Category Archives: Law

Indigenous People, Organizations React to Overturn of Roe

“The Supreme Court issued final opinions Thursday after a busy term that included cases affecting Indian Country directly and indirectly. Perhaps the biggest opinion was overturning Roe v. Wade’s guarantee of the right to an abortion.” P. Denetclaw, ICT, June 30, 2022

Sarah Adams-Cornell, Choctaw, at the Ban Off Rally and People’s Hearing at the Oklahoma State Capitol on April 5, 2022. She co-founded Matriarch, a nonprofit that promotes the social welfare of Native women. (Photo by Allie Shinn)

Excerpt:  “We will never, ever stop having abortions’ By Pauly Denetclaw, ICT

The Supreme Court of the United States decided there is no federal constitutional right to abortion care for women and people who birth in a 6-3 decision of Roe v. Wade Friday morning.

Access to abortion has already been difficult for Indigenous women and people who birth, due to the Hyde Amendment that banned the use of federal money for abortion care.

Many Indigenous people rely on Indian Health Services for their care and the Hyde Amendment deeply impacted Indigenous communities’ access to abortion, forcing Indigenous people to drive hundreds of miles to access the care they needed.

‘We will never, ever stop having abortions. We will always be in control of our bodies. We will never succumb to a fascist, white supremacist government, no matter the cost. We will continue to help our communities access the care they need,’ said Indigenous Women Rising, one of the only Indigenous abortion funds in the country.

‘Our inherent sovereignty as Indigenous women and people determines that we must decide our own fate, and not allow the state to define these outcomes on our behalf. Upholding Roe v. Wade is the very least this country could have done, after centuries of the systemic oppression of anyone not white, male and Christian,’ said Ms. Foundation for Women’s Indigenous Women’s Advisory Committee in a statement.”

“Navajo Nation Police Need 775 New Officers”

“With less than 200 officers on the Navajo Nation Police force, getting to this large amount is a lofty goal, especially when it comes to the budget.”Arlyssa Becenti Navajo Times, June 11, 2021

Navajo Police Chief Philip Francisco walks down a roll of newly recruited police officers at the Navajo Police Training Academy on Jan. 2 in Chinle, Arizona.(Photo by Sharon Chischilly/Navajo Times)


Excerpt: Navajo police need 775 new officers, report says...Arlyssa Becenti Navajo Times, June 11, 2021

“The Navajo Nation Police needs 775 officers to meet community demands across the Navajo Nation, according to an assessment done by Strategy Matter and Navajo public safety leadership…’The demands on this department are extreme,’ said Liz O’ Connor, consultant team lead. ‘The range of issues officers are called upon to address, the vast distances they must cross, and the limitation of radio and cellular coverage as well create a nearly impossible situation every day for so many officers in a department of this size.’

The Navajo Police Department’s assessment is 174 pages long and took 18 months to develop. The assessment was unveiled to the public in late May.  With this assessment three basic questions are answered such as: Where are we now? Where we want to go? And how will we get there?

But the number of officers needed was the big takeaway from the report…’It’s a unique report for the Navajo Police Department,’ said Chief Phillip Francisco. ‘It’s a lot to digest…some of the recommendations is we are extremely short staffed. Seven hundred fifty would be the ideal number of officers to really do the job that our community demands and to keep our officers safe,’ he said. ‘We have a long way to go to get to that point.’

When it comes to the demands placed on the Navajo Nation Police, Navajo lawmakers are quick to express needed service from officers without investing in them. The biggest example is absolutely nothing is done to acquire safe buildings for officers and personnel in Window Rock and Shiprock.

Navajo Nation

Even more obvious is delegates continuing to advocate for outside police forces to come onto Navajo Nation to help police the Navajo people, an option that Francisco doesn’t agree with…Other weaknesses include: the sense of department unity is not consistently present; information flow is a real challenge for technical and organizational reasons; facilities, the Window Rock station is in a serious state of disrepair, and the Shiprock station is closed; general orders and rules and regulations are outdated (1979) and unhelpful; COVID-19 impacts: it is harder than ever to connect with residents; there is significantly increased demand on dwindling resources at NPD and for partners; recruitment challenges: money, interest, training, disqualifications, available housing, and perceptions among youth.

