Native Americans prosecuted in tribal court can be prosecuted again in federal court. That’s the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court this week.
The case involves Merle Denezpi, a citizen of the Navajo Nation. He was accused of rape, but was convicted of assault and battery in what’s known as a Court of Indian Offenses—a consortium of several Native nations that might not individually have the capacity to tackle court cases.
Following his conviction, he was released after serving less than five months in jail. Typically tribal courts can impose sentences of less than a year. He was then subjected to another trial for the same offense in federal court. There he was convicted of rape and sentenced to 30 years in prison. His lawyers argued the second trial amounted to double jeopardy.
The majority Supreme Court decision, however, concluded Denezpi’s separate trials were for violations of both a tribal ordinance and federal law, which are two separate things.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, though, is among the three dissenting justices, saying the case involved the same crime and same prosecuting authority” and the majority’s ruling is “at odds with the text and original meaning of the Constitution.”
Tribal officials are putting their support behind a bill to permanently ban new uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park. They gave their testimony at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, for decades, Southwestern tribes have been some of the most outspoken opponents of mining in the area.
The Grand Canyon Protection Act would make permanent a 2012 moratorium put in place by the Obama administration on new claims throughout more than a million acres near the park.
The Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining heard from supporters of the legislation.
Havasupai Chairman Thomas Siyuja Sr. submitted written testimony calling for the protection of the area’s groundwater and urged passage of the bill. The Havasupai Tribe lives in the Grand Canyon and has resisted uranium mining for decades. They say it could threaten their lands, sole water source and very existence.
In addition, Siyuja said one uranium mine less than 10 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon endangers Red Butte, a sacred site to the Havasupai and an origin point of the tribe’s creation story.
Advocates for the bill, including U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) who sponsored the legislation, say the more than 600 active uranium claims near the canyon could eventually turn into mines without a permanent ban.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Grand Canyon Protection Act last year.
The uranium industry says new mining methods are safe and won’t contaminate area aquifers.
Minneapolis Indigenous restaurant Owamni won the restaurant world’s highest honor.
The James Beard Foundation awarded the restaurant the Best Restaurant in the nation at a ceremony at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.
Chef Shawn Sherman says he hopes the award helps to encourage more Indigenous restaurant openings.
Sherman opened the restaurant on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis in 2021 with co-owner Dana Thompson.
The two received a previous James Beard award for their cookbook The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is planning a visit to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
The in-person appearance is intended to highlight the benefits of the Rosebud’s portion of federal America Rescue Plan money to offset the effects of the pandemic.
One tribal official told Reuters the 191-million dollars in ARPA money was a “lifesaver” for the tribe.
Officials say much of the money will go toward building affordable housing for tribal members living on the reservation.
Reuters reports there’s no record of any treasury secretary visiting any Native reservation.
Get National Native News delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up for our newsletter today.