Wildfire Community Assistance in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota – To promote community assistance programs that will be used to develop local capability including, but not limited to; Wildfire planning, wildfire mitigation actions, and wildland fire education/prevention. Current Closing Date for Applications: March 1, 2014. If you have difficulty accessing the full announcement electronically, please contact:Lori Anderson, Grants Management Officer, 406-896-5196 email@example.com
Article by: DIRK LAMMERS, Associated Press
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The U.S. Department of the Interior has finalized the first cooperative agreement in a $1.9 billion Native American land buyback program stemming from the settlement of a nearly 17-year lawsuit over more than a century’s worth of mismanaged trust royalties, federal officials announced Monday.
The agreement reached with the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota outlines the strategy and resources to be provided to tribal leaders for outreach and education. Department officials said they intend to make the first offers by the end of the year.
Bryan Brewer, the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s president, said outreach workers are already out meeting with the people in the communities.
“I am hoping that we will be able to start buying the fractionated land that is out there with the money that is available,” Brewer said in a statement. “We are also anticipating the first offer to be complete within the month.”
Land fractionation was caused by the 1887 Dawes Act, which split tribal lands into individual allotments of 80- to 160-acre parcels, in most cases. Those allotments were inherited by multiple heirs with each passing generation. There are now more than 92,000 land tracts with 2.9 million fractional interests. Of that number, more than 21,200 land tracts have 100 or more owners and many parcels have thousands of owners, according to the Interior Department.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the Obama administration wants to reduce fractionation and implement the buyback program in a fair and equitable manner.
“Cooperative agreements give us an opportunity to work together, nation-to-nation, to ensure that the Program’s implementation is tailored to the specific priorities of each tribe,” Jewell said in a statement. “This agreement reflects a spirit of mutual respect and teamwork as we work together to address this opportunity.”
The 10-year buyback program is the largest part of the $3.4 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont., in 1996 and finalized last year.
The Department of Interior said the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is among the most fractionated in the United States, with land interests owned by various individuals including members of other tribes. Pine Ridge holds more than 6,000 tracts with nearly 200,000 purchasable fractional interests, which has made it increasingly difficult to manage the land for economic development and other uses, officials said.
By: By Mike Nowatzki, Forum News Service
(Published December 09, 2013) BISMARCK – Dressed in dark slacks and a light blue shirt and tie, Lenny Hayes looked every bit his adult self on Monday in the Ramkota Hotel ballroom.
But as he leaned into the microphone and began to speak, he became the scared, helpless 6-year-old boy in the corner being groped and traumatized by sexual abuse.
“How do I say ‘stop?’ I close my eyes and my tears begin to flow. I go to a faraway place with my mind … a safe place, a happy place, a place where I don’t have to feel what my body is experiencing,” he said. “After it’s over, I am lifeless, and I begin to come back to my body once again.”
Such accounts are all too common in Indian Country, and tribes desperately need more resources to protect children from abuse and neglect, tribal officials and experts testified Monday during the first public hearing of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence.
The advisory panel also will hold public hearings in Arizona, Florida and Alaska and make policy recommendations for Holder by the end of October.
Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, the advisory panel’s co-chairman, said he hopes the effort will be the catalyst “that finally unlocks the determination of all Americans” not to allow violence against native children to continue.
Dorgan, who also is chairman of the board of advisors for the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute, said rape and abuse cases have too often been declined by federal prosecutors and put in the “back room” of too many U.S. attorneys’ offices. He said he has seen loving families on reservations but also “the most unbelievable despair,” telling of one 12-year-old girl who had been sexually abused in two foster homes and found refuge at a homeless shelter which then had its budget cut as a result of sequestration.
“That is defined as ignorance where I come from,” he said, his voice rising almost to a yell. “We know this is happening, and we know how to address it if we just have the will.”
U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who recently co-sponsored bipartisan bills to create a Commission on Native Children and provide increased protection to victims of human trafficking, said policymakers must do more than just gather data.
“We can’t just build the case and keep talking about this. We have got to change outcomes,” she said.
