Winter conditions and travel advisories issued for Plains
Ojibwe artist hopes to uplift people at benefit concert
Athna commission signs resource management agreement
Native groups respond to North Dakota’s evacuation order for Standing Rock campers
Native American women in Minnesota hope to bring a new perspective to state politics
By Ryan Heinsius, Arizona Public Radio
Some tribal leaders in the U-S are expressing concern following last week’s election of Republican Donald Trump. They worry some of Trump’s plans for his first hundred days in office could negatively impact Indian Country.
Trump has vowed deep federal spending cuts after he takes the oath of office in January. But some tribal leaders say that could threaten education, housing, healthcare and family service programs that benefit Native Americans. Some of those are protected under federal treaties. Wenona Benally is the Democratic representative-elect for Arizona’s 7th legislative district, which includes the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation.
“When you start to see massive cuts across the board to these types of programs, well that is equivalent to ending the federal trust responsibility with Indian tribes,” Benally said.
Trump has also promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in his first 100 days. The ACA renewed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, and Benally is concerned that could deprive more than 2 million Native Americans of coverage they receive under the law.
Not all Native Americans, however, agree on the federal government’s role in tribal affairs.
A group called the Native American Coalition supported Trump during the campaign and is made up of more than two dozen tribal members. They want to limit the federal government’s reach in Indian Country, and say more local control will enhance tribal sovereignty and economic opportunity.
Markwayne Mullin is the chair of the Coalition and a Republican Oklahoma representative from the state’s Second Congressional District.
“There’s not going to be any changes to the treaty or the trust,” Mullin said. “There’s an agreement that’s been made with the federal government that this administration isn’t going to try to change.
Mullin says some officials and members of Trump’s transition team are working on a way to repeal and replace Obamacare while retaining the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The details of that plan have yet to be worked out.
By Daysha Eaton
A snowstorm blanketed the plains of North Dakota Monday bringing winter to the main camp for people demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Army Corps of Engineers says the fast-approaching winter is one reason it issued an eviction notice to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Friday. In a letter, the Corps states demonstrators need to move the main camp south of the Cannonball River, due to safety concerns.
Tribal leaders say they’re disappointed in the Corps’ decision and adds it’s “unfortunate and disrespectful” that the announcement came right after Thanksgiving.
On a hill overlooking a sea of tents, teepees and yurts, Native leaders gathered Saturday to respond to the notice. Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II says people are there for peaceful and prayerful ceremony.
“What they gave us was a notice, that these lands are no longer available for hunting and for fishing and for recreation and recreation can include camping but what we are doing here is exercising our First Amendment right – and we are not breaking any laws, we’re not violating any laws,” Archambault said.
People have been occupying Corps land along the path of the pipeline since April, claiming tribes are the rightful owners under an 1851 treaty.
Nick Tilsen, Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge, is among those who do not plan to leave the camp.15
“Indigenous people are here to stay and we’re not going to leave unless it is on our own terms because this is our treaty land, this is our ancestral land,” Tilsen said. “This is where our people have been for thousands of years.”
Camp organizers estimates the number of people at the main camp, Oceti Sakowin, at somewhere between five-thousand and eight-thousand people. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is preparing a place to move campers if it gets too cold. The Army Corps does not plan to forcibly remove people from the camp, but may issue citations.
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By Daysha Eaton, Cannon Ball, ND
Two Athabascan men from Alaska are among the estimated 2,500 people now gathered near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and witnessed the confrontations with law enforcement officials. They came to support the Oceti Sakowin in the efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from crossing under the Missouri River.
Some people participate in direct actions– protests near the path of the pipeline. Samuel Johns, an Anchorage resident who is Ahtna and Gwich’in Athabascan, originally from Copper Center, says that’s where the trouble comes in.
“They are unarmed,” Johns said of the protesters. “They just want to protect the water and they are being maced, they are being shot by rubber bullets.”
Fred John Jr. an Ahtna Athabascan elder from Delta Junction, also traveled to the camp. John says he is concerned that local law enforcement are overracting.
“They come with their stick, they come with their mace against peaceful protectors,” John said. “It doesn’t seem right to me. We have more right to be on that land. It’s tribal land, plus contested treaty land.”
Both men say they hope to return to Standing Rock soon with a group to help with construction and winterization projects before the bitter North Dakota winter sets in.
Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is building the $3.7 billion, nearly 1,200-mile long pipeline across four states.
The tribe says the pipeline is a threat to their water supply and that construction threatens sacred sites. The federal government has halted construction, but the companies building the pipeline have asked a federal court to let them complete the project. Demonstrators have been occupying privately-owned land in the path of the pipeline, claiming that they are the land’s rightful owners under an 1851 treaty with the U.S. Government. Demonstrators report being shot by law enforcement with rubber bullets and water cannons in below freezing temperatures on Sunday, Nov. 20. Several went to the hospital for treatment.