indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
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:
Eyapaha Today: Oneida singer follows in mother's footsteps (10/22)
Native Sun News: Candidate seeks investigation into program (10/22)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Lakota people disrespect our language (10/22)
Cedric Sunray: Standing together to fight tribal disenrollment (10/22)
SCIA to hold listening session at NCAI on Indian education bill (10/22)
FNDI urges passage for Indian Teacher Loan Forgiveness Act (10/22)
Chumash Tribe praises BIA movement on land-into-trust bid (10/22)
Steven Newcomb: The role of Latin in empire and colonization (10/22)
Christopher Chavis: Navajo court got it wrong in fluency case (10/22)
Navajo Nation presidential hopeful to be removed from ballot (10/22)
Aging BIA school on Navajo Nation awaits replacement funds (10/22)
Review: NMAI treaties exhibit underscores misunderstandings (10/22)
Alaska Native elders and youth share issues at annual meeting (10/22)
Shinnecock Nation allows felons to hold office in certain cases (10/22)
2nd Circuit hears appeal from former chairman of Pequot Tribe (10/22)
Rep. Don Young criticized for comments to high school students (10/22)
Candidates differ on Spokane Tribe's off-reservation casino bid (10/22)
Poarch Creeks to add hotel to casino with $65M expansion plan (10/22)
Salt River Tribe concerned about Tohono O'odham Nation casino (10/22)
North Fork Rancheria blames rival tribes for holding up compact (10/22)
Ballot proposal authorizes more Class III games in South Dakota (10/22)
Blog: Predictions for gaming with Hillary Clinton in White House (10/22)
Native Sun News: Activists take annual swim to Alcatraz Island (10/21)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives ready for conference and election (10/21)
BIA announces consultations for secretarial election regulation (10/21)
Chelsey Luger & Gyasi Ross: From slow suicide to slow healing (10/21)
Bill John Baker: Addressing breast cancer in our communities (10/21)
ICT interview with Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn of BIA (10/21)
Navajo Nation court still mulling decision in presidential case (10/21)
Column: Billy Mills still inspires 50 years after Olympic victory (10/21)
Editorial: Winnebago Tribe's business makes a big contribution (10/21)
Lincoln Indian Center adopts permanent alcohol ban after party (10/21)
Suquamish Tribe shares fish from hatchery at annual giveaway (10/21)
Editorial: Bad move by Northern Arapaho Tribe on joint council (10/21)
Wisconsin court to hear appeal over Oneida Nation waste plant (10/21)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe reaches out to family that lost home to fire (10/21)
Closure of Chukchansi Tribe's casino affects reservation water (10/21)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe considers casino on ancestral Ohio site (10/21)
Town meeting for Lac Vieux Desert Band off-reservation casino (10/21)
North Fork Rancheria won't give up off-reservation casino plan (10/21)
Tohono O'odham Nation was looking for off-reservation casino (10/21)
Poarch Creeks won't confirm or deny talks for gaming compact (10/21)
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.