Good morning, NUNAverse:
The Environmental Protection Agency is restoring a rule that grants tribes and states authority to block pipelines and other energy projects that can pollute rivers, streams, and other waterways. A provision of the Clean Water Act gives tribes and states power to block federal projects that could harm lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands within their borders. The Trump administration curtailed that review power after complaints that state officials had used the permitting process to stop new energy projects. The Trump-era rule will remain in place while the EPA develops a revised rule, but EPA Administrator Michael Regan said, but the agency “will continue listening to states and tribes about their concerns … to help address these near-term challenges.″
Anthony (Morgan) Rodman (Cherokee/Osage) was named executive director of the White House Council on Native American Affairs on Thursday, a position he had previously held during the Obama-Biden administration. Rodman has served as the acting director of the Indian Affairs Office of Indian Economic Development for the past two years. Secretary Haaland and Domestic Policy Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice recently convened the first meeting of the Council on Native American Affairs in the Biden-Harris administration. Agency leadership and senior White House officials participated in discussions focused on improving tribal consultation and formalizing the working committees of the Council.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida has reached a multibillion-dollar deal with the state of Florida that will allow the tribe to build three new casinos at the massive Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort, with exclusive rights to roulette, craps, and sports betting in the state. The deal was ratified by the Florida Legislature on May 19. The agreement, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, is believed to be the largest and most expansive gaming compact with a tribe in the U.S. The deal is expected to generate $2.5 billion in new revenue for the state over the next five years, and an estimated $6 billion through 2030.
Indigenous activists and nuclear watchdogs are voicing concerns over a proposal from a uranium company that would clear the way for 1 million cubic yards (765,000 cubic meters) of waste to be transferred from a mining area in western New Mexico to a mill site a short distance away as part of a cleanup effort. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review found that there would be only small environmental effects to surface and groundwater supplies, soil, and air quality. However, the commission noted high impacts when it comes to environmental justice given that residents in the surrounding area and the Navajo Nation more broadly have been grappling with the legacy of uranium mining and contamination for decades.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Anthony (Morgan) Rodman Named Executive Director Of White House Council On Native American Affairs
Native News Online, May 27
Anthony (Morgan) Rodman was named executive director of the White House Council on Native American Affairs (Council) on Thursday. Rodman is no stranger to the position. He served in the position during the Obama-Biden administration. Rodman (Cherokee/Osage) was originally from Oklahoma. He has served as the acting director of the Indian Affairs Office of Indian Economic Development for the past two years. After languishing during the previous administration, Secretary Haaland and Domestic Policy Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice recently convened the first meeting of the Council in the Biden-Harris administration. Agency leadership and senior White House officials participated in discussions focused on improving Tribal consultation and formalizing the working committees of the Council.
U.S. Senator Tina Smith Highlights Urgent Need To Invest In Housing For Native Americans At First Hearing As Chair Of Key Senate Panel
Red Lake Nation News, May 27
U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) – in her first hearing as Chair of a key Senate housing panel – said there is an urgent need for investment in housing for Native Americans in Minnesota and across the country, and promised to continue efforts to knock down the systemic barriers that have kept generations of Native Americans from having a safe, stable, and affordable place to live. Chair Smith, who was joined at the bipartisan hearing by the Subcommittee’s Ranking Member Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), said her home state of Minnesota includes 11 sovereign Tribal Nations, whose leaders have been forced to use scarce resources to address a myriad of complicated housing problems. Currently, Native households lag far behind White households in homeownership across the country, and are denied access to the credit needed to finance a home at a far higher rate, she said.
Arizona House Rejects ID Requirement For Mail Ballots
AP News, Jonathan J. Cooper, May 27
The Arizona House on Wednesday voted down a bill that would have required voters to include identification with their mail-in ballots, a defeat for Republicans looking to impose more restrictive voting procedures. The bill was one of the most contentious of the dozens of voting rights bills that Arizona Republicans introduced following former President Donald Trump’s narrow loss in the longtime GOP stronghold. Influential business leaders, including the owner of the Arizona Cardinals, publicly urged lawmakers to reject it. The bill, SB1713, would have required voters to include their birthday and an ID number with their ballots. Acceptable ID numbers included a driver’s license, voter registration, tribal ID or the last four digits of a Social Security number.
