Heated Exchanges as Utah Lawmakers Push Bill for Vast Reduction of Bears Ears Monument

In the midst of public outcry and protest, the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a Legislative Hearing Tuesday on H.R. 4532, the Shash Jáa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act. The bill would codify— or work to orchestrate through legislation— the recent executive action that reduced the Bears Ears National Monument.

The Utah-led congressional action is openly pushing H.R. 4532, sponsored by Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah a bill that would put into law a reduction in the Bears Ears monument boundaries as previously ordered by President Trump. Many of the members of the Tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition were present to testify against legislation that would reduce the monuments.

h.r._4532 by Spectrum Media on Scribd

The H.R. 4532 bill, which describes the creation of new management councils and funding for law-enforcement for the Shash Jáa (Bears Ears) and Indian Creek monuments has drawn massive criticism from tribes and environmental groups as nothing more than a ‘bait and switch’ tactic that only seeks to eliminate Bears Ears.

As per a presidential proclamation introduced by President Trump, the Bears Ears National Monument was decreased by 85% removing protections from 1,148,000 acres. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was reduced by 47% removing protections from 896,000 acres. With the two presidential proclamations, national monument protections were removed from over 2 million acres of land.

Shaun Chapoose, a member of the Ute Indian Tribe and Utah Business Committee member told Indian Country Today in an email that Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee pushing Curtis’ bill, is attempting to use H.R. 4532 to legislatively approve President Trump’s illegal action rescinding the Bears Ears National Monument.

YouTube screen capture.

Shaun Chapoose, a member of the Ute Indian Tribe and Utah Business Committee member testifying at the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Lands held regarding H.R. 4532.

“Congressman Bishop’s contempt for the United States government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes and the legislative process in his own Committee was on full display during the hearing,” wrote Chapoose.

“Instead of negotiating with the area’s federally recognized tribal governments, Congressman Bishop is cherry picking tribal members to support H.R. 4532. This is a shameful return to the 1800’s. It is up to sovereign tribal governments, not the United States, to select our own representatives.”

During the testimony Utah republicans traded words with tribal members that many times appeared filled with tension. In one exchange Shaun Chapoose referred to a photograph as evidence. When Chapoose referred to a different area than the photo, Bishop blurted out, “Do you know where fish creek actually is?”

Chapoose said the subcommittee members weren’t interested in tribal testimonies.

“Congressman Bishop and Subcommittee Republicans did not want to hear from the sovereign tribal governments that would be most affected by H.R. 4532.  Instead, they forced our five Coalition tribes onto one witness chair while every level of the State of Utah was there,” wrote Chapoose.

“Unfortunately, it was an orchestrated attempt to undermine and diminish tribes and tribal sovereignty led by Congressman Bishop with support from Subcommittee Members who continually allowed Bishop to use their time. When I gave Bishop answers he didn’t want to hear he said I was wrong, but I wasn’t allowed to rebut.  We knew they would do this, but it was important for the Coalition to appear and speak out strongly against the bill.”

Livestreamed video from the House Committee on Natural Resources
Legislative Hearing H.R. 4532 – January 9, 2018

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) released a statement on Tuesday stating they “oppose President Trump’s efforts to reduce two monuments that hold tribal sacred places and that they stand by the efforts of all affected Tribal governments and local communities who are determined to protect these sacred places in their entirety.”

Vincent Schilling

Jefferson Keel NCAI President

NCAI President Jefferson Keel also said he and the NCAI stand with the Tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition as well as any tribes impacted by other monument designations.

“The original intent of the Antiquities Act was to protect our tribal sacred sites and the cultural objects in those sites,” said Keel in an NCAI release. “The history of our indigenous ancestors lives in these sacred places. The actions to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante endangers our freedom of religion, our histories and our communities.”

The NCAI has also published resolutions in support of national monument designations which are available for public viewing here: EC-15-002, MOH-17-006 and MKE-17-057. The NCAI also submitted comments to the Department of the Interior here.

Chapoose told Indian Country Today that he and other members of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition will continue to fight against the Utah Republican-led effort and President Trump’s prior presidential proclamations.

“We will continue to oppose this bill and stop it from passing Congress. This bill should not move forward while we are challenging the President’s action dismantling Bears Ears in Court.  Congressman Bishop and Curtis say that this bill is separate from the President’s action. That’s not true. They are trying to legislatively confirm the President’s action and know that the President’s action was unlawful. They are rushing this legislative effort through to try and provide him cover,” said Chapoose.

“Congressman Bishop is still fighting for his Utah Public Lands Initiative that died in the last Congress.  He may be Chairman of the Committee, but he cannot write his own version of history, determine our religion or our cultural identity.  We are sovereign tribal governments and the U.S. Constitution defined our exclusive relationship with the United States long before he became a Congressman.”


Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Hostiles Movie Review: A Profound Respect For Native Culture, A Gut Punch of Reality

On Wednesday January 10th, the National Congress of American Indians hosted a screening of Hostiles, a movie about the world of American soldiers, white settlers, American Indians and the world that surrounded them all in 1892.

On the movie’s IMDb page, Hostiles is described as follows: “In 1892, a legendary Army captain reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory.”

The movie stars Wes Studi as the Cheyenne Chief Yellowhawk, Christian Bale as an American soldier and officer Capt. Joseph J. Blocker and Rosamund Pike as Rosalie Quaid. The movie also features an array of well-known actors such as Adam Beach, who portrays Yellowhawk’s son, Black Hawk, Q’orianka Kilcher as Elk Woman and Tanaya Beatty as Living Woman. Ben Foster portrays an American soldier held for murder, Sgt. Charles Wills.

In countless movie reviews, many of you have undoubtedly heard the term “sitting on the edge of my seat,” to describe a movie that might be cutting edge, causing tension, or even outrage. In this movie Hostiles, I was literally watching this movie, sitting on the edge of my seat, the entire time.

Hostiles, directed by Scott Cooper, did not waste a second getting to the heart of the story. There is a disastrous clash between Comanche warriors and settlers, bullets flying at nearly every turn of the journey and interactions between Christian Bale and Wes Studi’s characters that are brilliant and mesmerizing.

I felt outrage at the reality, laughed at the humanity and grieved for the brutal truth that existed in the world of 1892. I didn’t expect this from this movie as I went into it waiting for the same stale stereotypes often portrayed in westerns or civil war films … Soldiers hate Indians, Indians hate the soldiers. Settlers fear the Indians, everybody tries to kill each other, the end.

This movie does have a significant amount of people trying, (and oftentimes succeeding) to kill each other. But Scott Cooper as a director doesn’t stop at this level of engagement. He delves further into the hearts and minds of the relationships between people. You see humanity shared between people. Soldiers are suffering from the mental exhaustion of Post Traumatic Stress, they come to grips that they have killed and question whether it was right.

Hostiles dives in and takes you with it. You feel the pain of loss on all sides of the fence. You come to realize that everyone is fighting for survival. Everyone is fighting to preserve the sanctuary of family. Everyone is willing to die and kill for it.

Courtesy Waypoint Entertainment

A scene from ‘Hostiles’ featuring Q’orianka Kilcher as Elk Woman, Adam Beach as Black Hawk and Wes Studi as Chief Yellowhawk.

The world of 1892 was a brutal place. I felt anger at the racism, I felt anger at the potential for white saviorism, I felt anger that so many soldiers dismissed Native people as savages. But none of the anger was at the film. The film did such an amazing job at presenting the reality of 1892, I felt the outrage to what actually did exist – in a very real way – at that period of history.

Wes Studi as Chief Yellowhawk delivers one of the finest performances I have seen by any actor in years. His moments of speaking in the actual Cheyenne language, (which were closely guided by actual language speakers to ensure the correct dialect, words, etc. were used) were as powerful as his moments of silence. Studi was not only a chief, but a man who loved his family, his people, his grandson. One of my favorite moments in Hostiles is when Chief Yellowhawk shares a smile with his grandson.

Christian Bale’s performance was a powerful and effective reminder that human beings exist under the guise of a soldier’s uniform. He suffers from extreme PTSD and unravels his humanity throughout the process of the film. You hate the actions of a troubled soldier and yet, perhaps you might see inside the mind of a troubled man who struggles to make things right.

The movie was so filled with a true life feel and a sense of reality, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a set of real archetypal tintype photos of Chief Yellowhawk and Capt. Joseph J. Blocker on some antique covered shelf today.

Courtesy Le Grisbi Productions - Waypoint Entertainment

An intense moment between Captain Joseph J. Blocker portrayed by Christian Bale and Chief Yellowhawk portrayed by Wes Studi.

The are similarly impressive performances by Rosamund Pike, a woman who has suffered terrible tragedies, Adam Beach, who portrays Yellowhawk’s son, Black Hawk, Q’orianka Kilcher as Elk Woman and Tanaya Beatty as Living Woman.

The women are a powerful force in the film, and as a viewer, you grieve for their troubles. In as much as the world of 1892 was a horrendous world for soldiers and Native warriors, it was perhaps even more ominous and horrifying for women who fought for safety amidst a world of  men who sought only to serve their own dominant interests.