The magnitude of the problem in Indian Country is just beginning to be understood, said Lonna Hunter, project coordinator for the Minneapolis-based Council on Crime and Justice and a survivor of childhood abuse.
“Lack of research has directly delayed our response to the crisis,” she said.
The belief system that made protecting native children the responsibility of the entire tribal community has been lost amid the historical trauma of being displaced, assimilated and institutionalized and having their culture and language suppressed – factors that contribute to child mistreatment, said Sarah Hicks Kastelic, deputy director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.
Child victims of maltreatment and abuse are more likely to have mental health and substance abuse problems, perform more poorly in school, have early pregnancies, get in trouble with the law and perpetuate violence against others, “creating a cycle of violence that is difficult to break,” Kastelic said.
Associate Attorney General Tony West said “the scars of violence run deep and have impacts that can seep from one generation to the next.”
Other witnesses lamented the lack of Bureau of Indian Affairs officers to conduct investigations and Indian Health Service employees who either don’t live in the communities they serve and or are hamstrung by government red tape when they try to tackle problems.
At the same time, several said answers must come from within the tribes.
“It needs to be grassroots. It must be run by native people,” said Barbara Bettelyoun, a psychologist with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
The recent controversy over child protection at North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Nation also was addressed, with several members of the tribal council in attendance.
Spirit Lake Chairman Leander “Russ” McDonald testified that the May 2011 murder of a brother and sister on the reservation and the death of a 2-year-old girl who was shoved down an embankment by her step grandmother last June indicated the “critical need” to prioritize resources and lay the foundation “for a system that is clearly broken.”
However, he said “not much has changed” since complaints prompted the Bureau of Indian Affairs to assume control of child protection services on the reservation on Oct. 1, 2012. The tribe is working with state and federal officials on an action plan for child protective services, he said, again stressing that change from come from the tribe.
On a day filled with moving testimony, Hayes, an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and now a psychotherapist with the Shakopee (Minn.) Mdewakanton Sioux Community, delivered an especially powerful first-person account of abuse and healing.
Even at 45 years old, sharing the story is still painful, he said. He still struggles with his past, and he said more “two-spirited” survivors like himself need to stand up and be heard. He and others said the current culture that often ostracizes abuse victims who come forward needs to change.
“We need to be accepted back into our communities,” he said. “We need to be heard. We need to be listened to.”
In 1994, the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act established the Office of Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) to improve the management of the Native American fiduciary trust in the Department of the Interior (DOI). OST manages Native American beneficiaries’ financial assets and is responsible for coordinating reform efforts to improve trust asset management and beneficiary services throughout DOI.
The Office of Special Trustee for American Indians is responsible for:
- Financial management of the fiduciary trust—including collection of trust funds, accounting, investing and disbursing trust funds to individual and tribal beneficiaries;
- Appraisals of real property—providing impartial estimates of value for a variety of specific real property interests on land owned in trust or restricted status; and
- Services provided to trust beneficiaries—coordinating reform efforts to improve overall trust asset management and beneficiary services throughout DOI.
Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar praised President Obama’s nomination of Logan as Special Trustee.
“Vincent Logan has been a part of the fabric of Indian Country for many years as an investment professional, mentor for Native American attorneys and founding member of the Native American Bar Association of Washington, D.C.,” Salazar said in a news release. “His asset management expertise, legal experience and extensive network of professional relationships in Indian Country will well serve the Office of Special Trustee as we work to build a stronger and more responsive trust asset management system for the Nation’s First Americans.”
The Senate confirmation hearing will be broadcast on the internet and can be viewed HERE.
By THOMAS ADAMSON, The Associated Press
A judge has ruled that the controversial sale of 32 Native American Hopi masks can go ahead next week.
The Hopi tribe had taken a Paris auction house to court Tuesday to try to block the sale, arguing that they are “bitterly opposed” to the use as commercial art of sacred masks that represent their ancestor’s spirits.
Corinne Matouk, a lawyer who represented the Drouot auction house said the law was on their side.
“In French law there is nothing stopping the sale of Hopi artifacts.”
Pierre Servan-Schreiber, the Hopi’s French lawyer, said it is “very disappointing” and said he would explore options including seeking help from U.N. cultural organization UNESCO.
