Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Please consider a New Year donation to support Native rights

As we wind down one year and head into the next, we would like to take a moment to reflect 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 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.  And a new year.

For 44 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!  And, as we look ahead to the New Year we hope that you will consider pledging to help NARF to continue to stand firm for justice for Native Americans in 2015.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Double your impact with a matching gift from the Wildhorse Foundation

Attention NARF supporters!  If you donate to NARF before the end of the year, the Wildhourse Foundation at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation will match your gift dollar for dollar.

Among the many cases and projects you make possible is a partnership between NARF and the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition to achieve healing for the Native American individuals, families, and communities that have suffered, and continue to suffer, injury as a result of the Boarding School Policy and its implementation. 

We are committed to securing a meaningful and appropriate response from the United States and the churches for those Native American individuals, families, nations, and communities victimized by the Boarding School Policy of forced boarding school attendance, and to secure redress in the form of support of lasting and true community-directed healing. Ultimately, the Project's end goal is to assist communities to develop strategies to counter the disastrous effects of the Boarding School policy.

Your generosity helps tribes and Native Americans year round, but most especially in this Holiday Season.  Any donation to NARF before year end will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, by the Wildhorse Foundation who has established a Matching Gift Challenge Fund for the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition project at NARF.  For example, $25 becomes $50; $100 becomes $200; and so on.  We only have through the end of the year so please consider a donation in the coming week.  Click here to donate now!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gratitude and happy holidays from the Native American Rights Fund

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.
 
We would also like to express our gratitude for your steadfast support, and reflect on a few of the many victories your generosity made possible in 2014.
  • The Alaska Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Simmonds v. Parks that state courts must honor the decisions of tribal courts in cases that involve the tribe’s protection of member children.

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ruled that the Wind River Indian Reservation boundaries were not reduced by the 1905 Surplus Land Act.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court denied Alaska’s appeal in the Katie John case, affirming Native hunting and fishing rights.

  • Formation, with the help of other experts, of the Boarding School Healing Coalition.
  • Continued tracking of federal cases impacting Indian Country by the Tribal Supreme Court Project.

  • A federal district court found that the State of Alaska violated the Voting Rights Act by not providing translations of voting materials into Yu’pik and Gwich’in.  The federal court's order to provide the translations resulted in 70-75% voter turnout in those areas, and the election of Alaska Native Bryon Mallott as Lt. Governor.
Your generosity made the lives of Native peoples better in meaningful and lasting ways.  As we look ahead to the New Year we hope that you will pledge once again to stand firm for justice for Native Americans in 2015.

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 2015.




Friday, December 19, 2014

GuideStar gives NARF gold rating for non-profit accountability

GuideStar logo
Thinking about giving to NARF this holiday season?  GuideStar has given NARF its gold rating for non-profit accountability.  
GuideStar is an independent agency that collects, organizes, and presents data on non-profits to enable the public to make well-informed decisions about their charitable giving.

Interested in learning more?  See NARF’s GuideStar rating

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Department of the Interior publishes final regulation on trust land acquisitions for Alaska Natives

Today the Department of the Interior published a final regulation removing the prohibition against the Secretary of the Interior acquiring lands in trust status on behalf of Alaska Native Tribes and Alaska Native individuals. 

The new rule reopens a door which had been closed two decades ago when a department lawyer incorrectly concluded that a 1971 law had repealed the Secretary’s authority to protect Alaska Native tribal and individual lands.  Today’s action comes in direct response to litigation brought by the Native American Rights Fund to overturn that illegal limitation on the ability of the Secretary to protect Alaska Native lands.

NARF challenged the prohibition in a 2006 lawsuit,
Akiachak Native Community, et al. v. Salazar, brought against the Secretary on behalf of four Tribes and one Native individual—the Akiachak Native Community, Chalkyitsik Village, the Chilkoot Indian Association, the Tuluksak Native Community, and Alice Kavairlook.  Working with the Alaska Legal Services Corporation, NARF challenged a regulation found at 25 C.F.R. § 151.1 which generally barred the Secretary from acquiring lands in trust status (other than for the Metlakatla Indian Community).  NARF argued that this differential treatment of Alaska Native Tribes violated a statutory rule set forth in the Indian Reorganization Act (25 U.S.C. § 476(g)) nullifying federal regulations that discriminate among Native American Tribes.  The State of Alaska intervened in the longstanding case to argue that this differential treatment was required by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, but the District Court for the District of Columbia rejected that position and agreed with NARF and the Tribes on all counts.  It is that court decision which laid the groundwork for today’s final rule.

Although the new Interior Department rules remove a key barrier to the Secretary’s acquisition of trust lands in Alaska, one additional barrier still remains.  The federal court in Washington, D.C. has directed that during the pendency of the State of Alaska’s appeal, the Secretary may now process trust land applications from Alaska but she may not actually acquire title to such lands until the litigation is concluded.  Briefs in the case are scheduled to be filed early next year.  

Lead attorney Heather Kendall Miller called today’s announcement “an extraordinary step forward in the longstanding battle of Alaska Tribes to secure greater tribal self-determination, to protect their lands and way of life in perpetuity, and to enjoy the same basic privileges and immunities enjoyed by all other Native American Tribes.”  Ms. Kendall Miller added that “only by enjoying all of the governing tools available to other Native American Tribes will Alaska Tribes finally have the means to preserve their way of life and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their communities.” 

Monday, December 15, 2014

NARF listed in Best Law Firms in Colorado

NARF logo
The Native American Rights Fund has received a first tier ranking in Best Law Firms in Colorado, as published in the November 2014 edition of U.S. News & World Report.  To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America list.  Earlier this year NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk and Staff Attorney Melody McCoy were recognized in the 21st Edition of Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of Native American Law.  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, and attorneys are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be included on the annual lists. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Native American Rights Fund files amicus curiae brief on behalf of National Congress of American Indians in support of John Thorpe’s En Banc Petition

screenshot of first page of brief

As described in a previous post on the NARF blog, 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. 

On October 23, 2014, a panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, that NAGPRA as written applies to the Borough, but that applying in this case would produce an absurd result demonstrably at odds with the intentions of Congress.  The panel was not exactly clear what it saw as “absurd” but also ruled that NAGPRA was only meant to apply to original burial locations or final resting places. 

This week, the Thorpes and Sac and Fox Nation filed a petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc.  Former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell and NCAI also filed a brief in support of a petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc.  The parties argued that the Third Circuit panel opinion wrongly interpreted NAGPRA and Congress’ intent, left out major procedural provisions of the statute, and created a judicial exception to its application.   

Read the briefs at the Turtle Talk blog.  Or,  read “Bringing Jim Thorpe Home,” an article on this issue co-written by NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk and Suzan Shown Harjo.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Please consider supporting NARF this Giving Tuesday


Photo of Alaska Native activist Katie John

Today is the day!  Today is the day that you can help make a huge impact on the work that Native American Rights Fund (NARF) does for Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide!

With your help, we'll raise funds to be able to continue the work we do in our five key areas:

•    preservation of tribal existence;
•    protection of tribal natural resources;
•    promotion of Native American human rights;
•    accountability of governments to Native Americans; and
•    development of Indian law and educating the public about Indian rights, laws, and issues.

How can you be a part of all of this?  Here are a few ideas:

•    Consider making a gift to NARF on GivingTuesday.
•    Help NARF get the word out on social media using the hashtag #GivingTuesday.
•    Share this message with your family and friends.
•    Like us on Facebook and see what's happening at NARF.
•    Join our enews email list and stay informed.
•    Read about our current and past cases.

Today is the day!  Please STAND FIRM FOR JUSTICE and help grow our impact in Indian Country.  Our work depends solely upon the generosity of donors like you.

As always, thank you for your generosity and your support of the Native American Rights Fund and those we serve.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World

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. Please visit the Native American Heritage Month website to read more about it. 

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 and 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 NARF e-card today!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy to present at MSU Indigenous Law Conference


This week, NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy will present at Michigan State University College of Law’s 11th Annual Indigenous Law Conference.  The theme for the 2014 conference is “Dismantling Barriers in American Indian Education.” 

NARF was instrumental in the creation of the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly (TEDNA), and Melody will be presenting on tribal education agencies in federal, tribal, and state law.   Her conference materials  and PowerPoint presentation are available from the TEDNA website.  You also can see Melody’s previous work in the NARF publication, Tribalizing Indian Education Series.  Finally, to learn more about the conference, visit the Michigan State website.


Monday, November 17, 2014

NARF works for the protection of sacred places and celebrates Heritage Month

The Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark in the National Forest
Long before Europeans landed on the shores of America, the Native peoples of this continent revered and protected the lands and natural resources that they knew as their homeland.  Native Americans have held ceremonies, made spiritual journeys, and buried their relatives according to time-honored customs and traditions on sacred lands.  These places are forever tied to our cultural identity and everyday life.

Many of these hallowed grounds are once again threatened.  Mining, reservoir projects, oil and gas development, and even recreational parks are causing tribal sacred places to become vulnerable.  For example, a mine proposed by Cortez Joint Venture, Ltd., would destroy Mt. Tenabo, a precious cultural site of the Western Shoshone.  Mount Tenabo and its surrounding area are part of Newe Sogobia, the ancestral land of the Western Shoshone.  Newe Sogobia means the people’s earth mother.  Mount Tenabo has a role in Shoshone creation stories and is the site of ancient burials.  Today, the Western Shoshone still have ceremonies and gather medicinal plants there.

Medicine Mountain, in the Bighorn National Forest in north central Wyoming, is the site of a large Medicine Wheel, and remains an important focus of contemporary Native American spiritual life for members of regional tribes, including the Arapaho, Shoshone, Cheyenne, Crow, and others.  Approximately 80 feet in diameter, it is described by the Interior Department as “the largest and most elaborate Indian structure of its type.”  Archeologists estimate that the area was used by prehistoric Native Americans for nearly 7,500 years.

Every day we must answer the call to fight for justice with knowledge, understanding and determination in our legal arguments and in the courts.  In the case of Wyoming Sawmills v. United States and Medicine Wheel Coalition, NARF fought to uphold the U.S. Forest Service’s Management Plan for the Sacred Medicine Wheel under the Historic Preservation Plan.

At NARF, we believe that our domestic laws and social policies must provide adequate legal protection for its citizens, regardless of race.  On behalf of our clients, we seek to enforce and strengthen laws that affect the basic survival and traditions of Indian tribes.

Your generosity makes it possible to protect Native sacred places, preserve Native rights, and defend tribal sovereignty.  This holiday season, please remember the Native American Rights Fund as you plan your year-end giving.

And, when making your vacation plans for next year, try to visit at least one of the many Native American historical sites where you can learn more about tribal ancestry and history. Some suggested sites are:

• Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)
• Aztec Ruins National Monument (New Mexico)
• Taos Pueblo (New Mexico)
• Effigy Mounds National Monument (Iowa)
• Fort UnionTrading Post (North Dakota)
• Grand Portage (Minnesota)
• Katmai (Alaska)
• Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (Florida)
• Mashantucket Pequot Museum (Connecticut)

In addition, 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.  Please visit the Native American Heritage Month website to read more about it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Former NARF employee and Native rights advocate Suzan Shown Harjo named recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom

White House seal
Native rights advocate Suzan Shown Harjo has been named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.  Suzan is a well-known writer, curator, and activist who has advocated for improving the lives of Native peoples throughout her career.   As a member of the Carter Administration and as current president of the Morning Star Institute, she has been a key figure in many important Indian legislative battles, including the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.  Suzan is Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, and is a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.

Suzan is a longtime member of the NARF family, and she previously served as a Legislative Liaison for NARF.  NARF Executive Director John Echohawk congratulated Suzan on the award, saying “this honor means that Suzan is one of the greatest fighters for Native American rights in history.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom will be awarded in a ceremony at the White House on November 24th, 2014.  More information on the Medal of Freedom and other recipients can be found at the White House website.

Monday, November 10, 2014

NARF co-hosts 2nd Annual Chief Niwot Forum with Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell

flyer for the event
Please join us on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. for the 2nd Annual Chief Niwot Forum – Congress Meets Sand Creek: Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell’s Fight for a National Historic Site.  Senator Campbell sponsored the legislation for the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, which opened to the public in 2007. The National Park Service calls the site 'profound, symbolic, spiritual, controversial, a site unlike any other in America.'   David Skaggs served with Campbell in Congress and will interview Campbell about the groundbreaking historic site and its importance to all Americans.

Admission for the event is $20, or $10 for Boulder History Museum members and NARF donors.  Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Museum at (303) 449-3464.  The event will be held at the Museum of Boulder, (2205 Broadway, at the northwest corner of Broadway and Pine) in Boulder, Colorado.  Please join us!

NARF celebrates Veterans Day and Heritage Month

painting of soldier
November is American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month. Join NARF as we celebrate and remember the heritage of Native Americans who have laid down their lives to help defend and preserve America’s democratic ideals.  They have proudly and courageously served in every major conflict from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq War, so it is appropriate that Heritage Month is celebrated during November, the same month in which Veterans Day is observed.

Today, NARF especially remembers our American Indian Military Veterans and honors all Modern Day Warriors and Heros, past, present, and future.  Native Americans have served their country with honor for generations, and we salute them.

Dr. Joe Medicine Crow (Crow) was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States by President Barack Obama.  He added that to his collection: a Congressional Gold Medal, a Bronze Star, and Legion of Honour, the highest decoration given in France.  During his military service, Medicine Crow completed all four tasks to become a Crow war chief, including touching a living enemy soldier, disarming an enemy, leading a successful war party, and stealing an enemy horse.

MSGT. Woodrow Wilson Keeble, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bush year on March 3, 2008, is a proud member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. 

Army Spc. Lori Piestewa (Hopi) was aware of Indian women who served America before her.  This 23-year-old soldier became the first service woman killed in action in Iraq, and the first American Indian woman killed in combat.  Her death, on March 23, 2003, touched a grateful nation and changed the name of the most prominent mountain near Phoenix to Piestewa Peak.

In the 20th century, five American Indians have been among those soldiers to be distinguished by receiving the United States' highest military honor: the Medal of Honor. Given for military heroism "above and beyond the call of duty," these warriors exhibited extraordinary bravery in the face of the enemy and, in two cases, made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. - Jack C. Montgomery (Cherokee), Ernest Childers (Creek), Van Barfoot (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians), Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. (Ho-Chunk), and Charles George (Eastern Band of Cherokee).

You can honor American Indian veterans and all veterans by acknowledging them to friends and family as well as learning more about the history of their service at your local library, bookstore, or veterans hospital.

On Wednesday, November 12th, NARF’s Boulder, Colorado, office will be honoring our employees and relatives who have served in the military with a feast, prayers, and songs.  If you are in the area, please join us and bring a dish to share, as well as photos of your loved ones in the armed services.  For more information, please call (303) 447-8760. 

Regardless if you are able to join us on the 12th, 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.

Friday, November 7, 2014

NARF Staff Attorney Steve Moore presents at California Water Law Conference

Earlier this week, NARF Staff Attorney Steve Moore presented at the 22nd Annual California Water Law Conference: Balancing Interests in a Time of Drought.  The conference was held in San Francisco, and Steve presented on Indian Water Rights and the Winters Doctrine as well as the Agua Caliente litigation.  To learn more about the conference, please visit the conference website.


Monday, November 3, 2014

NARF continues to defend voting rights during Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month, picture of rug
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.

Tomorrow is Election Day.  If you have already voted, thank you.  If you haven’t yet voted, please stop reading now and head to your polling place.  We’ll wait for you here until you return.

In honor of Heritage Month, we want to acknowledge the historical role of democracy in many Native communities. A majority of tribes today elect their leaders through balloting similar to that of the American political system.  Traditional methods of selecting leaders often looked much different.  Talking things through and forming consensus were more common than majority ballots.   But, they were democratic all the same.  The Iroquois Confederacy is a well-known example.

For example, Lakota leaders were chosen by the community because of specific attributes they possessed and demonstrated in everyday life.  If an individual distinguished himself as a hunter, scout or warrior, the community would often look to them for civilian leadership as well.  The qualities that made them successful in those endeavors—clear thinking, good judgment, calmness under stress—would also serve the community well.  Also, traditional Lakota leaders always thought of the needs of the people first and not their own individual needs. It was those attributes that were looked for when the people sought out leaders.

The principle of “one man, one vote” is more than a constitutional right, it is the bedrock of how we as Americans view ourselves as a nation and as a people.  It is both ironic and disgraceful that Native Americans, who have chosen leaders from and by their people for thousands of years, are having their voting rights eroded by the best known democracy in the world.  Yet, the right to vote is under attack in many places, including Indian Country.  A new voter ID law in North Dakota requires voters to have an address with a street number—something many houses on reservations simply don’t have.   The state of Alaska has dragged its feet in providing ballots and voting materials in Yup’ik, the primary language of many Alaska Natives in the Dillingham and Wade Hampton regions.  In other instances, early voting has been curtailed or denied.

NARF is fighting for the voting rights of Native Americans.  In a significant court victory this fall, the State of Alaska was compelled to provide voting materials in Yup’ik and provide bilingual staff to register voters.  However, much work remains to be done, including working with Congress to restore protections lost in Shelby County v. Holder

If you are interested in learning more about NARF's work on voting and other civil rights, please visit the NARF website.  If you are interested in learning more about Native American Heritage Month, please visit the Native American Heritage Month website for more information.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alaska Legislature honors NARF Staff Attorney Heather Kendall-Miller


Heather Kendall-Miller, daughter Ruth, and husband Lloyd read Alaska Legislature's citation honoring Heather at the AFN Convention. Photo credit: Geri Simon and Alaska Dispatch News.
Last week at the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Annual Convention, the Alaska State Legislature honored the professional life and work of NARF Staff Attorney Heather Kendall-Miller, the most senior attorney in NARF’s Alaska office.  “A lifelong Alaskan, Heather has devoted herself to protecting Native rights in Alaska and nationwide.  We are proud to recognize Heather Kendall-Miller’s main achievements and contributions to our state.”