But the strengths identified include: commitment and dedication of officers at all ranks; younger generation of NPD staff see the department as a unified whole; greatly improved—and growing—confidence in department leadership, among officers, civilian staff, partners and others; thorough (top to mid-managers) commitment to officer wellness and improving early intervention programs; partners and potential partners recognize the challenging circumstances of law enforcement on the Nation and want to support efforts to improve operations, safety, and coordination.

For this, the Strategy Matters and public safety leadership consulting team suggested that NPD set an initial target of 500 personnel, with 300 serving as patrol officers, and 200 serving as command and support personnel. These numbers are based on a budget-driven authorized-level approach the Nation has been using and the workload-based approach. ‘We learned the NPD leadership is visionary, highly accountable, and trusted by officers, residents, and staff alike,’ said O’Connor. “Invest in this department.”


Celebrating Gay Pride Month!

Lesbians in Ballet: ‘Has Anyone Like Me Ever Walked These Halls?’ By Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, June 1, 2021

Two Juliets- Audrey Malek, left, and Cortney Taylor Key, rehearsing a duet with the choreographer Adriana Pierce. Credit- Yael Malka for The New York Times

“Ballet’s strict gender norms put pressure on women to conform. But dancers who don’t are finding they’re not alone.” S. Burke, The New York Times, June 1, 2021


NM Legalizes Marijuana Which May Start Tribal Owned Enterprises

“New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation Monday legalizing recreational marijuana use within months and kicking off sales next year, making it the seventh state since November to put an end to pot prohibition.” M. Lee, AP, ICT April 12, 2021


Excerpt: New Mexico governor legalizes recreational pot, By Morgan Lee, Associated Press, ICT

“The governor [Lujan Grisham], a Democrat, has supported marijuana reform as a way to create jobs and shore up state revenue. 

On Monday, she also touched on concerns about the harm inflicted on racial and ethnic minorities by drug criminalization and tough policing, noting that the new law could free about 100 from prison and expunge criminal records for thousands of residents…Agency Superintendent Linda Trujillo said people age 21 and over will be allowed start growing marijuana at home and possess up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of cannabis outside their homes starting on June 29 [2021].  Recreational cannabis sales start next year by April 1 [2022] at state-licensed dispensaries.

The approved legislation allows the state to forge agreements with tribal governments that could open the marijuana industry to tribal enterprises.

Lujan Grisham highlighted that licensed cannabis farmers can begin scaling up cultivation several months ahead of opening day in efforts to keep pace with demands when sales begin…The new law mandates child-proof packaging and defers to employers on whether workers can indulge in marijuana.

At the same time, home marijuana growers will be allowed to grow up to six plants per person, or 12 per household. The scent of marijuana will no longer be grounds for police searches…Medical marijuana dispensaries already are staking out territory in small towns near the border with Texas — a major potential market for marijuana tourism. It remains illegal to transport marijuana across state lines…Rules also are due by the start of 2022 on product safety, minimum qualifications for a marijuana business license and standards for vetting and training ‘cannabis servers’ — who must hold a state permit and be 21 or older.”

Map of Marijuana Legality By State “Marijuana laws are changing at a rapid pace across all 50 states, making things a bit confusing at times. In order to keep up with the ever-changing laws, DISA has provided this interactive map for information on legalization, medical use, recreational use, and anything in between.” April 2021


NOTICE From Editor Deb Burns: To All Writers: 

“Hello! I am a book editor at Storey Publishing, overseeing horse and farming books, and I’m a big fan of Talking Feather.

