Category Archives: Politics

In Election 2020 Natives Need Both Options to Vote: By Mail or In Person

“Native American voting rights advocates are cautioning against states moving to mail-in ballots without opportunities for tribal members to vote safely in person.” F. Fonseca, ICT

Photo- News Service

A polling station on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Fort Yates, North Dakota in 2016.Credit…Stephanie Keith:Reuters

 

Excerpt: If voting is made ‘easier’ Indian Country will vote – By Felicia Fonseca, ICT

In a wide-ranging report released Thursday, ‘Obstacles at Every Turn,’ the Native American Rights Fund outlined the challenges that could arise: online registration hampered by spotty or no internet service, ballots delivered to rarely-checked Post Office boxes and turnout curbed by a general reluctance to vote by mail. 

‘We’re all for increased vote by mail,’ said Jacqueline De Leon, a staff attorney with the group and a member of Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico. ‘We’re absolutely against all vote by mail. If there are no in-person opportunities, then Native Americans will be disenfranchised because it will be impossible for some of them to cast a ballot.’

 A few states automatically mail ballots to every eligible voter. Others are drawing up plans to rely more heavily on a mail-in system for this year’s elections amid the coronavirus pandemic and with social distancing guidelines in mind. 

Native Americans are reluctant to embrace the system because of cultural, historical, socioeconomic and language barriers, and past experiences, the report said…Native Americans didn’t become U.S. citizens until 1924, but some states restricted who was entitled to vote up into the 1960s, with laws saying Native Americans who weren’t taxed, who lived on reservations or were enrolled with tribes couldn’t cast a ballot. Southwestern states were the last holdouts…More than one-third of voting-age Native Americans — or 1.2 million people — aren’t registered to cast a ballot, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

‘While advocates have been pushing states to improve access to the polls, they’re also reminding tribal members to register and vote to enact change. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted inequalities in tribal communities, including access to running water, health care and housing. Those disparities won’t improve without electing people to office who understand them,’ the report said.

As the November elections approach, Native American advocates are pushing states to allow voting early, curbside, and at mobile voting stations to reduce crowding. They also want officials to designate hours for voters who are vulnerable to the coronavirus, enact social distancing and provide protective equipment for poll workers.”

 

Joe Biden wins Democratic primary for President in New Mexico!

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has been declared the winner of the Democratic presidential primary in New Mexico June 3, 2020

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update  6/4/20   Information Here

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

If you are interested in Indian Country Today’s continued 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

 

BE SMART –BE SAFE — 

Category: Culture, Politics | Tags:

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~

“2020 Presidential Hopefuls Embrace Indigenous Movement Against Unwanted Pipelines”

“The Indigenous-led movement against pipelines, waged against Keystone XL and Dakota Access for years, has finally emerged as a critical component of the 2020 presidential campaign.” A. Agoyo, Indianz.com

Presidential candidate Cory Booker.

 

Excerpt: By Acee Agoyo, Indianz.com:

https://www.indianz.com/News/2019/09/04/presidential-hopefuls-embrace-indigenous.asp

“At least among Democrats, that is. Trump, who is running for re-election, and his Republican allies continue to support both projects despite widespread objections from tribes who fear negative impacts on their water, treaty rights and ways of life.

But for the party hoping to reclaim the White House, engaging in consultation with Indian Country isn’t enough. Tribes must have a decision-making role in pipelines and other energy infrastructure that affects their communities, several Democratic candidates for president are asserting as they seek the Native vote.

2020 Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. photo: Jim Watson :AFP : Getty Images

‘As President of the United States, Cory Booker will ensure that all people and all communities, especially those who have been traditionally left behind like indigenous communities, share in our progress,’ the U.S. Senator from New Jersey’s campaign told Indianz.Com on Tuesday…He is among several hopefuls who are promising to rescind the presidential permits for both the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. ICT

Both projects were approved by the Trump administration with little to no input from those affected in Indian Country. The final Dakota Access permit in North Dakota, for example, was approved while the leader of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies next to the $3.8 billion pipeline, was on a plane on his way for a meeting at the White House. The meeting was canceled since the decision had already been made.

Likewise, the first time Trump approved Keystone XL, he did so without conducting additional consultations among tribes along the route in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. And after Indigenous activists won a major court decision, he simply went around the judiciary and issued another permit rather than address the deficiencies raised in the lawsuit.

