(These are national news stories that I have found and clipped
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December 05, 2012
Remarks by The President at the Tribal Nations Conference
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you so much. Everybody, please, please have a seat.
Thank you, Brian, for that wonderful introduction. Thanks to all the members of Congress and members of my administration who are here. And I want to give a special shout-out to Senator Danny Akaka, who has been such a tireless advocate for Native Americans throughout his career. (Applause.) You know that Danny is going to be retiring this year, and he’s such a great friend. And as a Hawaiian boy, I’ve got to give him a little special props. (Laughter.) So I want to thank all the tribal leaders who took the time and the effort to come and take part in this conference.
Every year I look forward to this event. It’s especially wonderful to see so many friends that I’ve gotten to know from various nations all across the country. You guys inspire me every single day, and whenever I’ve traveled to your home states there’s been such a warm welcome that I’ve received. So I’m truly grateful to all of you.
Today, I want to begin by remembering somebody we lost last week. To the Crow Nation, he was a revered elder. To many Native Americans, he was a respected healer. And I knew him warmly, for a few years at least, as an adoptive father.
Sonny Black Eagle adopted me into the Crow Nation during my 2008 campaign. And yesterday he would have been 79 years old. And while we can’t celebrate that milestone with him today, we can celebrate his remarkable life and all that happened along the way, because Sonny’s story is not just one man’s journey to keep his culture alive, but one country’s journey to keep perfecting itself.
So Sonny Black Eagle was born in 1933 just outside of Lodge Grass, Montana. That’s where his grandparents raised him after his mother died of tuberculosis; where he tended to cattle as a child; and where as an adult, he raised a family of his own. And Sonny was brought up in the traditional Crow ways, with the same values that many of you share -- a reverence for the Earth, to cherish the Earth and to cherish each other; to honor ancestors and preserve traditions.
Staying true to those values wasn’t always easy. As a child, if Sonny spoke Crow in school, his teachers would strike his hand with a ruler. As a teenager, when he went to eat at local restaurants he was sometimes met with a sign on the door that said, “No Indians or dogs allowed.” In the 1950s, as Sonny and his wife Mary began a new life together, the government put in place a new policy of forced assimilation -- a move that harkened back to the days when Native religions and languages were banned. The policy was called “termination” for a reason -- it was meant to end tribal governments in America once and for all.
So Sonny, like many of you, knew intolerance and knew injustice. He knew what it was like to be persecuted for who you are and what you believe. But as time went by, year by year, decade by decade, as Native Americans rallied together and marched together, as students descended on Alcatraz and activists held their ground at Frank’s Landing, as respect and appreciation for your unique heritage grew and a seminal struggle played itself out, Sonny lived to see something else. He saw a new beginning.
He lived to see a government that turned the page on a troubled past and adopted a new policy towards Native Americans -- a policy centered on self-determination and the right for tribal governments to do whatever you think is best to strengthen your communities.
Over the past 40 years, that policy has had a major impact. It has empowered you to build up stronger institutions. It has enabled you to establish more effective law and order. It has laid the foundation for a true and lasting government-to-government relationship with the United States.
And over those decades, as Sonny went from being a father to a great-great-grandfather; and as he taught his family the Crow language and his community the Crow customs; as he became a living symbol of the perseverance of the entire Crow nation, Sonny stayed true to those fundamental values -- to those fundamental values -- to cherish the Earth and each other, to honor ancestors and preserve traditions.
And these are not just Sonny's values. In fact, they're not just values cherished by Native Americans. These should be and are American values. And they lie at the heart of some of our country's greatest challenges -- to rebuild the middle class; to build ladders of opportunity for everybody who's working hard; to protect our planet; to leave our children something better than we inherited; to make sure Americans remain optimistic about the future and that this country of ours remains the place where no matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from or what your last name is, you can make it here if you try.
Now, these are the challenges that we can only solve together, and that's been our approach to the unique challenges facing Indian country.
Now, three years ago, I was proud to see that this conference was the largest gathering of tribal leaders in our history. And back then, an event like this was rare. Today, it’s gotten routine. (Laughter.) What I told you then is that I was committed to more than a unique nation-to-nation relationship -- I was committed to getting this relationship right, so that your nations can be full partners in our economy and your children can have a fair shot at pursuing the American Dream -- (applause) -- and that no one has to live under the cloud of fear or injustice.
And to make sure that we follow through on those commitments, I’ve named Native Americans to my White House staff –- like Jodi Gillette and Charlie Galbraith, who many of you know. (Applause.) I’ve named Native Americans throughout my administration. And today, because we’ve made sure that the conversations here have translated into action, we can point to signs of real progress.
We’ve focused on justice and tribal sovereignty. Long-standing legal disputes, like the Cobell case, have been resolved. I signed into law the Tribal Law and Order Act, which is helping to fight crime. These are all important steps. But we’ve got more to do. With domestic violence so prevalent on reservations, we’re pushing Congress to restore your power to bring to justice anyone -- Indian or non-Indian -- who hurts a woman. (Applause.) With some tribal nations unable to put their land into federal trust, we’re pushing Congress to pass the Carcieri fix right away. (Applause.)
A focus that a lot of you have spoken to me about and that we’re now really trying to drill down on is expanding economic opportunity for Native Americans. Together, we’ve stepped up support for Tribal Colleges and Universities, so that more young people can graduate with the skills they need to start a career. We’ve strengthened tribal health care and made it more accessible. And along with the HEARTH Act, we’ve streamlined leasing regulations, putting more power in your hands to build more homes, and more small businesses, more clean energy projects –- like the Moapa solar project in Nevada.
But we’ve got more work to do. We’ve got to rebuild America’s infrastructure -- from roads to high-speed internet -- that will help connect Native communities to other parts of the country and other parts of the world. Congress needs to expand support for Native American small businesses, because when they’re opening new stores or exporting new goods, then they’re creating new jobs.
So that’s where we need to go. That’s the future we need to build. And I’ve never been more hopeful about our chances. Part of that hopefulness is because I’ve gotten to know so many of you, and I know the skills and the talent and the dedication and the values and the wisdom that you all represent. And I’m hopeful not just because of the work all of you are doing, not just because of the solemn commitment of tribal leaders all across this country. I’m also hopeful because of the rising generation who I’ve seen embrace the responsibility of following in your footsteps.
I’m hopeful because of young folks like Nick Tilsen. I just had a chance to talk to Nick, a Lakota Indian who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which is one of the poorest parts of America. And unemployment there is rampant; high rates of disease and violence are often forcing folks to downsize their dreams. But there’s a more promising statistic in Pine Ridge. More than half of Pine Ridge’s population is under 30 years old. And many of those young people, like Nick, are giving all they have to help turn things around.
So Nick heads up a non-profit in Pine Ridge. A few years ago, with the support of some grants and other members of his tribe, Nick built a community center that uses spiritual and cultural teachings to help young people stay off drugs and their parents live healthier lifestyles. And it’s making a difference. So today, he’s building something bigger -- a clean-energy community that will provide affordable housing for folks who need it and help more Lakota small businesses get off the ground.
Day by day, family by family, community by community, Nick and his non-profit have helped inspire a new beginning for Pine Ridge. In fact, just a few months ago, young and old came together to adopt a long-term plan that commits to bringing back jobs and development; bringing back native languages and customs; bringing back the spiritual strength that for so long has defined the Lakota people. And Nick says, “We’ve decided as a community to take ownership of our own future.”
See, that makes me hopeful, talking to young people like that, because throughout Indian Country, you’ve got a generation ready to build on what generations before them have built. They’re out there right now, stirring with hope, and restless for change, and ready to take ownership of their future.
So let’s make sure our work here is worthy of their efforts. Let’s do everything we can to get things in the best shape possible for when they're in charge.
And over the next four years, as long as I have the privilege of serving as your President, we’re going to keep working together to make sure that the promise of America is fully realized for every Native American.
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.) God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
December 21, 2007
American Indian voices not heard at forum
by: David Melmer / Indian Country Today
RAPID CITY, S.D. - The Democratic Brown and Black Forum with the presidential candidates held on Dec. 1 in Des Moines, Iowa, fulfilled its purpose, but American Indians did not have a voice and were mentioned only briefly by one candidate.
Ten people from South Dakota attended the forum and were among a large number of people who were non-white. The crowd consisted mainly of Muslims, Hispanics and blacks, and the general climate of the meeting was said to be positive.
The American Indian delegation from South Dakota comprised the only group of indigenous attendees. None of them was selected to ask questions of the candidates. The only candidate who acknowledged Indians at all was Rep. Dennis Kucinich, according to Mary Ann Bear Heels McCowan, a Lakota political activist.
While American Indians make up only 1 percent of the population, because of their unique involvement with the federal government and its fiduciary responsibility, the expectation is that most candidates should develop an American Indian policy.
The forum was organized around community action, and those community groups brought out a different dialogue from the candidates than the usual mega-issues that affect the entire nation. Overall, the comments made were positive for the entire nation, she said.
''They addressed racial profiling, veterans, family situations and community-based situations,'' McCowan said. Muslim attendees asked the question about racial profiling, which affects all non-white peoples.
Expectations of getting to speak to or ask questions of the candidates were not high, but the group did learn from the experience because they experienced part of the political process and possibly saw the next president.
''The biggest thing if we had an opportunity to ask would be one about national Indian policy; states rights; and third, where are we nationally with Indian affairs?'' McCowan said.
''We want them to know Native American issues and speak to them [the candidates] in a way to Indian country, and we would want to know what they would do to promote trust responsibility for health care,'' said Andrew Iron Shell from the Western South Dakota Native American Organizing Project, who organized the trip.
An important note about the group is that all except Iron Shell were women, elders, health care workers, educators - a group of people that could speak of American Indian life.
The group knew they may not have access, formal or informal, with the candidates because all such access was limited. The candidates had the questions before they appeared on stage, but nothing was asked about Indian country.
What the group expected to hear from the candidates was their policy to guarantee protection of lands, health care and sovereign rights that are guaranteed by treaty. States rights are a real issue because the present administration - which has no Indian policy - has further given rights to states over tribes, a trend that started with the Reagan administration.
''It appears the states are intent on draining what little resources we have,'' McCowan said.
So which candidates do American Indians in the Great Plains talk about most? McCowan moves within her community and is privy to other arenas, and said the candidate most on peoples' minds and lips is Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, followed by New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. Kucinich is mentioned and in the background is John Edwards, who has not expressed any American Indian policy or addressed any of the issues that affect Indian country. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also interests many American Indian voters in the Great Plains.
McCowan said that people talk about Obama because he is a man of color and could understand the plight of others.
''A man of color that knows what it's like growing up, it kind of weighs a bit,'' she said.
Law enforcement issues were brought to the fore
by: David Melmer / Indian Country Today
RAPID CITY, S.D. - The need to upgrade law enforcement on reservations across the country has been an issue for many years, but it took an Amnesty International report to underscore and bring national attention to the problems.
On some Great Plains reservations, with large and growing populations and vast acreages of land to patrol, law enforcement agencies are small, ill-equipped and grossly underfunded, tribal leaders and law enforcement officials claim.
The year 2007 brought most of Indian country's law enforcement problems to a higher level. A number of congressional field hearings collected anecdotal and factual data that lay out some frightening statistics on domestic and sexual violence, drug and alcohol use, the rise of methamphetamine and gang activity - all within jurisdictions that have little authority over non-Indian perpetrators and too few investigators to arrest offenders.
The National Congress of American Indians, at its 64th annual meeting held in November, held workshops to discuss law enforcement. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, created a concept paper that proposes ideas for legislation that will, according to Dorgan's staff, be a high priority for next year's Congress.
Tribal officials claim communication with other agencies is the key to proper law enforcement, and they want to see that effort improved. Many tribal leaders came to the NCAI meeting with similar suggestions: rescind Public Law 280, which gives the states criminal and civil jurisdiction over tribal lands; cross-deputize officers; and start the conversation to repeal the Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that tribal courts do not have criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians, and allow tribes more authority to arrest non-Indian perpetrators on reservations while at the same time allowing tribal courts the authority to prosecute non-Indians.
Law enforcement officials argue that technology and manpower are lacking to the point that agencies cannot offer enough clean evidence that would help federal prosecution. Therefore, many cases never make it to court and criminals are released.
Funding is the first and foremost topic brought up in many areas, and law enforcement is no exception. But to persuade Congress to loosen up the purse strings, data is necessary. Law enforcements claim, however, that collecting the data is difficult due to a lack of both officers and time.
Some officers have to travel hundreds of miles on reservations in the Great Plains to answer an emergency call, and one call can take up three-fourths of one officer's shift. By the time some officers get to a crime scene, oftentimes it is contaminated. U.S. attorneys sometimes decline to prosecute cases because a case is not clean or properly developed. Declination of more than 70 percent of all cases from Indian country is the norm for all U.S. attorneys.
Training is another area that has been brought up in past years; but in 2007, it took on a more central position because training facilities are opening in the Great Plains, which is centrally located to a majority of tribes.
South Dakota has a new police officer training center, which was touted as a convenient location for tribal officers to receive training. A training facility also exists in North Dakota. However, the BIA does not certify any training that is not done at their facility in Artesia, N.M. Because of limited space at Artesia, the two facilities should be used, tribal law enforcement officials argue.
The AI report focused on domestic violence, which is included in Dorgan's concept paper. Women who work with anti-violence organizations have brought up statistics and issues for many years, but the 2007 AI report finally brought the issue into the public arena.
Women's health advocates want the IHS to perform rape testing, allowing both doctors other medical professionals to conduct the tests. Domestic violence training for offices is also needed. State domestic violence coalitions provide such training, but funds often are not available and officers are too few to leave a shift shorthanded.
Statistics related to violence against women are sketchy and most times not accurate, women's health advocates claim. Rape on reservations is oftentimes not reported by the victim, which leaves the statistics that are used short of the real number of incidents. It takes the data to attract the funding.
''It comes down to funding. There is never enough money to succeed, just enough to fail. Indians are an easy mark and there is a drug epidemic and no money for treatment.
''Indian country is severely underfunded for health, education and law enforcement. We can pull ourselves up, but we need help and we all need to work together to solve the problems,'' said Robert Cournoyer, chairman of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, at a field hearing on law enforcement.
Indigenous Nations Treaty helps build alliances
by: Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today
LUMMI NATION, Wash. - A month before the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September, another historic document concerning indigenous peoples came into being.
On Aug. 1, representatives from 11 indigenous nations, including those in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, met on Lummi Indian Nation homelands and signed the United League of Indigenous Nations Treaty.
The first of its kind in terms of its global scale, the treaty is intended to serve as a framework through which indigenous nations will build an international political alliance for mutual support in pursuit of common goals concerning lands, trade, climate change, cultural productions, traditional and human rights.
The treaty was developed by the National Congress of American Indians Special Committee on Indigenous Relationships over the past three years, and clearly presents the nations' perspective on their inherent authority.
''In developing the Treaty, the NCAI Special Committee determined that relationships between indigenous nations are defined by the laws of indigenous nations, not by the laws of former colonial nations,'' according to the United League's Web site (www.indigenousnationstreaty.com).
''Such colonial laws are not regarded as binding on the ability of Indigenous Nations to recognize and affirm their inherent rights of self determination and self governance by entering into nation-to-nation agreements with each other for their mutual interest and benefit,'' the site says.
The treaty also unambiguously spells out the league's goals: ''to secure, recover, and promote, through political, social, cultural and economic unity, the rights of all our peoples, the protection and recovery of our homelands and for the well-being of all our future generations.''
It also asserts the sovereignty and authority of indigenous native nations across time and international political boundaries, and the signatories agree to engage in mutually benefit trade and the protection of indigenous human rights.
''I think it's a great project by our tribal leaders,'' said Alan Parker, who co-chaired the NCAI's Special Committee. Parker, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, is the director of the Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute and a faculty member at The Evergreen State College in Olympia. He is a former director of the National Indian Policy Center and a former chief of counsel and staff director for the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs. He received a Juris Doctorate from the University of California - Los Angeles, and has spent many years practicing law.
During the August meeting at Lummi, approximately 40 indigenous nation representatives signed the treaty, Parker said.
The United League also held a signing ceremony at the NCAI annual convention in November, Parker said.
''There was a special meeting for our group to have an opportunity to inform the greater NCAI membership and there was a good turnout,'' Parker said.
The emergence of the United League treaty meshes nicely with the U.N. declaration, Parker added.
''I think there's an importance coming from both sources. The declaration that the U.N. adopted was the work of years of indigenous leadership developing the idea and pushing it forward. And I think also the timing of interest among our own tribes is such that [the treaty] will gain support on a good basis over the next year or so. I think it's going to take time because it's a very new idea and people have to get comfortable with it.''
It's only within the past decade that this type of global alliance has become possible, he added.
''We all know that in each of these countries, Native people have suffered great wrong and in some cases very strong forms of discrimination and oppression and even outside the countries that we're representing it's even been much more dangers and difficult.''
Is there significance in the fact that indigenous nations in the four countries that rejected the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples have come together to create the United League?
''Isn't that coincidental?'' Parker said, laughing. ''At the very time the U.N. was adopting this very strong statement on the support of indigenous peoples these countries voted no, but at the same time there's room for us to work our goals; and whether at any time in the near future they're going to embrace the United League of Indigenous Nations Treaty, who can say? I just don't feel the door is closed.''
The league's representatives will be taking their message on the road, seeking additional signatories, over the next year. The first stop will be at a meeting on Yakama Nation lands in January, where the group hopes to sign on the 44 affiliated tribes of the Northwest, Parker said.
''We will continue to go around Indian country in the U.S. and carry the word and encourage tribes to sign on. More is better; there's strength in unity,'' he said. ''The same will go on in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Word passes fast and something like this - I think it's going to catch fire.''
2007 victory: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted
by: Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today
NEW YORK - On Sept. 13, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with 143 member states voting for it and 11 abstaining. Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand - four countries with sizable indigenous populations with legitimate claims to large land masses - voted against the adoption.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chair of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, hailed the declaration's passage in prepared comments after the vote.
''The 13th of September 2007 will be remembered as an international human rights day for the Indigenous Peoples of the world, a day that the United Nations and its Member States, together with Indigenous Peoples, reconciled with past painful histories and decided to march into the future on the path of human rights,'' she said.
The declaration is a nonbinding document that formally establishes the individual and collective rights of the world's 370 million indigenous peoples, advocates for the protection and enhancement of their cultural identities and right to self-government, and underlines their right to control the lands and territories they have traditionally owned or used as well as their right to restitution for lands that have been taken from them. The full document is available at www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii.
While the declaration is not legally binding, the hope and expectation is that it will become a convention with the force of international law.
It is also hoped that the moral weight of the document, which is grounded in the ongoing struggles of indigenous peoples and their just cause, will sway nations to embrace its provisions.
However, according to an Amnesty International report titled ''Canada and the International Protection of Human Rights: An Erosion of Leadership?'' after the declaration was adopted ''Canada has gone on to claim - without any basis in international law - that states that voted against the Declaration should be exempt from the standard that it has set.''
The proposition that governments can opt out by simply voting against a declaration ''dramatically undercuts the integrity of the international human rights system. Every setback has wider impacts as well,'' said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty Canada. ''Millions of people around the world living the daily reality of relentless abuses of their human rights need to hear the full force of Canada's voice on the world stage. Canada can and must do better.''
By contrast, www.nativobserver.org reported on Bolivia's adoption of the declaration as national law. Bolivia is the first country in the world to do so.
President Evo Morales addressed the crowds of cheering indigenous Bolivians who had come to celebrate the event.
''From the passage of this declaration,'' Morales said, ''I feel that the indigenous movement has gone from one of resistance to one of power, but not sectarian, personal, individual or regional power; but to create a power that, at its core, is a way of living in a community ... it is the power of resolving problems equally for all, not only in Bolivia but in the entire world.''
December 20, 2007
Freedom! Lakota Sioux Indians Declare Sovereign Nation Status
Threaten Land Liens, Contested Real Estate Over Five State Area in U.S.West Dakota Territory Reverts back to Lakota Control According to U.S., International Law
WASHINGTON, DC - December 20 - Lakota Sioux Indian representatives declared sovereign nation status today in Washington D.C. following Monday's withdrawal from all previously signed treaties with the United States Government. The withdrawal, hand delivered to Daniel Turner, Deputy Director of Public Liaison at the State Department, immediately and irrevocably ends all agreements between the Lakota Sioux Nation of Indians and the United States Government outlined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties at Fort Laramie Wyoming.
"This is an historic day for our Lakota people," declared Russell Means, Itacan of Lakota. "United States colonial rule is at its end!"
"Today is a historic day and our forefathers speak through us. Our Forefathers made the treaties in good faith with the sacred Canupa and with the knowledge of the Great Spirit," shared Garry Rowland from Wounded Knee. "They never honored the treaties, that's the reason we are here today."
The four member Lakota delegation traveled to Washington D.C. culminating years of internal discussion among treaty representatives of the various Lakota communities. Delegation members included well known activist and actor Russell Means, Women of All Red Nations (WARN) founder Phyllis Young, Oglala Lakota Strong Heart Society leader Duane Martin Sr., and Garry Rowland, Leader Chief Big Foot Riders. Means, Rowland, Martin Sr. were all members of the 1973 Wounded Knee takeover.
"In order to stop the continuous taking of our resources – people, land, water and children- we have no choice but to claim our own destiny," said Phyllis Young, a former Indigenous representative to the United Nations and representative from Standing Rock.
Property ownership in the five state area of Lakota now takes center stage. Parts of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana have been illegally homesteaded for years despite knowledge of Lakota as predecessor sovereign [historic owner]. Lakota representatives say if the United States does not enter into immediate diplomatic negotiations, liens will be filed on real estate transactions in the five state region, clouding title over literally thousands of square miles of land and property.
Young added, "The actions of Lakota are not intended to embarrass the United States but to simply save the lives of our people".
Following Monday's withdrawal at the State Department, the four Lakota Itacan representatives have been meeting with foreign embassy officials in order to hasten their official return to the Family of Nations.
Lakota's efforts are gaining traction as Bolivia, home to Indigenous President Evo Morales, shared they are "very, very interested in the Lakota case" while Venezuela received the Lakota delegation with "respect and solidarity."
"Our meetings have been fruitful and we hope to work with these countries for better relations," explained Garry Rowland. "As a nation, we have equal status within the national community."
Education, energy and justice now take top priority in emerging Lakota. "Cultural immersion education is crucial as a next step to protect our language, culture and sovereignty," said Means. "Energy independence using solar, wind, geothermal, and sugar beets enables Lakota to protect our freedom and provide electricity and heating to our people."
The Lakota reservations are among the most impoverished areas in North America, a shameful legacy of broken treaties and apartheid policies. Lakota has the highest death rate in the United States and Lakota men have the lowest life expectancy of any nation on earth, excluding AIDS, at approximately 44 years. Lakota infant mortality rate is five times the United States average and teen suicide rates 150% more than national average. 97% of Lakota people live below the poverty line and unemployment hovers near 85%.
"After 150 years of colonial enforcement, when you back people into a corner there is only one alternative," emphasized Duane Martin Sr. "The only alternative is to bring freedom into its existence by taking it back to the love of freedom, to our lifeway."
We are the freedom loving Lakota from the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana who have traveled to Washington DC to withdraw from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country. We are alerting the Family of Nations we have now reassumed our freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law. For more information, please visit our new website at www.lakotafreedom.com.
Lakota group pushes for new nation
By Faith Bremner
Argus Leader Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - A group of "freedom-loving" Lakota activists announced a plan Wednesday for their people to withdraw from treaties their forefathers signed with the U.S. government.
Headed by leaders of the American Indian Movement, including activist, actor and Porcupine resident Russell Means, the group dropped in on the State Department and the embassies of Bolivia, Venezuela, Chile and South Africa this week seeking recognition for their effort to form a free and independent Lakota nation. The group plans to visit more embassies in the coming months.
The new nation is needed because Indians have been "dismissed" by the United States and are tired of living under a colonial apartheid system, Means said during a news conference held at Plymouth Congregational Church in northeast Washington. He was accompanied by a bodyguard and three other Lakota activists - Gary Rowland, Duane Martin and Phyllis Young, all of South Dakota.
"I want to emphasize, we do not represent the collaborators, the Vichy Indians and those tribal governments set up by the United States of America to ensure our poverty, to ensure the theft of our land and resources," Means said, comparing elected tribal governments to Nazi collaborators in France during World War II.
Rodney Bordeaux, chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said his community has no desire to join the breakaway nation. Means and his group, which call themselves the Lakota Freedom Delegation, have never officially pitched their views to the Rosebud community, Bordeaux said.
"Our position on that is we need to uphold the treaties, and we're constantly reminding Congress of that message," Bordeaux said. "We're pushing to maintain and to keep the treaties there because they're the basis of our relationship with the federal government."
Members of the new nation would not pay any taxes, and leaders would be informally chosen by community elders, Means said. Non-Indians could continue to live in the new nation's territory, which would consist of the western parts of North and South Dakota and Nebraska and eastern parts of Wyoming and Montana. The new government would issue its own passports and drivers licenses, Means said.
"Our withdrawal (from the treaties) is fully thought out," Means said, referring to peace treaties the Lakota people signed with the government in 1851 and 1868. "We were mandated by our elders in 1974 to do two things. First, to establish relationships with the international community... and the second mandate, of course, was to reestablish our independence."
Bolivian Ambassador Gustavo Guzman, who attended the press conference out of solidarity, said he takes the Lakotas' declaration of independence seriously.
"We are here because the demands of indigenous people of America are our demands," Guzman said. "We have sent all the documents they presented to the embassy to our ministry of foreign affairs in Bolivia and they'll analyze everything."
Descendants of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse break away from USA
The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States, leaders said Wednesday.
"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us," long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means told a handful of reporters and a delegation from the Bolivian embassy, gathered in a church in a run-down neighborhood of Washington for a news conference.
A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department on Monday, announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States, some of them more than 150 years old.
They also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and will continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months, they told the news conference.
Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.
The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free -- provided residents renounce their US citizenship, Means said.
The treaties signed with the United States are merely "worthless words on worthless paper," the Lakota freedom activists say on their website.
The treaties have been "repeatedly violated in order to steal our culture, our land and our ability to maintain our way of life," the reborn freedom movement says.
Withdrawing from the treaties was entirely legal, Means said.
"This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution," which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land, he said.
"It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention and put into effect by the US and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent," said Means.
The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence -- an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England.
Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because "it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row," Means said.
One duck moved into place in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples -- despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.
"We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children," Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference.
The US "annexation" of native American land has resulted in once proud tribes such as the Lakota becoming mere "facsimiles of white people," said Means.
Oppression at the hands of the US government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies -- less than 44 years -- in the world.
Lakota teen suicides are 150 percent above the norm for the United States; infant mortality is five times higher than the US average; and unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement's website.
"Our people want to live, not just survive or crawl and be mascots," said Young.
"We are not trying to embarrass the United States. We are here to continue the struggle for our children and grandchildren," she said, predicting that the battle would not be won in her lifetime.
December 14, 2007
Retired Lakota soldier honored at U.S. Army Women's Museum
by: Bobbie Whitehead / Indian Country Today
FORT LEE, Va. - As a soldier in Iraq, Theresa Blue Bird found the spiritual and mental strength she needed to survive the harsh conditions there.
Then, assisting in running a U.S. Army Departure Air Control group in Iraq, Blue Bird helped many of her Army brothers and sisters on their final journey to the United States.
As the soldiers left, Blue Bird burned sage and prayed for them, she said.
''Some of the men and women were mentally falling apart, just being there in Iraq,'' Blue Bird said. ''After I started burning sage and praying, I truly felt I had so much spiritual and mental strength hardly nothing bothered me.''
A retired jumpmaster and staff sergeant with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, the 42-year-old was honored recently in an exhibit in the U.S. Army Women's Museum at Fort Lee during American Indian Heritage Month. Blue Bird's exhibit remained open until Dec. 15 and will likely become part of a permanent exhibit at the museum once it expands, said Francoise Bonnell, museum education curator.
Still in Iraq, though unable to state her location, Blue Bird retired from the Army three years ago after 20 years of service and works for a contractor now.
As a soldier, Blue Bird fought in the Iraq war, participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom at Al Taquddum, Iraq, with the Task Force All American.
To honor Blue Bird for her service in the war, members of her Oglala Sioux Tribe from the Pine Ridge Reservation presented her with a warrior blanket in 2004 - an honor typically given to male members of the tribe.
''I didn't expect it, and I was standing up there and was listening to elders talking, and one elder introduced me to some senators,'' Blue Bird said.
The senators thanked Blue Bird for her services, and then the Oglala leaders presented her with the blanket, she said.
That warrior blanket, featuring a white buffalo calf on it, stretches across a mannequin of Blue Bird at the Army Women's Museum's exhibit.
''I cried when I received the blanket because I had many memories coming to me about when I grew up,'' said Blue Bird, whose father is a Korean War veteran. ''It was very, very honorable to receive it. When they pulled it out, I was floored.''
Blue Bird said her tribe presented her with the blanket because she held the tribe's name in honor. The white buffalo calf, she said, is honored by her tribe.
''When I was growing up, I always heard stories about the calf,'' Blue Bird said. ''To me, I take it as good news to the people. Take it and do wise by it. It's here for a reason.''
For the U.S. Army Women's Museum, part of creating the exhibit was preparing a mannequin that wears Blue Bird's uniform she wore in Iraq as well as using the mannequin to display her warrior blanket. Another panel in the exhibit provided specific information about Blue Bird, the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation and the symbolism of the white buffalo.
Bonnell said the museum wants Blue Bird's story and that of other American Indian Army women to be part of a permanent exhibit once the museum is expanded.
''Our desire was to capture Theresa Blue Bird's story and to present to the public a particular event in her life that was extraordinary,'' Bonnell said. ''I am very excited about meeting Theresa and learning more about her through our oral history program.''
From an educational perspective, Bonnell said the museum needs to have the materials in the archives so it can share the history of the American Indians to children, school groups and other visitors.
''What stands out most is the acknowledgment by her people for her service in the Army and by other veterans from her tribe,'' Bonnell said. ''It seems to be a special story because it touched her so much.''
As a veteran, Bonnell said she was proud to display Blue Bird's story.
Though still in Iraq, Blue Bird plans to return to South Dakota to live in the Black Hills.
''The training in the Army did so much to me for all these years that I would need to have help to reintegrate with my tribe,'' Blue Bird said. ''I miss it so much; I really do.''
A graduate of the Marty Indian High School in South Dakota, Blue Bird also attended college through the Upward Bound Program at the University of South Dakota and attended college at the Fayetteville Technical College in Fayetteville, N.C.
''I lived most of my life on the Oglala Sioux Reservation until I entered the United States Army when I turned 18,'' Blue Bird said. ''Some of the hard ways of growing up on the reservation helped me in the Army.''
In her small town of Allen, S.D., Blue Bird said she watched her people hitchhike to another town just to be able to buy the basics needed to survive; and she cried for her family when she was taken away to a Catholic boarding school from grades seven through 12.
Blue Bird, the daughter of Lenora Lamont-Blue Bird and George Blue Bird Sr., has three children, two daughters in North Carolina and a son in Georgia.
Through Blue Bird's Army experiences and current work in Iraq, she advises other American Indians to believe in themselves and know that there is a higher being out there.
Having retired from the Army, she would like other American Indian women to see the military as an opportunity to learn new skills that they can use to help their tribes.
''Don't be afraid, and always know you will be able to do it because of your cultural background,'' Blue Bird said. ''It was rewarding, challenging and fun.''
The U.S. Army Women's Museum is interested in collecting information and artifacts on Native women who served in the Army, but who may not think their stories are significant. To contact Bonnell or the museum, call (804) 734-4184.
December 7, 2007
Pine Ridge councilman resigns
News From Indian Country - Drugs
Rapid City, South Dakota (AP) 12-07
An Oglala Sioux tribal councilman who faces federal drug charges in New Mexico has resigned.
Authorities said Don Garnier was a passenger in a car that was stopped Sept. 19 on Interstate 25 and found to have about 20 pounds of marijuana in the trunk.
Garnier, 38, said he didn’t know about the marijuana. He said he was at a meeting in New Mexico and picked the wrong car to catch a ride back to South Dakota.
In response to Garnier’s arrest, the tribal council passed a measure that requires council members to submit hair follicles for drug testing. However, the results will not be made public, and council members who fail the drug tests will not be forced to resign.
Scientists protest tribal control over ancient remains
By Matthew Daly -- Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - Scientists hoping to study the ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man are protesting efforts on two fronts that they say could block them from examining one of the oldest and most complete skeletons ever found in North America.
For the third time in four years, the scientists oppose a Senate bill that would allow federally recognized tribes to claim ancient remains even if they can't prove a link to a current tribe.
They also are contesting draft regulations issued by the Bush administration on disposing culturally unaffiliated remains.
Both measures could end up with the same result, scientists say: preventing an improved understanding of North American history and the role of the continent's first inhabitants.
If adopted, the proposed changes could ''result in a world heritage disaster of unprecedented proportions'' and ''rob our descendants of the unique insights concerning the shared heritage of all people that physical anthropological studies of culturally unidentifiable human remains can provide,'' the American Association of Physical Anthropologists said in a statement.
Supporters call such concerns overblown. They say the changes are intended to clarify the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, to ensure that federally recognized tribes can safeguard the graves of their ancestors.
Neither the Senate bill nor the draft regulations would affect the 9,300-year-old bones known as Kennewick Man, they said. The skeleton was discovered in 1996 along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash., and has been the focus of a bitter fight ever since.
A federal appeals court ruled in 2004 that scientists can study the ancient bones, and teams of anthropologists and other analysts have begun poring over more than 300 bones and bone fragments at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, where the remains are housed.
A spokesman for Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said the Senate bill would clarify what process should be followed for future discoveries of ancient remains.
''The court ruling said it's not clear'' what should happen, ''so Congress wants to clarify what its intent was - and its intent is that tribes that believe they have a connection [to ancient remains] either through descent or cultural affiliation, have an opportunity to make that case,'' said Barry Pyatt, a Dorgan spokesman.
The Bush administration opposes the Senate bill, which mirrors legislation proposed in 2004 and 2005. In testimony before the Indian Affairs Committee in 2005, Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant Interior secretary, called the proposed change too broad and said it would loosen the Indian graves law to include remains that might not be connected to a tribe.
''We believe that NAGPRA should protect the sensibilities of currently existing tribes, cultures and people while balancing the need to learn about past cultures and customs,'' Hoffman said. In cases where remains are not significantly related to any existing tribe, people or culture, they should be available for appropriate scientific analysis, he said.
The administration did not testify on the current Senate bill - which was approved by the Indian Affairs Committee on a voice vote - but its views have not changed since 2005, said Sherry Hutt, manager of the Interior Department's NAGPRA program.
''The position that the secretary took at that time ... was that science is a good thing, and NAGPRA is not administered to be a death knell to science. That remains our view,'' she said.
But scientists said the Sept. 27 committee vote - coupled with the Oct. 16 publication of draft rules on disposition of culturally unidentifiable remains - shows there is a deliberate effort to quietly change the NAGPRA law. The Senate bill was approved without a public hearing two days after it was formally proposed.
The draft regulations and the Senate bill assume that any remains found belong to federally recognized tribes, said Cleone Hawkinson, a founding member of the Portland, Ore.-based Friends of America's Past.
''By changing the definition to include everything found as Native American, NAGPRA automatically applies to everything, before any scientific study. Then tribes can decide if they want to allow study,'' Hawkinson said.
Hutt disputed that, saying the proposed regulations were not related to the Senate bill and in any case would not affect Kennewick Man. The regulations have been under development since 2001, Hutt said, calling any relationship between the draft rules and the Senate bill coincidental.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., who represents the area where the bones were found, has introduced separate legislation to block the Senate measure.
''The quiet Senate effort to extinguish scientific research has to be challenged, and my bill makes it absolutely clear that ancient remains should be studied,'' said Hastings, whose bill would clarify the Indian graves law to specify that it was not meant to apply to remains as old as Kennewick Man.
Rob Smith, a Seattle lawyer who represented a group of Northwest tribes in the Kennewick Man case, said the Senate bill would not ''allow Indian tribes to make wild claims to any newly discovered remains,'' as opponents contend. Tribes still would have to prove a cultural connection with the remains.
''The amendment simply makes it easier for NAGPRA to apply in the first place,'' he said.
24 May 2000
Bureau of Indian Affairs Getting out of Tribal Recognition Business
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a surprise announcement, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs said Wednesday the agency no longer wants to be the entity that grants federal recognition to Indian tribes.
"I have reluctantly reached the conclusion that I will not be successful in reforming this program. The more contentious and nasty things become, the less we feel we are able to do it," Kevin Gover told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
Federal recognition makes tribes eligible for several federal assistance programs and classifies them as sovereign nations. More than 550 tribes are federally recognized and about 200 cases are pending.
Many more tribes have sought recognition since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that tribes may open casinos on their land.
The BIA requires reams of historical documentation from tribes, and sometimes takes as long as 12 years to make a decision on a request for recognition. Critics pressing for change say that's too long.
The committee is considering legislation by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R.-Colo., that would create a three-person commission appointed by the president to decide which tribes are recognized.
Supporters say such a move would streamline the process.
"I'm pleased and surprised, very frankly," Campbell said of Gover's announcement. "With the administration's support, we might be able to get something passed this session."
Gover said he would support legislation removing recognition responsibility from the BIA, though not necessarily Campbell's bill.
The recognition issue is particularly pressing to Chief Richard Velky whose Kent, Conn.-based Schaghticoke tribal nation filed a petition in 1994 and has been told it could be six more years before it's acted on.
The delay has impeded the 300-member tribe's land claims, including one seeking the return of 43 acres the National Park Service seized for the Appalachian Trail.
"For us, federal recognition is essential to our ability to safeguard what remains of our tribal holdings and to secure our survival into the future," Velky told the committee.
The bill is S.B. 611.
23 May 2000
The White House: Office of the Press Secretary Remarks by the President at Dscc Dinner
- THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Senator Durbin, thank you for those wonderful remarks and for your friendship. I want to begin by joining everyone else in thanking Fred and Ken for opening their beautiful home. I don't know what to make of Torricelli's remark about the concrete -- (laughter) -- since I'm the only guy here that's not running for anything, I'm probably the only person to get away with cracking a joke about it, but I'm going to let it go, anyway. (Laughter.)
I will say this, Senator Torricelli. In your shameless pander to Mayor Daley -- (laughter and applause) -- referring to Chicago as the greatest city in America, I took the precaution of sending a note to the people who tape all my remarks to make sure we delete that so it can't be played in Newark, the next time you run for election. (Laughter.) And I might say, I got the Mayor to approve of that before I did it. (Laughter.)
Let me say to all of you, I am so proud to be here with these members of our Senate caucus and with our candidate. I want to thank all the host committee, not just Fred and Ken, but Joe and Yvonne, Lou and Betty. And I thank you, Joe Carey, (phonetic) for the work you do for our party every day. I could talk all night long just about the people who have been introduced tonight.
Tom Daschle is an extraordinary leader and one of the best people I think I've ever known. I'll never forget going to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota with him. The night before, we went to visit Mt. Rushmore and I told him, I said, Tom, you win six Senate seats and we'll put your face up there, too. (Laughter and applause.)
Senator Torricelli has really been -- you can tell just from the way he spoke up here tonight that he's so laid back and passive, it's amazing -- (laughter.) I can't thank him enough for pushing all this.
I thank my good friend, Carl Levin, who's here from Michigan -- one of the states where I think we'll win a Senate seat and he'll have a genuine partner after this election. And Senator Bayh, who, like me, was a governor and we served together many years. I was once the youngest governor in America -- then he got elected. (Laughter.) I've spent the last 10 years overcoming my resentment -- (laughter) -- and I've about got it done.
And my friend, Tom Harkin. You know, it's funny to think, sometimes when people are in elections together, as we were in 1992, you never know how it comes out. And I really -- all my life I will think one of the best things about my campaign in 1992 was that I had the honor of running with Tom Harkin. He is a magnificent human being and I love him like a brother. And he has been kind and generous and steadfast to me from the moment that election was over and I will never forget it. And I thank you, sir. (Applause.)
I want to thank Speaker Madigan for helping all these people -- what most state governments think of the interior branch of our national system of government. And I, too, want to thank Mayor Daley for his friendship and support -- for letting me borrow his brother to be Commerce Secretary. (Laughter.)
And I want to thank Tom Carper for running for the Senate. Tom Carper and I have been friends for many years. When I was a governor and he was in the House, we worked on the first round of serious welfare reform, years and years ago -- 12 years ago now. And I can tell you -- Senator Bayh, who also served with him, would echo this -- there is not a more respected governor in the United States than Tom Carper. He has a fabulous record in education and a terrific record in all things related to family policy.
One of the things I sought to do in '92 was to prove that the Democratic Party was both pro-work and pro-family. And when I talk about what we've tried to achieve around the country, Governor Carper is Exhibit A. And he's generally thought to be the most likely democratic pick up in the entire United States, not because he has a weak opponent -- his opponent is the distinguished Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee -- but because he is such a good man and such a great leader.
and I thank you for running. We need you and I'm going to be glad when you get there. (Applause.)
I was making a list here -- to give you some feel for this. We pick up six House seats, we win the House. And because there are more House members, it's generally considered easier to do than to pick up six Senate seats. But I think it's quite likely. There are eight or nine states in which we have a legitimate chance of winning a Senate seat. I believe there are probably only two states in which the Republicans -- given what I think will be a highly competitive election for President -- will have a chance to win. And if I were a betting person, I would bet that they would not pick up more than one. So this is a realistic possibility.
You heard them talking about the stakes, and they couldn't be clearer -- whether it comes to confirming judges or ratifying foreign policy decisions. I'll just give you one example. Normally, in national elections, foreign policy doesn't play such a big role if both candidates for President, for example, cross some threshold of acceptability.
But there is -- I'm grateful, for example, that both the Vice President and Governor Bush supported my position on China and supported the position of the Senate Democrats on continuing our mission in Kosovo.
But there is an issue in which the majority of Senate Republicans and the presidential nominee apparently are in agreement that I think has such enormous consequences for the American people that I hope it will be hotly debated and thoroughly debated in this election. And that is whether we should continue our historic commitment to reducing the nuclear threat.
When the Senate voted to reject the comprehensive test ban treaty, it sent a shock wave through the world. No one could believe that America, which had consistently led the way, through Republican and Democrat administrations alike, was walking away from a test ban treaty which I was the first head of state in the world to sign. And the conventional quick analysis was, well, this is all just politics, you know, it's election year -- or it was almost election year. They just wanted to kind of pop Bill Clinton.
If you talk to these senators here, they will tell you a different story. They do not believe in the comprehensive test ban treaty. And apparently, that is going to be the position of their nominee and their platform. And I can just tell you that this is a big deal. I have spent a lot of time in the last seven and a half years trying to get an indefinite extension of the treaty which commits countries that sign it not to proliferate nuclear weapons or materials which can be used to make nuclear weapons; trying to get the chemical weapons convention ratified; trying to strengthen the biological weapons convention.
I believe that in the years ahead, the threat of a nuclear war which hung over us in the Cold War between Russia and the United States will probably continue to abate, unless something really dumb is done.
But there will be more challenges from other countries who think, well, we need nuclear weapons to prove we are somebody, or because there is somebody we feel threatened by and they're trying to develop it.
And I have worked with this enough now to know that unless you have very, very sophisticated systems, the chance of an accidental launch is not insignificant. And the chance that conflicts between countries will spin out of control is always there. One of the reasons I went to India and Pakistan was to try to do whatever I could to minimize the chances that they would allow their conflict to escalate to the point when somebody, on impulse or fear, might launch a nuclear weapon. So this is a huge issue.
And I guess one of the things -- people always ask me, what have you learned as President? One of the things I've learned out of many is that the Senate matters even more than I thought it did when I showed up in Washington. It really matters, every single vote. And one of the things that I hope will happen this year -- if you'll forgive me, I won't give you a whoop-de-do speech tonight, because I know I'm preaching to the saved, as we say at home. (Laughter.) But one of the things that I hope will happen this year is that we will actually have an honest debate on the future of America, and that we'll ask the right question. And I think the right question is, what are we going to do with this magic moment of prosperity and improvement in our social condition? And, at least in this moment, the absence of a searing domestic crisis or external threat?
And I believe the character of a nation and the wisdom and judgment of a nation can be tested just as much at a time like this as in adversity. You know, if we all had our backs against the wall we'd know what to do. Now we have to decide. And we have the option not to decide and just drift. It would be a terrible mistake. So I hope you will think about that.
And I would just like to just very briefly say a couple of things about it. When I was running for President in 1992, and beginning in '91, I knew I had to make a good showing in Illinois because Illinois and Michigan were the first big elections after Super Tuesday. Back then, Super Tuesday was a southern deal and I figured I'd do pretty well. And it was, like, not a fair fight and so I did pretty well, because I was the only guy from my part of the country running. And I'd been hanging around down there a long time. (Laughter.)
So I came to Illinois and I came to Chicago, which is my wife's hometown. And I sought out a lot of friends I had here -- mostly in the African American community who were born in Arkansas -- there were more here than anybody knew. I might have gotten the nomination uncontested if anybody knew how many African Americans in Illinois were born in Arkansas. And a lot of you helped me. So I feel a special gratitude to you.
And I remember when President Bush referred to me as the governor of a small southern state. You know, I was so naive, I thought it was a compliment. (Laughter.) And I still do.
But, to be fair, we knew what the deal was then. The country was in trouble. The economy was down, the deficit was exploding, we quadrupled the debt in 12 years. As the Vice President used to say on the campaign trail, everything that should be down was up, everything that should be up was down. And the people took a chance on me because they knew we had to do something and I seemed like I had thought about it. And I had.
Now, the test this year is more difficult, because we have to decide what to do with our prosperity. And there's not a person in this room tonight over 30 years of age that hasn't made at least one mistake in your life -- not because things were going so badly, but because things were going well in your life and you didn't think you had to concentrate. There is not a person here that can't recall at least some personal or business error you made at some point in your life, large or small, because you thought there were no consequences to the moment.
Now, I'm not running for anything, but I can tell you something: there is a big consequence to this moment. Because we have not had a chance like this to build a future of our dreams for our kids in a long time. And I'd like to see this election run on the premise that we're not going to try to tear everybody down; that both the candidates for President are honorable and mean what they say. But they have to mean everything they say -- you've got to take what you said in the primary and what you said in the -- (laughter.) But they mean what they say.
And if you look at it, it's pretty clear what the choices are.
There is a huge difference in economic policy, which the Senate will have to vote on. We favor -- starting with our nominee, the Vice President, all the way down the line -- an economic program that has a tax cut for the American people targeted to what we need, but one that we can afford and still pay the debt down and have enough money to invest in children and education and science and technology and the things we need to be doing as a country.
And I think that's important, because paying the debt down is one reason that interest rates and inflation haven't exploded as we have the longest economic expansion in history. And I think it's progressive social policy to keep getting this country out of debt because it keeps interest rates lower and spreads economic benefits.
They favor a tax cut that will exceed a trillion dollars over 10 years. And if you put that with their Social Security proposal, which would cost another $800 billion, and their defense proposals, which are about, I don't know, probably $200 billion more than ours, it means the country will go back into debt. And you have to assume -- again, we don't have to criticize people, just assume everybody is honorable and they intend to do what they say.
So you have to decide whether you would like to go back to a version of the economic policy that existed before I took office, or whether you would like to continue to change, but to build on what has produced the prosperity the last eight years. This is a huge decision.
And no amount of papering it over and talking about it can obscure the fact that every time an American votes for Congress, for Senate or for President, that is one of the decisions that that voter is making. And you need to talk about that.
We're making decisions about what to do with the aging of America.
And, basically, how to deal with Medicare and Social Security when all the baby boomers retire and there are only two people working for every one person drawing funds out of those programs. We believe that we can make Medicare more competitive, but we're not willing to bankrupt the hospitals and the other providers, and we think there ought to be a prescription drug benefit for seniors and that every senior that needs it ought to be able to buy it. That's what we believe.
They believe that we should cut the benefit off at 150 percent of poverty. Now, the problem with doing that is that half the seniors that need it make more money than that. And if you're living on $15,000 a year -- which is more than 150 percent of poverty -- and you get $300, $400, $500 drug bills a month to stay alive, pretty soon you've got to decide whether you want to eat or have your drugs. So there's a difference there.
On Social Security, it would take me all night long to go through the differences; but let me tell you, I've spent years studying this.
There is a problem there. The system -- if we don't do anything, the system will run out of money in about 37 years. And it will start costing us more before that, in terms of foregone opportunities. And that's in spite of the fact that ever since 1983 we've been collecting more in Social Security than we're paying out.
Now, they believe the system could be partially privatized because the markets out-perform government bonds, and give everybody back 2 percent of their payroll to invest if they're under a certain age, guarantee everybody else the benefits in the conventional system.
Sounds reasonable. They say, well, we want to get higher rates of return and we want to let ordinary people, including poor people paying Social Security, have a chance to create wealth. I think that's important. Those objectives are worthy.
Here's the problem. If you do that, the system is going to run out of money in 2037 anyway; if you start taking out more money right now, you have to put in $800 million, at least, over the next 10 years to keep it from going broke just to pay the people you promised to pay.
And if you put that with a $1.3 trillion tax cut, you're broke again, the government is broke again, we're back in trouble again.
What we believe is -- at least I think most of these senators do, and I know what the Vice President believes is, since the Social Security surplus that's been coming in since '83, that you've paid in your taxes, is responsible for a lot of our decline in the debt, we ought to take that portion of our declining interest rate requirements caused by your Social Security taxes and put the savings into the trust fund. That will take it out to 2057, beyond the life of the baby boom generation.
Then I believe that there are ways, without having the government interfere with the market, to get the benefits of the markets for the trust fund. And what we favor -- it's much cheaper than their costs -- is letting the government, or having the government help lower income people have an additional IRA -- or I call it a USA savings account -- to invest however they want, to get into the market; but if they lose the money they'll still have the Social Security.
Now, you have to decide. The American people have to decide. This is a worthy debate, and it ought to be held. If you look at education, everybody says they're for education now. We think we ought to be modernizing school facilities all over America, like Mayor Daley is here in Chicago. We think we ought to have a no social promotion policy, and that every kid who needs to get pre-school should get it; and every child who needs to be in an after-school program should have it; and we ought to have a strategy for turning around or shutting down failing schools, and that's what we ought to fund.
They say they're for all that, but we shouldn't really require anybody to do it when we give them federal money. That's like me trying to be America's principal. You have to decide whether you think we're right or they're right. All I know is -- I'll tell you this one little story.
In 1996, I got a law through Congress saying that every state had to identify its failing schools and develop a strategy for turning them around. Kentucky adopted the most aggressive program to do it. I went to one of those schools in Owensboro, Kentucky two weeks ago.
Two-thirds of the kids were on free or reduced lunches. Here is what has happened since '96 -- and, I might say, they also got some of the teachers the Democrats fought for to make smaller classes.
In '96, there were 12 percent of the kids reading at or above grade level; today, 57 percent are. There were 5 percent of the kids doing math at or above grade level; today, 70 percent are. There were 0 percent of the kids doing science at or above grade level; today, 64 percent are. That grade school ranked 18th in the entire state of Kentucky with two-thirds of the kids on free or reduced lunches and it was an absolute failure four years ago. Ten of the 20 schools in the state of Kentucky that are highest rated have half or more of their kids eligible for free or reduced lunches. Race, income and region are not destiny if you have high standards in education. That's what we believe. Our position works. So you have to decide which one you agree with.
I think we ought to have HMO reform on patients' bill of rights. I saw what the Illinois Supreme Court did the other day. I don't think we ought to have to wait for that. I think that people ought to have a right to see a specialist if they need it. They ought to have a right to go to the nearest emergency room. And I've been a supporter of managed care and I remain a supporter of managed care. But I think we ought to pass a patients' bill of rights, and they don't.
I think we ought to raise the minimum wage, and they don't. And does our crowd here. And I think we ought to do more things to spread the benefits of this economic revolution of ours to people in places that have been left behind. And we may or may not get a bipartisan agreement on that.
But these are big issues. I could go through a lot more. I'll just mention one or two more. I think that -- if you ask me what one thing I wanted for America is, if I tonight got a vision from the good Lord and I got a message that I had to leave the Earth tomorrow morning and that I could not finish my term, but I could have one wish -- not like a genie with three, just one -- I would wish for everything to be done in this country that would heal all the divides of race, of religion, sexual orientation.
That's why we're for hate crimes legislation, why we're for employment and nondiscrimination legislation. And they're against it.
And I think that's really important.
You know, this is a smart country. Look at all you folks. Most of you do well, unless somebody puts you in jail or locks you in a closet.
This is a great country. And if we can figure out a way to celebrate our diversity and reaffirm our common humanity as even more important, we're going to do fine. So this is a big difference; these are just a few things.
On the environment, they think I did the wrong thing to set aside 43 million acres, roadless acres in the national forest. The Audubon Society says it's maybe the most conservation move in 50 years. I think if they have the White House and the Congress, they'll reverse it next year, early next year. One of you mentioned it to me when you were going through the line tonight. You ask every senator here -- don't take my word for this -- we have fought for cleaner air, cleaner water, more land set aside; we have proved you can grow the economy and improve the environment. And if they have the government, they will reverse a lot of our environmental gains. And I think this is important to point out.
So if people ask you tomorrow why you showed up here tonight -- and most of you have never met Tom Carper before -- tell them you understand this: this is an election about what we're going to do with this great and good moment, and you're determined to build a future of your dreams for your child and for everybody's children.
The last thing I'd like to say is, I think it's very important that we win the White House and I think we will. But I think you, who have come here, there are some things that even you need to be reminded of about Vice President Gore. First of all, I am something of an amateur historian of the presidency. And I've spent a lot of time since I've been President reading books not only about all the presidents that we all are interested in, but some you probably don't know much about, to try to get a full, rich picture of the history of America.
And I'm interested in the institution of the Vice Presidency. In the 19th century nobody paid any attention to it, in spite of the fact that one of our presidents, William Henry Harrison, died a month after he took office; Abraham Lincoln was assassinated; Benjamin Harrison was shot and died after nine months of poor medical care. And still nobody paid any attention. If you were to come visit me in the residence of the White House and I took you to my office, you'd see that I work on Ulysses Grant's Cabinet table. And there are eight drawers in this table -- one for the President, one for the seven Cabinet members; no drawer for the Vice President. Nobody paid any attention to it.
William McKinley got assassinated, he was shot. And we were just lucky that Theodore Roosevelt was a great President. Warren Harding had a stroke. Calvin Coolidge worked out okay. (Laughter.) Not great, but okay. (Laughter.) But it didn't have anything to do with somebody thinking about whether he should be President.
And Franklin Roosevelt, whom I think along with Lincoln were our two greatest Presidents, I admire him more than anything -- but we're just lucky Harry Truman was a very great President. He did not know about the atomic bomb when he became President.
Now, what's all this got to do with this? President Eisenhower and President Kennedy took it more seriously and gave more to Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson to do, and they had more responsibility than their predecessors. Then when Jimmy Carter appointed Walter Mondale he notched it up big time. And Vice President Mondale had lunch with the President every week, had defined responsibilities, could come to any meeting. And Ronald Reagan, to give credit where credit is due, did the same thing for George Bush and made him an important figure.
So if you look at history, you've got -- everybody else, here's Johnson and Nixon, here's Mondale and Bush, and then here's Al Gore.
He's probably the only person in the history of America who has had a clearly discernable impact on the welfare of the country as Vice President. He not only cast the decisive vote on a number of occasions -- from breaking the tie on the budget bill, which started all this stuff in '93, to the issue for sensible gun control just a few weeks ago -- he has been our leader in technology policy; in trying to hook up every classroom in the country to computers, in making sure that we had an e-rate so poor schools could afford to do it; he's run the empowerment zone program, which has brought thousands of jobs into poor neighborhoods.
He ran our partnership with Detroit to try to develop high mileage vehicles, and it won't be long until you'll be able to buy a car that will get 80 miles a gallon; and a couple years after that, you'll be able to buy one made with bio-fuel, where the conversion ratio is a gallon of gasoline to make eight gallons of that and then you'll be getting 500 miles to the gallon and the world will be different. And he did that. That's what he did.
He ran our reinventing government program that has given us the smallest government in 40 years. And I heard all this talk about tough decisions. He supported me on the budget, on Bosnia, on Kosovo, on Haiti, on giving aid to Mexico when the people were 81-15 against it, on taking on the gun lobby and the tobacco lobby for the first time that any White House has consistently done that. And he was an ardent supporter of our effort to end discrimination against gays and lesbians early. So he has taken tough decisions.
I want you to know this because this campaign is going to have a lot of twists and turns, there will be ups and downs. But he should be the President of the United States, nobody has ever done this -- (applause.)
But I will say this. He'll have a lot harder job unless you help us elect six senators and at least six House members. As I said, I could tell you a story about every one of these senators who's here, and our candidate, that would make you feel more strongly. One of things I've learned as President is, I always knew the Senate was important; I admired the whole story of all the great senators in our history and the great creators. But it's even more important than I dreamed it was when I became President.
So the investment you've made tonight is a worthy investment. And I just hope when you leave here, some of what I have said has made an impression so that you will take every single, solitary opportunity you have between now and November to tell people why you came tonight, why you stand where you stand and why this election is so important to our future.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
15 May 2000
Film Producer Jon Kilik Signs First Look Agreement with Overseas Filmgroup/First Look Pictures
CANNES, France--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)--May 15, 2000--Worldwide independent film distributor Overseas Filmgroup, Inc. (OTC BB: OSFG, http:\\www.ofg.com) announced today at the Cannes International Film Festival that esteemed feature film producer Jon Kilik and his New York-based Grandview Pictures production company have signed a two-year "first-look" agreement with the Company. Pursuant to the agreement, OSFG will secure financing and will handle domestic and/or international distribution for many of Mr. Kilik's upcoming productions.
Kilik is a veteran of the burgeoning New York independent film community. His long list of credits includes, DEAD MAN WALKING directed by Tim Robbins, PLEASANTVILLE directed by Gary Ross, A BRONX TALE directed by Robert DeNiro and ten films with Spike Lee, including DO THE RIGHT THING, MALCOLM X and the upcoming BAMBOOZLED.
This significant development follows Overseas Filmgroup's May 5th announcement that it is securing $47 million in new capital, including a $17 million equity infusion and a commitment from Chase Securities, Inc. to arrange and syndicate a $30 million five-year, secured revolving credit facility.
Christopher Cooney, OSFG's newly appointed Co-Chairman and CEO (pending the closing of his firm's $17 million equity investment in the Company), commented, "Jon is very highly regarded for the quality of his films as well as his strong talent relationships. He brings a passion to his work, often taking on projects that have social and/or historical significance. Jon is also very interested in working with writer/directors, providing them with the unusual opportunity of maintaining creative control over their ideas from inception to the finished film. Having known Jon for 18 years as fellow participants in the New York independent film community, I am a big fan of his work, and am extremely excited that we are forging this first-look deal with him, which we view as a long-term strategic alliance opportunity with someone who has produced a wide array of commercially appealing films."
Kilik's Grandview Pictures slate includes several pictures with foreign and domestic distribution yet to be determined. BEFORE NIGHT FALLS, directed by noted contemporary artist Julian Schnabel, is based on the autobiography of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, and stars Javier Bardem, with cameos by Johnny Depp and Sean Penn. With a planned Fall 2000 release, the film extends the collaboration of Kilik and Schnabel which began with BASQUIAT, Schnabel's critically acclaimed directorial debut.
Julian Schnabel, stated, "Jon knows how to get a movie made in an uncompromising way. He brings the highest level of commitment and integrity to every project, acting like a linchpin during the entire filmmaking process. If I could choose one person to work with me on any given film it would be him. I consider Jon to be my partner, a close friend and a member of my family - all rolled into one."
Forthcoming Grandview projects include, IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE - directed by Chris Eyre (SMOKE SIGNALS) - based on Peter Matthiesson's best-selling novel about jailed American Indian Movement activist and American political prisoner, Leonard Peltier. The film and book highlight the plight of traditional Indian people in their long struggle with the U.S. government. Peltier has been incarcerated over 20 years in connection with a fatal shoot-out that took place at South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975.
Grandview Pictures will also be producing, with Stanley Buchthal, Oscar-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple's initial foray into narrative film, JOE GLORY, a fictionalized story set during the infamous civil rights riot generated by Paul Robeson's 1949 concert in Peekskill, NY.
Kilik returns to the 2000 Cannes Festival following last year's successful screenings of two of his productions, Spike Lee's SUMMER OF SAM, and Tim Robbins' CRADLE WILL ROCK. At this year's Festival, Kilik is joining Overseas Filmgroup with his development slate.
Overseas Filmgroup is one of the few truly independent worldwide film distribution companies specializing in the acquisition, financing, packaging and distribution of independently produced feature films of all genre. OSFG films include Titus (directed by Julie Taymor and starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange); A Map of the World (starring Sigourney Weaver and Julianne Moore, and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall), Waking Ned Devine (which grossed over $25 million in the U.S. box office ); Antonia's Line (Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film of 1995); The Prophecy (starring Christopher Walken and achieving $17 million in U.S. box office); Guncrazy (directed by Tamra Davis, and starring Drew Barrymore); and The Secret of Roan Inish (released by First Look Pictures, the film was directed by John Sayles). The Company's First Look Pictures division specializes in the theatrical and video release of films in the U.S., and is focused on exploiting non-theatrical rights and new distribution opportunities. This press release includes forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Certain factors may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward looking statements, including, but not limited to, quarterly and annual fluctuations in results of operations, the unpredictability of audience acceptance of any particular motion pictures, the highly speculative and inherently risky and competitive nature of the motion picture industry, and other risks detailed from time to time in the Company's reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission including, but not limited to, its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 1999. As the motion picture business and the Company's operations are subject to numerous uncertainties, including, among other things in addition to the forgoing factors, the financing requirements of various film projects, competition from companies within the motion picture industry and in other entertainment media (many of which have significantly greater financial and other resources than the Company), and the release schedule of competing films, no assurance can be given that the Company's acquisition, production, financing and distribution goals and strategies (including as described herein) will be achieved. Actual results may differ materially from management expectations expressed in any forward-looking statements.
7 April 2000
French Assembly Brands Slavery an Anti-Human Crime
PARIS, April 7 (Reuters) - France's National Assembly has voted to brand slavery a crime against humanity and hold annual commemorations to mark its abolition in 1848.
A bill passed late on Thursday says slavery and the slave trade must be discussed in history textbooks and studied in research programmes.
"The French Republic acknowledges that the transatlantic and Indian Ocean slave trade, on the one hand, and slavery, on the other hand, perpetrated from the 15th century onwards in America and in the Caribbean, in the Indian Ocean and in Europe against African, native American, Madagascar and Indian populations, are a crime against humanity," it says.
Slavery in the French colonies was abolished by decree on April 27, 1848. A date for the annual commemoration has yet to be set.
7 April 2000
Business Owners Fear Alcohol Ban Will Hurt Tribal Economy
YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) -- It's a decision tribal officials felt they had to make. The Yakama Nation has decided to go dry, a first step toward addressing alcohol problems on the sprawling Washington reservation.
Some say the move was necessary to send a message about the ills of alcohol. But opponents fear the ban could shut down businesses, cause a decline in tourism and increase unemployment, with non-Indians boycotting tribal interests such as the Legends Casino.
"The ban will definitely close us down," said Joe White, owner of Joe's Place in Wapato. "Of course, we all have bills and mortgages to pay on our places ... there will be some bankruptcies and businesses folding."
Alcohol has long been banned on tribal land and at powwows, Yakama Nation ceremonies and the tribe's casino and convenience store. The tribe voted Wednesday to extend prohibition over the entire 1.2-million-acre reservation, including private land owned by non-Indians.
"The act of going dry is symbolic," Tribal Council member Jack Fiander said Thursday. "It's a symbol that this is not the type of economy we want to see concentrated on the reservation.
"It's sort of a symbol to the youth -- we don't think it's cool anymore to use or abuse alcohol," he added. "We're trying to send an opposite message to what they see on rap videos and that type of thing."
The ban, scheduled to take effect in six months, replaces an alcohol tax that took effect Jan. 4. The tax was intended to raise money for alcoholism treatment and drunken-driving enforcement programs.
The state was prepared to challenge the tax in federal court but dropped the matter after the ban was proposed.
State Attorney General Christine Gregoire said Wednesday that the new ban may pose just as many legal problems since it will apply to non-Indian businesses within the reservation.
Tavern owners who disliked the tax like prohibition even less.
"We're going to fight it," White said.
He said the tribe sold land to non-Indian people years ago when the Yakama Nation needed income, but "now that they have their casino and things going, all of the sudden they don't need the revenue."
For Gloria Crowder, a bartender at Little John's Tavern in Toppenish, the ban could mean a lost job.
"Thanks to the Yakama Nation Tribal Council, if we have to shut down, I'll have to find another job and move away," said Crowder, a single mother of a 16-year-old.
Alcohol is frequently cited as a major problem for some of the 558 tribes in the United States, home to 2.4 million American Indians. Tribes have taken various steps to curb alcohol-related problems, though the exact number of reservation-wide bans was not immediately known.
Activist Russell Means last fall suggested opening a liquor store near South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is officially dry, and using the profits to treat alcoholism. The Blackfeet Tribal Council banned liquor sales last July on its Montana reservation for five days, suggesting year-round prohibition may someday be an option.
Fiander said the Tribal Council recognizes the hardship that prohibition will have on businesses, and that's why it won't take effect for six months.
He also acknowledges that some businesses might be forced to close, but "we're going to replace those businesses with the type of businesses we want to see for the future."
"You can't base your economy on selling cigarettes, alcohol and fireworks," he said. "You can't have a solid economy based on those types of fringe businesses."
5 April 2000
American Indian High Tech Math Camp Seeks Middle School Applicants
GOLDEN, Colo., April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The Colorado School of Mines this June will partner with Lucent Technologies Bell Labs - Denver for the 12th year in a three-week program designed to encourage 7th and 8th grade American Indians to stay in school.
A $25,000 grant from the Lucent Technologies Foundation will enable 24 Native Americans from Indian reservations across the U.S. to travel to Golden, where they will participate in math, science, computer and other research projects. Some 50 Lucent Bell Labs scientists and engineers from Denver volunteer as mentors to the students. Other sponsors of the June 11 through June 30 American Indian High Tech Math Camp include Level 3 and Sun Microsystems.
"We've had a long and positive association with Bell Labs people in the area," said Dr. Ardel J. Boes, program director for the camp. "When previous funding ran out last year, Lucent stepped in to help us continue the program."
Boes said the heart of the program is the importance of encouraging young Native Americans to stay in school, providing them the opportunity to better manage the vast natural resources located on their lands or follow other professional careers.
"Research has shown that the Math Camp program makes a significant difference in reducing the dropout rate of Native American students who participate," said Lucy Sanders, vice president for Bell Labs in Denver.
"We're encouraging other high tech Denver area businesses to join with Lucent in providing funding and mentors for this important program," she said.
During the three-week session, some 50 Bell Labs scientists and engineers travel to the Colorado School of Mines campus twice each week to mentor students on their science and math projects.
Students who wish to apply for this year's camp should contact the Math Camp at the Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401. Or, for an application they also may call Dr. Boes, program director, toll free at 1-800-446-9488.
Applications must be received by April 20, 2000.
Qualifications include an aptitude for mathematics as shown by academic achievement or teacher referral, and the availability to participate in the second year of the program in 2001. Applicants are encouraged to provide evidence of tribal enrollment or American Indian heritage. SOURCE Lucent Technologies and The Colorado School of Mines
/CONTACT: Dr. Ardel J. Boes of Colorado School of Mines, 303-273-3875, ext. 3882, or email, email@example.com; or Ed Beltram of Lucent Technologies, 303-290-2453, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org/
/Web site: http://www.lucent.com/
30 March 2000
Indian Tribes, Census Bureau, Form Partnerships to Get Counted
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Confronting American Indians' historic feelings of wariness or anger toward the federal government, the Census Bureau is seeking help from tribal leaders and residents on reservations to ensure they get a more accurate count of the Indian population.
Hiring more American Indians to ask questions and get answers from those living on their own reservations may not completely erase those feelings, but the Census Bureau and advocacy groups hope it will give them a clearer picture of their population and open better lines of communication.
In 1990, the Census Bureau estimates it missed about 4.5 percent of the American Indian population; the national rate was 1.6 percent. More alarming to the National Congress of American Indians is that an estimated 12.2 percent of all Indians living on reservations were missed.
On the 17 million-acre Navajo Nation reservation that sprawls across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, about one in eight Navajos were not counted in 1990. And the tribe is determined not to let that happen again.
Part of the problem in Navajo country and other reservations was that census workers in 1990 were relying on outdated maps, and may have been unaware of tribal customs, said Jack Jackson Jr., director of governmental affairs for the National Congress of American Indians.
"We've created an alliance with the Census Bureau where the Navajo nation has profound control over the count, by way of hiring our own Navajo people to go out and enumerate, and the maps for enumeration were created by Navajo chapters," said Mellor Willie, spokesman for tribal president Kelsey Begaye.
The Navajo government estimates there are about 250,000 Navajos today. Willie said the Navajos missed out on $110 million in federal funding in the 1990s because of the undercount.
"I don't think a lot of Navajo people within the last census count knew this was helping in their communities," Willie said.
To counter that, the Census Bureau sought more input from tribal governments five years ago , said Tom Beavers, partnership specialist for the regional census center in Kansas City, Mo.
"When we hire now, we want to hire people who live in their own communities to work in their own communities, and we have told Indian leaders in our communities that," said Beavers, himself an American Indian, who in his job works with reservations in Oklahoma and Minnesota.
"The tribes know how important it is to get a good census," he said. He noted that the temporary census jobs also help with unemployment rates that tend to be higher on reservations.
Federal programs distributed to American Indians based on census data include the Native American Employment and Training Programs, grants to local education agencies for Indian education, and family violence prevention and services.
Meanwhile, some tribes are donating money to help promote the census. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe gave a $30,000 grant to the city of Mount Pleasant, Mich., for such a cause.
Saginaw Chippewa spokesman Frank Cloutier said his reservation suffered a 33 percent undercount in 1990.
"We attribute it to unawareness, and naturally concern with people of having anything to do with the federal government," he said. "Now that relationship is very positive and growing."
Not everything has gone smoothly though. Earlier this month, leaders on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana threatened to arrest census workers after complaints that local census managers failed to keep him informed of hiring decisions and other business on the reservation.
Gene Grant, census liaison for the Blackfeet tribe, rescinded that order and said things have worked more smoothly since then.
Others like Brenda Boyd, census liaison for the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa in Onamia, Minn., complain that at times, there is too much red tape in getting simple answers from regional census officials.
Everyone agrees, though, that they are better off than in 1990.
"This census is much better. Last time, the count was way off," Boyd said.
On the Net: Census Bureau Web site: http://www.census.gov
Bureau of Indian Affairs Web site: http://www.doi.gov/bureau-indian-affairs.html
National Congress of American Indians Web site: http://ncai.org
29 March 2000
Federal Report Cites Bitter Tensions in South Dakota
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- The bodies of Ronald Hard Heart and Wilson Black Elk Jr. were found last summer in a culvert near the Nebraska line, the apparent victims of a brutal beating.
Though the slayings are unsolved, they haven't been forgotten.
Those deaths -- as well as several recent violent incidents involving American Indians -- have heightened long-standing tensions between whites and the state's largest minority group.
Alarmed at the rising racial enmity, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission released a report Tuesday saying South Dakota law enforcement agencies must work harder to change American Indians' dim view of authorities.
In addition to the deaths of Hard Heart and Black Elk, frustration has built over the handling of an Indian who died after being stuffed into a garbage can in Mobridge, and an Indian who was struck and killed on a road in Roberts County, in northeastern South Dakota.
"I have not been in an area where the divide and the suspicion between racial groups is as great as it is in South Dakota," said Cruz Reynoso, vice chairman of the commission.
The white population in South Dakota is 669,007, or 90.6 percent of the total. American Indians are by far the largest minority group, making up 8 percent, or 59,292. Only Alaska and New Mexico have larger percentages of American Indian residents.
Still, distrust of law officers runs high in and around South Dakota's nine reservations, where unemployment often is staggering and alcoholism widespread.
"There is a widespread perception that there is a dual system of justice -- one for whites and another for Indians," said Marc Feinstein, chairman of the advisory panel.
Highlighting the divide, several members of the Sioux tribe, which includes Lakota, Dakota and Nakota, held up a banner Tuesday in the back of the meeting room as the report was released. It read "Stop Lakota Ethnic Cleansing."
Much of the distrust can be traced to the American Indian Movement's 1973 armed takeover of a trading post at Wounded Knee to protest the government's handling of their complaints. In 71 days of unrest, two Indians were killed and a deputy marshal was wounded.
The commission noted a series of Indian deaths -- in addition to the slayings of Hard Heart and Black Elk -- all of which have deepened the perception of inequality:
-- Since May 1998, the bodies of eight men, six of them Indian, have been found drowned in the shallow waters of Rapid Creek. Most were homeless; all but one had a high blood-alcohol level. No arrests have been made.
-- In Mobridge, near the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, the body of 22-year-old Robert Many Horses was found June 30. He had been stuffed headfirst into a garbage can. After an autopsy revealed he died of alcohol poisoning, charges against the four white teen-agers implicated in his death were dropped.
-- In the spring of 1999, a pickup truck struck and killed a 21-year-old Justin Redday on a deserted stretch of road in Roberts County. Though a grand jury indicted Mark Appel for vehicular homicide, prosecutors instead charged Appel with driving while intoxicated.
The report urges Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint a task force to address claims that race dictates how authorities investigate and prosecute criminal cases.
The report also recommends hate-crimes legislation at the state level and stronger federal measures to deal with race-related crime. And it urges Gov. Bill Janklow to convene a summit with Indian groups to come up with legislation more responsive to their needs.
Mary Frances Berry, chairwoman of the commission, reiterated Tuesday the claim she made in December that federal law officers often care little about Indians' concerns over justice.
An FBI official who oversees agents in South Dakota disputed allegations in the report, saying the commissioners' two-day visit in December was too brief to provide a clear view of relations between federal law enforcement and Indians.
"A lot of the research they did is just wafer-thin," said Chip Burrus, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Minneapolis office.
"They basically tar every agent in South Dakota," he said of the report's authors. "It's a vote of no confidence, and I think that's just wrong."
Burrus denied the suggestion that FBI agents are slow to act when a crime involves Indians. "We have moved heaven and earth trying to solve murder cases in South Dakota."
Burrus said Indians called on the FBI recently when protesters took over Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux tribal headquarters at Agency Village. Indians also sought the FBI's help in the ongoing takeover of Oglala Sioux headquarters at the Pine Ridge reservation.
Those are not the actions of a people who have no faith in the FBI, Burrus said, adding that the FBI also does informal public relations work and tries to keep Indians up to date on a given probe.
"Our agents are very comfortable with native Americans," he said. "Native Americans and non-native Americans have a lot of confidence in the FBI."
On the Net: Commission report: http://www.usccr.gov/sdsac/main.htm
28 March 2000
Report: Federal Task Force Needed on Indian Justice Issues in State
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- The U.S. Civil Rights Commission released a report Tuesday saying the FBI and other law enforcement agencies must work to change American Indians' dim view of how justice is meted out in the state, saying racial tensions in South Dakota are extraordinarily high.
"I have not been in an area where the divide and the suspicion between racial groups is as great as it is in South Dakota," said Cruz Reynoso, vice chairman of the commission, adding the fact-finding group has held hearings in New York City and Los Angeles after racially polarizing events there.
Highlighting the divide, several Indians held up a banner in the back of the meeting room that read "Stop Lakota Ethnic Cleansing," a reference to a branch of the Sioux tribe that has complained of human rights abuses.
The report urges Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint a task force to address claims that race dictates how authorities investigate and prosecute criminal cases. The task force should have the power to issue subpoenas, the committee said.
The report also recommends hate-crimes legislation at the state level and stronger federal hate-crimes measures to deal with race-related crime.
And it urges Gov. Bill Janklow to convene a summit with Indian groups to come up with legislation to make state government more responsive their needs.
Janklow spokesman Bob Mercer said he had not seen the report and could not say whether the governor would agree to a summit.
The hearing was prompted by unrest over the deaths of several Indians, including one who died after being stuffed into a garbage can in Mobridge following a night of heavy drinking.
Some of the deaths remain unsolved, and in others, serious charges against white suspects have been dropped.
Chip Burrus, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Minneapolis office, which oversees South Dakota, said the commissioners' two-day visit to the state in December was too brief to provide a clear view of the relationship between law enforcement and Indians.
"Our agents are very comfortable with native Americans," he said. "Native Americans and non-native Americans have a lot of confidence in the FBI."
Indians frequently call on the FBI for help, he said.
"They basically tar every agent in South Dakota," he said of the report's authors. "It's a vote of no confidence, and I think that's just wrong."
10 March 2000
Clinton Asks American Indians to Vote
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Clinton made a direct appeal for American Indians to vote for Democratic candidates in elections this fall, saying his party is completely committed to their concerns.
In a speech Thursday to American Indians who gave a total $350,000 to Democratic congressional candidates, Clinton cast them as victims of a negligent U.S. government that took away land and mineral rights while giving them little in return. He promised to remedy that.
"This is the part of our historical legacy we want to be proud of, and it will never be right until we get it right," Clinton said. "This is a country that's supposed to be founded on equal opportunity, equal justice, mutual respect, everybody having a chance."
He asked that American Indians support Democrats in congressional races, saying the "very good Republican support" he expects to get on his budget proposals on American Indians pales in comparison to the work that Democrats do on their behalf.
"Our party has had a consistent, determined leadership position that goes from top to bottom, throughout the entire United States Congress, that we support the direction that you advocate," Clinton said. "This is about whether people will be organized and energized to go out and vote, to recognize that when you lay down your weapons, you have to pick up your ballot."
Clinton's comments on Indians were his most extensive since he visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota last July. Residents there struggle with high unemployment, substandard housing and inadequate education -- all of which plague other Indian reservations as well, Clinton said.
"Our real goal ought to be the fundamental empowerment of the Native American tribes in this country as envisioned by the Constitution, required by the Supreme Court," Clinton said. "And I want you to help me ... get this nation-to-nation relationship right in a way that will allow you all to be lifted up."
According to the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1.43 million Indians live on or near reservations. Only 63 percent of Indians are high school graduates, 29 percent are homeless and 59 percent live in substandard housing.
The president said he keeps traditional Native American artifacts -- drums, eagle feathers, a tobacco pouch -- in his office as a reminder of "my solemn obligation" to address their needs. He recalled reading, as a child, the words of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce: "From this day, I will fight no more forever."
"You made that pledge and you got a bad deal," Clinton said. "The deal never worked out in a way that was fair to both sides and honorable."
The fund-raiser was the first of two events Thursday in which Clinton focused on racial healing.
At the other, a gathering of religious leaders at the White House, the president reiterated his belief that African immigrant Amadou Diallo likely would not have been killed by police had he been white. He said Diallo's death pointed out a need for training police to be more sensitive to the communities they serve -- while addressing more directly the pressures that police officers face.
"I wish I could bring that boy back for his mother and his friends, to give him the life he should have had. But I can't do that," Clinton said.
The White House gathering brought together Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Baha'is, Catholic priests and one Buddhist monk in a saffron-colored robe. They agreed to formally teach that racism is a sin, and also reported on efforts within their faiths to deal with racism, with varying degrees of progress.
Bishop S. Clifton Ives, United Methodist bishop for West Virginia, said his denomination is seeking a way through which white followers can be "challenged on the notion of white privilege, and that will be hard for some." Rosa Banks, human relations director of the Seventh-day Adventists, said "our commitment is being tested" after dialogues uncovered other sore spots, "but we have solidly planted race relations on our agenda."
9 March 2000
President Says American Indians Hurt by Unfair Treaties
(Washington-AP) -- President Clinton has told American Indians -- quote --"You got a bad deal." He's pledging to work harder to create a better way of life for them.
In a speech to Indians who gave 350-thousand dollars to Democratic congressional candidates, Clinton said treaties with the United States unfairly left them poor and powerless, receiving little for the land and mineral rights they lost.
The president promised to remedy the situation. He says the goal should be the empowerment of Native American tribes as envisioned by the Constitution and required by the Supreme Court.
The government says only 63 percent of American Indians are high school graduates, 29 percent are homeless and 59 percent live in substandard housing.
9 March 2000
Transcript of Clinton Remarks at Dccc Native American Fund Lunch
WASHINGTON, March 9 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a transcript of remarks made by President Clinton today at the DCCC Native American Fund Luncheon:
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Please be seated. I am delighted to be here today. It's wonderful to see many of you again, and some of you for the first time.
I want to thank Congressman Kennedy and Congressman Kildee for the work they have done to build the bridges of cooperation and mutual effort with the tribes of our country. I want to thank Dick Gephardt for being a truly outstanding leader of our party in the House of Representatives.
You know, I'm not on the ballot this year. (Laughter.) Most days I'm okay with it. But when I vote, it will be, along with a lot of other Americans, whom I believe will make him the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. And it will be a good thing for America when he is, because he's an outstanding man. (Applause.)
I want to thank all the other members who have come here today to be with you to express their support: George Miller from California, a long time champion of tribal causes; Maxine Waters; Jim Maloney and Carolyn Maloney.
And I want to thank Nancy Keenan from Montana for running. I knew Nancy Keenan before she ever thought she'd be running for Congress, and way before anybody, including my mother, thought I'd ever be President. So I am delighted to see her here as a candidate. I can tell you, she is, I think, one of the most outstanding candidates we have anywhere in the United States. And she will profoundly enrich the United States Congress if she is elected, as I firmly expect her to be. And she's over there, wearing her "Jeanette Rankin for Congress" button to remind the people of her fellow state, her fellow Montanans, that it's been too long since a woman represented Montana to Congress.
I thank Bobby Whitefeather for the invocation; it was very moving.
Some of you have visited me in the Oval Office have seen that in front of -- there are basically three windows behind the President's desk. And the one directly behind my desk, I have a table on which I keep military coins. And the one just to the right of that is filled with a drum, an Indian drum made by a tribe in the Southwest when we were debating the NAFTA treaty. And on the face of this drum, there is a Native American, a Native Canadian and a Native Mexican. And then I have in the drums the eagle feathers I've received from various tribal leaders around the country, and other gifts.
I now have a beautiful eagle feather headdress I received just a couple of weeks ago, and a pouch of tobacco which has great symbolic significance, as all of you know. I have a number of other things that I've collected from native peoples in other parts of the world to remind me that these challenges are present everywhere -- a necklace made for me by a Native Hawaiian; a baobab nut carved for me by an Australian Aboriginal.
But I have kept the Native American present in the Oval Office from the beginning of my presidency for over seven years now to remind me of my solemn obligation to respect the nation-to-nation relationship that I have done everything I could to nurture, to build up and to honor. (Applause.)
In my private office in the White House -- and every President's got a private office on the second floor of the White House, a different room -- I have things that mean a lot to me, personally. I have an old, old painting of Benjamin Franklin, to remind me of the importance of enterprise and effort and ingenuity -- in private, as well as public life. I have a picture of my friend, Yitzak
Rabin, 10 days before he was killed. I have a picture of Robert Kennedy in Appalachia, to remind me of the obligations of the President to people who aren't so fortunate. And I have one of Edward Curtiss's magnificent pictures; this one of a piece named Long Fox. And I look at it every night to remind me of my continuing obligation to keep working until we get this relationship right, and until people who live in all of our Native American areas have a chance to live up to the fullest of their God-given abilities, as well.
So it's a great honor for me to be here today. In 1994, I invited all the tribal leaders to come to the White House to meet me and I learned it was the first time that has been done since James Monroe was President in 1822. And I was struck by the great good fortune that some tribes have found, and by how wisely some of the tribes were investing the earnings that they were making from gaming enterprises. And I was struck that other leaders, literally, people in their tribes took a collection to make sure they could afford the plane ticket. And it reminded me again how very much we still have to do.
Now, we have, I think, a lot of hope in America today, but we also have a lot of work to do. That's the message I tried to get out at the State of the Union address. One of the things that I've always loved about most of the wisest things I've read coming out of Native American tribes in every part of America is, there's this understanding of the fleeting nature of life and the intergenerational responsibilities we all have. And sometimes -- about the only time Americans ever really get in trouble with our politics in this great democracy is when we're too focused on just this minute.
Sometimes if we happen to be mad, as you know, when people are really angry and they have to make a decision, they're about -- they're more than 50 percent likely to do something wrong. So if you're too obsessed with just this minute and you're really, really mad, you might make a mistake. And if you just look at this little slice of time, and you're really, really complacent, you will also certainly make a mistake, because change is constant in human existence and human affairs and the life and times of a nation. So that's why I have tried to argue to the Congress and to our country that now is the time to meet the big challenges that America still faces.
And now is the time to meet the big challenges that Native Americans still face. For all the economic prosperity of some tribes, on some reservations the unemployment rate is still 70 percent. A third of American Indians and Alaskan natives still live in poverty and without decent health care. Indians are the victims of twice as many violent crimes. More than 80 percent of the people in Indian country aren't yet connected to the Internet, something which can make a big difference, which is why I ordered some Christmas presents from the -- people at Pine Ridge over the Internet last Christmas, to try to emphasize this as an important thing. There are many people who have found ways to make a living because of the Internet, even though they're physically distant from the markets they must serve.
The dropout rate from high school of Native American children is still about one-third, and we've got it down; we got the graduation rate of the general population now up almost to 90 percent.
So we have to do something about this. That's why I wanted to highlight Indian country in my first New Markets tour. I want to give Americans who have made money in this economy the same incentives to invest in the underdeveloped areas in America that we give them to invest in the under-developed areas of Latin America or Africa or Asia -- not to encourage Americans to stay away from those places overseas, but to look first to the people here at home, who need work, who need education, who need technology, who need opportunity. And I think it's important. (Applause.)
I also asked in the State of the Union address for the largest budget increase, nearly $1.2 billion, for new and existing programs to assist tribal nations, and many of you mentioned that. I think that's important. And I think it's important that we do have bipartisan support for this, for which I am very grateful. To increase economic opportunity, health care, education, law enforcement; to more than double last year's funding to replace and repair schools on reservations, and to address the growing digital divide; to improve roads and bridges, public safety and health care; increase funding for law enforcement officers; and a substantial increase to the Indian health services. All this is very, very important. (Applause.)
I want to make three points -- this is going to be a brief speech. Number one, I want you to help me pass the budget; it matters. And we do have some Republican support for it, which is good, and without it we can't pass it because we're still in the minority.
Number two, I want you to help me pass this New Markets Initiative. Ever since I've been President we have worked to try to empower the tribes of this country. As nearly as I can tell -- I've spent a lot of time, since I was a little boy, when I used to go to the Garland County Library in Arkansas, and I'd sit there for hours on end reading history of the Native American tribe, I tried to figure out what happened, and what went right and what went wrong. And basically, I remember once I read this great biography of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. That was in grade school, I still remember. And he made that incredible statement, "From this day I will fight no more forever." It was a noble, powerful thing. I still remember it. I was eight or nine years old when I read it.
But you made that pledge and you got a bad deal. You gave up your land and your mineral rights and all this, and the government said that they would do certain things through the DIA to take care of you. And it's not good for people outside your own family and community to act like they're taking care of you. And besides that, usually people don't keep their word, because there's always something else they would rather spend the money on.
And so, I say to you, I want this budget to pass. And it's important. But our real goal ought to be the fundamental empowerment of the Native American tribes in this country as envisioned by the Constitution, required by the Supreme Court. That is what I have worked for since the day I got here. And I want you to help me get as much done in the days I have left remaining to get this nation-to-nation relationship right in a way that will allow you all to be lifted up. It is about money, but more than money. (Applause.)
The third thing I want to say is, because that's why we're here, this is a political event. The reason we don't fight in America, if you -- in a way, we all, all of us citizens promised that we will fight no more forever -- is that we have other ways of resolving our differences and pursuing our interests and manifesting our power.
But we have to show up at the ballot box to do it. And the truth is that while we will get some very good Republican support on this budget, and I'm grateful for that, and while there are some members of the other party in the Congress who have represented large numbers of you who have learned about this, and I'm grateful for them, our party has had a consistent, determined leadership position that goes from top to bottom throughout the entire United States Congress that we support the direction that you advocate. That's why you're here today. This is unprecedented. I am grateful for you being here.
But this is about far more than financial contributions and money. This is about whether people will be organized and energized to go out and vote, to recognize that when you lay down your weapons, you have to pick up your ballot; that this is not about anybody being taken care of, this is about the right kind of relationship. And it has to be one that focuses on empowerment.
I have been profoundly honored, more than any of you can ever imagine, to have had the opportunity to work with you, to learn what I have learned, to see what I have seen. And I hope I have made a difference. (Applause.) And I am determined to do everything I can, in every day I have left, especially with this New Markets Initiative, which does have good bipartisan support. But in the end, think about this: Only way we'll ever get this right is if all of you are determined to be heard, determined to vote, determined to speak, determined to educate, determined to be heard, determined to make real what was supposed to happen so long ago and didn't. That's why I think it is so important that you're here today. Your presence here today and your statement increases, dramatically the chances that, at last, we will get it right.
When I was down in Selma last weekend celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Civil Rights March, I was researching the things that various people had said trying to get ready for it. And I noticed something Martin Luther King said about the end of the whole legacy of slavery. He said, you know -- when, finally, African Americans are freed, the white people will be free too. And as a white southerner, I identified with that. And it's literally true for me. If that hadn't happened in the South, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton never would have been elected President of the United States.
But America still labors under the burden of the terms that we struck with the Native American tribes so long ago, and the fact that the deal never worked out in a way that was fair to both sides, and honorable.
And in some ways, it was maybe doomed from the beginning to have problems. But now, we're trying to get it right, and we've made all this progress in the last few years. That's the importance of your being here today. I want you to feel good about this. And I want you to understand that the rest of us are getting a lot out of it.
This is the part of our historical legacy we want to be proud of, and it will never be right until we get it right. You just remember, every time you come to Washington, every time you lobby for something, every time you try to do something to empower your own people and to help them. You're doing something for the rest of us, too. Because this is a country that's supposed to be founded on equal opportunity, equal justice, mutual respect, everybody having a chance. The belief that we all do better when we help each other. That's what this is all about.
So I hope you think I have done something for you. But, believe me, I still remember the little boy I was in the library over 40 years ago. You've done a lot more for me, and I thank you. God bless you. (Applause.)
27 February 2000
U.S. Human Rights Record in 1999 (13)
The number of imprisoned black women is eight times higher than that of white women.
An investigation released by a U.S. medical treatment association in March, 1999 showed that only 15.3 percent of the whites are under the poverty line while 45.7 percent of Hispanics and 42.5 percent of blacks are poor.
A September 2 report by a U.S. immigration research center indicated that the poverty rate of the immigrants rose by 123 percent between 1979 and 1997 and the population of poor immigrants grew from 2.7 million to 7.7 million.
Between 1989 and 1997, among the poor population, 3 million are immigrants, accounting for 75 percent of the newly increased poor population in the country.
A March 17 report by Efe showed that Whites receive an average 12.8 years of education in the U.S., while blacks receive 11.8 years and Hispanics 9.3 years on average.
Among whites in New York, at least three out of 10 people have college degrees, while less than 10 percent of the Hispanics and African Americans in the city have received university education.
In the United States, the Black, Hispanic and American Indian population accounts for 24 percent of the U.S. total population, but the number of doctors of these races only stands at 7 percent of the country's total doctors.
27 February 2000
U.S. Human Rights Record in 1999 (14)
According to U.S. statistics from 1996, the expected average life expectancy of a white male child is 74 years, and 80 years for a white female, while the averages for black male and female children are 66 and 74 years respectively.
The infant mortality rates for black and American Indian infants are 2.0 and 1.5 times higher that than that of white infants.
The report also indicated that 38 percent of Hispanics and 24 percent of blacks in America do not have medical insurance, while only 14 percent of whites have no medical insurance.
Black farmers are discriminated against in obtaining preferential loans, and the ethnic minorities are also discriminated against in receiving medical treatment for AIDS.
Police brutality stemming from racial discrimination frequently occurs in the U.S. A survey of the black residents by the New York Times on March 16, 1999 showed that 55 percent of the Hispanics and 63 percent of the blacks believed that police violence is on the rise. Some 67 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. believed that the U.S. police are biased in favor of whites.
The U.S. police all too often suspect colored people are guilty of crime, even when little or no evidence is available to support their charges.
According to a report of a human rights watch group released in San Francisco, California in March of 1999, of the people killed or injured when shot by police, 75 percent are minorities or from low-income districts.
25 February 2000
Clinton Promotes $1.2 Bln Plan for Native Americans
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Flanked by tribal leaders, President Clinton Friday touted a plan to give a record $1.2 billion boost in federal funds for Native Americans, saying the booming economy offered poverty victims a chance for better jobs and living standards.
"While some of today's tribes have found success in our new economy, far too many have been caught in the cycle of poverty and unemployment," he said after meeting at the White House with chiefs who were in Washington for a three-day conference.
"Too many have suffered from the government's failure to invest proper resources in education, infrastructure and health care."
In a plan backed by a number of western Republican and Democratic lawmakers, Clinton called for a $1.2 billion boost in spending for education, health care and job training for Native Americans and to improve living conditions on federally-run reservations located mostly in the West.
One-third of Native Americans live in poverty, with unemployment on some reservations reaching 70 percent. They suffer from violent crimes at twice the average rate, often lack access to decent health care, and many live on reservations with crumbling roads and inadequate schools.
The plan, unveiled earlier this month in the administration's budget plan, would lift spending for Native Americans to $9.4 billion in fiscal 2001 which starts in October, up from $8.2 billion this year.
Clinton said the plan would more than double funds to build and repair Bureau of Indian Affairs schools on reservations, boost funding for tribal colleges, and raise money to train and recruit Native American teachers.
It also would boost funds for health care by $230 million up to $2.6 billion, add $100 million for law enforcement, and bolster building and repair projects on dilapidated reservations.
"We're in the midst of the longest, strongest period of economic growth in our history. There is no better time than now to make sure Indian country has the tools to succeed in the new economy," Clinton said.
More than 80 percent of the people on reservations are not connected to the Internet, and one-third of Native American children never finish high school, he said.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican, said the plan was to "ensure that American Indian tribes have the infrastructure to achieve self-sufficiency."
25 February 2000
U.S. Department of Justice: Number of People under 18 Sent to Adult State Prisons More than Doubled Between 1985 and 1997
SUNDAY, FEB. 27/ /ADVANCE/ WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The number of people under 18 years old who are sentenced to adult state prisons each year more than doubled between 1985 and 1997 -- from 3,400 to 7,400 -- the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. At the end of 1997 approximately 5 percent of incarcerated offenders under 18 years old were serving in state prisons, which hold mostly adults who have been sentenced to a year or more following felony convictions. Despite this increase, the overall percentage of inmates under 18 entering prison with sentences longer than one year has remained steady at about 2 percent.
Defendants under 18 years old are prosecuted in either adult or juvenile courts. State laws determine the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction. Three states -- Connecticut, New York and North Carolina -- exclude all defendants 16 and older from their juvenile systems. In 10 other states all defendants 17 and older are automatically sent to adult courts. In the remaining 37 states and the District of Columbia all persons 18 and older are processed as adult defendants. The data include all state prison inmates younger than 18 years old whether or not the prisoner was originally under the jurisdiction of juvenile or adult authorities.
The BJS study estimated that about 61 percent of the under-18-year-olds sent to state prisons in 1997 were incarcerated for a violent offense, including 32 percent for robbery, 14 percent for aggravated assault, 7 percent for murder and 4 percent for sexual assault. An additional 22 percent of the young inmates were confined for property crimes (13 percent for burglary, 3 percent for larceny or theft and 2 percent for motor vehicle theft). Eleven percent were sent to prison for drug offenses and 5 percent for public order offenses.
In 1997, 26 percent of the young people under 18 who were sentenced to more than one year in a state prison were between 13 to 16 years old. Of all young persons entering state prison, 58 percent were African American, 25 percent were white, 15 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were Asian or American Indian. Approximately 90 percent of these young people had not graduated from high school at the time of their prison confinement.
In recent years the states have expanded their provisions for prosecuting offenders under 18 years old in adult criminal courts. Every state now has at least one provision to transfer juveniles to adult courts. As of 1997, 28 states had statutes that automatically excluded certain types of offenders from juvenile court jurisdiction, 15 states permitted prosecutors to file some cases directly to adult criminal courts and 46 states allowed juvenile court judges to decide to send cases to adult courts.
As a result of such changes, the number of young people sent to prison rose from 18 per 1,000 violent crime arrests of persons under age 18 in 1985 to 33 per 1,000 arrests in 1997.
Among people under 18 sentenced to state prisons during 1997, the average maximum sentence for violent offenses was about 8 years. The minimum time expected to be served in 1997 was almost 5 years, up from 4 years in 1985. Similar to admissions, the year-end count of state prisoners younger than 18 increased from 2,300 in 1985 to 5,400 in 1997.
In 1997 the rate of incarceration for persons under 18 totaled 509 per 100,000 U.S. residents ages 13 to 17. This rate was significantly lower than the rate for persons ages 18 and older (864 inmates per 100,000 adult residents).
The special report, "Profile of State Prisoners under Age 18, 1985-97" (NCJ-176989), was written by BJS statistician Kevin J. Strom. Single copies may be obtained from the BJS fax-on-demand system by dialing 301-519-5550, listening to the complete menu and selecting document number 191. Or call the BJS clearinghouse number: 1-800-732-3277. Fax orders for mail delivery to 410-792-4358. The BJS Internet site is:
Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at:
18 February 2000
Pneumonia Vaccine to be "tested" on NA Children
BALTIMORE/PR Newswire- The following was
released today by Classen Immunotherapies, Inc:
The FDA cleared yesterday a controversial new
pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine with questionable safety and a US
governmental advisory panel is planning to selectively target black children
and Native American children for immunization. This plan is
being criticized for making children of certain racial minorities "human
guinea pigs". It is possible that 1% or more of the children who receive the
vaccine may develop insulin dependent diabetes or another autoimmune disease
from the vaccine.
This week the Center for Disease Control and
Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that
children under age 2 receive the new pneumococcal vaccine but that black and
Native American children age 2-5 be selectively
targeted for immunization. This policy has come under criticism because the
vaccine has never been properly tested for safety and the FDA has been told
by an expert that the vaccine is expected to cause an epidemic of autoimmune
The controversial vaccine is the conjugated 7-valent
pneumococcal vaccine which is really a combination of 7 different vaccines,
each to a separate strain of pneumococcal pneumonia bacteria. The vaccine is
similiar in structure to the already marketed hemophilus meningitis vaccine,
a vaccine linked to large epidemics of insulin dependent diabetes. Dr.J.Bart
Classen, an immunologist at Classen Immunotherapies, published data in the
British Medical Journal(BMJ 1999; 319:1133) supporting a causal relationship
between the hemophilus vaccine and the development of insulin dependent
diabetes. The vaccine has been incriminated in causing over 58 cases of
insulin dependent diabetes per 100,000
children immunized in Finland. Dr. Classen told the FDA at a recent meeting
that the 7 valent pneumococcal vaccine may be 7 times as toxic as the
hemophilus vaccine, possibly causing an estimated 400 to 700 children to
develop insulin dependent diabetes/100,000 children imunized.
These cases of diabetes may not occur until 3.5 to 10 years following
"The government's plan to selectively target black and Native
Americans is likely to have the effect of genocide, 0.5% of children who
receive this vaccine may develop insulin dependent diabetes from the vaccine
and diabetes is just one of the many life threatening diseases," states
Classen. "I believe the vaccine clearly should not have been approved by the
FDA because it does not meet the criteria for approval based on US law."
Dr. Classen's research has been published in
numerous journals and featured in national news reports. For the latest
information on the effects of vaccines on insulin dependent
diabetes and other auto immune diseases visit the Vaccine Safety Website
Classen Immunotherapies, Inc.
6517 Montrose Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21212 USA
Tel: 410-377 4549
Sign the online petition:
"Pneumococcal Vaccine aka Prevnar"
hosted on the web by PetitionOnline.com, the free online petition
4 February 2000
Tribe Demands Meteorite at Center of New Planetarium
NEW YORK (AP) -- A group of American Indians says a 16-ton meteorite that will be the main attraction at the Museum of Natural History's new planetarium is a holy tribal object and should be returned to Oregon.
The meteorite -- about the size of a small car -- was ready for display at the opening of the planetarium's main hall today.
The meteorite hit Earth more than 10,000 years ago and was moved by glacial ice to a hillside in West Linn, Ore. The Clackamas tribe adopted it as a sacred object, and the rain water that collected in its deep craters was prized for its holiness.
"Songs given to us by the meteorite are still sung today," said Ryan Heavy Head, a consultant to the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, which includes the Clackamas.
He said the meteorite called "Tomanoas" by the Indians embodies three heavenly realms -- sky, earth and water. Clackamas youths were sent on vigils to the meteorite to await messages from the spirit world and other tribes also made pilgrimages, said Heavy Head, a Blackfoot.
The Grand Ronde submitted a claim for the meteorite to the museum last September, under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The federal law gives the museum until Feb. 29 to respond.
Ann Canty, a museum spokeswoman, would not comment on the claim. But she and an architect of the new building made clear that it would not be easy to move the meteorite from the planetarium, officially the Rose Center for Earth and Space.
"Because the meteorite is so massive, parts of the facility had to essentially be built around it," Canty said.
The meteorite had sat in the old planetarium since 1935 and was moved with a large crane when that building was dismantled in 1997. Two years before the new center was finished, contractors installed three structural piles -- 60-foot tubes driven into the ground _ just to support it.
When tribal representatives visited in September, they "had quite a problem getting in to see the meteorite," Heavy Head said in a telephone interview from his home in Salem, Ore.
Over six days, he and his wife Adrienne took thousands of pictures documenting objects in the museum for possible repatriation. He said the museum staff was "civil but not necessarily cooperative" when he asked to see the meteorite.
"We had to remind them that we had a federal grant behind us," he said. "Eventually they gave us hard hats and let us in, but when we started taking pictures, they freaked."
The meteorite changed hands several times before the museum acquired it in 1906. A part-time miner named Ellis G. Hughes discovered it in 1902 on land belonging to an iron company, moved it into his barn and began charging a quarter for admission.
In 1905, a state Supreme Court returned the meteorite to the iron company; it was then bought for $20,600 by a New York woman, Mrs. William Dodge, who donated it to the museum.
Tim McKeown, who oversees Indian claims for the National Park Service, said proof of ownership could decide the case of the meteorite or the two parties could reach agreement.
But McKeown said if the case goes to a federal review committee or to court, it may take time.
Heavy Head said he does not expect a harmonious exchange given the effort and expense devoted to building the meteorite into the Rose Center.
"It was a good thing that it traveled to the museum," he said. "Their ownership was essential to its safety. But now it needs to come home."
2 February 2000
U.S. seeks DNA analysis of ancient skeleton
SEATTLE (Reuters) -- The U.S. Interior Department said on Tuesday it would try to carry out DNA analysis on a 9,300-year-old skeleton unearthed in Washington state, risking the wrath of American Indian tribes who claim the remains are the sacred bones of an ancestor.
The department, which worried that any testing of "Kennewick Man" could offend local tribes and yield useless results, said such analysis could help it figure out to whom the ancient resident is related.
"We believe that DNA analysis will help determine the biological and genetic racial ancestry of the remains. This has been the subject of controversy in this case from the beginning," Frank McManamon, chief archaeologist for the National Park Service, said in a statement.
"It will be useful for cultural affiliation purposes," McManamon said, although he added there was no guarantee the testing would work because of the likelihood of contamination of the DNA samples.
Kennewick Man, found in 1996 near the town of Kennewick in southern Washington, is claimed by five Native American tribes as an ancestor. The tribes have vigorously opposed any scientific testing of the remains and want them reburied.
The remains sparked debate over the origin of American peoples after cranial studies showed that he looked different than modern Native Americans, leading to speculation that Caucasians once roamed the continent.
But government officials have said he bears little resemblance to any modern people, and scientists have said he may be related to the Ainu people of Japan, who show many cultural similarities to Northwestern U.S. tribes.
Last month, the department ruled Kennewick Man was Native American under the guidelines of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which says remains found to predate the 1492 Columbus voyage to America are deemed Indian and turned over to local tribes.