Overall, the film is a gut punch of reality. I felt sick with this created reality of the brutal pre-1900’s world, rolled my eyes at the words of the clueless ‘Indian allies’ and felt anguish to the Native people that were imprisoned, forced to reservations or looked at by soldiers and settlers as subhuman savages.

I felt outrage at the reality. But appreciation for Scott Cooper’s unflinching willingness to tell a true story. Reality isn’t a pretty picture, but Hostiles by Scott Cooper is a truly beautiful film, both within the cinematography and the attention paid to every detail. I wholeheartedly recommend this film. Go see it.

Hostiles is in select theaters across the country now and in theaters everywhere January 19th.

For more information visit the Hostiles movie Facebook page or visit the website at

Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) is a Native American journalist and film reviewer for Indian Country Today. You can follow him on Twitter at

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‘Hostiles’ Movie Starring Wes Studi, Christian Bale Will Screen in DC

A special screening of the 2017 movie Hostiles, starring Wes Studi and Christian Bale will take place this Wednesday January 10th in Washington DC. The film has garnered generous praise from the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) for its ‘authentic representation of Native Peoples’ and accurate speaking of Native languages.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is celebrating Entertainment Studios’ film Hostiles for its culturally accurate portrayal of Native peoples with a screening on Wednesday.

NCAI partnered with The Native Networkers (TNN) and the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) to host the screening of the feature film.

To achieve accuracy and depth in the Native-focused content of the movie, director Scott Cooper worked with acclaimed Native filmmaker Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals, Skins), and Native academic Dr. Joely Proudfit as consultants. Their organization, The Native Networkers, has a mission to build bridges of understanding through media and enhance cultural knowledge and understanding through Native representation.

The involvement of Eyre, Proudfit, and the film’s other Native consultants made an indelible impression on Cooper. “The consultants on this film have been extraordinary and have taught me things that my research never could have,” he says. “They were on set every day to help the actors with language, with gestures, with rituals. Their work was of the utmost importance, and it was deeply gratifying for all of us.”

A significant amount of Hostiles’ dialogue is spoken in the rarely heard Northern Cheyenne dialect. Eyre was tasked with finding the Native team that not only spoke fluently but could teach the language and have knowledge of how Native speakers would have sounded at the end of the 19th century.

“The biggest request that Scott and Christian had is that we, as Cheyenne consultants, get it right,” says Eyre. “Just because you’re a Native person doesn’t mean you’ll know all things Native. I was able to bring Chief Phillip Whiteman and Alana Buffalo Spirit to the project. To hear the language spoken in the right dialect and in a respectful way by Christian and Wes is something great to see on screen. It’s just a victory that millions of people will get to hear this rare language.”

Chief Phillip Whiteman, worked with Bale, who at first struggled mightily to get the words out. “It’s bloody difficult,” Bale laughs, “but it’s wonderful. Speaking the language correctly is also allowing me to understand a bit of the Cheyenne belief system. I’ve been so surprised because it seems impossible but there’s such a natural flow to it.”


‘Hostiles’ movie poster featuring Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike and Wes Studi.

“The National Congress of American Indians applauds the efforts by the makers of HOSTILES to help lead Hollywood towards more truthful and appropriate portrayals of Indigenous peoples in film, in particular by casting Native actors to play Native roles,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel. “We look forward to the upcoming screening of the film and hope to see a continued effort for diversity, inclusion, and authenticity in Hollywood.”

Hostiles takes place in 1892 and tells the story of an Army Captain (Christian Bale) who reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to tribal lands. On the journey, they meet a widow (Rosamund Pike) whose family was murdered on the plains and offer their help. As the former rivals make their way from an isolated Army outpost in New Mexico to the grasslands of Montana, their relationship moves from antagonism to compassion, demonstrating humans’ capacity for change. The ensemble cast also includes Ben Foster, Timothée Chalamet, Jesse Plemons, Q’orianka Kilcher, Rory Cochrane and Adam Beach.

To learn more about the upcoming screening in Washington, D.C., please email


About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit

About the National Indian Gaming Association:
The mission of NIGA is to protect and preserve the general welfare of tribes striving for self-sufficiency through gaming enterprises in Indian Country. To fulfill its mission, NIGA works with the Federal government and Congress to develop sound policies and practices and to provide technical assistance and advocacy on gaming-related issues. In addition, NIGA seeks to maintain and protect Indian sovereign governmental authority in Indian Country. For more information visit:

About The Native Networkers:
The mission of The Native Networkers’ (NN) is to provide resources to film and television industries, mass media and independent content creators that improve understanding and foster authentic representation of Native American and Indigenous peoples in storylines, exhibition and marketing campaigns. Through national tribal partnerships/affiliations, NN represents and delivers tribal community specific expertise to enable accuracy of content and inclusive representation. Additionally, NN consults on history and contemporary appropriation of Native American and Indigenous peoples subject matter at all stages of development, production and distribution into the media marketplace. For more information visit:

Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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President Appoints Jesse Delmar (Navajo) to Heitkamp’s Commission on Native Children

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp announced Wednesday that President Trump has appointed Jesse Delmar, Director of the Navajo Division of Public Safety, to the Commission on Native Children, which was created by Heitkamp’s bipartisan bill that became law in October 2016.

Delmar joins seven other Commission members already appointed by the President, U.S. Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the U.S. House Minority Leader.

Once the Speaker of the House appoints three additionally needed members, every position on the 11-member Commission will be filled and the Commission will begin to study strategies to address the challenges facing Native American children – including poverty, substance abuse, and domestic violence – and offer real solutions to address them.

“Native children far too often have the odds stacked against them,” Heitkamp said in a press release. “The stories of their struggles are heartbreaking as they face serious disparities in safety, health, and education which can impact them throughout their lives. The first bill I introduced as a U.S. senator became law in 2016 and it established this commission, and I look forward to the results of its work and acting on its recommendations.”

11-member Commission on Native Children will address challenges facing #NativeYouth – like poverty, substance abuse, & domestic violence

— Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (@SenatorHeitkamp) January 18, 2017

“Too often the federal government is blind to the needs of Native Americans – especially children – and we must work harder to address them so all children have every opportunity to succeed and thrive. I hope the final members to the commission get appointed immediately so this Commission can get to work,” said Heitkamp.

More than one in three American Indian and Alaska Native children live in poverty. Suicide rates for Native children ages 15-24 years old are 2.5 times the national average and is the second-leading cause of death in that age group.

The Commission is comprised of individuals specializing in juvenile justice, social work, and mental and physical health. Those appointed so far include the following:

  • Dr. Tami DeCoteau of Bismarck, (enrolled member of Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation and a descendant of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.) Dr. DeCoteau specializes in the treatment of traumatic disorders as a clinical psychologist.
  • Russ McDonald (Arikara) President of Bismarck’s United Tribes Technical College.
  • Melody Staebner, enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Staebner is Indian Education Coordinator for Fargo Public Schools.
  • Anita Fineday (White Earth) of the Casey Family Programs’ Indian Child Welfare Program.
  • Carlyle Begay, (Navajo) former State Senator of Arizona.
  • Don Atqaqsaq Gray, (Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat) Senior Director of QHSET at the Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation.
  • Dr. Dolores Subia Bigfoot, (Caddo Nation) Native American Programs at the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect at The University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center.
  • Jesse Delmar, (Navajo) Director of the Navajo Division of Public Safety.

Since introducing the bill in 2013, her first bill as a U.S. senator, Heitkamp pushed for its passage, fought to get the Commission funded, and pushed for the prompt appointment of Commission members after it became law.

The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, named for the former Chairwoman of Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation in North Dakota, and Alaska Native Elder and statesman, respectively, has been widely praised by a cross-section of tribal leaders and organizations from North Dakota, Alaska, and around the country. It has also been lauded by former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Byron Dorgan, the National Congress of American Indians, and the National Indian Education Association, among others.

Three members of the Commission are appointed by the President. Three members are each appointed by the U.S. Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate and House Minority Leaders get appointed one member each to the Commission.

Background of the need for a Commission on Native Children:

Young people in Indian Country face unique hardships and challenges. For example:

More than one in three American Indian and Alaska Native children live in poverty.

Suicide rates for Native children ages 15-24 years old are 2.5 times the national average and is the second-leading cause of death in that age group.

While the overall rate of child mortality in the U.S. has decreased since 2000, the rate for Native children has increased 15 percent.

At 67 percent, American Indian and Alaska Native students had the lowest four year high school graduation rate of any racial or ethnic group in the 2011-2012 school year.

60 percent of American Indian schools do not have adequate high-speed internet or digital technology to meet the requirements of college and career ready standards.

Tribal governments face numerous obstacles in responding to the needs of Native children. Existing programmatic rules and the volume of resources required to access grant opportunities stymie efforts of tribes to tackle these issues. At the same time, federal agencies lack clear guidance about the direction that should be taken to best address the needs of Native children to fulfill our trust responsibility to tribal nations.

To help reverse these impacts, the Commission on Native Children will conduct a comprehensive study on the programs, grants, and supports available for Native children, both at government agencies and on the ground in Native communities, with the goal of developing a sustainable system that delivers wrap-around services to Native children. Then, the 11-member Commission will issue a report to address a series of challenges currently facing Native children.

For a summary of the bill / Commission on Native Children, click here. For quotations from the five Native American tribes in North Dakota, as well as Senator Byron Dorgan, strongly supporting the Commission on Native Children, click here, and for quotations from national supporters, click here.