The Legislature recognized Heather’s work on the Venetie case, which she argued in front of the United States Supreme Court, and her tireless efforts on the Katie John litigation, “winning the right for Ms. John and other Alaska Native subsistence users to fish at their traditional locations after decades of regulatory prohibitions.”  The Katie John litigation “continues to have enormous implications for Alaska and its Native populations, as Alaska Native people seek to maintain their subsistence way of life in the face of increasing competition and regulatory burdens.”

The Legislature went on to state that Heather “has worked on cases for communities across Alaska, covering such diverse topics as tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction, child welfare protection, language preservation, subsistence hunting and fishing rights, land rights, and the impact of global warming on coastal villages, and earning a host of prestigious “ state and national awards.  “The Twenty-eighth Alaska State Legislature offers gratitude to Heather Kendall-Miller for her unwavering dedication to Alaska and her peoples.”

Congratulations, Heather!


Friday, October 17, 2014

NARF Staff Attorneys Steve Moore and Heather Whiteman Runs Him present about tribal water law issues

NARF staff are on the move again! This week NARF Staff Attorneys Steve Moore and Heather Whiteman Runs Him presented at the Water Law Institute’s 3rd Annual Tribal Water Law Conference. Steve and Heather presented on the panel discussing the potential outcomes and effects of Agua Caliente v. Coachella Valley Water District case. To learn more about the conference, click here.

In addition to the Water Law Institute’s conference, Heather also presented on a tribal water law panel at the California Indian Law Conference. For more information on that event, click here.
Water Law Conference logo

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NARF co-hosts webinar on Tribal Water Codes: Regulation of Water Quality and Quantity in Indian Country

Next Tuesday, October 21, NARF will co-host the webinar, Tribal Water Codes: Regulation of Water Quality and Quantity in Indian Country. The webinar will be hosted by NARF, the National Congress of American Indians, the Tribal Water Working Group, Utton Center/University of New Mexico, and Sandia National Laboratories.

One aspect of sovereignty is the control and administration of natural resources within tribal lands.  The purpose of this webinar is to provide Indian Country information about how water codes can be developed to protect and manage tribal water resources.  A panel of experts, including Professor Robert T. Anderson, University of Washington, Duane Mecham, Department of Interior Solicitor’s Office, Lois Trevino, Water Administrator, Confederated Colville Tribe, and Scott Bulgrin, Water Quality Manager, Pueblo of Sandia, will examine a common scenario in Indian Country – an illegal diversion of a stream by a non-Indian fee owner and discharge from an animal feed lot into a tribal stream – and how a properly developed water code can address this problem.

This webinar is important because:
  • a majority of tribes have not quantified their water rights;
  • most tribes lack technical and administrative capacity to manage water on their lands;
  • there is a federal moratorium on approving new water codes absent a congressionally authorized water rights settlement; and 
  • climate change, increased demand for water and poor water quality require tribes to assert management of their water resources.

Click here to register for this important webinar!

Friday, October 10, 2014

NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy presents at National Tribal Judicial and Court Clerks’ Conference

Earlier this week, NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy presented at the 45th Annual National Tribal Judicial and Court Clerks’ Conference held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the Cherokee Nation’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.  Melody presented an overview of federal cases affecting tribal justice and was joined on the panel by Chief Judge Richard Blake of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Court.  To learn more about the conference, click here.  And, to view the conference agenda, click here.

http://www.naicja.org/events/2014conference


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NARF welcomes Legal Fellow Ian Fisher

Ian Fisher, a recent graduate of Columbia Law School, has joined NARF’s Boulder, Colorado, office for the coming year as a Legal Fellow.  At Columbia Law, Ian worked in the Environmental Law Clinic and was the Colloquium Editor of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law.  He also organized and participated in a pro bono project that brings law students to reservations throughout Wisconsin to assist tribal members with wills and other legal documents. 

Ian has worked for and volunteered for a number of public interest organizations, including Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Protection Agency, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, and he has also worked at a private law firm representing tribes and tribal interests.  Ian grew up in the Chicago area and got his B.A. in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis.  Welcome, Ian!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

NARF’s Alaska office celebrates its 30th anniversary

Thirty years ago this week, NARF’s Alaska office opened its doors!  In fall of 1984, NARF's Board of Directors determined there was a serious need by tribes in the state of Alaska for legal aid on issues of sovereignty, subsistence, and child welfare.  The decision was made to dispatch two attorneys from NARF's Colorado office to the Last Frontier.  On October 1, 1984, NARF staff attorneys Lare Aschenbrenner and Robert Anderson opened the doors of the Alaska office.  Thirty years later, NARF's Alaska office continues to represent Alaska Native Tribes on issues core to their continued existence.  To read the NARF Legal Review from 1984 announcing the opening of NARF Alaska, click here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Tribal Supreme Court Project Memorandum now available

http://sct.narf.org/updatememos/2014/09-24-14.pdf
Are you interested in learning more about federal Indian law cases currently in front of the United States Supreme Court?  A new Tribal Supreme Court Project Memorandum is now available.  To read the memorandum, click here

The Tribal Supreme Court Project is part of the Tribal Sovereignty Protection Initiative and is staffed by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). The project was formed in 2001 in response to a series of Supreme Court cases that negatively affected tribal sovereignty.  The purpose of the project is to promote greater coordination and to improve strategy on litigation that may affect the rights of all Indian tribes.  To learn more about the project and to read past publications, click here.

Support NARF when you shop on Amazon

Native American Rights Fund
You can now support NARF while shopping on Amazon!  When you shop at smile.amazon.com, Amazon will donate a portion of the price of your AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice at no added cost to you.  To support NARF, click the link at right and start shopping – it’s that simple! 

Thank you for your support of NARF and our work to assert and defend the rights of Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide.