I am looking for a Native author to write a book about Native horse-handling techniques and traditions, tips and insights. It’d be especially great if that author were a woman, but that’s not essential. I was very impressed with Monica Begay’s program on Training People to Understand Their Horses, but I have not yet been able to reach her.  If you are that potential author, or you know someone else who might be, please email me at

Deb Burns, Acquiring Editor-

From Talking Feather staff:  Interested parties can also Visit the beautiful website Deb Burns: Animal Minds HERE 


COVID-19 Vaccine and Financial Aid Sources

Indian Health Services (IHS) : COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution List

IHS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Apply for NCAI (National Congress of American Indians) Relief Funding

CDC (Center for Disease and Control): COVID Data Tracker

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Natives Face More Challenges for 2020 Election!

“The pandemic has led to a surge in postal ballots but mail posted on the reservation has to travel as much as 244 miles further than mail posted off-reservation.”I. Murtaugh, The Guardian

Excerpt: Mail voting doesn’t work for Navajo Nation’: Native Americans face steep election hurdles- By Isaiah Murtaugh, The Guardian

A family compound in a remote area on the Navajo Nation outside of Gap, Arizona. Credit- S. Keith:Reuters

“Tamisha Jensen requested a mail ballot in mid-September. Mail ballots don’t ship in Arizona until 7 October, but she’s worried her first absentee ballot won’t get to her.

Jensen, a jeweler who lives in the Navajo Nation, doesn’t have a regular mailing address – she writes ‘a mile west of Cameron Chapter House’ – and the US Postal Service doesn’t deliver to her rural, deserthome. She and her family share a PO box at the tiny Cameron post office, but it’s not always reliable: she didn’t receive her son’s school report card last year and she doesn’t know what else she might have missed.

Native Americans have only had nationwide voting rights since 1957, and though the 1965 Voting Rights Act removed many barriers to voting…Voting rights experts have seen the nationwide expansion of mail balloting during the pandemic as a boon for safe voting access this year, and the Navajo Nation had one of the densest outbreaks of Covid-19 in the country. But Native American advocates are wary… Tribal advocates estimate that some voters have to drive anywhere from 40 to 150 miles roundtrip to pick up their mail. But the Arizona lawsuit Yazzie v Hobbs also pointed out that the reservation’s 27,425 square miles are covered by just 24 post offices and 15 postal service providers…If a potential voter shares a PO box with family or friends but their name isn’t registered to it they might not have a way to receive a mail ballot at all. If they do manage to receive a ballot and drop it back at the post office, it could go through a routing maze that adds days to its delivery time, even in a normal year…These problems are mostly rural, and reservations in more suburban or urban settings face fewer issues. The Salt River Pima Maricopa Community outside Phoenix has had traditional mailing addresses for more than 10 years and worked with Maricopa county to get ballot drop boxes for this year’s election…But other, perennial ballot problems persist. Many native languages are only spoken and cannot be effectively translated for mail ballots. Several states require ID to vote by mail, but don’t accept tribal ID cards, sometimes the only form of identification tribal members have.

A billboard aimed at Native Americans in Arizona urging people to vote in the November 2020 US elections. Credit: Isaiah Murtaugh

A spokeswoman for Arizona’s secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, said that the state has secured an additional $1.5m for elections in the state’s 20 reservations, to be used for mobile voting sites, extra ballot boxes and voter outreach. They have also put together audio and written ballot translations for the Navajo and Apache nations, though a voting safety guide implies that voters still need to call the local county recorder’s office to access it…Meanwhile, Jordan Oglesby, a Navajo Nation department of justice lawyer, said that the nation was trying to keep every option open, including mail. With everything [Navajo Nation residents] have gone through this year, I just want to make sure they have an opportunity to cast their vote,’ said Oglesby.”

CNN Instant Poll: Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris Seen as Winner in a Debate that Matched Expectations

Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris waves as she arrives on stage for the vice presidential debate with Mike Pence on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Julio Cortez/AP.

