New Paper on Defending Morton v. Mancari

Andrew Huff and Tim Coulter have released “Defending Morton v. Mancari and the Constitutionality of Legislation Supporting Indians and Tribes”.

Quote from the article

Supporting and defending the Mancari decision and the rule that it stands for – that laws benefiting tribes are not unconstitutional racial classifications – is a very high priority, perhaps the most urgent and important Indian law issue of our time. This paper reviews the decision in Mancari and the law leading up to and following it. We then turn to a discussion of the present challenges to the Mancari rule. In Part V, we suggest possible ways to support the decision and its rationale, and we discuss some additional legal arguments and approaches for defending the constitutionality of legislation benefiting tribes.

PDF of paper below and paper is available for download here 

Mancari 11-19


Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women as a Step Toward Empowerment – Event

Link to the announcement here


Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women as a Step Towards Empowerment


Wednesday, March 15, 2017
10:30 a.m.

Salvation Army
221 E 52nd St.
(Downstairs Room)
New York, NY 10022

Join us to recognize, strengthen, and honor the global movement to end violence against indigenous women.

Indigenous women around the world experience disproportionate levels of violence and murder and multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination because they are indigenous and because they are women. Too often, national justice systems fail to respond to this violence, leaving women without protection or meaningful access to justice. In this event, indigenous women leaders will speak to the situation of violence against indigenous women in the United States and Guatemala.

• Learn about barriers to safety facing American Indian and Alaska Native women in the United States, and their successes in restoring indigenous sovereignty to address violence against women.

• Learn about the grassroots movement to stop the trafficking of indigenous women in the United States.

• Learn about the spectrum of violence facing Mayan women in Guatemala and their strategies of resistance.

Panelists will also discuss strategies for urging states to advance the rights of indigenous peoples and women affirmed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

For more information, email Jana L. Walker, at

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Congressional Resolution Aimed at Creating Awareness on Missing and Murdered American Indian and Alaska Native Women

Press release available press-release-hill-briefing-2_16_17

From the press release:

“Indigenous women go missing twice—once in real life and a second time in the news” said Amanda Takes War Bonnet, Public Education Specialist of the Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains.  War Bonnet was part of a panel during the Moving Ahead In Addressing Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Efforts to Address Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls congressional briefing held Feb. 15, to provided legislators and the public with an overview of this urgent issue.  . . .

To help bring attention to these tragic, often undocumented crimes,  Montana Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester introduced Senate Resolution 60 on Monday, Feb. 13 — a resolution calling for the designation of May 5, 2017 as a “National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.” Senators James Lankford (OK), Cory Gardner (CO), Al Franken (MN), John Hoeven (ND), and Tom Udall (NM) co-sponsored the resolution. Speaking at the briefing, Sen. Daines noted that May 5th was chosen because it is the birthday of Hanna Harris, a Northern Cheyenne woman who went missing in July 2013 and was found murdered several days later. . . .

Nearly 200 tribal, national, and state organizations have supported the resolution, which calls for designating May 5, 2017 as a day to honor the lives of those missing and murdered and demonstrate solidarity with families that have lost a loved one through violence. Speakers urged participants to contact their Senators and ask them to co-sponsor the resolution.

Indian Law Resource Center Accepting Applications for 2017 Fellowships

From the announcement:

The Indian Law Resource Center is a non-profit legal advocacy organization that provides legal advice, assistance, and representation to Indian tribes and indigenous communities throughout the Americas. We are also committed to developing new attorneys in the fields of Indian law and international human rights law.

We offer fellowship and clerkship opportunities in both our Helena, Montana and Washington, D.C. offices. These fellowship and clerkship opportunities require a minimum eight week commitment and entail legal research and writing on major Indian rights issues related to current projects of the Indian Law Resource Center. The Lewis and Sidley Fellowships both offer a stipend of $3,000 for the term of the Fellowship. Applicants are welcome to supplement this stipend with additional financial support through their law school’s public interest programs or through other public interest scholarships.

