Ian McKellen Reads William Shakespeare | In Defense of Immigrants

Ain’t No Black Snake or Water… | Indian Country and Fossil Fuels

As it seems right now, the leadership -in distinction from the native populus- of a number of native American tribes fear that federal government under Donald Trump will seize chunks of their lands to exploit the lands’ rich fossil fuel resources. Instead of them doing it. It sounds a bit like it is not about the recent native narrative involving honoring and respecting the land. Or the natural balance of things.

Or the wish of, what it would seem, the majority of native Americans living in reservations.

“Alaska Indigenous” posted an article on January 21, 2016, where they talk about the federal government’s coordinated efforts, in 2016, to pave the road to a possible seizure of native lands for their fossil fuel deposits. It goes like this:

Saglutupiaġataq’s [“the compulsive liar” in Iñupiatun] administration apparently began mobilizing to pursue the privatization of Indian lands as early as October 2016 with the formation of his 27 member Native American Affairs Coalition. The Coalition is chaired by “Cherokee” pretendian Rep. Markwayne Mullin. Like the termination policy of more than 60 years ago, the Coalition contends that impoverished tribes are saddled by federal regulations that stymie self-reliance and prosperity. Tribal lands should be privatized, it argues, so that American Indians can pursue development projects that lift them out of poverty.

Saglutupiaġataq has tapped Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke for secretary of the Interior, the federal agency overseeing the Borough of Indian Affairs. Zinke is a known fraudster with little integrity. Scientific American characterizes Zinke as a “mixed bag” with an anti-environment, pro-industry voting record. It is unlikely that he will be a friend to Indian Country or to Alaska Natives.

A few months ago, as I was following news and policy in Indian Country in the southwest, I read about  Donald Trump’s three visits to Navajo nation during his election campaign in 2016. Navajo Times, among other native media outlets, mentioned Trump’s particular interest in energy talks with the Navajo Nation’s leadership. Then Trump won the election, and the Navajo sent a delegation to the inauguration for further talks and to celebrate the Republican victory.

Looking a bit more carefully into what could be seen as an oxymoron (first nations allying with what would -at first glance- seem like the opposite of their native interests), I found out that the Navajo were not the only ones to walk toward that direction. It was also the Mountain Utes, the Cherokee, some Alaskan native tribes, and more. 

The Energy Wealth of Indian Nations | LSU Journal of Energy Law and Resources

The AI article goes on:

Saglutupiaġataq released his “America first” energy plan hours after being sworn into office. It states the following:

Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own.

Saglutupiaġataq released his “America first” energy plan hours after being sworn into office. It states the following:

Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own.

Now, you may wonder about how federal government could possibly seize Indian land just like that. Well, let’s see…

The termination era of 1953 to 1968 involved Congress stripping tribes of their lands and criminal jurisdiction. The policy was thinly disguised as an attempt to lift American Indians and Alaska Natives out of poverty by assimilating them into mainstream society. However the real goal was to privatize and ransack American Indian and Alaska Native lands.

From the American Indian Relief Council:

From 1953-1964 109 tribes were terminated and federal responsibility and jurisdiction was turned over to state governments. Approximately 2,500,000 acres of trust land was removed from protected status and 12,000 Native Americans lost tribal affiliation. The lands were sold to non-Indians the tribes lost official recognition by the U.S. government….Public Law 280 which was passed in 1953 turned power over to state governments to enforce most of the regular criminal laws on reservations as they were doing in other parts of the state. (Federally Recognized Tribes Should Brace for Possible Termination Policy Under Trump

American Indian reservations are federally owned lands held “in trust” for tribes. The “vast untapped domestic energy reserves” referred to in Saglutupiaġataq’s energy plan are largely within American Indian reservations. These lands would need to be sold or leased to private sector corporations by the federal government in order for development to proceed. But first, tribal jurisdiction over those lands would need to be terminated by Congress and vested in states.

H. Rept. 113-263 | NATIVE AMERICAN ENERGY ACT | 113th Congress (2013-2014)

Going back to Trump and his continuous approaches to native American leadership figures before the election:

A group of advisers to President-elect Donald Trump on Native American issues wants to free those resources from what they call a suffocating federal bureaucracy that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands, two chairmen of the coalition told Reuters in exclusive interviews.

