly Member Williams
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Alejo)
(Coauthor: Senator Monning)

March 24, 2014

Relative to indigenous peoples.


AJR 42, as amended, Williams. Indigenous peoples: declaration of rights.
This measure would express the Legislature’s endorsement of, and commitment to, of the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The measure would, among other things, also call for increased awareness, sensitivity, and respect for issues of sovereignty related to the heritage of Native Americans and indigenous peoples.


Fiscal Committee: no  


WHEREAS, The United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13, 2007, establishing a new systemic standard of recognition, respect, and protection for the rights of indigenous peoples of the world; and
WHEREAS, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was approved by the National Latino Congreso on January 31, 2010, in El Paso, Texas, and has been endorsed by hundreds of Native American, Latino, and progressive community organizations across this country; and
WHEREAS, On November 5, 2009, at a historic summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by President Barack Obama, Chairman Joe Kennedy from the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe of the Western Shoshone Nation delivered a message on behalf of the indigenous peoples and nations of North America calling for immediate action by the President of the United States to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and
WHEREAS, In December 2010, the United States announced support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In announcing this support, President Obama stated: “The aspirations it affirms, including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native native peoples, are one ones we must always seek to fulfill… What matters far more than any resolution or declaration, are actions to match those words.” The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples addresses indigenous peoples’ rights to maintain culture and traditions (Article 11); to maintain religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies (Article 12); to participate in decision making in matters that would affect their rights (Article 18); and to maintain spiritual connections to traditionally owned lands (Article 25); and
WHEREAS, As of June 2013, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) approved the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ACHP will now incorporate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the review process of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act; and
WHEREAS, The “Doctrine of Discovery,” emanating from the European invasion and subsequent colonization after 1492 of the continents later to be known as the Americas, has served as an instrument of dehumanization and genocide had profound and lasting negative effects on the cultures and populations of the indigenous peoples and nations of the Americas; and

WHEREAS, The “Report of the Special Rapporteur of the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, Addendum,” in recommending that the states of the United States develop state policies to promote the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, states the following:

“Although competency over indigenous affairs rests at the federal level, states of the United States exercise authority that in various ways affects the rights of indigenous peoples. Relevant state authorities should become aware of the rights of indigenous peoples affirmed in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and develop state policies to promote the goals of the Declaration and to ensure that the decisions of state authorities are consistent with it”; and

WHEREAS, Although jurisdiction over indigenous affairs resides with the federal government, state governments exercise authority in areas that affect the indigenous peoples within the state. As such, state governments should be aware of the principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and consider these principles in the various decisions of state authorities; and
WHEREAS, This resolution is not intended to create, and does not create, any rights or benefits, whether substantive or procedural, or enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California or its agencies, departments, entities, officers, employees, or any other person; and now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature of California expresses its endorsement of, and commitment to,of the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations General Assembly; Assembly, and recognizes the call for increased awareness, sensitivity, and respect for issues of sovereignty, sacred and historic sites and traditions, and other vital aspects of the heritage of Native Americans and indigenous peoples implicit in those principles, notwithstanding the nonbinding nature of the declaration; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the President, Vice President, and Attorney General of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the Senate, to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States, the Legal Adviser to the United States Department of State, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

American Indian Education Study Group (information/politics)

Notice of Consultation: The U.S. Department of the Interior, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education, will conduct a series of consultation sessions with Indian tribes to review and provide feedback on the draft recommendations recently prepared by the American Indian Education Study Group on the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) school system. Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn released a Tribal Leader Letter on March 28, 2014 inviting tribal leaders to join the Study Group and provide comments on BIE reform.

 Important Information

  • Tribal Leader Letter: Please click HERE
  • Federal Register Notice: Please click HERE
  • Comment Deadline: June 2, 2014
  • Comment Submissions: Please email Jacquelyn Cheek, Special Assistant to the Director, at
  • More Details: Please click HERE

Upcoming Meetings

  • Monday, April 28, 2014
    Loneman Day School
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm (All times local)

    Oglala, South Dakota  
  • Wednesday, April 30, 2014
    Riverside Indian School
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm (All times local)
    Anadarko, Oklahoma
  • Friday, May 2, 2014
    Muckleshoot School
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm (All times local)
    Auburn, Washington 


  • Monday May 5, 2014
    Gila River Head Start Building
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm (All times local)
    Sacaton, Arizona

Progress with Tribal Communities (politics)

Continuing the Progress with Tribal Communities

Posted by Jodi Gillette on March 06, 2014 at 04:50 PM EST

Today, we are releasing the synopsis from the 2013 Tribal Nations Conference and the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference Progress Report. The 2013 Conference marked the fifth consecutive year that President Obama hosted a gathering of federally recognized tribal leaders and officials from across the Administration. At the Conference, tribal leaders directly engaged with the recently established White House Council on Native American Affairs and discussed key issues facing Indian Country. During his remarks to tribal leaders, President Obama emphasized the need to keep our bond of peace and friendship, our covenant chain with tribes strong not only for this generation but for future generations.