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Attention Native Musicians: Submissions Now Open For The 2018 Indigenous Music Awards

According to the coordinators of the Indigenous Music Awards and presented by the Casinos of Winnipeg, submissions are now being accepted for the Indigenous Music Awards presented by Casinos of Winnipeg.

The submission deadline for the Indigenous Music Awards is February 14th, 2018.

The IMA’s will be held at the Club Regent Event Centre in Winnipeg, MB, on May 18, 2018.

Entries from Indigenous recording artists and music industry professionals from around the world can be submitted online for over 20 award categories which are listed below.

All submissions must have been released between February 15, 2016 and February 14, 2018, to be eligible for nomination in this year’s IMA award categories.

Twenty-two Indigenous Music Awards–including the IMA Lifetime Achievement Award–will be presented on Friday, May 18, 2018, at the Club Regent Event Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

The 2018 IMA categories are as follows:

Best Blues Album
Best Country Album
Best Folk Album
Best Gospel Album
Best Inuit, Indigenous Language or Francophone Album
Best Instrumental Album
Best Hand Drum Album
Best Peyote Album
Best Pow Wow – Traditional Album
Best Pow Wow – Contemporary Album
Best Pop Album
Best Rap/Hip Hop Album
Best Rock Album
Best Electronic Album *new*
Best Music Radio Program
Best Television Music Program
Best International Indigenous Release
Best Music Video
Best New Artist
Best Producer/Engineer
Best Radio Single

Submissions for the 2018 Indigenous Music Awards presented by @casinosofwpg are officially open!

Learn more and apply online at:

— Indigenous Music Awards (@IMAs) December 15, 2017

Voting is conducted by music industry professionals only. Those interested in becoming an music industry voter can register online.

For questions regarding the Indigenous Music Awards, contact Jacquie Black, Manager, Indigenous Music Awards at

About the Indigenous Music Awards:
Presented annually by Manito Ahbee Festival, the Indigenous Music Awards (formerly the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards) is the world’s premiere awards show recognizing the accomplishments of Indigenous recording artists and music industry professionals from around the globe.

About Manito Ahbee Festival:
Manito Ahbee Festival celebrates Indigenous arts, culture, and music in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. This year’s 13th annual festival is May 16-20, 2018 and features the Indigenous Music Awards, the Indigenous Music Conference, the International Pow Wow, the Indigenous Marketplace and Trade Show, Getting Jiggy With It, an Art Expo, an Art Challenge, and a Youth Education Day.


Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Irene Bedard Discusses Her Role as a Native Madame President in Jay-Z Family Feud Video

Hip Hop artist Jay-Z and director Ava DuVernay have recently released the video Family Feud based on a futuristic United States that has embraced matriarchy. The video comes off of Jay-Z’s 4:44 album and includes a long list of notable actors and artists such as Beyonce’, Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Jessica Chastain, Omari Hardwick and Irene Bedard. Bedard portrays a Native American woman as co-President in 2444.

The video, which is now available for viewing on TIDAL, has received considerable acclaim on social media and critics are lauding DuVernay for the inclusion of all races and the concept of a ‘founding mothers’ in a proposed United States future.

In an interview with Irene Bedard, who has recently been involved with such projects as The Bygone a film about MMIW and Westworld, Bedard discussed what it was like to portray a president of the future and her experience working alongside other high-caliber artists in the film and music industry.

How did it feel to be co-Madame President in Family Feud?

It felt really great! I was out at Standing Rock as a special consult for the Seeds of Peace. We were there to ask permission from the elders regarding a peace treaty.

In the midst of all of this in Standing Rock, where reception is terrible, I got a call from my agent asking if I could be ready in three days to do a video project in New York. I got on a plane not knowing what I was doing except it was an untitled Ava DuVernay project. I love her and I knew whatever she was doing, it would be awesome. I went with complete faith.

What was your experience with the director Ava DuVernay?

I first met her when I was in the trailer and she walked in to say hi. She is just a force of nature. Her writing is so intelligent and this was her concept. It seemed to me that Jay-Z probably just said ‘go Ava.’

She looked at me and said, ‘So, you are the President of the United States in the year 2444.’ I was like, ‘What?’ (laughs.) She said, ‘You are actually the co-President because at this time we have realized over the generations that we need to have more balance between the feminine and masculine.’

I thought, ‘Wow, she is so amazing.’ I then discovered my scene was with Jessica (Chastain) and Omari (Hardwick.)

Nobody wins when the family feuds

Didn’t you know that the new Jay-Z @S_C_ video is out? @TIDAL
Guess who’s in it? ?

Loved working with director @ava

— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) December 29, 2017

I wasn’t sure if Jessica would remember me from Tree of Life but it was great when she came up to me and said ‘Irene!’ But as far as working with that caliber I was like, ‘Yes, let’s do this!’

Of course this was going to done right with a director like Ava, but then to have Beyoncé and Jay-Z? I got to tell my son about this, He was like, ‘what?’ (laughs.) This project gave me some teenager cool points. (laughs.)

Next scene is about… actually I won’t tell you what we think they are about. This piece is for you. You decide. Loved working with @OmariHardwick @IreneBedard1 + @Jes_Chastain. They were all busy. But all came to play and I loved sharing the time with them. #FamilyFeudFilm

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) December 29, 2017

What is the importance of the matrilineal concept shown by the ‘Founding Mother’s’ featured in the ‘Family Feud’ video?

Just as Walt Pourier discusses in relation to the Stronghold Society, most of our indigenous societies are matrilineal in nature. He considers this to be the age of the daughters. We are now moving into the era of White Buffalo Calf Woman, which is the Lakota perspective, but I feel like we are struggling now moving from the many generations of patrilineal societies and concepts.

Violence to Mother Earth is another representation of violence against women. Why do we do this? I feel it is because we are out of balance.

If you look at the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman, there are two men who come to her and one man wanted to own her, while the other wanted to give respect and value. The man who wanted to own her got the thunderbolt, the other who wanted to honor her received the gifts, the pipe and the people thrived.

We are lacking in intelligent discourse. I believe that we as a society are much more capable of being tolerant and loving to one another, than what might appear on the internet.

How did you choose to portray yourself as Madame President?

I love that Madame President had red and black coloring, And had a modern and futuristic version of Yupiak / Inuit tattoos and red lines of the Plains people. I felt my tattoos gave a bit of a regal quality, but also to me the tattoos represented energy in the body, the third eye and the arrow down represented how at times we have to go down in order to come back up again.

There was a lot of thought that went into this and in trying to pay homage to our ancient-ness but also moving into the future.

I ended my statement with Mitakuye Oyasin “We are all related” which is the same as E Pluribus Unum, meaning “Out of many, one.” I put that in there and Ava was incredible about it. She wanted us to add anything we could. When I said ‘Mitakuye Oyasin,’ Ava said ‘Oh, that is great!’

Overall, I wanted to give a sense of the presence of all Native cultures.

E Pluribus Unum. Out of Many, One. Mitakuye Oyasin. All my relations.

— Irene Bedard (@IreneBedard1) December 30, 2017

You have already received some positive reactions on social media

It has been amazing to see so many responses from people of all creeds, races and religions respond positively and they are so happy at the thought of having a Native American woman as president in the future.

I like to have intelligent discourse and I like to have peace. If you are going to work toward something, truth and justice seems to be a problem so I am working on peace.

We need hope.

To view to Family Feud visit

Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Victims Sought: Canada Awards $635 Million to Stolen ‘Sixties Scoop’ Native Children

In October of 2017, the federal Government of Canada reached a settlement with the First Nations victims of the “Sixties Scoop.” The program gained its nickname when child welfare agencies removed thousands of indigenous children from their communities primarily in the 60’s and placed them with foster families or adopting families.

After years of trying to fight against the Canadian federal government, Lead claimant Chief Marcia Brown Martel won a massive victory when the court awarded a payout of $800 million Canadian / $635 million American, to about 20,000 victims.

Many of the victims had fled to the United States, claimants to this case are being sought today.

In 1967, Beaverhouse First Nation Chief Marcia Brown Martel was four years old when strangers who did not speak her language gathered her and her sister and took them away in a boat to live her childhood in Foster Care.

She had no idea why she was taken and her family was told she had a disability and would be better off in government care. Chief Marcia Brown Martel was one of approximately 20,000 victims of the ‘Sixties Scoop.”

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Chief Martel talked about how for five years she lived in 10 different foster homes in northern and central Ontario. She was a victim of abuse, “I wondered if a person could hit me to the point I would die, I was this little person, alone in the world … Nobody wanted me,” she said.

She was later separated from her sister because officials said her sister did not want to live in the same house with her she eventually went to a family for adoption but was received with disdain. Her adopted mother wanted a girl who would wear dresses, but Martel chose the safety of being a tomboy, “because I know what happens to pretty girls,” said Martel.

Martel lived a life of physical abuse and her bruises were never questioned at school. At 18, she became pregnant and was living in Texas with her adoptive mother. She was taken to an airport and handed a plane ticket to Canada.

She made her way back to her community and finally felt acceptance amidst her community.

