Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays and last minute gift ideas



As we wind down one year and head into the next, we would like to take a moment to reflect on the holiday season and to wish health, happiness and peace to you and your families.

While many of our holiday traditions have evolved over the centuries, the calendar cycle has remained constant.  Each year, December 21 marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.  We note it not because we like darkness and cold, but because it marks a turning point, the start of the journey toward light, warmth and new life.

For forty-three years, NARF has also followed the light, the light toward justice.  When Supreme Court cases go against us or governmental policies ignore or trample Native rights, it is easy to feel we are in the winter of justice, mired in darkness and cold. Somehow we remain optimistic that  the light is ahead and that unwavering determination will prevail.  Thank you for sharing that optimism and walking with us toward the light!

Are you looking for a last minute gift idea?  Make a donation to NARF in your loved one's name and help Defend the rights of Native Americans now!

We thank you for your time, consideration and for the support you have given to NARF this past year that has helped us achieve so much for Native Americans. As we look ahead to the New Year we hope that you will pledge once again to help NARF to continue to stand firm for justice for Native Americans in 2014.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Help defend the rights of Native Americans now


 
Since 1970, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has fought to defend the rights of Native Americans and indigenous peoples. NARF has won numerous and significant victories that have preserved the continued existence of tribes, their sovereign rights, traditional lands and cultural and spiritual lifeways.  While much has been achieved, considerable work remains.

Times are hard for everyone this Holiday Season.  Nonprofit organizations like NARF are needing your help more than ever.  Here is an opportunity to help defend the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide.  We respectfully ask that you consider giving what you can by December 31st.  Every dollar makes a difference in our battle to ensure justice and a brighter future for Native Americans.  Every gift is 100% tax deductible.  Again, any level of support can make a big difference for Native American rights in 2014.

We thank you for your time, consideration and for the support you have given to NARF this past year that has helped us achieve so much for Native Americans.  As we look ahead to the New Year we hope that you will pledge once again to help NARF to continue to stand firm for justice for Native Americans in 2014.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Job Announcement - Boulder, Colorado Office

Job Announcement:

POSITION: Legal Assistant

CLOSING DATE: January 10, 2014

DESCRIPTION:
The Native American Rights Fund is a nonprofit law firm representing Indian tribes,
organizations and individuals in Indian law cases of major significance. NARF’s main
office is located in Boulder, Colorado with additional offices in Washington, DC and
Anchorage, AK. NARF is looking for a Legal Assistant to provide legal support for its
staff attorneys.

QUALIFICATIONS:
The candidate must possess an Associate Degree or equivalent work experience.
Good working knowledge of Westlaw, electronic on-line data bases and case
management software/applications desired. Duties include: operation of standard office
equipment, preparation of correspondence, drafting and finalizing legal documents and
reports and organization/management of case files. Native Americans, Alaska Natives
and Native Hawaiians are encouraged to apply.

SALARY & BENEFITS:
Salary is highly competitive with generous benefits.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:
Please submit a cover letter and complete resume to Rose Cuny, Office Manager,
Native American Rights Fund, 1506 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302. Materials can be
submitted electronically to rbrave@narf.org

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Make your year-end gift today to support the Native American Rights Fund


For Native American youth, families, individuals and tribes who rely on your generosity, every dollar makes a difference in their battle to win justice now and for future generations.

Native Americans are still the poorest of the poor in this country. They have the lowest incomes and often the least amount of education. So many do not have the resources they need to fight for their own rights and that is why they come to NARF.

To meet these growing challenges, the Native American Rights Fund has committed to providing even more legal services to tribes and Indians in the coming year.  So I am asking you to help us serve Indian Country through your most generous donation to NARF today.

Your donation is 100% tax-deductible and will create a lasting impact throughout Indian Country!

You can be proud that as our advocate you preserve tribal existence, protect tribal natural resources, promote Native American human rights, make governments accountable to Native Americans, develop Indian law and educate the public about Indian rights, laws and issues.

On behalf of the Attorneys, Board, Staff & Clients of the Native American Rights Fund, I ask you to give your most generous year-end gift now.

Best Wishes for a New Year filled with Peace, Happiness and Hope!

New NARF merchandise now available!


https://secure2.convio.net/narf/site/Ecommerce?ecommerce=store_list&ts=1173993531013&store_id=1101&JServSessionIda003=wua0be9841.app16d
 
Looking for a holiday gift or a way to show your support for NARF and the fight for Native rights?  Three new NARF products are now available through NARF’s online store.