The Synopsis reflects the wide-array of issues and comments raised by tribal leaders during the break-out sessions; including economic and energy development, education, public safety, health care, and land and natural resources. The Tribal Nations Conference Progress Report provides a comprehensive overview of federal agencies’ progress in 2013 toward making improvements in Indian Country and highlights the following:

·         The President signed Executive Order 13647 establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs consisting of Cabinet Secretaries and heads of other federal agencies and is responsible for coordinating policies across the federal government.

·         The President signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) which contains provisions that significantly improve the safety of Native women and allow federal and tribal law enforcement agencies to hold perpetrators of domestic violence accountable for their crimes.

·         The President signed a significant amendment to the Stafford Act, which gives tribes the option of directly requesting Federal emergency or major disaster declarations, rather than receiving a declaration through the request of a Governor.

·         The Department of the Interior announced the first offers in the land buy-back program for Tribal Nations to initiate land consolidation efforts from the Cobell Settlement.

The President and his Administration remain committed to strengthening the nation-to-nation partnership with tribes to address the complex challenges facing Indian Country. The 2013 Conference also provided an important policy and engagement foundation for the White House Council on Native American Affairs as we work to address those challenges and meet our common goal of developing more prosperous and resilient tribal communities.

Jodi Gillette is the Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Disenrollment leaves Natives 'culturally homeless' (politics)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Mia Prickett's ancestor was a leader of the Cascade Indians along the Columbia River and was one of the chiefs who signed an 1855 treaty that helped establish the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde in Oregon.

But the Grand Ronde now wants to disenroll Prickett and 79 relatives, and possibly hundreds of other tribal members, because they no longer satisfy new enrollment requirements.

Prickett's family is fighting the effort, part of what some experts have dubbed the "disenrollment epidemic" — a rising number of dramatic clashes over tribal belonging that are sweeping through more than a dozen states, from California to Michigan.

"In my entire life, I have always known I was an Indian. I have always known my family's history, and I am so proud of that," Prickett said. She said her ancestor chief Tumulth was unjustly accused of participating in a revolt and was executed by the U.S. Army — and hence didn't make it onto the tribe's roll, which is now a membership requirement.

The prospect of losing her membership is "gut-wrenching," Prickett said.

"It's like coming home one day and having the keys taken from you," she said. "You're culturally homeless."

View gallery
Mia Prickett sits at a table with a collection of familynbsphellip
Mia Prickett sits at a table with a collection of family photos and holds her Confederated Tribe of  …

The enrollment battles come at a time when many tribes — long poverty-stricken and oppressed by government policies — are finally coming into their own, gaining wealth and building infrastructure with revenues from Indian casinos.

Critics of disenrollment say the rising tide of tribal expulsions is due to greed over increased gambling profits, along with political in-fighting and old family and personal feuds.

But at the core of the problem, tribes and experts agree, is a debate over identity — over who is "Indian enough" to be a tribal member.

"It ultimately comes down to the question of how we define what it means to be Native today," said David Wilkins, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of North Carolina's Lumbee Tribe. "As tribes who suffered genocidal policies, boarding school laws and now out-marriage try to recover their identity in the 20th century, some are more fractured, and they appear to lack the kind of common elements that lead to true cohesion."

Wilkins, who has tracked the recent increase in disenrollment across the nation, says tribes have kicked out thousands of people.

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Mia Prickett middle shares a collection of familynbsphellip
Mia Prickett, middle, shares a collection of family photos with great aunt's Marilyn Portwood, r …

Historically, ceremonies and prayers — not disenrollment — were used to resolve conflicts because tribes essentially are family-based, and "you don't cast out your relatives," Wilkins said. Banishment was used in rare, egregious situations to cast out tribal members who committed crimes such as murder or incest.

Most tribes have based their membership criteria on blood quantum or on descent from someone named on a tribe's census rolls or treaty records — old documents that can be flawed.