Biden was part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to help Indian Country and he participated in the 8-year promise to meet with tribal leaders. (Photo- Vincent Schilling)

But the politicians hoping to go up against Trump in 2020 are embracing an entirely different approach. A Booker administration will ‘require free, prior, and informed consent from tribal nations for all future major energy projects on federal lands,’ his campaign said on Tuesday, echoing a concept advanced by Faith Spotted Eagle, a respected elder from the Yankton Sioux Tribe, during the recent presidential forum…’We have a collective responsibility and commitment to stop Keystone XL from being built and we will not stop,’ said Lewis Grass Rope, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe who is hosting the Wiconi Un Tipi Resistance Camp on his family’s homelands in South Dakota as part of the Indigenous movement against the unwanted pipeline…Dakota Access likewise is back in the news even though it’s been up and running for more than two years.

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro. Aug. 20. Sarah Mearhoff : Forum News Service

The operators are planning to nearly double its capacity, a move opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose water resources, subsistence sites and sacred and historical places are impacted by the pipeline, which already carries more than 500,000 barrels of oil a day through its homelands in North Dakota…Like other Democratic candidates for president, Cory Booker’s environmental platform isn’t just about pipelines. Among other actions, he’s vowing to clean up every abandoned coal and uranium mine, including the more than 1,200 on the Navajo Nation and near the tribe’s homelands.”

Category: Native Rights, Politics

Teens Mock Native Elder During Friday’s Indigenous Peoples March

“A group of high school teens surrounded and jeered at Native American elder Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 18. The images in videos that went viral on social media Saturday showed a tense scene near the Lincoln Memorial.” The Washington Post

Nathan Phillips trends on social media.

Excerpt:  Teens mock Native American elder on the Mall-The Washington Post

“A Native American man steadily beats his drum at the tail end of Friday’s Indigenous Peoples March while singing a song of unity urging participants to ‘be strong’ against the ravages of colonialism that include police brutality, poor access to health care and the ill effects of climate change on reservations.

Surrounding him are a throng of young, mostly white teenage boys, several wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ caps. One stood about a foot from the drummer’s face wearing a relentless smirk.

Nathan Phillips, a veteran in the indigenous rights movement, was that man in the middle.

In an interview Saturday, Phillips, 64, said he felt threatened by the teens and that they swarmed around him as he and other activists were wrapping up the march and preparing to leave.

Phillips, who was singing the American Indian Movement song that serves as a ceremony to send the spirits home, said he noticed tensions beginning to escalate when the teens and other apparent participants from the nearby March for Life rally began taunting the dispersing indigenous crowd.

A few people in the March for Life crowd began to chant, ‘Build that wall, build that wall,’ he said.

‘It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’ Phillips recalled. ‘I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way, and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.’

The encounter generated a wave of outrage on social media less than a week after Trump made light of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre of several hundred Lakota Indians by the U.S. Cavalry in a tweet…

In a statement, the Indigenous Peoples Movement, which organized Friday’s march, called the incident ’emblematic of our discourse in Trump’s America.’

‘It clearly demonstrates the validity of our concerns about the marginalization and disrespect of Indigenous peoples, and it shows that traditional knowledge is being ignored by those who should listen most closely,’ Darren Thompson, an organizer for the group, said in the statement.

Some of the teens in the video wore sweatshirts from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Ky., which sent students to Washington to participate in Friday’s antiabortion March for Life event, according to an archived page of the school’s website that was taken down Saturday.

School officials and the Catholic Diocese of Covington released a joint statement Saturday.

‘We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general,’ the statement said. ‘The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.’

The diocese’s statement expressed regret that jeering, disrespectful students from a Catholic school had become the enduring image of the march…[Philips] said ‘It was an aggressive display of physicality. They were rambunctious and trying to instigate a conflict. ‘We were wondering where their chaperones were. [I] was really trying to defuse the situation.’

Phillips, an Omaha tribe elder who fought in the Vietnam War and lives in Michigan, has long been active in the indigenous rights movement. He said he hopes the teens will find a lesson in all of the negative attention generated by the videos.”

Category: Politics, Social

Obstacles Native Voters Face in the 2018 Midterms

“Native Americans have low participation rates in federal and state elections, but the problem doesn’t lay with political passivism.” A. Smith High Country News

A man walks by a mural in Albuquerque that promotes voter rights for Native Americans and other minority groups.Mark Ralston:AFP:Getty Images

Excerpt: 5 obstacles for Native voters in the November midterms , Anna Smith High Country News

In November, voters will see a record number of Native American candidates on the ballot running for all areas of government; state legislatures, governorships and Congressional seats. Today, just 81 Native Americans hold office in state legislatures across the U.S. In Western states, Native voters make up significant voting blocs. The Indigenous voting population is also young and growing, and with that comes political potential.

Still, Native American turnout in the 2012 election was low, between 5 and 15 percent lower than other groups depending on the location. Native Americans still face roadblocks like inequitable voter identification laws. Here are five issues tribal citizens face in casting their votes:

1. Non-traditional mailing addresses and distance to in-person voting

A high number of tribal members live in rural areas far from in-person voting locations, meaning they rely on mail-in ballots. But while those are gaining popularity in some states, they present a myriad of problems for tribal citizens who don’t have mailing addresses, live far from their P.O. boxes and check them irregularly, or who move often.