The group proposes to put those lands into private ownership – a politically explosive idea that could upend more than century of policy designed to preserve Indian tribes on U.S.-owned reservations, which are governed by tribal leaders as sovereign nations.

The tribes have rights to use the land, but they do not own it. They can drill it and reap the profits, but only under regulations that are far more burdensome than those applied to private property.

“We should take tribal land away from public treatment,” said Markwayne Mullin, a Republican U.S. Representative from Oklahoma and a Cherokee tribe member who is co-chairing Trump’s Native American Affairs Coalition. “As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country.”

Trump’s transition team did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The proposed path to deregulated drilling – privatizing reservations – could prove even more divisive. Many Native Americans view such efforts as a violation of tribal self-determination and culture.

“Our spiritual leaders are opposed to the privatization of our lands, which means the commoditization of the nature, water, air we hold sacred,” said Tom Goldtooth, a member of both the Navajo and the Dakota tribes who runs the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Privatization has been the goal since colonization – to strip Native Nations of their sovereignty.”

Reservations governed by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs are intended in part to keep Native American lands off the private real estate market, preventing sales to non-Indians. An official at the Bureau of Indian Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.

The legal underpinnings for reservations date to treaties made between 1778 and 1871 to end wars between indigenous Indians and European settlers. Tribal governments decide how land and resources are allotted among tribe members.

Leaders of Trump’s coalition did not provide details of how they propose to allocate ownership of the land or mineral rights – or to ensure they remained under Indian control. (Trump Advisors Aim to Privatize Oil-Rich Indian Reservations | REUTERS)

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To Those Who Voted to Kill me | Repealing ACA

[I hope that you have to feel the pain that I have to go through. I could try to be a better person and say that I didn’t wish this on anybody, but at this point, the only way for you to understand the real, heartbreaking pain that millions of Americans like me are feeling is to actually experience it. I want you to know what it’s like to cry yourself to sleep because you don’t know if you’ll be able to access the medications that keep you alive. I want you to know what it’s like to feel guilty about how much your treatment costs, even though you know there’s nothing you can do about it. I want you to know what it feels like when politicians prioritize their hatred of a president and a policy over your literal means to live. I want you to know what it’s like to live in pain and sickness and to have people say that your desire to alleviate that suffering without experiencing complete financial ruin is “entitlement.”

I want you to know the horror, the heartbreak, the pain, and the fear that 30 million Americans losing their health insurance will feel. I want you to fully experience the impact of the suffering that you have inflicted upon us. It’s just too bad that the world doesn’t work this way.]

To the Politicians Who Voted to Kill me | The Huffington Post

North Dakota Latest Introduced Bills, and the Scalp Bounty

Sometimes a crucial distinction lies merely on the tactic, and not the sentiment.

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[A bill that state GOP Rep. Keith Kempenich introduced would exempt drivers from liability if they accidentally hit a pedestrian, according to the Bismarck Tribune. House Bill 1203 was written up in direct response to groups of protesters blocking roadways, Kempenich told the paper. He claims protesters were seen jumping out in front of vehicles.

“It’s shifting the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian,” Kempenich said. “They’re intentionally putting themselves in danger.

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Another measure would make it a crime for adults to wear masks nearly across the board, while another would allow the state to sue the federal government over millions in extra police costs, according to ABC News.”]  Read the full report | The Huffington Post

Now, let’s draw an analogy (with a practice poorly documented and sensationalized):

[Beginning in the 1830s, two Mexican states (Sonora and Chihuahua) authorized scalp bounties against Apache Indians, but these were as controversial in Mexico as they had been in the British colonies.

In New Mexico and Arizona, the state governments never approved scalp bounties, but some county officials revived and increased the old Apache scalp bounties that had been used by the former Mexican states. A report from the New York Times in 1885 (the most recent source I know of that documents scalp bounties) offers the following passage that shows the mentality of those who justified the practice:

From time immemorial all border countries have offered bounties for bear and wolf scalps and other animals that destroyed the pioneer’s stock or molested his family. Why, therefore, asks the Arizona settler, should not the authorities place a reward upon the head of the terrible Apache, who murders the white man’s family and steals his stock like the wolves?

