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.
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.
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.
(Loren Holmes photo)
US Fish & Wildlife Service Announces New Native American Cooperation Policy
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.”
The 9th Cirucit Court of Appleals has ruled that Washington state must repair road culverts that are blocking salmon from swimming to spawning areas because the pipes violate fishing rights protected by tribal treatie. The ruling is a major victory for 21 tribes joined by the U.S. government that sued Washington state in 2001, arguing that hundreds of culverts block salmon from more than 1,000 miles of streams in western Washington.
“The Indians did not understand the Treaties to promise that they would have access to their usual and accustomed fishing places, but with a qualification that would allow the government to diminish or destroy the fish runs,” Judge William Fletcher, of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote in a 59-page opinion on Monday.
Three judges unanimously affirmed a lower court’s 2013 order that Washington state correct its road culverts because they violated the Stevens Treaties of 1854-55, the opinion says. Under the treaties, the tribes relinquished huge tracts of land in exchange for a guaranteed right to off-reservation fishing.
The lower court held that the culverts have caused the size of salmon runs in Washington state to diminish and therefore violated the state’s obligations under the treaties, according to Monday’s ruling.