Our Winter 2013 design t-shirt is long sleeved and sports the NARF feather logo on the front.  On the back is a list of tribes that NARF has represented over the past 43 years.  We will be shipping the week of December 16 and the shirt can be ordered by following this link.

In addition, we now have a convenient 24-oz water bottle, perfect for carrying your favorite beverage on the go.  The bottle is BPA-free and has a secure screw-off lid to keep spillage to a minimum.  To purchase the water bottle, follow this link, click here.

And finally, we now offer a great, heavy duty tote – perfect for shopping or any occasion.  As a bonus, inside the tote will be a few items NARF grab bag items, including a NARF t-shirt from our fall line, a NARF water bottle, and a few other fun NARF items.  To purchase the NARF grab bag, click here.


Purchasing NARF apparel directly supports our non-profit legal and advocacy work on behalf of the rights of Native peoples.  As always, thank you for your support of NARF!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New edition of NARF Legal Review now available

 

The newest edition of the NARF Legal Review is now available!  This issue focuses on the U.S. government’s Indian boarding school policy and also provides updates on NARF cases.  To download a copy of the NARF Legal Review, click here.

In addition, all previous editions of the NARF Legal Review can be found here.

NILL Law Librarian David Selden to present at CLE on making law firms more environmentally sustainable

Next week NILL Law Librarian David Selden will present the Colorado Bar Association’s CLE, “How to Green a Law Firm: Saving Money, Conserving Resources, and Exceeding Our Clients' Expectations.”  David is the co-chair of NARF’s Green Office Committee and he has been instrumental in implementing changes to reflect NARF’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

To learn more about the CLE, click here.  To learn more about NARF’s environmental sustainability efforts, click here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Niwot Native American Film Festival - First Friday, December 6 - 7:30 PM - Robert's Paintings

Located at Elysian Fields Auctions 6924 79th Street, Niwot, Colorado  (Look for flags along 79th Street in Niwot near intersection of Niwot Rd. & 79th St. in Niwot.) Screenings are FREE with a suggested donation. Ava Hamilton of Native American Producers Alliance & Film Festival Curator / Director will introduce the documentaries and films.
 
Robert's Paintings
 
Robert's Paintings
Director: Shelley Niro
As elegant and articulate as its subject, Robert’s Paintings examines the life and career of artist, curator, educator and cultural theorist Robert Houle. Houle’s work is, as W. Jackson Rushing has written, “notable for its sensual formalism and sensitivity to materials and their symbolic properties.” Houle draws from the long and sophisticated visual tradition of First Nations cultures, demonstrating their currency in contemporary art milieus. He also draws on Western art conventions to tackle lingering aspects of European colonization of First Nations people. His vast body of work represents a profound discourse on politics and aesthetics central to Indigenous ways of being, knowing and relating to complex philosophies and histories of oppression, resistance and sovereignty. Niro’s beautiful and compelling documentary paints an intimate portrait of this hugely influential and important artist, widely recognized for his role in the recovery and recontextualization of Canadian Indigenous heritage through art.
Shelley Niro is a Mohawk member of the Six Nations of the Grand River and belongs to the Turtle Clan. Niro is a visual artist and filmmaker whose work has shown internationally.
 
Sponsors:  Native American Producers Alliance (NAPA), Ni-wot Prairie Productions (NPP), Elysian Fields Auction Company, Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and WHIZZBang Studios
For information, please contact: Elizabeth Darling at: DarlinginNiwot@aol.com or 303-931-3084.  Native American Producers Alliance and Ni-wot Prairie Productions are 501(c)(3) organizations.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving


November is American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month. Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. It’s also an opportunity to highlight the important contributions of Native peoples and the shared histories between tribal nations and other communities.

Thanksgiving
Each November in America we celebrate the harvest festival of Thanksgiving. Over the years, much lore has evolved surrounding early Thanksgivings and feelings of brotherhood and good will between pilgrim settlers Photo of corn cobsand the Native inhabitants of North America. Sadly, most of these stories are inaccurate at best, and serve to ignore or gloss over a broad history of atrocities. In our hearts, we cannot celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the way revisionist history teaches our school children. We still feel the pain and suffering of our ancestors as the pilgrims celebrated their thanksgivings by theft of our lands and the genocide of our peoples.

