INDIAN COUNTRY NEWS - ARCHIVE


 
     
 

NCAI - TRIBAL LEADERS STRATEGY SESSION ON PUBLIC RELATIONS

The topic of this discussion was the Anti-Indian Groups using information gained from NCAI’s research-based communications strategy tribal leaders discussed their strategy and message development to public relations strategy in the current media and political environment and in the wake of anti-Indian activism.

The Anti-Indian resistance has formed a new core to consolidate their regional complaints into a consistent anti-tribal message at the federal level. They call themselves “One Nation United”, and their agenda is the termination of tribal rights and status.

Formerly, One Nation United restricted their efforts to flogging existing regional complaints (e.g. fuel tax in OK; cigarette taxation in NY; land use in WA; tribal control of federal facilities in MT; labor disputes in CA; etc.) Now, they are becoming more aggressive and working to create issues where none existed in an effort to convince the public that there is an “Indian problem” wherever tribes exist.

There are Anti-Indian Organizations that native people should be aware of other than One Nation and that is CERA - (Citizens Equal Rights Alliance). Peter Byrne wrote, WHITE POWER, in his column of, The Byrne Report, about Elaine Devary Willman, Chair of the national organization calling itself Citizens for Equal Rights Alliance, she is from Toppenish, Washington, and their associate member groups bear names such as United Property Owners; One Nation United; and from Rohnert Park, Stop the Casino 101, an anticasino group led by Chip Worthington, the pastor of a local church. Willman is advising Worthington on how to create public opinion against the casino and, not surprisingly, the Graton tribe itself.

Byrne interviewed Willman at a nearby coffee shop. She travels the country organizing people to oppose the autonomy of sovereign Indian tribes. In fact, she advocates the destruction of tribal governments and the liquidation of Indian nations. To further that end, she wrote a book and made a video, both called, Going To Peices: The Dismantling of the United States of America. Her theme is that the federal government and Indian Tribes are conspiring to take away the civil rights of white people. Indians have treated the white settlers badly, she writes, ever since Christopher Columbus brought “civilization” to these shores.

Willman calls tribal governments “rotting hamburger” and argues that they do not serve the interests of their people. She claims that the Environmental Protection Agency and rural tribes conspire to take private property away from non-Indians. Some tribes are empowered, she says with horror, to force farmers to obey environmental laws. She states that non-assimilated Indians are intent upon “balkanizing” the United States and destroying Euro-American culture. White Americans, Willman says, do not owe Indians any apology for slaughtering their ancestors, stealing their lands and forcing tribes into concentration camps. According to her, Indians are potential allies of foreign terrorists who would blow up our dams and power plants. She supports Bush’s war on “tribalism” in Iraq, saying we must eradicate it in the homeland, too, replacing it with “democracy.”

One Tribal leader stated, “we must call this organization for what they are, they are pure racist and they are not going away. We must do all we can to counteract their propaganda.”

You may log on to Citizens Equal Rights Alliance @ www.citizensalliance.org. They have a special sovereignty issue called, “The Tragedy of Tribal Sovereignty: America’s Longest Civil Rights Battle.”

CERF AND CERA’s MISSION STATEMENT:

Federal Indian Policy is unaccountable, destructive, racist and unconstitutional. It is therefore CERA’s mission to ensure the equal protection of the law as guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution of the United States of America.

CERA Board of Directors 2005-2006

Elaine Willman- Chairman - Toppenish, WA toppin@aol.com
Howard B. Hanson - Treasurer, Minn. MN hbh@resourceseninal.org
Judy Bachman - V.Chair,Vernon,NY vergranny@aol.com
Jim Petik -Secretary, Keldron,SD cows@sdplains.com
Donna Fitz- St. Paul, MN clarence292@msn.com
Charlotte Mitchell, Jemez Pueblo, NM cmitchell@zianet.com
Dennis Williams, Navajo, Fort Defiance, AZ
Faron Iron, Crow, Garyowen MT

CERF Board of Directors 2005-2006

Curt Knoke - President
Gresham WI
cknoke@frontiernet.net

Darrel Smith - Treasurer
Mobridge, SD
dws@westriv.com

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News in Indian Country

by Rita Williams, National Council
Legislative Liason Affairs/Writer

Article derived from National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) website (www.ncai.org)

August 7, 2006

Broadcast #06-049 Correction

 

Cobell Settlement and Trust Reform Bill Released – Senate Committee to Meet with Tribes to Discuss Bill and Fractionation Problem – (Corrected)

 

On Friday, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs released a new discussion draft of S. 1439, the Indian Trust Reform Act of 2006.  The bill would settle all claims of Individual Indian Money account holders for $8 billion.  The bill also creates a voluntary process for Indian tribes to take over greater control of the trust assets on their reservations.  The bill would phase out the Office of Special Trustee, and create a single line of authority under an Under Secretary for Indian Affairs.  The bill would give the Secretary new authority to consolidate fractionated Indian lands, and add incentives for sale of fractionated lands.  [Click here for a copy of the legislation].

 

NCAI will hold a preliminary conference call to discuss the new legislation on Monday, August 7, 2006 at 4:30 pm eastern time.  The dial in number is 719.785.1716 and the passcode is 229720#.

 

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs delayed the mark up of the new legislation after Chairman McCain and Vice Chairman Dorgan met with Secretary of Interior Kempthorne and Attorney General Gonzalez.

 

It is clear from Senator McCain's statement that the Administration has additional concerns with the legislation that the Committee will need to address.  In addition to the settlement figure, the Secretary of Interior and the Attorney General appear to have concerns about the future of Indian trust management.  The heavy fractionation of Indian land is a significant factor.  With over 3.2 million ownership interests in existence and the number continuing to grow, the Administration is concerned about investing in a settlement if the trust management problems for Individual land and accounts are likely to reoccur.   Senators McCain and Dorgan are seeking "a full and complete resolution to the entire issue of trust management that has plagued the Department and Indian Country, including resolution of the fractionation of land ownership—a problem at the root of much of the problems that gave rise to the litigation."

 

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs would like to receive further input on the bill.  The staff of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will be reaching out to Indian Country during the August recess to discuss the legislation.  Our understanding is that they will hold meetings on these tentative dates, more info to follow:

August 15 – Seattle at Muckleshoot - (SCIA will host meeting on gaming legislation on 8/16)

August 18 - Phoenix

August 21 - Bismarck

August 31 – Tulsa

 

The Cobell litigation began ten years ago.  Three years ago NCAI passed a resolution stating that it is in the best interests of tribes and individual account holders that tribal leaders participate in the resolution of trust related claims and the development of a workable and effective system for management of trust assets in the future.  See NCAI Resolution PHX-03-040.  While tribal leaders have supported the correction of trust funds accounting at Interior, tribes have grown increasingly concerned about the impacts of the litigation on the federal budget, the trust responsibility, and that the litigation creates an atmosphere that impedes the ability of tribes and the DOI to work together and address other pressing needs confronting Indian country.

 

The following is a brief section-by-section review of the new discussion draft of S. 1439.

 

Title I – Settlement of Litigation Claims

 

The bill would settle all claims of individual Indian account holders for $8 billion.  $7 billion would be for trust accounting and funds mismanagement which is the claim in the Cobell law suit.  $1 billion would be for land mismanagement claims.  Tribal claims would not be affected. 

The funds would come from the Judgment Fund, so it would not come at the expense of any other Indian program or account. The distribution of the settlement fund would be administered by a Special Master appointed by the District Court according to a prescribed formula.

 

The following is a brief description of the distribution formula with an approximate analysis of what the distribution would mean to individual account holders.  Our understanding is that this distribution formula is preliminary and subject to change and the SCIA is seeking input.  Note that these are cumulative –i.e. – an account holder would get a total amount combined from each of the categories.

