May 5th marked Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. Events have been held throughout the week including in Springfield, OR to honor missing and murdered Indigenous women. KLCC’s Brian Bull has more.
Roughly 40 people came to hear poems about relatives and friends lost to violence or abduction. Co-organizer Marta Clifford is a Grand Ronde tribal member. She worked with students from the University of Oregon and Lane Community College on the ceremony.
“Our voices have power. And we spoke to the people that are missing and murdered, and we know they heard us. So that’s what I want the students to take away, that their voices matter, they made a difference tonight.”
The event hit home for Megan Van Pelt, a U of O junior from the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
“I know too many aunties and too many cousins, I know too many of my friends who’ve gone through sexual assault, and I guess today’s making space for ourselves. And we are here for our lost sisters, our lost cousins.”
The Indian Resource Law Center says over half of Native women have experienced sexual violence.
Tribal advocates met this week to discuss the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It provides a framework to help ensure their survival. The UN adopted the declaration back in 2007, but the U.S. has yet to implement it.
Keith Harper, a member of the Cherokee Nation, is the first Native American to become a U.S. ambassador. He points out America’s position is that the declaration is aspirational in nature. But he says: “The fact that they’re aspirational rather than binding, I don’t think should be of much import because you still should have a plan to reach the aspiration.”
Countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Mexico are taking steps to implement the declaration. Tribal advocates in the U.S. say one outcome would be closer consultation with tribes on key issues.
Some Alaska Native elders must make the tough choice of whether to give their Native corporation shares away to be eligible for federal programs like SNAP. As KNBA’s Tripp J Crouse reports, legislation may help.
Before the late Rep. Don Young (R-AK) died, he introduced House Resolution 437. The legislation would amend the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to exclude certain payments to Alaska Native Elders when determining eligibility for need-based federal programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The U.S. House Subcommittee for Indigenous People held a hearing for testimony on a series of Tribal-related measures, including Young’s legislation. Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-CA) is Acting Ranking committee member.
“This discrepancy between the types of income from ANCs can place many Alaska Native Elders in the position of having to choose between accepting settlement trust interest on one hand or qualifying government assistance on the other — and obviously that’s not a situation we would want to put anyone in.”
During testimony, Chugach Alaska Corporation board chairman Sheri Buretta spoke before the subcommittee.
“Perhaps one of the most meaningful benefits we provide is annual dividend distributions, which are a critical income source for our people this is particularly true for our Elders, many of whom live in our remote communities and face a harsh environment, limited transportation, supply chain challenges, surging living cost and food security issues…it is my understanding that the effect of this bill on the budget is marginal, but the impact on our Alaska Native elders is significant.”
House Resolution 437 was introduced in January and was referred to the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples.
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