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President Obama signed a memorandum on Tribal Consultation at the November 5, 2009 White House Tribal Nations Conference which pronounced Tribal consultations “a critical ingredient of a sound and productive Federal-Tribal relationship.” The President’s Memorandum directs all Federal agencies to develop a plan of action to implement President Clinton’s Executive Order 13175 on “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” within ninety days (by February 3, 2010).
Attorney General Announces Significant Reforms to Improve Public Safety in Indian Country – Attorney General Eric Holder today announced sweeping reforms intended to improve public safety on tribal land. The new directive is part of a larger Justice Department initiative to create better communication and coordination to fight crime and promote justice in Indian Country. “The public safety challenges we face in Indian Country will not be solved by a single grant or a single piece of legislation,” Holder said. “There is no quick fix. While today’s directive is significant progress, we need to continue our efforts with federal, state and tribal partners to identify solutions to the challenges we face, and work to implement them.” The Attorney General directed all U.S. Attorneys’ Offices with districts containing Indian Country (44 out of 93) to: meet and consult with tribes in their district annually; develop an operational plan addressing public safety in Indian Country; work closely with law enforcement to pay particular attention to violence against women in Indian Country and make these crimes a priority; and to provide summaries of their operational plans to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General and make those summaries available to the tribes in their districts. The Attorney General also announced that the Justice Department’s FY 2010 appropriation includes an additional $6 million for Indian Country prosecution efforts. At least 35 additional Assistant U.S. Attorneys and 12 additional FBI victim specialists will be added in offices with an Indian Country caseload. These new resources will enable the Justice Department to bring the federal justice system closer to Indian Country, including through a Community Prosecution Pilot Project that the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys is currently developing. More Information >>>
Supreme Court accepts Apache man's restitution case (January 13, 2010) - The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a restitution case involving a member of Mescalero Apache Nation of New Mexico. Brian Russell Dolan pleaded guilty to a violent attack on the reservation. He was sentenced to prison time and parole but restitution wasn't determined by a federal judge until months later. Dolan says the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act requires a judge to act within 90 days. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals did not agree but the Supreme Court will review the decision. The case is Dolan v. US, No. 09-367. 10th Circuit Decision: Dolan v. US (June 26, 2009) Get the Story: High Court to Consider Restitution Deadline [see last item] (Courthouse News Service 1/13)
New Federal Efforts in Fighting Crime on Indian Reservations (January 12, 2010) - The Justice Department on Monday ordered prosecutors in 33 states to intensify efforts to fight violent crime on Indian reservations, particularly offenses against women and children. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that 35 new assistant attorneys general and 12 other specialists from the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be assigned to handle such crimes. Statistics show that American Indians are the victims of violent crime at more than twice the national rate. From the Tuesday, January 12, 2010 New York Times.
Obama at White House Tribal Nations meet (November 6, 2009) The White House has Posted Videos of President Barack Obama at the first-ever White House Tribal Nations Conference, which took place at the Interior Department in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, November 5, 2009. See Video >>>
Landmark California Native American Adoption Bill Becomes Law (October 13, 2009) - After two years of efforts at the State Capitol, Assemblyman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) was proud to announce the passage of his Assembly Bill 1325, which will create an alternative "Customary Adoption" process for Native American children. AB 1325 provides an alternative to the conventional method of adoption by adding the option of Customary Adoption. Customary Adoption is defined as "a traditional tribal practice recognized by the community which gives a child a permanent parent-child relationship with someone other than the child's birth parent." AB 1325 was initiated and sponsored by the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, located in Riverside County, and gained the support of over 50 California Tribes. Assembly member Jim Beall, Jr. (D-San Jose) was a joint author on the measure as well.
Also signed into law was AB 770, the Indian Tribes Foster Care and Adoptions Program, which makes it the policy of the state of California to maximize the opportunities for Indian tribes to operate foster care programs for Indian children pursuant to the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, and requires the Department of Social Services to modify the state foster care plan to that end.
Invitation to all Indian tribes: Obama wants to meet, listen (October 13, 2009) President Obama is inviting Native American leaders to a White House conference November 5. The president said he wants to hear directly from them about how his administration can meet their needs and help make their lives better. Many Native Americans suffer higher rates of crime and poorer health than the rest of the population. The White House said Monday each of the 564 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. will be invited to send one representative to the White House Tribal Nations Conference. More Information >>>
Takeover in Hopiland: A Dirty New Low for Peabody Coal (October 5, 2009) Former chairmen of the Hopi Nation have revealed that the Hopi Tribal Council has been taken over by a pro-Peabody Coal faction. Further, Hopi reveal that the tribe's attorney and the media are being used to carry out Peabody Coal's agenda. Peabody Coal used the same tactic originally to seize Black Mesa for coal mining and bring about Navajo relocation for coal mining, by way of attorney John Boyden, who worked for Peabody and the Hopi Tribe. The media was also coopted in the original seizure of Black Mesa by Peabody Coal, with the media cheerleading and proclaiming the so-called Navajo Hopi land dispute. More Information >>>
Supreme Court rules in big land-into-trust case (February 24, 2009) Tribes that weren't under federal jurisdiction in 1934 cannot follow the land-into-trust process of the Indian Reorganization Act, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Carcieri V. Salazar. By a 6-3 vote, the justices said the Interior Department can't acquire land for the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island because the tribe didn't gain federal recognition until 1983. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion. Three justices dissented from the court's opinion. Justice David Souter agreed with the 1934 issue but said the Narragansetts should be given the opportunity to prove they were under federal jurisdiction at the time, an issue that wasn't argued when the case was accepted. "The very notion of jurisdiction as a distinct statutory condition was ignored in this litigation, and I know of no body of precedent or history of practice giving content to the condition sufficient for gauging the tribe’s chances of satisfying it," Souter wrote in an opinion that was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice John Paul Stevens disagreed with the 1934 issue altogether and said the Narragansetts are an Indian tribe as defined by the IRA. "That tribe has existed as a continuous political entity since the early 17th century," he wrote. Justice Stephen G. Breyer joined the majority opinion and authored a concurrence that said the Narragansetts have no way of proving they were under federal jurisdiction in 1934. "Because I see no realistic possibility that the Narragansett Tribe could prevail on the basis of a theory alternative to the theories argued here, I would not remand this case," he wrote. More Information >>>
The American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus) was signed into law on February 17, 2009 by President Barack Obama. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has developed a new web site, Indian Country Works, to assist tribal leaders in growing their local economies and putting their communities to work.
9th Circuit reverses conviction in Indian status case (February 11, 2009) A man with 22 percent Indian blood cannot be prosecuted in federal court because he is not a recognized tribal member, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday. Christopher Cruz was convicted of assault resulting in serious bodily injury for an incident that occurred on the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. But since he does not meet the definition of "Indian" under federal law, the 9th Circuit said he shouldn't have been tried in federal court. As a result, Cruz won't face prosecution in state court either due to double jeopardy. The U.S. Attorney in Montana said appeals are possible. At issue in the case was whether Cruz met the Bruce test that was laid out in a prior 9th Circuit decision. The court noted that he possessed a significant degree of Indian blood, the first factor. But the 9th Circuit said Cruz didn't meet the second factor -- whether he has tribal or federal government recognition as an Indian. Though he qualifies for certain benefits as a Blackfeet descendant, the court noted he didn't take advantage of them and only lived on the reservation for a brief portion of his life. More Information >>>
Maine's Indian lawmakers gain full recognition (January 27, 2009) Maine's Indian lawmakers have been a part of the state Legislature as far back as the 1820s but it wasn't until this year that their positions became more official. The Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe (Pleasant Point | Indian Township) each send a representative to the Legislature. But the Indian lawmakers never got a seat on the floor or their names on the roll call board. That changed last week with the passing of legislation to treat the Indian lawmakers the same as all others. “Today is a monumental step,” said Passamaquoddy Rep. Donald Soctomah, The Ellsworth American reported. “We are no longer invisible.” “We’re worthy of having our name put up there, especially during the same week that Barack Obama became the first black president,” Soctomah added. “I’m hoping that when young native children see the name of the tribal representatives up there, it gives them the same hope.”
