Antonia Gonzales: The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will hear several cases challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the law intended to keep Native children with Native families, as Tripp Crouse reports.
Crouse: The law was passed in 1978 in response to the disproportionate removal of Native children from their homes, families and communities. The Indian Child Welfare Act is a federal law that is used in Native child adoption cases.
Many of the arguments opposing ICWA say that law illegally discriminates against non-Native families based on race when placing Native children in homes. And that’s the argument at the core of Brackeen v. Haaland. The case began as a lawsuit in 2018 in Texas. It challenges ICWA as a race-based law and says it should be struck down based on equal-protection grounds.
In April, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals divided on Brackeen v. Haaland in a split-decision and ruled that parts of ICWA were constitutional, while others were not. Because of the split decision, the ruling applies only to the judicial district which includes Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In September, four Tribes, the state of Texas and several parents filed petitions to ask the Supreme Court to review the decision.
The Supreme Court has consolidated all of those petitions, but not set a date to hear them yet.
Gonzales: The U.S. Department of the Interior announced last week that it will use $1.7 billion from a recent infrastructure bill to fund outstanding water settlements with tribes. A tribe in northwest Montana says that funding will launch some irrigation projects this summer, as Aaron Bolton reports.
Bolton: The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Chairman Tom McDonald says the announcement from the Interior Department will go a long way toward implementing projects to improve the reservation’s irrigation system. Congress passed the $1.9 billion CSKT water compact in 2020.
McDonald: They have projects that will be lining canals in the Joko area.
Bolton: The Blackfeet and Crow Nations will also receive funds to for their water compacts.
Gonzales: The Oyate Health Center’s goal is to become more self-sustaining after the Rapid City, SD center recently assumed control from the Indian Health Service, as Richard Two Bulls reports.
Two Bulls: The Sioux San Hospital in Rapid City primarily serves members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. In 2019, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe contracted with the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board. The board manages the Oyate Health Center on the hospital campus on behalf of the tribes.
The federal Indian Health Service has been providing health care services on the campus to members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. But recently the tribe contracted with the health board, paving the way for the Oyate Health Center to provide services on behalf of all three tribes, utilizing funding from the IHS. Brandon Ecoffey is the health board’s spokesperson.
Ecoffey: “The ultimate goal is for this facility to be self-sustaining. We don’t have to refer our relatives out to Monument or to Avera, but to be able to build that in-house to capacity, which also builds community capacity and generates economic development within the community and leads to an overall better healthcare experience for tribal members.”
Two Bulls: Over 60% of Indian Health Service’s funding is administered by tribes. This gives tribes the control to identify and meet the specific needs of their members.
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Long before it was a national park, Yellowstone was an important place for at least two dozen tribes. Documented Native connections to the land go back at least 10,000 years. This year, Yellowstone is marking its sesquicentennial (aka 150th anniversary) as a federal national park. The dedication by President Ulysses S. Grant was the final blow to unrestricted use of the land by tribes.
Today on Native America Calling, Andi Murphy speaks with Dr. Shane Doyle, educational and cultural consultant; Robin Rofkar, administrative assistant for the Eastern Shoshone Cultural Center; and Lynette Saint Clair, Indian education coordinator for the Fort Washakie School.