 

IIM Accounting and Funds Mismanagement - $7 billion

 

58% for per capita distributions to land based IIM account holders = $4.06 billion

  • 235,984 IIM account holders, 193,766 are "land based" and 42,218 are "judgment and per capita" (DOI's number on Dec. 31, 2000)
  • Approximately $20,953.00 per capita to each land based IIM account holder

 

34% for pro rata distributions to land based IIM account holders = $2.38 billion

  • approximately $200 million average annual receipts for all IIM accounts 1985 to present (DOI's number for 1982 to 2002)
  • each individual IIM account would receive a pro rata share, for example:
    • $1,190 for $100 in average annual receipts 1985 to present
    • $11,900 for $1000 in average annual receipts 1985 to present
    • or $119,000 for $10,000 in average annual receipts 1985 to present

3% for attorneys fees = $210 million (subject to demonstrating a valid contractual claim offset by fees collected)

 

3% for administrative costs for Special Master = $210 million

 

2% for "judgement and per capita" accounts = $140 million ÷ 42,218 = $3,316 (but capped $500)

 

Land Management Claims - $1 billion

 

10% or $100 million to landowner claimants who are not IIM account holders (capped at $500) - (unknown number of claimants)

 

17% or $170 million to all land mismanagement claimants distributed per capita (193,766 land based accounts plus unknown number of landowners who are not IIM account holders)

 

20% or $200 million to land based IIM accounts per capita = $1032 per account holder

 

50% or 500 million to land based IIM account claimants

  • approximately $200 million average annual receipts for all IIM accounts 1985 to present (DOI's number for 1982 to 2002)
  • each individual IIM account would receive a pro rata share, for example:
    • $250 for $100 in average annual receipts 1985 to present
    • $2,500 for $1000 in average annual receipts 1985 to present
    • or $25,000 for $10,000 in average annual receipts 1985 to present

Title II – Indian Trust Asset Management Policy Review Commission

This section would establish a commission to review all federal laws and regulations and practices of the Department of Interior relating to the administration of Indian trust assets.  The Commission is to consult with Indian tribes, the Secretary of Interior, and organizations representing individual Indian owners of trust assets. After conducting the review, the Commission is to develop recommendations and submit a report to Congress on changes to federal law that would improve the management and administration of Indian trust assets.  The Commission has the power to hold hearings and gather information.  The only significant change from the previous version of S. 1439 is that the Commission would be made up of only five persons rather than twelve, one appointed by the President, and one appointed respectively by the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate.

 

Title III – Indian Trust Asset Management Demonstration Project

 

This section would create a demonstration project where an Indian tribe may develop its own "trust asset management agreement" that is unique to the trust assets and situation on a particular reservation.  The plan would identify the trust assets, establish objectives and priorities, and allocate the available funding.  Contracting and compacting tribes may identify the functions performed by the tribe and establish their own management systems, practices and procedures that the tribe will follow so long as consistent with all federal laws, treaties and regulations.

 

The bill would establish standards that the Secretary must apply to the management plans before they may be approved -- including that the plan must protect trust assets, promote the interests of the beneficial owner, protect treaty rights, and be carried out in good faith and with loyalty to the beneficial owner.   The tribes that are currently under Section 131 are eligible to participate in this demonstration project, plus an additional 50 Indian tribes (expanded from 30 in earlier version of S. 1439).

 

There are three key differences in the new version of the bill.  First, the tribe may include a comprehensive land use plan that would govern land management activities.  Second, the trust asset management agreement may authorize the tribe to lease tribal land without the approval of the Secretary for periods of time up to 25 years plus two renewals.  This is somewhat similar to the Navajo Leasing Act.  Third, the bill would require that the Secretary engage in negotiated rulemaking with the tribes to create regulations on this section.