Still, Native Americans are grateful for all that nature provides, and many of us celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in our own ways. Moreover, we give thanks every day as we greet the morning star in the eastern sky giving thanks to the Creator, our families, our ancestors and our survival.


We wish you and your families a happy holiday, and hope you are able to set images of pilgrims aside and join in gratitude for the bounty the living earth provides us. In that spirit, let us share with you the words of “Thanksgiving” from our Mohawk relatives in belief that one day there will truly be a Thanksgiving for all.


Thanksgiving Address
Greetings to the Natural World
The People
Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.
Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

The Waters
We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.
Now our minds are one.

The Fish
We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

The Plants
Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.
Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.
Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs
Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.
Now our minds are one.

The Animals
We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.
Now our minds are one.

The Trees
We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.
Now our minds are one.

The Birds
We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds
We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.
Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers
Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.
Now our minds are one.

The Sun
We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.
Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon
We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.
Now our minds are one.

The Stars
We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.
Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers
We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.
Now our minds are one.

The Creator
Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.
Now our minds are one.

Closing Words
We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.
Now our minds are one.

Send a Thanksgiving e-card today!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Indian Law and Order Commission releases final report


http://www.narf.org/bloglinks/iloc_press_release.pdf

Yesterday the Indian Law and Order Commission released its final report and recommendations—A Roadmap For Making Native America Safer—as required by the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, Public Law 111-211 (TLOA).  As described by the Commission, the recommendations are intended to make Native American and Alaska Native nations safer and more just for all U.S. citizens and to reduce the unacceptably high rates of violent crime that have plagued Indian country for decades.  This report reflects one of the most comprehensive assessments ever undertaken of criminal justice systems servicing Native American and Alaska Native communities.

Notably, Alaska was the only state to have its own chapter, and the report found that Alaska’s law enforcement and justice systems “do not serve local and Native communities adequately, if at all.”   As the report states, “the status quo in Alaska tends to marginalize and frequently ignores the potential of tribally based justice systems, intertribal institutions, and organizations to provide more cost effective and responsible alternatives to prevent crime and keep all Alaskans safer.”

To read a press release issued by NARF’s Alaska Office and Tanana Chiefs Conference, click here.  The full report can be found here.  The Alaska chapter can be found here.  And, more information on the Commission can be found here.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Veterans' Day - Remember those that served


In many Native American traditions, the role of warrior is a sacred trust.  Though a degree of glory might be won, that was not the primary goal.  Protecting family and community, personal responsibility and respect for traditions played much bigger roles. 

Crazy Horse, one of the warriors best known to a wide audience, was a quiet and humble man, rarely speaking of his experiences in battle.  Yet his community was well aware of his courage and sacrifices and what they meant to their survival.  Today, Tribes and Native communities across the country continue this tradition of respect for warriors and their sacrifices. 

Despite a sometimes contentious relationship with the U.S. Government, Native Americans remain resolutely patriotic.  Native young men and women are among the first to answer the nation’s call when soldiers are needed, serving with distinction in every branch of the service.  When they return from service, soldiers are remembered and thanked not just for a day, but for a lifetime.  Veterans are accorded a place of honor at the front of every parade and procession at every pow-wow and gathering.

November 12th, at NARF, we will be honoring our employees and relatives who have served in the military with a feast, prayers and songs.  Please take a moment that day to recognize the veterans in your own lives, whether friends, co-workers or loved ones.  All our warriors are sacred.  Let us remember them on Veterans' Day and every day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NARF receives grants from U.S. Department of Justice to continue partnership with Indian legal services organizations


Last week the U.S. Department of Justice announced $6.7 million in grants to improve legal defense services for the poor and NARF was again awarded funding to continue its partnership with Indian legal services organizations.  NARF received $715,944 to continue its partnership with the National Association of Indian Legal Services and its twenty-five Indian Legal Services organizations providing civil legal representation to tribes and tribal members, as well as a second award of $515,940 to provide indigent defense services to tribes and tribal members.  These are primarily pass-through grants, and NARF keeps only 1% of the total money for administrative costs.  The two grants announced last week are two of ten grants that NARF has received from the Department of Justice since 2004, and we are proud to have helped bring over $10 million total to Indian legal service organizations. 

To read more about the grants, click here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Don Wharton presents at First Annual Chief Niwot Forum


 
On Thursday, November 14, 2013, NARF Staff Attorney Don Wharton will present at the First Annual Chief Niwot Forum.  The event is titled Let All That Is Indian Within You Die: The History of Native American Boarding Schools, and Don will present on the philosophy behind these schools, the experiences of the students, and the emerging effort to heal the damage done during the boarding school years.