Seminoles Ink 30-Year Gaming Compact
Indian Country Today, Sandra Hale Schulman, May 27
The Seminole Tribe of Florida has reached a multibillion-dollar deal with the state of Florida that will allow the tribe to build three new casinos at the massive Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort, with exclusive rights to roulette, craps and sports betting in the state. The deal, ratified by the Florida Legislature on May 19, also opens the door for former President Donald Trump to pursue a casino license at his Trump National Doral Miami golf resort and for billionaire Jeffrey Soffer to do the same at his Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel, without opposition from the tribe. The agreement, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, May 25, is believed to be the largest and most expansive gaming compact with a tribe in the U.S. The deal is expected to generate $2.5 billion in new revenue for the state over the next five years, and an estimated $6 billion through 2030.
EPA Restoring State And Tribal Power To Protect Waterways
AP News, Matthew Daly, May 27
In the latest reversal of a Trump-era policy, the Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is restoring a rule that grants states and Native American tribes authority to block pipelines and other energy projects that can pollute rivers, streams and other waterways. A provision of the Clean Water Act gives states and tribes power to block federal projects that could harm lakes, streams, rivers and wetlands within their borders. But the Trump administration curtailed that review power after complaints from Republican members of Congress and the fossil fuel industry that state officials had used the permitting process to stop new energy projects. The Trump administration said its actions would advance then-President Donald Trump’s goal to fast-track energy projects such as oil and natural gas pipelines.
Oil Spill Reported On Crow Indian Reservation
Native News Online, May 27
An oil spill of unknown size and duration has been reported on the Crow Indian Reservation.
Richard Mylott, a spokesperson for Region 8 of the Environmental Protection Agency, said his understanding is that the spill is coming from a gathering line, a pipeline used to transport crude oil from a wellhead to a central collection point. Gathering lines generally transport a lower volume of oil than transmission lines. He said there are currently no known impacts or threats to surface waters. In a Tuesday morning email to MTFP, Clifford Serawop, Superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Crow Agency office, said BIA’s Land Service staff would be responding to the incident.
Navajos Voice Concern Over Plan To Transfer Uranium Waste
AP News, Susan Montoya Bryan, May 27
U.S. nuclear regulators are considering a licensing change proposed by a uranium company that would clear the way for 1 million cubic yards (765,000 cubic meters) of waste to be transferred from a mining area in western New Mexico to a mill site a short distance away as part of a cleanup effort. But indigenous activists and nuclear watchdogs say the proposal doesn’t go far enough in protecting the area and surrounding Navajo communities from more contamination. The deadline to comment on a draft environmental review of the proposal was Thursday. Federal environmental regulators have been working with the Navajo Nation for several years to address contaminated sites near the community of Church Rock. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it also has coordinated with the tribe as it reviewed the potential environmental effects that would result from amending United Nuclear Corp.’s license for the mill site.
Indigenous-Led School Aims For Success
Buffalo’s Fire, Rylee Mitchell, May 27
The national non-profit NDN Collective plans to open an independent, Indigenous-led school in Rapid City, South Dakota, for Native students. School administrators project opening it with 40 students in fall 2022. The goal is to engage Native students to assume leadership roles. The school curriculum also aims to strengthen culture, identity, and community investment.
The 8,534 Native students who attend schools in Rapid City lag behind peers locally and nationally. Rapid City with a population of 75,258 ranks as South Dakota’s second largest town. The NDN Collective announcement to build an Indigenous-led school — a private, non-profit academy to be located in Rapid City — lands as a direct response to the South Dakota Legislature’s failure to provide funding for Native charter schools.
For Native Americans, Harvard And Other Colleges Fall Short
AP News, Philip Marcelo, May 27
Native American tribes, students and faculty are pushing the Ivy League institution and other colleges to do more for Indigenous communities to atone for past wrongs, much in the way states, municipalities and universities are weighing and, in some cases, already providing reparations for slavery and discrimination against Black people. In Minnesota, 11 tribes have called on the state university system to return some of the lands taken from tribes, provide tuition waivers to Native American students and increase the number of Native American faculty, among other demands. Meanwhile in Colorado, state lawmakers are weighing legislation to grant in-state tuition to students from certain federally recognized tribes. And in California, Native American students want tuition waivers and other tangible restitution, after most state schools have issued statements acknowledging their fraught history with tribal land.