“More Americans said Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris did the best job in the vice presidential debate tonight, according to a CNN Instant Poll of registered voters who watched.”  J. Agiesta — CNN

Tribal Community Sub-Grants

“The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is committed to American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) exercising their right to vote in all tribal, local, state, and federal elections through nonpartisan activities and education. To meet this commitment, we rely on our tribal nations, partner organizations, and tribal citizens to become actively engaged in the campaign. Community Mini Grants – NCAI is offering Community Mini Grants for projects in support of its Native Vote campaign for the 2020 election cycle. Please note: NCAI will consider funding projects/events in whole or part up to a maximum of $2,000 per tribal organization. For More information Visit:  Native Vote 2020 Community Grants Application

*A state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19  By Nathaniel Rakich and Julia Wolfe   NOTE:  “This page will be updated on a regular basis with the latest developments.” October 8, 2020

Natives Honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“Hundreds of mourners stood in the plaza outside the U.S. Supreme Court in the nation’s capital on Friday evening after they heard the news of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away on Friday…Since her passing, the four members in Congress who are tribal citizens issued statement commemorating her 27 years on the nation’s highest court.” L. Rickert, Native News

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Excerpt: Four American Indians in Congress Remember Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, By Levi Rickert, Native News

Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04), Chickasaw Nation

“America has lost a remarkable icon and tenacious legal mind with the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg devoted her life’s work to study and understanding of the law, and she fought for what she believed was right and just.”

Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-03), Ho-Chunk Nation

“The loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an immense one. She was a tireless champion for justice and a fierce advocate for the rights of all people under the law. My thoughts are with her family and I join people across the nation in mourning her passing,”

Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01), Laguna Pueblo

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing is an incalculable and devastating loss in the fight for justice and equality for all… Her brilliance and light was a force in the courtroom and on the bench.”

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Cherokee Nation

“My prayers are with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s family during this difficult time…as the second woman on the Supreme Court, she was a trailblazer and a fighter. May she rest in peace.”


Democratic Presidential Leader speaks on the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, September, 2020. Credit CNN

Democratic Presidential contender Joe Biden was visibly shaken when he delivered a statement offering his condolences over the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away Friday after several bouts with cancer. Ginsburg is known for her court opinions and it was to her legacy that Biden began by paying tribute.

In a statement delivered just hours after her death, Mr. Biden said,

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not only a giant in the legal profession but a beloved figure. My heart goes out to those who cared for her and cared about her. She practiced the highest American ideals as a justice: equality and justice under the law…Ruth Bader Ginsberg stood for all of us.  As a young attorney, she persisted, overcoming a lot of obstacles for women who were practicing law in those days. She continued until she moved herself in a position so she could end up changing the law of the land, leading the effort to provide equality for women in every field and she led in the advance of equal rights for women.” (via CNN).

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

March 15, 1933, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.— September 18, 2020, Washington, D.C.

During an interview with MSNBC Justice Ginsburg was asked “how she’d like to be remembered. Her response:

“…Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. To do something outside myself. Cause I’ve gotten much more satisfaction for the things that I’ve done for which I was not paid.” ~Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg~( The Notorious R.B.G.)


The Biography of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

10 quotes that help define the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Why Justice Ginsburg was referred to as The Notorious R.B.G.


Election 2020: What to know

How to vote: Find out the rules in your state. Some states have already started sending out mail ballots; see how to make sure yours counts. Absentee and mail ballots are two terms for the same thing, mostly used interchangeably. Barring a landslide, we may not have a result in the presidential election on Nov. 3.

Electoral college map: Who actually votes, and who do they vote for? Explore how shifts in turnout and voting patterns for key demographic groups could affect the presidential race.

Battlegrounds: Want to understand the swing states? Read about Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania, and sign up for The Trailer and get more states, plus more news and insight from the trail, in your inbox three days a week.

Coming up: Trump and Biden are scheduled to debate three times this fall; here’s what to know about the 2020 presidential debates.