The event will take place at NARF’s Boulder office at 1506 Broadway in Boulder, Colorado.  General admission is $20, or $10 for NARF members and Boulder History Museum members.  To learn more, click here.

NARF co-authors amicus brief in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community


http://sct.narf.org/documents/michiganvbaymills/ncai_niga_amicus.pdf
Have you been following the important tribal sovereign immunity case, Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, which will be heard by the United States Supreme Court this term?  In addition to NARF's work on the case through the Tribal Supreme Court Project, NARF has also authored a brief on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Gaming Association, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, the Council for Athabascan Tribal Governments, and fifty-one federally recognized tribes.  To read the brief, click here.

To read visit the Tribal Supreme Court Project's page on the case and read all other briefs, click here.
 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Native American Rights Fund files amicus curiae brief on behalf of National Congress of American Indians in Jim Thorpe case


http://www.narf.org/bloglinks/ncai_amicus_thorpe.pdf

Earlier this week NARF Staff Attorney Matthew L. Campbell filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in the Jim Thorpe case.

The Thorpe family and the Sac and Fox Nation filed suit to repatriate Jim Thorpe’s remains so that he could be buried in Oklahoma on tribal land, as was his wish.  The Thorpe family and Tribe obtained a ruling in federal district court that NAGPRA applies to the Borough of Jim Thorpe in Pennsylvania, where Thorpe’s remains are in a mausoleum.  The Borough appealed that decision.  NARF, representing NCAI, filed an amicus brief in support of the lower court’s decision.  NARF also defended the constitutionality of NAGPRA, which the Borough challenged for the first time on appeal.   

The case was originally filed by Jim Thorpe’s son, John Thorpe, who has since passed away.  The case is now carried on by Jim Thorpe’s last remaining children and the Sac and Fox Nation.  To read the brief, click here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Please join us at 5:30 PM on Saturday, November 2nd


Author and former NARF attorney Walter Echo-Hawk will sign copies of his newest book, In The Light of Justice, at NARF on Saturday, November 2nd.  Mr. Echo-Hawk will also speak about writing the book and read an excerpt from it. 

The new book, subtitled “The Rise of Human Rights in Native America and the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” is already receiving praise from experts:

“All Indian Nations should take heed of this book!  It is devoted to the proposition that Native American rights are inherent and inalienable human rights.” -Wallace Coffey, Chairman, Comanche Nation 

“…he is also a masterful story teller, weaving an Indigenous cultural narrative throughout that is profound, moving and quite powerful. This book is a must-read for students and scholars of Federal Indian law, as well as the leaders and advocates that serve Indian Country”. -Rebecca Tsosie, Professor of Law, Arizona State University

NARF Staff Attorney Heather Kendall-Miller testifies at Senate Committee on Indian Affairs field hearing


 
This past weekend NARF Staff Attorney Heather Kendall-Miller testified at a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs field hearing on the health, food security, and viability of Alaska Native villages.  The field hearing was hosted by Senator Mark Begich and Senator Lisa Murkowski and included testimony on the Alaska Native subsistence way of life.  To read Heather’s testimony, click here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Kim Gottschalk to speak at University of Colorado Law School conference on Free, Prior and Informed Consent


 
On November 1, NARF Staff Attorney Kim Gottschalk will speak at University of Colorado Law School conference on Free, Prior and Informed Consent: Pathways for a New Millennium. 

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), along with treaties, instruments, and decisions of international law, recognizes that indigenous peoples have the right to give "free, prior, and informed consent" to legislation and development affecting their lands, natural resources, and other interests, and to receive remedies for losses of property taken without such consent. With approximately 150 nations, including the United States, endorsing the UNDRIP, this requirement gives rise to emerging standards, obligations, and opportunities – and creates considerable uncertainty -- for governments, industries, and investors who work with indigenous peoples.

In this conference, the very first to address “FPIC” on a global and national scale, Colorado Law convenes leading experts to discuss legal standards, best practices, and new partnerships with respect to FPIC implementation in natural resource development, climate change, and cultural heritage matters. Join us for a cutting-edge, high-level discussion of interest to attorneys, indigenous nations, governmental agencies, NGO’s, environmental advocates, institutional investors, and industry leaders in energy, natural resources, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and others.