 

Title IV – Fractional Interest Purchase and Consolidation Program

 

This section would amend the Indian Land Consolidation Act to create incentives for voluntary sales of fractionated interests by allowing the Secretary to offer more than fair market value.  The new version deletes the procedures where the Secretary's offer to buy land could deemed accepted unless it is affirmatively rejected by the owner.  Instead, the bill would authorize the Secretary to initiate the "partition by sale" provisions of the American Indian Probate Reform Act.  Note that this title is likely to need further revisions to meet the concerns of the Administration.   As before, the bill provides that any payments that landowners receive under the land repurchase program would not be subject to state or federal income tax and would not affect eligibility for any programs including social security and welfare.  Any land acquired by the Secretary under this section would be held in trust for the tribal government that exercises jurisdiction over the land involved.

 

Title V – Restructuring Bureau of Indian Affairs and Office of Special Trustee

 

This title would create a new position of "Under Secretary for Indian Affairs" who would replace the Assistant Secretary.    The Office of Special Trustee for American Indians would be terminated in 2008 and the functions of the Special Trustee would be transferred to the Under Secretary. All positions in the office of the Under Secretary would be subject to Indian preference. The Office of Under Secretary would create a single line of authority for all functions that are now split between the BIA and the OST, and the Under Secretary would also have the responsibility to supervise any activities related to Indian affairs that are carried out by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Minerals Management Service.

 

Title VI – Audit of Indian Trust Funds

 

Summary of Title:  This section would require the Secretary of Interior to prepare financial statements for individual Indian, tribal and other Indian trust accounts and prepare an internal control report.  The section would also direct the Inspector General of the Department of Interior to hire an independent auditor to conduct an audit of the Secretary's financial statements and report on the Secretary's internal controls.  The Comptroller General would conduct a review of the audit.

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NEWS IN INDIAN COUNTRY

by Rita Williams, National Council
Legislative Liason Affairs/Writer

Cobell v. Kempthorne - Ruling Upholds Basic Tenants of Indian Trust Case
Statement by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Montana, lead plaintiff in Cobell vs. Kempthorne and a member of the Blackfeet Tribe.

Washington, July 11 - Today’s decisions reaffirmed the basic tenents of our case: that the government owes substantial fiduciary duties to the more than 500,000 individual Indian Trust beneficiaries, that the Interior Department has been and continues to be in “egregious” breach of those duties and that the courts play a critical role in remedying that breach.

Moreover, the U.S. Court of Appeals reiterated that the government’s conduct is unconscionable: “To be sure, Interior’s deplorable record deserves condemnation in the strongest terms. Words like ‘ignominious’ and ‘incompeten[t]’...and ‘malfeasance’ and ‘recalcitrance’ are fair and well-supported by the record.”

We are disappointed that Indian Trust case has been reassigned because this will end the truly heroic efforts of a sincere and devoted jurist, the Honorable Royce C. Lamberth, to remedy the century of abuse of Indian people by the Department of Interior. That abuse continues to this day.

The appeals court’s opinions reaffirmed the fundamental basis of our class-action lawsuit: that the government has abused trust beneficiaries and has failed to fulfill the most basic trust responsibilities owed to us. Further, the decisions emphasize that the government has yet to perform the basic accounting that it must offer trust account holders. The rulings did much to underscore the key points that we have been making:

“To be sure,” the court said, “we have no doubt Interior’s trust account information has serious reliability problems.”

Even Judge Lamberth’s strongly worded opinion of July 12, 2005 was described by the court as “nothing more than views of an experienced judge who, having presided over this exceptionally contentious case for almost a decade has become “exceedingly ill disposed toward[a] defendant” that has flagrantly and repeated breached its fiduciary obligations.”

In no way do these decisions exonerate the behavior of the Interior Department, lessen the obligations owed to Individual Indians or shrink the extraordinary liability of the United States.

Moreover, the court’s rulings today make clear that Judge Lambert’s finding that Interior’s computer systems are insecure are indisputable. Removing the injunction he had ordered will cause further problems to that data. Because the computer security decision is in conflict with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Mitchell II and White Mountain Apache, we plan to petition the Supreme Court for relief.

The removal decision provides a clear mandate for a new judge to move promptly and directly to resolve this matter. We agree with the court’s suggestion that this litigation has gone on too long. We have attempted to resolve the case out of court and we are continuing to do so.

