Friday, October 26, 2007

2nd Annual Modern Day Warriors Art show: Empowering the Young Voices of Native America

Saturday, November 10th
St. Julien Hotel Ballroom, Boulder, CO


*Special Free Shuttle for NCAI Participants from Denver to Boulder.
Spaces Are Limited.
Call to Reserve Space.

Film Screening, Art Show, Reception, Silent Auction & Live Music

5-7PM: Screening Award-Winning Film "Four Sheets to the Wind" with Q & A by Director Sterlin Harjo (Seminole Creek)

7-10PM: Modern Day Warriors Art Show, Reception & Silent AuctionLive Musical Performances by Quese Imc (Pawnee/Seminole) & Meghan Meisters (Dene)

All Proceeds Benefit Non-Profit Legal and Advocacy Work of NARF for the Rights of Native Peoples.

For more information contact: Tel: 303.447.8760
Or Visit:

Check Out NARF's Hot Modern Day Warrior Gear on NARF's Online Store

National Modern Day Warrior Art Show Competition Features 30 Young Artists Representing 34 Tribes

BOULDER, CO-The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) is pleased to announce the winning entries for its upcoming 2nd Annual Art Show "Modern Day Warriors: Empowering the Young Voices of Native America." NARF sponsored the national art competition open to Native artists ages 15-35 years. Thirty-nine artists representing 34 different American Indian tribes from across the country participated in this year's competition. A total of 103 works of visual art were reviewed by a national jury comprised of artists and non-profit, business, media, publishing and marketing professionals who chose a total of 50 works of art to be exhibited at the NARF Modern Day Warriors Art Show on November 10th in Boulder.

All artwork will be available for sale at the NARF Modern Day Warrior Art Show to be held at the St. Julien Hotel Ballroom from 7-10pm on Saturday, November 10th. The event is free and open to the public. All selected young artists are donating 50% of all art sales from the event to support the non-profit legal and advocacy work of NARF on behalf of the rights of Native Americans.

A special offer is being made to NCAI Annual Convention participants who will be in Denver on the 10th. NARF has arranged a FREE, roundtrip shuttle service to transport conference participants from the NCAI Host Hotel in Denver to the NARF art show in Boulder. Spaces on the free shuttle are limited to please call to reserve a seat. For more information contact Crystal Echo Hawk, NARF Assistant Director of Development, at 303.447.8760 or via email at Event information is also available at

Modern Day Warrior: NARF Attorney Yvonne Knight Retires

"When you go out there to represent Indian people, you see your family your brothers, your sisters, your nephews, your mother and father, your grandparents. You realize the devastating impact that society can have on people because they are a different culture, because their skin is a different color. Being Indian at NARF brings a focus a fire a determination to do the very best. You’'re going to be as good a lawyer as any non-Indian lawyer who ever walked into a court room. This organization is like a warrior society. You put your life on the line be the best you can be always being prepared. Your fighting for the survival of your people..."
-Yvonne Knight (NARF Senior Staff Attorney)

BOULDER, CO-With these words, NARF attorney Yvonne Knight (Ponca-Creek) marked the 20th Anniversary of NARF in 1990. On September 30, 2007, Yvonne said goodbye to NARF as she moved on into retirement after 36 years of fighting for the rights of all of us in Indian country. NARF held a very special retirement dinner for Yvonne where colleagues, former clients, friends and family came to honor the immense legacy she leaves behind in Indian law. Speakers including Ada Deer, Charles Wilkinson, University of Colorado Law Professor and John Echohawk made touching remarks and tributes to this remarkable Modern Day Warrior for Native Rights.
Through this journey, Yvonne has proven to be a modern day Indian warrior, as can be attested to by the countless tribes and individuals that she has guided through the myriad of Indian law, legislation, and court rulings. Yvonne has stood before Congress, federal and state courts, tribes and communities to defend the rights of our people. Yvonne was motivated by the thought that NARF is a warrior society and that she fought these courtroom battles, not for abstract reasons, but for family. This she believed, made Indian attorneys more formidable in court when they're up against impossible odds. Her victories helped to protect our cultures, our spirituality, our way of life, and helped to determine our future. Yvonne understood the power of our elders visions and transformed them to create leadership and change.

