By Steve Sachs (except where noted otherwise)

Environmental Developments

By Adam Dunstan,


Certain tribes in northern Michigan espouse the seventh generation principle, which says that we should make decisions today based off of the effects they will have on our children seven generations from now. Many indigenous groups echo a similar sentiment: the earth, in all of its resources and sacredness, is not for human use alone. Indigenous groups are often at the forefront of efforts to defend environmental quality. Unfortunately, these same groups are also all too often the first victims of environmental abuses.

As we look at environmental developments over the past four months, both in Indian Country and across the globe, a mixed picture emerges. Recent efforts towards preserving the environment fill us with hope, while incidents like the Gulf oil spill remind us of how far we have left to go on the path towards a healthier environment. Such disasters remind us that our society's ongoing dependence on unsustainable ways of life pose a significant threat to our future, and to our children's future, even up to the seventh generation.

Note: In this issue, we have divided "Environmental Developments" into three sections: "Environmental Developments with the Tribes", "National Environmental News and Legislation", and "International Environmental Developments".

Section One: Environmental Developments with the Tribes

EPA Asks for Comments on Tribal Consultation Policy

The United States Environmental Policy Agency (EPA) has requested comments from federally recognized tribes regarding the proposed EPA Policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes. Executive Order 13175, issued by President Barack Obama on November 5, 2009, directed federal agencies to design plans which would guarantee regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials. The EPA began soliciting input from tribes in January on their plan to develop such a policy. This policy seeks to establish clear standards for the consultation process, designate EPA individuals responsible for consultation and as points of contact, and to establish management oversight.

(Rob Capriccioso, "EPA seeks comments," Indian Country Today, August 16, 2010,

Ongoing Debate over Snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks

The debate continues over the expansion of a ski resort on the San Francisco Peaks, a mountain in Arizona sacred to at least 13 tribes. The Arizona Snowbowl ski resort would like to increase the size of its facilities and start to use artificial snow, made from reclaimed wastewater, to compensate for low snowfall and let them stay open more days of the year. Since the announcement of this plan, it has been fought by individuals from the tribes and by environmental groups. There have been some recent developments.

On July 21st, the Navajo Nation council voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution which encouraged the City Council and Flagstaff Water Commission to disapprove the contract to provide water to Snowbowl. The Navajo Nation's passing of this resolution reaffirmed their opposition to the ski resort expansion project, and to artificial snowmaking of any sort, which they consider desecration of the Peaks.

Flagstaff Council has considered using potable water (indirectly recovered reclaimed water) as an alternative option to direct reclaimed water (effluent), and voted in favor of giving Flagstaff the option to use either. This would allow Snowbowl to go forward with snowmaking without using the reclaimed wastewater that has been a major point of contention with the tribes.

On July 29, a Navajo Nation delegation told the Flagstaff City Council that the snowmaking would still harm the Navajo people. Thomas Walker, Jr. of Leupp Chapter said of the potable water option: "[by] asking the Navajo Nation if we prefer potable or effluent water is essentially asking us if we are willing to negotiate our identity as Navajos; Dook'o'osliid is inextricably tied to our identity, much like one's family members are part of one's identity. It is like asking us to turn out back on a family member. As such, this is a matter we cannot negotiate".

(Alastair Bitsoi, "Navajo Nation urges Flagstaff Council to disapprove Snowbowl water contract," Navajo-Hopi Observer, August 18, 2010,

For more on the controvery over snowmaking, please see: Adam Dunstan, "'With Anything Manmade there is Going to be Danger': The Cultural Context of Navajo Perspectives on Artificial Snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks", Indigenous Policy Journal, July 1, 2010,

DOE tribal energy office in the works

The Obama Administration may be close to establishing a tribal energy office within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  The office would be called the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs. According to Katinka Podmaniczky, a DOE spokesperson, the Office would "leverage the department's resources to promote tribal energy development."  Some tribal energy officials have eagerly awaited the development of such an office, as there is a great amount of room for improvement on federal coordination with tribes on energy development. 

In other energy development news: the DOE's Tribal Energy Program has been awarding between $6 million and $10 million to tribes every year for projects involving renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Government studies have shown there is significant potential for sustainable solar and wind on many reservation territories. 

(Rob Capriccioso, "Lights back on for tribal energy prospects," Indian Country Today, September 29, 2010,

Renewable Electricity Standard Bill

Meanwhile, in Congress, Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan), have announced a Renewable Electricity Standard Bill.  This bill would require a gradually increasing amount of renewable energy to be produced by utilities.  Some tribal persons have expressed interest in the bill. A spokesman for Sen. Bingaman said that tribes would receive double credits, under the proposed legislation, for electricity generation done via renewable facilities on tribal lands.

(Rob Capriccioso, "Lights back on for tribal energy prospects," Indian Country Today, September 29, 2010,

Tribal Energy Development Barriers

In 2009, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs identified three major obstacles to tribal energy development: (1) outdated legislation and cumbersome regulations for tribal energy development, (2) lack of access by tribes to the electricity transmission grid, and (3) the difficulty in obtaining financing and investment for tribal energy projects. 

Part of the problem is that currently tribes cannot benefit under renewable energy tax credits since tribes are not taxable entities. A bill (the Indian Energy Promotion and Parity Act) introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) during the spring did mention tax credits for tribes, but this proposed legislation has not progressed much in Congress. 

(Rob Capriccioso, "Lights back on for tribal energy prospects," Indian Country Today, September 29, 2010,

Black Hills Uranium Mining

Around the United States, a number of in-situ leach (ISL) uranium mining projects are on the table which could affect different tribes. ISL mining removes uranium from underground aquifers through pumps which inject solutions of groundwater and oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, carbon dioxide, or sodium bicarbonate. These dissolve uranium and other heavy metals in the ore. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), ISL causes minimal disruption to the surface (unlike conventional milling), but water quality restoration is needed afterwards.

According to Indian Country Today, on October 1 st, the NRC announced an operating license for ISL uranium mining at the Moore Ranch, in Campbell County, Wyoming. Uranium One America, Inc. would do this mining. Their 2007 application they filed with the NRC was the first for uranium mining with the agency in two decades, an event Neal Froneman, then-CEO of the company, called "a landmark event in the rapidly evolving renaissance of the United States uranium mining industry". Uranium Mining would begin in 2012.

Consultation is occurring with tribes who have a cultural heritage interest in the site, according to the NRC. The NRC's Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement notes: "Tribal consultation letters were sent to the following tribes on Dec. 24, 2008: Blackfeet, Cheyenne River Sioux, Crow, Eastern Shoshone, Ft. Peck Assiniboine/Sioux, Northern Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, Oglala Sioux, and Three Affiliated Tribes," and "No response has been received indicating that traditional cultural properties or landscapes of importance occur within the proposed license area." The NRC has stated, regarding uranium mining, that "NRC routinely consults with tribal governments that have a known interest in, or may be potentially affected by" their actions.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe has expressed concerns over water impacts and cultural properties from another possible ISL site - Powertech USA is seeking a permit for ISL mining near Edgemont, South Dakota, across the state line from the Moore Ranch site. This mining would take place on 18,000 acres in the Southern Black Hills. The NRC announced in August that it has given legal standing for local residents, citizens, and the tribe to participate in the permit process for this mine.

The NRC's impact study for the Moore Ranch mine stated that socio-economic impacts would be "moderate" and other impacts (such as on water quality and cultural resources) would be "small" or "small to moderate". However, Lilias Jarding of the Clean Water Alliance said that "as the first in-situ leach mine license issued in recent years, Moore Ranch sets a precedent that opens the door to uranium mining in our region." She also says "Uranium mines pollute water, and in-situ mines use huge amounts of water. We need to protect our water supply." The Alliance warned about the hazards to health posed by radiation from uranium mining and transportation, and said that 272 old uranium mining sites in western South Dakota have never been reclaimed.

The NRC staff is reportedly having discussions with uranium recovery companies. Future ISL mines could occur in Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico, and South Dakota.

(Talli Nauman, "Native Sun News: Company aims to develop Black Hills uranium," Native Sun News, cited on October 8, 2010 at

Navajo Petition Supreme Court on Uranium Mining

Certain Navajo Nation residents, the Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM), and Southwest Research and Information Center, filed a petition on September 16 th with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding uranium mining near Church Rock, New Mexico. They want the Supreme Court to re-consider a decision made by the 10 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Circuit Court had upheld the licensing of uranium mining near Church Rock by the NRC. Those filing the petition believe that radioactive emissions from existing mine waste should be included when evaluations are made by the NRC of whether or not the proposed mines would produce more radiation than regulatory limits allow. The petitioners also are claiming that the NRC did not follow its own criteria for protecting local residents' drinking water.

Hydro Resources, Inc. (HRI), the mining company in question, would use in situ leach (ISL) uranium mining. Even without additional mining, airborne radiation near the site isalready at higher levels than NRC limits. This is because of previous mining debris. The NRC reportedly claimed that as part of the HRI mine project, there would be a cleanup of these old polluted areas that were putting out surface radiation. However the NRC later claimed that their regulations required them to consider only the radiation the new mine would produce, and that they could not enforce the promised cleanup. The 10 thcircuit Court of Appeals agreed, in a split decision. The petition by the residents to the Supreme Court claims that the environmental compliance documents for this mine thus contained incorrect information, because the promised cleanup turned out to be false.

Judge Carlos F. Lucero, on the dissenting side of the Appeals Court decision, said that the NRC's decision and the Appeal Court's support of it would "expose those families (downwind of the mining operation) to levels of radiation beyond those deemed safe by the NRC's own regulations, jeopardizing their health and safety." The petition to the Supreme Court states that residents living near the HRI mine would now have to live for an indefinite period of time with radioactive contamination compromising their health and safety.

ISL mining injects a solution into an aquifer which dissolves uranium into the solution, before being pumped out. The aquifer affected by this mine provides drinking water to residents. According to the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, this is the first time the NRC has allowed ISL mining in a drinking water supply, and that no aquifer in which ISL mining was done has returned to pre-mining conditions. Critics of the plan have also said that mining would be a threat to public safety, and that the mining plans have not provided adequate restoration goals for the aquifer or set aside money for water quality restoration. The NRC is not supposed to license mining if it feels the license would adversely impact health and safety of the public, according to the critics of the proposed mine.

Hydro Resources, Inc. cites the economic benefits of its operation, and, reportedly, funds "civic ventures" in towns near the mines. The parent company, Uranium Resources Inc., has a contract to produce an estimated 6-9 million pounds of uranium per year from New Mexico, in a joint venture with a Tokyo-based transnational.

(Carol Berry, "Anti-uranium Navajo residents petition high court," Indian Country Today, October 8, 2010, )

Yakama Nation says "No" To Honolulu Waste

The Confederated Tribes of the Yakama Nation have sued the United States Department of Agriculture (DOA) because the DOA planned on allowing the transport of landfill waste from Honolulu, Hawaii over a Yakama treaty lands. The waste would go to a private landfill, but not before passing over a "ceded area" established by an 1855 treaty. The tribe has concerns over microbes, insects, pests, and invasive species that might be in the waste, as well as impacts on Yakama fishing activities, plant gathering, and ceremonial activities. The Yakama Nation also stated that there should have been a more thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Yakama Nation was able to gain a temporary restraining order on the project.

In early August, the USDA also decided to withdraw permission for Hawaiian Waste Systems to ship its cargo to Washington, resulting in 100 tons of garbage backlogged. The Yakama tribe said they will continue to push the lawsuit forward in part to establish clearer guidelines for similar issues in the future.

(Joel Millman, "Indians Make U.S. Take Out the Trash," Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2010,

Canadian First Nation Organizes Protest to Claim Fishery

The Vancouver Island first nation Stz'uminus has declared that, for the second time, it may disrupt a geoduck fishery in Kulleet Bay. The chief councilor of the Stz'uminus, John Elliot, said that they will do what they need to, including a water-based blockade, to keep fishermen out. The First Nation wants to have full control over a small section of the bay. They are also objecting to the fact that they feel they were not consulted before this fishery was opened to commercial collection of geoduck (a profitable and edible shellfish) this year. The Stz'uminus said that if the Canadian government reopens this fishery for commercial activity, it might use a flotilla of boats to make it dangerous for divers to get in and harvest the shellfish, a tactic they have used before. Ms. Wylie of the Canadian Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, however, said that the tribe was offered a chance to provide feedback but did not, and that the fishery is being managed sustainably.

(Rebecca Lidell, "First nation plans second geoduck fishery protest", The Globe and Mail, August 16, 2010,,)

Ute Indian Tribe Land Rights Asserted in Case against Questar

The Ute Indian Tribe in eastern Utah won a legal battle against QEP Field Services (an affiliate of Questar), asserting their right to environmental and right-of-way compliance by the company on Ute lands. QEP Field Services had proposed the creation of three transmission lines and a cryogenic processing facility as part of a gas processing plant on Uintah and Ouray reservation lands. Apparently the tribe had attempted to stop the expansion, but Questar obtained an injunction against them. However, on July 16 th the District Court in Salt Lake City overturned this injunction, reasserting the rights of the tribe over environmental and right-of-way compliance on these lands.

Curtis Cesspooch, Ute tribe chairman, said that Questar had not secured EPA approval for the expansion. He also expressed concern that the plant could produce potentially toxic levels of air pollutants that would endanger tribal members and other Uintah Basin residents. Cesspooch emphasized, "instead of acting as our partners, they [Questar] have harmed the tribe and told us we do not exist as a people on our own reservation".

(Carol Berry, "Energy giant told to follow rules," Indian County Today, August 19, 2010,,)

Developments in Skull Valley Goshute Reservation nuclear waste storage plan

On July 26th, Judge David M. Ebel ruled that during the Bush administration the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) had acted in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner regarding a proposed nuclear waste storage project on the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation. In August, Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, said that the Obama administration had not decided whether they would appeal the decision. Secretary Salazar has faced pressure from "Utah politicos" to appeal on behalf of their interests. The tribe, which has an 18,000 acres reservation, had had an arrangement with a nuclear waste storage company to store up to 44,000 tons of nuclear waste on a 100-acre site. The NRC had even approved a license for the deal. But the DOI objected. The DOI rejected a lease for the facility, as well as a rail line to the Goshute Reservation, a decision criticized by Judge Ebel.

(Rob Capriccioso, "Interior undecided on Goshute nuclear site appeal," Indian Country Today, September 14, 2010,

The Seven Generation Principle & Environmental Responsibility

Environmental decision making is often done on the basis of short-term profits or immediate needs. According to an article by Todd Spencer, tribes in Northern Michigan such as the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians believe we should instead consider the principle of the Seventh Generation: decisions today should be made on the effects on children seven generations from now. Hank Bailey, a natural resources staffer for the band, documents some of the natural resource problems in his area: water withdrawal, loss of habitat, invasive species such as Asian Carp, as well as air pollution from coal plants, which is drawn into the area by the lake effect. According to Bailey, if the Seventh Generation principle type of thinking had been practiced in the recent past, it may have prevented the spread of Zebra Mussels in the Great Lakes, prompted a shutdown of mercury polluting coal plants, and lead to a switch to renewable energy as global warming became evident. Tree planting projects by grade school children of red osier dogwoods, and other similar projects, attest to this Seventh Generation philosophy. Replanting Projects by the Grand Traverse Bands (of red osier dogwood etc) have been so successful that four other Indian bands are also replanting native trees of their community.

(Todd Spencer, "Grant Traverse Bands' Seven Generations Philosophy Sees the Planet in Long Term," August 17, 2010, note: article originally ran in November, 2008 in Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine)

Counsel to follow Creator's Plan with Salmon Restoration

"It's dangerous to mimic the Creator," writes Caleen Sisk-Franco in Indian Country Today (Caleen Sisk-Franco, "Sisk-Franco: To restore salmon, follow the Creator's plan, not "˜Frankenfish'", Indian Country T oday, October 8, 2010). In this opinion piece, Sisk-Franco connects salmon restoration and native spirituality. Sisk-Franco is chief and spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu, a tribe working on a salmon restoration project on the McCloud River. He warns against salmon genetically engineered by the company AquaBounty, which are under review (and will probably be approved) this month by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many have called the engineered salmon "Frankenfish". They are engineered with a poutfish gene and a growth hormone so that their growth rates are twice as rapid. Sisk-Franco writes that the FDA is assessing the safety of these fish based off of the company's research, but "anyone with common sense can see Frankenfish poses a great threat to wild salmon": if they were to escape into the ocean, they would compete with the wild salmon for food, contaminate their gene pool and possibly cause extinctions. This is a bad time for such a threat to arise: Pacific salmon runs are at low numbers, and there are fears by many, including the Winnemem Wintu, that the fish are headed for extinction. Sisk-Franco says "AquaBounty is like coyote building with sticks," (referencing a story in their tradition in which Coyote is beaten up by children he makes from sticks), "and the GE salmon are as shoddily constructed as coyote's children."

Sisk-Franco notes that although the government is approving these salmon, it has been skeptical towards the tribe's Chinook salmon restoration plans. During World War II, the Shasta Dam was constructed on the McCloud River, which permanently blocked the migration of the salmon on that river. This could have meant that the McCloud salmon, which the Winnemem Wintu had known so well, were gone forever, especially since it was impossible to tell which current Sacramento salmon were descended from the McCloud salmon. However, help came from New Zealand. In the 1870's, a McCloud hatchery had sent salmon eggs to New Zealand which formed the foundation of a fishery "“ setting up a pure pool of descendents of the Winnemem Wintu's salmon. In March, 2010, Winnemem Wintu were able to go to New Zealand, hold a ceremony for these salmon, and receive approval from the New Zealand government and the Maori to transport these salmon back to their homeland. Stateside, the fry would be reared and re-introduced on the McCloud River.

However, stateside agencies express concern about the genetics of these McCloud descendent salmon and the threat this could pose to other Californian salmon, concerns which Sisk-Franco explains are largely unfounded. He writes that their restoration plan, based off thousands of years of experience with these salmon, should be considered of more worth than the research of groups trying to genetically engineer salmon. Sisk-Franco says "They've been trying to replace the salmon they've destroyed with coyote-like machinations"¦and now the unholy conception of Frankenfish"¦.If they're going to allow AquaBounty to raise the Frankenfish, they should allow us to try our plan that poses no danger"¦that aims to restore the world to the way the Creator made it, the way it was meant to be and the only way we'll ever bring the salmon (and ourselves) back from extinction."

(Caleen Sisk-Franco, "Sisk-Franco: to restore salmon, follow the Creator's plan, not "˜Frankenfish'," Indian Country Today, October 8, 2010,

Section Two: National Environmental News and Legislation

Climate Change Legislation

On July 22 nd, Senate Majority Harry Reid made it clear that the Senate Democrats had given up plans to pass a comprehensive energy bill capping greenhouse gases, as there was no Republican willing to pass such a bill. Senator Kerry (D-MA) said that there were no Republicans in the Senate willing to back the comprehensive energy bill that he had been working on, so they would fall short of the 60 votes that would have been needed to pass the bill. Senator Kerry had been negotiating with Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) Sen. Graham stopped supporting the bill in May, citing the impossibility of passing the legislation in the face of disagreements on offshore drilling, and Democrat focusing on immigration reform. The bill had been called a "national energy tax", there were concerns about its effects on jobs, and it had not gained enough support.

Reid and other Democrats said that instead of a comprehensive energy bill, they would focus on passing a more specific bill responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and energy efficiency. Meanwhile, Senator Bob Casey said that he and others would continue to push for a comprehensive bill in the future. A plan by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe from Maine involving a more modest approach (with a carbon tax only being applied to the electricity sector) was never formally proposed, but also failed to gain sufficient votes.

(Matthe Daly, "Climate Bill: Senate Democrats Abandon Comprehensive Energy Bill," Matthew Daly, Huffington Post, July 22, 2010,

Ryan Lizza wrote an article appearing in the New Yorker exploring why the climate change legislation which was previously backed by Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham, and which would have set a 17% reduction in carbon emissions did not succeed. The 17% reduction would have been equivalent to goals of a passed House bill, and President Obama's Copenhagen commitment.

(Ryan Lizzi, "As the World Burns", The New Yorker, 1

Gulf Oil Spill Updates

One of the most significant environmental disasters this year was the April 20 th explosion on BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which lead to the largest accidental oil spill in history. We have summarized just a few stories from the deluge of news written on the spill.

Extent of the Damage

Before the oil leak was stopped, an estimated 60,000 barrels of oil spilled into the gulf daily. Various unsuccessful attempts were made before the leak was plugged on July 15 th. After 86 days, oil stopped gushing with the capping of the 18,000 foot deep Macondo well. On September 19 th, the federal government announced that the sealing of the well had been successful. The sealing was accomplished by pouring cement into the bottom of the well via a relief well. The Macondo well and the relief wells are now to be abandoned. All told, approximately 172 million gallons of oil were spilled due to the disaster.

("Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010)," The New York Times, updated October 7, 2010,


The oil slick seemed to be dissolving at a highly rapid rate, as thousands of square miles of surface oil had disappeared and other patches were apparently breaking down. However, there may still be significant amounts of oil in the gulf. Contrary to earlier federal reports, which claimed that 75% of the oil had evaporated, been collected, or dissolved, independent researchers have found that data does not support this. An August 20 report in the journal Science confirmed that there is a gigantic plume of oil deep in the Gulf which had not yet broken down. This oil could potentially be an environmental threat to wildlife for months or years to come. Independent researchers have concluded that up to 50% of the oil from the gulf well is buried on the seafloor, in coastal sludge, or suspended in the water. The extent of ecological damage will likely remain uncertain for some time, until research can catch up with what has happened here.

("Gulf of Mexico Oil spill (2010)," The New York Times,; John M. Broder, "Report Slams Administration for Underestimating Gulf Spill," The New York Times, October 6, 2010,

Ongoing Environmental Impacts

Questions remain as to the ongoing ecological effects of the spill. Government statements have emphasized that the oil is breaking down rapidly A report released on August 4 by a team of scientists lead by NOAA indicated that 74% of the oil had been removed, either being directly captured from the wellhead, evaporated, burned off, dispersed into microscopic droplets, skimmed, or naturally removed. They said remaining 26% of oil is mostly washed or collected ashore, or still below and on the surface as sheen or tar balls. However, Samantha Joye, professor marine sciences at the University of Georgia, attacked this report and said "The idea that 75 percent of the oil is gone and is no further concern to the environment is just incorrect". Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator, defended the report, saying that some of these numbers are directly measurable while others are best estimates. The administration later scaled back these conclusions.

The August 4 NOAA report also indicated that the oil is breaking down rapidly. However another report seems to contradict this. The first peer-reviewed publication of oil spill observations, by oceanographers at the Wood Hole Institute, was published in the journal Science on August 20, 2010. Based off observations in late June, the report notes the ongoing persistence of a plume of oil in the gulf 26 km long and 100 m deep that had persisted for months without any substantial biodegradation. One of the lead researchers, Mr. Camilli, comments that it was dissipating so slowly that the oil plume is "going to persist for quite a while before it fully dissipates or dilutes away". He said also that this plume could be in the gulf for many more months.

On a more positive note, the relatively high levels of oxygen revealed in the report, while showing that biodegradation is going slowly, also show that concerns over fatal lack of oxygen around the plume have not been realized. Mr. Camilli also notes that the situation may have changed since the observations in June.

