Monday, November 30, 2009

Supreme Court Update Available

With the beginning of the October 2009 Term, much of the attention and speculation has been focused on the addition of Justice Sotomayor to the Court, as well as the possible retirement of Justice Stevens at the end of the term. The implications for Indian country as a result of these changes are still unfolding, but at present, Indian country is 0 for 5 before the Roberts’ Court.

To date, no Indian law cases are currently pending before the Court on the merits. In a disappointing outcome, on November 16, 2009, the Court denied review in Harjo v. Pro-Football, Inc. The D.C. Circuit’s decision held that the doctrine of laches (i.e. long delay in bringing lawsuit) precluded consideration of a petition seeking cancellation of the “Redskins” trademarks owned by Pro-Football, even though the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board’s found that the trademarks disparaged Native Americans. The Tribal Supreme Court Project coordinated four amicus in support of the petition: (1) the NCAI-Tribal Amicus Brief which summarizes the efforts of the Native American community over the past forty years to retire all Indian names and mascots; (2) the Social Justice/Religious Organizations Amicus Brief which focuses on the social justice and public interests present in the case; (3) the Trademark Law Professors’ Brief which supports and enhances the trademark law arguments put forward by petitioners; and (4) the Psychologists’ Amicus Brief which provides an overview of the empirical research of the harm caused by racial stereotyping. Attention will now focus on the Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc. litigation which was brought in 2006 by young Native Americans in an effort to avoid the laches defense, and then stayed pending the outcome in the Harjo case.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Native American Rights Fund's climate change work is highlighted in Indian Country Today

BOULDER, Colo. – Climate change may be only the latest of many challenges facing Indian country, but it is having devastating effects in parts of the far North where at least one Native village faced with inundation by melting polar ice is suing energy companies it says are responsible.
John Echohawk, executive director of Boulder-based Native American Rights Fund, said the village of Kivalina, Alaska, located on the Chukchi Sea coastline, is suing energy companies for contributing to the public nuisance of global warming it says is going to force the community to relocate to avoid being flooded out.

Read full article here.

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month by hosting a Native Justice house party on American Indian Heritage Day, November 27, 2009. Order your Community Action House Party Kit from NARF today and host a party with your friends and family.

The Washington, DC office of NARF has moved!

After nearly forty years at its 1712 N Street address, the DC Office of the Native American Rights Fund has moved to join with the National Congress of American Indians at the “Embassy of Tribal Nations” – an historic office building and carriage house located near Dupont Circle.

The new office address is: Native American Rights Fund, 1514 P Street, NW (Rear) Suite D, Washington, D.C. 20005. The phone and fax numbers remain the same: phone: (202) 785-4166; fax: (202) 822-0068.

To mark the move and celebrate the historic opening of the Embassy of Tribal Nations, Executive Director John Echohawk will join Tribal leaders, NCAI and NARF-DC staff in a Blessing Ceremony on Tuesday morning, November 3rd, followed by an Open House later in the afternoon. John Echohawk will then join Tribal leaders on November 5th at the Tribal Nations Summit – the first of what-is-promised-to-be an annual Nation-to-Nation meeting between Tribal leaders and President Obama.

Embassy of Tribal Nations Gala Open House

This event is open to the public. Please RSVP to Tonya Deal at

Time: 2:00-8:00 p.m.

NARF Attorney to Deliver Library of Congress's 2009 Celebration of Native American Heritage Month Keynote Address

Dawn Sturdevant Baum, Native American Rights Fund Staff Attorney, will deliver Native American Heritage Month keynote address for the Library of Congress's 2009 celebration of Native American Heritage Month on Nov. 18. This year's national theme is "Pride in Our Heritage. Honor to Our Ancestors."

This event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
2:00 p.m.
Library of Congress's Thomas Jefferson Building
Whittall Pavilion (first floor)
10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.

Click here for more information

NARF to appeal Kivalina environmental case dismissal

On September 30, 2009 the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a lawsuit by the Native Village of Kivalina (Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil, et al) against twenty-four oil, energy and utility companies. The Village sought damages under a federal common law claim of nuisance, based on the companies contribution to the excessive emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which the Village claims is causing global warming. Judge Armstrong concluded that the Village’s federal claim for nuisance is barred by the political question doctrine and for lack of standing under Article III of the United States Constitution.

This case will now be appealed to the Ninth Circuit to overturn the Judge’s decision. Since the September ruling, the Fifth and the Second Federal Appellate Courts (a total of six judges) have now disagreed with Judge Armstrong. Read More