Yvonne is of Ponca-Creek descent and a member of the Ponca Tribe. While in law school, she was a founding member of the American Indian Law Students Association (now the Native American Law Students Association), and served on first board of directors of that organization. Yvonne was the first Indian woman law graduate from the University of New Mexico’’s Indian Law Scholarship Program. She joined NARF as a staff attorney in 1971 and has represented countless tribes and individuals in cases involving a variety of Indian law issues. She served as a member of a task force of the American Indian Policy Review Commission responsible for recommending changes in federal statutes affecting Indians.

Yvonne was actively involved in the passage and implementation of the Menominee Restoration Act. She has also had extensive experience in such areas of Indian law as drafting tribal constitutions; defining and enforcing the federal trust responsibility to Indians; litigating tribal claims to land, water, and other natural resources; enforcing Indian education rights; and, defining and enforcing tribal court jurisdiction.

Yvonne your legacy will be hard to follow, but your inspiration will guide the next generation of Indian attorneys to continue this fight for family, for what is right, and for what it should be. You will be missed.

Tribal Supreme Court Project Busy With Case Monitoring & Strategy Development

WASHINGTON D.C.-The Tribal Supreme Court Project remains remains very busy, monitoring numerous cases at various stages of appeal within both state and federal courts, preparing amicus briefs in several Indian law cases before the various the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and analyzing new petitions for cert. The purpose of the Project is to strengthen tribal advocacy before the U.S. Supreme Court by developing new litigation strategies and coordinating tribal legal resources, and to ultimately improve the win-loss record of Indian tribes. The Project is staffed by attorneys with the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and consists of a Working Group of over 200 attorneys and academics from around the nation who specialize in Indian law and other areas of law that impact Indian cases, including property law, trust law and Supreme Court practice. In addition, an Advisory Board of Tribal Leaders assists the Project by providing the necessary political and tribal perspective to the legal and academic expertise.

The Tribal Supreme Court Project Update below provides an overview of the Indian law cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and the work being performed by the Tribal Supreme Court Project.

On Monday, September 24, 2007, the Court conducted its opening conference for the October Term 2007, and, as expected, denied review in all three Indian law cases it considered. At present, petitions for cert are pending in four Indian law cases. However, we anticipate that a number of additional petitions for cert will be filed in the next several weeks, including one in Carcieri v. Kempthorne as reported last month. Carcieri is a case which began as a broad challenge by the State of Rhode Island to the Secretary’s authority to take land into trust on behalf of Indians and Indian tribes. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the Secretary’s authority to take land into trust on behalf of the Narragansett Tribe and rejected all of the state’s arguments, including: (1) Section 5 of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority, violates the 10th Amendment and violates the Enclave Clause of the U.S. Constitution; (2) Section 5 of the IRA applies only to tribes that were “recognized Indian tribes now under federal recognition” in 1934, thus excluding the Narragansett Tribe and any other tribe administratively recognized after 1934 from the benefits of the IRA; and (3) the Rhode Island Settlement Act implicitly precludes the acquisition of any additional new trust lands by the Secretary in the State of Rhode Island, or implicitly restricts any such acquisition of trust lands to be subject to state civil and criminal laws and jurisdiction. We do anticipate that a number of other states will be filing an amicus brief(s) in support of Rhode Island as part a larger coordinated strategy by these states to mount more significant legal challenges to the acquisition of trust land for the benefit of Indians and Indian tribes. The Tribal Supreme Court Project will continue to work closely with the attorneys for the Tribe and the United States to oppose review by the Court.

The Project remains very busy developing strategy and coordinating resources in a number of Indian law cases recently decided by, or currently pending in, the various U.S. Courts of Appeal where review by the U.S. Supreme Court may be contemplated. One example is State of Texas v. U.S. in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a fragmented opinion which held that the Secretarial Procedures Regulation (25 C.F.R. Part 291) is invalid. The Secretarial Procedures Regulation, promulgated pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, provided an alternative process for approval of a Class III gaming compact when a state refuses to negotiate in good faith and raises a defense of Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit under Seminole Tribe.

Copies of briefs and other materials for each of the cases listed in the Update are available on the NARF website at For more information please contact Richard Guest, NARF Senior Staff Attorney, at 202-785-4166.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Why We Can't Wait: Reversing the Retreat on Civil Rights

NARF Co-Sponsors a 2007 Regional Conference: Why We Can't Wait: Reversing the Retreat on Civil Rights.