She learned her culture and was eventually elected to the tribal council. As a “Sixties Scoop” survivor, she launched a lawsuit with another victim in 2009. In 2011, she became chief of the Beaverhouse First Nation.

In February of 2017, an Ontario court ruled in favor with the indigenous plaintiffs in the “Sixties Scoop” class-action lawsuit. There was a compensation hearing set for October 11th, 2017, but the Canadian Government opted to settle on October 6th, 2017 to resolve the arguments of the plaintiffs who stated they “suffered emotional, psychological, and spiritual harm from the broken connection to their heritage.”

“It was important to me that we got recognition and justice, not just for some, but for as many people as possible,” Martel said in an article by the BBC.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said in the BBC article the agreement reached in principle will see $750m spent on direct compensation and another $50m spent to fund an Indigenous Healing Foundation with a counselling, healing and education mandate.

Referring to the “Sixties Scoop” thousands of native children were removed from their families between 1965 and 1984, and were placed with non-native foster parents or adoptive parents into homes across Canada, the US, UK, Australia and other countries.There are an estimated 16,000 indigenous children in Ontario that were taken from their families.

Though the agreement is the first step in resolving the “Sixties Scoop” litigation, many victims are still being sought to come forward.

Under the settlement, First Nations and Inuit children who were taken from their homes between 1951 and 1991 will be eligible for personal compensation.

The amount will range from about $20,000 to $40,000 for each person. Depending on how many claims are filed, it could add up to a total of $600m.

How to seek compensation and / or support as a “Sixties Scoop” survivor

Colleen Cardinal, (Plains Cree from Saddle Lake Cree Nation) one of the co-founders of the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCW) told Indian Country Today that the NISCW is a great resource for those seeking compensation and / or support as a “Sixties Scoop” survivor.

In addition to offering services such as leadership, support and advocacy for those affected by Indigenous child removal systems in Canada, the NISCW is currently offering a specific “Sixties Scoop” Peer Support Toll Free Number (1-866-456-6060.)

According to the NISCW website:

The peer support line will provide listening and support services to Indigenous 60s scoop survivors who experienced displacement, loss of culture, due to being adopted or fostered in non-Indigenous households across Canada, the U.S.A.

The Peer Support Line will provide safe, respectful and non-judgemental confidential listening.It will link Survivors to approved services across Canada to support their emotional, cultural, spiritual and mental needs.

Services include:

  • Provide direction on how to access government information related to their adoption and other government documentation.
  • Provide direction to support their repartition efforts that include finding families and communities.
  • Provide information and direction on how to attain Indigenous programs and services, Treaty Indian Cards, Metis memberships and Nunavut Land Claims Agreement services for Inuit.
  • Provide one-on-one talks with Survivors to listen to stories, connect them with other Survivors, or Sixties Scoop organizations across Canada.

For more information on the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network visit

National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network Toll-Free Support Line (9am-9pm Eastern) : 1 866 456 6060 @NISCW1 #60sScoop #SixtiesScoop #Indigenous #Canada

— Nat60sScoopSurvDay (@NSSSDay) November 29, 2017


Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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The Traumatic True History and Name List of the Dakota 38

On the day after Christmas in 1862, 38 Dakota men were hanged under order of President Abraham Lincoln. The hangings and convictions of the Dakota 38 resulted from the aftermath of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 in southwest Minnesota.

In addition to the 38 men hanged the day after Christmas, there were terrible injustices committed against 265 others in the form of military convictions and inhuman injustices to more than 3,000 Dakota people who were held captive, then forced to march west out of Minnesota.

How It All Started

The conflict erupted when treaties restricted the lands of the Dakota people to an area that could no longer sustain them. Promised compensations were slow or non-existent and the Dakota people feared starvation heading into a brutal Minnesota winter.

The Dakota also faced terrible racism, one white settler historically quoting,  “Let them eat grass.”

As skirmishes and interactions between whites and Native people heightened on August 17, 1862, four young Dakota hunters were credited with killing five settlers. A war council was held that evening and a decision was made to go to war. Taoyateduta, Little Crow, supported the decision as is part of the council process, but he was apprehensive as were other Dakota leaders.

The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 encompassed 37 days of fighting. The aftermath of the war fatality estimates included 77 American soldiers, 29 citizen-soldiers, 358 settlers and 29 Dakota warriors.

U.S. Colonel Henry H. Sibley contacted Taoyateduta in an attempt to stop the fighting but Sibley’s requests, which included taking hostages, were denied.

In September of 1862, some Dakota left with their families. Other Dakota leaders surrendered to Sibley, who said he would only punish those who attacked the settlers. Sibley took more than 2,000 into custody.

The Military Commission That Sentenced Hundreds to Death

An immediate court of inquiry and military commission was created. The panel then sentenced 20 Dakota to prison and 303 Dakota were sentenced to death. The time for the trials took 42 days between September 28 and November 8, 1862.

In the years since the convictions, historians often question whether a military commission was legitimate in cases where the main charges were murder, rape and robbery. Additionally, all of those appointed to the commission had fought in the war, which brings to question the bias of those handing out convictions.

Another point to consider is that most of the Dakota did not speak English, did not know that they were being tried for crimes and most did not have counsel defending them.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Decision

The largest mass execution in American history occurred under Abraham Lincoln’s watch. On December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota warriors were publicly hanged after being convicted of war crimes.

Since the war commission was a military proceeding, President Abraham Lincoln had the ultimate say on the punishment, and asked to review all 303 execution convictions.

Initially, Lincoln considered approving execution where rape had been proven, but only two men would be executed. Lincoln decided on those convicted of participating in civilian massacres and approved 39 executions, though one was later suspended.

Lincoln had made a decision based on convictions that were based on witnesses, who testified in multiple trials, many of whom were also facing charges and possible execution. One witness gave evidence in 55 cases, who was later sentenced to hang (he was not part of the Dakota 38).

One of the condemned men, Hdainyanka, Rattling Runner, sent an angry letter to his father-in-law. “I have not killed, wounded or injured a white man or any white persons… and yet today I am set apart for execution.”

Angelique EagleWoman, a Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota professor of law at the University of Idaho College of Law criticized the actions of Lincoln. She previously told Indian Country Today, “I think he should have followed general military practice at the time. They should have been released. He made a political decision, made based on the racial hatred… Lincoln was a lawyer, knew that this was improper.”

The Execution 

The 38 executions were originally scheduled for December 19, but were delayed for fear of mob retaliation. It was not until December 22 that the prisoners learned of their executions. On the 23rd, the condemned men danced and sang and were permitted visits with family to say goodbye.

At the same time as convictions were being doled out, a massive wagon train of approximately 3,000 Dakota tribal members and prisoners moved out to Fort Snelling. A crowd attacked the Dakota community on their way out; one baby was pulled from its mother’s arms and beaten to death.

As the prisoners made their way to Mankato–the location of the hanging scaffold created for the occasion– a crowd of men, women, and children threw bricks and stones, seriously injuring prisoners and guards. The hangings took place December 26, 1862.

It is believed that at least two men were executed at the mass hanging by mistake—one man answered to a name “Chaske” or “first son” that was misidentified and another young white man, raised by the Dakota, who had been acquitted but was hanged.

More than 4,000 people crowded the square. They cheered when the hanging was done.

The Minnesota Historical Society’s U.S.-Dakota War website describes the execution and the aftermath:

“After dangling from the scaffold for a half hour, the men’s bodies were cut down and hauled to a shallow mass grave on a sandbar between Mankato’s main street and the Minnesota River. Before morning, most of the bodies had been dug up and taken by physicians for use as medical cadavers.”

In the days that followed, several prisoners were given pardons due to lack of evidence. Others were taken to a prison camp in Iowa.

More than 25% of the thousands who surrendered to Sibley would be dead before the end of 1863. Thousands were exiled to the Dakotas, Montana or as far as Manitoba.

The List of Those Who Were Executed

The following is a list from Marion Satterlee’s “A Detailed Account of the Massacre by the Dakota Indians of Minnesota in 1862,” published in 1923. The spellings and translations are as Satterlee recorded them.

A photocopy of her list and the hand-written list from Abraham Lincoln of those to be executed is found on a page of Minnesota Historical Society’s U.S.-Dakota War website.

Tipi-hdo-niche, Forbids His Dwelling

Wyata-tonwan, His People

Taju-xa, Red Otter

Hinhan-shoon-koyag-mani, Walks Clothed in an Owl’s Tail

Maza-bomidu, Iron Blower

Wapa-duta, Scarlet Leaf

Wahena, translation unknown

Sna-mani, Tinkling Walker

Radapinyanke, Rattling Runner

Dowan niye, The Singer

Xunka ska, White Dog

Hepan, family name for a second son

Tunkan icha ta mani, Walks With His Grandfather

Ite duta, Scarlet Face

Amdacha, Broken to Pieces

Hepidan, family name for a third son

Marpiya te najin, Stands on a Cloud (Cut Nose)

Henry Milord (French mixed-blood)

Dan Little, Chaska dan, family name for a first son (this may be We-chank-wash-ta-don-pee, who had been pardoned and was mistakenly executed when he answered to a call for “Chaska,” reference to a first son; fabric artist Gwen Westerman did a quilt called “Caske’s Pardon” based on him.

