Category Archives: Law

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.)

Related:

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. https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/how-to-vote-2020/?cid=rrpromo

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:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

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 Benefits.gov.

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~

Gallup NM On Strict Lockdown!

“The lockdown in Gallup N.M. on the edge of the country’s largest Indian reservation… All the roads into this city on the edge of the Navajo Nation are closed. The soldiers at the checkpoints have their orders: outsiders must turn around and drive away.” S. Romero, The New York Times

A roadblock at one of the entrances to Gallup, N.M. Credit…A. Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: New Mexico Invokes Riot Law to Control Virus Near Navajo Nation

“Cities across the country have closed down businesses and ordered residents to remain at home, but the threat of the coronavirus in Gallup became so serious last week that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham invoked the state’s Riot Control Act to lock down the entire city. The downtown of shops, bars and Indian trading posts is now nearly deserted.

On Sunday, the downtown of shops, bars and Indian trading posts was nearly deserted. Credit…A. Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

The lockdown comes as state and local authorities grapple with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the United States on the nearby Navajo Nation, the country’s largest Indian reservation, and a surge in detected cases in places near the reservation.

As of Sunday, the Navajo Nation had reported a total of 2,373 cases and 73 confirmed deaths from the virus. With a rate of 46 deaths per 100,000 people, the tribal nation has a higher coronavirus death rate than every state in the country except New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

While Gallup is not within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation, the city of 22,000 serves as a regional hub for the Navajo and other nearby Native American pueblos. Many citizens of various tribal nations regularly drive into Gallup to buy food and other goods.

The refusal to follow social distancing guidelines by some residents of Gallup and other so-called border towns near the reservation has emerged as a source of tension, as tribal authorities say the behavior is undermining their attempts to control the virus.

The Gallup area had the third-highest rate of infection of any metropolitan area in the United States as of Sunday…McKinley County, which includes Gallup, now accounts for about 30 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases in New Mexico, surpassing counties in the state with much larger populations.

In addition to shutting down all roads into Gallup, including the exits off the interstate highway, the lockdown order directs the essential businesses that are still operating to close from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Nonessential businesses remain entirely closed in Gallup, as they are in other parts of New Mexico.

A nearly empty intersection in Gallup. Credit…A. Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

The order also prohibits residents from leaving their homes except for emergency or essential outings, and allows only two people in vehicles at a time.

Soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard were stationed at some of the checkpoints into Gallup on Sunday. Dusty Francisco, a spokesman for the New Mexico State Police, said the agency had sent 32 officers to assist.

Mayor Louis Bonaguidi, who requested the lockdown, said he understood that the ask was unusual. ‘However, the Covid-19 outbreak in the city of Gallup is a crisis of the highest order,’ Mr. Bonaguidi said. ‘Immediate action is necessary.’

Mr. Bonaguidi on Sunday requested an extension of the lockdown and the governor said she would sign an order on Monday extending the measure until Thursday at noon…Before the lockdown, tribal leaders complained that their attempts to curb infections on the reservation by setting curfews and creating checkpoints were being undermined when Navajo citizens ventured into Gallup. Residents of Gallup also groused that many people were ignoring social distancing guidelines by crowding into vehicles and food stores.

The riot control law invoked by the governor allows police to issue misdemeanor citations for first-time violators. Repeat offenders could face felony charges…Native Americans account for 53 percent of New Mexico’s confirmed coronavirus cases, while making up about 11 percent of the state’s population. Epidemiologists list several contributing factors, including multiple generations living in single households on reservations and a shortage of running water, making basic hygiene difficult…The fight to curb the spread of the virus in Gallup comes at a time of anger over the Trump administration’s failure to distribute the billions of dollars in coronavirus relief allocated to tribes in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package.

Tribes including the Navajo Nation are suing the Treasury Department over its decision to allow for-profit native corporations in Alaska, in which Native Alaskans hold shares, to access the federal relief…Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation, said he fully supported the lockdown order. ‘We have many members of the Navajo Nation that reside in Gallup and many that travel in the area and their health and safety is always our top priority,’ said Mr. Nez.”

Indigenous Shoppers Were Racially Profiled in Store by Winnipeg Police

“Desiree McIvor wants to see changes in how retail employees interact with Indigenous people.” H. Caruk, CBC News

Excerpt: Winnipeg couple told they ‘look like’ thieves, asked to leave Winnipeg craft store

Desiree McIvor is in the process of filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission against a Michaels store.