The event is presented by the American Indian Law Program and Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy & the Environment and is free and open to the public.  For information on how to register, click here.

 

Friday, October 11, 2013

NARF voluntarily dismisses federal district court civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Veronica Brown


In consultation with our client, Angel Smith, the attorney appointed by the Cherokee Nation courts to represent the best interests of Veronica Brown, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has voluntarily dismissed the federal district court civil rights lawsuit that was filed in South Carolina.  Along with our partners at NICWA and NCAI, we ask that in moving forward, we all come together to work to make sure that no family ever has to go through this again.  Angel Smith’s press statement is as follows:

I was appointed to represent the legal rights and claims of Veronica. It included her legal right to a best interest hearing for custody and, at a minimum, for the process of transfer of custody. Her rights and claims were taken up in multiple forums, and much to my regret, no court took present consideration of her best interest in the decision for custody or transfer.

No matter how fit or even wonderful both families are or may be, it is disheartening that Veronica was ever in a position to know one mom and dad at bedtime one day, and the next night to be in a different home with another mom and dad. The fact that she did is unquestionably a failure of the legal systems as to this child. It is the judicial systems placing upon the little head of Veronica the issues many courts had an opportunity to and should have resolved under the legal right of Veronica to a present best interest hearing. 

In legal matters, any child -including Indian children- hold legal rights and claims under various tribal, state, federal and/or international law. These legal rights are those of the child and independent of any other party. Failure of judicial systems to consider these independent rights and claims due the child is truly a failure to protect the most vulnerable of our societies and puts upon children the historic semblance of property. All our children deserve and are legally guaranteed more from our judicial systems. For that failure in these matters, my apologies to dear Veronica and both her families because it is now the two families who are left to pick up the pieces of Veronica and help her heal.

Today finds me in a place where continued litigation only places my client at the heart of potentially years of legal proceedings with no guarantee of outcome.  This is not in the interest of my client, and it is Veronica who I was appointed to represent.  It is time for all of the United States and Indian country, the legal systems, and any acts growing out of self-motivation or hatred to quietly step aside.  Yes, there remains work to do for children and Indian children, but it is time to allow Veronica and her families to heal and grow together in private.

Wa do.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

NARF Staff Attorneys Melody McCoy and Matthew L. Campbell to speak at TEDNA at Ten, TEDNA’s 10th annual membership meeting



Next week NARF Staff Attorneys Melody McCoy and Matthew L. Campbell will present at the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly (TEDNA) 10th annual membership meeting.  This event – TEDNA at Ten – will take place in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Sunday, October 13 from 8:00am to 5:00pm. 

NARF and TEDNA have a long history of working together to support tribal education departments (TEDs).  After over 20 years of work, NARF and TEDNA secured the first source of direct federal funding – $ 2 million – for TEDs in the Labor, Health, and Human Services Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations Bill to be distributed by the U.S. Department of Education via a competitive grant process under the State Tribal Education Partnerships (STEP) Program.

To learn more about TEDNA or to see TEDNA’s new website, click here.  To learn more about NARF’s work with TEDNA, click here.  And, to view the event agenda, click here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy to present at American Indian Tourism Conference on tribal intellectual and cultural property

This week NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy is in Tulsa, Oklahoma to present at the 15th annual American Indian Tourism Conference.  Melody will be presenting on tribal intellectual and cultural property, which offers unique opportunities and concerns for tribes and tribal enterprises.  Melody’s session will provide a basic overview of intellectual and cultural property's legal rights and remedies.  It also will demonstrate in an interactive manner how tribal concerns regarding intellectual and cultural property may be addressed.  For more information on the conference, click here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Heather Kendall-Miller presents at University of Washington School of Law's 26th Annual Indian Law Symposium




Last week NARF Staff Attorney Heather Kendall-Miller presented at the University of Washington School of Law's 26th Annual Indian Law Symposium.  Heather presented on a panel discussing Alaska hunting and fishing rights, along with former NARF Staff Attorney, Professor Robert Anderson.