(For the report go to: "Tracking Hydrocarbon Plume Transport and Biodegradation at Deepwater Horizon," by Camilli, et al. at

Meanwhile, preliminary research by scientists at the University of South Florida looked at undersea plumes of microscopic oil droplets which extend dozens of miles from the wellhead. They announced on August 17, 2010, that there were oil droplets scattered in sediments on the gulf floor and in the water column, where they are a potential threat to important gulf fisheries. According to this report, the oil was having toxic effects on bacteria and phytoplankton, which are of course foundational to the gulf food web.

(John M. Broder, "Report Slams Administration for Underestimating Gulf Spill," The New York Times, October 6, 2010,; Richard A. Kerr, "Report Paints New Picture of Gulf Oil," ScienceNow, August 19, 2010,; Justin Gills, "Oil Plume is Not Breaking Down Fast, Study Says," The New York Times, August 19, 2010,

The Gulf of Mexico has "an unusually rich concentration of wildlife", according to ecologist Carl Safina. Shrimp and oysters support the ecosystem, and a vibrant fishing industry. The Gulf generates approximately 20% of the U.S.'s production of seafood. Safina notes that species at particular risk from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill include: fish and shrim; oysters; the western Atlantic Bluefin tuna if oil gets in their gill (which already threatened by overfishing and which seems to breed only in the Florida Straits and near the rig), etc...

Oil has also covered hundreds of birds in the area, though others are uncovered.

Long story short, we simply do not yet know with much precision what effects on wildlife the gulf oil spill has or has not had, according to Safina. Safina also notes a point of optimism: warmer weather in the Gulf of Mexico will hopefully enhance oil breakdown faster than at other oil spills.

(Carl Safina, "Toxic Brew," Audubon Magazine, September/October 2010,; Ted Williams, "Black Bayou," Audubon Magazine, September/October 2010,

Oil from the gulf spill hit Louisiana first and later Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. It covered tourist beaches, washed onto shorelines, and crept into marshlands used by fishermen. There are concerns that berms constructed in areas such as the Chandeleur Islands of Louisiana to prevent oil access to the shores, could harm coastal marshlands and alter hydrology. The disaster has prompted a review of deepwater drilling by a presidential commission, and new regulations requiring a stronger review process for such drilling

("Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (2010)," by The New York Times,; "The Environmental Impact of Oil Spills," by The New York Times,, )

Initial Misinformation on Gulf Oil Spill reported by Presidential Panel

The New York Times reports that the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, a president-appointed panel, found that the Obama administration had failed to make known to the public the administration's worst-case estimates of the amount of oil that was coming out of the blown-out BP well, and how much was left after the well was capped. The panel released this information in four reports on October 6, 2010. The Obama administration responded that the NOAA worst case estimates were incomplete at first, and sent back for review. They also said the administration quickly and fully responded to the oil spill. The federal government reported a flow of 5,000 barrels a day for over a month, though BP officials and government scientists felt that it could actually be as high as 110,000 barrels per day. Eventually an agreement was reached that the rate was 60,000 barrels per day.

(John M. Broder, "Report Slams Administration for Underestimating Gulf Spill," The New York Times, October 6, 2010

Policy Impacts

After the BP oil spill in the gulf, the Obama administration banned deepwater drilling for six months, and is now contemplating how to permit these operations to resume with proper safety. The Obama administration is in the process of recognizing the agency which regulates deepwater drilling. It has renamed it the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, with a new director, Michael R. Bromwich. Mr. Bromwich is hosting forums with experts to examine the challenges of offshore drilling.

(Jad Mouawad and Barry Meier, "Risk-Taking Rises as Oil Rigs in Gulf Drill Deeper," The New York Times, August 29, 2010 at:

Deepwater Drilling Presents Risks

The Gulf of Mexico accounts for a quarter of the United States' oil output. In this region, there has been a wave of ultra-deep platforms for offshore oil developments "“ platforms that can drill well below 1,000 feet of water "“ since technology progressed in the 1990's. Some experts warn that these more complex and remote drilling operations present risks that have not been properly addressed. These platforms are much more complex than the BP well that caused the massive oil spill in April. They use new technology to tap into oil fields that were inaccessible previously (when 1,000 feet was the furthest that was practically drillable).

Despite heavy investigation of the April spill, risks from these new deep rigs have not been properly explored. "Our ability to manage risks hasn't caught up with our ability to explore and produce in deep water," said Edward C. Chow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The depth itself is not what makes these new rigs risks, but rather the complexity - risks from equipment or human error increase as the rigs become larger and more complex "“ and the distance from on-shore emergency crews. As an example, Perdido, the largest of these deep wells, is about 200 miles from the coast. A major fire could become out of control before a boat could take the 20-hour trip to get to it. In these deeper and more remote operations, hurricanes, powerful currents, mudslides, and freezing of chemicals are also risks.

Thomas Leschine of the University of Washington, Seattle, said that regulators and oil companies had become ambivalent towards the growing risks because of how rare actual accidents are.

Oil companies say that offshore drilling is often safer than land drilling, noting that there are more rigorous safety procedures. Oil company executives have warned against overreaction by the government to the BP oil spill. Exxon Mobil's chief executive said "The industry approach is that we always focus on prevention." 4,000 wells, they claim, have been drilled in the deep waters of the gulf. Before the BP spill, 1,800 barrels of oil had spilled through blowouts from 1979 to 2009, according to the Interior Department.

Also, in July, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon and Shell, said they would design and build equipment to contain blowouts at a depth of up to 10,000 feet, under a $1 Billion initiative.

(Jad Mouawad and Barry Meier, "Risk-Taking Rises as Oil Rigs in Gulf Drill Deeper," The New York Times, August 29, 2010,

Air Pollution Linked to Adult Diabetes

A study by researchers at the Children's Hospital Boston found that there is a strong link between adult diabetes and air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter (such as in smog and exhaust from automobiles).

(John Collins Rudolf, "Polluted Air and Diabetes: A Link," October 4, 2010,

America's Great Outdoor Initiative

Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, recently noted that "with 80 percent of Americans living in cities and suburbs, it is more important than ever for people to have access to outdoor space". However, our public and private wild spaces face a variety of challenges in 2010 that they did not a century ago when public land conservation was first prioritized by President Theodore Roosevelt. Climate change is one issue that needs to be addressed in any 21 st century conservation plan.

In an attempt to start a dialogue about conservation of these threatened natural spaces in the United Space, and to develop a strategy for doing so that meets our current challenges, President Obama has established the America's Great Outdoor Initiative, on April 16, 2010. The goal of this initiative is to "promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors." Efforts of the initiative include an Ideas Forum at on which citizens can post their ideas for conservation, which are then voted on (demoted or promoted) by others, to show their popular support, as well as a series of Listening Sessions around the country put on by the Department of the Interior.

For more information, please visit;,;;

Formaldehyde Bill

On July 7, 2010 President Obama signed into law The Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act. The Sierra Club called this bill a "landmark bill which will protect consumers by enacting national standards for formaldehyde in composite wood products". A coalition of citizens and groups petitioned the EPA to enact stricter formaldehyde regulations (following the lead of California), after many Gulf Coast residents became ill from formaldehyde poisoning in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Reportedly, FEMA-issued trailers contained a high level of formaldehyde.

("Success in Sierra Club's Five-Year Formaldehyde Fight," Sierra Club Scrapbook, July 20, 2010 07/20/10,

BP Refinery Toxic Chemical Release in Texas

In April and May, a BP refinery in Texas City, TX reportedly released huge amounts of toxic chemicals into the air that lead to individuals coming down with respiratory problems. Many residents this spring experienced ceaseless coughing, severe chest congestion, sore throats, vomiting, and diarrhea which may have come from the emission of harmful chemicals from the refinery. Local residents have now joined a $10 Billion class-action suit against BP, according to The New York Times. The refinery is a major employer in Texas City, and some residents expressed skepticism against those who are claiming they became ill from the incident.

The emission lasted for 40 days and ended on May 16. An important part of the refinery broke down after a fire, leading to 538,000 lbs. of toxic chemicals being released, including 17,000 lbs. of benzene (a carcinogen), 37,000 lbs. of Nitrous Oxides (which can cause respiratory illnesses), 185,000 lbs. of Carbon Monoxide, and 262,000 lbs. of volatile organic compounds.

The Texas Attorney General has sued the company for $600,000. They contend that BP had not properly maintained its equipment State officials also claim that this particular refinery has surpassed pollution limits 72 times in the past 5 years.

BP says that its monitors showed no rise in pollution during April and May, when the incident had occurred. They attempted to divert and burn off the gases, though Texas state environmental officials feel that thousands of pounds of chemicals were still released.

(James C. McKinley Jr., "With Neighbors Unaware, Toxic Spill at a BP Plant," The New York Times, August 29, 2010,

10,000 Flags for Freedom from Oil

On June 30, 2010 Sierra Club volunteers planted 10,000 flags on the National Mall in Washington D.C, which spelled out "Freedom from Oil". At the event, Sierra Club chief executive Michael Brune said that the flags represented thousands of Americans who had watched the BP oil spill disaster and wanted to "make sure it never happens again", and who also wanted more choices for transportation. He also said that the United States' addiction to foreign oil was a security issue. Jon Powers, a former Army Captain, Iraq veteran, and Chief Operating Officer for the Truman National Security Project, also spoke at the event, and noted the impacts that purchasing foreign oil was having in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Club is calling on President Obama to craft a plan to end the United States' dependence on oil over the next twenty years.

("10,000 Flags Planted in D.C. to urge Freedom from Oil," June 30, 2010, at: found in July 6, 2010 "The Insider")

Gray Wolf Population Once Again Listed as Endangered

The Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the gray wolf ( Canis lupus) has once more been listed on the Endangered Species List by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This follows a federal district court decision on August 5, 2010, in Defenders of Wildlife et al. v. Salazar and greater Yellowstone coalition v. Salazar. Endangered species listing provides many protections, but still allows taking of wolves by Service, state, tribe and other agents in circumstances that warrant it.

(KLEW Web Staff, "Endangered Species Act protection reinstated for wolf population," August 17, 2010,

West Virginia Mountaintop Mining Lawsuit

The state of West Virginia has sued the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The state wants to reverse stricter controls on mountaintop coal mining established by the Obama administration in 2009. Mountaintop coal mining, common in West Virginia and other eastern states, blasts hundreds of feet of soil and rock off of hilltops to reach coal seams. In response to the lawsuit, the EPA expressed concern over keeping Appalachian communities' water safe for drinking, swimming, and fishing, referencing language in the Clean Water Act.

(Erik Eckholm, "West Virginia Sues U.S. Over Mining Restrictions" The New York Times, October 6, 2010, reports that mountaintop mining damages human communities and the environment in many ways: dramatically increasing the incidence of flooding due to vegetation loss, denuding landscapes, creating toxic waste sites with billions of tons of mercury and other chemicals, and threatening homes. claims that in West Virginia alone 1,200 miles of waterways have been destroyed by this practice.

(For more information, visit:

Clean Energy Investment from Recovery Act

According to a White House fact sheet, President Obama's Recovery Act is investing over $90 billion in clean energy. According to the White House document, these investments are improving the environment, increasing jobs, and reducing dependence on oil while making the US an energy leader globally. Such investments have, for example, gone to battery manufacturing, a loan for solar power energy generation by a company called Bright source in the Mojave Desert, and power grid updates. These investments, in 2010's first quarter, created over 80,000 clean energy jobs. They also helped 20,000 families reduce their energy use through home improvements through the weatherization program. The administration has a goal of doubling U.S. renewable energy generation by 2012

(For more information see:

Climate Change Threatens Long-lived Trees

Climate change may be having unexpected impacts on some of our most ancient species. The Bristlecone Pines, a unique and extremely long-lived species of North American tree which can withstand a number of environmental stresses over its centuries-long lifespan, is now extremely threatened by pine bark beetles and invasive blister rust. Scientists suspect that both these organisms are increasing in the Bristlecone Pines' range due to warming trends. The Pines may also start exhibiting shorter life spans due to accelerated growth from warming, said Dr. Salver of the University of Arizona.

According to the "rapture hypothesis" of some ecologists, warming could cause species filling ecological roles at the tops of mountains could lose their niche and disappear.

(Jim Robbins, "Old Trees may Soon Meet their Match," The New York Times, October 27, 2010,

Section Three: International Environmental Developments

Prospects for Upcoming Climate Change Convention

The 16th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is starting November 29th in Cancun, Mexico. Negotiators and commentators, however, are reportedly expressing little hope for progress on the climate change during this conference.  Few heads of states plan to attend and there are no major new initiatives on the table.  Furthermore, there seems to be no hope of passing a global treaty to curb greenhouse gas production.  A New York Times article states that while the Copenhagen Conference last December "was crippled by an excess of expectation.  Cancun is suffering the opposite". The main thing negotiators are hoping for? Simply to ensure that nations do not go backward from what has already been agreed upon. They also aim to "secure momentum" on some of the less contentious issues like forest preservation and renewing the commitments that the nations made in the voluntary Copenhagen Accord.

That said, even parts of the Copenhagen Accord, which some feel was a very minor contribution to fighting climate change, are now being debated again.  At the Copenhagen Conference, more affluent nations had pledged to raise $100 billion over this decade to assist the less affluent nation in their response to global climate change, with $30 billion by 2012.  Such money has not been very forthcoming.  Meanwhile, developing nations are negotiating for more funding, which seems unlikely to pass. The US envoy for climate change, Jonathan Pershing, expressed frustration that the Copenhagen negotiations were being rehashed.

This conflict mirrors the controversy that damaged the Copenhagen negotiations. Wealthier nations are pushing for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from countries like China and India. Meanwhile, less wealthy nations want the developed nations to commit to cut their pollution more than they have. They also want the developed countries to produce more financial assistance for the other nations to adapt to climate change caused by developed nations' rampant pollution over the last century.

The attitude towards the upcoming conference is in stark contrast to the buoyant optimism that preceded last year's conference in Copenhagen. At that time, some had hoped for an international treaty on climate change providing financial assistance to less wealthy countries adapting to climate change, and which would mandate a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the wealthier nations. These hopes did not turn out in Copenhagen. Although a voluntary agreement was reached, there were also evident tensions.

Todd Stern, the top U.S. climate negotiator, said that the Obama administration was standing firm on its international commitment of a 17 percent reduction by 2020, but Mr. Stern recognized that it is a long and difficult10-year process.

Mr. Stern is among a group of people who have asked whether the UN is the best place for dealing with these negotiations, and who have considered taking on climate change in agreements between fewer countries, or dealing with the more contentious issues on a stand-alone basis. Nonetheless, all parties still seem committed to using the UN forum, and the Cancun meeting is being spoken as a conference to rebuild confidence among those who have now lost their faith in the treaty process and gain more momentum.

(John M. Broder and Elisabeth Rosenthall, "Poor Prospects for New Climate Meeting," The New York Times, October 7, 2010, Poor Prospects for New Climate Meeting)

The Influence of Climate Change on Human Communities

Among the many effects that climate change may have is reducing the food security and quality of life of indigenous peoples.


According to the Morung Express, climate change is affecting the people of Nagaland, a state in India, especially the Naga women in rural areas. These women depend on local natural resources and are experiencing food instability and an increasing need to look beyond traditional means for sustenance. For example, altitude changes in where crops can be grown have led to more strenuous work for women farmers. Also, warming has allowed new species of pests to infest crops. Furthermore, there have been unexpected rain and hailstorms. Changing weather patterns have forced people to go far into the jungle to collect edible wild plants for humans and livestock. The article notes "There is a serious need to tackle climate change by involving gender experts who can analyse the situation and address the issue accordingly. "

("Climate Change Hits Hard," Morung Express, July 27, 2010,

Marshall Islands

Leaders of The Republic of the Marshall Islands are seeking legal counsel regarding how climate change might affect their nation. Officials from the Marshall Islands have asked Michael Gerrard, a law expert from Columbia Law School to help them determine such pertinent questions as what happens to their claims to citizenship, resources, and a seat at the U.N. if their islands are submerged due to sea level rise. The Marshall Islands are a Micronesian nation of 29 low-lying coral atolls.

One of the most pertinent threats of climate change is the potential of increases in sea level. This could endanger islands, coastal cities, and coastal countries (like Bangladesh), according to an editorial appearing in the New York Times. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has given a conservative prediction of a 20-inch increase in sea-level by 2100 if current climate trends are not reversed. Other studies have indicated that the sea level could rise as much as seven feet. A 20 inch rise alone would submerge one of the atolls in the Marshall Islands, raising the tricky possibility of moving entire segments of their population.

Gerrard notes that even if an island is only partially submerged, it can become unlivable because moderate storms could still cause a swamping of agricultural lands or make freshwater undrinkable.

("The Urgent Islands," The New York Times, August 29, 2010, (

Conflicts over Water Rights Impact Disenfranchised Communities

The World Bank has found that during the time it has taken the world population to triple, water usage has increased six times "“ much faster than population growth. According to a report released by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) on April 22, 2010 "Equitable access to [water] is unlikely for those marginalized communities unable to enforce political and social rights. As access to easily available water is rapidly becoming politically complex and economically costly, it is probable that the rights of vulnerable groups will be sacrificed." These communities often are disregarded as far as water rights for a variety of economic, political, and cultural reasons. The UNPO report should cause us concern, as researchers of indigenous issues, that water management policies often exclude the interests of indigenous peoples.

The UNPO report lists the following threat to marginalized communities' access to water:

Dams "“ While dams can be valuable for irrigation and renewable hydroelectric energy, large dams on rivers can have a number of negative impacts on downstream communities deprived of water, displaced by flooding, or affected by pollution. For example, the Indus River, running through China and Pakistan, has been heavily diverted and dammed. This has caused flooding, altered sacred and sustaining rivers in Tibet, and lead to relocations. UNPO says that it has also destroyed cultural and sacred sites and agricultural lands in part of northern Pakistan. In another part of northern Pakistan it has also destroyed 850,000 acres of ecologically valuable mangrove swamps, 2.2 million acres of fertile land, and drinking water streams.

Loss of Fishing Rights "“ Overfishing and loss of fish populations leads to struggles over fishing rights. Often times indigenous groups lose out while fishing industries keep rights, despite the importance of fishing in some indigenous cultures. An example is the Tmishian Nation in British Columbia and Alaska, who have lost some of their previous ability to access land and fish resources.

Access to Water "“ National and international regulations sometimes restrict indigenous groups from accessing water, which radically alters their cultural and social ways as they are limited in how they can practice their traditional agriculture and herding. An example of this is the Maasai of Kenya and Tasmania, a nomadic cattle herding group. The Maasai have suffered from lack of water for their cattle due to the apportionment of land for a private tourist resort, and otherwise suffered due to development, conservation, and tourism efforts in which they have been underrepresented.

Port Construction "“Ports are often built without nearby indigenous groups being included in the decision making process. Without such consultation, these groups cannot give their potentially valuable input of local environmental and cultural knowledge. Pollution and oil runoff from vessels can harm fish as well as the fishermen who depend on them, and port construction affects populations in other ways as well. For example, the Baloch people of Pakistan have experienced devastation of fishing villages due to pollution runoff from the Gwadar Deep Sea Port, and many inland and coastal waters have been used by the government without consulting the Baloch.

Water Diversion "“ The Ahwazi people have been threatened by the diversion of the Karoon River by the government of Iran, which would reduce water availability and, some Ahwazi have argued that t would hurt the livelihoods of many farmers. There are also concerns that it would affect marshes and rivers supporting endangered fish and migratory birds.

(The full report, "Water Politics: Impacts on Disenfranchised Communities," is available at

Hungary "Toxic Red Sludge" Spill

On October 4, 2010, a giant industrial container at an alumina plant near Mersevat, Hungary dumped millions gallons of a toxic red sludge of caustic mud on three villages. According to Hungarian government estimates, it dumped between 158 million and 184 million gallons. Essentially, there was as much sludge spilled over these villages in a matter over hours as there was oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the BP oil spill over a matter of months.

Creeks and rivers near the site of the spill were devastated by the flood, and some wildlife killed. The sludge caused local waterways to be highly acidic (pH 13.5). A local river was declared dead due to the sludge spilling.

The sludge went into the Danube River by October 9, but has had little ecological harm as of yet, according to Hungary government officials.  Prime Minister Orban reported that they had taken control of the situation and eliminated the threat to the Danube River.

There is a risk of pervasive, long-lasting environmental damage, according to the Washington Post. Greenpeace expressed concerns over high levels of arsenic and mercury found in laboratory testing of water they had organized, and the Hungarian State Secretary for the environment reported that the caustic mud was turning into airborne dust, which could cause respiratory problems. Residents near the flood were told by the government to wear face masks. On the other hand, the Hungarian Academy of Sickness said that while the material is hazardous, it does not contain levels of heavy metal dangerous to the environment. "The academy can say whatever it wants," said one resident in response, "All I know is that if I spend 30 minutes outside I get a foul taste in my mouth and my tongue feels strange"

At least five people were killed, as of October 8, and three people are missing.

(Pablo Gorondi, "Toxic Sludge Almost Size of Gulf Oil Spill," Washington Times, 10/08/10,; Washington Post, 10/07/10,

Exploitation of Nature Threatens Indigenous Peoples

"For most of us," reports the Society for Threatened Peoples International, "access to clean water and adequate land for food cultivation is taken for granted, and yet many of the 350 Million indigenous people world-wide are deprived of these basic resources." Globally, exploitation of nature is often coupled with the exploitation or disadvantaging indigenous people. For example:

In Panama, the Kuna people (a group of 32,000) use 360 islands for residence and cultivation, many of which are only a meter out of the water "“ in short, islands which are threatened by rising sea levels as a result of climate change. The secretary-general of the Kuna-Yala congress, Ariel Gonzalez, said that "The recurring inundation is unusual. It won't be long until many of the islands are completely underwater." The Kuna are planning to resettle on the mainland because of this threat.

In Guatemala, the Maya-Mam have filed a lawsuit in 2007 against gold mining on their land, demanding the activity to cease, a cleaning of their contaminated water sources, and health treatment, as well as protection of mining opponents. The mine was contaminating drinking water with cyanide and excessive water usage, and toxic metals were found in the residents of the area near the mine. 97% of the Maya, according to a poll, are against the mining. The lawsuit has been acceded to by the Inter-American Commission on Human rights, part of the Organization of American States.

(The full report is available at:

Pacific Oceanscape framework passed

The Pacific Ocean includes many pristine coral reefs (known for their high biodiversity), abundant fishing, tourism, and water activities. It is also threatened by a combination of climate change, overfishing, and other human-induced forces. According to Conservation International, conservation of the ocean "has always been a challenge, complicated by territorial disputes, varying national regulations and the difficulty of enforcing laws over a vast area. In addition, high-seas regions lie outside of national jurisdiction and are largely devoid of any governance at all." However, ocean conservation is critical, especially for island nations which are "at particularly high risk for threats like rising sea levels and ocean acidification caused by climate change". This is an issue that should concern our journal as scholars of indigenous policy.

In a significant step for the conservation of our imperiled oceans, leaders from 15 pacific island nations, including Australia, met in August for the Pacific Islands Forum, and developed a collaborative ocean management plan known as Pacific Oceanscape. The initiative covers nearly 24 million square miles, making it the largest government-endorsed ocean management plan on the planet. The initiative emphasized: increasing scientific knowledge regarding the ocean; protecting biodiversity; educating and training scientists, policymakers, and other stakeholders on proper management include how to manage multiple use protected marine areas; fighting illegal and criminal practices on the ocean; partnerships and coordination between nations; and strengthening governance of the ocean.

One positive outcome of better management of this ocean would be building the resilience of the ecosystem "“ its ability to adapt and return to previous conditions - in the face of threats such as global warming. "Only by doing this can there be some assurance that the oceans, and millions of people who depend on them directly for their livelihood and well-being, will survive the onslaught of global climate change," said the President of Kirbate, Anote Tong.

(Molly Bergen, "Creating an Oceanscape", Conservation International, August 17, 2010,

Banks Decrease Lending to Polluters

Commercial lending institutions and banks are showing their hesitancy to help finance companies which engage in practices which are seen as environmentally harmful. Some lenders are analyzing more carefully who they are lending to when borrowers are taking part in practices that are potentially environmentally destructive, such as oil and gas development, coal power, oil sands development (an issue IP reported on last issue), dams, forestry, and types of agriculture. Many of these practices are not regulated by law but are nonetheless of concerns to lending institutions, in part due to pressure from environmental protesters and advocates.

Take mountaintop mining. Although this may often be a legal practice, some institutions seem to feel it has become unprofitable to help provide capital for a practice which can lead to legal fiascos and environmental controversy. Wells Fargo, in July, noted that due to "considerable attention and controversy" with mountaintop mining, its involvement with companies which did this practice was "declining". Other major financial institutions, like Bank of America, Citibank, and JPMorgan Chase have increased their scrutiny of, and sometimes stopped, lending to such companies.

The Rainforest Action Network said that policy shifts are beginning to chip away at financing for mountaintop mining. Mining industry representatives contended that they are not having problems securing financing. However, these initial moves by banks could send a message to other banks to beware of these "high risk profile" companies. Meanwhile, mining industry representatives said that these policies often do not consider laws which are already in place requiring environmental impacts and restoration.

Other examples of banks reconsidering financing such activities include HSBC in London. HSBC has reportedly curtailed relationships with some palm oil producers. Palm oil is often correlated with deforestation. Meanwhile Rabobank, a Dutch Lender, has instituted a list of criteria for lending to oil and gas companies, which includes commitments to water quality.

(Tom Zeller Jr., "Banks Grow Wary of Environmental Risks," The New York Times, August 30, 2010,

Providing Global Access to Energy

The New York Times reported on Oct. 4, 2010, that 1.4 billion people globally lack access to electricity.  Some experts feel that ending "energy poverty" is a prerequisite to meeting other major U.N. Millennium Development Goals.  The International Energy Agency recently reported that to accomplish universal access to modern energy by 2030, it would take $36 million a year over the next twenty years.  They feel this can be accomplished without a major increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, since many parts of the world could be better electrified through renewable, rather than nonrenewable, energy. 

(Elisabeth Rosnethal, "Goal Looms for U.N.: Ending "˜Energy Poverty'", October 4, 2010,; Nobuo Tanaka, "Energy Poverty: How to make modern energy access universal?" at:

Conservation Agreements in Cambodia

Conservation International reported on its recent activities to encourage conservation in Cambodia. One of Southeast Asia' last remaining stretches of wilderness, the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia, has been receiving help from a unique partnership program between Conservation International and local Cambodian communities. The region provides habitat to the critically endangered Siamese crocodile ( Crocodylus siamensis), and is also an important watershed for agriculture and fisheries.

Destruction of this forest would possibly cause eventual flooding, loss of fishery yields, loss of ecotourism, and impact the economic wellbeing of communities. As noted by CI "Several years ago in the Cambodian village of Chumnoab, limited economic opportunities were leading local people to regularly cut down forests for agriculture and hunt increasingly rare species for the illegal wildlife trade. When faced with the questions of daily survival, conservation was simply not an option. Local communities are unlikely to choose to protect ecosystems unless conservation efforts benefit them in concrete, measurable ways". That is a bold premise which, whether we agree with or not (I am not sure I do), has led to some interesting programs set up by CSP.

CI has set up, through CI-Cambodia and its Conservation Stewards Program (CSP), a system of conservation agreements with people living in Chumnoab and five other communities which will enable and encourage them to "protect critical resources while providing immediate investments in economic development". This program began in 2006. The conservation agreements are negotiated contracts with local people to receive specific economic benefits in return for protecting "critical resources". The agreements in Chumnoab, for example, are based off CI's assessment of what residents would lose by conservation "“ i.e. the economic benefit they would miss out on (short term) by halting deforestation and illegal hunting on their lands. CI then met with community leaders to determine important development needs of the community. In Chumnoab, the residents agreed to protect a buffer zone of the Central Cardamoms Protected Forest, halting forest clearing in certain areas, ending poaching, and helping with monitoring. CI in turn provided them funding to purchase farming equipment and water buffaloes, and to help pay for teachers.

Since the start of the agreements 20,000 ha (50,000 acres) of forest have been protected, the local Siamese crocodile population has increased by over 10%, and other threatened species have been observed returning to this area. In addition to helping conserve forest ecosystems, the partnership with Chumnoab has helped the community through improved farming mechanisms, supporting education, and providing jobs as monitors.

Eduard Niesten, director of CSP, said, "CSP and CI-Cambodia have demonstrated how the conservation agreement model provides a highly effective tool for integrating local communities into protected area management while improving human well-being."

(Molly Bergen, "Conservation Pays Off", Conservation International, August 14, 2010,

Additional Environmental Developments

Steve Sachs

Extreme weather, consistent with global warming, has continued to increase, as, at least the United States, experienced its hottest summer on record, in 2010. Melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, making the high and low flow of rivers more extreme, combined with exceptionally heavy rain this summer to cause the worst flooding in Pakistan's known history, displacing several million people, effecting some 20 million persons, an eighth of the population, while destroying vast areas of the country. Providing aid has been extremely difficult, leading to anger at the government, while the Taliban and other dissident groups have attempted to improve their own positions by providing aid. The humanitarian situation will remain extremely serious for a long time, even if a great deal of international aid is provided. "Pakistani officials, diplomats and aid workers warn that while civil unrest has so far been averted, the aftermath of the worst-ever flooding in Pakistan could destabilize the country in the months to come and aggravate the already deep regional, sectarian and class fissures. Management of the disaster has added to the distrust that many Pakistanis already feel for their civilian political leaders, while the armed forces have burnished their image performing rescue and relief missions along the length of the flooded areas. There have been angry accusations from politicians and flood victims that officials have guided relief to their own party supporters, and serious allegations that powerful landlords and politicians diverted surging floodwaters to protect their own lands at the expense of others." "The real dangers for the government may lurk once the first phase of the emergency passes. Many flood victims will accept immediate hardship, but will be less able to withstand prolonged hunger and homelessness, Pakistani officials and aid workers say" (Carlotta Gall, "Floods in Pakistan Carry the Seeds of Upheaval," The New York Times, September 5, 2010,

In the farmlands of Iraq and Syria, north and East of the Euphrates River, four years of drought combined with poor agricultural management practices have turned the breadbasket of the region, and an important sheep raising area, into a dust bowl, causing some 50,000 people to migrate from the region in 2010, as ancient irrigation systems have collapsed, underground water sources have run dry and hundreds of villages have been abandoned. Huge numbers of refugees now live in tents around nearby cities. In Syria, half the country's water supply has dried up, and the nation, once a wheat exporter, has had to turn to wheat importing. For Syria, which is running out of oil reserves and struggling to draw foreign investment, the farming crisis is an added financial strain, and a potential source of unrest, because it is taking place in the area where its restive Kurdish minority is centered. The four-year drought in Syria has pushed two million to three million people into extreme poverty, with Herders in the country's northeast having lost 85% of their livestock, and at least 1.3 million people being affected, according to a survey completed in October by the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter. Iraq, already devastated by war, is facing a historically unprecedented water crisis in both the north and the south. The situation in both countries has been exacerbated by reduced flow on the Euphrates from Turkey, which has been building massive upriver dam projects, that are likely to generate more tension as the water crisis worsens (Robert F. Worth, "Earth Is Parched Where Syrian Farms Thrived," The New York Times, October 13, 2010,

In Russia, which suffered from extreme heat and drought last summer "“ causing the government to cease all of the country's usually large grain exports, while extensive wild fires brought wide damage and extensive, health problem causing, air pollution "“ in October, unusually heavy rains in the mountains in the southern region of Krasnodar caused flooding in 24 villages, killing at least 11 people, with 380 initially evacuated (Alexei Anishchuk, Editing by Janet Lawrenc , "Floods In Russia Kill 11," The New York Times, October 16, 2010,

Continuing extreme weather in the United States has included serious flooding on the Rocky Boy Reservation on Montana that caused evacuations of hundreds of people, and left at least 250 people without water as water lines and other infrastructure and property was torn up by 5 inches of rain, in mid June, following an unusually wet spring (Matt Volz, "250 still without drinking water on reservation," Indian Country Today, July 8, 2010, The Navajo Nation declared a state of emergency, August 4, because of flooding from heavy storms that took at least 3 lives. At Chinle Wash, 50 people wee evacuated because of the worst flooding since 1967 (In the Navajo Times, August 5, 2010: "State of Emergency Declared Because of Storms;" and Cindy Yurth, "Police evacuate 50 in Chinle as wash swells").

Survival International released a new report, to mark the UN Day of Indigenous People, August 9, highlighting the devastating impact on tribal people of a massive boom in dam-building for hydropower. The report exposes the untold cost of obtaining "˜green' electricity from large hydroelectric dams in Asia, Africa and the Americas, as a rapid increase in global dam-building is under way. The World Bank alone is pouring $11 billion into 211 hydropower projects worldwide. The impact on tribal people is profound. One Amazonian tribe, the Enawene Nawe, has learned that Brazilian authorities plan to build 29 dams on its rivers. The Penan tribe in Sarawak face eviction to make way for a dam, and tribes in Ethiopia could be forced to rely on food aid if a dam being built on the Omo River is not halted. One man from the Omo Valley's Kwegu tribe, said, "Our land has become bad. They closed the water off tight and we now know hunger. Open the dam and let the water flow." Hundreds of Brazilian tribespeople gathered in August to speak out about the Belo Monte dam, that threatens several tribes' land and vital food supplies. For more information, go to:

Jonn M. Broder, "Developing Nations to Get Clean-Burning Stoves," The New York Times, September 20, 2010, report, " An alliance lead by the United States has announced a program to provide 100 million clean burning stoves to developing areas in Africa, Asia and South America, where currently 300 million people cook meals on primitive indoor stoves fueled by crop waste, wood, coal and dung. These inefficient stoves contribute to global warming and climate change, while being a major contributing cause, via their air pollution, to the deaths each year of 1.9 million people, mostly women and children, from lung and heart diseases and low birth weight. Replacing the stoves will reduce deforestation in search of fuel, as well as cutting carbon and other harmful emissions. The United States is providing about $50 million in seed money over five years for the project, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. With more than a dozen other partners, including governments, multilateral organizations and corporate sponsors, contributing an additional $10 million or more.

The largest oil spill in world history from BP's Deepwateer Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico seems finally to have ended with the permanent capping of the well. However an estimated 80% of the spilled oil remains on the bottom of the gulf, mostly east of the well site, and is continuing to cause great harm to life in the gulf. State recognized tribes in Louisiana have been particularly hard hit by the Deep Horizon oil catastrophe. The United Houma Nation with approximately 17,000 members who live in a six-parish area, many along the coastline, largely live by fishing which is now endangered, potentially for years to come. Moreover, the threat has been exacerbated by coastal erosion spurred on by the four hurricanes that have impacted the region in recent years, in addition to which,, much of the coastline has already been altered from oil industry development. As a result, wildlife that was once native to the area has disappeared, in some areas. Meanwhile, federally recognized tribes in the region are largely inland and the BIA, which has reached out to all federally recognized Indian nations in the Gulf coast area, had received no reports that any of their natural resources have been impacted by the spill. (Rob Capriccioso, "State recognized tribes face greater oil spill risks," Indian country Today, June 4, 2010,

There have been other serious oil spills over the last few months. The National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, (including via:, stated in August, "Last month, over 1 million gallons of oil spewed into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan when a risky tar sands oil pipeline burst. It's being called the most destructive oil spill ever in the Midwest. Not only is extracting tar sands a dirty, dangerous and energy-intensive process, it produces three times the global warming pollution as conventional crude oil production. Now, the Obama administration is considering giving a green light to a similar pipeline from Alberta, Canada, through Montana and all the way down to Texas." NWFA is opposing all such pipelines. In part because, "Tar sands is one of the most environmentally destructive fossil fuel resources to extract and refine. Tar sands operations have destroyed huge tracks of the boreal forest in Canada and created over fifty square miles of toxic tailing ponds, killing wildlife and releasing dangerous carbon pollution into our air. There's no doubt this oil is dirty and dangerous. And the BP oil spill disaster has showed us that it only takes one accident to wind up with catastrophic consequences." The United States has a growing dependence on oil from tar sands in Canada, which are causing tremendous environmental destruction, [including serious water pollution causing rare cancers among an Indian population, previously reported in these pages] (Clifford Krauss and Elisabeth Rosenthal, "Mired in Canada's Oil Sands: Despite Pollution Risks, U.S. Dependence Grows, The New York Times, May 19, 2010). The Obama administration has declared a moratorium on deepwater gas and oil drilling until its safety can be ascertained. Mariner Energy, the owners of the oil rig that had fire on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig at the beginning of September, has been involved in at least 13 different offshore accidents since 2006 in the Gulf of Mexico alone (Bruce Kennedy, "A Deeper Look at Mariner Energy, Owner of Oil Rig That Caught on Fire," DailyFinance, September 4, 2010, and

Hydraulic fracturing, which has made it possible to obtain huge amounts of relatively clean burning natural gas, has been found to be a major source of extremely dangerous water pollution, and is suspected of being the cause of such serious water pollution in the town of Pavillion on the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming, that the Environmental Protection "˜Agency (EPA) has told residents not to drink their water and to use fans and ventilation while bathing or washing clothes to avoid the risk of explosion.(( Testing by EPA has discovered benzene, metals, naphthalene, phenols, methane and other contaminants in groundwater and in area wells. The Eastern Shoshone Tribal Water Quality Commission is working closely with the EPA in investigating the cause. EPA's early studies have found that at least three water wells in the area contained a chemical used in the fracking process.(( The study is the first undertaken by the EPA, and is hindered because gas companies can conceal the chemicals used in the process as trade secrets. The gas company that owns most of the wells near Pavillion is paying part of the cost of supplying drinking water to residents, while not accepting responsibility for the contamination. (( Natural gas drilling is rapidly expanding across 31 states, and complaints like the ones from the residents of Pavillion have arisen across the country.(( New York has blocked drilling within New York City's watershed. In Pennsylvania, 13 families have filed a lawsuit against a drilling company for allegedly leaking toxic fracking fluid into the groundwater, exposing residents to dangerous chemicals and sickening a child. (( Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security contracted with the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, who in part tracked anti-drilling activists, reporting them for such activities as screening the critical documentary "Gasland." Local news reported that ITTR also reports anti-drilling activities to private energy firms, to which a Sierra Club representative responded has "a chilling effect" on the environmental community. However, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, on learning of the tracking, apologized to the citizenry, and terminated the ITTR contract. ((In 1988, the EPA ruled that oil and gas wastes, even if toxic, were exempt from the hazardous waste provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The EPA exempted hydraulic fracturing when it assessed the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005.( But last March, after Congress ordered the agency to conduct a fracking study to address concerns that the process may impact ground and surface water quality in ways that threaten human health, the agency announced it will conduct a comprehensive research study to investigate potential adverse impacts.(( The EPA is also pressuring the energy companies to provide information about the chemicals used in the fracking process. As it is now, the agency doesn't know which chemicals to test groundwater for. ((The oil and gas industry argues that their costs from federal regulation would cripple their business, and that state regulations are already strong. A few states have some regulation of fracking, which are far from uniform (Terri Hansen, "EPA tells town on Wind River Indian Reservation: Don't drink the water" Indian Country Today,

October 12, 2010,

Andrew F. Gould, the chief executive of Schlumberger, of one of the world's largest oil and natural gas services companies, said, October 13, that shale gas could be much harder to recover in Europe than in the United States, because of concerns about environmental damage and other issues. He noted, "We should not underestimate the challenge. The drilling and producing of shale gas wells in Central Europe will be very different from doing so in the southern United States for financial and logistical, social and regulatory reasons." Extracting shale gas is much more complicated and expensive than drilling for traditional gas deposits. It involves forcing large amounts of briny and often heavily contaminated water to the surface, requiring the water has to be siphoned off to avoid contaminating local drinking water. The explosive fracturing underground can also cause serious pollution of water below the Earth's surface (James Kanter, "Outlook for Shale Gas in Europe Is Uncertain," The New York Times, October 13, 2010,

Delegations from Navajo, Hopi/Tewa, Havasupai (Havasu "˜Baaja) and other southwestern tribal nations representing organizations that include Dooda Desert Rock, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Black Mesa Trust, Big Mountain Diné Nation, Save the Peaks Coalition, and Pro-Environmental Delegation of Supai People attended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing September 2, 2010 in Denver, CO, one of seven nationwide, eliciting public comment on the agency's first national coal ash regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which regulates solid waste. Coal combustion residuals, or coal ash, are byproducts of coal-fired power plants such as the Four Corners Power Plant within the Navajo Nation and the San Juan Generating Station, located off-reservation and west of Farmington in northwestern New Mexico. The coal ash, disposed of in large surface impoundments or landfills, contains contaminants such as mercury, cadmium and arsenic associated with cancer and other serious health effects. EPA said, that its risk assessment shows that without proper protections, "these contaminants can leach into groundwater and can migrate to drinking water sources, posing significant (public) health concerns" (Carol Berry, "Power plants' effects targeted," Indian Country Today, September 29, 2010,

A new virulent strain of yellow rust (striped rust) fungus (PstS1 and PstS2) were attacking wheat on five continents at epidemic rates, beginning in 2009, creating a major threat to world wheat supplies (Mogens Stovring Hovmoller, Stephanie Walter, Annemarie Fejer Justsen, "Escalating Threat of Wheat Rusts," Science, July 22, 2010).

Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero, "Americas Program Biodiversity Report, June 2010,", reports, "May 22 was International Biodiversity Day, but Costa Rican environmentalists saw no reason to celebrate.  "˜How can we celebrate biodiversity when it is seriously threatened,' asked Nancy Hidalgo, president of the Coordinating Network for Biodiversity in Costa Rica (RCB).  "˜The country has an open pit gold mining operation said to be in the public interest that will destroy hundreds of hectares of forest and an enormous degree of biodiversity. Although it could do so right now, the government won't take action in the face of this threat.  On the contrary, the government favors these projects. The recently signed moratorium on mining won't solve the problem because it can't be retroactively applied.'" "The Norwegian government is one of the principal donors to the Amazon Fund, an institution created in 2008 by Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio "Lula" Da Silva and administered by the Brazilian Development Bank.  It receives voluntary donations from governments, multilateral entities, businesses and non-governmental organizations for the purpose of combating the deforestation of the Amazon jungle and thus aiding in the fight against global warming. But, according to the World Rainforest Movement (WRM), "˜In clear contradiction to this, the Norwegian government is investing in bauxite mining  and the production of aluminum in the very Amazon jungle it claims to protect.'  The Norwegian state company Norsk Hydro is prepared to take control of the bauxite mine Paragominas ( ), one of the largest in the world, and to take over 91% of Alunorte  ( ), the world's biggest aluminum refinery.  Both facilities are located in the Brazilian state of Pará." "The NGO indicates that aluminum smelting is a process which requires enormous quantities of electricity which constitute between 20% and 40% of operating costs.  And in the Amazon, the only way to obtain so much energy is by means of giant hydroelectric dams.  "It is not at all surprising that the Brazilian government has recently approved the construction of the controversial Belo Monte dam, whose objective is to feed industrial processes such as that of aluminum along with the required low-cost energy. "˜Some 20,000 people in the districts of Altamira, Vitória de Xingu and Brasil Novo will have to abandon their land and be relocated, charged the organization Save the Jungle.  "˜The damage to fish and the fluvial exchange will add to the incalculable environmental damage.  Emissions of methane, a gas with a very strong greenhouse effect, are another grave problem, as is the increase in illnesses such as malaria and yellow fever.  Because similar dams have already been constructed in the past in Brazil, the disastrous effects on the environment, climate and human beings are very well known.'" In Chile, "Dozens of Chilean civil society organizations are standing together in the fight against a so-called "˜Plant Breeders' Rights' Senate bill.  According to the protest campaign, the project "˜implies that the genetic contamination of vegetable species, would put in danger native seeds, would have negative impacts on consumer health, would threaten all agricultural exports, organic agricultural production, and also the competitiveness of exports in this sector.  Furthermore, it would dramatically increase the dependence of farmers on transnational agrochemical corporations, and would raise the price of food.' "˜"We are talking about a direct attack on food production which was, until now, in the hands of campesinos and medium-sized producers and who will find themselves subject to greater costs and greater controls,'  said an open letter signed by many groups including the National Committee For the Defense of Flora and Fauna (CODEFF) and the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women (ANAMURI)." "Bolivian president Evo Morales decreed a five-year transition period in which to eliminate genetically modified (GM) crops from the national territory, as well as a process for rescuing local seeds in order to promote food sovereignty."

Carmelo Ruiz Marrero, "Americas Program Biodiversity Report "“ July 2010," August 8, 2010,, reports, " Bolivian environmental organizations and indigenous groups that supported Evo Morales in his election to the presidency demand that his government stop exploiting oil resources in the Bolivian Amazon due to its serious impacts on the environment, including the destruction of biodiversity, and erosion of the livelihoods of the indigenous peoples that inhabit the region. However, Morales has dismissed those demands stating that behind them lie foreign interests that oppose his government's plans.

U.S. Developments

Many of the reports in this issue of U.S. government legislation, agency action, and court decisions are informed by electronic flyers from Hobbs, Straus, Dean and Walker, LLP, 2120 L Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037, provided by Americans for Indian Opportunity.

U.S. Government Developments

Legislation that would settle The Cobell Indian trust fund case at $3.4 billion remained stalled in the Senate, when that body adjourned September 29, despite White House attempts to have the Senate include Cobell in stopgap measures considered before the break. The House passed the bill twice in 2010, but while the Congress is scheduled to reconvene November 15 in a lame-duck session, it t will be difficult to obtain passage at that time( (Rob Capriccioso "Cobell stalled in Senate," Indian Country Today, October 5, 2010, ((Judge Thomas Hogan, who took over the Cobell Indian trust fund lawsuit case this summer, said at the first status conference hearing that the settlement was in the best interests of Indian beneficiaries and the federal government, saying, "The disappointment of not having the legislation implemented is great," adding that he would wait until Oct. 15 for Congress to take action (Rob Capriccioso, "New judge asks Congress for Cobell settlement," Indian Country Today, September 14, 2010,

President Obama signed the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, HR725, July 29, 2010, that bolsters justice resources for reservations in a number of areas. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND), said the legislation aims to improve many aspects of the justice system reservations and clear up jurisdictional confusion among tribal, state and local law enforcement officials, which he believes often gridlocks effective law enforcement. Under the bill, tribal courts will be allowed to impose longer sentences of up to three years, but their authority is affected in some ways, such as being required to follow U.S. court system procedures. Also, tribes prosecuting individuals for crimes that could send them to jail for more than a year must provide defendants with the same right to a lawyer that they would have in state or federal court, which was not required by the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act. Under the new law, when a tribe provides a defendant a lawyer, he or she must be licensed in either federal, state, or tribal court, and that court has to have "appropriate professional licensing standards and effectively ensures the competence and professional responsibility of its licensed attorneys." Similarly, tribal judges have to have "sufficient legal training to preside over criminal proceedings" and also be licensed in federal, state, or tribal courts to practice law. While some tribes already meet some of the new provisions, the changes are expected to come at a cost to many that choose to implement new standards. Whitney Phillips, a spokeswoman for Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD), who strongly supported the bill in the House, pointed out that tribes that don't have the resources to provide defense counsel or house inmates for longer sentences can continue to operate under the existing one-year sentencing provisions in the Indian Civil Rights Act, which does not require that defense counsel be provided. Hannah August, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said the law will not cost tribes anything unless they choose to exercise the enhanced sentencing authority it provides. She also stated that provisions of the measure would enhance the availability of grant funds for indigent defense in Indian legal arenas. The new law requires the Department of Justice to report on the cases it declines to prosecute on reservations. Many tribal officials have complained about the large number of cases they say are never prosecuted, particularly involving sexual assault, including rape. Related to this, the act clarifies who is responsible for prosecuting crimes in tribal communities. The bill will also provide tribal police greater access to criminal history databases such as the National Crime Information Center, and will require tribal and federal officers serving Indian country to receive specialized training to interview victims of sexual assault and collect crime scene evidence. In addition, it requires Indian Health Service facilities to implement consistent sexual assault protocols, and requires federal officials to provide documents and testimony gained in the course of their federal duties to aid in prosecutions before tribal courts (Rob Capriccioso, "Tribal Law and Order Act to become law at cost to tribes," Indian Country Today, July 23, 2010,;, and Text of the bill is available at: In October, about 150 judges, law enforcement officials and tribal leaders gathered in Albuquerque. NM for a national symposium on the implementation of the Tribal Law and Order Act (Susan Montoya Bryan, "Tribes, feds work to implement law and order act," News From Indian Country, October, 2010,

President Obama signed into law, July 29, 2010, Public Law 111-211, Title I amending the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (H.R. 725, H.Rpt. 111-397) and enacted the Tribal Law and Order Act, in its Title II (discussed above). Title I authorizes any federal law enforcement officer to investigate suspected violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, where previously only the FBI was so authorized. In addition, the Indian Arts and Crafts Board may refer alleged violations of the act to a federal officer for investigation. Title I also increases the penalties for violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

In July, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said that there is a need to increase capacity to train tribal police officers, as only About 150 Bureau of Indian Affairs recruits are trained each year at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M. (which has a waiting list), during three 16-week Indian Police Academy sessions, but only half of the students complete the course work, and some of the graduates take jobs in other areas of the federal government or in private security. This contributes to the shortage of police officers on many reservations. Currently, about 3,000 police officers patrol 56 million acres of Indian Country, by some estimates 1,900 less than needed just to provide basic, adequate staffing. Dorgan said he would like United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, N.D., to help train BIA officers, as the college began adding classes in criminal justice and law enforcement in 2008 and signed a memorandum of understanding with the BIA (Dirk Lammers, "Tribal officer recruits short on places to train tribal police," News from Indian Country, July, 2020,

The Senate, September 28, passed the Indian Veterans Housing Opportunity Act (HR3553), previously passed by the House, which defines veterans disability pay received by Indian veterans not to be counted as income under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act. Previously, these benefits had been considered income under NAHASDA, thus reducing support (Rob Capriccioso, "Indian vets score a win in Congress, Indian Country Today," October 14, 2010,

The House passed the Department of Interior Self Government Act of 2010 (HR4347), September 22, intended to make the DOI self-governance program consistent with the equivalent Indian Health Service program. There are also some clarifying amendments to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA): "Self-determination contract" is defined, with such contracts not being considered to be procurement contracts or subject to federal procurement law; Each provision of the ISDEAA and the contract must be construed liberally to favor the tribal contractor, with ambiguities resolves in the contractor's favor; the "50% rule" provides that at least 50% of expenses incurred by a tribal governing body related to carrying out a self-determination contract are allowable and allocated to the contract. Title IV of the act includes several detailed amendments making the self-governance compacts and funding agreements within the BIA and other agencies within the Department of the Interior consistent with Title V of the HHS self-governance program. As of October, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs was working on developing a similar bill to HR4347.

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced legislation in June intended to create jobs in Indian country, while providing greater access to capital, financial services, and streamlined job training. Dorgan stated the bill would help create jobs on reservations by improving access to investment capital and removing road blocks to tribal participation in federal jobs programs. The measure would expand and permanently authorize the Native Community Development Financial Institution program. Another provision would authorize the Interior Department to provide guaranteed loans to businesses that are majority owned by tribes or individual Native Americans. Other provisions would authorize the Office of Native American Affairs at the Small Business Administration to provide tribes with guidance on SBA loan guarantees and technical assistance. Federal training programs would also be streamlined, allowing tribes to combine job training programs from several departments into a single integrated plan. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has announced millions in new grants to tribes meant to improve economic outlooks. U.S. Department of Labor officials said, in late June, that approximately $67 million would go to 256 organizations through the Workforce Investment Act Indian and Native American Program. The grants are meant to support job training and placement services for adults and at-risk youth. Of the $67 million, approximately $53 million was to be awarded to 178 organizations through the department's Employment and Training Administration's Comprehensive Service Program for Adults. An approximately $14 million grant was to be shared among an additional 78 organizations through ETA's Supplemental Services Program for Youth. At the same time, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute finds that overall minority unemployment has increased more than has white unemployment in many regions of the country, during the recession. Findings show the American Indian unemployment rate in 2009 averaged 13.6% up from 7.8% percent in the last half of 2007, compared to the 8.2% 2009 white rate. The gaps between Native and White unemployment rates were largest in Alaska, the Northern Plains, and the Southwest. The report also suggested that the problem of low employment rates among American Indians may be at least partially due to conflicts between whites and Indians (Rob Capriccioso, "New Indian country job developments," July 23, 2010,

The House Committee on Financial Services , July 28, marked up H.R. 2276, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, to include amendments helpful to Indian gaming. The bill would legalize online poker and other non-sports betting and overturn the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. During the earlier part of the hearing, the same day, Mohegan Tribe Chairwoman Lynn Malerba proposed a number of improvements to the bill that would clarify and protect tribal sovereignty and provide a level playing field between Indian casinos and commercial casinos, almost all of which were included in the bill through amendments. As the bill's author, Frank included a number of "˜manager's amendments,' including a paragraph that calls on the Treasury secretary to conduct "˜meaningful consultation' with tribes on all aspects of the bill that affect them "both as potential licensing entities or operating entities." He also amended the bill to stipulate that bets are to be made with prepaid cards and debit cards only, and added a new paragraph saying that Internet gaming operations "shall not impact an Indian tribe's status or category or class under its land-based activities." His amendments also clarified that a licensed tribal Internet gaming operation "shall not require or impose any requirement on" tribes to re-open or renegotiate tribal-state compacts "or other understating with respect to gaming or revenue-sharing" "“ protecting Native nations from states attempting to claim a share of a tribes Internet gaming revenues. The revenues, however, will be shared with the federal government. Proponents of the bill claim it will create up to 30,000 new jobs and generate up to $42 billion over a decade in tax revenues for the federal government. Others question that projection. The National Indian Gaming Association provided the following summary of other amendments: Internet gaming sites that have intentionally broken Internet gambling laws cannot get a license to conduct business in the United States. Sports betting "“ except for horseracing "“ is prohibited on internet gaming. The secretary of Treasury is authorized to prohibit unsolicited e-mails and advertisements targeted to minors and problem gamblers. Offshore sites that have illegally done business in the U.S., along with people who knew they were working at an illegally-run Internet site, will be banned from obtaining a license. A multi-provisioned amendment stipulated that: 1.) All facilities of licensees that operate and/or accept wagers be located in the U.S.; 2.) States and tribes must have parallel authority; 3.) Bettors must be at least 21 years of age; 4.) Age and residence of bettors must be verified; 5.) Odds of winning at each game must be posted online; 6.) The identities of legal and illegal gambling sites must be verified by the Treasury in order for banks to prohibit certain financial transactions; 7.) Owners must meet licensing requirements; 8.) Sites must provide loss limits for each bettor. States are given one full legislative session to opt out, instead of the original period of 90 days. Internet gaming sites that advertise toward minors will have their license revoked. The Treasury Department is required to observe Internet sites and accordingly sanction fines and revoke licenses if minors are found gambling. Internet sites are forbidden from allowing people who are delinquent on child support from gambling on their site. Sites who don't obey this rule lose their license. State and tribal lotteries are exempt from licensing requirements, as long as they are intrastate activities. Currently, these lotteries are already subject to state licensing, and the federal government should not get involved. Licensed facilities must be corporate entities of the United States, with facilities located in the United States and employees to be residents or citizens of the United States. Licensees must also be located in a place that is accessible to regulatory personnel at all times. The Treasury secretary is required to compile and make available data on player behavior including gaming frequency, gaming duration, the amount wagered, the number of bets placed and net losses, and all information will be aggregated and anonymous to prevent the identification of any individual player. A companion bill, H.R. 4976, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2010, is before the House Ways and Means Committee (Gale Courey Toensing, "Amendments improve chances for Internet gaming bill passage," Indian Country Today, August 9, 2010,

Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced the Pick-Sloan Tribal Commission Act, in late July, to seek a commission that would hold hearings and study the outstanding issues in order to make final recommendations to Congress and the Obama administration for a comprehensive resolution of the tribal claims concerning flooding on tribal land by Pick-Sloan Program dams. The Flood Control Act of 1944 authorized the Pick-Sloan Program to stop flooding along the Missouri River as well as other purposes such as navigation and hydroelectric power. This included construction of five dams on the Missouri River, which flooded Indian reservation lands, community infrastructure, prime agricultural and hunting areas. Although the tribes received some compensation for the lands, each tribe was compensated differently, some promises remain unfulfilled, and tribes report various continuing problems for which they were not compensated (Rob Capriccioso, "Tribal flooding addressed in new Senate bill," Indian Country Today, August 29, 2010,

Congressional representative Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, American Samoa's congressional member and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs' subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, introduced H.R. 1551, a resolution calling on the United States "to promote respect for and full application of the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples consistent with United States law," July 22. The resolution falls far short of fully supporting of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UINDRIP), the goal set by tribal leaders. Instead, the four-part resolution asserts that: "the administration should continue to work together with partners in indigenous communities domestically and around the world to provide security, prosperity, equality, and opportunity for all; "the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides an important framework for addressing indigenous issues globally; "the Administration's decision to conduct a formal review of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United States' position on it is welcomed; and "the United States should promote respect for and full application of the provisions of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, consistent with United States law" (Gale Courey Toensing, "House resolution falls short of unqualified UN Declaration adoption: Tribal leaders call for full, unconditional adoption," Indian Country Today, July 30, 2010,

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held hearings on Indian Education, June 17. entitled, "Did the No Child Left Behind Act Leave Indian Students Behind?" A number of leading Native educators testified that that congressional reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB) must address major Native American concern, pointing out that several aspects of the current law have not worked well for many Indian youth. Mary Jane Oatman-Wak Wak, incoming president of the National Indian Education Association, states, "In examining the lessons learned from the last decade of NCLB, it is important to focus on the task before us, the task of making certain that the reauthorization of ESEA recognizes and supports the unique cultural, social, and linguistic needs of Native students in ways that ensure that no Native child is ever left behind." She pointed out that since 2005, NIEA has been preparing for the reauthorization of NCLB, including conducting 11 field hearings with more than 120 witnesses in Native communities across the country and the development of the organization's "Preliminary Report on No Child Left Behind in Indian Country" and other policy recommendations. " What emerged through this extensive dialogue was an appreciation for the goal of Title VII of NCLB to meet the unique cultural and educational needs of Native children. However, it was clear that many areas of concern existed about how NCLB/ESEA was unable to fully address the educational needs of Native students and communities, along with ideas about how NCLB/ESEA could and should be improved." Oatman-Wak Wak offered proposals for several areas of improvement, including increased cultural learning, increased tribal control and input, and more funding. David Beaulieu, director of the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, commented that that NCLB's reliance on rigid testing appears to have have been detrimental for some Native students, saying, "We may have actually lost ground with what is essentially one entire school generation of American Indian learners from elementary through high school in the nine years since NCLB passed in 2001." He said American Indian students need to see a personal future that connects to the education mission of the schools they attend. Chad Smith, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma principal chief, the testified that his tribe finds that adjustments need to be included in the reauthorization of NCLB to better address the needs of Indian students. "The nation would specifically like to see less emphasis on testing and more flexibility in establishing our own measurables." Keith Moore, the new director of the Bureau of Indian Education, testified that, "The reauthorized ESEA can support the self-determination of Indian tribes and create an educational system that values tribal cultures and languages" (Rob Capriccioso, "Natives want improved education law," Indian Country Today, June 25, 2010,

Indigenous educators testified, at an August 6 House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Indian education, that lack of adequate funding was a serious detriment to American Indian and Alaska Native education. David Talayumptewa, assistant deputy director of administration of the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) said federal agencies are cooperating to improve Indian education, and that BIE is making progress in improving currently low levels of student achievement, but more remains to be done. He noted that the BIE funds 183 schools in 23 states, and 63 are now rated in poor physical condition, and it would take an estimated $2 billion to bring all the schools up to safety standards. Tribal officials said more money also is needed to recruit and keep good teachers in rural areas and replace aging textbooks. Representatives of many tribes stated that schools need to teach more Native language and culture, which would help build the self-esteem needed to reduce teenage suicide and motivate students to learn (Chet Brokaw, "Tribal officials: Indian education needs money," Indian Country Today, August 17, 2010,

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman, Byron Dorgan (D, ND), unsatisfied by Indian Health Service (IHS) responses at a September 28 committee hearing to a congressional investigation of alleged misdeeds at some IHS regional offices, stated he was considering issuing subpoenas to IHS officials (Rob Capriccioso, "Dorgan ready to issue IHS subpoenas," Indian Country Today, October 4, 2010,

The creation of The Office of Indian Men's Health to complement the existing Office of Indian Women's Health within the Indian Health Service was included in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act which was made permanent, March 23, when President Barack Obama signed the bill as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Men's Health Network applauds creation of Office of Indian Men's Health," Indian Country Today, June 1, 2010,

President Barack Obama, June 28, announced several appointments to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education: Sam McCracken (Sioux and Assiniboine), Mary Jane Oatman-Wak Wak (Nez Perce), Alapaki Nahale-a (Native Hawaiian), and S. Alan Ray (Cherokee) (Rob Capriccioso, "President picks Indian educators," Indian Country Today, August 16, 2010,

The Obama administration announced the Opening Doors plan, "the nation's first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness," June 22, under the leadership of several federal agencies, including the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The aim is to put the country on a path to end veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015, and to end homelessness among children, families, and youth by 2020. Strategies emphasized include increasing leadership, collaboration, and civic engagement; increasing access to stable and affordable housing; increasing economic security; improving health and stability; and retooling the homeless response system. With " The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report" from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, American Indians make up 8% of the country's homeless population, a disproportionately high level of homelessness. Open Doors has a specific Native American component. The plan was developed with tribal input and specifically mentions the need for unique attention to reservation and urban Indian, with cultural competence being sought for personnel working in these areas. Jennifer Ho, USICH deputy director, who personally worked with tribal communities on a variety of homelessness issues, posited that poverty, a lack of affordable housing, and the large number of Native Americans who are veterans might contribute to the high rates of homelessness observed in the Indian population. She noted that, in recent years, more than 300 communities nationwide, including some tribal ones, have developed plans that are successfully curbing homelessness, which the federal initiative intends to replicate. The full Opening Doors plan is online at (Rob Capriccioso, "Homeless Native Americans get federal focus," Indian Country Today,: July 2, 2010,

The U.S. Treasury Department, in July, sought comments, by September 10, 2010, from tribal governments and the general public on whether the "essential government function" restriction on the issuing of tax-exempt bonds by tribal governments, under Section 7871 of the Internal Revenue Code, should be permanently repealed, as required of the Treasury by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, section 1402(b). Many Indian nations have complained that the standard has been inconsistently applied and places a restraint on tribal economic development (Rob Capriccioso, "IRS considers removing restrictive tribal tax code," Indian Country Today, September 27, 2010,

The U.S. Department of Justice, September 15, announced awards of $127 million in a round of new funding under the "Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation Grants" to hundreds of tribes to improve the safety of tribal citizens. Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli stated, "In the department's outreach to tribal leaders, we heard concern that the department's grant-making process was too cumbersome, but at the same time it did not allow tribal communities the flexibility to fully address their needs. CTAS was launched in direct response to those concerns." He said CTAS encourages local collaboration and coordination on public safety and justice planning, and noted that it combines the application process for tribes seeking federal grants for public safety. In a first for the department, the program allowed tribes to submit a single application for most tribal Justice Department grant programs. A full list of awardees is available online at (Rob Capriccioso, "Justice Department debuts streamlined tribal grants," Indian Country Today, September 30, 2010,

The Tribal Crime Data Collection Analysis and Estimation Project was instituted by the Department of Justice (DOJ), in September 2009, under the an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as part of the Justice Department's commitment to strengthen tribal law enforcement. The Department has been offering training programs in the project to tribal personnel. The Justice Assistant Grant program uses crime data to determine funding amounts for jurisdictions. Since tribal crime data were generally not reported to the FBI, tribes in previous years were largely ineligible for the grant funds. In fiscal year 2008, only 25 tribes submitted crime data and only five tribes were eligible to receive JAG awards, totaling an estimated $159,000. In FY 2010, as a result of the Tribal Crime Data Project, the number of tribes reporting crime data meeting the FBI standards for the UCR increased to 130 and the overall amount of JAG funds awarded to tribes increased to $709,000. The Tribal Crime Data Project is administered by OJP's Bureau of Justice Statistics in coordination with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Tribal Justice, the FBI, the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, and certain state and tribal governments to address gaps in Indian country crime statistics and current reporting methods. More information on upcoming training sessions and OJP programs available at: ("Recovery Act project improves crime data reporting and access to law enforcement in Indian country," Indian Country Today, September 23, 2010,

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, announced additional Recovery Act broadband projects, August 4, intended to bring jobs and economic opportunities to rural communities. In July, the White House announced several other tribal broadband funding projects. According to a recent report conducted by Native Public Media, broadband penetration in Indian country is less than 10%. In the past, there has been little qualitative or quantitative empirical research on Native American Internet use, adoption and access. The Federal Communications Commission noted in 2004 that communities on tribal lands, by virtually all measures, have historically had less access to telecommunications services than any other segment of the population. Until the recent federal government broadband efforts, only small measures had been taken to expand the internet into Indian country. The Native Public Media report's authors said native communities have massive internet accessibility issues, stifling business and other development and recommended the FCC create a policy office focused specifically on tribal communities and their needs. No movement has been made on this proposal, as of October 2010 (Rob Capriccioso, "New Indian country broadband funding," August 13, 2010,

The BIA's Office of Indian Gaming Management was holding consultations around the country, September 23 "“ November 18, 2010, on a proposed rule that establishes criteria for implementing Section 20 of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that deals with putting land into trust for gaming when the land has been acquired after IGRA was passed on Oct. 17, 1988. Section 20 puts forward a general prohibition against Indian gaming on trust lands acquired after Oct. 17, 1988, and then provides a number of exceptions to the prohibition, including land within or contiguous to a tribe's existing reservation; land for tribes without reservations; land within the tribe's last recognized reservation; land claim settlements; initial reservations for newly acknowledged tribes; and restored lands for re-recognized tribes. Another exception, the Two Part Determination allows gaming on land acquired after October 1988 if the secretary determines it is in the "best interest" of the tribe and not detrimental to the surrounding community and if the governor of the state concurs with that opinion. New language in the draft rule says the department will "consider all the information" submitted from both sides and does not explicitly indicate if more weight will be given to a tribe's "best interests". The consultations have also been also considering a January 2008 "guidance memorandum" Issued by former AS-IA Dirk Kempthorne that added a "commutability" standard under which the applied-for land is to be considered in light of its distance from a nation's reservation, regardless of whether it is within a nation's historical territories. The memo received many objections in Indian country, not only because distance isn't mentioned in IGRA, but also because the guidance effectively amounted to a new regulation that had been promulgated without consultation with Indian nations. A schedule of consultations is available at (Gale Courey Toensing, "Consultations underway on Indian gaming land into trust decisions," Indian Country Today , October 4, 2010,

The BIA gave final approval of Recognition, in June, to the Shinnecock Tribe, on Long Island, in New York, that plans to open a casino ("Federal government approves final Shinnecock tribal recognition," News From Indian Country, June 2010,

The U.S. Department of the Interior reached a settlement with British Petroleum (BP), in July, for consistently underreporting the amount of gas extracted from the Southern Ute Reservation in Colorado, under which BP will pay a fine of $5.2 million in addition to paying the tribe and the U.S. government royalties on the unreported extraction (Kristen Wyatt "British Petroleum fined $5.2M for misreporting US gas output on Southern Ute Reservation," News From Indian Country, July 2010,

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched a new media directive, in July, specifically aimed at young American Indian adults, ages 18 to 25, to talk openly about mental health issues with materials that caregivers hope will spur change about negative attitudes associated with mental illness in tribal communities, where there is a high incidence of serious mental health problems. The public service announcements are part of a larger effort to reach a multicultural audience including Hispanic/Latino, Asian and African American young adults, mental health officials said . Materials for the new ad campaign were created by an American Indian advertising agency, G & G Advertising and the Ad Council, the radio print and Web banner PSAs route the target audience to its new campaign Web site, (S.E. Ruckman, "New mental health initiative focused on Native youth," Indian Country Today, July 27, 2010,

A report, " Building Domestic Violence Health Care Responses, authorized by the Family Violence Prevention Fund in partnership with faculty from Sacred Circle and Mending the Sacred Hoop Technical Assistance Project, suggests that the Domestic Violence Project operating at more than 100 Indian, tribal and urban health care facilities as well as domestic violence advocacy programs across the nation , funded by the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and IHS, and implemented by leading domestic violence organizations, has shown dramatic success in improving the health system's response to domestic violence in Indian country. The program has seen a much larger number of women receiving interventions focused on reducing domestic violence. Health officials said that when implementation began in 2002, only 4% of women at IHS facilities were screened by doctors and nurses for domestic violence. By 2009, when the program ended, 48% of women who sought services at these facilities were so screened. The report highlights the program's progress and offers a series of recommendations to continue the results. A major finding was that, over the course of the program annual routine assessment for intimate partner and domestic violence of Native women increased 12-fold because the program offered an effective response to violence, identified best practices to raise awareness, improved clinical responses, and strengthened community partnerships to help victims of domestic and sexual violence. The report noted that the program: Trained staff members from more than 100 Indian, tribal and urban health care facilities, and domestic violence advocacy programs on domestic violence health system change: Developed community-wide domestic violence response teams that include staff from health care, judicial, law enforcement, community programs and tribal councils. Developed patient education materials including two posters targeting men and boys with prevention messages specific to domestic violence. Tailored the Electronic Health Record to integrate domestic violence routine assessment and implementation of screening reminders. Raised public awareness and promoted social norm change through community walks, billboard campaigns, candlelight vigils, radio/TV shows, public service announcements, and staff participation in health fairs, rodeos and powwows. Helped victims of domestic violence and sexual assault get the help they need to support their healing from the abuse and promote their health and wellness. "We need to build on the successes of the IHS/ACF Domestic Violence Project and fund more programs to continue this remarkable progress," said FVPF President Esta Soler. "Tribal communities will benefit if we replicate the promising practices and materials we've developed, continue to integrate domestic violence and sexual assault into trainings that improve the health care responses to violence, and strengthen the tribal response to sexual assault. We also must expand our work to engage men as role models, address the impact of violence on children, and do more to teach the next generation that violence is never the answer" (Rob Capriccioso, "IHS program lauded for anti-domestic abuse efforts," July 16, 2010,

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has created a new web site, Tribal Climate and Energy Information, providing a resource for tribal communities interested in implementing climate change mitigation and energy management projects that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help slow the rate of climate change and its impacts on economic and cultural sustainability. It offers links to EPA resources and other Web sites with additional information on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency, land use planning, renewable energy, transportation, water/wastewater and waste management ("EPA creates new Tribal Climate and Energy Information site," July 30, 2010,

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, "Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act: After Almost 20 Years, Key Federal Agencies Still Have Not Fully Complied with the Act." indicates that directly concerned federal agencies have often failed to act in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA), while the federal office charged with overseeing its implementation was found to have been ineffective in doing so. Under the law, federal agencies and museums are required to take inventory and notify tribes about their collections and work in collaboration with tribes in determining a cultural link to the remains or objects. But the 106 page study found that some federal agencies have not identified or reported all the remains or cultural items in their possession. The GAO found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority to be considerably out of compliance with NAGPRA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. National Park Service "“ tended to do a better job in following NAGPRA than other agencies, but still fell short of what the act required. The report raised several concerns centering on the national NAGPRA office's administration of the law. These problems include inadequate resources, poor record keeping, and questionable decision making. In addition, the report suggested NAGPRA office officials have sometimes manipulated the composition of the seven-person NAGPRA review committee, which is responsible for overseeing tribal and other concerns with processes involving the law. On that issue, Jeff Malcolm, an assistant director with GAO who led the research, said top federal officials should perform strict and immediate oversight. "[W]e recommended the secretary of the Interior direct national NAGPRA to strictly adhere to the nomination process prescribed in the act and, working with Interior's Office of the Solicitor as appropriate ensure that all Review Committee nominations are properly screened to confirm that the nominees and nominating entities meet statutory requirements." As a result of the shortcomings, the report said that "policymakers, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations do not have access to readily available information about culturally affiliated NAGPRA items that have not been repatriated." Tribal officials have long said the federal government has failed to carry out NAGPRA properly, and the latest information bolsters those claims. "This is an important report that I hope all Native people have a chance to review and share with their local communities," said D. Bambi Kraus, president of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers. An August 18 release from NATHPO pointed out the GAO's finding that the national NAGPRA program provided unreliable information in databases that are critical to the repatriation process. " This reaffirms our research into the law and process, and what we've been saying all along that without any teeth in the law or any federal oversight the law remains stagnant," said NATHPO General Chairman Reno Franklin. Some tribal officials have questioned whether the increased scrutiny will lead to a shakeup in management at the national NAGPRA office. Sherry Hutt, manager of the national NAGPRA program, could not be reached for comment on that point, as she is out of the office on leave for much of August. Malcolm noted that further congressional action is expected, and the GAO is recommending a series of administrative actions to improve compliance. Specifically, the GAO recommends the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and the Interior, as well as TVA, report to Congress the actions they need to take to fully comply with the act and that they report the status of their repatriations to National NAGPRA. GAO is also recommending that National NAGPRA make improvements in its facilitation of the act. Agriculture, Interior and TVA agreed with GAO's recommendations, while the Department of Defense did not provide comments on the report. "Overall, GAO recommendations have a high implementation rate," Malcolm said. "Historically, 80 percent or more of GAO recommendations are implemented within four years." He said the GAO clock is now ticking to track the agencies' progress in implementing the recommendations. The study comes on the heels of a 2008 report issued by NATHPO and the Makah Nation of Washington, which found that several federal agencies have withdrawn public notices that tie held remains and objects to contemporary Natives. Hutt at the time of NATHPO/Makah report's release called it "ambitious" and said it did a positive job at drawing attention to the reasons behind the law, but she believed that it contained several shortcomings and mistaken information. Some of the areas she considered flawed were refocused on by the GAO, which also ended up coming up with cautionary conclusions. The summary and complete reports are available at: (Rob Capriccioso, "GAO finds major federal NAGPRA snafus, Indian Country Today, August 25, 2010,

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in July, Declined to take jurisdiction over a tribal hospital.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Proposed EPA Policy on Coordination with Indian Tribes, in June, to comply with President Obama's November 5, 2009 Memorandum on Tribal Consultation, and circulated it for comment in national consultation conference calls, July 8 and 19. The proposed consultation plan calls for EPA to consult with Native nations whenever EPA actions or decisions may affect tribal interests, and includes a non-exclusive list of activities EPA believes are appropriate for consultation. In addition, the proposal specifically provides that tribal officials may request consultation on matters not identified by EPA, and requires EPA to provide feedback to the tribes involved in a consultation to explain how their input was considered in the final decision. The consultation policy will establish national guidelines that all EPA regions and programs must follow when developing their own more specific consultation policies. EPA appointed Michelle Depass, the agency's Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs, to serve as EPA's Designated Consultation official, and all EPA offices are required to designate a Tribal Consultation Advisor to provide advice to their office on when tribal consultation is appropriate and serve as a point-of-contact person for EP staff and tribes.

Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sebelius sent a letter to tribal leaders, October 7, announcing the launching of the Secretary's Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC) that "will create a coordinated, department-wide strategy to incorporate tribal guidance on HHS priorities, policies, and budget."

The National Indian Advisory committee on Behavioral Health to the Indian Health Service circulated a draft of Behavioral Health and Suicide Prevention Strategic Plans, September 20, 2010, for comment by November 19, 2010.

The Department of the Interior issued the 2010 list of federally recognized tribes, October 10, which now lists 564 Indian nations, the same as listed in August of 2009.

The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council held Tribal Consultations on Sole-Source 8(a) Contracting, October 5, 7, and 19.

The Federal Communications Commission announced, August 12, that it was establishing an Office of Native Affairs and Policy as part of its national broadband plan, saying it would serve all federally recognized tribes and other Native American organizations to improve broadband services and address tribal problems. The action came following considerable lobbying prodding by tribal officials (Rob Capriccioso, "FCC establishes tribal office, Indian Country Today, August 30, 2010,

The U.S. Department of Education, as part of its compliance with President Obama's directives for better U.S. agency consultation and communication with Indian Nations, held a conference on American Indian Civil Rights in Albuquerque, NM, in August, to promote understanding of, and action on Native American civil rights issues. Top personnel of a number of federal agencies, and a number of Indian leaders participated (Susan Montoya Bryan, "Federal authorities start discussion on Indian civil rights," News From Indian Country, August 2010,

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission's Language Assistance Program released voter guides in the four most commonly spoken Native languages: Cherokee, Dakota, Navajo, and Yupik, on May 7.  The four languages are spoken by approximately 220,500 Native American citizens, and the voter guides fulfill "part of EAC's mandate under the Help America Vote Act to assist states in making voting more accessible to all citizens ("U.S. Election Assistance Commission Releases Voter Guides in Four Native Languages,: Cultural Survival, May 13, 2010,

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Upper Sioux Community, Minnesota, August 5, signed the first tribal agreement in a six-state region, including Minnesota, allowing a federally recognized tribe to be considered a grantee for federal disaster assistance, clearing the way for nation-to-nation federal disaster assistance in incidents that are beyond the capabilities of the tribe. The agreement will allow federal aid to be made available to the Upper Sioux Community for damages incurred as a result of severe storms and flooding this past spring ("FEMA signs disaster agreement with Upper Sioux Community," Indian Country Today, August 20, 2010,

The U.S. Department of State completed a series of meetings, October 13 and 15, receiving input from tribal leaders, NGOs and others on the administrations reconsideration of its position on the U.N. declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that the U.S. abstained on when the U.N. General Assembly voted to approve it. (More discussion of this issue is in International Developments, below).

The Pipe Spring National Monument and the Kaibab Band of Paiutes, after 11 years of planning, have built upon sharing museum space at the park's visitor center, to jointly launch a separate $2 million modern museum repository for artifacts and archival material of early Mormon settlers and the Paiute Tribe, materials critical to understanding the area's culture and heritage. The facility also provides opportunities for the Kaibab Band in protecting cultural and natural history items as well as tribal archives ("Tribe, national monument partner on repository, Indian Country Today, June 25, 2010,

The British government, in July, denied visas to the members of the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team to play in the world lacrosse championships, attempting to travel on Iroquois nation passports, even though the U.S. State Department eventually gave one time permission to use the passports. Iroquois passports have often been accepted for foreign travel in the past, but the denial was based on recent International requirements for upgraded security features in such travel documents that the Iroquois passports did not meet. In the Meantime, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of southern Arizona, in August tribe, became the first U.S. Indian Nation to issue identification cards with enhanced federal security features to its members, allowing them to enter the United States by land or through a sea port of entry, as well as to use the cards for identification in domestic travel. The tribe's lands are about 60 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, and many of its 17,000 members have relatives living on both sides of the border. The cards were developed after more than a year of consultation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A number of other tribes, including the Tohono O'odham of Arizona and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, already have moved, or are moving, toward formal agreements with the Department of Homeland Security for the development of the IDs. The cards meet the requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative "“ a post Sept. 11, 2001 effort to strengthen U.S. border security - including having radio frequency identification technology allowing for the electronic verification of tribal membership, identity and U.S. citizenship. The National Congress of American Indians is hopeful the use of the secured cards could be expanded to allow tribal members to travel abroad, following the inability of the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team to use Iroquois passports to travel England. As of August, U.S. Homeland Security officials had said the enhanced tribal identification cards cannot be used in lieu of a federal passport. It is conceivable that a deal might be made to use the cards for international travel with an approved tribal passport ("The unfortunate denial by the British government," Indian Country Today, July 22, 2010,; and "Obama Administration may thwart Iroquois Nationals' tournament travel Team booked to fly Tuesday; feds silent on permission at midday Monday, " Indian Country Today,; "Arizona tribe becomes first to issue enhanced Ids," Indian Country Today, August 6, 2010,


Diane Benson (Tlingit) having won in the August primary, is running on the Democratic ticket for the office of Lieutenant Governor of Alaska (Neva Reece, "Diane Benson makes a run for state office in Alaska," Indian Country Today, September 27, 2010, In Washington State, Dino Rossi (Tlingit), a former state senator who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2004, ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Jeff Morris (Tsimshian) is running for an eighth term as state representative from the 40th House District. John McCoy, (Tulalip), a Democrat, is running for a fifth term as state representative from the 38th House District. C laudia Kauffman (Nez Perce), a Democrat, is running for a second four-year term as state senator from the 47th District. Steve Oliver (Lummi) is serving a four-year term as Whatcom County treasurer. He was a Ferndale City Council member and a 10-year deputy county treasurer before his election in November 2007. He is also president of the Ferndale Boys & Girls Club and a representative on the Bellingham-Whatcom County Commission Against Domestic Violence. Bob Kelly, Nooksack, resigned from the Whatcom County Council in November to run for a position on the Nooksack Tribal Council. He won in March and is now Nooksack council chairman (By Richard Walker, "Four Native leaders running for office in Washington, Indian Country Today, July 22, 2010,

Federal Indian Budgets

With Congress not having passed an FY2011 budget, it passed a Continuing Resolution, HR3081, that the president signed, September 28, continuing federal funding essentially at FY2010 levels for the first two months of FY2011, beginning October 1, 2010, while Congress continued to work on an FY2011 budget bill. At the time the budget process stalled, a 5% over all budget cut was proposed in federal programs.









Operation of Indian Programs










Tribal Government





Trust Real estate Services





Public Safety and Justice





Community & Economic Development





Exec Dir. & Admin. Services





Bureau of Indian Education





Elementary & Sec. Program-Forward Fund





Elem. & Sec. Program (Not Forward Fund)





Education Management





Post Secondary Program-Forward Funded





Post Secondary Programs










Education Construction





Replacement School Construction





Replacement Facility Construction





Employee Housing





Facilities Improvement & Repair





Public Safety & Justice Construction





Resources Management Construction





Indian Land Consolidation Program





Office of Special Trustee





State & Tribal Wildlife Grants





Office of Navajo & Hopi Relocation





Inst of Am Ind & AK Nat Cult & Art Develo





EPA Tribal Capacity Building





EPA State & Fed Tribal Assistance Grants





Water Sup & WasteWat Grant AK Ru&Nat





Brownfields Projects





Safe Drink Water Revolving Loan Fund





Tribal General Assistance Program





Tribal Air Quality Management





In the Courts

The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the State of Alaska to a lower court ruling against the state's objection in a 2006 adoption of a 10-year-old from Kaltag to a family in Huslia, asserting that the tribal council could not initiate adoptions but must take referrals from the state. The tribe successfully argued in lower court that ICWA gives preference to the wishes of tribes in adoption of Native American children. A similar case from Tanana was then working its way through the Alaska court system, in October ("US Supreme Court rejects state appeal of tribal adoption case," Alaska Daily News, October 5th, 2010,

The U.S. Supreme Court, October 12, 2010, agreed to grant certiorari to the petition of Madison and Oneida, NY Counties and hear their appeal of Madison County, NY, et al v. Oneida Indian Nation, in which the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, April 27, had unanimously upheld the tribe's sovereign immunity under existing precedents, though two of the three judges wrote a concurring opinion stating that it would be common sense to allow a state to suit a tribe for collection of the state's taxes.

Lower Federal Courts

A divided three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell's decision denying Cherokee Nation's request to intervene as a new plaintiff in the state of Oklahoma's water pollution lawsuit against 11 Arkansas poultry companies for allegedly disposing of poultry waste that the state claims has damaged portions of the Illinois River Watershed in northeastern Oklahoma. The tribe's lands lie within the watershed (Tim Talley, "Appeals court rules tribe can't join poultry suit," Indian Country Today, September 23, 2010,

The Ninth Circuit Court of appeals ruled, June 23, 2010, that an employment rights lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Peabody Western Coal and the Navajo Nation can proceed with limitations. Under a contract, drafted by the Department of the Interior, between the Company and Navajo nation to mine coal on the reservation, Peabody gives hiring preference to members of the Navajo Nation, only. The EEOC contends that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act hiring preference is legal for Indians living on or near a particular tribe's reservation, but not for members of a specific tribe.

U.S. district Court Judge Alan Johnson, in Wyoming, ruled, May 10, that Fremont County WY's voting rights system diluted the Native American vote in violation of section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act, ordering the county to create a new voting arrangement consistent with the law. Fremont County than proposed a pair of plans, each of which would create one American Indian majority district while maintaining at large voting for other commissioners. Judge Johnson invalidated both plans as discriminatory, on August 10, in Large v. Fremont County, No, 05-CV-0270 (D.-WY). The county agreed to adopt a five district election system while it appeals Judge Johnson's decision. There was growing pressure, in September, for the County to drop the appeal, because of cost.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, September 28, rescinded the Department of Interior (DOI) contract with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation to manage the National Bison Range Complex, returning its management to the U.S. Fish and wildlife Service, in Reed v. Salazar, ruling that the DOI had failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy (NEP) before entering into the 2008 funding agreement with the confederated tribes, as it had not compiled an environmental impact statement or its equivalent.

Federal District Court Judge David M. Ebel ruled. July 26, 2020 , concerning the nuclear waste facility planned for the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation, that the Department of Interior, under the Bush administration, had acted in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner when it rejected a lease for the facility and a rail line to the reservation. The tribe had struck a deal with a nuclear waste storage company to store up to 44,000 tons of nuclear waste on a 100-acre site on the 18,000-acre reservation, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a license for the deal. Interior objected (Rob Capriccioso, "Interior undecided on Goshute nuclear site appeal," Indian Country Today, September 14, 2010,

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn, September 22, 2010, dismissed an Onondaga Nation's land rights lawsuit. The Onondaga filed its action in March 2005 on behalf of itself and the Haudenosaunee against New York State, Onondaga County, the City of Syracuse and five corporations, including Honeywell International, seeking a declaratory judgment that various lands situated in present-day Central New York were unlawfully acquired by the State of New York in violation of the federal Indian Trade and Intercourse Act, the U.S. Constitution, the 1784 Treaty of Fort Stanwix and the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. Judge Kahn ruled that following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York, the Oneida Indian Nation could not make a claim that would be disruptive to current land holders after such a long period of time (Gale Courey Toensing, "Court denies Onondaga land rights lawsuit"," Indian Country Today, October 6, 2010,

A Federal District Court in Arizona dismissed a suit, for lack of jurisdiction, against the federal government for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act, over the actions of two tribal police officers acting off reservation in Shirk v. United States (CV-09-01786-PHX-NVW, August 26, 2010). The tribal police officers of the Gila River Indian Community noticed a paroled felon driving erratically on an Arizona state road off reservation. The officers turned on their car lights and siren and attempted to make contact with the driver when he reached a stop sign. However the driver accelerated, hitting a motorcycle driven by Shirk, causing him serious physical injuries. Shirk first attempted to sue in Arizona state court, but the court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. In the federal case, Shirk argued that the officers were federal employees, but the court found they were not.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and American Indian farmers reached a settlement, October 19, of the nationwide class action lawsuit, Keepseagle v. Vilsack, in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. before Judge Emmet Sullivan, under which USDA will pay $760 million in damages and debt relief for discrimination against American Indian farmers and ranchers in the USDA's farm loan program. The settlement will also improve USDA's farm loan services for Native Americans, including the creation of a Native American Farmer and Rancher Council, which will enable Native Americans farmers and ranchers to collaborate with top USDA officials on greater and equitable access to  USDA's programs. In addition, USDA has agreed to work toward enhanced delivery of technical assistance to Native American borrowers, the creation of sub-offices on tribal lands, a systematic review of the farm loan program rules to improve accessibility to Native Americans and other measures designed to improve the provision of farm loan services to Native Americans. Additional information is available at or by calling, toll free, 1-888-233-5506.

The Gila River Indian Community filed suit, September 16, in Federal District Court, in Phoenix, AZ, attempting to block the Tohono O'odham Nation's proposed casino near Glendale. AZ, that the Gila River tribe says would be built on its aboriginal territory. The lawsuit alleges that the U.S. Interior Department acted illegally and avoided its own policies when it agreed to take land into trust on behalf of the Tohono O'odham, in July, effectively adding the land to the Tohono O'odham reservation (Jonathan J. Cooper, "Tribe files lawsuit to block Glendale casino," Indian Country Today, September 21, 2010,

The Northern Ute Tribe of Utah, as of July 16, had won the first round in its efforts to restrict energy company QEP Resources Inc., a division of Questar Corp., from building a huge gas processing plant expansion at Stagecoach on Uintah and Ouray Reservation lands, which the nation asserts is in direct violation of existing federal and tribal regulatory requirements governing use and access of tribal lands. The Ute Tribe says that QEP was in violation of the terms of a 2005 concession agreement between the company and tribe that provided temporary access and a process to obtain rights-of-way for future oil and gas activities on the million-acre reservation, and banned the company from the reservation. QEP disagreed and suited the Utes in Federal District Court in Salt Lake City. After first granting a temporary restraining order against the tribe, the judge through out the case, ruling that the issue was not within the court's jurisdiction. The dispute concerns Questar's proposed modification of an existing gas processing plant by adding a cryogenic processing facility and three power transmission lines, that the tribe considered an environmental hazard. The tribe has requested the EPA to enforce the Clean Air Act and to request that the BIA re-evaluate the agency's approval of the concession agreement to determine if it was granted in the best interests of the tribe and in accordance with federal law, the tribal chair saying, "Questar has not secured any approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to construct the processing facility at the site, and the plant could produce harmful and potentially toxic levels of air emissions that could put both the tribal membership as well as other Uintah Basin residents at risk." (Carol Berry, "Energy giant told to follow rules," Indian Country Today, August 24, 2010,

Miami, FL Federal District Court Judge Federico Moreno, August 23, denied an emergency petition by the Miccosukee Indians of Florida to stop the state from purchasing 26,791 acres of agricultural land for about $197.4 million from U.S. Sugar agricultural land in the Everglades. Judge Moreno ruled that the tribe's emergency motion was not actually an emergency, since the land deal would not close until October 11, leaving time for the case to be heard later. The state says the land will be used to help restore the Everglades, but the tribe has argued that the deal would stall other major restoration projects. The initial deal announced in 2008 was to pay $1.75 billion to buy all of U.S. Sugar's 180,000 acres, but it has been scaled back, in part, because of the declined economy ("Injunction denied for Everglades/US Sugar deal," Indian Country Today, August 27, 2010,

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Public Citizen Litigation Group and several other groups initiated a class action suit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, NY, in April, against the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce to end alleged discriminatory hiring practices that impact Native Americans, among others, and obtain back pay for plaintiffs. The plaintiffs charge that the Census Bureau in hiring temporary workers over the past two years illegally screened out applicants with often decades-old arrest records for minor offenses or those who were arrested but never convicted, discriminating against more than 100,000 blacks, Latinos and Native Americans, who are more likely to have arrest records than whites (Larry Neumeister, "Lawsuit: Census Bureau discriminated in hiring of American Indians," News From Indian Country, August, 2010,

State and Local Courts

A state appellate court judge in western New York, September 1, restored an order stopping the collection of taxes on cigarettes sold by Native American retailers to non-Indian customers. A previous order had been lifted by a state judge, August 30, a decision appealed by the Seneca and Cayuga nations. Those tribes won a separate federal court order, August 31, temporarily barring collections against them. However New York State had said it would start imposing the $4.35 per pack levy on other reservation retailers starting September 1 (Carolyn Thompson, "NY appeals court halts Indian cigarette tax plan," Indian country Today, September 7, 2010, S eneca County, NY judge Dennis Bender dismissed an indictment against the Cayuga Nation, June 28, and ordered Seneca County to return $375,000 worth of cigarettes that were taken in December 2008 when Seneca and Cayuga county sheriffs raided the nation's two Lakeside Trading convenience stores in Seneca Falls and Union Springs. The counties had claimed that because the nation did not have an official reservation, the stores were violating state tax laws by selling untaxed cigarettes. The case eventually reached the New York Court of Appeals, which ruled in May in the Cayugas' favor, ruling that the Cayuga Nation does not have to pay state sales taxes on cigarettes sold at its Lakeside Trading convenience stores because the stores are on qualified reservation land. The ruling also cited the lack of an effective method for the state to collect taxes on cigarettes sold to non-Indian customers on reservations (Gale Courey Toensing, "Judge orders county to return seized Cayuga cigarettes," Indian Country Today, July 9, 2010,

San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes, June 7, ordered the Padre Dam Municipal Water District to avoid construction on around two-thirds of the two-and-a-half acre site where it is building a new reservoir and pumping station, after human remains were found in an area that the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians says is a sacred burial ground and ceremonial place of their ancestors. The restraining order extends to June 25. Attorneys for the Viejas Band sought the restraining order against the Padre Dam Municipal Water District to halt construction until the matter is decided by the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC). After NAHC voted unanimously, June 17, to declare the 2.5 acre site in San Diego County a ceremonial site and sanctified cemetery, California Attorney General Jerry Brown filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California in San Diego central division, June 24, on behalf of the commission, against the water district, which was continuing construction on the site, seeking an order that the site should be permanently protected (Gale Courey Toensing, "Court orders construction halt on Viejas sacred site," Indian Country Today, June 17, 2010,; Gale Courey Toensing, "Viejas ceremonial sanctified burial site to be protected "˜in perpetuity'," Indian Country Today, July 2, 2010,

A representative of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma filed a suit in Tennessee, in August, Asserting that the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs violated open-meeting "sunshine" laws when it gave state recognition as tribes to six local groups, without prior notice or open hearing, with the commission apparently having altered its rules to do so. The commission's action in question took place June 19, about a month after the state legislature had curtailed its authority and 11 days before the date on which the legislature had slated it to go out of existence. The groups the commission certified as state recognized tribes include the Cherokee Wolf Clan, Central Band of Cherokee, Tanasi Council, Chikamaka Band, United Eastern Lenape Nation of Winfield, Tennessee and Remnant Yuchi Nation. Principal Chief Michell Hicks, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, criticized the process. "As one of three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, we have had no interaction with any of these groups, and I absolutely do not support them in this endeavor." Oklahoma Cherokee Nation Communications Officer Mark Miller commented that he could certainly see the attractions of his culture, but said it is important to distinguish between heritage clubs, which is how he defined these groups, and federally recognized tribes, such as the Cherokee Nation. "When people do genealogical research, they find all sorts of ethnicities and may take a particular interest in some of them. People who discover a little German heritage, for example, might want to study the German language and go to Oktoberfest. But this doesn't give them the right to automatically become a German citizen or to create their own Germany. Similarly, you can't make up your own tribe just because you found a Native ancestor." Miller suggested, "If you're proud of your Cherokee background, please express it in a way that's friendly to our history and to those of us living today. Come and visit us. We're alive and well, here in Oklahoma." The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians form many years have worked to protect their political and cultural identity. A 2008 joint resolution described threats over the years to their sovereignty and reputation by those claiming to be Cherokee, along with the loss of millions in federal funding. The document called the problem epidemic and said it "often involves membership fees; misleading presentations to school children and interference in a multitude of government functions, including child welfare cases." 10 former Tennessee Indian Affairs commissioners submitted a letter to the state's attorney general objecting to the process and calling the groups merely "culture club,." and charging conflicts of interest, noting that four of the six current commissioners belong to the tribes they approved. The 10 former officials also questioned the legitimacy of the new tribes' identity claims, which are based in part on others' perception that one is Native American and on business activities that address cultural preservation. (Stephanie Woodard, Cherokee Nation challenges newly minted tribes: Lawsuit claims Tennessee's recognition of six groups was illegal, Indian Country Today, August 13, 2010,

Tribal Governments and State and Local Governments

A new Vermont state law creates a process for a Vermont commission to recommend tribal recognition, which the Abenaki tribes hope will also allow them to seek federal funding for education and other benefits. (Lisa Rathke, "Law gives tribe hope for recognition," Indian Country Today, September 26, 2010,

Stephanie Woodard, " Will Oglalas be disenfranchised?: South Dakota weighs in on election debacle, Indian Country Today , September 16, 2010,, reports that South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson, who is a resident of Shannon County, which is within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, has suggested that mail-in absentee ballots can help fix the election crisis in Shannon County, if the county ends up without polling places for many people to cast ballots in person. The situation reached a critical point September 3, when five officials of neighboring Fall River County, including state's attorney Jim Sword and head election official, county auditor Sue Ganje, gave 30-day notice that they intend to walk away from contracts to administer non-tribal government functions, including elections, for Shannon County. In South Dakota, early voting is an absentee ballot cast in person at a polling place during the six weeks before an election that is available at county seats and satellite offices in predominantly white areas, but is most often available in Indian areas for shorter periods, or not at all. The problem with using absentee voting as a solution is that it is a multi-step procedure that starts with obtaining and mailing in an application and ends with photocopying a form of identification to post with the ballot. But on Pine ridge photocopying is not easily available to most people. With a close election in some races in South Dakota, many suspect that party politics is involved in the problems of making it possible for Pine Ridge residents in Shannon County to be able to vote.

The Michigan State Supreme Court has taken a number of initiatives, in the past few years, to make the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) easier to use and understand. In 2008, a special committee was formed by the Court to help Michigan judges and child welfare practitioners learn more about ICWA and understand the need for states to comply with the act and how it can be better implemented within Michigan. In 2009, the State Court Administrative Office, the administrative agency of the Michigan Supreme Court, published a court resource guide designed to provide Michigan trial courts with best practice advice to apply when using ICWA. During work on the court resource guide it was determined further research was needed and a subcommittee was formed that recommended changes to Michigan's court rules to help with the recognition and implementation of ICWA. The Michigan Supreme Court approved those changes, January 27, 2010, and they went into effect on May 1. A second subcommittee, the Tribal Court Relations Committee, was formed as part of the Court Improvement Program Statewide Task Force and continues to meet on proposed state legislation that was drafted to reflect ICWA with the goal of making judges and child welfare workers more aware of the federal law's requirements at both the tribal and state levels. A special session to review the proposed ICWA statute was held September 30 in Lansing. The Michigan Supreme Court, in 2010, has been sponsoring ICWA training and dialogue for state court judges, tribal representatives, attorneys, court staff and Department of Human Services workers as a step toward implementing the "best interests" considerations for Indian children, families and tribes. In addition, the Walking on Common Ground: Michigan Regional Conference, took place October 12"“13 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, MI, for tribal, federal and state justice communities throughout Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Walking on Common Ground promotes collaboration, education and the sharing of resources to build a more positive future for tribal children and families involved in the child welfare system. Circuit court judge for the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Michigan, Timothy P. Connors, said, "If ICWA is codified into state law it will be more likely to be followed in our state courts. ICWA crosses the lines in several of our state courts; it comes up in our probate courts through guardianships and adoptions, through our circuit court in abuse and neglect cases out of the juvenile docket, and occasionally it can come up in a divorce proceeding. We are trying to make sure the legislation incorporates all of those areas so that whoever is following the statute can clearly see what they need to do and how it might be different for an Indian child Information about ICWA is available online from the Native American Rights Fund: "“ which publishes A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act ("Legislation will bring clarity to the Indian Child Welfare Act if passed: Tribal and state courts working together for the benefit of American Indian children," Indian Country Today, September 10, 2010,

The Massachusetts Senate, in June, was considering allowing smoking in new casinos, six years after the state banned on smoking in workplaces, bars and Restaurants (Lyle Moran, "Mass. Senate casino bill would allow smoking," Indian Country Today, June 29, 2010,

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, July 27, ordered the Osseo-Fairchild School District in western Wisconsin to cease using its Chieftains nickname and logo, finding it was race-based and promoted discrimination and harassment. This is the first order that the department has given under a new Wisconsin statute that went into effect in May. Two other complaints, over the use of the nickname Indians for schools in Kewaunee and Mukwonago, are pending, and potentially 32 additional school districts with similar American Indian-based names could be forced to drop them or face fines of $1,000 a day (By Scott Bauer, "Wisconsin school ordered to drop Chieftains nickname," News From Indian Country, July, 2010,

The Pala Band of Mission Indians, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, have at least temporarily stopped a land fill proect on Sacred ground, two miles from the community, after San Diego County rescinded the land fill permit, August 5. Gregory Landfill has until February 1, 2011 to resubmit the application (Victor Morales, "Sacred site gets respite," Indian Country Today, August 30, 2010,

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry's office provided $6 million in federal stimulus dollars to the Native American Cultural and Education Authority to continue construction at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. The funding will permit construction on the $177.5 million project to continue through the next legislative session, which came into doubt, last summer, when the state legislature failed to hear a bill to allow the museum to sell revenue bonds to pay for construction (Julie Bisbee, "Indian center gets $6M from governor's office, News From Indian Country, October 2010,

Officials on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota are unhjapy with the way the Mahnomen County handles criminal cases, especially rape, on the reservation, which bring few prosecutions and convictions. The tribe is seeking to have more control over law enforcement in its jurisdiction. The Mahomen county sheriff and Attorney are also unhappy that there are not more prosecutions in reservation cases, noting that sexual assault cases are complex, and that as outsiders they have difficulty gaining need cooperation from victims and other tribal members. Budget and limited staff constraints also cause the county attorney not to work on weak cases. The situation is not an unusual one be tween tribes and outside law enforcement. At White Earth, the tribe can investigate crime, but it is up to the county state or federal government to prosecute. To meet the situation, The White Earth Police Department has stepped up its role in investigating reservation crime, and hiring a full-time domestic violence and sexual assault investigator, in 2010, and beginning to track cases. In the first half of this year, White Earth investigated 36 sexual assault cases. Many are still open investigations. White Earth Police Chief Randy Goodwin is concerned that when domestic asault cases are not prosecuted it often leads to an escalation in violence. Goodwin states, "These victims and witnesses won't or don't cooperate because their feeling is nothing will happen anyway. So they'll just take their justice out on the streets. And that's where we end up going back a second or third time." "And I do understand that prosecution being declined because there is no cooperation from victims or witnesses. But for the most part there are some cases that just don't get prosecuted and I have no idea why they're being declined." The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 gives tribes the right to petition the U.S. Attorney General for authority to prosecute crimes in tribal court, and White Earth is the first tribe in the nation to seek the change. As of mid-October, an official with the U.S. Justice Department said the department was in the process of developing regulations to put the new law into effect, and a decision on the White Earth petition could come later this year ( Dan Gunderson, "White Earth pushes for more control of law enforcement," Minnesota Public Radio, October 13, 2010,

Tribal Developments

With strong approval from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, the South Dakota U.S. Attorney's office in South Dakota, in September, launched a multi-faceted project to improve the justice system on the Pine Ridge reservation, in keeping with the recently passed Tribal Law and Order Act. The beginning of the project involves Greg Peterman of the Department of Justice's Overseas Professional Development Assistance and Training program spending three or four days per week in Pine Ridge to mentor, instruct and, in conducting providing an infrastructure audit, constantly ask the question: What needs to be done to help Pine Ridge improve public confidence in its criminal justice system by improving the functioning of its attorney general's office, the tribal courts and the police department? The Pine Ridge pilot project, laying ground work for all the South Dakota reservations, also includes funding for one victim/witness advocate, and is working to: -Create a new cross-deputization program to allow some tribal prosecutors access to federal courtrooms by making them Special Assistant United States Attorneys, or Tribal SAUSAs."“Improve prosecutorial communication with the tribes. That includes sending tribal prosecutors detailed letters that fully explain the reasons why the U.S. Attorney's office declined to prosecute a case on the reservation. "“Form an advisory council to the initiative that will bring "community" into the Community Prosecution Strategy."“Foster better government-to-government relationships with tribes, including U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson and the new Chief Tribal Liaison Randolph Seiler making regular visits to the tribal courts of each of the state's nine reservations, at least twice a year. Each tribal court will also be assigned its own assistant U.S. attorney in the Pierre, Sioux Falls or Rapid City offices. "“Technology updates for tribal court systems and records, with staff training to help deliver efficient, predictable justice to its citizens. While lack of sufficient tribal justice funding is expected to remain a limitation on the effectiveness of the Pine Ridge Justice system, much improvement is expected from the survey and follow up coordination with the South Dakota U.S. Attorney's Office, reorganization, training, and some provision of resources (Mary Garrigan, "Pilot prosecuting program to start in South Dakota on Pine Ridge Reservation," News From Indian Country, August 2010,

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has announced its cooperative agreement with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center for a $1 million a year, three-year study on pregnancy outcomes and child development in relation to uranium exposure among Navajo mothers and infants living on the Navajo Nation (" UNM studies uranium exposure in Navajo mothers and infants," Indian Country Today, September 20, 2010,

The Hopi Tribal Council, in September, rescinded their approval of a federally funded project to determine whether tribal land is suitable for carbon storage, that the council had approved in July, out of concern for potential environmental damage, groundwater contamination and risks to public safety. The project involved the drilling of one well on tribal land to explore the geologic rock formations and deep saline aquifers to determine whether carbon storage was possible, with a group of researchers from the West Coast Carbon Regional Sequestration Partnership, or WESTCARB, coal-fired power plants, said Rich Myhre, outreach coordinator for WESTCARB (Felicia Fonseca, "Hopi Tribal Council disapproves drilling project," News From Indian Country, September 2010,

The Comanche Nation and Fish and Wildlife Service established a Comanche-operated feather repository that provides for the ethical and legal acquisition and distribution of culturally significant feathers of all species of migratory birds other than eagles. The two-year pilot program will issue feathers for religious and cultural use to federally enrolled tribal members based on an application and acquisition process used by the National Eagle Repository in Denver. Comanche Nation spokespersons noted, "Provisions for legal access to bald and golden eagle feathers through the federal government have existed since 1962. However, until today, there has not been access to the feathers of other migratory bird species from a culturally dedicated entity" (Carol Berry, "First Native non-eagle feather repository established," Indian Country Today, July 9, 2010,

Eighteen Native American nonprofit leaders were hosted by Native Americans in Philanthropy and Cherokee Preservation Foundation in Cherokee, N.C., June 15"“17, to design regional networks to strengthen leadership in Indian country's nonprofit sector. Participants represented the Bush Foundation, Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Common Counsel Foundation, First Alaskans Institute, First Nations Development Institute, Native Americans in Philanthropy, the Native Youth Leadership Alliance, the New England Foundation for the Arts, New Mexico Youth Organized, the Northwest Area Foundation, Seed to Lead, the St. Paul Foundation, The Hopi Foundation and Tiwahe Foundation ("Native American nonprofit leaders meet," Indian Country Today, July 20, 2010,

The Navajo Nation and Key Bank announced a $60 million loan to the tribe be used to construct new judicial and correctional facilities in Crownpoint, NM and Tuba City, AZ. The loan is believed to be the first major institutional financing deal to be governed exclusively by tribal laws and subject to tribal jurisdiction, in full recognition of the Navajo Nation's sovereign status, with the bank agreeing that disputes arising from the contract to be decided under the laws of the Navajo Nation and in Navajo courts ("$60 million Keybank and Navajo partnership governed by Navajo law," Indian Country Today, July 22, 2010, Members of the Navajo Nation's Upper Fruitland Chapter in northwestern New Mexico have approved alcohol sales at the restaurant in the casino they plan to build near Farmington, NM ("NM Navajo chapter OKs alcohol at casino restaurant," September 2, 2010,

The Cherokee Nation recently broke ground for a new 8,000-square-foot center in Nowata, OK that will house a food distribution store, meals for seniors and better local access to some Cherokee Nation programs and services. The center will replace the current "tailgating" food distribution service provided by Cherokee Nation in Nowata once a month ("Planned Cherokee Nation facility offers better local access to services," Indian Country Today, September 14, 2010,


Economic Developments

The collapse of the economy has greatly reduced the issuance of tribal bonds. Tribal bond issuance reached a high pf $577.6 million in 2007, then declined by more than half in 2008, to $271.8 million, and again by more than half again in 2009, to $77.2 million. As of the end of June 2010, tribal governments had issued only $2.8 million in bonds, despite a provision in the 2009 federal stimulus bill was designed to enhance tribal bond issuance (Mark Fogarty, "Tribal bonds fall off," Indian Country Today, July 2, 2010,

Th e CDFI Fund of the United States Treasury awarded more than $10 million to 45 groups in 19 states, in June , to facilitate community development, housing, and other economic development for American Indians. The largest award, for $650,000 went to First Nations Oweesta Corporation of Rapid City, SD to increase lending to Native American communities across the country. The CDFI (community development financial institution) of the Tohono O'odham Nation, Sells, Ariz., received $649,000 to expand its lending and add to loan loss reserves. The CDFI provides business loans and small business development services on the Tohono O'odham reservation. Four Bands Community Fund, of Eagle Butte, SD, has gotten $649,946. Four Bands provides microloans, small business loans, Individual Development Accounts and other services to the residents of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. It is expanding to include the Standing Rock Reservation and urban Indians in Rapid City, SD Native American Bank, N.A., in Denver, was awarded $500,000 to increase financing capital for the three reservations it serves: the Blackfeet, Rocky Boy and Fort Hall reservations in Montana and Idaho, New Mexico Community Capital, in Albuquerque, was awarded $649,111 to increase equity investments to Indian-owned businesses throughout New Mexico. Wind River Development Fund, in Fort Washakie, WY, was given $649,982 for lending capital and operational support. It provides small business lending and development services on the Wind River Reservation. In all, more than 15 of the awards involve funds for housing or mortgages. Four Directions Development Corporation was awarded $649,907 to expand lending in housing-related loans to four American Indian tribes in Maine. Cook Inlet Lending Center, Inc., in Anchorage, has received $622,611 to increase lending capital. It provides second mortgages and financial education to Native Americans in southwest Alaska. American Indian Community Development Corporation, in Minneapolis, received a technical assistance grant of $108,322 to help it become a standalone CDFI. Its mission will be to promote homeownership among Indian households throughout Minnesota. The Ho-Chunk Housing and Community Development Agency in Tomah, WI received $149,858 to create a standalone CDFI that will provide mortgage loans and other financing in the Ho-Chunk Nation. Teton Financial, in Rapid City, SD, received $150,000. It provides closing cost, down payment assistance, rehab loans and home improvement loans to Indians. In Washington state, Northwest Native Development Fund got $133,986. It provides subordinated home purchase loans and home buying services to three reservations. The fund awarded $80,100 to Fort Gibson State Bank, in Fort Gibson, OK. The bank provides housing loans to residents in its target area. Osage Financial Resources, Pawhuska, OK, received $127,806 in technical assistance funds. It provides affordable housing and home improvement loans to members of the Osage Tribe. Another Oklahoma group, Supportive Financial Services, Inc., received $149,775 to provide affordable housing loans. The Turtle Mountain Housing Authority, in North Dakota, received $126,262 to help provide home rehab loans. In New Mexico, Native Community Finance received $148,577 to strengthen capacity. It provides home rehab loans and other financial services to Natives across the state. Also in New Mexico, Isleta Pueblo Housing Authority got $122,024 to establish itself as a standalone CDFI. It will provide housing lending to Indians in and surrounding the Isleta reservation. The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, in Honolulu, received $150,000 to hire new staff. It provides affordable housing loans for Native Hawaiians. Karuk Community Loan Fund, Inc., in Happy Camp, Calif., got $127,366. The CDFI serves Natives in Siskiyou County, CA and surrounding communities, and provides residential purchase loans, home improvement loans, and other loans. In Arizona, Hopi Credit Association, in Keams Canyon, received $130,922. The group helps residents of the Hopi Reservation to purchase, build or improve a home, among other things. Salt River Financial Services Institution, in Scottsdale, AZ, was awarded $150,000. It provides mortgages and home improvement loans, as well as other financial services, to residents of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community. The Arizona Tribal CDFI, in Phoenix, received $145,506. It provides affordable housing loans to Indians living in Arizona. The Wigamig Owners Loan Fund, in Lac du Flambeau, WI, received $82,280. It provides home repair loans and down payment assistance to members of the Lac du Flambeau Reservation (Mark Fogarty, "CDFI fund awards $10 million to Native groups," Indian Country Today, July 2, 2010,

The Nez Perce, Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai, Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone Paiute tribes commissioned University of Idaho study, released in April, found that the five tribal nations in Idaho had an economic impact of more than $850 million, in 2009, adding 4,097 jobs and $331 million in revenue to the state economy. However, unemployment and poverty remain significant problems in these reservation communities, though the tribes have expanded their economies in recent years to include casinos, as well as agricultural activities that traditionally formed the backbone of their local economies. While feeling the down economy, the tribes appear to have weathered the recession better than other sectors of the economy ("UI study highlights tribal impacts on economy," News from Indian Country, October 2010,

With the bad economy, the two Indian-run casinos in Connecticut announced revenue in August fell from the same month last year. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation's Foxwoods Resort Casino reported, September 15, that its slot revenue was $59.2 million, down 6% from $63.1 million in August 2009. The Pequot paid almost $16 million to the state in August . The Mohegan Sun reported a revenue decline of 3%, down to $67 million this August, from $69 million in August 2009, bringing a contribution to the state of about $17.3 million ("Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun report lower revenue in Aug.," September 22, 2010, The Mohegan Sun's management announced, in September, that the facility was planning to cut 355 jobs because of the continuing revenue decline (Everton Bailey Jr., "Mohegan Sun to lay off 355 workers," News From Indian Country, September 2010, However, while Indian casino revenue in the U.S., over all, declined 1%, from about $26.7 billion in fiscal year 2008 to $26.5 billion in fiscal year 2009, Oklahoma Indian casinos have continued to do well, generating $2.9 billion in 2008 and paying the state $118.2 million, as state revenues from Indian gaming have risen about 5000% over six years (Randy Ellis, "Okla. tribes paid $118.2 M in gaming fees to state," Indian Country Today, August 24, 2010,

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma opened Cherokee Casino Ramona, May 28, creating 100 new jobs and a monthly payroll of $400,000, For more information, visit or call (918) 535-3800 ("Ramona now home to 100 new employees," June 22, 2010, The St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin opened the St. Croix casino Danbury, July 30, that features more than 500 slot machines, table games, three dining venues, hotel, pool retail outlet and a convention center. For more information contact: Mark Kay Merrill: (715) 349-2195 ("St. Croiz Casino Danbury," Indian Country Today, September 29, 2010, The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP)'s FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, MI celebrated its one year anniversary August 5. FireKeepers impact on the local economy has included providing 1,500 jobs, an estimated $10.2 million in annual purchasing within 60 miles of the casino, along with a $1.9 million check to the Local Revenue Sharing Board. For more information, visit ("FireKeepers Casino celebrates first anniversary," Indian Country Today, July 30, 2010,

"Success amidst the storm: Tribes buck economic trends to grow business, build for the future," Indian Country Today, September 5, 2010,, finds economic planning by a number of Indian nations has helped them minimize the negative impacts of the Great Recession. "The Coeur d'Alene Tribe doesn't claim to have all the answers. But it does know one thing for sure: The procedures and strategies put in place before the recession at the Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort in Idaho have paid off handsomely." The nation's top rated Circling Raven Golf Club operated at near capacity all of last summer, with bookings up 15% over the summer of 2009, while the near by casino continued an $85 million expansion project, which is well ahead of schedule with an anticipated spring 2011 opening. Meanwhile, "Other tribal nations across the country are using golf as a stepping stone for growth and prosperity, two words that have been practically non-existent elsewhere in the industry. A similar development was recently completed at Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Wash., which is owned and operated by the Squaxin Island Tribe." The resort doubled the number of rooms for guests to 190, helping the adjacent casino, while the large new Skookum Creek Event Center began offering live concerts, comedy acts and cage-fighting bouts. In spring of 2011, the high quality Salish Cliffs Golf Club is expected to be added to the resort. The Island Resort & Casino, on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, owned and operated by the Hannahville Indian Community , has also done well in the recession, while adding the quality Sweetgrass Golf Club in 2009, and beginning construction of a conference center, and expanding the casino, including a new restaurant, at the end of July, 2010. A factor in the success of Island Resort was anticipating a coming downturn in the economy and planning for it, including retraining personnel to focus on customer service.