The 1980s in the United States marked the beginningof what some have called the “rollback” period in civil rights. Through a series of decisions in key areas of the law such as educational equality, employment discrimination, disability rights, environmental justice and sexual harassment, the federal courts have limited the ability of people to file and win civil rights cases by restricting access to courts and eroding remedies for practices that discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities,women, older Americans, and persons with disabilities.

This conference, Why We Can’t Wait: Reversing the Retreat on Civil Rights, is an effort to educate, raise awareness and build alliances to protect and preserve equal justice, fairness, and opportunity and to make sure our laws are in step with the country we want for ourselves and for future generations.

Read more.

NARF Alaska Victorious in Four Cases

ANCHORAGE, AK-NARF Alaska attorney Heather Kendall-Miller has won four important cases in a row on behalf of Alaska Natives. In Ahtna Tene Nene’ Subsistence Committee v. Alaska Board of Game, suit was brought on behalf of tribal organizations and communities who live a subsistence way of life to overturn a series of regulations adopted by the Alaska Board of Game in March of 2007. The regulations severely restrict, and in some cases eliminate plaintiffs’ subsistence uses of moose and caribou. In mid-June plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction in state court requesting that the court enjoin the State from implementing these regulations for the fall hunt. On July 20th , the court found that plaintiffs had shown that they satisfied the “balance of hardships” standard for granting preliminary injunction by raising serious and substantial questions going to the merits of the case and by demonstrating that the balance of hardships tip sharply in their favor.

On June 10, 2006 the State of Alaska brought suit challenging the Federal Subsistence Boards customary and traditional (C&T) use finding for subsistence uses of moose by members of the Chistochina Tribe. A positive C&T finding entitles residents for a specific community to the subsistence priority under Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Chistochina was granted intervention in this action to protect its C&T status for moose. On June 27, 2007 in State v. Demientieff, the district court entered an Order in favor of defendant United States and Chistochina against the State and upholding the Federal Subsistence Boards customary and traditional use finding for subsistence uses of moose by members of the Chistochina Tribe.

On January 5, 2005, the State of Alaska filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia challenging the final rule implementing the mandate in the prior subsistence case, John v. United States. The prior case established that the United States must protect subsistence uses of fisheries in navigable waters where the United States possesses a reserved water right. The State challenges the Secretaries’ implementation of the mandate by arguing that the reserved waters doctrine requires a quantification of waters necessary to fulfill specific purposes. On January 18, Katie John filed a motion for limited intervention for purposes of filing a motion to dismiss for failure to join an indispensable party. On May 17, 2007 in State v. Norton, the district court entered an Order upholding the agency’s rule-making process identifying navigable waters in Alaska that fall within federal jurisdiction for purposes of Title VIII’s subsistence priority.

On January 3, 2005 the Villages of Tanana, Nulato, Akiak, Kalskag, Lower Kalskag and Kenaitze along with Theresa and Dan Schwietert filed a complaint against the State of Alaska, Attorney General, and various state agencies challenging the policy adopted by the Attorney General of Alaska that state courts have exclusive jurisdiction over child custody proceedings involving Alaska Native children and Tribes in Alaska do not have concurrent jurisdiction to hear children’s cases unless certain conditions are met. On May 30, 2007 in Tanana v. State, the court issued an opinion in the Tribe’s favor rejecting all of the State’s arguments. The court held that Alaska Tribes possess inherent power to adjudicate proceedings involving member children. The Tribes have moved for injunctive relief to prohibit the state and its agency’s from denying full faith and credit to tribal court decrees pending appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court.

Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act

BOULDER, CO-NARF is proud to announce the publication of its new "Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act." The Guide, available both on the Internet and in print, is a powerful resource tool for tribal, state and federal entities involved in Indian child custody proceedings. Among the wealth of contents and resources is frequently asked questions with answers falling under 22 topics, including:

Application of the ICWA
Who has rights under the Act
Role of Tribal Courts
Tribal State Agreements
Foster placement & removal

The Internet version, available at, also contains more than 1,000 full-text resources.

The ICWA Practical Guide Project was generously funded by the Administration for Native Americans, with supplemental funding by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, and supported by NICWA as a key partner. NARF and an Advisory Board-made up of multi-disciplinary team consisting of members of tribal courts, tribal ICWA departments, state governments, Indian law practitioners, Native non-profit organizations, law firms and urban Indian centers-provided guidance on the comprehensive content of the guide. To order a copy of the Guide, print a free copy, or access the expanded Internet edition, please visit: