” Tribal Colleges Give Remarkable Return on Investment” – Indian Country Today

Ryan Winn is the Humanities Department Chair at the College of Menominee Nation, and in an article published in Indian Country Today, he eloquently gives Ms. Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report, the “what for” after she published a not-too-accurate article about success rates at tribal colleges. Mr. Winn’s response article can be found here, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/03/23/tribal-colleges-give-remarkable-return-investment


President Obama Op-Ed in Indian Country Today


Op-Ed by President Obama in Indian Country Today

This morning, in an op-ed published in Indian Country Today, President Obama announced his upcoming travel to Cannonball N.D. to visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Friday, June 13. The President will be accompanied by the First Lady in his first visit to Indian Country since taking office.

The following op-ed by President Obama appeared this morning in Indian Country Today:

Six years ago, I made my first trip to Indian Country. I visited the Crow Nation in Montana – an experience I’ll never forget. I left with a new Crow name, an adoptive Crow family, and an even stronger commitment to build a future that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American Dream.

Next week, I’ll return to Indian Country, when Michelle and I visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Cannonball, N.D. We’re eager to visit this reservation, which holds a special place in American history as the home of Chief Sitting Bull. And while we’re there, I’ll announce the next steps my Administration will take to support jobs, education, and self-determination in Indian Country.

As President, I’ve worked closely with tribal leaders, and I’ve benefited greatly from their knowledge and guidance. That’s why I created the White House Council on Native American Affairs – to make sure that kind of partnership is happening across the federal government. And every year, I host the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where leaders from every federally recognized tribe are invited to meet with members of my Administration. Today, honoring the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country isn’t the exception; it’s the rule. And we have a lot to show for it.

Together, we’ve strengthened justice and tribal sovereignty. We reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, giving tribes the power to prosecute people who commit domestic violence in Indian Country, whether they’re Native American or not. I signed the Tribal Law and Order Act, which strengthened the power of tribal courts to hand down appropriate criminal sentences. And I signed changes to the Stafford Act to let tribes directly request disaster assistance, because when disasters strike, you shouldn’t have to wait for a middleman to get the help you need.

Together, we’ve resolved longstanding disputes. We settled a discrimination suit by Native American farmers and ranchers, and we’ve taken steps to make sure that all federal farm loan programs are fair to Native Americans from now on. And I signed into law the Claims Resolution Act, which included the historic Cobell settlement, making right years of neglect by the Department of the Interior and leading to the establishment of the Land Buy-Back Program to consolidate Indian lands and restore them to tribal trust lands.

Together, we’ve increased Native Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care. One of the reasons I fought so hard to pass the Affordable Care Act is that it permanently reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which provides care to many in tribal communities. And under the Affordable Care Act, Native Americans across the country now have access to comprehensive, affordable coverage, some for the first time.

Together, we’ve worked to expand opportunity. My Administration has built roads and high-speed internet to connect tribal communities to the broader economy. We’ve made major investments in job training and tribal colleges and universities. We’ve tripled oil and gas revenues on tribal lands, creating jobs and helping the United States become more energy independent. And we’re working with tribes to get more renewable energy projects up and running, so tribal lands can be a source of renewable energy and the good local jobs that come with it.

We can be proud of the progress we’ve made together. But we need to do more, especially on jobs and education. Native Americans face poverty rates far higher than the national average – nearly 60 percent in some places. And the dropout rate of Native American students is nearly twice the national rate. These numbers are a moral call to action. As long as I have the honor of serving as President, I’ll do everything I can to answer that call.

That’s what my trip next week is all about. I’m going to hear from as many people as possible – ranging from young people to tribal leaders – about the successes and challenges they face every day. And I’ll announce new initiatives to expand opportunity in Indian country by growing tribal economies and improving Indian education.

As I’ve said before, the history of the United States and tribal nations is filled with broken promises. But I believe that during my Administration, we’ve turned a corner together. We’re writing a new chapter in our history – one in which agreements are upheld, tribal sovereignty is respected, and every American Indian and Alaskan Native who works hard has the chance to get ahead. That’s the promise of the American Dream. And that’s what I’m working for every day – in every village, every city, every reservation – for every single American.

ICT Baby Veronica Coverage: Parts 3 and 4

Here and here. Excellent articles.

From Part 3:

In 2010, after Brown had been served notice of termination and adoption, his original lawyer, Lesley Sasser, asked a Charleston, South Carolina–based family court attorney named Shannon Jones to join Brown’s legal team. Although Jones is an expert in interstate custody disputes under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, she did not expect to become involved in an adoption struggle over an Indian child from Oklahoma.

“Lesley came to my office one day and said, ‘I’ve got this case that’s coming up for trial, and it could be kind of complex,’ ” said Jones, laughing at the understatement. “She said it involved the Indian Child Welfare Act. Honestly, at first I didn’t even know what it was. I’d never heard of it.”


Judge Deborah Malphrus, who heard arguments in South Carolina’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, issued a verbal courtroom ruling in favor of Brown on November 25, 2011. Soon, according to multiple sources in South Carolina, she was “inappropriately contacted” by numerous parties who asked her outright to change her written ruling in favor of the Capobiancos. Far from listening to their requests, Malphrus subsequently issued a 25-page ruling that reiterated the family court findings and transferred custody to Brown.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/06/04/fight-baby-veronica-part-3-149704

ICT’s Baby Veronica Series, Part II

Another article in this excellent series.


