Posts Tagged ‘Rob Capriccioso’

The current statistics are shocking enough, and a new clarification of definition of rape may highlight more troublesome, increased numbers of rape cases in Indian Country.

As Rob Capriccioso reports on ICTMN, the Obama Administration recently expanded the official definition of rape. That could help tell a more accurate picture of sexual assaults across the country and help define a solution.

In the past, the numbers have shown Native women are more than three and half times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape.

    That revelation was made clear January 6 when the Obama administration announced that the federal government would also begin counting rapes toward women that were done by an object or mouth on the vagina or anus without consent, and it would begin counting rapes of children and men as well. The new data will be collected for the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The new definition is more consistent with state laws and local crime reports, administration officials said.

    Obama administration officials said the new measuring methods may lead to an increase in the number of counted rapes nationwide, including those in Indian country.

    “This major policy change will lead to more accurate reporting and far more comprehensive understanding of this devastating crime,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to Obama, in a press conference call. She called the old data “incomplete,” and said that “it has not captured the true impact of this crime.”

Capriccioso also discusses in his report how decreased federal funding for certain programs inhibits the prosecution of attackers and resources available to victims of rape in Indian Country.

Jenna Cederberg

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Reserve votes to allow eviction of gang members

A CTV News report from Alberta, Canada (see the full video report here) details a new bylaw OK’d by voters there that would allow tribal officials to remove gang members from the reserve.

The Samson Cree Nation is a violence-plagued reserve, CTV reports.

    The band agreed to take the issue to a vote after the July death of the chief’s five-year-old grandson in a drive-by shooting, as well as ongoing gang violence.

    There are believed to be about 12 gangs in the four First Nations communities in the Hobbema area.

    “It is considered necessary for the health and welfare of the Samson Cree Nation to regulate the residence of its citizens and other persons on the reserve,” states the bylaw, which also includes a provision requiring prospective new residents to apply to a residency tribunal before moving in.

SBA introduces new course for Indian entrepreneurs
In a press release this week, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced a new program aimed at helping entrepreneurs in Indian Country get their business dreams off the ground and into action.

Native American Small Business Primer: Strategies for Success” is a free, self-paced online business course developed for Native American business owners.

    The new online course: emphasizes business planning and market research as essential steps to take before going into business; informs Native American entrepreneurs about the legal aspects of starting a business, including the type of ownership (legal structure) and licensing; and provides key information on seed money for starting up, raising capital, and borrowing money. In addition, there is a section on how to estimate business start-up costs that can help assess the financial needs of going into business.

Craven appeal of Cobell moves forward
ICTMN’s Rob Capriccioso has the latest on an appeal to the historic Cobell land trust settlement given final approval by the courts last year.

The settlement terms have irked some, such as Kimberly Craven, Capriccioso reports. Craven filed an appeal to the settlement in September and has continued to file documents with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as objections to her appeals have filed in. The appeals will most likely delay settlement payments to thousands.

    Of note, Craven labels the proposed distribution of the settlement as “upside-down” in that “greatest alleged injuries” would receive “the least amount of money.” The brief also states, “[c]lass members with no hope of recovery have an interest in a settlement that wildly overcompensates them at the expense of class members who do have legitimate claim.”

    Cobell lawyers have previously argued that Craven is speculating that class members suffered different types of individualized damages.

Jenna Cederberg

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Nuclear reactors and power plants that lie close to reservation land throughout the country are under more severe scrutiny since the Japan earthquake and tsunami damaged nuclear plants there.

But as ICTMN’s Rob Capriccioso reports, the reservation residents who live close the U.S. reactors have always cast a weary eye on their nuclear neighbors.

Capriccioso examines the struggles of the Prairie Island Indian Community in Welch, Minnesota, and looks at what price others are paying for nuclear testing.

    Since 1973, citizens of this small Sioux reservation have kept a wary eye on the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, which lies adjacent to their land and is believed to be the closest nuclear power plant to an inhabited community in the country. The plant, owned by Xcel Energy Inc., has long been controversial, not only because of the risk of mishaps with its nuclear reactor, but because nuclear waste produced there since the early 1990s has been stored in large steel casks on concrete pads near the reactor that creates it. This became all the more frightening when residents learned that the damaged Japanese plant had a similar on-site storage system, which caused horrific problems when the electricity went out post-earthquake and the waste there could not be kept cool.

