Here are the materials in Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians v. United States Army Corps of Engineers (D.D.C.):
Here is the opinion in State v. Bellcourt:
Additional state parties are Indiana and Louisiana. Additional children involved are from White Earth and Ysleta del sur Pueblo.
A word of warning–I swore at the complaint by paragraph 4.
ETA: This interesting (related?) article out of Indiana: DCS Director Resigns
This article highlights a promising program being implemented in northern Minnesota. The counties and tribes are working collaboratively to meet the needs of dual status youth (juveniles who come into contact with both child welfare and juvenile justice systems). This model is being applied in a few other places around the country and may be a model for other counties and tribes to consider.
The entire article is available here.
Excerpts from the article:
Way up in northwestern Minnesota, progress is being made within the Ojibwe tribes.
“It’s been a long process,” said Trisha Hansen, Bemidji District supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Corrections. “… It was a tough two years, let me tell you. Probation and social services have really worked together in the last two years.”Since September, the traditional divisions between the systems of juvenile justice and child welfare have begun to be erased.With a tribal nation contained within the county, the separations are doubled. . . .
The ultimate goal is to integrate tribal, federal, state and local services for culturally appropriate services and to run juvenile delinquency prevention programs within the community rather than off-reservation.
“I anticipate great results,” said national consultant John Tuell. The goal is to “overcome this mess we’ve created with this separation between child welfare and juvenile justice.” He is executive director of the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice and RFK Children’s Action Corps, based in Boston.
One of the challenges, Hansen said, was figuring out the confidentiality parameters among the various agencies. She said the White Earth Nation in central Minnesota, which already uses the dual status youth strategies successfully, is helping them. White Earth Nation, also Ojibwe, is in Mahnomen County. It also uses county and tribal services and courts.
About 40 youths ages 10-17 are in the Beltrami County juvenile justice system locally and about 80 are under supervision on any given day, Hansen said.
White Earth Court Administrator Lori Thompson said the tribe adopted the dually involved youth program about 18 months ago. She has worked with the White Earth court system since 2000.
Currently, she said, about 15 young people are in the program.
The strategies, she explained, increase interagency information-sharing and give families and youngsters more of a voice in dealing with the agencies. Benefits include early identification, connecting families and youth with services, “diverting youth from adjudication and court when feasible” and “promoting culturally valid intervention.”
Such interventions include beading and drumming, Thompson said. Young people are assigned to four hours of community involvement every two weeks, such as setting up chairs, serving food and cleaning up at meetings.
The youngsters also carry wood for and take part in weekly sweat lodges, often with some of the officials, such as probation officers, who serve them. . . .
If a child commits an offense, Lind said, the process starts with the county attorney, who makes the initial decision of whether to charge the youngster. The county attorney also contacts county and tribal social services. Parents also meet with a social services worker and a probation officer, he said. Under the new program, these meetings would be conducted jointly, requiring less travel and saving time and money.
In the past, families often had to meet with several agencies. Such confrontations can be confusing to both parents and children, Hansen said. “They aren’t hearing a thing because there’s so much swirling around them,” she said.
“White Earth has made a lot of progress,” Hansen said, citing the Circle Back Center in Ogema, Minn., on the White Earth Reservation. Circle Back Center clients can be referred through Indian Health Services, law enforcement, tribal court, county social services, tribal, county and state corrections, substance abuse programs and private entities or families.
Eligible clients are boys and girls ages 10-18 who have successfully completed alcohol or substance abuse treatment, those who lack a sober or safe home and those with behavior problems such as truancy, runaway and curfew violations. The center primarily accepts American Indian youth, but extends services to non-native youngsters if staff members consider them able to benefit from the program.
Some tribes intend to fill the gap in federal funds themselves, risking deficits of their own to cushion communities with chronic high unemployment and poverty against the effects of the budget battle.
“Do we just throw kids onto the street, or do we help them? Most likely we’re going to help those families and do whatever we can until this is unresolved,” said Tracy “Ching” King, president of northern Montana’s Fort Belknap Reservation.
But for other tribes, basic services stand to take a direct hit. That includes programs heavily subsidized by federal agencies and others paid for with tribal money that is suddenly unavailable because it’s being held by the Department of Interior, tribal leaders said.
Available in Anishinaabeg Today, the White Earth Band tribal newspaper. Check out page 2 for the commentaries.
This article focuses heavily on the current constitutional reform movement going on at the White Earth Nation in Minnesota, but also makes some interesting points about tribal constitutions in general.
A few quotes from the article:
Most Americans don’t realize that tribes have their own constitutions, which set down rules for everything from tribal government to citizenship. But many were built on models written by the U.S. Department of the Interior nearly 80 years ago.
Times have changed, tribal leaders say. Today many Indian nations are expanding their economies, experimenting with gaming and hoping to include their own cultural touchstones and collective priorities in the document that governs them.
“We are governed by the Indian Reorganization Act, written by the federal government in 1934,” said Vizenor, chairwoman at White Earth, the state’s largest tribe. “[Our constitution] doesn’t have an independent judicial system. It doesn’t have separation powers. And there are about 27 references about asking permission from the Secretary of Interior in order to do something.”
A new constitution, Vizenor said, could be the key to attracting new businesses, running clean elections, creating an impartial judiciary — and creating a place where more people want to live, work and invest.
About 250 of the 333 tribal constitutions in the United States were based completely or partly on the Indian Reorganization Act, according to David Wilkins, professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t apply to Indian Country because tribes are sovereign nations that existed before the constitution was drafted, he said.
Tribal constitutions determine how tribes govern themselves internally and how they relate to other government entities such as counties and states. Having stronger checks and balances in place can help prevent the favoritism and corruption that has prevented some tribes from prospering, supporters say.
Research has shown that tribes with the most capable governments are more successful economically than others, said Steve Cornell, co-director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and a professor at the University of Arizona.
White Earth got started on the process in 1997, after several tribal leaders — including former chair Darrel (Chip) Wadena — were convicted of election fraud and bid-rigging related to the tribe’s casino. When Vizenor was elected tribal chair in 2004, she made constitution reform a priority.
White Earth’s proposed constitution contains the first term limits for tribal leaders and an independent court system. Judges must be graduates of a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, but must also have “knowledge of Anishinaabe [Ojibwe] culture, traditions and history.”
It creates a legislative council, but one advised by a “council of elders.” It contains safeguards guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, such as freedom of religion, speech and press. But it also protects “freedom of artistic irony,” a form of satire used in literature that “may not please some citizens.”
Vizenor hopes good governance will attract and keep younger tribal members, who often leave reservations because, in the absence of clear rules, jobs can hinge on political connections.
In the past, Minnesota tribes interested in reforming their governments often lacked the expertise and finances, said Jaime Pinkham, a vice president at the Bush Foundation. That’s why the foundation stepped in.
Even with funding, however, challenges remain. How do you stir up excitement over a constitution in a place grappling with poverty? How do you get buy-in from folks who stand to lose political privilege? How do you deal with the contentious tribal citizenship issue?
“Change is frightening to people,” said Anton Treuer, executive director of the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University. “But times are changing, and we need to change with them.”
Full article here.
Here are a pair of articles about a constitution drafted at White Earth by a team headed by Gerald Vizenor.
These are from the most recent issue of Studies in American Indian Literatures. I have a book review in the same issue of Vizenor’s Native Liberty: