Amicus Brief of NCAI in Census Case

Here is the National Congress of American Indians’ (“NCAI”) Amicus Brief in Trump v. New York, which is being argued today and addresses whether unauthorized immigrants should now be excluded from the Census count.

From the brief:

Multiple amici argue, in effect, that unauthorized immigrants are not “persons” to be counted for purposes of apportionment. Because the United States once tried to argue that American Indians were not “persons” under the law, amicus NCAI is compelled to refute these arguments.

….

These arguments are inconsistent with the Constitution’s text and history. Worse still, in a nation where “all persons are created equal,” Matthews v. Lucas, 427 U.S. 495, 516 (1976) (Stevens, J., dissenting), see also Declaration of Independence ¶ 2 (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. . . .”), these attempts to deny the very personhood of unauthorized immigrants are morally bankrupt.

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. Donald J. Trump

Here is the complaint in Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. Donald J. Trump, which relates to Cheyenne River’s Health Safety Checkpoints.

From the complaint:

The United States and the nation’s Native American tribes are in a state of emergency. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout the country, infecting millions of people, including in South Dakota, which has had 6,353 confirmed cases and 83 deaths outside the boundaries of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Experts estimate that, for every confirmed COVID-19 case, there could be as many as eleven unconfirmed cases. “At this time, there is no known cure, no effective treatment, and no vaccine. Because people may be infected but asymptomatic, they may unwittingly infect others.” S. Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, 590 U.S. —-, 140 S. Ct. 1613, 2020 WL 2813056 at *1 (May 29, 2020) (Roberts, C.J., concurring).

On April 2, 2020, in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe established a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan, including Health Safety checkpoints to monitor the entry of individuals onto the Tribe’s Reservation. These Health Safety Checkpoints have allowed the Tribe to effectively track individuals that have returned to the Reservation from hotspots throughout both the state of South Dakota and other off-Reservation locations and to keep the Tribe’s rate of infection significantly below the rate for South Dakota at large. To date, the Tribe has had no COVID-19 deaths.

News coverage here, and the press release can be seen here.

NDN Collective, Inc. (NDN) announces Request for Information (RFI) for Indigenous Contractors to Provide Support to Indigenous Communities Dealing with COVID-19.

RFI here.

More information here.

NDN Collective, Inc. (NDN) announces the release of a Request for Information (RFI) to collaboratively identify contractors and other technical assistance providers who can provide support to Indigenous communities bracing from economic impacts, stresses to public services due to COVID-19.  This team will specifically provide assistance in accessing federal stimulus resources for Native Nations, Indigenous-led organizations, and individuals, and other.  The RFI is designed to complement COVID-19 Response grants and loans that are offered by NDN to maximize the potential of these resources to solve current critical needs by building capacity to use these funds effectively.

NAICJA Webiner – McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court Oral Arguments: An analysis of the History, Law, and Arguments of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reservation Case

McGirt Flier v2

Date & Time: Wednesday, June 3, 2020 from 12:30 pm-2:00 PM MST (90) minutes.

Webinar Narrative: The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on May 11, 2020 in McGirt v. Oklahoma, case #18-9526 (by telephone) involving the status of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation. Last year, the Court heard arguments on a nearly identical case in the Murphy matter. This decision could have enormous impact for Indian law, positive or negative. Come join us for a FREE webinar to hear tribal perspective as to the surrounding Muscogee cultural history, the jurisprudence of Indian lands in Oklahoma and thoughts and analysis of the oral arguments from the Muscogee Nation’s Supreme Court amicus brief advocate Riyaz Kanji.

Register Here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7CZVYSf8QMSxDtxHftI-Tg

 

Montana Court Temporarily Blocks Montana Law that Restricts Native American Voting Rights

A Montana court has issued a temporary restraining order blocking a state law that severely restricts Native Americans’ right to vote. The Montana Ballot Interference Prevention ACT (BIPA) imposed severe restrictions on ballot collection efforts that are critical to Native American voters, particularly those living on rural reservations. The TRO means the law is blocked pending the outcome of a hearing scheduled for May 29. The primary is June 2.

Read more about the lawsuit, Western Native Voice v. Stapleton.

Tribes and Voting Rights Group Notify South Dakota of Serious Voter Registration Violations

On May 20, 2020, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Four Directions, a non-profit group that works to encourage civic participation in Indian Country, notified South Dakota officials of serious and ongoing violations of federal requirements for providing voter registration opportunities through public assistance agencies and departments of motor vehicles. The notice letter, directed to the Secretary of State as the state’s chief elections official, asks state officials to respond within 20 days to avoid the need for federal court litigation. In this matter, the Tribes are represented by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and Four Directions is represented by Demos.