Friday, September 26, 2014

NARF Co-Sponsors the 11th Annual Indigenous Film & Arts Festival

Save the dates!  NARF is co-sponsoring the 11th Annual Indigenous Film & Arts Festival, which will be held October 7-13.  The Indigenous Film & Arts Festival celebrates film, art, and lively discussion around this year’s theme of “Family.”  The summary festival schedule is below.  All events are free, with a suggested donation ($5) accepted online or at the door.  Updates and film synopses will be posted at www.iiirm.org.

Tuesday October 7, 5:30 - 7:30 PM
Art Opening: Raven Cry Message from the Stronghold, with artist Walt Pourier   
Artist's Talk by Walt Pourier at 6:00 p.m.
University of Denver Museum of Anthropology
2000 E. Asbury, Denver 80208

Wednesday October 8, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Master Fancy Basket Maker Florence Benedict - Katsitsienhawi
Conversation w/ director RJ Joseph (invited), Morris
Te Whiti Love, James Hagadorn, and Mervyn Tano
Dessert & Coffee Reception
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver 80205

Thursday October 9, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
The Migration and Ingredients: Hawai'i
Nighthorse-Campbell Native Health Bldg.
Anschutz Medical Campus
13055 East 17th Avenue, Aurora 80045

Friday October 10, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Luisa Torres
Q&A with Luisa's granddaughters
Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive, Denver 80204

Saturday October 11, 6:30 - 9:00 PM
White Lies
Discussion led by Morris Te Whiti Love
Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive, Denver 80204

Sunday October 12, 6:00 - 8:30 PM
This May Be The Last Time (Espoketis Omes Kerreskos)
Discussion led by director Sterlin Harjo
History Colorado
1200 Broadway, Denver 80203

Monday October 13, time to be determined
Luisa Torres

Q&A with Luisa's granddaughters
Colorado College
Colorado Springs, CO
  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NARF co-sponsors training, Traditional Peacemaking: Exploring the Intersections Between Tribal Courts and Peacemaking, Including Alternatives to Detention


Please join us October 6-7 for the training, Traditional Peacemaking: Exploring the Intersections Between Tribal Courts and Peacemaking, Including Alternatives to Detention.  The training will be held at the tribally-owned Hard Rock Hotel in Catoosa, Oklahoma. The purpose of this training is to introduce Tribal Civil and Criminal Legal Assistance grantees and other attendees to the various peacemaking models that are being used in tribal courts, including those that are being used as alternatives to detention. The training will explore the ways in which tribal courts integrate traditional justice and community values into varied aspects of tribal civil and criminal justice, to provide experiential training and tips for accessing tribal judicial systems that utilize cultural forms of justice, and to provide explanation of how traditional peacemaking can unlock new approaches to provide effective representation of civil and criminal legal services clients, with special attention to indigent criminal defendants whenever appropriate.

This event is co-sponsored by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), the National American Indian Court Judges Association, and Columbia Law School.  The training is free, but the participants must cover the cost of their travel, food, and lodging.  For more information on travel logistics and to register for the peacemaking training, click here.  For the draft agenda, click here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NARF thanks 2014 Summer Law Clerk Christina Warner

Christina Warner at the NARF Boulder office
This summer, we highlighted the law students who were chosen to participate in NARF’s 2014 Law Clerk Program, and this week we're highlighting our final summer law clerk, Christina Warner.

Christina spent the summer in our Anchorage, Alaska, office and is now beginning her third year at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder.  During the school year, Christina volunteers at NARF’s National Indian Law Library (NILL), the GLBT Center in Denver, and with the Marshall Brennan Center for Constitutional Literacy.  She received her B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and, during the summer of 2013, she interned for the Department of Treasury’s Alcohol Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau.  Thank you for all of your hard work, Christina!

And, don’t forget that NARF currently is seeking candidates for our 2015 Summer Law Clerk Program!  September 29, 2014 is the deadline to apply and more information can be found here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

NARF co-sponsors Indigenous Film screening of Âs Nutayuneân: We Still Live Here

NARF is proud to co-sponsor another Indigenous Film @ Su Teatro, a monthly indigenous film series.  NARF co-sponsors the series with the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management and the Denver American Indian Commission.

Please join us on Wednesday, September 10 for a screening of Âs Nutayuneân: We Still Live Here.  The event will take place at 721 Santa Fe Drive in Denver.  Doors open at 6:00pm and the film begins at 6:30pm, with a discussion about language, culture, and identity after the film.

Âs Nutayuneân: We Still Live Here was directed by Anne Makepeace.  This insightful documentary tells a remarkable story of cultural revival by the Wampanoag Indians of Southeastern Massachusetts.  Their ancestors ensured the survival of the first English settlers in America, and lived to regret it.  Centuries later, Jessie Little Doe Baird had dreams in which her ancestors spoke to her in Wampanoag, a language that hadn't been used for over 100 years.  Now the Aquinnah and Mashpee Wampanoag communities are bringing their language home again, saying loud and clear in their Native tongue, Âs Nutayuneân, "we still live here."  For more information on the film, follow this link


Friday, September 5, 2014

NARF joins 105 partners in asking broadcasters to stop using the offensive name of the Washington NFL team

Earlier this week NARF joined 105 other organizations in sending a united message from Indian Country and the civil rights community that it’s past time to change the mascot of the Washington NFL team.  NARF co-signed a letter asking broadcasters to stop using the offensive name of the Washington NFL team.  The letter also included a factsheet for broadcasters.  The letter states:
Dear Broadcaster,

As the new National Football League season approaches, we are writing to ask you to join other media organizations in refusing to broadcast the Washington team’s name on the public airwaves.  The team’s name is a dictionary-defined racial slur.  As of 2014’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling, it is also a government-defined racial slur.  Those definitions are correct. 

Throughout history, this term has been used to disparage Native Americans.  It is the term used by bounty hunters to describe bloody Native scalps, and it was the epithet screamed at Native Americans as they were dragged at gunpoint off their lands.  No doubt, the bigotry of this word is why the team was originally given the name by its longtime owner, avowed segregationist George Preston Marshall. 

