Good morning, NUNAverse:
The Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation is suing Idaho Governor Brad Little and state wildlife officials in federal court, contending the state has wrongly denied the tribe hunting rights guaranteed by the 1868 Treaty of Fort Bridger. The lawsuit, filed in Idaho’s U.S. District Court last week, asks a judge to declare that the Northwestern Band is protected under the treaty. The case could come down to whether one of the Native leaders who signed the treaty was representing the Northwestern Band along with other bands of the Shoshone Nation, and whether the Northwestern Band itself has remained a cohesive unit in the time since.
A $59 million settlement in Peltier v. Haaland, a class action lawsuit alleging trust fund mismanagement and failure to account by the Department of the Interior, will go to four tribes located in the Midwest and Northwest United States, and more than 39,000 beneficiaries. Earlier this month, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia finalized the settlement, which was reached in the Court of Federal Claims with the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation of Montana, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. The lawsuit has its roots in land ceded by the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians to the U.S. government in the 19th century.
Maine’s state legislature approved an initial proposal that would allow four tribes to build gaming businesses on their lands, a reversal from years of resistance and laws that opposed Native ownership of casinos in the state. The House and Senate approved the proposal with an overwhelming majority last Thursday. Representative Rena Newell, a nonvoting member of the legislature who represents the Passamaquoddy Tribe, gave a speech following the approval of the bill. Newell pushed the legislators to advance the bill forward and said that the bill was only a small part of what the state could do for the tribes in Maine.
A hand-carved, 5,000-pound totem pole is making its way across the country from Washington state to go on display in Washington, D.C. this summer. Organizers are calling the totem pole’s journey the “Red Road to D.C.,” and they hope that the journey will raise awareness about protecting land that is sacred to tribes. The journey involves a two-week trek led by about a dozen people, many of whom are members of the Lummi Nation in western Washington state. About $500,000 has been raised from dozens of nonprofits, sponsors, and tribal groups for the cross-country trip.
Keep reading for a full news update.Law:
Joe Biden To Reinstate Road Ban For Tongass
Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, June 21
Several tribes and Alaska Natives are applauding the Biden administration’s plans to revive a ban on road-building in the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska. The “roadless rule” had been in place for 20 years until last fall, when the federal officials exempted southeast Alaska from the rule three months before then-President Donald Trump’s term ended. The White House announced President Joe Biden’s move in a notice saying the change was consistent with his Jan. 27 executive order on protection of public health and the environment and the use of science to tackle the climate crisis. The Department of Agriculture expects to publish the proposed rule in August, the notice said.
Forgotten Pee Dee Cemeteries Found By Historians
AP News, June 19
South Carolina historians are trying to shed light on five forgotten cemeteries in the state’s Pee Dee region. WMBF-TV reports that the Darlington County Historical Commission and Clemson Professor Jim Frederick located the five graveyards near Dargan’s Pond on current Clemson property. The experts identified two African American cemeteries, two Native American burial grounds and a graveyard that dates back to the Revolutionary War. The pair of Native American burial grounds could date back more than 500 years.
Canada Can’t Be Prosecuted For Residential School Crimes, Says Former Un-tribunal Lawyer
APTN, Kathleen Martens, June 18
While a Canadian lawyer understands the need for someone to be held accountable for the 215 children believed to be buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C., he doesn’t believe it’s possible. Dale Lysak, who helped prosecute Khmer Rouge leaders for Cambodian genocide, says Canada cannot be prosecuted under the international Genocide Convention. For one, the International Criminal Court only has jurisdiction for crimes committed on or after July 1, 2002. And second, Canada excluded the “fifth prong” of [the] Genocide Convention when it incorporated genocide into its Criminal Code in 1970 – purportedly because “mass transfers of children to another group are unknown in Canada.”