Supreme Court rejects land-into-trust case (January 22, 2009) The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, declined to hear MichGo v. Kempthorne, a lawsuit that tested the ability of the federal government to acquire land for tribes. The move effectively settles a debate that has haunted Interior as far back as the Clinton administration. For years, tribal foes have argued that the land-into-trust provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act are unconstitutional. Every court that has taken up that question has rejected it. So the action yesterday indicates the justices aren't interested in overturning the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 10th and the D.C. circuits, whose combined jurisdictions cover nearly every tribe in the country. More Information >>>
Supreme Court rejects two Indian law cases (January 12, 2009) - The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected petitions in two Indian law cases. Without comment, the justices declined South Fork Band v. United States. The case involves a long-running challenge to an Indian Claims Commission ruling that said the Western Shoshone Nation was owed $26 million for the loss of their lands. The justices also rejected Roberts v. Hagener. The case was a challenge to Montana state regulations that limit hunting on reservations to members of federally-recognized tribes. One more case, Michigan Gambling Opposition v. Kempthorne remains on the docket even though the justices considered it at their closed-door conference last week. The case is a challenge to the land-into-trust provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act and whether they apply to tribes that weren't recognized as of 1934. Relevant Documents: Supreme Court Order Sheet (January 12, 2009) Related Stories: DOJ brief argues 1934 land-into-trust issue again.
ABA votes to support funding for Tribal Justice Systems (August 12, 2008) The American Bar Association (ABA) enacted a resolution in support of adequate, stable, and long term funding for Tribal Justice Systems funding on August 12, 2008. The following is the text of the resolution: "RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges Congress to support quality and accessible justice by ensuring adequate, stable, long-term funding for tribal justice systems." View Report >>>
Amnesty International issues One year Update to Maze Of Injustice Report (July 15, 2008) Amnesty International released a One Year Update to its initial April 25, 2007 Report entitled "Maze of Injustice." Native women are victimized at 2.5 times the rate of other racial and ethnic groups. Their attackers are more likely to be non-Native, according to government statistics. But tribal governments are hindered by federal law and court decisions. They cannot prosecute non-Natives and they cannot impose a sentence greater than one year or fines of greater than $5,000. State and federal governments can prosecute non-Indians. But Native women advocates say the crimes often go unprosecuted. "Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA" focuses on three areas: Oklahoma, Alaska and the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North and South Dakota. It contains the stories of Native women victims and makes more than 50 recommendations to change the justice system. More Information >>>
Department of justice announces final national guidelines for sex offender registration and notification (July 1, 2008) The Department of Justice today announced the final guidelines for Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The Guidelines provide necessary tools for states, the District of Columbia, territories and certain federally recognized Indian tribes to incorporate SORNA minimum requirements into their sex offender registration and notification programs. “The Department is pleased to provide guidance to states and other covered jurisdictions in complying with the Adam Walsh Child Safety and Protection Act,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Sedgwick of the Office of Justice Programs. “These Guidelines will provide valuable implementation strategies to enhance their abilities to respond to crimes against children and adults and prevent sex offenders who have been released back into the community from victimizing others.” More Information >>>
Supreme Court limits tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians (June 26, 2008) The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday limited tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians in a 5-4 decision that was split along conservative and liberal lines. In the eyes of many in Indian Country, Plains Commerce Bank v. Long was a contract dispute between two members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a non-Indian bank. Since Plains Commerce Bank in South Dakota voluntarily entered into an agreement with Ron and Lila Long, tribal advocates believed the case would withstand scrutiny. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts recast the dispute in a way that precluded tribal jurisdiction. Writing for the majority, he said just everything about the case was non-Indian in nature. "This case concerns the sale of fee land on a tribal reservation by a non-Indian bank to non-Indian individuals," Roberts wrote in his opening. By noting that the Longs mortgaged fee land to the bank, Roberts was able to rely on Supreme Court precedents that limit tribal jurisdiction over lands that are not held in trust. More Information >>>
In recognition of National American Indian Heritage Month, NCJRS presents Justice in Indian Country, a compilation of information and resources on justice-related matters in tribal communities. This resource provides links to publications, Web sites, and funding opportunities on topics including tribal law, justice systems, law enforcement, courts, corrections, juvenile justice, and victim services.
Navajo Nation owed money for bungled lease (September 14, 2007) The Interior Department breached its trust to the Navajo Nation and must pay damages for mishandling a coal mining lease, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday. In a unanimous decision, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals said the "undisputed facts" prove Interior breached its fiduciary duties to the largest tribe in the country. Swayed by a lobbyist, the Reagan administration approved a coal mining lease for a less than a "reasonable" royalty rate, the three-judge panel concluded. That action violated common trust law, as well as a "network" of federal laws and regulations aimed at protecting the tribe's coal resources and keeping the tribe informed about its assets, the court said. More Information >>>
Court denies tribal jurisdiction in ICWA case (September 14, 2007) The South Dakota Supreme Court denied the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe jurisdiction in an Indian Child Welfare Act case. The court said the tribe lacked authority over Daniel John Carlson, who is non-Indian, and his daughter. The court said the daughter is not a ward of the tribe and that Carlson does not live on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Reservation, which has been diminished. Carlson's ex-wife is a tribal member. She sought custody of the couple's 6-year-old daughter after Carlson left their 17-month-old daughter in a locked car all day, leading to her death. The state did not prosecute Carlson so his ex-wife, Barbara Baldwin, sought custody in tribal court under ICWA. More Information >>>9th Circuit rejects Northern Cheyenne injunction (September 12, 2007) A divided panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Northern Cheyenne Tribe's attempt to block coalbed methane development in Montana. By a 2-1 vote, the panel agreed that the Interior Department violated environmental law by approving drilling in the Powder River Basin. But the judges left in place a lower court order that allowed "limited" development while a new environmental impact statement is being prepared. The court did not reach the question of whether drilling would harm the tribe's cultural resources. "Neither the plan nor the partial injunction can affect any Indian cultural resources, because no actual development is possible without additional environmental assessment, consultation with the tribe as required by the National Historic Preservation Act, and permits," Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld wrote. Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder dissented. She said the "limited" development would significantly impact the environment even though the Interior Department has failed to study all of the options for coalbed methane drilling. More Information >>>
Maine sovereignty case headed to Supreme Court (July 9, 2007) Two Maine tribes who lost a critical sovereignty case are filing an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices are the last hope for the Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that both tribes are subject to state employment laws. The tribes fall under a land claims settlement that limited their sovereignty, the 1st Circuit said. Attorney Douglas Luckerman said the decision could have a negative impact throughout Indian Country. The Supreme Court briefs will be filed in the coming months. More Information >>>
Yakama treaty protects smokeshop owners from prosecution (May 21, 2007) Members of the Yakama Nation of Washington can't be prosecuted under a tobacco contraband law, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday. After their smokeshop was raided in June 2004, Harry Smiskin and his son, Kato, were indicted for allegedly violating the federal Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act. According to government prosecutors, the two men failed to notify the state of Washington that they were transporting large quantities of cigarettes without state tax stamps. But in a unanimous decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the charges against the Smiskins. A three-judge panel said prosecution under the contraband law violates the Yakama Treaty of 1855 because it prevents tribal members from free use of public highways and interferes with tribal commerce. More Information >>>
Colorado U.S. Attorney cross-deputizes tribal officers (May 7, 2007) U.S. Attorney Troy Eid of Utah has been cross-deputizing tribal police officers to enforce federal law. Eid said more than 40 officers on the Southern Ute Reservation, as well as officers in two counties, have been cross-deputized. He hopes it will lead to improved law enforcement in Indian Country. About a fifth of the criminal cases handled by Eid's office originate from the Southern Ute Reservation and the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. The homicide rate on the Ute Mountain reservation is 25 times higher than the rate for the state's biggest cities. Colo. tribal officers deputized to help enforce federal laws (The Denver Post 5/7).
9th Circuit blocks snowmaking at sacred peaks (March 12, 2007) The Bush administration violated tribal religious rights by approving the use of reclaimed wastewater in the sacred San Francisco Peaks, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday. In a unanimous decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the treated sewage would harm the religious beliefs and practices of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe and others throughout the Southwest. The three-judge panel cited the testimony of spiritual elders who said the Peaks would be poisoned by the use of reclaimed wastewater. More Information >>>
On September 30, 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California signed SB 678 into law. SB 678 took effect on January 1, 2007. SB 678 codifies the federal requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. §§ 1901, et. seq.) into the California Family, Probate and Welfare & Institutions Codes. This legislation applies in every California court and will impact every tribe in the nation should one of their minor Indian children be involved. This is one of the most important pieces of legislation to benefit Indian tribes, Indian families, and Indian children in California. More Information >>>
Navajo Nation Judicial Branch provides the public and practitioners easy access to information about the Navajo Nation justice system and the efforts of Aląąjį' Hashkééjí Nahat'á in carrying out their duties and responsibilities, including links to Navajo Nation Supreme Court Opinions, The Fundamental Laws of the Diné, Navajo Court Procedural Rules, Navajo Nation Council Resolutions.
Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Launches new Tribal Justice and Safety Web Site (November 28, 2006) - The Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced the launch of a new Tribal Justice and Safety Web site, Tribal Justice and Safety in Indian Country. The Internet home page will be a resource for American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments and communities, and will help the general public and other federal agencies to better understand the resources available for improving safety in Native American communities. “I am honored to deliver the promise that I made to provide a ‘one stop shop’ that will enhance the prevention of and response to crime and the administration of justice in Indian country,” said Regina B. Schofield, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. “This will serve as a medium for talking about promising practices across the nation. Crime knows no boundaries, and the Tribal Justice and Safety in Indian Country site is another way we are using technology to prevent crime and violence from taking root in our communities.”
TribalProtectionOrder.org Launched - Under a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women, the Tribal Law and Policy Institute has launched a new website, TribalProtectionOrder.org, which is designed to provide both tribal and non-tribal entities with a clearinghouse of information and resources pertaining to the issuance and enforcement of protection orders.
United States Government Accountability Office issued a Report to Congressional Committees called "Grants Management: Grantees' Concerns with Efforts to Streamline and Simplify Processes." Grants.gov continues to demonstrate a lack of standardization and inefficiencies in grant administration across federal agencies and difficulties with implementing its Web portal, the Government Accountability Office said in a recent report. Read the Report >>>
Supreme Court move settles tribal authority cases (October 11, 2006) Tribal jurisdiction over all Indians appears to be safe after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected two cases, including a long-running challenge from activist Russell Means. Means, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is accused of committing a crime on the Navajo Nation in 1997. He has repeatedly claimed that the can't be held responsible because he isn't a Navajo citizen. But after a string of appeals in tribal and federal court, the author and actor can now be prosecuted for allegedly beating up his former father-in-law during a domestic violence incident. The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear his case clears the way for tribal jurisdiction. More Information >>>
Native Americans still poorest in United States (August 30, 2006) Income levels have risen and poverty rates have stabilized but Native Americans remain the poorest in the nation, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau. From 2004 to 2005, the average American household earned $46,326, an increase of 1.1 percent. It was the first time since 1999 that the median household income rose, the Census said. But incomes for American Indian and Alaska Native homes remained well below the rest of the nation. Based on a three-year average from 2003 to 2005, the median income was $33,627, lower than incomes for white, Asian and Hispanic households. Download the Report
Report cites impact, growth of tribal gaming in California (June 1, 2006) California's tribal casino industry has exploded in the past eight years, helping the state become a $13 billion gaming giant, attorney general Bill Lockyer announced on Wednesday. About half of the state's 100-plus tribes are engaged in gaming. Their facilities brought in an estimated $5.78 billion in 2004, a 36.5 percent increase from $3.67 billion in 2002, Lockyer said in presenting the results of a new state report. Indian gaming has generated tens of thousands of jobs, improved the quality of life for tribal members and helped rural communities, the report determined. But the rapid growth of the industry, and its impact on urban areas, require careful consideration, Lockyer said. More Information >>>
U.S. Supreme Court refuses to clarify tribal claims (May 16, 2006) Tribal claims across the nation face an uncertain future after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a critical case, Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Pataki. Without comment, the justices declined a petition filed by the Cayuga Nation of New York and the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma. Backed by the federal government, the tribes sought to revive their claim to 64,000 acres in New York. A federal judge had ordered the state to pay $248 million for taking the land without the approval of the United States. But the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, in a split decision that now stands, barred the tribes from seeking money damages for the stolen land. More Information >>>
U.S. Supreme Court won't hear Indian child welfare case (May 2, 2006) An Indian child welfare case that was being watched by tribes and Indian organizations across the nation was turned down by the U.S. Supreme on Monday. Without comment, the justices declined to review Doe v. Mann, a case from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The move affirms a precedent that tribal advocates say runs counter to federal law by giving states more control over Indian child welfare proceedings. Under the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, tribes normally have exclusive jurisdiction over adoptions and custody disputes involving tribal children. Congress passed the law in response to extremely high rates of Indian children being placed in non-Indian homes by states. More Information >>>