Civil rights organizations, religious leaders, sports icons, Members of Congress from both parties and the President of the United States have all called on the Washington team to change its name.  At the same time, more and more news organizations and icons of sports media have decided to stand on the right side of history by refusing to continue repeating the team’s name during their coverage of the NFL.  Rather than repeat-and therefore promote-the racial slur in question, they have decided to use more generic descriptions when referring to the team.

Some might argue that objectivity requires broadcasters to continue promoting the racial slur as long as Washington team owner Dan Snyder keeps denigrating Native Americans by using the epithet as his team’s name.  But in this particular fight for basic equality and mutual respect, there is no “objective” position.  Every time the slur is promoted on the public airwaves even in a non-critical way by a journalist, it is an endorsement of the continued use of this slur.  In other words, using this word is not just to legitimize it - it is to endorse its use, to ignore its definition and to defend its message.

Last week, CBS sports anchor James Brown publicly declared that he believes the Washington team must change its name. That statement was particularly significant because it followed CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus telling a magazine that his network has not forced its broadcasters to keep repeating this racial slur in their coverage of the NFL.

Though we would prefer networks institute rules prohibiting their resources from promoting dictionary- and government-defined racial slurs, we are hopeful that other sports media executives will at least follow McManus by allowing their individual employees not to promote this epithet.  We are also hopeful that with such editorial freedom, more sports media figures will follow Mr. Brown and speak out clearly against this continued injustice.

Attached to this letter is a list of the news outlets and sports media figures who have already decided to take a stand on the right side of history.  They have either editorialized against the R-word or refused to keep promoting the Washington team’s name.  We now ask you to do the same.
For over twenty years, NARF has publicly denounced use of the name, supporting and participating directly in various legislative and litigation efforts to put an end to use of this offensive name.  "NARF has long worked, and will continue to work, to put an end to this racial slur masquerading as a team name," said NARF Executive Director John Echohawk.

For a full copy of the letter, including all signatories, click here.
#ProudtoBe

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Redskins group infringes on NARF trademark

Native American Rights Fund logo
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 4, 2014

CONTACT:    
John E. Echohawk (303)-447-8760

It has recently come to the attention of the Native American Rights Fund, also known as NARF, that a group variously calling itself "Native American Redskins Fans" and "Native American Redskins Family" is improperly holding itself out as "NARF," in support of the continued use of the racially derogatory name used by the Washington D.C. National Football League franchise, and against which NARF has long battled.

This cynical use of NARF's trademark has caused confusion both inside and outside of Indian Country, and NARF would like to set the record straight: NARF does not advocate, nor has it ever advocated, for the use of the name used by the Washington NFL football team.
 
For over twenty years, NARF has publicly denounced use of the name, supporting and participating directly in various legislative and litigation efforts to put an end to use of this offensive name.  "Race-based stereotyping and behaviors in sports persist today," said John Echohawk, NARF's Executive Director, "including, in particular, the racially derogatory name of the 'Washington Redskins' professional football organization.  NARF has long worked, and will continue to work, to put an end to this racial slur masquerading as a team name."

Having been publicly known as NARF for over 40 years, NARF's superior legal rights to use its name and trademarks (and to exclude others from doing so) cannot be questioned, and NARF will use all means available to protect its name from misappropriation by others.  Legal counsel representing NARF have sent cease-and-desist letters demanding a halt to this infringement on a website misappropriating its “NARF” trademark, and reserving NARF’s rights to take legal action.

Founded in 1970, the Native American Rights Fund is the national Indian legal defense fund dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide.  NARF’s legal advocacy is concentrated in five priority areas: the preservation of tribal existence; the protection of tribal natural resources; the promotion of Native American human rights; the accountability of governments to Native Americans; and the development of Indian law and educating the public about Indian rights, laws, and issues.  See our website — www.narf.org. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Alaska Natives win landmark voting rights lawsuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 3, 2014

CONTACT:     
Natalie Landreth, Native American Rights Fund, (907) 360-3423, landreth@narf.org
James Tucker, Wilson Elser, (702) 727-1246, james.tucker@wilsonelser.com
Richard de Bodo, Bingham McCutchen, (310) 255-9055, rich.debodo@bingham.com 
                              
ANCHORAGE— In an historic victory for Alaska Native voters, a Federal Court in Anchorage found the State of Alaska violated the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide translations of voting materials to voters whose primary language is Gwich’in or Yup’ik in the Dillingham, Wade Hampton, and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Areas.  United States District Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued the decision today after presiding over a two week trial in June and July.

Last summer, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the national law firms Wilson Elser LLP and Bingham McCutchen LLP, acting on behalf of four tribal councils and two Alaska Native voters, filed the lawsuit.  In the complaint, Plaintiffs Mike Toyukak of Manakotak, Fred Augustine of Alakanuk, the Native Village of Hooper Bay, the Traditional Village of Togiak, the Arctic Village Council, and the Village of Venetie Council asked the Court to order state election officials to comply with the language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act and the voting guarantees of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. 

The Alaska Native plaintiffs filed the lawsuit three and a half years after the State of Alaska settled a similar lawsuit filed by Native voters from the Bethel region in Nick, et al. v. Bethel, et al.  The evidence at trial established that state election officials made a policy decision to only provide limited, if any, language assistance to Native voters in the three regions immediately adjacent to the Bethel area.  Under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, state election officials are required to translate ballots and other election materials and information into Gwich’in and Yup’ik.  Officials also must provide trained bilingual staff to register voters and to help voters at the polls through complete, accurate, and uniform translations.

Judge Gleason found that the State fails to provide limited-English proficient Alaska Native voters with voting information substantially equivalent to what voters receive in English, in violation of Section 203.  The State places much of the burden for translations on “outreach workers” from Native villages in the three regions.  Judge Gleason determined that those workers are asked by the State to provide only limited translations, with no instructions to translate the Official Election Pamphlet the State sends out before each election.  Judge Gleason noted that the State compounds these violations through its limited efforts to inform voters that language assistance is available.

