Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Congressmen reintroduce bill to help reimburse Fort Lewis College for Native American tuition

Last week Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall and Representative Scott Tipton reintroduced companion bills in the Senate and House of Representatives to help Fort Lewis College cover the tuition costs of Native Americans students, who get federally-mandated free tuition at the college.  NARF has long supported this issue.  NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk has noted that NARF had “been involved in the litigation in the 1970s enforcing the Indian tuition waiver, is aware of the importance of the Indian tuition waiver to Indian students across the country and the outstanding record of Fort Lewis College in graduating Indian students over the years.”   To learn more about the history of this issue, click here.  And, to read about the newly introduced legislation, click here.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Kim Gottschalk attends UN Framework Convention on Climate Change


This week NARF Staff Attorney Kim Gottschalk is in Bonn, Germany to attend the United Nations (UN) second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action on behalf of NARF’s client, the National Congress of American Indians.  This will be the first meeting at which the parties will begin identifying the specific elements to be included in the universal climate change agreement expected to be adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties in December of 2015.  For more information on the meeting, click here.


NARF Staff Attorney Heather Whiteman-Runs-Him presents at California Tribal Water Summit

Earlier today NARF Staff Attorney Heather Whiteman-Runs-Him presented at the 2013 California Tribal Water Summit in Sacramento.  The theme of the Summit was "California Indigenous Rights, Uses and Management of Water and Land: Leveraging the Strengths and Resources of Tribal, State and Federal Agencies Through Collaboration," and the event provided an opportunity for Tribal, State and Federal officials to develop a dialogue of mutual respect between agencies and tribes on water issues.  Heather’s talk was titled "Emerging Approaches to Asserting and Protecting Tribal Water Rights.”  For more information on the Summit, click here.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

NARF sponsors showing of Return of Navajo Boy at Niwot Native American Film Festival

First Friday, May 3 -  7:30 PM - Return of Navajo Boy

Located at Elysian Fields Auctions 6924 79th Street, Niwot, Colorado  (Look for the signs!) Screenings are FREE with a suggested donation. Ava Hamilton, Film Festival Curator/ Director will introduce the documentaries and films.

Navajo Boy

The Return of Navajo Boy, an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and PBS, is an internationally acclaimed documentary that reunited a Navajo family and triggered a federal investigation into uranium contamination. It tells the story of Elsie Mae Begay, whose history in pictures reveals an incredible and ongoing struggle for environmental justice. A powerful new epilogue (produced in 2008) shows how the film and Groundswell Educational Films’ outreach campaign create news and rally supporters including Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA). The Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform mandated a clean-up plan by the five agencies that are responsible for uranium contamination.

Ironically, the US EPA’s Comprehensive Five-Year Plan did not include Ms Begay’s backyard, until she traveled with this film to Washington, DC and screened it on Capitol Hill in September, 2008. Together we are building a groundswell for environmental justice.

Join Groundswell and Navajo Communities in this mission. We will continue filming and raising awareness until all Navajo communities impacted by more than one thousand abandoned uranium mines are cleaned up.

The film chronicles an extraordinary chain of events, beginning with the appearance of a 1950s film reel, which lead to the return of a long lost brother to his Navajo family.

Living for more than six decades in Monument Valley (on the Arizona/Utah border), the Cly family has an extraordinary history in pictures. Since the1930′s, family members have appeared as unidentified subjects in countless photographs and films shot in Monument Valley including various postcards, Hollywood Westerns and a rare home-movie by legendary director John Ford. But it is the sudden appearance of a rarely seen vintage film that affects their lives the most.

In 1997 a white man identifying himself as Bill Kennedy from Chicago showed up in Monument Valley with a silent film called “Navajo Boy” which he says his late father produced in the 1950s. Seeking to understand his father’s work on the Navajo Reservation, Kennedy returns the film to the people in it. When Cly family matriarch, Elsie Mae Cly Begay, watches the film she is amused to see herself as a young girl and delights in identifying other members of her family. Elsie recognizes her late mother in the old film as well as her infant brother, John Wayne Cly, who was adopted by white missionaries in the 1950s and never heard from again.