    Accidents have occurred time and again at U.S. plants, including the infamous Three Mile Island crisis of the late 1970s in Pennsylvania. In 2006, workers at the Prairie Island plant faced a drama of their own, having been exposed to low levels of radiation resulting from a gas leak. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reported that approximately 110 workers received exposure of 10 to 20 millirads, which the company and the U.S. government say is safe. But John LaForge, writing in the Pulse of the Twin Cities publication and representing the views of many local residents, was not convinced: “Every government agency that deals with radiation says in their official publications that there is absolutely no safe level of exposure, that every single radiation dose carries some increased risk of cancer and other illnesses.”

    . . .

    Much like Prairie Island, Indians nationwide were rarely consulted as the plants began to invade their lands. According to the Honor the Earth environmental organization, at least two dozen of the nation’s 104 licensed nuclear power plants are close enough to reservations to pose immediate danger if an accident similar to that in Japan were to occur.

Jenna Cederberg

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Dorgan renews focus on Indian youth suicide

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Native health, Native youth, Suicide

On Feb. 28, Dorgan officially launched the Center for Native American Youth, a new policy program at the Aspen Institute think tank. (Photo by Vincent Schilling)

From Rob Capriccioso, ICTMN:

WASHINGTON – For years, tribal citizens have made impassioned pleas to federal lawmakers to help address the crisis of youth suicide among struggling Native American young people.

Like Coloradas Mangas, a teenager from the Mescalero Apache Reservation in Ruidoso, N.M., who testified before Congress last year about a time not so long ago when he tried to kill himself.

“Things go wrong that they can’t change,” he said in response to a question about why Native kids were turning to suicide. “They don’t get shown the love they need. They say, ‘You don’t love me when I was here. Now you love me when I’m not here.’

“I come from a people whose pride runs deep, but I also understand that sometimes pride can keep us from asking for help.”

At the time, Mangas’ testimony struck a chord with the now-retired Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, the immediate past chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, who commended the high schooler for sharing his thoughts. Before exiting Congress at the beginning of this year, Dorgan went on to host a tribal roundtable discussion focusing on youth suicide, and he attempted to drum up support for legislation that would hopefully curb the epidemic.

But those efforts did not signify the end of his commitment. Today, it’s stories like that of Mangas that have led the former congressman to begin a venture that will spotlight Native youth, while attempting to make up for all that missing attention.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Indians to Arianna Huffington: What About Us?

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Native journalists, native news

As Rob Capriccioso reports, the new “GlobalBlack” section on Huffington post announced this week has Natives wondering why they’re not getting the same attention on the uber popular news blog.

Indian Country Today asked several Native news watchers why they thought Indian Country deserves the same attention

    “I think a mainstream media site could feasibly host a Native American section,” said Brian Bull, assistant news editor at Wisconsin Public Radio. “We’re the First Nations… as far as relevancy’s sake, there’s history, politics and financial influence galore within Indian country, which can certainly establish Native people as a relatively small—but significant—demographic.” He noted that there are 565 federally recognized tribes and many state recognized ones with unique and powerful stories to share in every major news-making area.

    Native attention has increasingly turned toward the Huffington Post because it’s a news-based website showing major signs of growth and strong financial backing.

    “Huffington Post’s site would only benefit from having a Native American section—after all, news should reflect all people regardless of race,” said Lori Edmo-Suppah, editor of the Sho-Ban News, which covers the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. “Currently the public doesn’t know enough about Native people because our news is rarely covered, as many still think our people are in the past.”

    Edmo-Suppah said there would “definitely” be enough Indian contributors to make a strong page, and the right person just needs to seek them out. “Information would depend on who is hired to write it and it must be someone who is aware of current and past issues, because Native people always have to remember teachings passed on through culture and traditions.”

Jenna Cederberg

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Pete Rouse, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff. (Courtesy of the White House)

Pete Rouse, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff. (Courtesy of the White House)

Indian Country Today‘s Rob Capriccioso got a first-of-its-kind interview with White House Chief of Staff Pete Rouse this week, as Rouse answered questions for the Native American publication in advance of the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C. this week.

Rouse answers questions about his comfort level with Indian issues, as well as what might be scheduled as far as more direct talks with President Barack Obama and individual Tribal governments in the near future. Rouse says in his answers that Obama will work hard to protect important legislation like Indian Health Care Improvement Act, passed by Congress this year and continues to be committed to getting to reservations to have direct, intimate talks with tribes.