Northwestern Band Of Shoshone Sues Idaho Over Hunting Rights
AP News, Rebecca Boone, June 18
The Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation is suing Idaho Gov. Brad Little and state wildlife officials in federal court, contending the state has wrongly denied the tribe hunting rights guaranteed by the 1868 Treaty of Fort Bridger. The lawsuit, filed in Idaho’s U.S. District Court earlier this week, asks a judge to declare that the Northwestern Band is protected under the treaty. Attorneys for the state didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. On its surface, the legal case could come down to whether one of the Native American leaders who signed the treaty was representing the Northwestern Band along with other bands of the Shoshone Nation, and whether the Northwestern Band itself has remained a cohesive unit in the time since.
Class Action Settlement Brings $59 Million To Descendants Of The Pembina Band Of Chippewa Indians
Native News Online, Andrew Kennard, June 18
A $59 million settlement in Peltier v. Haaland, a class action lawsuit alleging trust fund mismanagement and failure to account by the Department of the Interior, will go to four tribes located in the Midwest and Northwest United States and more than 39,000 beneficiaries. On June 10, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia finalized the settlement, which was reached in the Court of Federal Claims with the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation of Montana, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, the Interior Department announced. The lawsuit has its roots in land ceded by the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians to the U.S. government in unfair treaties throughout the 19th century.
Senate Passes Bill To Implement United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples
APTN, June 18
The Liberal legislation that is supposed to harmonize Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) has passed Third reading in the Senate. Bill C-15 cleared the Senate Wednesday with a final tally of 61-10 with nine senators abstaining. The federal Liberals promised to pass the legislation by the end of this term. In a joint statement from Justice Minister David Lametti and Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, the government said UNDRIP will go a long way to addressing issues such as racism in the country.
Rep. Tom Cole And Rep. Sharice Davids Meet To Discuss Priorities For Congressional Native American Caucus
Native News Online, June 19
Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK) and Sharice Davids (D-KS), who serve as co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Native American Caucus, met this week to discuss priorities for the 117th Congress and what they hope to accomplish as co-chairs. Cole is a tribal citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and represents Oklahoma’s Fourth Congressional District. Davids represents Kansas’ Third Congressional District and is a tribal citizen of the Ho-Chunk Nation. As part of its mission to encourage dialogue about issues affecting Native Americans, the caucus regularly convenes briefings, considers the impact of legislation on tribal nations and provides a forum for members on both sides of the aisle to exchange information, ideas and research.
Connecticut Casinos Sue Insurer Over COVID-19 Losses
AP News, June 19
The Native American tribe that owns Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino is suing its insurance carrier over what it says was the denial of claims for millions of dollars in losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Day in New London reports that the lawsuit filed Friday by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority is similar to one the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, owner of the Foxwoods Resort Casino, brought against the same insurer in February. The insurer Factory Mutual Insurance Co., based in Johnston, Rhode Island, said in a court filing in Mashantucket case the that losses caused by viruses and contamination are specifically excluded from the casino’s policy. Factory Mutual is seeking to have the Mashantucket tribe’s lawsuit dismissed.
Maine Proposal Approves Native Americans To Build Casinos
AP News, June 18
Maine’s legislature approved the initial proposal that would allow four Native American tribes to build gambling businesses on their lands, in reversal from years of resistance and laws that opposed Native ownership of casinos in the state. Breaking years of opposition against the bill, the House and Senate approved it with an overwhelming majority on Thursday. Rep. Rena Newell, a nonvoting member of the legislature who represents the Passamaquoddy Tribe, gave a speech following the approval of the bill. Newell pushed the legislators to advance the bill forward. The bill was only a small part of what the state could do for the tribes in Maine, she said.
Milwaukee Clinic For Native Americans To Hold COVID-19 Vaccine Event Tuesday, As Powwows, Other Traditions Return
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sarah Volpenhein, June 20
The Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center is making another push to get more Native Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, as a new school year approaches and as summer powwows and other Native traditions return. The health center is holding its third vaccination event on Tuesday. The event is open to tribal members, descendants and household members ages 12 and up. Lyle Ignace, the center’s executive director, said a lot of Native families will be traveling this summer and will want to return to the powwows and other traditions that were put on hold last year because of the pandemic.