Native American Rights Fund

2. Limited English proficiency and inadequate translation services

Language barriers in Native communities can lead to lower turnouts in elections, especially if voters do not receive adequate translation services. Under the Voting Rights Act, election information must be translated to the Native language where there are high concentrations of people who only speak an Indigenous language, like in Alaska, New Mexico and Arizona.

Northern Edge Navajo Casino, near Farmington, New Mexico.

3. Restrictive election laws

A number of election laws have effects on people’s ability to participate in elections. That played out this last week when the Supreme Court approved voter identification laws in North Dakota, requiring a street address, not a P.O. box, be displayed on a voter’s ID. But tribal IDs don’t always include addresses, and many tribal citizens, who may live in remote areas with no mail service or have impermanent living situations, use P.O. boxes instead of permanent addresses.

Image- VOA

4. Voter purges

In February, the Navajo Nation purged 52,000 voters from their rolls who did not vote in the 2016 and 2014 elections. County governments have also purged voters from their rolls, meaning voters are no longer registered and cannot vote, such as Apache County in Arizona in 2012…In that case, according to the Native American Voting Rights Coalition, the county purged 500 Navajo voters because their addresses were deemed “too obscure.”

5. Unequal internet access

The broadband disparity in Indian Country also affects election turnout. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 41 percent of tribal citizens living on tribal lands in the U.S. don’t have access to high-speed internet. In some rural areas, that number jumps to 68 percent. That impacts online voter registration, as well as information gathering about candidates and ballot measures.

In Nevada, a measure on the ballot this fall could help with issues of registration, proposing that when people register at the DMV, they would be automatically registered to vote. Such laws already exist in Oregon and California.

Category: Politics

U.S. Gov. Strips Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Sovereignty…Warning to All Native Nations!

“The federal government has ruled that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe does not qualify for a reservation, effectively reversing an Obama-era decision to place 321 acres into federal trust for the tribe. The Mashpee Wampanoag say that their ancestors have occupied the land in southeastern Massachusetts since before human memory. Tribal leaders are equating this decision to policies like the 1887 General Allotment Act, which sought to assimilate native people into mainstream American culture by dissolving reservation land.” WBUR Radio

Mashpee Wampanoag protest trump administration ruling. The Boston Globe

Excerpt: Mashpee Wampanoag Confront ‘Loss Of Self-Governance’ After Interior Department Reversal — WBUR

Cedric Woods, director of the Institute for New England Native American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, speaks with Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd about what this decision means for the Mashpee Wampanoag and for Indian Country more broadly.

Interview Highlights

“It’s extremely significant for a tribe to have territory over which it can exercise undisputed civil and criminal jurisdiction. And that’s exactly what the reservation status creates. When you look at federal Indian law as it’s evolved from the 19th century forward, the power to tax tribes is the power to destroy. By having the land in trust, that removes that threat from tribes.

Cedric Cromwell. Wampanoag Tribal leader at senate meeting. Photo- Falmouth Enterprise

 

Relatively recently, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that in order for the federal government to take land into trust in behalf of a tribe, it had to be under federal jurisdiction at the time of the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934.

My preliminary analysis of this ruling is that the Department of the Interior differentiates between federal awareness that the tribe existed, which it absolutely did, at the time of the Indian Reorganization Act, versus federal jurisdiction. And they did not see that the Mashpee Wampanoag met that standard.

Jessie Baird. Jessie (Little Doe) Baird, vice chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag testifies to the U.S. Senate. Photo- Falmouth Enterprise

 

On what the tribe stands to lose:

The loss of self-governance is a way to destroy tribes. Whether it’s civil action or civil activities like the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s language immersion school, or criminal jurisdiction, both of those things are essential powers of self-governance.

Zoning for construction of homes, a civil code to regulate domestic relationships like custody of children, marriages, divorces — all those things that we think of in the general way that governments function, that’s being removed now from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

On the historical relationship between tribal nations and the federal government:

This decision is very much part of a broader pattern. Vine Deloria Jr., one of the foremost American Indian intellectuals of the 20th century, described federal Indian policy as like a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to another, with some federal actions being relatively pro-Indian to those being violently anti-Indian and racist. And we’ve seen the entire spectrum of things even in the 20th century.

On whether lawmakers will support a congressional bill to protect the tribe’s reservation land:

They may not want to, but I’d say they’re morally obligated to do so. The Indian Reorganization Act was passed to undo the harm done by the General Allotment Act. Nothing was ever passed in Massachusetts or at the federal level to undo the harm of the Massachusetts Allotment Act. And both are due for remedies.”

Category: Politics