    Here’s Capriccioso’s full Q&A:

    Indian Country Today: Many folks in Indian country know you worked for former Sen. Daschle. Did that experience help inform you on Indian issues?
    Pete Rouse: It certainly did and, actually, my first job. … I’ve been working in government, primarily on the Hill, for 39 years, and my first job was in 1971 with Jim Abourezk, who was a congressman from South Dakota. That was my first exposure to Native American issues and, actually, Tom Daschle and I were staffers together for two years with Jim Abourezk in the Senate, when he was a senator. Then, for 19 years, I was chief of staff for Tom in the House and Senate. So, that’s how I became espoused of Indian issues – and, hopefully, somewhat knowledgeable.

    ICT: When you encounter Indian policy issues, do they come naturally for you, or do you need a lot of outside briefing – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    PR: Well, I need a lot of outside briefing on everything. [Laughs] I am familiar with these issues going way back to Wounded Knee in South Dakota in the early ’70s. Elouise Cobell, I’ve known since the ’80s when she was trying to reform the management of Indian trust. And, of course, in South Dakota, where you have Pine Ridge and Rosebud and Standing Rock – and a lot of the issues of unemployment, need for economic development, education, health care. … those were always prominent on Tom Daschle’s agenda, so I’ve been talking to tribal leaders and Native Americans for years.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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Indian vets score a win in Congress

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Politics, Uncategorized

Indian Country Today reported this week that Congress has passed the Indian Veterans Housing Opportunity Act, which will help Native veterans get housing assistance along with federal disability and survivor aid they qualify for.
Rob Capriccioso reported that the legislation is headed to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

    Until now, the benefits had been considered income under NAHASDA, thus reducing support. NAHASDA was passed in 1996 to allow tribal communities to more easily access housing grants by providing support to families who make less than 80 percent of the median income of their area.

    The flaw was fixed under the legislation by specifically excluding veterans’ benefits from the definition of income.

Here’s one more article about the Indian Veterans Housing Opportunity Act.

Jenna Cederberg

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Rob Capriccioso covers Native American news in Washington, D.C., for Indian Country Today. That means he’s a very, very busy reporter, logging lots of time in the halls of Congress.

Only one problem: As a writer for a publication owned by a tribe, he’s considered to be working for a foreign government – and that can make it tough for him to get a press pass. As he writes here in Native Pop on True Slant:

Rob Capriccioso

Rob Capriccioso

    The U.S. Senate Periodical Press Gallery says those are the rules. But what the situation really boils down to is a U.S. government bias against tribes. The same U.S. government that strives to protect the 1st Amendment; that holds freedom of the press up as an important symbol of our country’s greatness; that likes to say it has a special relationship with tribes. If special means unfair, then that’s news to me.

    It’s the same U.S. government, too, that has previously approved congressional credentials for many foreign news services, including China’s Xinhua News Agency.

Capriccioso says he’s been told that Indian Country Today should ask Congress to request a special hearing on whether Indian publications should get press passes. That seems a like a very complicated solution to a very straightforward issue.

Yes, tribes are sovereign nations. But their members are U.S. citizens, and Capriccioso is reporting on news vital to them.

He lists the number for the Senate Periodical Press Gallery, and we’re happy to include it here, too. It’s (202) 224-0265. Call and let them know what you think.

Gwen Florio

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"Trail of Tears," by Robert Lindneux

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Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has announced that he ”absolutely” intends to relocate people from the city’s poor neighborhoods and downsize his city. (See Detroit News story here.)

“If we don’t do it, you know this whole city is going to go down. I’m hopeful people will understand that,” Bing said in a radio interview this week. “If we can incentivize some of those folks that are in those desolate areas, they can get a better situation.”

Rob Capriccioso, in his Native Pop column for True Slant, here, terms it “a dangerous policy road.”

    Already, comparisons to the U.S. government policy of American Indian relocation have popped up.

    “Sounds like reservations to me; it sounds like telling people to move,”community activist Ron Scott said in a recent news report. “The citizens of the city of Detroit who built this city, the working class, didn’t create this situation. You are diminishing the constitutional options people have by contending you have a crisis.”

    Just a reminder to anyone looking in from Detroit: forced relocation of tribal citizens is now considered a failed U.S. policy. At the time, for decades even, the solution seemed like a good one — the only one — to many policy makers.

    But the policy ended up robbing sovereign citizens of their traditional homes and sacred land. Poverty, broken spirits, alcoholism, and many other social ills resulted.

Capriccioso reminds us we’re still paying hundreds of millions of federal dollars to cope with the after-effects of that one – and are likely to keep paying it for years to come.

Gwen Florio

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