indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree - University of Tulsa College of Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Highlights from Day 1 of National Congress of American Indians

Filed Under: National | Politics
More on: bay mills, doj, football, icwa, immunity, john echohawk, mascots, meetings, ncai, nicwa, oklahoma, racism, redskins, shutdown, supreme court, suzan shown harjo, terry cross
   

The National Congress of American Indians kicked off its 70th annual convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Monday. Here are some of the highlights of the opening day.

Shutdown Grounds Guests
NCAI conferences typically attract top federal officials and high-ranking members of Congress. This year was to be no different -- except for the shutdown of the federal government.

Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Yvette Roubideaux, the director of the Indian Health Service, were among those who were stuck in Washington, D.C. Two White House officials -- Jodi Gillette and Charlie Galbraith -- also couldn't make it.

Neither could the only two enrolled tribal members in Congress who would have felt right at home. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, had to stay on Capitol Hill to continue work on the shutdown.

Jefferson Keel, NCAI's outgoing president, offered a blunt assessment of the situation. He asked tribal leaders what they would do if their employees didn't show up for work.

"It's up to us to replace these folks who refuse to do their jobs," Keel said.

ICWA Concerns
Oklahoma has been ground zero for the Indian Child Welfare Act in recent months due to the controversy surrounding the adoption of a girl from the Cherokee Nation so the law is high on the agenda this year.

Gov. Mary Fallin (R), who signed the extradition order for Dusten Brown, the biological father of the girl, addressed NCAI on the opening day. However, she only briefly discussed child welfare and didn't take questions from tribal leaders after her speech.

"We know working together we can serve our children better in the state," Fallin said.

Terry Cross, the executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, spoke in depth about the controversy later in the day. He said what happened to Brown and his family could happen to other tribal parents due to the changing nature of the adoption industry.

"International adoptions have dried up and so adoption attorneys want our children," Cross warned. "Our children are not for sale."

One of the main concerns with ICWA is lack of compliance. Cross suggested that the federal government withhold grants to states that fail to abide by the law.

"There really are very few consequences if someone violates the law," Cross said.

NICWA and NCAI are urging the Department of Justice to investigate the adoption from a civil rights perspective. Cross urged tribes to write letters, pass resolutions and lobby federal officials to ensure Indian children are being protected.

"The more the administration hears from tribes on the issue, the more likely they will investigate," he said.

NCAI will be honoring Dusten Brown at the convention today.

Supreme Court Showdown
John Echohawk, the executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, brought a familiar warning to tribal leaders -- don't bring your cases to the U.S. Supreme Court. Of the last 10 Indian law cases that went before the court, tribes lost 9 of them, he said.

"Since 2006, tribal interests have once again accumulated a very bad losing record," Echohawk told NCAI.

Tribal leaders are bracing for another negative outcome with Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, which the court is due to hear on December 2. The case pits states against tribes and could lead to an erosion of tribal sovereign immunity.

But NARF and NCAI are asking tribes not to submit briefs to the court. That's a big shift from prior strategy -- in the ICWA case, for example, there were 24 briefs supporting Dusten Brown and the law in general.

Instead, tribes are being urged to join just one brief. Richard Guest, an attorney with NARF, said the goal is to speak with "one voice."

"The more tribes that we can sign onto this amicus brief," Guest told NCAI, "the better chance we have of persuading the court."

Eliminating Racist Mascots
Activist Suzan Shown Harjo drew strong statements of support at NCAI as part of the ongoing campaign to eliminate the use of "Indian" mascots in public schools and professional sports.

When the battle began in the 1970s, there were about 3,000 stereotypical images of Indian people and Indian symbols in use, Harjo said. Now there's only about 900.

"So we have actually won this fight," Harjo told attendees. "We have won it on a societal level."

But the Washington professional football team remains one of the holdouts despite increased pressure to eliminate the name. Harjo suggested cutting off ties with businesses that align themselves with racist mascots.

"So its probably about time we all quit using FedEx," Harjo said. FedEx holds the naming rights to the stadium where the team plays.