Baptiste Campbell, (French mixed-blood)

Tate kage, Wind Maker

Hapinkpa, Tip of the Horn

Hypolite Auge (French mixed-blood)

Nape shuha, Does Not Flee

Wakan tanka, Great Spirit

Tunkan koyag I najin, Stands Clothed with His Grandfather

Maka te najin, Stands Upon Earth

Pazi kuta mani, Walks Prepared to Shoot

Tate hdo dan, Wind Comes Back

Waxicun na, Little Whiteman (this young white man, adopted by the Dakota at an early age and who was acquitted, was hanged, according to the Minnesota Historical Society U.S.-Dakota War website).

Aichaga, To Grow Upon

Ho tan inku, Voice Heard in Returning

Cetan hunka, The Parent Hawk

Had hin hda, To Make a Rattling Noise

Chanka hdo, Near the Woods

Oyate tonwan, The Coming People

Mehu we mea, He Comes for Me

Wakinyan na, Little Thunder

Wakanozanzan and Shakopee:

These two chiefs who fled north after the war, were kidnapped from Canada in January 1864 and were tried and convicted in November that year and their executions were approved by President Andrew Johnson (after Lincoln’s assassination) and they were hanged November 11, 1865.


Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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DOJ Secretary Attends Trilateral Summit on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls

One day after Senator Heitkamp and the NIWRC promoted their efforts to bring #MMIW awareness through the #NotInvisible hashtag and the Savanna’s Law bill, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand traveled to Ottawa, Canada on Thursday, Nov. 30, to lead the U.S. delegation in the Trilateral Summit on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls.

This is the second meeting of the trilateral working group.The first was hosted by the U.S. in 2016 and next year’s meeting will be in 2018, hosted by Mexico.

Associate Attorney General Brand met with Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Canada’s Crown-Indigenous and Northern Affairs and Ismerai Betanzos Ordaz, Indigenous Rights Coordinator, Mexican Commission on the Development of Indigenous Rights.

“Tackling the issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls in our region and in the U.S. is not only a matter of criminal justice, but a moral imperative,” said Associate Attorney General Brand.

According the release by the DOJ, “The Department of Justice remains committed to addressing violence against indigenous women and girls in all of its forms through aggressive law enforcement and programs that serve victims.”

“The Department is committed to working with our international partners to share information and develop capabilities to address cross-border crimes like sex and labor trafficking together.”

Associate Attorney General Brand’s visit supports the Justice Department’s continuing efforts under the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.

According to the release, “The Department of Justice remains committed to addressing violence against indigenous women and girls in all of its forms through aggressive law enforcement and programs that serve victims.  The Department is committed to working with our international partners to share information and develop capabilities to address cross-border crimes like sex and labor trafficking together.”

Read the full DOJ press release here:

Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Three Native Sundance Institute Alumni become a part of the nominating and voting body of the Oscars

The visibility of Native and Indigenous films and artists has been increasing over the years. One of the best examples was the 2016 invitation to five Native Program alumni to join the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

For those unaware or unfamiliar with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, such an invitation carries with it a membership that allows the member to become a part of the nominating and voting body of the Oscars.

This year in 2017, three Native Program Sundance Institute alumni were invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

These three Sundance Institute alumni include Zacharias Kunuk (Inuit), Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq) and Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki).

Zacharias Kunuk (Inuit)

Courtesy Isuma TV file photo

Filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk

Kunuk’s short film, Home (Angiraq), screened at the 1996 Festival in Beyond Borders: New Native Cinema. Kunuk was invited to join the Directors Branch of the Academy.

Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq)


Filmmaker Okpeaha MacLean

Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s short film, Natchiliagniaqtuguk Aapagalu, screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. His film Sikumi won the Grand Jury Prize for Short Filmmaking at the 2008 Festival. His feature film On the Ice, which he directed and wrote, screened in 2011 in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. MacLean also served as a Creative Advisor at the 2014 and 2016 Native Filmmakers Labs. Andrew Okpeaha MacLean was invited to join the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch of the Academy.

Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki)

Courtesy Photo by Clayton Chase/WireImage

Alanis Obomsawin during 2004 Sundance Film Festival – Town Hall Meeting: Politics Beyond The Screen at Yarrow in Park City, Utah, United States.

Alanis Obomsawin is a director, producer, and screenwriter with a long Sundance Institute history. Her festival films include Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Metis Child (1987); Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1994); Spudwrench—Kahnawake Man (1998); Rocks at Whiskey Trench (2001); Is the Crown at War with Us? (2003); and Our Nationhood (2004). Obomsawin was invited to join the Documentary Branch of the Academy.

On the Sundance Film Institute website the organization lauds it’s dedication to serving the interests of Native artists. The Native Program Director N. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache) says, “The Native Program is proud of the role it has played to build and sustain an Indigenous film circle.”

“In fact, the history of support from the Institute predates the founding of the Institute to Robert Redford’s personal support and mentorship of Native filmmakers.”

“Each year even greater strides are made in supporting an Indigenous-created body of cinema while supporting the growth of Native American and Indigenous participation in the film industry,” says Runningwater.

“We see this most vividly in the selection of our Native alums being invited to join the world’s preeminent motion picture-related organization.”

Throughout the year, the Native Program continues its support with fellowships, labs, mentorships, public programs, and the Sundance Film Festival itself.

The Sundance Institute has been committed to the Native and Indigenous presence in film since the Institute’s founding in 1981. Throughout the history of the Institute, the Native Program has played an important role in elevating the work of Native and Indigenous storytellers to national and international acclaim.

In 2016 five Sundance Institute Alumni were invited to become a part of the nominating and voting body of the Oscars at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Native Punk Group Sihasin Join Tony Bennett in Hyundai National Ad Campaign

The National automobile company Hyundai has recently released a new ad campaign for their annual Holiday sales effort using music from the Native punk rock group Sihasin and the internationally known singer Tony Bennett.

Sihasin consists of siblings Jeneda and Clayson Benally who hail from the Navajo Reservation. They formerly made up the group Blackfire along with former band-mate Klee Benally.

Courtesy Benally Family / Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Le Figaro Magazine.

Navajo Punk rock band Sihasin–consists of Clayson and Jeneda Benally from the Navajo Nation–is seen with their horse Moonshadow in a canyon in Cameron, Arizona. Sihasin comes from a long tradition of protest music and traditional Navajo values.

The “Naughty vs. Nice’ sales ad features a supercharged punk rock aka ‘Naughty’ version of the Christmas classic Winter Wonderland recorded by multi-award winning Native American rock outfit Sihasin. The ad then contrasts Tony Bennett’s’ ‘Nice’ jazz-band version of the same song recorded by Bennett to show the versatility of Hyundai’s sedans and SUVs.

Watch the 30 second spot here – Naughty or Nice :30 – Hyundai Holidays Sales Event

Jeneda Benally (Dine’) told Indian Country Today she was thrilled when Hyundai automobiles contacted Sihasin about using ‘Winter Wonderland.

“We worked hand in hand with Cleopatra Records to make this project happen,” says Jeneda Benally. “Little did we all know that it would be a collaboration with Tony Bennett! We are excited to further open the doors for Native American artists.”

Sihasin were also recently named one of the 10 Exciting Native American and Canadian First Nations Artists by Flypaper, the digital magazine of on-line music institute Soundfly.

The band hails from the Navajo reservation of Arizona and consists of siblings Jeneda and Clayson Benally. Sihasin’s new album Fight Like A Woman will be released next year on April 22nd.

More information on the Sihasin website here.

Currently Punk Rock Christmas on CD is available on iTunes and Amazon:

Cleopatra Records

The 2015 compilation album Punk Rock Christmas from Cleopatra Records features Winter Wonderland by Sihasin.



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The Biggest Federal Tax Overhaul in 30 Years: Native American Tribes Are Not Included

Currently, Congress is considering some of the most significant adjustments to federal tax policy since 1986. This tax reform up for approval by federal legislators does not afford tribal governments many of the benefits, incentives, and protections available to state and local governments.

The matter is not moving forward without notice as tribal leaders, lawmakers and tribal organization advocates are fighting for inclusion into the legislation in the form of added tribal provisions.

On Wednesday, Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), along with 37 other Members of Congress, sent a letter to U.S. Representatives and Senators serving on the conference committee concerning the Republican tax bill. In their letter, Kildee and other members express their seeking of changes to the final bill, since the current version being rushed through Congress negatively and unfairly affects Indian Country.

“We write to you today with disappointment in the failure of Republicans to include tribal governments in either the House or the Senate versions of their tax bill. As the conference process proceeds, we urge you to consider the needs of Indian Country in the final bill. The federal tax code does not recognize the unique sovereignty of tribal governments and as a result, tribes do not enjoy the same benefits as state and local governments under the tax code.”

“The Senate had several opportunities, both in committee markups and through proposed floor amendments, to fix the issue of tribal taxation in the tax bill. Yet it inexplicably failed to do so. And now tribes are told that yet again, they must wait for some future work on tax reform. This is completely unacceptable,” said the release.

U.S. Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota (R-ND) who currently serves as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs committee expressed his stance in an email to Indian Country Today.

Associated Press

Senator John Hoeven, R-North Dakota.