Furthermore, Judge Gleason found that the State fails to translate voting information into dialects of Yup’ik spoken in the Dillingham and Wade Hampton regions.  Instead, the State only offers a single translation into the Central Yup’ik dialect that is not widely spoken and has “limited value” in villages outside the Bethel region.  The State has been informed about the dialectical differences many times over the years, but has taken no action.  Judge Gleason concluded that the State’s failure to account for other dialects of Yup’ik denies voters outside the Bethel area information they need to cast an informed ballot.

Judge Gleason alluded to the State’s longstanding violations of Section 203.  She observed that the State previously settled the Nick litigation involving similar claims in the Bethel area.  She further noted that the State has had a “rocky road” with the United States Department of Justice since first becoming covered by Section 203 in 1975.  Except for 2008, when the State translated only two out of four ballot questions, Judge Gleason found that no Gwich’in translations have been provided in the Yukon-Koyukuk region beyond what individual translators might communicate.  No Gwich’in audio translations are provided on touch-screen voting units.

Allan Hayton, representative of the Arctic Village Council said “Juk drin Diiginjik K'yaa geereekhyaa geenjit gaayii gwiriltsaii. Shoo tr'aadlit ts'a' hai' tr'oonyaa. Today we have won a victory for speaking our language. We are happy and thankful.”

Togiak Traditional Council said “Quyana cakneq, caliilerpekun kaiyurluta, wankuta yuggtun naaqituulini. Cucuukicetaat nutaan assinruciiqut! Thank you very much for your work helping us, those of us who speak Yupik.  Voting now, will be a lot better!”

Natalie Landreth, counsel for the Plaintiffs, said that “this case boils down to one issue.  English speakers receive a 100-page Official Election Pamphlet before every election and Yup’ik speaking voters have been receiving three things: the date of the election, the time of the election, and a notice that langauge assistance will be available at the poll.  That’s it.  That is a very clear violation of the law, and it has to change, now.” 

James Tucker, co-counsel for the Plaintiffs, stated, “This is a tremendous victory for Alaska Native voters.  Nearly forty years after Alaska was first required to provide election information in Native languages, that promise remains unrealized.  The Court’s decision marks an important step towards ensuring that all voters in Alaska have an equal opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

Richard de Bodo, co-counsel for the Plaintiffs, added, “For many years, Alaska Natives with limited English proficiency have been forced to participate in the electoral process with far less information about what they were voting for than their English-speaking counterparts. The Court has changed that today, and has recognized that the right to vote requires meaningful and equal access to information.”

Seven regions of Alaska, including the Dillingham, Wade Hampton, and Yukon-Koyukuk regions, are required to provide translations for Alaska Natives under Section 203, the language assistance provision of the Voting Rights Act.  Section 203 applies to states and localities that meet certain threshhold requirements for the numbers of citizens with limited English proficiency.  Two additional regions of Alaska have to provide language assistance in non-Native languages.

Defendants in the suit included Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell, Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, and Regional Elections Supervisors Becka Baker and Michelle Speegle. 

Attorneys for the Alaska Native voters and tribal councils are Ms. Landreth, Erin Dougherty, Matthew Newman, and Keslie Kandt of NARF, and Mr. Tucker and Sylvia Semper of Wilson Elser, and Richard de Bodo, Jeff Arrington, Kristen Hilton, and Karen Ho of Bingham McCutchen.


Friday, August 29, 2014

NARF and Boulder History Museum announce re-opening of Chief Niwot, Legend & Legacy exhibit

flyer for Chief Niwot exhibit
The Native American Rights Fund and the Boulder History Museum proudly announce the re-opening of the Chief Niwot, Legend & Legacy exhibit. This exhibit commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the tragic massacre at Sand Creek, Colorado.

Chief Niwot struggled to find peace during the most fateful years in Southern Arapaho history. His life and legacy are revealed in this exhibit along with the Arapahos' place in Boulder's history. Please join us for this award winning exhibit with new content and artifacts previously not on display.

For more information on the exhibit, click here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Save the Date! Traditional Peacemaking training scheduled for October 6-7 in Catoosa, Oklahoma

Save the Date!  Traditional Peacemaking: Exploring the Intersections Between Tribal Courts and Peacemaking, Including Alternatives to Detention will be held on October 6-7, 2014 at the tribally-owned Hard Rock Hotel in Catoosa, Oklahoma.  The purpose of this training is to introduce grantees and other attendees to the various peacemaking models that are being used in tribal courts, including those that are being used as alternatives to detention.  The goal of the training is to explore the ways in which tribal courts integrate traditional justice and community values into varied aspects of tribal civil and criminal justice, to provide experiential training and tips for accessing tribal judicial systems that utilize cultural forms of justice, and to provide explanation of how traditional peacemaking can unlock new approaches to provide effective representation of civil and criminal legal services clients, with special attention to indigent criminal defendants whenever appropriate.

This training is co-sponsored by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA), and Columbia Law School.  The training is free, but the participants must cover the cost of their travel, food, and lodging.  BJA Grantees of Tribal Civil and Criminal Legal Assistance Programs may use grant funds to support travel costs.

Monday, August 25, 2014

NARF Staff Attorney Steve Moore presents at conference celebrating conclusion of the Snake River Basin Adjudication

Today NARF Staff Attorney Steve Moore is presenting at a conference celebrating the conclusion of the Snake River Basin Adjudication in Boise, Idaho.  The event is hosted by the University of Idaho College of Law, the Idaho Supreme Court, and the Kempthorne Institute and includes a full-day of presentations on topics related to the adjudication and water rights in Idaho.  Steve is presenting on the panel on Native American Reserved Water Right Settlements and tonight U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be the featured keynote speaker at a reception and dinner where there will be a ceremonial signing of the final decree.

To learn more about the celebration of the conclusion of the Snake River Basin Adjudication, click here.


Friday, August 22, 2014

NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk and Suzan Shown Harjo publish article “Bringing Jim Thorpe Home”

first page of article
NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk and Suzan Shown Harjo recently published the article “Bringing Jim Thorpe Home” in the newest issue of National Museum of the American Indian magazine. 