Related: A state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19 By Nathaniel Rakich and Julia Wolfe

Click on your state in the map to see a lot of the information you need in order to cast a ballot this fall — by whatever method you choose. This page will be updated on a regular basis with the latest developments.

Indian Country’s Updated COVID-19 Syllabus

Coronavirus Q&A: What is it? The symptoms. And how it spreads
An explainer of every frequently asked question in relation to COVID-19.

Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

COVID-19: Native advisories and event updates

Minneapolis Natives Protest Black Man’s Death in Custody!

“The death of a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis has stoked anger and frustration among many Native people in the city.” E. Chuculate, ICT

From left, AIM members Robert Pilot, Frank A. Paro, Joe Rodriguez and Lisa Bellanger attend a protest Thursday in Minneapolis. Photo by John A. Anderson

Excerpt: Minneapolis Natives condemn Black man’s death in custody, ‘racist ideologies’ By Eddie Chuculate, ICT

“Leaders say relations with law enforcement have remained strained in the more than 50 years since the American Indian Movement was founded here in response to alleged police brutality.

A portrait of George Floyd is seen as part of a memorial for him Wednesday near the site of his arrest. AP Photo:Jim Mone

The Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group, a collaborative of 30 Native organizations operating in the Twin Cities, released a scathing public letter Wednesday condemning George Floyd’s death, along with the ‘ongoing and systemic racist ideologies that continue to run strongly’ through the Minneapolis Police Department.

The letter cites the department’s “long history of violence against Indigenous people and people of color,” including the 2011 shooting of an Alaska Native man at a Native American housing complex.

AIM members attend a demonstration Thursday in Minneapolis Photo by John A. Anderson

American Indian Movement leaders also expressed outrage over Floyd’s death at a news conference in an area of south Minneapolis known for its Native-owned businesses, housing and community centers. AIM planned to set up a patrol of Native businesses Thursday night after fires damaged or destroyed 30 buildings in the city the night before, and rioting encroached on the corridor. 

Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the state National Guard and urged widespread changes, saying it is time to rebuild: ‘Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect.’

Photographs from the George Floyd protest in South Minneapolis

Floyd, 46, died Monday while being arrested by Officer Derek Chauvin, who had Floyd pinned and restrained face-down on the street with a knee wedged against his neck.

A video filmed by a bystander captured Floyd’s pleas of ‘Please, man, I can’t breathe’ and sparked a national outcry and protests in Minneapolis that have resulted in three days of rioting and looting.

Demonstrations also spread to other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Denver and Memphis…At the AIM news conference, co-director Frank Paro, Grand Portage Chippewa, noted his movement was founded in 1968 in response to police brutality in Minneapolis.

Joe Rodriguez, left, and Frank Paro Photo by John A. Anderson

‘They used to beat us and take us down to the river and leave us down there,’ he said. ‘If we were lucky, they took us to jail and we got medical attention. In the 2000s, they aren’t beating us no more. They are killing us. That has to stop.’

Speakers also denounced the rioting and looting.

‘First of all, as a mother, grandmother and auntie, daughter and a sister, I couldn’t even watch the whole video, it made me so sick,’ said AIM co-director Lisa Bellanger, Leech Lake.

‘We support our community and other nations and know when it’s time to take action, but we can’t condone the violence, rioting and looting. This is where we shop, where our children play,’ Bellanger said at the news conference, which was live-streamed on Facebook via Native Roots Radio.”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:


COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 5/29/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states

If you are interested in Indian Country Today’scontinued coverage of COVID-19, please feel free to access our continually updated Coronavirus syllabus.

(See related: Indian Country’s COVID-19 syllabus)

Where to begin?

After extensive research, the most comprehensive and user-friendly website for finding assistance from a multitude of programs is arguably

Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board


Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, at a veterans memorial in Wilmington, Del.  May, 25, 2020. Credit- Erin Schaff: The New York Times

“What gives me hope is when I see somebody do just the little things they didn’t have to do, to go out of their way,” ~Joe Biden~