There are 566 federally recognized tribes and determining membership has long been considered a hallmark of tribal sovereignty. A 1978 U.S. Supreme Court ruling reaffirmed that policy when it said the federal government should stay out of most tribal membership disputes.

Mass disenrollment battles started in the 1990s, just as Indian casinos were establishing a foothold. Since then, Indian gambling revenues have skyrocketed from $5.4 billion in 1995 to a record $27.9 billion in 2012, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Tribes have used the money to build housing, schools and roads, and to fund tribal health care and scholarships. They also have distributed casino profits to individual tribal members.

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Mia Prickett seated on the floor holding a Confederatednbsphellip
Mia Prickett, seated on the floor holding a Confederated Tribe of Grande Ronde drum, poses for a pho …

Of the nearly 240 tribes that run more than 420 gambling establishments across 28 states, half distribute a regular per-capita payout to their members. The payout amounts vary from tribe to tribe. And membership reductions lead to increases in the payments — though tribes deny money is a factor in disenrollment and say they're simply trying to strengthen the integrity of their membership.

Disputes over money come on top of other issues for tribes. American Indians have one of the highest rates of interracial marriage in the U.S. — leading some tribes in recent years to eliminate or reduce their blood quantum requirements. Also, many Native Americans don't live on reservations, speak Native languages or "look" Indian, making others question their bloodline claims.

Across the nation, disenrollment has played out in dramatic, emotional ways that left communities reeling and cast-out members stripped of their payouts, health benefits, fishing rights, pensions and scholarships.

In Central California, the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians has disenrolled hundreds. Last year, the dispute over banishments became so heated that sheriff's deputies were called to break up a violent skirmish between two tribal factions that left several people injured.

In Washington, after the Nooksack Tribal Council voted to disenroll 306 members citing documentation errors, those affected sued in tribal and federal courts. They say the tribe, which has two casinos but gives no member payouts, was racially motivated because the families being cast out are part Filipino. This week, the Nooksack Court of Appeals declined to stop the disenrollments.

And in Michigan, where Saginaw Chippewa membership grew once the tribe started giving out yearly per-capita casino payments that peaked at $100,000, a recent decline in gambling profits led to disenrollment battles targeting hundreds.

The Grand Ronde, which runs Oregon's most profitable Indian gambling operation, also saw a membership boost after the casino was built in 1995, from about 3,400 members to more than 5,000 today. The tribe has since tightened membership requirements twice, and annual per-capita payments decreased from about $5,000 to just over $3,000.

Some members recently were cast out for being enrolled in two tribes, officials said, which is prohibited. But for Prickett's relatives, who were tribal members before the casino was built, the reasons were unclear.

Prickett and most of her relatives do not live on the reservation. In fact, only about 10 percent of Grand Ronde members do. Rather, they live on ancestral lands. The tribe has even used the family's ties to the river to fight another tribe's casino there.

Grand Ronde spokeswoman Siobhan Taylor said the tribe's membership pushed for an enrollment audit, with the goal of strengthening its "family tree." She declined to say how many people were tabbed for disenrollment.

But Prickett's family says it has been told that up to 1,000 could be cast out, and has filed an ethics complaint before the tribal court. They say the process has been devastating for a family active in tribal arts and events, and in teaching the language Chinuk Wawa.

"I have made a commitment to both our language and our tribe," said Eric Bernardo, one of only seven Chinuk Wawa teachers who also faces disenrollment. "And no matter what some people in the tribe decide, I will continue to honor that commitment."

Violence Against Native Women Act (politics/action request)

Thanks to Harvest at NCA for highlighting this:

The purpose of H.R. 6625: Violence Against Indian Women Act of 2012 is to grant Indian tribes jurisdiction over crimes of domestic violence that occur in the Indian country of that tribe.

This bill is predicted to have only 5% chance of getting past committee,and a 3% chance of being enacted.

You can help improve its chances by getting involved.

Read the full text of the bill here:

Use this link to tell your congress people how you feel. Begin by clicking "log in" in near the top right of the page, then you can click on your favorite social networking icon to log in with that account.

Whether you click support or oppose, and any comments you add will be sent directly to your representatives!

Thanks for participating in democracy.
´¯`·.¸. ><((((º>.·´¯`·.¸.·´¯`·.¸><((((º>
·André Cramblit, Operations Director
Northern California Indian Development Council (NCIDC) (
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