One Ad We DID NOT See During The Super Bowl and the National Congress of American Indians have produced a powerful video regarding the heritage and identity of Native American nations and people, entitled "Proud To Be".  The full video can be seen HERE.


US Fish & Wildlife Service Announces New Native American Cooperation Policy


(Loren Holmes photo)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced the adoption of an updated Native American policy, emphasizing the need for federal collaboration with tribes to protect natural resources and tribal cultural resources on federal lands. The new policy provides a framework for government-to-government relationships with tribes, and was reached after extensive consultation with representatives of Indian tribes and Alaska Native corporations. The policy encourages the service and tribes to work together and will bolster the U.S. Department of the Interior’s trust responsibility to protect tribal-reserved, treaty-guaranteed or statutorily identified resources for federally recognized tribes.

Under the policy, the agency recognizes tribal governments’ authority to manage fish and wildlife on their lands, and will consult with tribal governments and states where they have shared responsibility to manage such resources. The service will collaborate with tribal governments to protect confidential or sensitive information about tribal archaeological resources and sacred religious sites, including their location and how they are used, where disclosing the information might damage the site or impede tribal members from using it, according to the policy. The FWS will also foster teaming up of its law enforcement officers with tribal law enforcement to enforce federal or tribal laws and regulations dealing with fish, wildlife and cultural resources, including referring Lacey Act violations to the U.S. Department of Justice, and let tribal law enforcement officers know about FWS operations on or next to Indian lands, where possible.

“To be good stewards of our planet and its remarkable natural history for future generations, we must work effectively across shared landscapes," FWS director Dan Ashe said at a signing ceremony for the policy on Jan. 20. "We can only do that as a nation by working collaboratively with Native American tribes. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s newly updated Native American Policy will foster and nurture relationships with Tribes and honor the mutual trust of guardianship we hold for decades to come.”

Sixteen tribes worked with the FWS to create the revised policy, including members of the Cherokee Nation, Chugach Regional Resources Commission, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Gros Ventre and Assiniboine of Fort Belknap, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Native Village of Emmonak, Navajo Nation, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Penobscot Indian Nation, Quinault Indian Nation, San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians and Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

“As tribal people, our relationship with the natural world goes back thousands of years. We’ve evolved with these resources and have an ingrained cultural, spiritual and ecological connection with them,” John Banks, director of the Penobscot Nation’s Natural Resources Department, said in the statement. “It was important for tribal people who work in the fish and wildlife arena to be involved in the development of this policy. This policy offers a great opportunity for tribes to improve on the partnership with the service.”


NCAI President Seeks Improved US/Tribal Trust Relationship

National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby delivered the annual State of Indian Nations address in Washington, D.C., calling on the federal government to enact legislation to support tribes as they seek to encourage economic growth as well as secure their land base, combat climate change and ensure public safety. President Cladoosby, who is Chairman of the Swinomish Nation, cited four priority issues for tribes: community security; economic equality; education, health and wellness; and climate change.

“We need to modernize the trust relationship,” President Cladoosby said. “We need to replace antiquated laws and regulations with policies that trust and empower tribes to govern. We need a relationship based not on paternalism and control, but on deference and support.”

Regarding economic development, President Cladoosby called for tribes to have the ability to issue tax-exempt bonds and to receive the same treatment as state and local governments on labor issues. He also urged the U.S. Department of the Interior to eliminate dual taxation in Indian Country and empower tribes to invest in infrastructure in order to further economic development, saying tribes are “light years behind our neighboring communities” in terms of infrastructure.


New Danish Television Program on Native American Economic Development

The Danish national broadcasting company DR has just released a new television program on Native American economic development and human security conditions. Most of the program is in english, and the full program can be viewed HERE.

Foster Pepper's Chair of Native American Legal Services Greg Guedel is interviewed regarding research findings from the UW Jackson School of International Studies on the importance of institutions and social cohesion within Native American nations.  The program also compares socio-economic conditions and strategic approaches between the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe in Washington and the Hualapai Tribe in Arizona.


Burns Paiute Tribe Tells Armed Oregon Land Occupiers: "Get The Hell Out"

 As reported on CNN, the leaders of the Burns Paiute tribe have sent a message to the ranchers and sympathizers who have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside Burns, Oregon: "Go home. We don't want you here."

Tribal members assert that their ancestors fought and died on the lands within the refuge long before the ranchers and farmers began using it – dating back before the U.S. government even existed. The tribe is still fighting over land use but now works with the federal government's Bureau of Land Management to save its archaeological sites.

"We have good relations with the refuge. They protect our cultural rights there," said tribal council Chairwoman Charlotte Rodrique.

The people who took over the wildlife refuge headquarters have said they would stay until the land was given to the ranchers and farmers who they consider its owners, who have worked the land as far back as 1900. After hearing many statemetns from the ranchers, the Paiute tribe decided it was time to speak about what's happening at the refuge.

"They just need to get the hell out of here," tribal council member Jarvis Kennedy told a crowd of reporters and local residents. "To me they are just a bunch of bullies and little criminals coming in here and trying to push us around over here and occupy our aboriginal territories out there where our ancestors are buried," Kennedy said.

Members of the tribe are descendants of the Wadatika band of northern Paiutes, whose history in the area dates back 9,000 years ago, the tribe says. The ancestors of the Burns Paiutes lived in caves near the shores of lakes in the Northern Great Basin. When the lakes began drying up the tribe had to migrate. The tribe said it has never ceded its right to the land but received federal recognition in 1868 and signed a treaty with the federal government that requires it to protect the safety of the natives and promised to prosecute any crime or injury perpetrated by any white man upon them.