Late last year, NARF 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.  

To read John and Suzan’s article, click here and click through to page 62.  To read NARF’s amicus brief and learn more about the issue, click here



Thursday, August 21, 2014

NARF to attend 2014 Santa Fe Indian Market

Are you going to the Santa Fe Indian Market this weekend?  If so, please stop by the NARF booth to say hello!  NARF's booth will be located at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, across from Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Museum.  Please stop by to chat with NARF staff and learn more about our work asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide.  To learn more about the Santa Fe Indian Market, click here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk and NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy recognized in the 21st Edition of Best Lawyers in America

Photos of John Echohawk and Melody McCoyNARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk and NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy have both been recognized in the 21st Edition of Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of Native American Law.  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, John and Melody!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy to speak at Indian Child Welfare Act Conference

This week NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy is speaking at the 4th annual Indian Child Welfare Act Conference, sponsored by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Melody will provide a national ICWA case overview and legislative update.  To learn more about the Conference, click here.  And, to learn about NARF's ICWA work, click here.


Monday, August 11, 2014

NARF thanks 2014 Summer Law Clerk Hunter Cox

This summer, we’re highlighting the law students who were chosen to participate in NARF’s 2014 Law Clerk Program, and this week we're highlighting Hunter Cox. 

Hunter is an enrolled citizen of the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation.  After graduating from Dartmouth College, he worked as a paralegal for the Manhattan District Attorney Appeals Bureau.  He is currently completing his JD/MPP at the University of Michigan.  Additionally, he currently serves as Treasurer for the National Native American Law Students Association and as a Contributing Editor for the Michigan Journal of Race and Law.  Hunter spent last summer clerking at Legal Services of South Central Michigan, and has volunteered at the Navajo Nation's DNA-People's Legal Services on the Navajo Nation.  Thank you, Hunter!

NARF co-sponsors Indigenous Film screening of Cry Rock (Kwanatulhayc) and Mémère Métisse/My Métis Grandmother

NARF is proud to co-sponsor another Indigenous Film @ Su Teatro, a monthly indigenous film series.  NARF co-sponsors the series with the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management and the Denver American Indian Commission.  The August 13 program will be a screening of Cry Rock (Kwanatulhayc) and Mémère Métisse/My Métis Grandmother.  The event will take place at 721 Santa Fe Drive in Denver.  Doors open at 6:00pm and the films begin at 6:30pm.

Cry Rock (Kwanatulhayc) is directed by Banchi Hanuse (Nuxalk).  Fewer than fifteen Nuxalk language speakers and storytellers remain in Bella Coola, British Columbia, including the director’s 80-year-old grandmother.  In a technologically driven century, it would seem easy to record her stories for future generations, but can an electronic recording can capture the true meaning and value of these oral traditions. Cry Rock illuminates the intersection of Nuxalk language, story, history and place to reveal how and why the stories are so much more than the mere recording of words.  The film is in English and Nuxalk with English subtitles. (Smayaykila Films, 2010, 29 min.).  For more information, click here.

Mémère Métisse/My Métis Grandmother is directed by Janelle Wookey (Métis).  All her life, Cecile St. Amant concealed her Métis heritage.  Now her granddaughter, the filmmaker, lovingly leads her to a new way of thinking, letting us share the journey through her camera’s eye as she tries to coax Cecile not only to accept, but to take pride in her Métis heritage. (Janelle Wookey Productions, 2008, 30 min.).  For more information, click here.



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

NARF's Anchorage, Alaska office seeks Office Manager/Litigation Paralegal

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT

POSITION: Office Manager/Litigation Paralegal

CLOSING DATE: August 29, 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 has offices in Anchorage, Alaska, Boulder, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.  NARF is looking for an Office Manager/Litigation Paralegal to provide legal support for its staff attorneys in the Anchorage, Alaska office.

QUALIFICATIONS:
1.    Three or more years relevant on the job experience, preferably at the federal court level.  Paralegal certificate preferred.  Ability to read, write, spell, punctuate, and use appropriate grammar in order to accurately perform assigned tasks. Meticulous attention to detail is a must.

2.     Strong computer skills including working knowledge of Word Perfect/Word/Windows, spreadsheet, data base, document management, e-mail and web applications, Power Point, and Westlaw.  Specific experience with E-Scan, WorldDoxs, Concordance, or other similar legal software.

3.     Ability to operate a variety of office equipment, including a copier, fax machine, typewriter, computer (desktop and laptop), projector, and 10-key calculator.

4.     Ability to organize and prioritize numerous tasks and complete them under time constraints. Work may occasionally require a high level of mental effort and strain when performing a high volume of tasks and other essential duties.  Interpersonal skills necessary to communicate and follow instructions effectively from a diverse group of people, including reporting back to attorneys upon completion of a job undertaken at their request.  Ability to provide information and assistance with ordinary courtesy and tact.

The above is intended to describe the general content of and requirements for the performance of this job. It is not to be construed as an exhaustive statement of essential functions, responsibilities or requirements. 

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

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:
Please a letter of interest, complete resume, and three professional references to Heather Kendall-Miller, Senior Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund, 745 W. 4th Avenue, Suite 502, Anchorage, Alaska 99501.  Alaska Natives, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians are encouraged to apply.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

NARF thanks 2014 Summer Law Clerk Shay Elbaum

This summer, we’re highlighting the law students who were chosen to participate in NARF’s 2014 Law Clerk Program. 

Shay Elbaum is a clerk in NARF's Anchorage, Alaska office.  Shay is entering his third year at the University of Michigan Law School, where he’s served as co-chair of the Native American Law Students Association (along with fellow 2014 Summer Law Clerk Hunter Cox) and as Selections Coordinator for the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law.  Shay grew up in Michigan, and earned his  B.A. in Linguistics from McGill University.  He was worked for and volunteered for a number of public interest organizations, including Greater Boston Legal Services, where he worked last summer.  Thanks for your summer of hard work, Shay!