Our success in this case is based on the evidence, facts and applicable law. With any new judge, we will continue to prevail.

The 500,000 Native People we represent should know that the basic foundations on which both Judge Lamberth and the Court of Appeals have based their many rulings against the government remain intact. The fact that the government has breached its trust obligation to Native People was once again written into law today. It should give a new judge a roadmap to resolve this litigation expeditiously and fairly.

As for Judge Lamberth, he is, as Dennis Gingold, the lead counsel, has said, “a great judge. He had the courage to speak the truth about the repugnant behavior and deplorable record of the Interior trustee delegates. We will miss him.”

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MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR LAND:
by Rita Williams, Legislative Liason Affairs/Writer
Muscogee (Creek) National Council

When small-undivided interests in a piece of property are co-owned by many people, management and use of the property becomes more difficult. Income from the property, per owner, is often small in amount. Landowners find it difficult to use and control their own land. There are many problems: many owners in the same parcel; internal family disputes over use of the land; hard to contact co-owners and owning an interest in common does not give you the right to take your share. In order to do this you must partition the land which requires consent from all owners; getting a home site requires approval of more than 50% of the ownership; this makes it difficult to use your land for purposes important to you.

All the following areas are impacted; land data - getting all the records that give you a good idea of what you own, the location of what you own, who the other co-owners are, and the value of your land interest; probate and estate planning - who will get your land when you die?; leasing - getting the required number of signatures from landowners when you want to lease your land or lease someone else’s land; acquisition - trying to buy additional land interests so that you can own enough land for things like a home site, pasture area, or commercial development.

WHAT EVERY ALLOTTEE SHOULD KNOW:

CHECKLIST:
1. Ancestor Roll Number - All tribes listed of 5 Civilized Tribes - Copy of applications
(A) all heirs located and identified
2. Legal Description of allotment
3. Tract record book number and page number - find location at county courthouse where land
is located.
4. Cemetery Identification
5. Probate number or determination of heir ship
6. Leases, grants of rights-of-way, easements
(a) BIA lease number
(b)B) IIM account number
(c) Name of lessee - (oil company, grazing, etc.)
7. Problem areas -
(a)) environmental
(b) clean water, potable water
©) animal waste pig farming, chicken farming, etc.
d) spacing and pooling orders for O&G
(e) unapproved orders, leases, rights of way
(f) drainage of minerals

8. Illegal sales -
(a) lack of notice
(b) incomplete probate
(c) oil and gas lease problems
(d) correct blood quantum not used
(e) tax sales

All of this information was compiled by the OILMAN (Oklahoma Indian Land Managment Association Network) checklist for restricted property land owners.

The goal is to assist every Indian citizen of Muscogee Creek Nation in collecting important documents in managing their restricted minerals and surface property. These documents once assembled can assist land owners efforts to get land probated, addresses, fractionated issues, and to correct improper probate. The association hopes to hold a training by the end of the summer.
For more information, you may contact Okfusgee District Representative Bill Fife, Muscogee (Creek) National Council or Marcella Giles @ (703) 827-0225, 926 Ridge Drive, Mclean, Virginia 22101.

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NEWS IN INDIAN COUNTRY:
by Rita Williams, National Council
Legislative Liason Affairs/Writer

 

MUSCOGEE (CREEK) NATIONAL COUNCIL WOMEN'S CAUCUS
by Rita Williams, Legislative Liason Affairs
 
The Muscogee (Creek) National Council Women's Caucus is possibly the first formation of native women legislatures.
 
The first meeting was held in April,  with Speaker Tiger, Shirlene Ade, Sylvanna Cauldwell, Cherrah Quiett, Paula Willits, and Johnnie Green. Discussion centered around training for council members, high cost of child care for tribal citizen's, cultural awareness and ideas and thoughts for increasing the efficiency of the National Council.
 
The Second meeting was held May 25th, 2006 at the council chambers, the representatives will be drafting by-laws for the Women's Caucus.