Native-Owned Business Improving Lactation Facilities For Mothers

New Mexico Community Capital, a Community Development Financial Institution supporting Native-owned businesses, has announced its newest Native Entrepreneur in Residence (NEIR) Participant, Stephanie Conduff of Leche Lounge located in Oklahoma.  

Leche Lactation suites are portable units that can be placed temporarily or permanently on site for pumping and nursing mothers. Fulfilling the requirements of pumping laws, Leche Lounge goes above and beyond coming equipped with a hospital grade breast pump. The pumps are proven to express milk faster, getting moms in and out quickly. Other convenience features include a USB charger, fan, food-grade seating and a mirror to readjust clothing. The units are stocked with cleaning wipes for pump parts and calming lavender wipes for refreshing the space between guests, ensuring quick and easy clean up.

Stephanie Conduff is Leche Lounge, LLC’s founder and CEO. She is responsible for the direction of the company and all government contracting. She is an attorney and admitted to practice in Oklahoma, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Chickasaw Nation, Osage Nation, and Cherokee Nation and a few federal district courts. It is from the direction of strong Native women mentors that Leche Lounge, LLC finds its purpose and place in the market.

NMCC's NEIR Program provides mentoring to Native entrepreneurs to assist with business development, organization, and fundraising.  Ms. Conduff's mentorship will be split between two mentors, Cheryl Hill and Bobby Cook who both own successful businesses and will help with manufacturing, fundraising and contracting. 


Armed Stand-Off Land In Oregon Was Once Promised To Tribal Nation

The lands in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon that were recently occupied by an armed group angry regarding federal land use policy were originally promised by the U.S. to the Burns Paiute Tribe for a reservation. The reservation never materialized however, as the federal government shifted course and declared the area a nature preserve. The site is currently in dispute as local (non-Native) ranchers claim land and water use rights, and some have set up an armed camp in the Wildlife Refuge to assert their positions.


Federal Circuit Decision Helps Defenders of "Redskins" Trademark

Judges in the Federal Circuit have ruled that the federal government’s ban on “disparaging” trademark registrations violates the First Amendment, striking down the provision that was used by the US Patent and Trademark Office to revoke the Washington Redskins trademark registrations.

The Court’s ruling strikes down the provision of the Lanham Act that was used against the Washington Redskins in the team's own trademark dispute. The ruling is for a separate case, filed by members of a band called The Slants who were refused trademark registration for their name on the grounds that it was offensive to Asian-Americans. The Federal Circuit panel declared the Lanham Act’s Section 2a to be an unconstitutional discrimination against unpopular speech.

“Many of the marks rejected as disparaging convey hurtful speech that harms members of oft-stigmatized communities,” wrote Judge Kimberly Moore, “but the First Amendment protects even hurtful speech. The government cannot refuse to register disparaging marks because it disapproves of the expressive messages conveyed by the marks.”

The ruling is likely to help the owners of the Washington Redskins trademark, as Section 2a is the same provision cited by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in June 2014 when it revoked the team’s registrations as disparaging to Native Americans. That ruling was upheld by a federal judge this summer, and the team is currently appealing the case in the Fourth Circuit.


Canada Promises New Relationship With First Nations


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with First Nations Leaders in Quebec (Reuters)

Newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised a "total renewal" of the relationship between Canada and First Nations peoples. A first priority will be conducting a public inquiry into the circumstances of missing and murdered indigenous women. Calls for an inquiry have grown since a review found 1,181 indigenous women had been murdered or gone missing since 1980.

"We have made this inquiry a priority for our government because those touched by this national tragedy have waited long enough," Trudeau said at an assembly of First Nations chiefs in Gatineau, Quebec. "The victims deserve justice; their families an opportunity to heal and to be heard."

Canada’s Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, and Minister of Status of Women Patricia Hajdu outlined the first steps of the inquiry. "We will meet with the families in the national capital region with the goal of hearing their views on the design of the inquiry and what it needs to achieve," Ms Wilson-Raybould said. "And over the next two months, we will hear from more families, other indigenous peoples, national aboriginal organizations and a range of front-line services workers and others." Ms Bennett said they would "apply what budget it will take to do it right".

In addition to the inquiry, Mr Trudeau said his Liberal government is committed to:

• Providing more funding for First Nations education.
• Increased funding for programming and a review of laws on indigenous peoples.
• Removing the government’s 2% cap on funding for First Nations programs.
• Implementing suggestions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
• Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

"Working together as partners, I am confident that we can make meaningful and immediate progress on the issues that matter most to First Nations communities," Mr Trudeau said.


Squaxin Island Tribe Opens First Tribal Cannabis Retail Store


The Squaxin Island Tribe has announced the opening of its new on-reservation retail marijuana store “Elevation”. The store is the first Tribal marijuana retailer of its kind to open in the U.S..

The store represents the culmination of years of discussion between the Tribe and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board following voters’ decision to legalize marijuana in 2012. The Tribe has established a strict set of regulatory controls designed to prevent crime, protect safety, and prevent access by minors. Product sales are taxed by the Tribe with proceeds dedicated to essential government services. Through a compact with the State, the Tribe has worked to avoid jurisdictional gaps and present an integrated system of regulation to the public. Products sold at the store are legal under State and Tribal law, and tested, labeled and packaged in conformance with State safety regulations.

“This Tribe has a long history of working through jurisdictional issues with the State using cooperative agreements,” said Squaxin Councilman Jim Peters. “We’re pleased to be able to work with the State from the beginning on this one.”

Through its adoption of parallel laws and regulations and cooperative enforcement with the State, the Tribe has taken steps to make sure it meets the federal “Cole factors” for prosecutorial discretion, whose application in Indian Country was announced in the Wilkinson memo.
“We hope this new revenue stream will create jobs and resources that benefit the entire community,” said Council Treasurer Vicki Kruger.