Posts Tagged ‘tribal sovereignty’

Attempts at the federal level to help Native Hawaiians establish self-governing rights have continually failed, but two bills to grant that right are advancing in the state’s legislature this year.

The Washington Examiner reports that the bills would set up two different scenarios to allow Natives to establish a form of government.

    The proposals recognize Native Hawaiians as the indigenous people of the state and call for the creation of a commission tasked with forming a roll of qualified Hawaiians who could be part of their future government. One of the bills goes a step further by setting up a process for ratification of governing documents, forming a governing council and appropriation of money to be spent by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

    Native Hawaiians are the last remaining indigenous people in the United States who haven’t been allowed to establish their own government, a right already extended to Alaska Natives and Native American tribes.

    U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, sought federal recognition of Native Hawaiian for 11 years without success in Congress.

Jenna Cederberg

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Cherokee, Apple partner to put language on iPhones
iPhones that help keep Native languages alive? If the new app created by a Apple/Cherokee Nation collaboration catches on, it’s not such an outrageous statement.
As Indian Country Today reports, the app that was introduced late in 2010 is geared toward “tech-savvy” youth who are using the iPods, iPads and iPhones en masse.

    Tribal officials first contacted Apple about getting Cherokee on the iPhone three years ago. It seemed like a long shot, as the devices support only 50 of the thousands of languages worldwide, and none were American Indian tongues. But Apple’s reputation for innovation gave the tribe hope.

    After many discussions and a visit from Smith, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company surprised the tribe by coming through this fall.

Brian Smith, a member of the Glooscap First Nation and operations director of the Centre for First Nations Governance poses for photos in Kentville, Nova Scotia on Wednesday, December 15, 2010.  (Sándor Fizli, For Postmedia News)

Brian Smith, a member of the Glooscap First Nation and operations director of the Centre for First Nations Governance poses for photos in Kentville, Nova Scotia on Wednesday, December 15, 2010. (Sándor Fizli, For Postmedia News)


Native communities struggle with governance, accountability
As the headline suggests, this strong piece from Post Media News’ Richard Foot details how First Nations in Canada often fight for sovereignty amidst headlines of scandals within already established tribal governments.

The article details the how Brian Smith, of the Mi’kmaq reserve in Nova Scotia, fought against the outrageous news that leaders of the 87 person reserve were earning nearly $200,000 salaries.

You’ll get a sense of the frustration from people like Smith as the article goes through arguments about two main points:

    First, ordinary aboriginal people care deeply about the chronic lack of good government on Canada’s First Nations — a shortcoming illustrated this fall not just by the salaries at Glooscap, but at dozens of First Nations across the country.

    Second, the messages showed that many aboriginals don’t want the federal government to step in to fix such problems, whatever the outcry for intervention from non-native taxpayers. And they aren’t eager for passage of a Conservative private members’ bill, now before Parliament, that would require First Nation politicians to publicly disclose their salaries on a government website.

FSU’s Seminole imagery still frustrates Russell Means

    “It would be in the best interest of Florida State to become human. We’re not asking them to become politically correct. Keep the Seminole nickname, but get rid of the savagery.”
    Russell Means

Although the Chik-Fil-A bowl has come and gone, the match up was preempted by The State columnist Ron Morris’ piece after his interview with Russel Means, former American Indian Movement leader who now teaches language on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Morris makes a strong argument leading up to his final paragraphs:

    Yet in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young fought for civil rights in the 1960s, there will be Florida State fans with painted faces doing the “Tomahawk Chop” and singing “war chants” hours before the calendar flips to 2011.

    There exists some irony in that. It is disgusting enough to make Russell Means turn off his television set in South Dakota.

See if you agree.

Jenna Cederberg

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Courtesy of Indian Country Today

Courtesy of Indian Country Today


Number of Native smokers remains high
With Native American Heritage Month in full swing, the serious concern over the continued high-numbers of Native smokers is also being highlighted,Indian Country Today reports.
In 2009, almost a quarter of the Native population smoked. The EX project, which is a collaborative public health campaign presented by the National Alliance for Tobacco Cessation, is hoping to drop that number to zero.

    “Native Americans continue to smoke at a high rate,” said Cheryl G. Healton, president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, “and it is an extremely difficult addiction to end. It’s important that Native Americans who do smoke are provided with quitting solutions. EX is a free resource created by and for smokers, and I am confident that it can help Americans re-learn life without cigarettes.”

Visiting speaker details problems with Native Americans as mascots
The author of “Native Americans in Sports,” Richard King visited Central Michigan’s campus to discuss the use of Native symbols and cultural representations as mascots.
The Michigan Central Life reports that King spoke on the common misconceptions and misrepresentations brought about by the images used as mascots.