Complete details available here: lewis-and-sidley-fellowships-2017

Indian Law Resource Center: Indigenous Notes

The World Bank Approves Indigenous Peoples Policy

This month, the World Bank’s board of directors approved a new Environmental and Social Framework, modernizing a decades old set of policies aimed at preventing Bank-funded development projects from harming the environment and people. (More …)

About the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will help protect our self-determination rights, our rights to our territories and natural resources, our right to sustainable development and to the healthy environment on which indigenous peoples physical and cultural survival depends. It will also help to ensure respect for the practices, traditions, laws, and cultural values of indigenous people. (More …)

Mayan leadership learns how to hold development banks accountable for human rights violations

Multilateral development banks play a key role in financing large-scale development projects, such as dams and forestry initiatives, that have often had devastating impacts on indigenous people and their communities. The Center led a workshop on the United Nations System and multilateral development banks for the traditional and ancestral authorities of the Mayan Nation. (More …)

Indian Law Resource Center chairwoman appointed to top UN body on indigenous issues

Terri Henry, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Secretary of State and chairwoman of the Indian Law Resource Center board of directors, is one of 16 experts tapped to serve on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She will begin her three-year term on January 1, 2017. (More …)

Minnesota tribes learn about engaging in the UN

Tribal leaders from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and other Minnesota Indian Affairs Council representatives met with Indian Law Resource Center lawyers August 4, 2016, for a high-level workshop about how to engage in the United Nations system to protect tribal lands, sovereignty, and cultures. (More …)

Article, “The Timbisha Decision – A Familiar Story and Dangerous Precedent”

Christopher Foley, attorney at The Indian Law Resource Center, has published an article criticizing the most recent court decision in the Death Valley Timbisha Shoshone case.

Link to article here

From the article:

The Death Valley Timbisha Shoshone Tribe was dealt another setback last week in its ongoing efforts to preserve its constitutional government in the face of persistent federal interference.

On May 27, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a disappointing decision in the Tribe’s federal lawsuit asserting that the Interior Department’s installation of a new Timbisha government was illegal. The court did not rule on the claims of the Tribe that the Bureau of Indian Affairs had acted illegally. Instead, the court simply said that the case was moot, that deciding those issues would make no difference. The court erroneously found that a tribal constitution that was purportedly adopted in 2014 should retroactively govern this case, and it decided all this without any factual record and no trial at which to present evidence.

This is a familiar story. The United States government claims to support tribal sovereignty and to respect self-government, but when it wants to overrule or take over a tribe it simply does so. It is rarely stopped or restrained by the courts.

Previous coverage here

Indigenous Women’s Movements to End Violence Against American Indian, Alaska Native, and Aboriginal Women

The Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, Indian Law Resource Center, National Congress of American Indians, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, and Native Women’s Association of Canada are co-sponsoring an event to  be held during the NGO-Forum of the Commission on the Status of Women’s 60th Session.

The event  will take place on Tuesday, March 22nd at 4:30 p.m., at the United Nations Church Center Chapel.

More information can be found here.


Indian Law Resource Center Report on Tribal Capacity for Enhanced Sentencing

Report here.

The Indian Law Resource Center recently released, Restoring Safety to Native Women and Girls and Strengthening Native Nations ─ A Report on Tribal Capacity for Enhanced Sentencing and Restored Criminal Jurisdiction. The report examines existing literature on the readiness among Indian nations to exercise enhanced sentencing authority under TLOA and fuller criminal jurisdiction over all perpetrators of violent crimes under VAWA 2013 or other future legislation. It also identifies challenges facing Indian nations in exercising such authority and how some Indian nations are moving forward to increase their capacity to safeguard Native women in their communities. The report, available at, concludes with ten recommendations aimed at ending violence against Native women and girls and strengthening the ability of Indian nations to address this crisis. We hope that the report will guide the Center, and perhaps others, in better assisting Indian and Alaska Native nations to make their communities safe places.

New Handbook – Combatting Violence Against Native Women in the United States

In the face of unresponsive domestic legal and political systems, the Indian Law Resource Center partnered with Native women’s organizations and Indian nations on a national strategy – a strategy reframing the issue of violence against Native women as a human rights issue, not just a domestic or law enforcement issue. By combining domestic and international advocacy and turning to the international human rights arena to find justice, this strategy has led to encouraging results. A new handbook by the Indian Law Resource Center documents advocacy within the Inter-American Human Rights System to combat violence against Native women in the United States.

Link here.

New Video Campaign on Ending Violence Against Women and Redefining Native Love

New Video Campaign on Ending Violence Against Women and Redefining Native Love

October 21, 2013

(Helena, Mont.) —  The Indian Law Resource Center and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) have launched the first videos in a new campaign to raise awareness of and help end violence against Native women and girls.

The campaign is two-fold, featuring a series of “Survivor Stories” with Native women who have experienced domestic and sexual violence as well as a series of videos on the theme of “Native Love” with Native youth expressing what Native love means to them and the changes they want to see in their communities.

“With one in three Native women raped in their lifetimes, creating awareness to end violence against Indian and Alaska Native women and girls is the first and foremost priority for this campaign,” said Jana Walker, Senior Attorney and Director of the Center’s Safe Women, Strong Nations project.  “The epidemic of violence against Native women and girls cannot be tolerated.”

The first survivor story released in the series features Sheila Harjo, the First Lady of The Seminole Nation and Councilwoman.  In the video, Harjo describes the eight years of abuse she endured by her former husband.

“I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor,” declares Harjo in the video. “I now have the opportunity to share my story and let people know it can happen to anybody. It’s not drunks. It’s not the poor people. It’s not the uneducated. It’s anybody.”

Harjo has been a driving force in helping The Seminole Nation establish a domestic violence program and shelter for abused women and their children.

The “Native Love” video series raises awareness about violence against Native women and girls and is aimed at empowering tribal members, particularly young people, to speak out.  Justin Secakuku, a member of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona, shares a Hopi tradition involving white corn, and its symbolism of the value of women to give and produce life.

“Women should be appreciated, honored, and loved,” says Secakuku in the video. “In the concept of Native love, we have to respect what women have to contribute to society as a whole.”

The Indian Law Resource Center and the NIWRC will release four survivor stories and four “Native Love” stories through the end of the year.  The videos and other online resources including posters, Facebook banners, a domestic violence toolkit, FAQs, and a guide on how to share the campaign, will be available at and

“We hope to stimulate and support a national dialogue about what Native love is — and what it is not — in order to create change that will help restore safety to our Native women and girls,”  said Lucy Simpson, Executive Director of the NIWRC.  “We encourage people to watch the videos, share them through Facebook and other social media channels, and help us create change.”

The videos were co-produced by the Center and Native filmmaker Ryan Red Corn, co-founder of Buffalo Nickel Creative.  Red Corn also produced “To The Indigenous Woman” which was released by the Center in October 2011.  For more information or to download and share the videos, visit or


About the Indian Law Resource Center

The Indian Law Resource Center is a nonprofit law and advocacy organization that provides legal assistance to Indian and Alaska Native nations who are working to protect their lands, resources, human rights, environment, and cultural heritage. The Center’s principal goal is the preservation and well-being of Indian and other Native nations and tribes.  The Center, which is headquartered in Helena, Montana, and has an office in Washington, D.C., has been working for justice for indigenous peoples for 35 years. For more information, visit

About the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) is a nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance, policy development, training, materials, and resource information for Indian and Alaska Native women, Native Hawaiians, and Native non-profit organizations addressing safety for Native women.  The NIWRC’s primary mission is to restore safety for Native women.  For more information,