With the return of “Navajo Boy,” Elsie seizes the opportunity to tell her family’s story for the first time, offering a unique perspective to the history of the American west. Using a variety of still photos and moving images from the 40s and 50s and telling their family story in their own voices, the Clys shed light on the Native side of picture making and uranium mining in Monument Valley.

When the long lost brother, John Wayne Cly, learns about the return of “Navajo Boy” in a New Mexico newspaper, he contacts the Clys in hopes that they are his family. As he tells his side of the story The Return of Navajo Boy takes on a literal tone, setting in motion John Wayne’s unforgettable return to his blood brothers and sisters in an emotional reunion in Monument Valley.

This unique Sundance Film Festival 2000 selection weaves together all the different threads of the Cly family story, narrated by Elsie’s son Lorenzo Begay. Through this inside narrative of the Cly’s inspirational saga, The Return of Navajo Boy gives new meaning to old pictures and performs a healing miracle of its own. Order the film on DVD today.

Festival is hosted by Native American Producers Alliance & Ni-wot Prairie Productions

Sponsors/ Contributors: Native American Rights Fund, Elysian Fields Auction Co., and WHIZZBang Studios

For information, please contact Elizabeth Darling at: DarlinginNiwot@aol.com or 303.931.3084

Native American Producers Alliance and Ni-wot Prairie Productions ar 501(c)(3) organizations.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The theme of Earth Day 2013 – April 22 – is The Face of Climate Change

April 22 is Earth Day – How have you been affected?  What are you doing about it? 

The theme of Earth Day 2013 – April 22 – is The Face of Climate Change. Organizers ask,” Have you been affected by climate change?”  “What are you doing about it?”

For Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and our Native clients, these questions are a daily reality.  Climate change impacts Indigenous peoples – NARF’s clients – more broadly and more deeply than other populations.  Traditional hunting, fishing and gathering areas lose their sustainability.  Some tribal lands flood or erode.  Others see their fresh water supplies become tainted or dry up.

Most tribes and Native villages have few resources available to mitigate the effects of climate change.  The Native American Rights Fund is committed to fighting on their behalf.  NARF is working to secure clean water for tribes in the Midwest and to protect fisheries in the Northwest and Alaska.  We also represent North American tribes in climate change negotiations at the United Nations.  To learn more about our work, please click here.

Earth Day is fast approaching.  How have you been affected?  What are you doing about it?  Please get involved!  Share your story on the official Earth Day website.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Natalie Landreth presents at American Bar Association Conference

Today NARF Staff Attorney Natalie Landreth is presenting at the American Bar Association’s Section of Family Law Conference.  Attorneys from around the country are at the Conference and Natalie’s panel is titled “The First Peoples’ Court” and will focus on tribal jurisdiction.  For the conference agenda, click here.

Native American Rights Fund receives 2013 Best of Boulder Award

The Native American Rights Fund has been selected for the 2013 Best of Boulder Award in the Business Legal Services category by the Boulder Award Program.  Each year, the Boulder Award Program recognizes companies that it believes “enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community.”

The Boulder Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Boulder, Colorado area.  To read the press release announcing NARF’s award, click here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Richard Guest presents at Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Conference

Last week NARF Staff Attorney Richard Guest presented at the 38th Annual Federal Bar Association Indian Law Conference held just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Richard presented on the panel “From Carcieri to Ramah – Mining the Supreme Court’s Jurisprudence.”  To read the full conference agenda, click here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Transcript for U.S. Supreme Court oral argument in Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl now available

A transcript for today’s oral argument in Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl can be found hereAudio recordings of oral arguments heard by the U.S. Supreme Court are made available to the public at the end of each argument week and so NARF will post a link to the audio this Friday. If you are interested in learning more about the case or reading briefs that were filed by both sides, click here.

Executive Directors of NARF, NCAI, and NICWA publish op-ed, "The adoption industry's ugly side."

NARF's Executive Director John Echohawk, Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians, and Terry Cross, Executive Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, have published an op-ed in Politico on the important ICWA case, Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl, which was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court today.  To read the op-ed, click here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Indian Country prayer gathering tomorrow on steps of United States Supreme Court

Indian Country and friends of Indian Country are invited to join us as we gather on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 8:00 am EST on the steps of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. for a prayer gathering in advance of the oral arguments of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.