Remains Of 10 More Native American Kids To Be Disinterred
AP News, June 20
The remains of 10 more Native American children who died more than a century ago at a boarding school in central Pennsylvania are being disinterred and will be returned to their relatives, authorities said. A team of archaeologists began work Saturday at the cemetery on the grounds of the Carlisle Barracks, which also houses the U.S. Army War College. Nine of the children were from the Rosebud Sioux tribe in South Dakota and one is from the Alaskan Aleut tribe. The cemetery contains more than 180 graves of students who attended the former Carlisle Indian Industrial School — a government-run boarding school for Native American children. This is the Army’s fourth disinterment project at the school in as many years.
Native Americans Are Transporting A 5,000-Pound Totem Pole To D.C. From The Pacific Northwest
The Washington Post, Dana Hedgepath, June 19
A 5,000-pound totem pole that was hand-carved by Native Americans is coming from Washington state to be on display in the nation’s capital this summer after a journey that organizers hope will raise awareness about protecting land that is sacred to tribes.
The totem pole’s journey on a tractor-trailer, which organizers are calling the “Red Road to D.C.,” involves a two-week trek led by about a dozen people, many of whom are Native Americans and members of the Lummi Nation, a tribe of about 5,000 members west of Bellingham, Wash. About $500,000 has been raised from dozens of nonprofits, sponsors, and tribal groups for the cross-country trip. Native American organizers said they plan to “deliver the pole to the Biden administration in hopes that it gives a strong and important message.” Arrangements are being made to find a permanent home for it in D.C., organizers said.
Juneteenth Holiday Sparks Scramble In States, Tribes
Indian Country Today, June 18
Congress and President Joe Biden acted with unusual swiftness this week in approving Juneteenth as a national holiday, a move that sent many states and tribal nations scrambling to clarify their policies on the observance with less than a business day’s notice. Nearly all states recognize Juneteenth in some fashion, at least on paper. But most have been slow to move beyond proclamations issued by governors or resolutions passed by lawmakers. Tribal nations sprung to action Thursday to make plans over the new holiday. The Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota granted administrative leave on Friday to observe Juneteenth. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed a proclamation surrounded by tribal citizens and community members Friday declaring June 19, 2021 a holiday for the Cherokee Nation. He said it was the first time in the tribe’s history that Juneteenth has been formally commemorated.
Kamloops Discovery Sparks Colonial Statue Beheading At ‘X University’ In Toronto
Native News Online, June 18
When Indigenous students and professors last week heard that the head of a statue had come down—depicting their school’s namesake, and simultaneously the genocide of Indigenous people in Canada’s residential school system—they felt relief. On Sunday, following a multi-day sit-in protest where residential school survivors spoke about their experiences of trauma and abuse endured at the hands of the Canadian government and Catholic churches who ran residential schools, Egerton Ryerson’s statue was beheaded by what students called a group of angry community members. The body of the statue was later taken down by university staff.
Connecticut Budget Implementation Bill Includes Native Studies
AP News, June 18
The Connecticut Senate on Thursday gave final legislative passage to a wide-ranging bill that spells out details of the new, two-year $46.3 billion state budget and includes numerous other provisions. It now awaits Gov. Ned Lamont’s signature. Beginning in fiscal year 2023, the bill makes those communities with school mascots, logos and nicknames depicting Native Americans ineligible for grants provided from the Mashantucket Pequot Mohegan Fund, which comes from the state’s share of slot machine revenues generated at Connecticut’s two tribal casinos. The schools would need permission from a nearby state or federally-recognized tribe to continue to use the image or name. Also, the bill adds Native American studies to the social studies curriculum that public schools are required to teach, beginning in the 2023-24 school year.