“A Winnipeg woman was hoping to buy a Christmas gift for her grandmother at a craft store earlier this week but was told she wasn’t welcome to shop in the store.

Desiree McIvor and her partner were out shopping on Monday afternoon and stopped at the Michaels store on Regent Avenue West.

‘We weren’t even in the door for about five seconds and this lady approached us and I thought it was going to be the usual ‘Hey, do you need any help or assistance?’ said McIvor, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation.

Michaels said it is investigating the incident and take matters of discrimination seriously. (Holly Caruk:CBC)

‘She said, ‘Well, you’re not welcome here and you guys have to leave.’

‘I was in complete shock, I couldn’t believe what she said.’

McIvor, who is eight months pregnant, said the employee then accused the couple of stealing from the store earlier that day.  ‘She said right to my face, ‘You guys look like people who robbed us this morning,’  she said. ‘It was humiliating because everybody in the store stopped and stared at us.’

McIvor said they tried to explain to the employee that they had never been to the store before but the employee insisted they leave…McIvor said they asked to speak to a manager, and the employee said that she was a manager, so they decided to leave the store.

McIvor’s partner called the store from the parking lot and asked for the general manager to try and make a formal complaint. That manager then admitted the employee made a mistake, McIvor said.

‘They just apologized and said we can shop, get a discount for the day, but at that point, who wants to spend your hard earned money when somebody just basically straight out called you a thief?’

A spokeswoman for Michaels said the chain is committed to treating customers with dignity and respect but would not elaborate on their store policies surrounding these kinds of events, or say what recourse a customer has if they feel mistreated…’We are actively investigating the situation and will take appropriate action as necessary.’

McIvor, a 31-year-old university student, said she’s been followed around stores in the past, something she says is common for Indigenous people, but has never been asked to leave.

McIvor said she and her partner felt like they were racially profiled and singled out because of their appearance…McIvor said she won’t ever shop at the store again, and is in the process of filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. She wants the store to change its policies so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. ‘I want them to stop treating Indigenous people… grouping them all together in the same category and saying because one stole everybody steals.’

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission said complaints of racial profiling are common and continue, especially in retail and in law enforcement.

‘This kind of discrimination has been a steady source of complaints for the commission for a number of years,’ said Karen Sharma, executive director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.

‘Anytime you’re making those kinds of judgments based on who you think a person is, rather than on who they’ve proven themselves to be, you open yourself up to risk, whether that’s a human rights complaint or some kind of other legal action,’she said. 

Sharma said customers need to be aware of their rights, but, even more importantly, retailers need to ensure their staff are aware of their obligations.”

Arizona Border Patrol Car Hits Native…And Keeps Going!

“Tensions flared on Friday between federal authorities in Arizona and residents of a Native American reservation straddling the border with Mexico after a video surfaced in which a Border Patrol vehicle appears to hit a man from the tribe before driving away.” S. Romer, The New York Times

U.S.-Mexico border.

Excerpt: U.S Border Patrol ran over an O’odham man today By Simon Romer, NYT

“The video, which was recorded on the phone of the victim, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation identified as Paulo Remes, spread quickly on social media after several tribe members and Indivisible Tohono, an organization focused on the impact of border policies, posted the footage on Twitter and Facebook.

Click here to see video on Twitter

‘They just ran me over, bro,’ Mr. Remes is heard saying on the video. He told The Arizona Daily Star that he was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of injuries from the incident, which took place on Tohono O’odham land about 60 miles southwest of Tucson. Mr. Remes appeared to be standing in a dirt road facing the vehicle when it made contact, knocking him to the ground. Mr. Remes told the newspaper that the driver of the vehicle did not stop.

Leaders of the tribe have expressed opposition to Trump’s pledge to build a wall through their land along the border. Largely because officials strengthened security at other points along the border, the reservation of the Tohono O’odham has emerged as an important transit point for unauthorized immigrants and drug traffickers, leading to frequent encounters with law enforcement and the Border Patrol…Robert G. Daniels, a spokesman in Arizona for the Border Patrol, said the agency was not able to release the identity of the agent involved in the episode; the video seems to show the vehicle speeding away after the victim is hit. ‘All I can say is that this incident is under investigation,’ Mr. Daniels said.

Edward D. Manuel, the chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, said in a statement that the victim is 34 years old. Mr. Manuel, who did not identify the victim by name, added that the tribe’s police department was investigating the incident together with the F.B.I. and the United States Attorney’s Office.”

 

Category: Law, Social