“Indian tribes need greater flexibility and resources to attract capital, promote development, and grow their economies. That’s why last month I held an oversight hearing to examine measures to empower tribal economies through tax reform, including my Tribal Economic Assistance Act. It’s also why I’m working to include an amendment to expand and enhance public financing mechanisms for tribal governments in the final tax reform package.”

“This legislation would help tribal governments tap into a market of nearly one billion dollars annually in tax-exempt financing. As chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, I will continue to work with Indian Country to identify opportunities to modernize burdensome and antiquated tax policies that prevent economic growth.”

Other tribal organization leaders have recently approached and testified their views. On November 30, 2017,  The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) met at a White House Council on Native American Affairs meeting to discuss Indian Country’s priorities for tax reform.

An emailed statement from NCAI President Jefferson Keel reflected his position as to the importance of tribal inclusion in tax reform.

“Indian Country has waited more than a quarter century for Congress to address tax code provisions that treat tribes inequitably and hinder economic growth in tribal communities. Tribal governments from across the United States have repeatedly expressed how important federal tax reform is to tribal economic prosperity, infrastructure deployment, and self-determination. As such, it is deeply regrettable that the House passed and Senate Finance Committee reported out pieces of legislation that fail to take seriously Indian Country’s priorities for tax reform. Ultimately, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act must be amended to include tribal provisions to gain support from Indian Country.”

Jefferson Keel, President of the NCAI

“This inequity significantly handicaps tribal authority to provide much needed government revenue for tribal programs and infrastructure and prevents economic growth on tribal lands. Tax reform is a unique opportunity for Congress to promote tribal sovereignty, self- determination, and self-sufficiency,” said Keel.

Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Chairwoman Liana Onnen, who has long worked to further tax parity for her tribe told Indian Country Today in an email Congress was missing out on an opportunity to make beneficial and much-needed changes for tribes.

“Tribes have worked for years to develop tax priorities and present them to Congress.
I, myself, recently testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs about the negative effects of the uncertainty and inconsistency of tax policy application in Indian Country and in support of legislation to address these concerns,” wrote Onnen.

“Any Tribal Leader can attest to the complexities, burdens, and uncertainties of the tax code that make true economic development nearly impossible for many tribes. Congress can address several of these obstacles simply by ensuring tax parity for tribes as sovereign governments. Treating tribes how state and local governments are treated under the tax laws in many instances would eliminate some of the obstacles that hinder tribal economic development.”

Kildee’s letter as well as testimony offered by Keel of the NCAI make the request for the following amendments to be included in current tax reform.

Parity for Tax-Exempt Bonds

Both Senator Hoeven’s bill, S. 2012, the Tribal Economic Assistance Act, and Senator Moran’s bill, S. 1935, the Tribal Tax and Investment Reform Act, would amend the tax code to provide tax-exempt bond parity for tribal governments. Currently, tribes are the only governments that are limited to using tax-exempt bond financing for “essential government functions.” The IRS has interpreted this standard to exclude tribal economic development activities even though state and local governments routinely use tax-exempt financing for development projects. This limitation on tribes greatly inhibits infrastructure deployment and economic growth.

Parity for Indian Adoption Tax Credit

Senator Moran’s bill, S. 1935, the Tribal Tax and Investment Reform Act, would amend the tax code to treat families that adopt children in tribal courts the same as those that adopt children in state court. Currently, families that adopt special needs children in tribal court are ineligible for tax benefits available to families that adopt special needs children in state court. Native adoptive children and their families should have the same access to tax benefits as everyone else. Senator Heitkamp also introduced a standalone bill (S. 876, Tribal Adoption Parity Act) addressing this issue with support from Senators Inhofe, Heller, Hoeven, and Moran, among others.

Parity for Excise Tax Exemptions

Senator Moran’s bill, S.1935, the Tribal Tax and Investment Reform Act, would amend the tax code to ensure tribal governments receive the same treatment as state and local governments for a variety of excise tax exemptions. The disparate treatment under current tax code provisions diverts resources that would be used by tribes to provide government services to their citizens.

Provide Tax Incentive Parity for Indian Health Service (IHS) Health Professionals

The only tribal provision in the House version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would provide IHS parity for recruiting and retaining quality health professionals. Currently, IHS student loan repayment benefits are not tax-exempt even though the same benefits if offered by any other public sector health service provider would be tax-exempt. This disparity puts IHS at a disadvantage, which negatively affects health care services in tribal communities.

“Tribal  leaders have been greatly disappointed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, so far.  Indian Country has waited more than a quarter century for Congress to address tax code provisions that treat tribes inequitably and hinder economic growth in Indian Country,” said NCAI President Keel.

“Tax reform is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to uphold the federal trust obligation by helping tribes build stronger economies, create jobs, and deploy critical infrastructure.”

Congressman Kildee also spoke on the House floor Thursday morning in support of Indian Country. His remarks, including a video, is below.

“As Republicans continue to rush their tax plan through both houses of Congress, they leave behind tens of millions of Americans—funded by deficit-exploding tax breaks to the absolute wealthiest. They are also leaving behind some really important Americans: our Native American brothers and sisters,” said Kildee.

CSPAN: Congressman Kildee Urges Republicans to Support Indian Country in Federal Tax Plan

“For years, issues of taxation and how federal tax policy impacts tribal governments has been a subject of discussion. And for those years that we’ve talked about the need for tax reform, there have been continuous promises made to tribal governments that we will deal with these inequities, these issues of double taxation, in tribes.”

“For example, the ability of a tribal member who gets an adoption through a tribal court, they don’t qualify for an adoption tax credit. That’s just one example of the many ways that federal tax policy does not anticipate or recognize tribal governments.”

“But they’ve been left behind again,” said Kildee.

“This bill should be written in a way that actually addresses the real problems in the tax code. It does not.”


Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Native Advocates Create Spoof Websites Announcing Washington Redhawks Name Change

Wednesday morning, a Native advocacy group calling themselves ‘Rising Hearts’ unveiled a social media campaign accompanied by a series of spoof websites announcing the Washington Redskins would be changing their name to the Washington Redhawks.

Among the spoof sites included mockeries of ESPN Sports, The Washington Post and Sports Illustrated. A fake Washington RedHawks twitter account was also created.

The sites appear nearly identical to the news sites aside from different urls.

Social media responded to the point where Dan Snyder and the Washington team issued a statement to address the false claim.

“This morning, the Redskins organization was made aware of fraudulent websites about our team name. The name of the team is the Washington Redskins and will remain that for the future.”

On the spoof ESPN site a disclaimer announced the parody as the introduction of the article announcement.

DISCLAIMER: This website is a parody and is not endorsed nor affiliated with ESPN. This website was created by Native advocates created to help us all imagine how easy and powerful changing the mascot could be. See our press release for more details.

The article outlines a decision of the NFL team including decision for the change and new logos and uniforms that embraced the original colors of the team.

“We wanted fans to be able to recognize the brand. We want people to know this still is your team,” stated a team spokesperson,” the article states.

The ESPN article also cited statistics as issued by the National Congress of American Indians as well as the embedded video “Proud to Be.”

The release issued by the Rising Hearts Coalition stated reasons for the expansive effort.

“After decades of team owner Dan Snyder refusing to change the name of the Washington football team, Native advocates took to the internet to do it for him. Today, social media exploded with an updated logo and mascot for DC’s football team: The WASHINGTON REDHAWKS.”

“We created this action to show the NFL and the Washington Football franchise how easy, popular and powerful changing the name could be,” said one of the organizers, Rebecca Nagle (Cherokee Nation) in the release.

“What we’re asking for changes only four letters. Just four letters! Certainly the harm that the mascot does to Native Americans outweighs the very, very minor changes the franchise would need to make.”

The organization did state they were sorry for any confusion people might feel learning the name change announcement was a hoax.

We are sorry for the disappointment and confusion many will feel learning that Snyder has not changed the name yet. The purpose of this action is to show that the need for a new mascot is real and immediate. This online campaign is one of many direct and confrontational tactics that we as Native people have to use to demand our human dignity.

The activists behind the online action, Rising Hearts, are hosting an in-person press conference in Washington DC this Thursday December 14th at 2PM at the George Preston Marshall Monument in front of RFK Stadium.

Supporters can join also join a rally at FedEx Field this Sunday.

Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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JCPenney Under Fire on Social Media for ‘Tribe’ T-shirts: Store Removes Display, Apologizes

The JCPenney at Southern Hills Mall, a shopping mall in Sioux City, Iowa is under fire on social media after Facebook posts including a video and a photo were created by Iowa resident Michelle Free-LaMere. The video posted by Free-LaMere has gone viral having received 51k views within two days of being posted. The video currently stands at 101k views.

The posts contain four mannequins wearing different ‘Tribe-themed’ t-shirts that say ‘Tribe Leader,’ ‘Love My Tribe’ and ‘New to the Tribe’ which are standing between additional t-shirts with the phrases ‘Wine Wine Wine’ and ‘Beer Beer Beer.’

Comments on social media have been largely negative toward JCPenney.

“Just sad and disrespectful,” said Katrina RedOwl from Pasadena, California. Mikki Naranjo from Ignacio, Colorado said she will no longer shop at the store. “That is just disgusting of Management of JCPenney put that display up. I will no longer shop there!”

Michelle Free-LaMere has written on Facebook that she has received support, but also received a lot of hateful comments. Overall, she says she posted the video and photo in an attempt to make a difference.

“Stereotyping Indigenous people is dehumanizing and dangerous. If you want to roll over and accept that, go elsewhere and do it. We are trying to stand up and make a difference here,” wrote Free-LaMere.

Free-LaMere also wrote that the offensive nature of the display isn’t just about the t-shirts.

“The problem isn’t with the tribe shirts. It’s about the beer and wine shirts on either side. I suspect it was a local yokel who thought he/she was funny. Racism is bad here.”

In the video, Free-LaMere asked a JCPenney associate about the offensiveness of the display. The associate was courteous and expressed she didn’t understand what was offensive about it. After Free-LaMere shared her views, the associate did respond saying “You have the right, I don’t disagree with you.”

You can watch the video here:

Indian Country Today reached out to JCPenney, and they responded by removing the display and issuing the following statement:

“We appreciate the customer making us aware of the merchandise placement within our Sioux City store. While there was never any intention to associate these products, our team immediately took action and corrected the presentation upon learning of this unfortunate merchandise arrangement. We want to express our sincere apologies, as JCPenney prides itself as being a diverse and inclusive organization, treating all customers as we would like to be treated – with dignity and respect.”


Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

The post JCPenney Under Fire on Social Media for ‘Tribe’ T-shirts: Store Removes Display, Apologizes appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Coeur d’Alene Woman, Paulette Jordan Announces Bid for Idaho State Governor

Paulette Jordan, 38, a Democratic Party member of the Idaho House of Representatives, and member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, has announced her intention to run for governor of the state of Idaho rather than seek a third term as a state representative.

Paulette Jordan is now serving her second term in the Idaho House of Representatives and represents District 5 Seat A. She previously served on the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council from 2009 to 2012.

Paulette Jordan announced her bid to run for Idaho governor on Thursday.

“Service is an inherent value in my family, from my ancestors on down to my sons, and they will carry that tradition forward in their lives. I’m proud to be part of Idaho’s family,” Jordan said to family and supporters at the announcement as detailed in a release.

A campaign ad for Paulette Jordan when she was running for State Representative.

“Because of who we are and who we can become, my vision for the 21st century is seeing Idaho emerge as the greatest state in the history of the United States,” said Jordan.

“When you are raised by Idaho, it’s a matter of giving back. Taking on the governorship would be the best way for me to impact people’s lives … to serve and give back,” she said.

The move by Jordan is a historic one. Few Native candidates have announced such a bid aside from Peggy Flanagan who announced a bid for Lt. Governor in Minnesota this year, Byron Mallott who is currently serving as Lt. Governor in Alaska, and Larry Echo Hawk who previously ran for Governor in Idaho.

President Barack Obama with Paulette Jordan when she was a Idaho state House hopeful.

Rep. Jordan is a member of the State Affairs Committee;  the Idaho House Resources and Conservation Committee; the Energy, Environment & Technology Committee and serves as an appointed Idaho Representative to the Energy and Environment Committee of the Council of State Governments for the Western Region.

On December 7th, fellow democratic governor contender A.J. Balukoff,  issued a statement welcoming her to the race as well as giving her a birthday wish.

“Voters deserve a robust primary where issues affecting all hard-working Idahoans get discussed and debated. Idaho needs a positive vision to jump-start prosperity in our state after years of falling behind in education, living in a low-wage economy and losing the ability to compete with the rest of the region. I look forward to hearing Representative Jordan’s ideas, and I wish her a Happy Birthday.”

According to the press announcement, Jordan learned an early work ethic growing up on her family’s farm. This work ethic motivated her through college at the University of Washington, and specialized certificates at the University of Idaho and at the Harvard John F. Kennedy school of government.

“When I asked myself how I could serve Idaho even better, the governor’s office was my answer,” said Jordan.

“Idaho is a state I fall in love with over and over. This is the place that fostered me and this is the place I was raised to serve.”


Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Steve Reevis, Blackfeet Actor from ‘Last of the Dogmen,’ ‘Geronimo,’ has died at 56

Born August 14, 1962 and raised on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana, Native actor Steve Reevis, the son of Curley and Lila Reevis, has died at the age of 56. Reevis was one of 6 siblings.

According to Reevis’ IMDb profile, he lived the struggling actors’ dream in a quest to act in film and movies. He graduated from Flandreau High School and attended Haskell Indian Junior College in Lawrence, Kansas where he received a degree in arts. After Haskell, Reevis began his acting career in Los Angeles while living on the beach in his car, a 1971 Ford Torino.

Reevis’ first role in the film industry was as a stunt rider in the 1987 film War Party which also had his brother, Tim Reevis. His first acting role, in 1988, was in Universal’s Twins. He played a non-speaking role as a Cheyenne Warrior in the highly acclaimed Dances With Wolves in 1990.

In 1993, he was cast as the Apache scout, Chato, in Geronimo: An American Legend starring Wes Studi. Reevis is perhaps best-known for his 1995 Native American lead role in Last of the Dogmen with Tom Berenger.


Steve Reevis (right) in ‘Last of the Dogmen’ co-starred with Tom Berenger.

In 1996, Reevis received an award from First Americans in the Arts (FAITA) for his supporting roles in both the critically acclaimed movie Fargo and in the made for television movie Crazy Horse. In 2004 he received the honor again for his work on the ABC series Line of Fire.

There has already been an outpouring of support on social media. One fan on Facebook, Chris Whipple wrote, “RIP Bad Ass Actor Steve Reevis.”


A Facebook post by Chris Whipple regarding actor Steve Reevis.

Family is asking for support

In light of his passing, A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family with funeral expenses.

It reads, in part:

It is with a heavy heart that our much loved son, father, brother, uncle and friend Steve Reevis crossed over to the Sand Hills and is walking with God.

Steve was Blackfeet warrior of the Blackfeet Pikuni Nation. He grew up in Browning, Montana, the son of Lloyd “Curley” and Lila Reevis. He was the third oldest child of three sons and four daughters .

Steve is known as an accomplished actor, with roles in Geronimo, Dances with Wolves, The Last of the Dogmen, The Missing, the Longest Yard, and Cherokee Word for Water.

Steve was a family man, he leaves behind his wife Macile Reevis, his sons Joseph, Kyiyo, Pikuni and his daughter Taywanee, his  grandchildren Lloyd, Cashus and Uriah.

As written on Reevis’ IMDB page, here is a personal quote:

Life is something that is never supposed to be played with. Life is so precious that we have to understand that our life was given to us by The Creator. When I think of life, it’s always about living that life in a beautiful way. Life is about respecting one another in whatever capacity we live in in this world. It’s all about total respect for each other and our individual lives.


Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Sen. Heitkamp Embraces ‘Not Invisible’ Hashtag for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

On Wednesday, November 29th, Senator Heidi Heitkamp (ND-D) led an effort on social media to raise awareness about the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women during National Native American Heritage Month.

In October, Sen. Heitkamp introduced a bill to help address the crisis of missing and murdered Native women titled Savanna’s Act — in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was tragically killed in Fargo, ND in August of 2017. The social media effort builds on Sen. Heitkamp’s bill, Savanna’s Act. The bill would improve law enforcement cooperation to help combat the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women.

“One of the main challenges to address this issue is the lack of awareness outside of Indian Country about this epidemic,” said a statement on a Heitkamp release. “Only once we raise awareness about this crisis, can we then help implement solutions,” said Heitkamp.

84% of Native American women experience violence in their lifetime & on some reservations, they are murdered at 10x the national avg. These women are #NotInvisible & we need to shine a light on these crimes. Join me today to show your support & help raise awareness. #MMIW

— Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (@SenatorHeitkamp) November 29, 2017

According to Heitkamp’s office, the efforts of Savanna’s Act and the #NotInvisible hashtag is to help raise awareness and bring this issue out of the shadows so it is no longer invisible. The Senator says she urged tribal leaders, politicians, celebrities and supporters to take a photo with the #NotInvisible hashtag and then post it on Facebook and/or Twitter on the 29th to help highlight these crimes.

On the 29th, tribal leaders, politicians and celebrities responded to Heitkamp’s efforts by posting selfies along with the #NotInvisible hashtag. Among the celebrities and politicians were Senator Jeff Merkley a co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Tom Udall, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Senator Mazie Hirono and actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk/Bruce Banner in the latest Thor Ragnarok.

84% of Native American women experience violence in their lifetime. But outside of Indian Country, few people are aware of this epidemic. It’s time to raise awareness and show that these women are #NotInvisible.

— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) November 29, 2017

“84% of Native American women experience violence in their lifetime. But outside of Indian Country, few people are aware of this epidemic. It’s time to raise awareness and show that these women are #NotInvisible,” wrote Ruffalo in his tweet.

“This is unacceptable,” wrote Merkley in his tweet. “I’m cosponsoring @SenatorHeitkamp‘s Savanna’s Act to address this crisis. Join me in raising awareness. #NotInvisible.”

Efforts of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC)

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC)–a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to restoring the sovereignty of Native nations and safeguarding Native women and their children–had previously worked with Senator Heitkamp and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to introduce Savanna’s Act in October.