Since 1987, the University of Washington School of Law has brought together Indian Law practitioners, tribal leaders, governmental officials and scholars for the annual Symposium addressing current issues in Indian Law.  To learn more about the Symposium, click here

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy to present at 2013 Native Nations Law Symposium


On Friday, September 13, NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy will present at the 2013 Native Nations Law Symposium at the Prairie Band Potawatomi Casino and Resort in Mayetta, Kansas, owned and operated by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.  The Symposium will cover a variety of current issues in federal Indian law and Melody will give a federal case law update.  To view the full Symposium agenda, click here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issues opinion in Klamath Claims Committee v. United States


On August 23, 2013, a federal court of appeals agreed with a brief submitted by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in Klamath Claims Committee v. United States and affirmed that it is the Klamath Tribes and not the Klamath Claims Committee (KCC) that determines what claims will be brought on behalf of the Klamath Tribes and its members. In this case, the KCC had appealed the dismissal of its claims by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the United States sought affirmance of that dismissal on the grounds that the KCC’s claims are really claims of the Klamath Tribes and the Tribes is a sovereign that cannot be joined or sued without its consent. NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy represented the Klamath Tribes of Oregon as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in support of the United States.

In affirming the dismissal of KCC's case, the Court of Appeals also rejected KCC’s claim that money in a trust account held by the United States for the benefit of the Tribes should be paid to KCC’s attorneys. The Court of Appeals made clear that it is “axiomatic that the sovereign Tribes may choose which of its branches and agents can bring suit on its behalf to vindicate its rights or the rights of its members. If certain members of the Tribes disagree with that choice, they should seek relief in tribal court or through the Tribal Council.”

For a copy of the opinion, click here.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Save the Date – NARF to host Walter Echo-Hawk for a discussion of his new book, In The Light of Justice


Author and former NARF Staff Attorney Walter Echo-Hawk will sign copies of his newest book, In The Light of Justice, at NARF’s office at 1506 Broadway in Boulder, Colorado on Friday, October 18, 2013.  Mr. Echo-Hawk will also speak about writing the book and read an excerpt from it. 

The new book, subtitled “The Rise of Human Rights in Native America and the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” is already receiving praise from experts:

“All Indian Nations should take heed of this book!  It is devoted to the proposition that Native American rights are inherent and inalienable human rights.” - Wallace Coffey, Chairman, Comanche Nation 

“. . . he is also a masterful story teller, weaving an Indigenous cultural narrative throughout that is profound, moving and quite powerful. This book is a must-read for students and scholars of Federal Indian law, as well as the leaders and advocates that serve Indian Country.” - Rebecca Tsosie, Professor of Law, Arizona State University

Please join us at 5:30pm on October 18, 2013 for this not-to-be-missed event!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk authors guest post with Jefferson Keel on Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community and the U.S. Supreme Court



Today NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk authored a guest post on Turtle Talk with Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians, regarding Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community and the U.S. Supreme Court.  Turtle Talk is the blog for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law.  To read the post on Turtle Talk, click here

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk to appear on Native America Calling



On Wednesday, September 4, 2013, NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk will appear on Native America Calling for a show entitled, "We Won!"  In describing the program, Native America Calling says:

"Sometimes it seems like the challenges of life in Indian Country are overwhelming. How often do we stop, reflect and celebrate our victories? We wanted to take the time to tell some victory stories, no matter how big or small, throughout Native America. We'll celebrate language revival on the Fort Peck Reservation, check in on the latest win for the Native American Rights Fund and hear how a fashion collaboration was created after a clothing line was held accountable for the use of Native imagery. What victory can you share? Both personal and community victories are welcome."
 
To learn about how to participate or listen, follow this link.


Friday, August 16, 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy recognized in the 2014 edition of The Best Lawyers In America© for the practice of Native American Law

NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy was recently selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2014 in the field of Native American Law. (Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC). The Best Lawyers publications annually highlight attorneys who are highly respected in their fields. Selection is made though surveys in which attorneys confidentially evaluate their peers. Attorneys are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be included on the annual lists. Congratulations Melody!

Monday, August 12, 2013

NARF Attorneys and Staff participate in “Pathways to Respecting American Indian Civil Rights” conference

Last week NARF Staff Attorneys Brett Shelton and Matt Campbell and Staff Rose Cuny and Jennifer Redbone participated in the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) training, “Pathways to Respecting American Indian Civil Rights: Education, Health, Nutrition, Justice, Employment, Housing and Other Services.”  The conference was held in the King Center at the Auraria Campus in Denver, Colorado, and featured training, education, and sharing of information between American Indians on and off-reservation with various federal, state, and local agencies, community organizations, educators, health care providers, nonprofit organizations and others.  To learn more about the conference, click here.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Former NARF Staff Attorney Walter R. Echo-Hawk publishes new book, "In the Light of Justice"

Former NARF Staff Attorney Walter R. Echo-Hawk has published a new book, In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The book offers steps that societies must take to provide a more just society and heal past injustices committed against indigenous peoples. 

