Posts Tagged ‘National Congress of American Indians’

Mark Trahant


Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

Congress has a long to-do list to complete before the end of the year.

It must enact a budget, either a real one, or for most federal agencies, a Continuing Resolution that funds the government after the current one expires on Dec. 16. Many ask: “Why doesn’t Congress just pass the budget?” Because neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have enough votes to say yes, but they do have enough votes to reject the alternative.

Still, Congress must pass a new round of payroll tax cuts and extend unemployment benefits or both of those programs will expire at the end of the year.

Currently Republicans are adding all sorts of amendments that have little to do with either a budget or a tax cut. The House bill on the payroll tax, for example, requires a 60-day deadline for permitting the Keystone XL Pipeline to pipe oil from Northern Alberta across Montana, South Dakota and other states in the midwest. There is significant opposition to the pipeline construction from Indian Country. The National Congress of American Indians in June said: “The Keystone XL pipeline . . . would threaten, among other things, water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other resources vital to the peoples of the region in which the pipeline is proposed to be constructed.”

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The use of ‘Geronimo’ as Osama bin Laden’s code name in the raid that killed the terrorist leader Sunday will be discussed during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing today on Capitol Hill.

The government has yet to comment on the story but staffers for the committee have said the use of the revered Native warrior’s name was ‘inappropriate,” the Associated Press reports.

NCAI president Jefferson Keel released a statement yesterday, saying the association of the two names needed to be addressed by that “Osama bin Laden was a shared enemy.” Read his entire statement at Indianz.com.

Senate official: Wrong to link bin Laden, Geronimo

    By MATTHEW DALY, of the Associated Press:

    WASHINGTON – The top staffer for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is objecting to the U.S. military’s use of the code name “Geronimo” for Osama bin Laden during the raid that killed the al-Qaida leader.

    Geronimo was an Apache leader in the 19th century who spent many years fighting the Mexican and U.S. armies until his surrender in 1886.

    Loretta Tuell, staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said Tuesday it was inappropriate to link Geronimo, whom she called “one of the greatest Native American heroes,” with one of the most hated enemies of the United States.

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Mike Trahant

Mark Trahant


Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

The National Congress of American Indians proposed a fiscal year 2012 budget last week. It called for modest increases in a variety of federal programs, making the case that more money is required for American Indian and Alaska Native programs because of historic underfunding.

“Tribal leaders look to the upcoming fiscal year with great anticipation for honorable fulfillment of federal trust, treaty, moral and statutory obligations to tribes in the 21st century,” the proposal said. The NCAI budget proposal “presents a fresh opportunity for the U.S. government to live up to the promises made to tribes….” The NCAI request captures the wide variety of needs for services and programs across Indian Country.

In some years this proposal might get a fair hearing. Not this year.

NCAI describes the essence of the challenge ahead: “… in FY 2012, Indian programs should, at least, be held harmless and exempted from across-the-board recessions.”

Can Indian Country hold on to its gains, budget-wise and program-wise? Will essential services – money for schools, clinics, tribal governments – be cut so deeply that the result is havoc? Is there any sort of back-up plan? The answers to those questions are complicated by the failure of Congress to pass a budget last year and that’s where much of the action begins on Capitol Hill. There’s a range of thinking that goes from congressional calls for deep reductions to the Obama administration’s proposal for an overall budget freeze. Or worse.

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In case you missed it: The state of Indian nations is strong, National Congress of the American Indian president Jefferson Keel said during the 2011 State of Indian Nations address on Thursday.

But it is also standing at a crossroads. In the approximately 25 minute speech, Keel issued a call to tribal governments to join together to help build the “new era.”

The new era is possible because of the new and stronger partnership between federal government and the Tribal nations. However, more improvements are necessary and the work is not done. The state of economy means self reliance is a necessity, and tribes need to capitalize on this, Keel said.

To fully realize the new era, nations need to continue to work to secure full economic potential of the nations, Keel said.

Keel noted the passage of things like Tribal Law and Order Act, the Indian health and Improvement act, the settlement of Cobell and Keepseagle lawsuits, and the adoption of the declaration of the rights of indigenous people as keys to improving life in Indian Country.

“These achievements set the stage for a new era in Indian Country,” Keel said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowsi read the response from Congress following Kee’s speech.

Watch live streaming video from ncai at livestream.com

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The 2011 State of Indian Nations address will be delivered Thursday morning at at 10:30 a.m. EST (that’s 8:30 a.m. for those of us in MST) from the Newseum’s Knight Studio.

    The speech will reflect on the state of Indian Country going into 2011 and outline the key priorities for the federal government to consider when working to uphold the federal trust responsibility to tribal nations.

    The address will be broadcast live on NCAI.org. We encourage people all around the country to have viewing events at offices, schools, community centers, and in homes.

President of the National Congress of American Indians and Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma Jefferson Keel will deliver the speech. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will deliver a congressional response after Keel speaks.

It shouldn’t be hard to catch the address, along with the live stream from NCAI, the speech will be broadcast to radio stations via the Native Voice One (NV1) network and the Native America Calling program.

Jenna Cederberg

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President Barack Obama will meet with tribal leaders for a second annual tribal summit on Dec. 16 in Washington, D.C.

Indian Country Today reports that the summit will allow direct interaction with the president and his representatives. It’s a part of the administrations “commitment to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian country,” a White House representative said.

The first summit a year ago was well received and generated positive feedback from many Native American leaders.

This year’s White House Tribal Nations Conference is again anticipated to continue to strengthen lines of communication and clearly define paths to progress on tough issues facing Indian Country.

    “With the announcement of the second Tribal Nations Summit today, the Obama administration reaffirmed that tribal governments are equal members in the family of American governments,” said Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians. “The federal trust relationship between the U.S. government and tribal nations is a non-partisan relationship. Our meetings with the executive branch have a long term focus of creating healthier and stronger tribal nations, to strengthen the entire nation.”

But added Kimberly Teehee, senior policy adviser for Native American Affairs:

    “To bring real change to tribal nations, we must continue to work together, on a nation-to-nation basis, in order to realize a future where Native people live long and healthy lives in safe communities, where they are able to pursue economic self-sufficiency, and where their children and grandchildren can have an equal opportunity at pursuing the American dream. We will continue to look to the wisdom and experience of tribal leaders to inform our policy agenda.”

Jenna Cederberg

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NPR talks Native agenda with National Congress of American Indians leaders
You can listen to the NPR reporter Michel Martin’s interview with National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel and Juana Mejal Dixon, the group’s first vice president. They discuss the upcoming legislative year and what some of Indian Country’s top agenda items might be.

American Indian rapper Wahwahtay Benais performs in Plachta Auditorium in Warriner Hall Thursday night. Benais raps about past and present Native American issues, including living on reservations and genocide of his people. (Leah Sefton/Staff Photographer)

American Indian rapper Wahwahtay Benais performs in Plachta Auditorium in Warriner Hall Thursday night. Benais raps about past and present Native American issues, including living on reservations and genocide of his people. (Leah Sefton/Staff Photographer)


Native hip hop artist plays for teens
Rapper Wahwahtay Benais’ message is loud and clear as he bops about the stage. And although it’s not conventional, the Morning Sun (see video here) in Central Michigan reports that the audience was listening and loving it last week as Benais rapped about the history of Native Americans through “musical expression.”

    “They brought me out to do a show for Native American month for the college and for ya’ll,” said Benais. “What I want to do is explain what this month represents, but it’s even bigger than that though.

    “It’s not even about this month. Every month is Native American month for me.”

Yale agrees to return Inca artifacts
Bloomberg reports:

    Yale University, the third-oldest U.S. college, has agreed to return Incan artifacts taken from Peru a century ago, President Alan Garcia said.

    Ernesto Zedillo, a Yale professor and a former Mexican president, promised yesterday to return the artifacts, which were excavated by archaeologist and Yale Professor Hiram Bingham from the Machu Picchu citadel in the southern Andes in 1912, Garcia said in statement dated yesterday and posted on the presidential website.

Tough times force CSKT to examine reservation newspaper’s future
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council put a tough question to its members this week: What should be done to help cut costs for the Flathead Reservation’s Char-Koosta News source?

The newspaper currently prints weekly, but needs to cut costs and doesn’t want to cut positions, the Char-Koosta reports.

The survey includes among other ‘answers’ choosing a preference of cutting the newspaper’s print run to bi-weekly runs or moving it completely online. A motion was passed to increase of five dollars per subscription.