The Native American Rights Fund, the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, and the Cherokee Nation welcome all to join in this respectful moment of reflection and prayer.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NARF authors amicus brief in Baby Girl case on behalf of Alaska Tribes

Have you been following the important Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) case, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, which will be heard by the United States Supreme Court next week?  In addition to NARF's work on the case through the
Tribal Supreme Court Project, NARF also authored a brief on behalf of Alaska Tribes.  To read the brief, click here.

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

Friday, April 5, 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy recognized as Denver’s top lawyer in Native American Law for 2013

NARF Staff Attorney Melody McCoy has been recognized in the 2013 edition of Denver’s Best Lawyers as the Lawyer of the Year practicing 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.  

To read the 2013 edition of Denver’s Best Lawyers, click here.  And, congratulations Melody!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

NARF announces the addition of new attorney in NARF’s Alaska office

The Native American Rights Fund is pleased to announce that attorney Matthew Newman has joined the organization and will be housed in the organization’s Anchorage, Alaska office. 
Matthew Newman grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska.  He graduated cum laude from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a B.A. in Political Science.  He received his J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law in 2012.  During law school, Matt was an officer in UM’s NALSA branch and the Managing Editor for the Public Land and Resources Law Review.   At graduation, he received the Eddie McClure Service Award from Indian Law Section of the Montana State Bar for his work as a student attorney for the Indian Law Clinic.   

During law school Matt clerked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Helena, Montana, where he worked on Major Crimes Act prosecutions pending before Montana federal District Courts and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. After graduation, he served as law clerk for Superior Court Judge Carl J.D. Bauman in Kenai, Alaska.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Federal court holds Interior Secretary retains authority to make trust land acquisitions for Alaska Natives

On March 31, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an important ruling in Akiachak Native Community, et al. v. Salazar that affirms the ability of the U.S. Secretary of Interior to take land into trust on behalf of Alaska Tribes and also acknowledges the rights of Alaska Tribes to be treated the same as all other federally recognized Tribes.

In 2006, four Tribes and one Native individual—the Akiachak Native Community, Chalkyitsik Village, Chilkoot Indian Association, Tuluksak Native Community (IRA), and Alice Kavairlook—brought suit to challenge the Secretary of the Interior’s decision to leave in place a regulation that treats Alaska Natives differently from other Native peoples.  On behalf of our clients, NARF and co-counsel Alaska Legal Services Corporation sought judicial review of 25 C.F.R. § 151 as it pertains to federally recognized Tribes in Alaska.  This federal regulation governs the procedures used by Indian Tribes and individuals when requesting the Secretary of the Interior to acquire title to land in trust on their behalf.  The regulation bars the acquisition of land in trust in Alaska other than for the Metlakatla Indian Community or its members.  Plaintiffs argued that this exclusion of Alaska Natives—and only Alaska Natives—from the land into trust application process is void under 25 U.S.C. § 476(g), which nullifies regulations that discriminate among Indian Tribes.  The State of Alaska intervened to argue that the differential treatment is required by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA).

This decision is a victory for all Alaska Tribes.  The ruling will allow Alaska Tribes to petition the Secretary to have non-ANCSA lands placed into trust and the opportunity to enhance their ability to regulate alcohol, respond to domestic violence, and generally protect the health, safety, and welfare of tribal members.  To read the court’s opinion, click here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

NARF and WSWC Co-Sponsor Biennial Symposium on the Settlement of Indian Reserved Water Rights

NARF logo
Save the date!  On August 13-15, 2013, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the Western States Water Council (WSWC) will co-sponsor a symposium on the settlement of Indian reserved water rights claims.  The event will be held at the Hilton Santa Fe at Buffalo Thunder and Continuing Legal Education credit will be available for lawyers who attend.  Additional information will be available on the NARF symposium website in the near future.

The Hilton Santa Fe at Buffalo Thunder is located north of the Santa Fe Plaza on Highway 84/285 North.  Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF) is located 20 minutes southwest of the resort and Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) is located 75 minutes south.  The Rail Runner Express commuter train now connects Albuquerque and Santa Fe and shuttle service is available from there.