Walter previously published In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided and Battlefields and Burial Grounds.  To learn more about his new book, click here.  Congratulations, Walter!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NARF seeking applicants for 2014 Summer law clerk positions

NARF is currently seeking candidates for Summer 2014 law clerk positions.  Each year, NARF conducts a nation-wide search for law students to participate in its Law Clerk Program.  Positions are available in all three of NARF’s offices: Anchorage, Alaska; Boulder, Colorado; and Washington, D.C. 

The NARF Law Clerk Program is a ten- to twelve-week program for students who have completed their second year of law school.  Clerks are expected to work at least 40 hours per week during this period and are compensated with salaries comparable to those of the federal government and other non-profit firms.  Although public interest funding programs help provide these salaries, clerks are also encouraged to seek additional financial support through their law school's public interest programs or through other public interest scholarships.

The deadline to apply is November 1, 2013.  To learn more, click here.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

NARF files complaint in federal district court to protect the civil rights of Veronica Brown; supporters issue Statement of Support to stop violation of Veronica’s civil rights by South Carolina courts

On July 31, the Native American Rights Fund filed a complaint in the United States District Court in South Carolina to protect the civil rights of Veronica Brown, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation who has been denied due process in the South Carolina courts. The filing comes after the South Carolina Supreme Court issued two controversial orders to the state’s family court on July 17 and 24, calling for the removal of Veronica from her father and a transfer her to the adoptive couple without a hearing of best interest.

The lawsuit was supported in a national statement released on July 31 by a broad coalition of civil rights, child welfare, adoption advocates, legal authorities, tribal governments, and Native American advocacy groups. These groups and individuals joined with the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund, and National Indian Child Welfare Association in releasing the national statement of support for Veronica’s civil rights, and the rights of all children, to a hearing of best interest.

The litigation was filed on behalf of Veronica, by Angel Smith, an attorney appointed as counsel for the child by the courts of the Cherokee Nation, in U.S. District Court in South Carolina, and asks the Court to determine whether Veronica has a constitutionally protected right to a meaningful hearing in the state courts to determine what is in her best interests. Furthermore, the litigation asserts that Veronica, as an “Indian child” under the Indian Child Welfare Act, has a federally protected right to have the state courts fully consider and appropriately weigh her best interests as an Indian child. Daniel E. Martin, Jr., the judge for the family court system of South Carolina, is named as the defendant in the suit.

According to the filing, Veronica “doubtless has a liberty interest in remaining with her father and such an interest justifies at a minimum a plenary hearing on her current status, her relationships with others and her genuine need for stability . . . Despite the finding of the family court and the implicit assumption by the Supreme Court of South Carolina that [Veronica’s] best interest would be served by being with her father, two years later the court now determines, despite the passage of time and [Veronica’s] stage of development at age four, that her ‘best’ interests will now be served by being removed from him and given back to the adoptive couple. Again, this order is without any consideration to the present circumstances, psychological and emotional well-being, and future impact on [Veronica]. This is an arbitrary result, depriving [Veronica] of any opportunity to be heard on her own behalf, irrespective of the competing interests of the adult litigants in her young life.”

To read the complaint, click here.

Broad National Support for the Litigation

On July 31, on behalf of a broad coalition of civil rights, child welfare, legal authorities, tribal governments and Native American advocacy groups, the National Congress of American Indians, along with the Native American Rights Fund and the National Indian Child Welfare Association released a national statement of support for Veronica’s civil rights to be upheld. The statement of support has been endorsed by a broad coalition of tribal governments, state and federal legal authorities including two state attorneys general—Arizona and New Mexico—civil rights institutions such as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, child welfare and adoption organizations including the Child Welfare League of America, and leading national and regional Native advocacy organizations representing the interests of almost every tribe located within the United States (see full list below).  To read the letter, click here.

According to the letter:

[T]he rights promised to our children are being compromised in the courts of the State of South Carolina . . . The recent [South Carolina Supreme Court] ruling in the case denies the basic fundamental right of an almost four-year-old Indian child to a hearing of her ‘best interests’ before removing her from her biological father after almost two years of child-rearing, bonding and establishing a loving home environment. Plainly stated, this is a denial of Veronica’s human rights and constitutional rights to due process as a citizen of the United States.
 
