US: $3B to end royalty dispute with Indian tribes

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
12/09/2009 07:08 AM

By Matthew DalyAssociated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed spending more than $3 billion to settle claims dating back more than a century that American Indian tribes were swindled out of royalties for oil, gas, grazing and other leases.

Under an agreement announced Tuesday, the Interior Department would distribute $1.4 billion to more than 300,000 Indian tribe members to compensate them for historical accounting claims, and to resolve future claims. The government also would spend $2 billion to buy back and consolidate tribal land broken up in previous generations. The program would allow individual tribe members to obtain cash payments for land interests divided among numerous family members and return the land to tribal control.

The settlement also would create a scholarship account of up to $60 million for tribal members to attend college or vocational school.

If cleared by Congress and a federal judge, the settlement would be the largest Indian claim ever approved against the U.S. government — exceeding the combined total of all previous settlements of Indian claims.

Last year, a federal judge ruled that the Indian plaintiffs are entitled to $455 million, a fraction of the $47 billion or more the tribes have said they are owed for leases that have been overseen by the Interior Department since 1887.

President Barack Obama said settlement of the case, known as Cobell v. Salazar, was an important step to reconcile decades of acrimony between Indian tribes and the federal government.

"As a candidate, I heard from many in Indian Country that the Cobell suit remained a stain on the nation-to-nation relationship I value so much," Obama said Tuesday in a written statement. "I pledged my commitment to resolving this issue, and I am proud that my administration has taken this step today."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called settlement of the 13-year-old case a top priority for him and Obama and said the administration worked for many months to reach a settlement that is both honorable and responsible.

"This historic step will allow Interior to move forward and address the educational, law enforcement, and economic development challenges we face in Indian Country," Salazar said.

Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe from Montana who was the lead plaintiff in the case, called the proposed settlement crucial for hundreds of thousand of Native Americans who have suffered for more than a century through mismanagement of the Indian trust.

"Today is a monumental day for all of the people in Indian Country that have waited so long for justice," said Cobell, who appeared at a news conference Tuesday with Salazar, Attorney General Eric Holder and other U.S. officials.

"Did we get all the money that was due us? Probably not," Cobell said, but added: "There's too many individual Indian beneficiaries that are dying every single day without their money."

The proposed settlement affects tribes across the country, including virtually every recognized tribe west of the Mississippi River. Tribes in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Montana are especially affected by the breakup of Indian land into small parcels, said Keith Harper, a lawyer who represents the plaintiffs.

The settlement would give every Indian tribe member with an Interior Department account an immediate check for $1,000, with additional payments to be determined later under a complicated formula that takes into account a variety of factors. Many tribe members also would receive payments for parcels of land that are held in some cases by up to 100 family members, in an effort to consolidate tribal land and make it more useful and easier to manage.

The settlement does not include a formal apology for any wrongdoing by the U.S. government, but does contain language in which U.S. officials acknowledge a "breach of trust" on Indian land issues.

An apology "would have been nice," Cobell said, but was less important than settling the dispute. "Actions are more important to me than apologies," she said.