Bank of America is a major sponsor of the team -- fans can even brand their checks and debit cards with the name. Tribes do a lot of business with the institution, Harjo noted.

"We have to think about who we are in bed with," Harjo said.

Related Stories:
National Congress of American Indians opens annual meeting (10/14)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Author brings Lakota heritage to stewardship (4/27)
Lakota Country Times: Cobell scholarship fund being put to use (4/27)
Steve Russell: Same-sex marriage back before Supreme Court (4/27)
Terese Mailhot: The epidemic of early death on the reservation (4/27)
Jean-Luc Pierite: School makes bad choice with fake headdress (4/27)
Peter d'Errico: Pope fails to address genocide of Native peoples (4/27)
Editorial: States need help dealing with newly recognized tribes (4/27)
Senate panel takes up bill to halt Tohono O'odham Nation casino (4/27)
Small Alturas Rancheria runs casino but can't get agree on much (4/27)
White House to host first-ever Native youth conference on July 9 (4/24)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe fires casino manager (4/24)
Lakota Country Times: Timothy Standing Soldier passes on at 54 (4/24)
Mark Trahant: Invest in our Native youth for long-term success (4/24)
James Giago Davies: True believerism and comic book solutions (4/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Oglala Sioux Tribe must act on legal marijuana (4/24)
Ed Rice: Cleveland team comes up with excuse for racist mascot (4/24)
White House Blog: Recognizing tribal Climate Action Champions (4/24)
House subcommittee looks at poor conditions at Indian schools (4/24)
Navajo actress was put in darker makeup for Adam Sandler film (4/24)
Eastern Cherokee group plans lawsuit over tribal council raises (4/24)
Column: Commission takes on truth and reconciliation in Maine (4/24)
Senate votes to confirm Loretta Lynch as next attorney general (4/24)
ICT interview with confirmed NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri (4/24)
Dave Palermo: Tribes in California assert right to Internet poker (4/24)
Pokagon Band casino remains a concern for Indiana lawmakers (4/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo places casino manager on administrative leave (4/24)
White Earth Nation promotes tribal members in casino positions (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux student vies for Miss Indian World (4/23)
Lakota Country Times: Tribal citizens named to education board (4/23)
Ivan Star: Struggling with the warrior heritage in Indian Country (4/23)
Dana Lone Elk: Lakota people still carry on fight of Crazy Horse (4/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes bill to renew NAHASDA (4/23)
BIA faces fire over latest reforms to federal recognition process (4/23)
Opinion: First Lady brings truth with remarks about Native youth (4/23)
Incoming leader of Navajo Nation stresses importance of youth (4/23)
Native actors storm off set of Adam Sandler film in New Mexico (4/23)
Marijuana seen as new frontier in tribal economic development (4/23)
Senate approves anti-trafficking measure with tribal provisions (4/23)
Interview with Gyasi Ross about spoken word release Isskootsik (4/23)
Blackfeet Nation launches campaign to ban drilling at sacred site (4/23)
Cherokee Nation celebrates births of first calves from bison herd (4/23)
Burns Paiute Tribe investigates fire that destroyed two bulidings (4/23)
Kaibab Paiute Tribe welcomes designation as 1st dark sky nation (4/23)
University of Minnesota sees surge in Native student enrollment (4/23)
Editorial: Minnesota tribes work together to address treaty rights (4/23)
Editorial: Maine governor fails to treat sovereign tribes as equals (4/23)
Brazil to host inaugural World Indigenous Games this September (4/23)
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation probes woman's death at casino (4/23)
Tohono O'odham Nation vows defense for off-reservation casino (4/23)
Seminole Tribe talks with lawmakers about Class III casino deal (4/23)
Editorial: State needs assurances from Quapaw Tribe on gaming (4/23)
Native Sun News: Tribes take DOI to task over grizzly bear policy (4/22)
Native Sun News: Lakota rodeo legend Howard Hunter passes on (4/22)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation language programs are working (4/22)
White House Blog: Improving the lives of Native American youth (4/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.