    “Native American mascots emerge out of commodity racism,” King said. “Misrepresentation of Indians leads to misrecognition”.
    King closed with tips on moving forward from the issue of wrongful use of Native Americans in sports.
    People have to be aware they are privileged, King said. They also have to work to recognize the humanity of indigenous people and combat racism, he said.

Attorney Dan Decker gave a presentation about treaty law and tribal sovereignty at SKC Monday. (B.L. Azure photo)

Attorney Dan Decker gave a presentation about treaty law and tribal sovereignty at SKC Monday. (B.L. Azure photo)


Treaty law, tribal sovereignty nuances, confusions discussed on Flathead Reservation
Bernie Azure of the Char-Koosta News attended attorney Dan Decker’s presentation of Tribal law and sovereignty. Decker discussed what he sees as confusion on the part of Natives and non-Natives on both issues. Decker was speaking at Salish Kootenai College as a part of the W.J. Kellogg Foundation’s Heart Lines lecture series.

    “The earliest treaties were a nation-to-nation basis with European nations then after the American Revolution the treaties continued to be on a nation-to-nation basis,” Decker said. “They are as good today as they were yesterday.”

Native American studies course for MT educators
My mom (on her way to completing 33 years of teaching middle school in Lolo) was excited to see this in the teachers’ lounge: Montana State University is offering two Native American Studies Spring 2011 online courses. “Federal Indian Law and Policy,” along with “Native America: Dispelling the Myths” will run starting in January for 12 credits in NAS (toward graduate credit). Interested educators can visit MSU’s website.

Jenna Cederberg

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New York Gov. David A. Paterson visited western New York yesterday to mark the opening of a new Yahoo! Data Center. But instead of celebration, his arrival was greeted by a protest from members of the Tuscarora and Seneca Indian nations.

WGZ-TV reports that they booed as Paterson’s helicopter flew overhead:

    For now, the state cannot collect taxes on Native-sold cigarettes, but that’s only due to a temporary federal injunction. If that is lifted by a federal judge, the governor promises to collect the taxes at the wholesale level.

    Natives have said such an action would destroy their economies. They hoped to get the Governor’s attention and that of Western New York, to plead their case.

New York has tried to collect the taxes before, only to back off after protests that briefly closed the New York Thruway. But now the state desperately needs money and it’s estimated the taxes could bring in as much as $200 million.

Gwen Florio

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A customer selects cartons of cigarettes at a smoke shop on the Tonawanda Seneca Nation in New York last month. Tensions are rising as a fight over the state's ability to tax those cigarettes drags on. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

A customer selects cartons of cigarettes at a smoke shop on the Tonawanda Seneca Nation in New York last month. Tensions are rising as a fight over the state's ability to tax those cigarettes drags on. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

So says this report by Carolyn Thompson of the Associated Press:

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A New York appeals court on Tuesday lifted a temporary order blocking the state from collecting taxes on cigarettes sold by Native American stores to non-Indian customers.

On Sept. 1, a state appellate judge in Rochester restored a restraining order that barred the state from collecting the $4.35-per-pack tax. But the court’s five-judge panel, which took up the case last week, ruled that the state properly approved regulations for the levy.

A federal judge in Buffalo has already temporarily blocked tax collections from two Indian nations — the Senecas and Cayugas — and was holding a hearing Tuesday in that case.

State officials didn’t immediately comment on the decision.

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Stan Beardy, Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation (WildlandsLeague.org photo)

Stan Beardy, Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation (WildlandsLeague.org photo)

Members of a group representing First Nations living in Ontario say the province’s proposed Far North Act to protect a vast swath of boreal forest north of the 50th Parallel will infringe upon their treaty rights.

If the measure, slated for final reading in the legislature this week, is approved, “there will be conflict in the north,” Stan Beardy, grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, told Canadian Press.

He says the main problem is that the act, which would apply to 42 percent of Ontario’s land, gives the government veto power.

“It imposes a massive, interconnected protected area over our homelands without compensation and without our consent,” he says. “We will oppose it by any means necessary. There will be no certainty for the government or for investors.”

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Here’s the latest from the Associated Press:

Protesters hold signs during an anti-tax rally on the Tuscarora Indian Nation in New York last Wednesday, Sept. 1.  (AP/ David Duprey)

Protesters hold signs during an anti-tax rally on the Tuscarora Indian Nation in New York last Wednesday, Sept. 1. (AP/ David Duprey)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A New York appeals court has held off deciding whether to extend or lift an order blocking the state from collecting taxes on cigarettes sold by Native American stores to non-Indian customers.