News

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/31/2015 04:00 PM
BRIDGETON, N.J. (AP) – A Native American group is suing New Jersey officials to demand it be recognized by the state government. The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation filed a federal civil rights suit on July 20 saying that not having recognition hurts its members psychologically and financially. The group, which is based in Bridgeton, traces its history in the area back 12,000 years and says it now has 3,000 members - the majority of them living in the state. New Jersey made the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape its third recognized tribe with a legislative resolution in 1982. But the group says that’s now at risk because of a report the state submitted to the federal government in 2012 that said New Jersey had not recognized tribes – a change that could also affect the Powhatan-Renape Nation and the Ramapough Mountain Indians, which also had been designated by the state. Gregory Werkheiser, a lawyer for the group, said some state officials became nervous more than a decade ago about the possibility of recognized tribes trying to develop casinos. But Werkheiser said the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Nation has no interest in that, a position spelled out in the group’s constitution. And even if it did, he said, it would take federal recognition – awhich can take decades to secure - for that to happen. The state status is important to the group because, without recognition, it says, its members cannot sell crafts including beadwork, walking sticks, drums, headdresses, regalia, and pottery as “Indian made,” an issue that could cost more than $250,000 a year. Werkheiser said the group’s artisans – many of them senior citizens – have already seen their income take a major hit from that. And the group says it could lose $600,000 in grants, tribal jobs and scholarships that are tied to its designation as a recognized tribe. “State recognition of a tribe has little to no impact on a state budget, except that it may provide tribes access to certain federal benefits that save the state from spending its own dollars,” the group contends in the suit. The state government has not responded to the claims in court. The state Assembly passed a bill in 2011 on procedures for recognizing tribes, but the measure never received a vote in the Senate. A spokesman for John Hoffman, the state acting attorney general, did not immediately return an email seeking comment. The office generally does not talk with reporters about lawsuits it faces.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/31/2015 02:00 PM
NEW YORK – After a dozen of Native American actors felt insulted and walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s “The Ridiculous Six” in April, the movie actor recently told the Associated Press the movie is a “pro-Indian” movie. “I talked to some of the actors on the set who were there and let them know that the intention of the movie is 100 percent to just make a funny movie,” Sandler said. “It’s really about American Indians being good to my character and about their family and just being good people. There’s no mocking of American Indians at all in the movie. It’s a pro-Indian movie. So hopefully when people see it — whoever was offended on set and walked out, I hope they realize that, and that’s it. It was kind of taken out of context.” “The Ridiculous Six,” which is scheduled to be released worldwide via Netflex in December, is Sandler’s first production for a multi-move deal he signed with movie-giant Netflix. “The Ridiculous Six” is intended to be a parody to the 1960 “The Magnificent Seven” Hollywood-western. While the Native actors walked off the set, many other Native American actors did stay and continued to work on the production. The actors who walked off the set said they were upset with the demeaning portrayal of Native women and how the movie producers were insensitive to tribal usage of feathers. “At first I was glad to be part of the movie because it is about Apaches, who are like cousins to us, but then I noticed things were not right about how Apaches were depicted,” said Loren Anthony, Navajo. “For one thing, the costumes we were given to wear were more like what plains Indians wear, not Apache. Then the way feathers were desecrated on the set made me sick to the stomach, literally. I was brought up by my elders to respect feathers. The move crew paid no respect to the feathers.” Back in April, Netflex said, “the movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of but in on the joke.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/31/2015 08:00 AM
In this month's issue: • At-Large CN car tag sales gross $1.2M • Warner, Pearson, Hatfield win Tribal Council seats • Court tosses Smith’s election appeal • Cherokee Phoenix wins NAJA, OPA, SPJ awards ...plus much more. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9489_2015-08-01.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the August 2015 issue of the Cherokee Phoenix. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9489_HolidayGuide2015.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the 2015 Cherokee National Holiday guide.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/30/2015 04:00 PM
LOS ANGELES – Native Voices is seeking short plays that address the many ways a Native American family forms and functions. Native Voices at the Autry is the only Equity theater company devoted exclusively to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native and First Nations playwrights. Plays may be a celebration of family life or an examination of complexities and issues in Native families. Alternately, plays may dramatize traditional family stories or family histories. A reading panel of nationally recognized theater artists and community members will evaluate short plays that are related to the family theme. Selected plays will be presented as staged readings on Nov. 8, as part of the Autry’s annual American Indian Arts Marketplace. A panel of celebrity judges will select the 2015 Von Marie Atchley Award for Excellence in Playwriting, a $1,000 cash prize. For more information and submission details, visit <a href="http://www.TheAutry.org/NativeVoices" target="_blank">TheAutry.org/NativeVoices</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/30/2015 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The Dream Theatre 312 N. Muskogee Ave., will host the Tribal Film Festival on Sept. 4-5. Film festival officials are calling for “indigenous films with inspiring and uplifting stories that change people’s lives.” The films must be indigenous stories, but filmmakers do not have to be of tribal backgrounds. All videos that are selected will be shown at the red carpet premiere event at the Dream Theatre and the ‘best of’ prizes will also be announced at the event. The winning submissions will also be featured on the TFF’s Facebook page, Twitter newsfeed and in the TFF’s trailer reel, which will play at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill during the 2015 Cherokee National Holiday. According to the TFF’s website, each submission will be eligible for distribution on TribalTV, which is a new broadband channel. Those who are submitting their work must own the content or have the rights to submit the film. Films that contain pornography or ultra-violent material will not be considered. Short films must be less than 20 minutes, which includes the credits. Films that are more that 20 minutes will be entered into the feature film category. The official submission deadline is July 29 with a $20 entry fee. The late submission deadline is Aug. 15 and will cost $30. Digital submissions can be entered at filmfreeway.com and hardcopies can be mailed to P.O. Box 581507 Tulsa, Oklahoma 74158-1507. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.tribalfilmfestival.com" target="_blank">www.tribalfilmfestival.com</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
07/30/2015 08:00 AM
BRIGGS, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Community and Cultural Outreach has found a way to help CN citizens and local community members learn more about the Cherokee culture with its Cultural Enlightenment Series. The series is held the second Tuesday of each month, and in July it took place at the TRI Community Association W.E.B. Building (Welling, Eldon and Briggs) in Briggs. Those attending watched participants play Cherokee marbles, weave baskets and perform other family and culture-friendly activities. CCO Director Rob Daugherty said this is just one of the many communities his department reaches out to within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. “This is one of the buildings that we helped start fund along with other departments of the Cherokee Nation,” he said. “In our jurisdiction area we have several of these building and we work with approximately 38 community buildings that we have. We work with way more communities than that, but this is one of them.” Daugherty, who watched the marble games, said he’s glad the community has taken up the sport. “We’re real proud of this organization here in that they started doing this marbles. (They) picked up one of the old games, and now Cherokee Nation’s coming out here and hosting tournaments,” he said. “The good thing about this game is it doesn’t matter how old you are. It doesn’t matte what size you are. It doesn’t matter what level of skill. This is a game that you’re pretty well even starting out. It looks like it’s a games of just haphazardly movements, but there’s a strategy to this game. They’re playing teams, and you can tell among themselves they’re talking where to move, who to hit, where to sit and so forth.” Daugherty said it is also important to use the Cherokee language in the Cultural Enlightenment Series. “Language is really big in my department, so one of the things that I have suggested is no matter what you do incorporate Cherokee language in there,” he said. John Sellers, TRI Community W.E.B. Association president, said he was glad to have the CN come to the building to show community members Cherokee culture. “We attend classes about once a month at the (Cherokee) Nation’s complex and they saw our facilities and they were talking about the old traditional marble games, and we’ve been asking questions about the rules, how you do it. So they come out here to show us and they said, ‘hey, we’ll just have our regular monthly meeting out here and do that,’” he said. “Then, at the same time we got a call and said they had a lady that wanted to do the basket weaving and I said, ‘bring her on.’” Sellers said he is thankful to the CN for all it has done for the community. “I can’t say enough for Cherokee Nation,” he said. “I mean we couldn’t do what we’re doing if it wasn’t for them.” For more information about the Cultural Enlightenment Series, visit <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CNCCO" target="_blank">www.facebook.com/CNCCO</a>.