Some colonial governments in the British North American colonies enacted  scalp bounties early in the 1700s, in the context of war between  Britain and France. They wanted to create an incentive for frontier  settlers to kill Indians who were allied with the French enemy. In  practice, though, colonial Indian killers were careless about the distinction  between “friendly” and “hostile” Indians. As the white population  expanded, so did demand for land, and this was the material motive  behind most killing of Indians, whether sanctioned by authority or not…. ]  Read the full article | Quora

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Realities Most of Us Do not Face | Internet Access and Digital Communication on Indian Reservations

This is especially true in the Great Plains and the Southwest

The Navajo phrase for cell phone is “bil n’joobal’,” or “something you use while spinning around in circles.” The phrase is based on the description of someone spinning around with a phone, trying to get good reception.

Navajo also use the phrase “hooghan bik bil dahjilwo” to describe a cell phone, or “something you use when you run up the hill.”

[This year, the Federal Communications Commission reported that 41 percent of Americans living on tribal lands lacked access to broadband; that number leaps to 68 percent for those in rural areas of tribal lands.

In 2015, the Obama Administration instituted the ConnectHome effort, a project to bring high-speed Internet to a list of rural areas including the Choctaw Nation. Since the dawn of these efforts, the number of connected American Indians has nearly tripled.]

Relative progress isn’t enough, however, and transformative change is far from swift. Terrain, accessibility, population density and poverty are some of the reasons.

Read the full story | ARSTECHNICA

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Also:

Native Americans Get Cheaper Mobile Phones

 

 

A Humble Celebration of Immense Symbolic Power in Indian Country

Banana bread, hot coffee, and later on mutton stew with frybread for all, that bone chilly Saturday. And a heart felt praise to President Barack Obama. It was about the first time in American history first nations were acknowledged, ratified, and officially included in the management of federal lands. And it was the beginning of a ceremony of healing long overdue.

It barely made the news.

On Saturday 7, 2017 people celebrated the designation of Bears Ears as a National Monument, at the Navajo Nation Monument Valley Welcome Center at the Arizona-Utah borders. About 400 people gathered, embraced the news, cheered, and reflected upon what it took to bring that victory, what it means, and what is yet to come.

Navajo Nation President, Mr. Russell Begaye, was there, along with Vice President Jonathan Nez, Alfred Lomaquahu, Vice Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, former Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk (the first person contacted by the White House to nreak the news about the designation back in December), Shaun Chapoose, Chairman of the Ute Tribe of Uinta Ouray Reservation, Eric Descheenie, Representative-elect for the Arizona House of Representatives and former Co-Chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred, who represents five Utah Navajo districts.

“Bears Ears is our place of healing,” observed Eric Descheenie.“The opposition cannot compromise our ability to heal. It is absolutely critical that we develop a space for high-level intellectual conversation where we can talk about who we are and what it means to be human. Bears Ears Commission has created such a space.

The narrative has to shift. Please recognize that indigenous people carry a different body of knowledge. Let’s embrace that difference, support one another, and champion the new narrative.”
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America’s Forgotten Mass Lynching: When 237 Blacks Were Murdered In Arkansas

[The death toll of 237 reported by the Equal Justice Initiative is a new figure, based on extensive research. In 1919, sources as varied as the NAACP and the Bureau of Investigation (forerunner of the FBI) estimated the number of killed African Americans at 25 to 80. Writer Robert Whitaker, who has identified 22 separate killing sites of African Americans during the massacre, put the death toll at more than 100. NAACP official Walter White, who risked his life in October 1919 to investigate the killings, stated that the “number of Negroes killed during the riot is unknown and probably never will be known.”

Say the number of African Americans killed in Phillips County in 1919 was 25. Or 80. Or 237. The very fact that, almost one hundred years after the massacre, we are still trying to pinpoint the death toll should lead us to a larger reckoning: coming to terms with one of the most violent years in the nation’s history, bloodshed that resulted from efforts to make America safe for democracy.]

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Read the full story here | THE DAILY BEAST