The following organizations and individuals have signed on to the letter of support for the civil rights lawsuit being filed on behalf of Veronica:

Attorneys General
  • The Office of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne
  • Attorney General of the State of New Mexico Gary K. King

Civil Rights, Child Welfare, and Adoption Advocacy Organizations
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Child Welfare League of America
  • North American Council on Adoptable Children
  • Voice for Adoption
  • Consortium for Children
  • Adopt America Network
  • The Adoption Exchange
  • Spaulding for Children
  • Three Rivers Adoption Council
  • Applied Research Center
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice—AAJC
  • Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
  • Center for Social Inclusion
  • Demos
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • League of Rural Voters
  • National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association
Tribal Nations in Support
  • Cherokee Nation - Principal Chief Bill John Baker
  • California Valley Miwok Tribe - Chairperson Silvia Burley
  • Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska - Vice President Lowell Halverson
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation - Les Minthorn, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
  • Crooked Creek Traditional Council - President Evelyn Thomas
  • Enterprise Rancheria, Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe - Tribal Chairwoman Glenda Nelson
  • Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe - Tribal Chairperson Maxine Smart
  • Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe - W. Ron Allen, Tribal Chairman/CEO and Chairman - DOI, Self-Governance Advisory Committee (representing 253 Tribes and Native Villages throughout the United States)
  • Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians - Chairman Michael J. Isham
  • Mohegan Tribe - Chief Lynn Malerba, - Chairwoman IHS, Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee (representing 336 Tribes and Native Villages throughout the United States)
  • Navajo Nation - President Ben Shelly
  • Ohkay Owingeh Tribal Council - Governor Marcelino Aguino
  • Osage Nation - Assistant Principal Chief Scott Bighorse
  • Ponca Tribe of Nebraska - Vice Chairman Jeremy Wright
  • Round Valley Indian Tribes - Vice-President Joe Dukepoo
  • San Manuel Band of Mission Indians - Chairperson Carla Rodriguez
  • Skagway Traditional Council - Tribal President/Administrator Delia Commander
  • Soboba Band Of Luiseno Indians - Chairwoman Rosemary Morillo.
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council - Chairman Jimmy R. Newton, Jr.,
  • Tulalip Tribes of Washington - Deanna Muir, Deputy General Manager of the Tulalip Tribes

Regional Tribal Government Organizations
  • Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
  • Alaska Federation of Natives
  • California Association of Tribal Governments
  • Coalition of Large Tribes
  • Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
  • Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes
  • Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association
  • United South and Eastern Tribes
  • United Tribes of North Dakota
American Indian & Alaska Native Organizations
  • American Indian Child Resource Center
  • Association on American Indian Affairs Tribal Law & Policy Institute
  • California Indian Legal Services
  • Division of Indian Work
  • First Nations Repatriation Institute
  • ICWA Law Center
  • Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Association
  • Sealaska Heritage Institute
  • National Indian Education Association
  • National Indian Health Board
  • Native Public Media
  • Self-Governance Communication and Education Tribal Consortium
Legal Scholars
  • Carla F. Fredericks, Co-Director, American Indian Law Program Associate Clinical Professor of Law University of Colorado Law School
  • Eric Eberhard, Distinguished Indian Law Practitioner in Residence, Center for Indian Law and Policy, Seattle University School of Law
  • Jennifer Weddle, Chair, Federal Bar Association Indian Law Section
  • Kristen Carpenter, Co-Director, American Indian Law Program Associate Professor of Law University of Colorado Law School
  • Lorie M. Graham, Professor of Law, Co-Director, International Law Concentration Suffolk University Law School
Background
On July 17 and July 24, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued two controversial orders to the state’s family court calling for an expedited transfer of Veronica Brown to the South Carolina-based adoptive couple without a hearing of best interest. It is standard procedure that all custodial transfers, including adoption proceedings, require a hearing to determine the best interest of the child in advance of any transfer proceedings, an essential step the South Carolina Supreme Court failed to take, thus denying Veronica the right to have her best interests considered. One year ago the South Carolina Supreme Court, followed the family court’s finding that it was in the best interest of Veronica to be with her father stating: “Likewise, we cannot say that Baby Girl's best interests are not served by the grant of custody to Father, as Appellants have not presented evidence that Baby Girl would not be safe, loved, and cared for if raised by Father and his family.”