On Sept. 1, a state appellate judge in Rochester restored a restraining order that barred the state from collecting the $4.35-per-pack tax. The court’s five-judge panel took up the case Thursday, but ended the session without saying when a ruling would be issued.

A federal judge in Buffalo has already temporarily blocked tax collections from two Indian nations — the Senecas and Cayugas — and scheduled a hearing for Tuesday.

The appellate court order applies to all nine New York tribes battling to preserve their tax-free cigarette

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A protester positions himself along the I-90 thruway on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation to protest the proposed New York state cigarette tax to non-Native American consumers in Irving, N.Y. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)

A protester positions himself along the I-90 thruway on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation to protest the proposed New York state cigarette tax to non-Native American consumers in Irving, N.Y. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)

Even before yesterday’s shooting of a security guard outside a Native American-owned cigarette shop on Long Island, tensions were high over New York’s plan to collect taxes on cigarettes sold by Natives to non-Natives. Carolyn Thompson of the Associated Press explores the issue in depth:

 Diane Garrido holds a flag during a rally last week on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation to protest the proposed New York state cigarette tax to non-Native American consumers in Irving, N.Y. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)

Diane Garrido holds a flag during a rally last week on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation to protest the proposed New York state cigarette tax to non-Native American consumers in Irving, N.Y. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)

CATTARAUGUS INDIAN RESERVATION, N.Y. (AP) — As New York Indian Nation leaders battle in courtrooms to preserve their tax-free cigarette market, tensions are rising on reservations, where the state’s renewed efforts to tax sales to non-Native customers is viewed as yet another attack on Native American rights.

“For 200 years, we have been dealing with efforts to take our land, efforts to take our resources, efforts to take our jurisdiction,” said Robert Odawi Porter, senior policy adviser and counsel for the 7,800-member Seneca nation in western New York, which says its cigarette business is a $100 million-a-year industry.

Trustee Lance Gumbs from Long Island’s Shinnecock tribe called the tax “just another extension of … the genocidal tactics of New York state.”

“Every tribe is committed to fight this issue,” said Gumbs at his smoke shop in Southampton.

Nine New York tribes are in the cigarette business. The $4.35 sales tax would force them to raise their prices and blunt their competitive edge over off-reservation sellers. Tribal leaders say the income loss would devastate economies.

A rally last week alongside the New York state Thruway where it bisects the Senecas’ Cattaraugus reservation was organized as a peaceful “people’s rally.” But there were reminders of 1997 chaos that erupted the last time the state tried to tax reservation sales.

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, rides in a golf cart driven by President Barack Obama, right, while playing golf at Vineyard Golf Club, in Edgartown, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Friday. (AP/Steven Senne)

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, rides in a golf cart driven by President Barack Obama, right, while playing golf at Vineyard Golf Club, in Edgartown, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Friday. (AP/Steven Senne)

Many in Indian Country have been fuming over New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s crack last month about the use of a “cowboy hat and shotgun” to collect cigarette taxes from Native American stores.

Although an apology was sought, none has been forthcoming

So when Bloomberg joined President Barack Obama during his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard a few days ago, hopes were high for what Indian Country Today writer Rob Capriccioso terms “a teachable moment.”

Obama has, after all, been attentive to the concerns of Indian Country. People thought, Capriccioso writes, that Obama might discuss the issue with Bloomberg:

    The hopes ranged from small – recognition – to large – getting the president to secure an apology. No matter their size, they were quashed.

    Instead, Obama – who has sometimes made a point of publicly supporting Indian issues – engaged Bloomberg in a conversation about the economy, and played a round of golf. Adding insult to injury, some New York papers have cited anonymous sources saying that Obama was feeling out Bloomberg for a job in his administration.

Bloomberg’s remark came in the midst of an ongoing effort by New York state to collect a $4.35-a-pack tax on cigarettes sold by Native-owned stores to non-Natives.

The tax was to be imposed starting yesterday; however, a federal judge has ordered a two-week delay – plenty of time, still, for Bloomberg to apologize.

Gwen Florio

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The saga continues. A federal judge has delayed a final ruling for two weeks on imposing a sales tax – originally slated to start today – on cigarettes sold by the Seneca and Cayuga nations to non-Native customers.

The delayed ruling is prompting a business boom at the Native-owned shops as people stock up on cigarettes in anticipation of a $4.35-a-pack tax hike, WIVB reports.

Gwen Florio

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