After some 60 years wild rice may again flourish on Ogechie Lake in Minnesota following an agreement between the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe's Department of Natural Resources/Environment and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The memorandum of understanding, in the making since first feasibility studies were undertaken in 2004, was recently signed. The proposal must first pass a joint federal-state environmental assessment later this year, including public hearings. While the agreement does not specifically address harvesting rights for band members after wild rice is re-established, treaty rights already cover the lake, according to Scott Hansen, environmental program manager for the band's natural resource's department (Konnie LeMay, "Ogechie Lake wild rice restoration moves forward," Indian Country Today, June 15, 2010,

50 Native trainees from the Wind River Reservation's Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe Tribes, and from other reservations, have gone through the Permanent Jobs Creation Initiative, with 47 have receiving jobs with a union contractor providing a career path to a better future. The 94% success rate for the reservation-based training program encompasses many participants who are former welfare recipients. The program was implemented at the end of March with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ( The Permanent Jobs Creation Initiative is a cooperative arrangement among the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe Tribes; the Native American Construction Training Management, Inc., in Wheat Ridge, CO; All-State Fire Protection, in Commerce City, CO; and Road Local 669 Sprinkler Fitters of the United Association Plumber, Fitters, Welders and HVAC Service Techs, in Baltimore, Md.; and the U.S. Department of the Interiors', Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs. For additional information go to: ("Tribal/union initiative gets members on long-term career paths," I ndian Country Today, August 31, 2010,

Minnesota's three largest Indian nations, Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake co-sponsored the third biennale Economic Development Summit, the 2010 Northern Minnesota Reservation Economic Development Summit and Trade Show, at Seven Clans Casino and Event Center, Red Lake August 11"“12, with the main foci developing renewable energy and fostering "green" businesses (Michael Meuers, "Renewable energy and green business were summit focus," Indian Country Today, August 31, 2010,

Education and Culture

The interdisciplinary Native American Studies Graduate Program at the University of California, Davis is developing graduate study abroad opportunities in Mexico and Guatemala. For information on this developing program go to:

Arizona State University has taken successful actions to retain and support Native students, greatly increasing their rate of graduation. Prior to the University hiring of former Navajo Nation President, Dr. Peterson Zah, as special advisor to the president on American Indian Affairs, who launched the Native student support effort, in spring of 1996, 93 Native students earned degrees, and the Indian student population was 902. At that time no more than half of Native students were returning to campus after their first year. Since then, the Indian population and its graduation rate have increased steadily. ASU ranked fourth place in the nation among universities awarding Native students bachelor degrees, during the 2007-08 academic year, with more than 200 Native students obtaining undergraduate degrees. In addition , ASU ranked sixth in the nation for Natives earning master's degrees and 12th for research doctorates, bringing the total number of degrees awarded to 295 in 2007-08, twice the number of who graduated from ASU the previous year, while the ASU Native student population climbed to more than 1,400. The Native student program began with arranging for the Navajo, San Carlos Apache and White Mountain Apache tribes to provide scholarships for their students to ASU, that the program would administer, while the program provided the student with a comprehensive retention program. The Multicultural Student Center works closely with the incoming freshmen, and students are introduced to NATIONS, a student organization with the mission of "providing strong academic and cultural support" to Indigenous students. Scholarship funds are released in three installments and contingent on a student's adherence to the program and academic standing. As of fall 2010, nine academic departments were offering programs specifically tailored for Native students or those interested in Native affairs. Students looking for camaraderie and support from peers can join one of the seven Native organizations on campus, and mentoring relationships between faculty and students are established that Zah states play a crucial role in a student's success in their first two years. All of this is backed up by American Indian Student Support Services (AISSS), which provides students with counselors to deal with such problems as the inability to help their family on the reservation, or deeper issues. Students can also opt to see a traditional Navajo practitioner for counseling. For a significant number of freshmen who come to campus academically unprepared, a mid-semester review of each NAAP student reveals those who are struggling in their classes and provides the help they need in order to succeed. Non-NAAP students also find the support they need through AISSS, as well as from other organizations on campus. AISSS offers a computer lab, tutoring and workshops to for students. Zah has had meetings with officials of other tribes across the country about becoming involved with NAAP, in the hopes of developing intergovernmental agreements, similar to those of the three participating tribes. For more information on NAAP and Native support services, visit (Babette Herrmann, "Arizona State University increases graduation rates," Indian Country Today, August 30, 2010,

Leech Lake Tribal College, this fall, initiated the Miikinaa (The Path) mentoring program to help students stay in school and succeed, with funding from a $100,000 Walmart Minority Student Success Award. The process focuses on 15 to 20 students who are the first in their families to attend post-secondary education, who often find education beyond high school more of a challenge than those following in the footsteps of earlier relatives who attended colleges or universities. According to a story in a March 2010 edition of USA Today, more than one-quarter of first-generation, low-income students leave college after their first year and nearly 90% percent never complete a degree. The mentoring program aims at improving on those statistics by providing first generation college students with the hope, encouragement and guidance that are necessary for building self-esteem and instilling a sense of cultural pride that will sustain them in any academic or geographical setting (Konnie LeMay, "Miikinaa to set a strong path for Leech Lake's first-generation students, Indian Country Today, August 3, 2010,

The University of Hawaii at Hilo created the Native Hawaiian Learning Center called Kipuka , meaning calm place, refuge or oasis, which spearheaded the Ulukea program to help Native Hawaiian students remain in school, graduate and succeed in the post college world. Ulukea, meaning profound inspiration, addresses the need for instructors of every discipline to incorporate Native Hawaiian understanding and knowledge into their curriculum. With a barrier to success for many Hawaiian students the lack of role models/instructors who are either Native Hawaiian or are sensitive to and inclusive of Native Hawaiian traditions in their classrooms, it became important to change the foundation of classes, and build Hawaiian culture and world view into them, to provide students with the confidence they needed to grow and flourish in the academic environment. In four years, the program has grown from six staff members to more than 25 instructors, who after engaging in a one-week intensive summer program and monthly workshops throughout the year, meet together monthly to compare experiences. For more information about the Ulukea program or any of the Kipuka resources, visit (Rebecca Jacobs, "Retaining and graduating main goal," Indian Country Today, September 28, 2010,

New Mexico State University opened its new American Indian Student Center, in October, with the goal of helping students from tribal communities adjust to life on campus, giving them a place to gather, support each other, and feel at home ("NMSU opens American Indian student center," News From Indian Country, October 2010,

Sitting Bull College at Fort Yates, ND moved to a new $23 million campus this fall, more than tripling its square footage. The new facility is constructed of natural-looking materials and almost entirely equipped with geothermal heat (Courtney Sinner, ND college starts school year on a new campus, Indian Country Today, August 17, 2010,

The American Indian College Fund received several very large donations: President Obama (from his Nobel Prize award) $125,000; actress Bea Arthur, $100,000; the Coca-Cola Foundation $1 million; and Anthony Welmas (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuila Indians) $219,482 ( Indian Country Today, Education "˜10-'11).

An energy auditor training program to provided personnel in short supply was developed under a Department of Interior ( grant to the United Association of Journeyman and Apprentices of the United States and Canada (UA) (, who partnered with HVAC Excellence ( to develop and implement an eight hundred contact hour energy auditor curriculum first put into practice, in January , at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, ND with a group of students from 14 tribes and eight states to begin training in the specialized green collar field of energy auditing. The first class in the pilot program graduated on May 9. With the completion of the pilot testing, the program was ready to be repeated with Native students across the country. This was the first time in U.S. history that Native Americans were chosen to be the first to be trained in any area. For Additional Information Contact Jerry Weiss (800) 986-3726 ("Energy auditor training program trains Native Americans for success," Indian Country Today, June 9, 2010,

The U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of the Interior are collaborating in educating future tribal leaders on energy resource development and environmental evaluations by offering several hands-on learning opportunities, including Tribal Energy Internships and the Indian Education Renewable Energy Challenge. Argonne puts on a summer internship program, now in its second year, specifically for American Indian and Alaska Native college students, with 2010 interns from the Quapaw, Navajo, Shoshone Bannock, Seneca, Confederated Salish and Kootenai, Eastern Shoshone, and Cherokee Nations. Examples of recent projects are, three students from Little Big Horn College and their instructor completing a Geographic Information Systems internship to determine potential sites for a coal to liquids plant on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana; and two students, one from the University of New Mexico and one from San Juan College, comparing costs and environmental impacts associated with coal, natural gas, wind and solar energy generation technologies, including land use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions. The internship program has led to the creation of the Indian Education Renewable Energy Challenge, with this year's contest focused on designing and building an efficient portable wind turbine system, and prizes were awarded at both the high school and college level. An additional, freely available resource is the Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse , that creates a knowledge base to help tribes and tribal organizations develop environmental analysis and evaluation programs and processes that further their energy and economic goals. These programs are funded by the Interior Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development to support American Indians and Alaska Natives in managing their natural resources and tribal energy opportunities. In accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, there are several resources available to promote tribal energy sufficiency and economic growth and employment on tribal lands through the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies ("Tribal internship students energize alternative fuel science," Indian Country Today," June 22, 2010,

Oklahoma State University is working to bolster the number of Native Americans in the field of psychology through its American Indians Into Psychology (AIP) program, one of three such Indian Health Service programs in the U.S. AIIP consists of two components, a six-week summer enrichment program preparing students for graduate school and a scholarship program. The six weeks enrichment program for junior and senior undergraduates includes classes, participation in research, and work in a tribal urban mental health facility. Scholarships are available to Native American students working on a doctorate in clinical psychology at OSU ("OSU clinical psychology program builds Native American presence," Indian Country Today, June 8, 2010,

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced, in early September, that 22 tribal colleges in nine states have been chosen to receive $4.1 million in grants through the USDA Rural Development Tribal College Initiative Grant Program. The program helps Equity in Educational Land Grant tribal institutions purchase equipment, finance infrastructure improvements "“ such as a library "“ and develop facilities that will help meet the needs of American Indian communities. The awards are as follows: Arizona: Tohono O'odham Community College: $196,600, to equip four classrooms with the latest in technological equipment and furniture. Michigan: Bay Mills Community College: $196,500, to make improvements on all three campus sites. The improvements to the main campus include a parking lot, library and improvements to the learning center. A classroom will be added to the existing EMS building. The 40 acre agriculture research site improvements include a new driveway and a power and water well. Minnesota: Leech Lake Tribal College: $196,400, to be used to upgrade equipment at the college. White Earth Tribal and Community College: $196,600, to be used to help purchase an existing building and equipment to utilize the facility for both classroom and faculty offices. Montana: Blackfeet Community College: $196,400, will be used to purchase equipment and supplies for the new "green" math/science building on the main campus located in Browning, MT. Little Big Horn College: $196,400, will be used to purchase equipment for the health and wellness facility. Stone Child College: $196,400, will be used to purchase equipment and supplies for the Little Bear Health Enhancement Center, Physical Fitness Certificate Program, Athletic Program, Allied Health Program, and Nursing Program. Fort Belknap College: $196,400, will be used to construct an addition to the cultural center by adding two immersion classrooms. Confederated Salish & Kootenai College: $196,400, will be used for construction of a new Extension Education Complex headquarters, which will provide offices, meeting space, training space, and vegetable and native seed processing space. Fort Peck Community College: $196,400, will be used for energy efficient renovations and rehabilitation of facilities. Chief Dull Knife College: $196,400, will be used to purchase an A/C unit for the information technology room, replace kitchen equipment, building renovations and purchase a 12 passenger van and four-door sedan. Nebraska: Nebraska Indian Community College: $196,400, will be used to provide a paved access road and paved campus parking lot to the already existing facility. Little Priest Tribal College: $196,40, will be used to enhance the education facility of by expanding their classrooms, including a new lecture hall and classroom facilities. North Dakota: Cankdeska Cikana Community College: $196,500, will be used to construct hallways that will connect the entire campus. United Tribes Technical College: $196,400. The funding will be used to complete a parking lot at the new campus location to accommodate 145 vehicles. Turtle Mountain Community College: $196,500, will be used for college parking lot expansion to include installation of curbing and paving to accommodate an additional 90 vehicles and provide a safe parking facility for students and staff. Sitting Bull College: $196,500, will be used to complete on campus road lighting and paving. South Dakota: Sisseton Wahpeton College: $196,500, will be used for a library expansion project. Oglala Lakota College: $196,400, will be used to assist in renovations to the college center. Sinte Gleska University: $196,400, will be used to assist in construction of a classroom. Washington: Northwest Indian College: $196,500, will be used to begin Phase III of building which includes: engineering, clearing, common utilities, water distribution systems, sanitary sewer systems, storm water retention, water quality control systems, roadway construction, lighting and sidewalks. Wisconsin: College of Menominee Nation: $196,600, will be used for a parking lot expansion and emergency generator, which is needed for the new library to address lighting and HVAC system electrical needs should there ever be a power failure on campus (Brenda Austin, "$4.1 million invested in tribal land-grant institutions: 22 colleges in nine states to receive funding from the Tribal College Grant Program," Indian Country Today, September 7, 2010,

The World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium, awarded its first accreditation to a preschool to graduate school, or P-20, education system "“ the Hawaiian Mauli Ola Education System. The system uses Hawaiian as the language of instruction and has a strong record of producing college- and career-ready high school graduates. Supporters of this approach believe that applying it to the Hawaiian system medium education can re-establish Hawaii as a world education leader, as it was in the 1800s. The statewide Mauli Ola Education System integrates programs from cradle (infant/toddler) to university (Ph.D.) to careers and lifelong learning that include Ka Haka "˜Ula O Ke'elikMlani College's baccalaureate and graduate programs, the college's Hale Kuamo'o Hawaiian Language Center, and its laboratory school programs, including all 11 Pknana Leo preschools, Ke Kula "˜O Nwah+okalani'Mpu'u, Ke Kula "˜O Samuel M. Kamakau, Ke Kula Ni'ihau O Kekaha, and Ke Kula "˜O Kawaikini. Created through a mandate from the 1997 Hawaii State Legislature, the system now serves some 1,500 students. An indigenous international body, the WINHEC Accreditation Authority was founded on the principles of the 1993 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and supports the Coolangatta Statement on Indigenous Rights in Education and the Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights. The WINHEC accreditation process requires a review by a team of international indigenous education experts. The review gives special recognition to institutions that demonstrate a strong educational commitment to the language, culture and traditional practices of their communities and to academic and cultural values that integrate performance, integrity, and quality ("Hawaii earns an education "˜World's First'," Indian Country Today, Oct 12, 2010,

The St. Francis Indian School in south central South Dakota, serving more than 550 students in grades 7 "“ 12 for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, is receiving a $7.2 million improvement project to meet long-standing infrastructure needs with a new gymnasium and kitchen, in the launching of Department of Interior's 4,000th stimulus project. ("Work to begin on St. Francis Indian School project," September 24, 2010,

The Red Cloud Indian School is receiving a five-year, $750,000 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant from the U.S. Department of Education helping to fund the reservation school's comprehensive after-school and summer program ("Red Cloud Indian School receives largest grant in organization's history," Indian Country Today, July 6, 2010,

The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, in July, announced a commitment of $2.5 million over two years to a program of career technical instruction offered by the Riverside County Office of Education for students of Sherman Indian High School. The partnership of tribal - school - county partnership was forged to address a need for Native American students to develop career pathways that will contribute to new opportunities for Native students and continued economic development of Native American communities. The program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2010. For more information go to: ("San Manuel Band donates $2.5 million: Funds support Career Training Academy at Sherman Indian High School, Indian Country Today, July 20, 2010,

With many Native Hawaiians finding the preservation of their culture and tradition becoming increasingly more difficult as the world becomes smaller and more standardized, the Ola'a Community Center after school program, "Kupukupu," focuses on Hawaiian children learning first hand the depth of culture and tradition they are a part of, in order for them to stay on track and grow to be strong Hawaiian adults. Kupukupu founder and University of Hawaii Community College professor Trina Nahm-Mijo said she developed the program with advisor Rachel Kruse when they saw the impact "ice" or crystal meth was having on families in the Puna region of the Big Island. Kruse said that by connecting children to their culture and their land, they are connected to their family and their traditions providing a sense of self and pride. "I try to get the kids to understand all the gifts they have on this island and then when they get it, they are so excited and tell their parents. So it has an impact on the whole family," she said. For more information about the program visit (Rebecca Jacobs, "First hand development of Hawaii culture," Indian Country Today, September 13, 2010,


Cecelia Jackson, 87, the last fluent speaker of the Prairie Band Potawatomi's native language living on its Kansas reservation has been working with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Language and Cultural Department on documenting it in hopes of keeping it alive. Jackson and other community members participated in early meetings o the cultural department that eventually led to the development of a strategic plan to help preserve the language and the tribe's self-identity ("Kansas woman seeks to save Potawatomi language," Indian Country Today, July 2, 2010,

The Cultural Survival (CS) Endangered Languages program is working with the Sauk Language Department in Stroud, Oklahoma, and the Meskwaki Historic Preservation Department in Tama, Iowa, to set up local archives and mentoring opportunities for language learners to work with the traditional stories and other cultural and linguistic knowledge contained within the 27,000 page document collection written by first-language Meskwaki speakers in the early 1900s. While the two speech communities are geographically and politically separate, they share historical, cultural, linguistic, and blood ties that predate the European settlement of North America. Portions of the documents, stored for nearly 100 years at the National Anthropological Archives, have been viewed only a handful of times by community members, while the paper on which they were written is crumbling. Access to the collection would prove invaluable in the development of tribally-specific teaching materials, and speakers remain in the community who are literate in the earlier orthography. Other CS language preservation programs include partnerships with the Northern Arapaho Tribe's immersion schools, and the Arapaho Language Lodges on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, and the Wampanoag Nation's Wopanaak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP) in Massachusetts, with whom CS has partnered in developing Voices of the Heart, produced by filmmaker Amy Williams and former Wind River resident Tish Keahna for Aljazeera's program WITNESS, and a the feature-length documentary  We Still Live Here, As Nutayunean, produced by filmmaker Anne Makepeace ("Endangered Languages Archives Project," cultural Survival, September 13m 2010,; and "NIEA's Annual Language Summit," Cultural Survival, September 13, 2010,

Ben Levine's documentary film Language of America: An Indian Story, filmed over a period of six years in native communities throughout New England, shows how language is not only a tool for communication, but also a window into a culture that has existed in Maine for more than 9,000 years. The story follows members of the Passamaquoddy, Wampanoag and Narragansett Naraganset as they struggle to maintain their language. The film began showing this fall ("Film delves into Indian language, culture in Maine," California Chronicle, October 6, 2010,

Neil Diamond's (Cree) documentary film Reel Injun, examining the portrayal of North American Natives through a century of cinema, and exploring how the myth of "the Injun" has influenced the world's understanding "“ and misunderstanding "“ of Indigenous people, aired on the PBS series Independent Lens, November 2. For more information contact Mary Lugo (770) 623-8190; or Cara White (843) 841-1480; (""˜Reel Injun' a portrayal of Native Americans in film," Indian Country Today, September 13, 2010,

A $6 million donation by the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, announced July 16, is enabling San Bernardino-based KVCR Television to launch the nation's first 24-hour Native American television channel in the Spring of 2011. KVCR is emphasizing the history, culture and news of American Indians and Alaska Natives. ("Donation establishes the nation's first 24-hour Native American TV channel," Indian Country Today, July 22, 2010,

A weekly audio program providing a summary of U.S. national news items important to Native communities is at:

A proposal by a group of Native and non-Native community members to build the Northwest Native Cultural Center celebrating the history and culture of Puget Sound's First People has received broad support from Native and other community leaders, artists, educators, writers, and museum professionals. The facility would be a permanent, centrally located venue that uses displays, programs and performing arts to tell the story of the Coast Salish people, and be a resource center, directing visitors to other Native facilities in the area, such as Daybreak Star, Duwamish Longhouse and Suquamish Museum. The proposal responds to Seattle Center's Century 21 Master Plan and the center's 50th anniversary celebration, scheduled for 2012 ("Proposal to build a Northwest Native Cultural Center at Seattle Center gathers momentum," Indian Country Today, September 14, 2010, The Chickasaw Nation, opened the $40 million Chickasaw Cultural Center in Murray County Oklahoma adjacent to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, in late July, after six years of construction, featuring the nation's culture and history. The center includes a 350-seat theater, an exhibit center, a replica of a traditional Chickasaw village, a cafe that serves items inspired by traditional Chickasaw cuisine, a garden where the tribe's hall of fame is honored, and a research center, while the 109 acre campus incorporates trees and plants indigenous to Oklahoma and Mississippi, part of the tribe's traditional homelands (Murray Evans, "After two decades, Chickasaw Cultural Center opens," Indian Country Today, August 23, 2010,


International Developments

The 15th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, September 30th, 2010, adopted a resolution to renew the mandate and change the name of the former "UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous People" to the "UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." The position is currently held by Professor James Anaya ("UN Human Rights Council Renews Rapporteur's Mandate," Cultural Survival, October 3, 2010,

The UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples held its third session, July 12-16, 2010, at the United Nations Office in Geneva. The Expert Mechanism is a new United Nations mechanism on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and was created by the Human Rights Council to continue the work of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 2007. This year's session focused on the right to participate in decision-making. Details of the session are available at:

Initiated at the June 11 "Southwest Tribal Summit: Enough is Enough "“ Tribal Voices Must be Heard," a group of southwestern tribes filed a collective, 125 page, report for the United Nations Human Rights Council, documenting the human rights violations imposed on the indigenous peoples of the area by the United States government. The document was filed with the U.S. State Department and will become part of the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review, a process created by the U.N. General Assembly in 2006 as a mechanism by which the human rights records of all 192 U.N. member states are reviewed every four years. The report documents the federal government's human rights violations against Indian nations in four areas: The federal government's failure to consider and protect the tribes' right to religious and cultural freedom; its failure to enforce its own laws to protect natural resources; its failure to conduct formal consultation regarding development that impacts tribal lands and peoples; and the lack and suppression of education about tribal history in U.S. public schools and the existing political relationship between tribes and the federal government. A major thrust of the report are rights violations relating to the degradation and destruction of natural resources "“ water, land, forests "“ and the desecration of sacred sites by the mining, logging and extraction activities of multinational corporations, which the federal government exempts from laws and restrictions meant to protect the environment. The authors recognize that the United States has come a long way from its original policy of seeking the direct extermination of Indian people, but complains that Indian nations continue to suffer from the institutionalized wrongs of the past, the insatiable appetite for tribal resources, the lack of the American people to consider the future consequences of their actions upon the environment and other cultures, and historical prejudices toward Indian people which continue to impact federal, state and local governments, regularly resulting in violations of indigenous peoples' fundamental human rights. The report also urges that "the United States swiftly adopt the Declaration (on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) and join the rest of the world in recognizing that indigenous people around the globe, including those within its own boundaries, are entitled to freedom, religion, culture, autonomy and resources which we require for our continued existence." The summit report includes statements from a number of tribes and a transcript of testimonies from the summit. The documents detail specific human rights violations regarding religious rights, protection of sacred lands, repatriation of ancestral remains and items of cultural patrimony, the wholesale destruction of lands through the appropriation of resources by mining and logging companies that are given permits by the federal government, and without consultation or what the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples calls " free, prior, and informed consent". Among the statements in the report were: San Carlos' opposition to Resolution Copper's plan to conduct large scale block cave mining on the tribe's sacred ancestral land, which was taken by the federal government and designated as "public land" and the lack of consultation about the project. The tribe, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups attest that the project will devastate the land and potentially contaminate the water supply. Yavapai-Apache Nation and Western Apache Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act cited the practice by some museums to label sacred objects as "cultural items" and refuse to return them to the nation. Yavapai also cited the decades-long violations of its water rights that have been upheld in federal courts and the desecration of Dzil Cho (San Francisco Peaks), a holy mountain. The federal government approved a plan for a commercial ski resort to use reclaimed sewerage, including human waste, to be sprayed on the mountain to make fake snow. The courts upheld the government's decision. White Mountain Apache cited federal government's breach of its trust responsibilities by failing to protect the tribe's natural resources, especially its water rights, by massive developments to benefit non-Native interests. The Western Shoshone National Council cited the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination regarding federal government policies involving uranium extraction, mercury contamination of water, water rerouting, restrictions on hunting and gathering rights, and more, that indicate environmental racism (Gale Courey Toensing, "Summit yields human rights violations report: Tribes urge US adoption of UN Declaration ," Indian Country Today, June 25, 2010,