“The birth mother knew I was Cherokee, she knew I was a tribal member, she knew my birth date and she knew how to spell my name,” said Brown matter-of-factly. “Look, we’ve known each other since we were 16. We were engaged. She absolutely knew all of my vital information. And she gave [the attorney and the tribe] the wrong information [hoping to keep the adoption secret].”

“Attack on the Tribal Middle Class” — Gabe Galanda’s Three Part Series in ICT

Here. An excerpt from Part III:

(Read part I and part II.)

Indian Country had established its own middle class even before the creation of what we now know as the United States. Although now shaped by federal self-determination policy, we are our own organic creation, with a tribal middle class rooted deep in the American past.

Take, for example, the Cherokee Nation. By the early 19th Century, the Cherokee had their own government, equipped with a constitution, judicial system, and police force, as well as their own thriving tribal economy. For many Cherokee, tribal economic activity had raised them to at least modern middle-class socio-economic status.

Then, in the late 1820s, Georgia passed a series of laws denouncing the Cherokee and asserting a supposed right to enforce state law inside of tribal territory. The attack, which was purportedly made in the name of “states’ rights” to manage all lands within their borders, drew support from those new Americans who thought “the tribes of Indians inhabiting this country were fierce savages, whose occupation was war, and whose subsistence was drawn chiefly from the forest.” (Johnson v. M’Intosh). In reality, the Cherokee were the very opposite of the “savage” other who they were portrayed. Again, the Cherokee Nation had a strong government and vibrant economy, with a surplus of individual Indian wealth.

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Review of “Facing the Future” in ICT

Here: ICT Facing the Future Review

The text (from ICT):

Copyright Indian Country Today Mar 10, 2010
Review . . .

‘Facing the Future: The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30’ edited by Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Wenona T. Singel, and Kathryn E. Fort

Through the generations, the attempted annihilation of Native families and tribal communities left legacies of survival and resistance, but some of the most persistent practices of colonialism linger, as this book reminds us.

Several of the authors cited in this collection of 12 essays take the U.S. sharply to task for the cultural damage left in the wake of generations of Native children removed from their homes and placed with non-Native people or institutions up to the present day.

“The long history of injustices against indigenous peoples of the Americas is well documented,” notes Professor Lorie M. Graham, Suffolk University Law School. “For purposes of the Indian Child Welfare Act, the relevant historical point would be what one scholar has referred to as the ‘Native American holocaust of the nineteenth century'” when Indian children were removed I from their homes.

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ICT Editorial by Kaighn Smith re: Tribal Work Laws

From ICT:

Imagine this scenario: “If you don’t sleep with me, you can kiss your job goodbye,” the male supervisor warns the female waitress at the tribe’s gaming facility. (We’ll call her Joyce.) She consistently says no. His threats continue and even escalate.

Although he threatens to make her life miserable if she tells anyone, Joyce seeks help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; EEOC informs her that federal sexual harassment laws exclude tribes. She goes to tribal court. She finds she has no remedy under tribal law. Overwhelmed by her boss’ intimidation, Joyce quits her job. Unemployed and unable to afford her rent, she moves in with her brother, Bob.

A host of other laws that are silent about their application to tribes pose similar threats to tribal sovereignty.

Bob, a union organizer, is outraged. He starts talking to Joyce’s co-workers and learns that other women have experienced similar harassment. Other workers complain that management plays favorites with tribal members, giving them better jobs and shifts than non-members. Bob says that with union representation, management would be held accountable for workers’ rights.

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“American Indian Education” Profiled by ICT

From ICT:

TEMPE, Ariz. – Matthew L.M. Fletcher is an associate professor at Michigan State University College of Law and he is the director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. He recently published, ”American Indian Education: Counternarrative in Racism, Struggle, and the Law” through Routledge. He graduated from University of Michigan Law School.

Indian Country Today: Why did you choose to pursue a career in law?

Matthew L.M. Fletcher: I just want to be able to contribute something to the community and I also was thinking in different ways, even before I started college, what I could do. I had talks with people who are from my community and elders from Michigan who talked a lot about how in the ’70s and ’80s, the big treaty fishing cases were going on and people were really happy with the outcomes with those cases but they were sad to see all the litigation conducted and organized and control by people that were not from the community.

ICT: Do you feel like you have helped your tribe?

Fletcher: I feel like I’ve contributed something and I continue to contribute something. My whole life will be a process of contributing. I think it has been real good.

ICT: What is the future of Indian law?

Fletcher: It’s interesting. The ’70s and ’80s were about litigating treaty rights. The key for Indian lawyers is not so much about going to court but it’s about developing governmental structures within the tribe which is what lawyers do. It’s actually a folly to go to federal courts now. All you have to do is ask anyone who does any kind of litigation in federal court if you’re representing a tribe or tribal interest you can’t expect to win. It’s going to be that way for a long time. The thing that you see is institution building within Indian country. There are some incredible things going on that are not getting a lot of attention. There is a lot of creativity with people bringing back indigenous culture and tradition.

ICT: How would you define sovereignty?

Fletcher: My view of sovereignty is that it is the right to make your own mistakes and to decide things for yourselves. That is really what it is about. Tribes have the wherewithal, the ability and the legal authority to pursue different avenues of governance. They are going to do something where everyone shakes their heads, and then they are going to do other things where people are going to just say, ”Wow.” There is an incredible amount of diversity and creativity going on right now.

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