You can take the survey on Char-Koosta News distribution here.

Jenna Cederberg

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Here’s what the editorial board of the Syracuse Post-Standard writes:

    You know what would make a great video? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg issuing a formal apology to the Native American community for his racially insensitive remarks.

Those remarks concern Bloomberg’s advice to New York Gov. David A. Paterson that he get a “cowboy hat and a shotgun” and go connect taxes on Native cigarettes sold to non-Natives. New York, facing a severe budget crisis, opted to start collecting those taxes Sept. 1.
The situation was tense enough before Bloomberg’s comment, which sparked a rally this week by members of the Seneca and Oneida nations, among others, at New York City Hall. Now it’s worse. Hence, the Post-Standard editorial, which ended thusly:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (AP photo)

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (AP photo)

    Bloomberg is free to weigh in on the issue, of course, but as the National Congress (of American Indians) suggests, he should do so in the spirit of diplomacy. That effort should begin with a full-throated apology for his ill-conceived remarks. Following that, he might want to venture Upstate to visit a few Indian nations and familiarize himself with the struggles their residents face and the progress they have made. He could not help but be more sensitive in his future pronouncements if he did so.

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Representatives of Native American tribes and organizations call on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to apologize for racially insensitive remarks he made on John Gambling's Aug. 13 radio show. Local Onieda Nation members joined Monday's rally on the steps of City Hall. (Bryan Smith/New York Daily News)

Representatives of Native American tribes and organizations call on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to apologize for racially insensitive remarks he made on John Gambling's Aug. 13 radio show. Local Onieda Nation members joined Monday's rally on the steps of City Hall. (Bryan Smith/New York Daily News)

Members of Native American tribes gathered on the steps of New York’s City Hall yesterday to take New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to task for the insensitivity of his recent remarks on how cigarette taxes should be collected from Native Americans.

According to the New York Post, Bloomberg suggested to Gov. David Paterson: “You know, get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun. If there’s ever a great video, it’s you standing in the middle of the New York State Thruway saying, you know, ‘Read my lips: The law of the land is this and we’re going to enforce the law.’”

Tribes immediately protested, noting that the remark came at a time when Bloomberg was calling for tolerance of a mosque planned near Ground Zero. The National Congress of American Indians seeks an apology.

And the Syracuse Post-Standard reports that:

    The Seneca Nation of Indians passed a Tribal Council Resolution on Aug. 14 condemning Bloomberg’s comment as derogatory against the nation and its membership.

    The resolution demands that Bloomberg resign his post as mayor of New York City and provide a formal written apology to the Seneca Nation and its members. The resolution also asks Paterson to publicly condemn Bloomberg’s comments and authorizes Seneca President Barry Snyder to file human rights and hate crime violations with the state of New York, Justice Department and United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People.

Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said in a prepared statement that “You can similarly imagine how members of the Jewish community would react if a politician urged the governor to ‘wear a red armband and hold a shotgun’ to confront Jewish people who defend their lands as we defend ours,” Halbritter wrote in a letter to Bloomberg. “While you claim to be calling just for the law to be enforced, surely as a Jewish leader you would recognize the tragic history of laws being used to suppress ethnic minorities.”

The cause of the controversy revolves around the state’s preparation to start collecting, on Sept. 1, a $4.35 per pack sales tax on cigarettes sold by Native American retailers to non-Native customers.

Gwen Florio

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James Odata of the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union is keeping an eye on the situation today as tribal members protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s remarks on a tax on Native American cigarettes set to begin Sept. 1.

Odata writes:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (AP photo)

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (AP photo)

    Tribal members from as far away as the Seneca territory planned to meet in New York City this morning to protest outside city hall. Their rally was motivated by comments by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that have spread from tribe to tribe across the country. …

    The National Congress of American Indian representatives and members of the upstate and Long Island tribes have been planning to merge outside the mayor’s offices. The group intends to ask for an apology and discuss sovereignty.

Bloomberg’s comment: According to the New York Post, he suggested the following to Gov. David Paterson. “I said to David Paterson, I said, ‘You know, get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun. If there’s ever a great video, it’s you standing in the middle of the New York State Thruway saying, you know, ‘Read my lips: The law of the land is this and we’re going to enforce the law.’”

We’ll be following this throughout the day.

Gwen Florio

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