 

left to right - Tulsa District Representative Cherrah Quiett, Okfusgee District Lena Wind, Tulsa District Paula Willits, and Tukvpatce District Representative Shirlene Ade)  photo by Rita Williams

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BUSH ADMINISTRATION PUSHES CLASS II GAMING PROPOSAL
By Rita Williams, Legislative Liason Affairs/Writer
Reprint from Indianz.com

The Bush Administration submitted its controversial Indian gaming proposal to top members of Congress earlier this month in hopes of landing a sponsor.

On June 7, the Department of Justice sent letters to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) and Vice President Dick Cheney, who serves as president of the Senate. William E. Moschella, the assistant attorney general in charge of legislative affairs, asked the leaders for a chance to present the proposal.

“I am transmitting herewith a legislative proposal relating to the use of gambling devices as technologic aids in Class II gaming in Indian Country,” the identical letters stated.

To the administration, the bill clarifies a key issue: What is the difference between an electronic bingo machine and a slot machine? Officials say the line has been blurred in a way that threatens the future of the $20 billion Indian gaming industry.

But to tribes, the legislation represents an attack on their economic gains. They argue it will stifle technological innovations that have been part of their industry since the first bingo halls were opened more than 20 years ago.

Either way, the “Gambling Devices Act of 2006" would bring about some major changes to Indian Country. It comes amid two other viable proposals–including one that has already been sent to the Senate Floor–that place curbs on the expansion of tribal gaming.

At issue are two classes of games that are defined by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Class II games like bingo can be operated free of state control while Class III games like slot machines a state-negotiated compact.

Some states have refused to negotiate such compacts or have placed their own restrictions on the use of slot machines. Many demand a share of revenues from lucrative Class II games.

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TRIBAL SUMMIT IV :

At a recent Tribal Summit meeting held at the Sac & Fox Nation, Nelson Johnson, Muscogee Creek Nation Gaming Commissioner, who was part of the Indian gaming panel addressing the proposed regulations, stated “ this attempt would erode tribal sovereignty and prevent economic development.” “Tribes have had very little input and we had better be prepared to enter into battle, with all of our letters and consultations with NIGC, I believe we will still end up in court.” Geoffrey Standing Bear, Attorney, and panelist commented , “this will be the most radical setback in 24 years, more than IGRA itself, this will change the way we do class II gaming, we are looking to Tribal leaders for their authority. Gaming is not granted by the United States Congress, its an inherent sovereignty right.”Brian Foster, OIGA, panelist added that tribal leaders need to stand up for their sovereignty.

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NATIVE VOTE UNITED CAMPAIGN:
by Rita Williams, Legislative Liason Affairs/Writer

Tribes in Oklahoma are beginning to unite together in the upcoming elections. They are looking at candidates who will be supportive of Native American issues and most importantly tribal sovereignty. The lack of true and meaningful consultations with our state and national legislatures have not been happening with tribes. The political arena at these levels have not been closely watched by our tribes. We are now finding ourselves some allies and becoming educated as to what avenues we can become strong in and one is, our vote. But, we have to become aggressive and active and that is what one little community is doing. Hanna Indian Community will be hosting a candidates forum for all those running for public office in McIntosh District, on Friday July 21, 2006. They are inviting all Tribal Elected Officials, citizens, and interested parties to attend. They are serving potluck at 6:30 a.m. and at 7 p.m the forum will convene. The Native Vote United will also be present. For more information, you may call Stella Simpson 918-657-2687 or Susie Harjo 918-657-2641.

Remember to vote on Tuesday, July 25th 2006.

Native Vote United Meets with tribes:

Tuesday evening, July 27th2006 the Native Vote United met with tribes from the Ponca Nation, Cherokee Nation, Cheyenne Arapaho Nation, Volunteers, and Oklahoma Democratic Network to come up with some strategy on the grassroots campaign.

For more information on the Native Vote United contact: Rita Williams @ 918-758-1410