Under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), state public assistance agencies and motor vehicle offices are required to provide voter registration services when people are applying for services, renewing their eligibility, and providing change-of-address information. The notice letter documents a steep drop in voter registration applications from public assistance agencies in recent years, and other clear evidence of non-compliance with the NVRA.

“When you go to a state office, such as to get your driver’s license or to apply for public assistance, you are supposed to be able to register to vote at the same time. The state is supposed to facilitate voter registration, but that is not what is happening in South Dakota. Reservation residents in particular are not being given this opportunity, and it is driving down voter participation,” said NARF Staff Attorney Natalie Landreth.

Brenda Wright, Senior Advisor for Legal Strategies at Demos, representing Four Directions, stated: “Access to voter registration through government agencies is more important now than ever, given the difficulties of conducting traditional door-to-door registration drives. Demos has worked in many states to improve agency-based voter registration, and we hope that South Dakota officials will also work with us to ensure that South Dakotans can participate fully in the upcoming elections.”

O.J. Semans, Jr., speaking on behalf of Four Directions, stated, “My wife Barb and I are deeply concerned that Native Americans are losing the opportunity to register through South Dakota’s public assistance agencies and when getting a driver’s license. We’ve worked with the former Secretary of State, the Help America Vote Act task force and the election board in the past on developing formulas to create satellite offices on Indian Reservations. It is our hope that the state of South Dakota will once again work with us to ensure full participation in the 2020 Elections and beyond.”

The violations described in the letter include:

  • Failure to provide voter registration applications to persons during all public benefits transactions required by the NVRA
  • Failure to update applicants’ voter registration address when they report a change of address to public benefits agencies
  • Failure to provide voter registration services to persons who lack either a social security number or driver’s license

Under the NVRA, the Native American groups named in the notice letter may initiate litigation in federal court as soon as 20 days after the notice letter, if state officials do not remedy the violations during that time frame. The notice letter urges the state officials to indicate whether they are willing to engage in compliance discussions before the 20-day period expires.

Lawsuit Regarding the Right to Wear a Traditionally-Beaded Graduation Cap and Eagle Plume at High School Graduation

Here is the Complaint in Larissa Waln and Bryan Waln v. Dysart School District et al. in the District of Arizona.

More information and the press release can be seen here.

Statement From Fort Belknap and Rosebud on KXL Lawsuit

On the same day the Trump Administration announced that up to 240,000 people may succumb to the COVID-19 virus, TransCanada announced it is proceeding with KXL pipeline construction. In fact, TransCanada outlined several activities scheduled for April all along the route of the pipeline, not just at the border. With this construction, workers will descend on the communities along the pipeline’s proposed path. TransCanada ignores the threat that this influx of people creates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the face of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the Fort Belknap Indian Community and Rosebud Sioux Tribe asked the court to grant a temporary restraining order on pipeline construction. The Tribes are asking the court to put a short hold on construction until a hearing scheduled later this month.

“Fort Belknap has declared a state of emergency on the reservation because of the extremely dangerous COVID-19 pandemic and its threat to the health and well-being of the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribal members,” said President Werk of the Fort Belknap Indian Community, “We are very concerned about TransCanada bringing in outside construction workers from all over to build this pipeline within an hour from our reservation.”

“Rosebud has issued a curfew, closed businesses, and asked all to shelter in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are joined in a fight against an invisible enemy that we now know is highly contagious before its hosts even show symptoms,” said President Bordeaux of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, “Based on these extraordinary circumstances, we ask that TransCanada halt any construction during this pandemic.”

A two-week delay in the face of a pandemic would seem like the obvious course of action. Instead, despite the danger to tribal citizens and all of the people living in the area, TransCanada is pushing to quickly build as much of the pipeline as possible. Of course, they can then use this ongoing construction as justification for allowing the project to proceed whether or not the project is legal.

“We are in unprecedented times, and to continue in the face of this pandemic and place our communities at greater risk is irresponsible,” said NARF Staff Attorney Matthew Campbell. “The KXL pipeline as currently routed violates the treaties, federal law, and tribal law. We’re asking that the United States honor its treaty obligation to protect Rosebud and Fort Belknap.”

#HonorTheTreaties

More information here.