The “Katsinam” masks are being put on sale by a private collector on Dec. 9 and 11, alongside an altar from the Zuni tribe that used to belong to late Hollywood star Vincent Price, and other Native American frescoes and dolls.
The tribe has said it believes the masks, which date back to the late 19th and early 20th century, were taken from a northern Arizona reservation in the early 20th century.
In April, a Paris court ruled that such sales are legal, and Drouot sold off around 70 Hopi masks for some 880,000 euros ($1.2 million) despite vocal protests and criticism from actor Robert Redford and the U.S. government.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP
Urge Your Member of Congress to Oppose Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
December 6, 2013 – The U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are in the middle of discussions on reauthorization the Farm Bill. The House version of the Bill will cut the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by over $39 billion over 10 years, compared to the Senate Bill which cuts it by $4 billion over 10 years.
The proposed cuts to SNAP, coupled with high unemployment rates in Indian Country, will greatly harm the health and wellbeing of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The proposed provisions included in the House Farm Bill- H.R. 2642:
- Would end States’ ability to apply for a waiver for the three-month limit for every three years on SNAP benefits to able-bodied adults without dependents or disabilities. Currently, States can and do apply for a waiver in areas with persistent high unemployment rates such as tribal lands and rural areas.
- This provision would end SNAP benefits for 1.7 million Americans including a number of American Indian and Alaska Native recipients.
- Would allow States to end SNAP benefits to most adults who are receiving or applying for SNAP-including parents with children as young as one year old-if they are not working or participating in a work or training program for at least 20 hours per week despite being in areas with little-to-no employment opportunities. This would cut off an entire family’s food aid, including their children’s, for an unlimited time. States are incentivized to invoke this because it would enable the States to keep half of the federal savings.
- It would cut critical funding for SNAP’s Nutrition Education Program (SNAP-Ed), which promotes healthy eating choices for low-income households. After a 28% budget cut in FY 2013, SNAP-Ed would be reduced by $26 million for FY 2014.
- And, the termination of SNAP benefits impacts great number recipients who live in Indian Country.
A significant number of American Indian and Alaska Native families currently receive Federal food assistance in areas of high unemployment:
- 24% of American Indian and Alaska Native households receive SNAP benefits;
- 27% of American Indians and Alaska Natives were below the poverty line from 2007 to 2011-nearly double the national poverty rate; and
- More than 30% of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the nine states with the largest tribal populations are below the poverty line.
NCAI urges you to contact your Representative and ask them to uphold the federal government trust responsibility to American Indians and Alaska Natives and oppose H.R. 2642 since it severely cuts food assistance to Indian Country!
For more information, please see:
- NCAI One-Pager on SNAP
- NCAI, NIEA, and Tribal Organizations SNAP Letter
- House Agriculture Committee Democrats’ Report on House Nutrition Cuts
NCAI Contact Information: Colby Duren, Legislative Associate – firstname.lastname@example.org
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights.
Phoenix, AZ. – The National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) announces the launch of a first-of-its-kind research study on Native American attorneys. This research will enhance the full understanding and inclusion of Native American attorneys.
NNABA will focus its research on providing a picture of the issues confronting Native American attorneys across all settings including private practice; government practice in state, federal and tribal arenas; the judiciary; corporate legal departments; and academia. Ultimately, the findings from this study will be used to develop educational materials and programs that will help improve the recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of Native American attorneys in the legal profession.
“This exciting new project – a comprehensive research project on Native American attorneys – will examine their perspectives, experiences, and career trajectories,” said Mary Smith, NNABA President.
For more information on the study and how to contribute, go to http://www.nativeamericanbar.org/native-american-attorney-study/. The net proceeds will be used to fund the Research Initiative. NNABA plans to energize the business and legal communities to further improve the status of Native Americans in the legal profession because it is in the best interest of the profession to do so.
Founded in 1973, NNABA serves as the national association for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NNABA strives for justice and effective legal representation for all American indigenous peoples; fosters the development of Native American lawyers and judges; and addresses social, cultural and legal issues affecting American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.
For more information contact 480-727-0420 or visit www.nativeamericanbar.org.