Home > News > More Headlines > Navajo Nation president rallies against energy bill
Printer friendly version
Navajo Nation president rallies against energy bill
TUESDAY, JULY 22, 2003

The head of the nation's largest tribe on Monday criticized the Indian energy bill under consideration in the Senate as a "blatant attack on tribal sovereignty."

Addressing the Navajo Nation council for its annual summer session, President Joe Shirley Jr. said the legislation would waive the federal government's trust responsibilities by allowing energy development without tribal consent. He called on the council to express its opposition to the measure, which is scheduled for a Senate vote July 28.

"We will continue to make it our priority to protect our sovereignty and the dignity of the Navajo Nation," he told council delegates in Window Rock, Arizona, the tribal capital.

Shirley and other tribal leaders have been lobbying for changes to the Indian energy title of S.14, the Energy Policy Act of 2003. Introduced by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, it aims to streamline development of Indian lands.

But Shirley and the National Congress of American Indians question language that limits the Department of Interior's involvement in the development of trust assets Coming off two recent Supreme Court decisions, including one striking down the Navajo Nation's $600 million breach of trust claim, the tribes say enacting the bill would be tantamount to signing away their rights.

Those kinds of sentiments have soured some in the Senate. Republican and Democrats who are traditional allies of Indian Country have been on opposite sides of the debate, with charges and countercharges flying over the effect on the trust relationship.

"The purpose of the bill," Domenici said June 11 on the Senate floor, "will say to the Indian people, 'We want you to be players, participants, owners of energy so that you can be part of America's energy solutions.'"

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the ranking member of the energy panel, and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), vice-chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, tried to remove the language in question but were defeated by a near party-line 52 to 47 vote last month.

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), chairman of the Indian committee, is a strong proponent of the bill. He has noted that the program to streamline energy development is entirely voluntary.

But according to news accounts, he has not been willing to accept changes. The Gallup Independent reported July 7 that Campbell's top aide, Paul Moorehead, shut down discussion during a meeting with tribal leaders earlier this month. In a story published online by Indian Country Today yesterday, Moorehead refused to discuss the issue further.

The bill allows a tribe to submit energy resource regulations to the Interior for one-time approval. The department would not be required to review development taken under those regulations and would not be held liable should the tribe allege a breach of trust.

Also, the Interior would not have to review development under the National Environmental Policy Act. Environmentalists have objected to this provision, as have some Native activist groups, including the Indigenous Environmental Network.

"Policies, such as Senate energy bill S.14 . . . are meant to allow industry greater access to our land under the guise of sovereignty," said Tom Goldtooth, director of IEN, in a statement last month. He added: "The U.S. energy policy has been at the expense of our Indian people that has left whole communities devastated and living in terror. It is an oppressive colonial system that feeds off the blood of the earth and blood of our people."

In a letter to Senators yesterday, Domenici said Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has committed to wrapping up the bill before the August recess. He is expecting dozens of amendments, including some affecting the Indian title.

Relevant Documents:
President Joe Shirley Jr. State of the Navajo Nation Address (June 21, 2003)

Energy Legislation Documents:
S.14 [with links to amendments] | Summary of Indian Energy Title III | Indian Energy Title III | Bush Administration Statement

Relevant Links:
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee - http://energy.senate.gov
National Congress of American Indians - http://www.ncai.org
Navajo Nation - http://www.navajo.org
Council of Energy Resource Tribes - http://www.certredearth.com

Related Stories:
Report: Campbell aide shuts down energy bill debate (07/08)
Senate takes up Indian energy title (6/12)
Navajo Nation opposes energy bill (6/6)
Indian energy title adopted without changes (04/30)
Tribes weigh effects of energy legislation on trust (03/20)
Navajo Nation tussles with new trust 'philosophy' (03/20)
Interior opposes oversight in energy bill (03/20)
High court ruling makes 'passive' trustee of U.S. (3/5)

Copyright © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Native Sun News: Family questions FBI on reservation death (11/25)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud students earn top scholarship (11/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Making a difference for people on Pine Ridge (11/25)
Yurok Tribe: Mourning the passing of 'visionary' Troy Fletcher (11/25)
Ned Blackhawk: Supreme Court case jeopardizes tribal rights (11/25)
Steve Russell: The real origins of the world's terrorism crisis (11/25)
Ramona Peters: Sharing a Wampanoag story of Thanksgiving (11/25)
Yatibaey Evans: Let's all teach the truth about Native history (11/25)
Martie Simmons: Every Native parent dreads this time of year (11/25)
Eric Metaxas: The 'miracle' of Squanto and first Thanksgiving (11/25)
Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to late Billy Frank Jr (11/25)
Oneida Nation opens first branch location of tribal-owned bank (11/25)
Virginia tribes continue to pay tribute required by 1677 treaty (11/25)
Chukchansi Tribe reaches new agreement for shuttered casino (11/25)
Poarch Band to welcome visitors to $65M expansion at casino (11/25)
Stillaguamish Tribe debuts eatery and microbrewery at casino (11/25)
Connecticut tribes consider proposals for third gaming facilty (11/25)
Mark Pilarski: Why are games different at some tribal casinos? (11/25)
Tribes seek support for Native language instruction programs (11/24)
Rep. Mullin confirms divisions in Indian Country on Carcieri fix (11/24)
President Obama to award Medal of Freedom to Billy Frank Jr. (11/24)
Sault Tribe pushes for passage of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (11/24)
Lakota Country Times: Charles Trimble recognized for writings (11/24)
Native Sun News Editorial: Some new names in Indian Country (11/24)
Jim Kent: South Dakota lands in the news again for corruption (11/24)
John Yellowbird Steele: Bill tries to hijack recognition process (11/24)
Albert Bender: 'The Green Inferno' hits new low in racist films (11/24)
Peter d'Errico: Anti-Indian wars continue in US Supreme Court (11/24)
Anne Keala Kelly: US government wants to steal Hawaii again (11/24)
Counties ask Supreme Court to hear Ute Tribe boundary case (11/24)
Shinnecock Nation considers entering medical marijuana field (11/24)
USDA policy eases return of traditional food to tribal facilities (11/24)
Sitka Tribe asks FBI to consider racial bias in student's arrest (11/24)
Court sides with Indian inmates over closure of sweat lodge (11/24)
Former employee accused of cheating Grand Traverse Band (11/24)
Tribes with special acts of Congress face hurdles for gaming (11/24)
Enterprise Rancheria addresses concerns about gaming site (11/24)
Mohegan Tribe signs partner for $5B casino proposal in Korea (11/24)
Bart Hinkle: States trying to protect their gaming monopolies (11/24)
Blackfeet Nation wins ruling against development at sacred site (11/23)
Center for Native American Youth hires new executive director (11/23)
Quinault Nation slams approval of genetically modified salmon (11/23)
Native Sun News: Great Plains people key in defeating Keystone (11/23)
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.