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.