Meth money sought for tribes, pueblos (April 26, 2006) Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has introduced legislation to allow American Indian tribes to qualify directly for federal grants to combat methamphetamine trafficking. The Silver City Democrat said Tuesday that tribes and pueblos were unintentionally left out as eligible applicants under a methamphetamine law passed in 2005. The bill makes them eligible for grants from a $99 million law enforcement fund and a $20 million fund to assist children taken from homes where meth had been used or produced. "Last month, I was disheartened to read about a Navajo grandmother, her daughter and granddaughter, who were all arrested for selling meth. We must correct the law to ensure that Indian country has access to all the tools needed to fight this terrible problem," Bingaman said in a statement. National Congress of Indians President Joe Garcia, the governor of Ohkay Owingeh, formerly San Juan Pueblo, specifically complained about the lack of access to anti-methamphetamine funding at the Congress's legislative summit in February. Sen. Gordon Smith, an Oregon Republican, is co-sponsoring the bill with Bingaman.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report calls on U.S. to honor health care commitment - "Broken Promises: Evaluating the Native American Health Care System" examines the United States government's obligation to provide Native Americans with adequate health care and found structural and financial barriers (such as wait times at medical facilities and for treatment; retention and recruitment of qualified health providers) that caused and contributed to health disparities between Native Americans and the general population. This is a is a follow-up to last year's "A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country" report that generated considerable discussion for noting that the federal government spends less on health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives than on prisoners. According to the analysis, Indian Health Service patients receive $1,914 on average compared to $3,803 on average for inmates. Numbers like that led the CCR to conduct a further investigation of the health care system for Native Americans. Last year, panel members visited a facility near the Navajo Nation and held two days of public hearings in New Mexico.
Government Accountability Office releases report on state of telecommunication in Indian Country - The Federal Communications Commission has made efforts to improve the historically low subscribership rates of Native Americans on tribal lands. In addition, Congress is considering legislation to establish a grant program to help tribes improve telecommunications services on their lands. Telecommunications: Challenges to Assessing and Improving Telecommunications for Native Americans on Tribal Lands discusses 1) the status of telecommunications subscribership for Native Americans living on tribal lands; 2) federal programs available for improving telecommunications on these lands; 3) barriers to improvements; and 4) how some tribes are addressing these barriers.
Indian Jails Likened to Iraq (September 22, 2004) Indian jails are "a national disgrace" in which 11 people have died and hundreds have tried to kill themselves or escaped over the past three years, federal officials say. Senators said they were deeply troubled by the report of the situation from the Interior Department's top watchdog, and they likened the jails to the U.S. military's mistreatment of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Earl Devaney, the department's inspector general, painted a grim picture for the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. His report, capping a year of investigation, found at least 11 fatalities, 236 suicide attempts and 632 escapes since the Bush administration took office in January 2001. More Information >>> Get the Reports: "Neither Safe nor Secure: An Assessment of Indian Detention Facilities" (TEXT PDF) and "Indian Jails: A Clarion Call for Reform." (Testimony of the Inspector General Before the Senate Finance Committee) (TEXT PDF)
BIA Recognition Decision Database now Online (July 16, 2004) For months, Bureau of Indian Affairs officials have been touting a CD-ROM containing documents related to the federal recognition process. Thanks to Indianz.Com, you can now Access Them Online! The Acknowledgment Decision Compilation (ADC) is a record of documents the BIA has on file for dozens of groups that have made it through the federal recognition process. It contains over 600 MB of documents that were scanned in by the agency's Office of Federal Acknowledgment. The ADC is actually a Microsoft Access database that contains links to TIFF images of the documents. To make it more accessible, Indianz.Com converted the database to a Web Page. The database only contains information on petitioners that have received an answer -- preliminary or final -- on their status. Groups that are still in the process are not included.
GAO Releases ICWA Report
The General Accountability Office released its long-awaited study on the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), calling for greater oversight to ensure states are complying with the landmark law. More than two years in the making, the study was requested by House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Texas) and two Republicans, including one with jurisdiction over child welfare programs. The lawmakers wanted to know whether the law works as intended -- to give tribes a greater role in decisions affecting the placement of Indian children.
The newest Department of Justice American Indians and Crime Report has been issued. This report, American Indians and Crime, 1992-2002, summarizes data on American Indians in the criminal justice system and reports the rates and characteristics of violent crimes experienced by American Indians. This report is an update of the 1999 Bureau of Justice Statistics with increased coverage of crimes which occur in Indian country.