Native women are #NotInvisible. Join us to show your support & raise awareness so we can combat these crimes! @SenatorHeitkamp

— NIWRC (@niwrc) November 29, 2017

According to the NIWRC, the Savanna’s Act bill mandates protocol development, increased access to federal databases and would improve law enforcement cooperation to help combat the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women. The NIWRC also helped promote the #NotInvisible on November 29th on their social media accounts.

In an emailed statement, Lucy Simpson (Navajo) who serves as the Executive Director for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, said the bill comes at a time where crimes against Native American women occur at an alarming rate.

“The current reports of abduction and murder of American Indian women and girls are alarming and represent one of the most horrific aspects of the spectrum of violence committed against Native women,” said Simpson in the statement.

“The murder rate of Native women is more than ten times the national average on some reservations. Often, these disappearances or murders are connected to crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking. The intersection of gender based violence and MMIW is heavily intertwined.”

The NIWRC public relations representative told Indian Country Today in an email that they are expressing the “urgent need to address the national crisis of missing and murdered as stated in the Findings of S. 1942; the Savanna’s Act. The recent murder of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind and the horrific ongoing violence committed against Native women and girls, particularly the reports of those missing and murdered, are a glaring confirmation of this reality in our everyday lives.”

The NIWRC representative also also cited the disturbing statistics reported by the CDC.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homicide is the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women between 10 and 24 years of age and the fifth leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native women between 25 and 34 years of age. In some tribal communities, American Indian women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average.”

Cherrah Giles, NIWRC Board President told Indian Country Today, “The legacy of genocide is the epidemic of violence we experience from birth to death. For our Native sisters who are missing and murdered, we need every person to take a stand and join in our effort calling for justice.”

“We strive to lift the voices of the families and communities impacted by all murdered and missing Native women and girls,” said Simpson. “It is an abomination that many times the only searches for our missing women are organized by family and friends, and not law enforcement. We aim to raise awareness and increase justice on a national level. But our work must not focus merely on improving the official response when a Native woman or girl is missing. We must restore our women to a place of honor, respect and sacredness so that these crimes can finally end.”

“NIWRC is committed to increasing safety and access to justice for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women and girls, to bringing awareness to this critical issue of missing and murdered Native women, and to preventing future acts of violence in our Nations” said Simpson.

“Together, we will never stop fighting for justice.”

Click here to read more about Savanna’s Act

Click here to read stories from families of Native American women who have gone missing or were murdered.

Here’s an emotional speech Sen. Heitkamp gave on the Senate floor about this issue:

Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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Trump Slashes Two Million Acres off of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase: Tribes To Sue

In an announcement by President Trump on Monday in Salt Lake City, the size of two national monuments would be drastically reduced. According to the Trump administration, the Bears Ears National Monument would be reduced by 85 percent, and Grand Staircase-Escalante, would be reduced to half its current size. It is the largest cut to federal land protection in U.S. History.

“Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” said Trump said at Utah’s State Capitol, “And guess what? They’re wrong … together, we will usher in a bright new future of wonder and wealth.”

The move by the Trump administration was a reversal of protections put in place by President Barack Obama, who designated Bears Ears as a national monument in 2016, and President Bill Clinton who classified the Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996.

Shortly after the announcement by Trump, the inter-tribal coalition, comprised of the Ute Mountain Tribe, the Ute Indian Tribe, the Navajo Nation, the Hopi and the Zuni, filed a lawsuit against the executive order on the basis that President Trump does not have the legal authority to remove the national monument protections.

The Navajo Nation issued a statement that said they were not able to consult with the President regarding Bears Ears and that they now had no other recourse than to seek litigation.

“The Navajo Nation has made repeated requests to meet with President Trump on this issue. The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation but to many tribes in the region,” President Begaye said in the statement. “The decision to reduce the size of the Monument is being made with no tribal consultation. The Navajo Nation will defend Bears Ears. The reduction in the size of the Monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision.”

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye.

“Bears Ears National Monument is not just for Native Americans but for all Americans,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said in the statement. “This is a sad day for indigenous people and for America. However, we are resilient and refuse to allow President Trump’s unlawful decision to discourage us. We will continue to fight in honor of our ancestral warriors who fought for our way of life, for our culture and for our land too.”

Native American Rights Fund Staff Attorney Matthew Campbell also stated we will fight to uphold the rights of Native people, “Bears Ears is one of the most important places for Indian Country, and that is why Indian Country came together to advocate for this important place. Trump’s attack on Bears Ears is an attack on all of us, and we will fight to protect it.”

Though environmental groups and native tribes say the decision will threaten over 100,000 archaeologically important / sacred sites, Republicans and fossil fuel companies consider the move a victory in seeking more localized control of the lands.

“The Antiquities Act does not give the Federal Government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time we ended this abusive practice. Public lands will once again be for public use,” said Trump In a statement issued from the Department of the Interior.

Kim Baca

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke toured Bears Ears National Monument in May 2017.

“I thank President Trump for his leadership on the Monument Review and for keeping his promise to make sure the rural voice is heard once again,” said Secretary Zinke.

According to the Interior release, monuments have been reduced at least eighteen times under presidents on both sides of the aisle and examples include: President John F. Kennedy excluding Bandelier National Monument, Presidents Taft, Wilson, and Coolidge reducing Mount Olympus National Monument, and President Eisenhower reducing the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in Colorado.

The release also cited Interior Secretary Zinke did meet with tribal leaders prior to the decision by Trump.

In addition to tribal leaders and conservation groups, the National Congress of American Indians and its president Jefferson Keel, also condemned the decision by the Trump Administration.

“[The] NCAI opposes President Trump’s efforts to reduce two monuments that hold tribal sacred places. [Monday,] President Trump issued Presidential Proclamations reducing the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments in Utah. These monuments were initially designated as monuments to ensure that tribal and American citizens would have use of these significant landscapes for generations to come. The National Congress of American Indians stands by the efforts of all affected Tribal Governments and local communities who are determined to protect these sacred places in their entirety,” said the release.

“The original intent of the Antiquities Act was to protect our tribal sacred sites and the cultural objects in those sites. The history of our Indigenous ancestors lives in these sacred places. Today’s action to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante endangers our freedom of religion, our histories and our communities,” stated Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI in the release. “We stand with the Tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition as well as the Tribes impacted by other Monument designations.”

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante were both designated under the original intent of the Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act granted power to the President to create national monuments to protect Tribal sacred sites and cultural objects. The Act does not grant the President the authority to reduce and revoke the boundaries of national monuments as was done [Monday.]

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Trump Refers to Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas at White House Code Talkers Ceremony

On Monday, President Donald Trump, while hosting an event for Native American Code Talkers,  referenced Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, as Pocahontas.

At the White House event, President Trump spoke to three Navajo Code Talkers. “You’re very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. But you know what. I like you. Because you are special, ” said President Trump.

The use of Pocahontas by Trump has caused national attention and Senator Warren herself responded to the remarks on MSNBC shortly after the ceremony.

Warren said on MSNBC that the ceremony was “supposed to be an event that honored heroes.”

“It is deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur,” said Warren.

See related article: The True Story of Pocahontas: Historical Myths Versus Sad Reality.

According to NCAI President Jefferson Keel, the event was marred by President Trump’s use of the name as a slur.

On November 27, 2017, the National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel issued the following statement:

“We regret that the President’s use of the name Pocahontas as a slur to insult a political adversary is overshadowing the true purpose of today’s White House ceremony,” stated NCAI President Jefferson Keel, a decorated U.S. Army officer and Vietnam War combat veteran.

“(Monday) was about recognizing the remarkable courage and invaluable contributions of our Native code talkers. That’s who we honor today and everyday – the three code talkers present at the White House representing the 10 other elderly living code talkers who were unable to join them, and the hundreds of other code talkers from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Comanche, Lakota, Meskwaki, Mohawk, Navajo, Tlingit, and other tribes who served during World Wars I and II.”

“We also honor the service and bravery of all of our veterans and those currently serving from Indian Country. Native people serve in the Armed Forces at a higher rate than any other group in the country, and have served in every war in this nation’s history,” said Jefferson Keel in the statement from the NCAI.

Keel also expressed honor to the historical significance of Pocahontas.

“We honor the contributions of Pocahontas, a hero to her people, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe in Virginia, who reached across uncertain boundaries and brought people together. Once again, we call upon the President to refrain from using her name in a way that denigrates her legacy.”

On Tuesday, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and actor Sonny Skyhawk discussed Trump’s reference to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as Pocahontas on CNN.

Skyhawk called the reference a “condescending racial slur that was inexcusable.” Skyhawk also noted that Trump’s decision to host the ceremony standing under a portrait of Andrew Jackson as an intentional jab at Native Americans.

Screen Capture CNN

On CNN, Native American actor and producer Sonny Skyhawk (left) stated Trump’s decision to host the ceremony standing under a portrait of Andrew Jackson as an intentional jab at Native Americans and the Navajo Code Talkers.

“Trump knew what he was doing, Jackson is one of his heroes, he wants to be like Andrew Jackson,” said Skyhawk.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said the reference by Trump was completely inappropriate and that Trump needed to recognize the contributions of veterans and leave personal attacks on the campaign trail.

“Trump needs to stand by our war heroes,” said Begaye. “When you are in the midst of heroes, you need to leave everything else aside.”


Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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