There is concern in the Human and Indian rights community that the while the State Department report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the U.S. human rights record is a positive step, the United States needs to do much more to overcome its long history of abuses of Indigenous peoples. Ajamu Baraka, Network Executive Director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, a nonprofit coalition of leading human rights activists and organizations that helped coordinate the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), stated, "We welcome the Obama administration's active participation in the UPR process. At the same time, we remain concerned that the report will be seen as an end point rather than a springboard to action." Andrea Carmen, executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council who served on the U.S. Human Rights Network UPR planning committee, stated, "Of course, we would have liked to see a much more self-critical assessment by the U.S. government rather than background on the Bill of Rights and self-congratulation, but it's not their job to raise our issues at the U.N." Carmen noted that it is important for indigenous peoples to speak for themselves in the international arena, and the submissions from tribes and other organizations will be reviewed by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, including those compiled in a 423-page report by the Human Rights Network. Reports from the U.N.'s special human rights rapporteurs and monitoring bodies, including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, will also be considered before the OHCHR writes its own report and recommendations, which the U.S. will be free to pursue or not. CERD, which is responsible for monitoring global compliance with the 1969 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, an international treaty ratified by the U.S., vigorously criticized the U.S. government in 2008 for failing to meet its obligations and international standards on racial equality. The State Department report cites human rights progress achieved since the time of institutionalized slavery, pointing to the fact that the current president and attorney general, and two of the last three secretaries of state are African American. It says that U.S. participation in the process is meant to signify the government's commitment to human rights. Concerning Indigenous peoples, the report acknowledges the nation-to-nation relationship with federally recognized tribes, "past wrongs and broken promises," and "the need for urgent change." it cites President Barack Obama's "historic summit" last November with tribal leaders and his signing of the American Indian and Alaska Native health care provisions and the Tribal Law and Order Act. It mentions soaring unemployment and crime rates on some reservations, acknowledges that "addressing crimes involving violence against women and children on tribal lands is a priority." The State department text notes progress in Native affairs, giving several examples. Critics point out that the report does not mention the protection of sacred sites, an issue of concern voiced by almost all the tribal leaders, organizations and individuals who participated in the State Department's "listening sessions," Carmen said. "The fact is indigenous peoples don't have freedom of religion "“ a right guaranteed by the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples "“ because our religion is tied to these sacred places that were given to us to bury our ancestors and practice our religion. The U.S. has not done much to protect them. Given the choice of protecting sacred places and a coal mine, they go for the coal mine every time. "We want our religion to be respected on the same basis as other people's religions in the U.S." (Gale Courey Toensing, "State Department's human rights report falls short," Indian Country Today, October 11, 2010,

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2010 the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures with the goal of "demonstrating the benefits of cultural diversity by acknowledging the importance of the constant transfers and exchanges between cultures and the ties forged between them since the dawn of humanity" [UNESCO publication].  UNESCO was chosen as the lead UN agency to celebrate the Year given their knowledge and experience on "the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples". Among the events of the year was an October 28 UN DPI/NGO briefing, "Promoting Diversity of World Cultures and the Links that Unite Them," at the Salvation Army Auditorium, 221 East 52nd Street, in New York City. For more information go to:

The United Nations declared water a fundamental human right, in late July, in a General assembly resolution that, declares access to water as "essential to the full enjoyment of life and all human rights." In early August, two weeks after a Botswana High Court judge ruled that the Kalahari Bushmen of Botswana cannot access a water borehole on their lands, Maude Barlow, former UN advisor on water, "˜Alternative Nobel' prize winner and founder of the Blue Planet Project, condemned the Botswana government's failure to allow Bushmen to access water. Barlow stated, "Last week, the UN General Assembly declared that everyone, everywhere, has the right to water. But now the world witnesses one of Africa's most prosperous countries denying its first inhabitants the right to sink a well, while promoting mining and safari camps just a few miles away. It's hard to imagine a more cruel and inhuman way to treat people. One can only conclude Botswana's authorities view Bushmen as less important than wildlife. Many people around the world will be horrified at what they're seeing." For more information go to:

Valerie Taliman, "Trafficking our children," Indian Country Today, July 26, 2010,, the first in a four-part special series examining the disappearance and murders of hundreds of First Nations girls and women in Canada, highlights sex trafficking of aboriginal children and the failure of police and the Canadian government to fully investigate these crimes. Numerous First Nations young people have been caught in schemes to find vulnerable, defenseless youth stuck in limbo between homelessness and the long road home, according to the Aboriginal Women's Action Network. an organization working on the frontlines to help exploited girls and women. The girls, most often 11 to 17, are routinely introduced to crack cocaine or heroine, and fed a steady diet of alcohol to "loosen them up" and numb them from the horrific experiences they are forced to endure. The goal is to quickly get them hooked on drugs so soon they are working to support their drug dependency, making it harder for them to escape. Then they are forced into sex work. "To make matters worse, the men who are buying children include people one would not normally suspect "“ like Judge David Ramsay, who pled guilty in 2006 to charges of procurement and sexual assault on four First Nations girls between the ages of 12 and 16. All of the girls assaulted had appeared before him in youth or family court, and although a police investigation was initiated in 1999, he was not removed from the bench until 2002, three years after the investigation began. " Meanwhile there have been a huge number of murders of Native women. As of March 2010, more than 580 Native women and girls are known to have been murdered or disappeared throughout Canada, according to the Native Women's Association of Canada, which conducted a five-year study to collect evidence that documented issues of violence that women, families and communities had been complaining of for nearly two decades. By one report, there were more than 3,000 missing women in Canada, as of last summer, 40% percent of whom are of aboriginal descent, while First Nations people as a whole only make up only 3% of the country's population. There has been considerable public calling for official investigation of the matter. More than 2,900 people signed petitions during the 2009 March4Justice across Canada looking for their daughters, sisters, mothers, and aunts, while various organizations have been lobbying government for action . Although Native families have reported relatives missing for the last 20 years, only recently did Vancouver police organize a task force to investigate the high number of missing women, after thousands of people organized marches for several years in downtown Vancouver on Valentine's Day to bring attention to the lack of response from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and government agencies. In part four of the series, Valerie Taliman, "Canada's racist policies to blame for national tragedy," Indian Country Today, August 23, 2010,, points out that not only have Canadian officials not paid proper attention to missing and murdered Aboriginal young women, but government policies increase the number of Native youth at risk. Government policies, that pay almost double to non-natives to engage in foster care than to First Nation women to support their children, lead to the placing of thousands of Aboriginal children with non-First Nation families, cutting off from their cultures, and greatly increasing the likelihood of their falling pray to substance abuse and prostitution. Dave Courchene, Anishinabe founder of the Turtle Lodge (which helps many troubled youth and families who receive guidance, ceremonies and a spiritual connection to their cultures) and a former school superintendent who gave up his career to follow a spiritual path nearly two decades ago, stated , "Right now there are 4,600 Native children in foster care in southern Manitoba who need a cultural and spiritual connection to their identity and families. Without that, they get lost. We have to make our children a priority and put them back in the center of our lives," after social services had taken them all. What happens to children raised by non-Native strangers under government custody is directly linked to their vulnerability for exploitation and abuse. Angela MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women's Support Services in Vancouver, BC noted, "The child welfare system is implicated when we realize that many of the missing women we are talking about are not actually women at all, but girls in the care of the provincial ministries for child and family development." In March, Grand Chief Edward John of the Tl'azt'en Nation chaired the International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Children and Youth in Detention, Custody, Foster-Care and Adoption in North Vancouver, where leaders prepared recommendations for United Nations review. He pointed out that there is a documented statistical link between the high numbers of indigenous children in foster care (and other forms of custody) and the legacy of the residential schools. This intergenerational trauma is one of the most destructive legacies of the residential school policies, the report said . Experts agreed that discrimination, economic inequalities, and racially discriminatory policies continue to play a major role in the disproportionate placement of indigenous youth in detention, custody, foster care and adoption. Among the many examples of discrimination cited were: Defining suitable households for care-giving primarily based on economic factors, both in justifications for removal of children and in determining placements for children in foster or adoptive homes; significant disparities in funding levels and services provided to Native communities; border security laws that fail to acknowledge the specific needs and rights of indigenous children and youth; and blaming the over-representation of indigenous youth in custody and care on Native peoples themselves, rather than on Canada's system and policies. Experts recognized that the cycle of institutionalization for Native people often begins with foster care, continues on to youth detention programs and then to custody in the adult criminal justice system. This cycle is often repeated for the children of incarcerated adults. "In any discussion of solutions to these problems, issues of racism within law enforcement and the overarching reality of colonization and residential school are what need to be addressed and redressed," MacDougall said. "The women and children affected are not forgotten, because the family members, the community members, and the activists who have been working for all these years will not give up."

Indigenous programs at the University of Victoria campus in British Columbia have grown greatly in the past few years, including the expansion of Native faculty to 17 full time and about 30 part time or seasonal staff members, and establishment, some years ago, of Indigenous Governance as an independent group, which trains leaders from an indigenous viewpoint and philosophy with the understanding that they will work in Native communities. Also playing an important role has been First Peoples House, completed in 2009 in the heart of the University of Victoria campus in British Columbia, designed in the shape of a traditional long house, providing a focal point for Native students and staff. Meanwhile, enrollment of Native students has increased in the last decade from 72 to approximately 750, of whom 100 are in post-graduate programs. Assisting all this is the Office of Indigenous Affairs, the primary organization responsible for coordinating programs and ensuring indigenous students find a warm, supportive and welcoming atmosphere. It is located in the First Peoples House, also home to many essential services. Many indigenous students find it difficult to leave their communities and support networks. To alleviate that feeling of separation, Native students can attend the indigenous student mini-university summer camp, which provides a one-week taste of life at the university. Once university starts, there is an Indigenous Week of Welcome to break the ice and make friends. The faculties have First Nation advisors and coordinators to help Native students understand how university works and to suggest classes that best suit their interests. An Indigenous Student Handbook, which contains practical information, is distributed to students. Elders' Voices is a special program led by elders from several nations. This honored group helps lead ceremony, protocol and celebration for students, and four of the elders take part in the Elders in Residence program in which they provide support and guidance for students in need. The popularity of this program has exceeded expectations. Other programs and extracurricular activities, which are usually held at the First Peoples House, include drumming, crafts, talking circles, feast nights and a speaker series. There is also a Native Counseling Centre for those who are finding the transition to university difficult. The Office of Indigenous Affairs also organizes numerous forums and symposiums, such as the First Nations Renewable Energy Symposium, the Successful Transitions Education Forum and the Traditional Foods Conference. Moreover, Director of the office, Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi, Kwagiulth and Gusgimukw First Nations, points out, "There is considerable involvement with the aboriginal community outside the university, which is rewarding and means we are not in ivory-tower isolation. I'm very proud of our indigenous programs." Undergraduate Programs include some 30 courses with significant indigenous content and the number is increasing. Many of the courses are in education, social work and nursing. The Faculty of Law is recognized as a Canadian leader in indigenous legal education. As students near graduation, they can participate in an Indigenous Student Career Transition program, where they receive advice on job hunting, interviews, preparing resumes and ways of re-integrating and giving back to their communities. Post-graduate Studies and Research includes about 15 courses with significant indigenous content. Research is conducted in a wide range of indigenous topics, including ethnobotany, health, governance, and preservation and revitalization of language. The Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, created in 2008, is dedicated to promoting and engaging in health research in partnership with aboriginal peoples to improve their health. The "School" of Indigenous Governance plays an important role, according to Professor Jeff Corntassel, Cherokee Nation and the acting head, who says no other group in the world has such a commitment and vision to helping indigenous people regain a proper place in society. There are 37 post-graduate students and entry is very competitive. "Our standards are high, and our courses are like a boot-camp in decolonization" ("Indigenous programs soar at University of Victoria," Indian Country Today, September 5, 2010,

The initial session of the six month Aboriginal Community Mental Health Worker program at Northwest Community College's Smithers Campus graduated its first class, June 25. The program is a combination of First Nations health studies, including an overview of aboriginal culture and history, and community mental health courses, plus health access English upgrading and LPAT 100 Student Success classes. The program concludes with four-week community-based clinical placements in Smithers, Moricetown, Hazelton and Terrace ("New mental health worker program celebrates first graduates," July 23, 2010,

Six companies in Canada "“ ARAMARK Canada, Remote Services and Health Care divisions; BMO Financial Group; Casino Rama; Cameco Corporation; ESS, a member of Compass Group Canada; and Sodexo Canada, Remote Sites Division "“ have been awarded Canada's only recognition of performance and success in building positive relations with aboriginal businesses, people and communities. These companies are certified by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business' Progressive Aboriginal Relations program for significant commitment, progress and outcomes through aboriginal relations. Clint Davis, CCAB president and CEO, noted, "Strong, measurable and ongoing commitments by PAR certified companies create opportunities for a growing and skilled aboriginal workforce. Nurturing real and dynamic relationships with aboriginal people and communities is not only socially responsible, it makes smart business sense" ("Leading companies focus on aboriginal relations," Indian Country Today, September 28, 2010,

Markus Schultze-Kraft, "Latin America's Security Challenges Two Centuries On," International Relations and Security Network (ISN), July 28, 2010,, cautions, " Exuding self confidence and optimism, much of Latin America is focused on celebrating 200 years of independence from Spain and Portugal. However, against this celebratory backdrop numerous security challenges are begging for answers "“ and soon "“ if Latin America is to succeed in its third century of Republican history. There is no doubt that two centuries after independence most Latin American countries have advanced their nation-building quest. Recent opinion polls conducted by Latinobarómetro, a Chilean non-governmental organization, reveal that a majority of Latin Americans are confident about the future, exhibit high levels of optimism and have faith in their own countries. At the same time, there is evidence which indicates that the region was less affected by the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 than, for instance, the United States and Europe. This is no small feat, considering Latin America's past record of economic crises and vulnerability to external shocks." In addition, the region's politics have become more inclusive, giving rise to some powerful and respected democratic leaders. " These achievements notwithstanding, it is not all coming up roses in Latin America. The region faces multiple challenges that have to be urgently addressed by Latin Americans and their international partners. Next to still very high Gini coefficients that reveal extreme levels of social inequality and poverty, Latin America suffers from pronounced crime, rule-of-law and security governance problems. With the exception of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, the region is today the world's crime and homicide capital. And a deeply troubling picture of regional tensions has been drawn, especially in the Andean region, where anti-crime, counter-drug and security cooperation between countries is either inefficient or nonexistent." "With respect to homicide and crime, international figures leave no room for doubt: In 2009 , the 10 countries with the world's highest murder rates were, in descending order, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia and Brazil (next to Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean and South Africa). Statistically, the so-called Northern Triangle in Central America, made up of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, is today the deadliest zone on the globe. But levels of homicide have also increased substantially in Venezuela in recent years; and while the situation in Colombia has improved "“ and is paradoxically less catastrophic than in neighboring Venezuela, which does not suffer from an internal armed conflict "“ the country still has one of the world's highest homicide rates. There are many factors that have to be considered when analyzing the extremely high occurrence of homicide in Latin America. Much of it has to do with drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime "“ and the manifest shortcomings of decades of US-driven counter-drug policy in the region." "Today, violent struggles over trafficking routes and Andean cocaine stocks have spread across Latin America." "Overall weak justice systems and often very high levels of impunity facilitate this crime explosion. To control the situation, a number of Latin American governments have resorted to outside help. Guatemala, for instance, established the UN-sanctioned International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in 2006 to resuscitate its agonizing justice apparatus, reduce impunity and control high-level corruption and clandestine/criminal networks. While CICIG has been instrumental in tackling several high-profile cases,"¦ it has been facing enormous challenges implementing structural reform and strengthening Guatemala's justice sector." "Another factor propelling Latin America's monumental problems of crime and violence is the existing disarray in regional relations. Consider, for example, the Andean region. Since the Colombian armed forces' strike against a base camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) inside Ecuador in March 2008 and the signing of a new US-Colombian defense cooperation agreement (DCA) in 2009, Colombia has not had functioning diplomatic relations with its two most important neighbors "“ Venezuela and Ecuador." "Under the leadership of Lula, South America has made efforts to improve regional governance, including in the area of security, through the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). UNASUR was established in 2008 and is comprised of 12 countries, of which Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Surinam and Uruguay have yet to ratify the founding treaty. The new regional body has contributed to overcoming a serious crisis in Bolivia in 2008 and to smoothing over regional tensions that developed over the 2009 DCA between Colombia and the US. But UNASUR still has to develop its capacity to address transnational threats, especially drug-trafficking and other cross-border crime, and help mend relations between member states with different or antagonistic policy perspectives, such as Colombia and Venezuela or Bolivia and Peru, through improved security and other governance mechanisms." "Two centuries after independence began sweeping across Latin America, the continent's nations have undoubtedly achieved much by way of establishing democratic political regimes and developing more assertive relations with the rest of the world. But weak regional cooperation and integration and a number of entrenched structural problems, including pronounced difficulties to uphold the rule-of-law and control organized crime and domestic violence, continue to afflict the continent. Those problems have to be addressed urgently and in an integrated manner, so as to allow Latin America to conclude its transition from being the "furthermost West" or "forgotten continent" "“ as Alain Rouquié and Michael Reid, respectively, would put it "“ to becoming an integral part of the international community of democratic nations."

 Laura Carlsen, Michael Collins, Oscar Chacón, Paula Álvarez, Christopher Loperena and Ricardo Verdum, "Inter-American Development Bank Megaprojects: Displacement and Forced Migration," America's Updater, May 2010. presents an in-depth report of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and how its policies have led to displacement and forced migration in Latin America. The report studies IDB-funded projects in Mexico (La Parota dam), Colombia (palm oil development), Brazil (relocation and compensation following dam displacement) and Honduras (tourism development). In these case studies, displaced or potentially displaced inhabitants are playing an active role--rather than passively joining the diaspora, they have organized to call for the suspension or modification of bank-promoted megaprojects to avoid displacement, or to force compliance with the bank's guidelines and policies.

Laura Carlsen, Mexico's State of Impunity, Americas Program Updater,, comments, " When international human rights observers rounded a curve on a remote road in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, they found the way blocked by boulders. They decided going forward would be dangerous. But they didn't know that going back would be deadly. As the vans began to turn around, masked gunmen came down from the hills and opened fire on the vehicles. Some of the people scattered into the brush. Others got lucky and dodged the bullets. Two were murdered, shot in the head"”Bety Cariño, of the Mexican rights group CACTUS and leader of the Mexican Alliance for Self-Determination and Finnish human rights observer Jyri Jaakola. The rights activists were traveling to the village of San Juan Copala in the Triqui indigenous region of Oaxaca. The village had been surrounded and cut off by local paramilitaries from a group called UBISORT, reportedly founded by the party of the state government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The caravan included journalists, state activists and international human rights observers who knew the risks, but decided to undertake the mission because that is the job of human rights defenders throughout the world. The lives of villagers were at stake and they saw a dangerous precedent to society of allowing a town to be held hostage by an illegal armed group without raising a voice. Killings are a common occurrence in the Triqui region for those who defend indigenous rights and resources"”scores of people have been assassinated, including in 2008 two women from San Juan Copala´s community radio station. After a paramilitary leader threatened the group to desist from entering the controlled territory, the leaders advised the state government of its intentions. The attack took place under the nose of the state government and with its prior knowledge of the risk." There is a long history of violent conflict in the Triqui region, "fuelled by resource grabs, rebellion and repression. Through each stage of their bloody history, the same pattern repeats itself, as amply documented in a recent study by the Mixtec lawyer and researcher, Francisco Lopez Barcenas. The cycle could have been stopped or at least spun down if the government had at any point carried out its mandate of administering justice to the indigenous people of the region. Instead it quelled the rebellions as outside interests bled the region. In 2007, the village of San Juan Copala broke from a government that had failed to protect its people and declared itself an autonomous municipality. The repression went into overdrive." "In 2006, Oaxacans took over the state capital demanding the ouster of PRI Governor Ulises Ruiz. For nearly six months, an unprecedented movement of unionized teachers, housewives, students, indigenous people, farmers and assorted other sectors of society held the city. Federal police were sent in to retake control as the governor remained in hiding but refused to resign. During those bloody months, 26 members of the protest movement were murdered and hundreds more captured, beaten and submitted to psychological torture." "Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that Ruiz was responsible for grave violations of human rights in Oaxaca in the 2006 uprising. But no criminal charges or impeachment proceedings were initiated. The last attack repeats the historic and contemporary cycles of violence. Outsiders once again covet the Triqui region, this time mining interests. Self-governing indigenous people get in the way of those interests. The targeting of the caravan sought explicitly to take out leaders of grassroots opposition to the state government and movements to protect natural resources. Bety Cariño was one of the state's most active leaders of the anti-mining movement and efforts to defend indigenous rights." " Human rights violations in Mexico have been on the rise in the last few years, with a sixfold increase in complaints against the armed forces since the drug war was launched. Civilian deaths have increased in the context of drug war militarization. The nation faces a crisis of confidence in the government's ability"“or willingness"“to provide even the most basic human security. The U.S. State Department has ignored this crisis to justify support of the failed drug war of President Felipe Calderon. Security aid to Mexico under the Merida Initiative required that a report on human rights be presented to Congress showing progress in ending impunity for crimes committed by the armed forces, an end to torture and progress in the Brad Will murder. The State Department delayed presenting the report until last year when it submitted a report that did not show progress and simply interpreted the requirement to be the elaboration of a report. Security aid to police and armed forces that violate human rights consistently empowers a system of violations. Human rights training by U.S. forces will make no difference whatsoever in that equation"”the problem is obviously not a lack of training but a lack of political will. As long as the same political forces that commit the violations receive support and aid, they are encouraged to continue practices that damage society and destroy lives. Mexico today is at a critical juncture. Its fragile institutions have been shaken by their inadequate response to electoral fraud in the 2006 presidential elections and to the inequality and injustice of daily life. The justice system remains bound to the interests of a weak federal government that fears popular protest, and to state and local governments, in cases like Oaxaca, controlled by despots. Corruption by drug cartels adds to the impunity. Mexico can either take up the challenge to strengthen democratic institutions, or it can fall back into rule by force and authoritarianism. The U.S. government's blinkered focus on security issues while ignoring systematic human rights violations encourages the former. The U.S. government should focus on fighting transnational organized crime within its own borders and channel aid to Mexico to development projects that strengthen human rights, citizen empowerment, peace-building and wellbeing."

Cultural Survival reported, October 3, 2010,, "On October 1,  the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a ruling that the Mexican government had violated the human rights of two Indigenous Me'phaa women who were raped by members of the armed forces in 2002. The violations also include giving impunity for those responsible for the abuses as well the harassment of the people who have supported the women in their search for justice. The court cited the American Convention on Human Rights, the International Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, and the Convention of Belem do Pará, which addresses violence against women. The court also demanded that the government reopen the criminal investigation, investigate the officials who undermined the investigations, strengthen procedures for investigating rape cases, improve medical care provided to the direct victims, and provide redress for the women, their relatives, and community.  The court also emphasized Mexico's obligation to stop applying military justice when investigating and prosecuting members of the army for human rights violations".

Mexico's President, President Felipe Calderón, in the face of international pressure over abuses by his nation's military, put forward a range of proposals to Congress, October 18, to transform military justice, including civilian trials for soldiers accused of some serious crimes, such as rape or torture. The plan includes civilian trials for soldiers accused of "forced disappearances," rape or torture. It would allow anonymous complaints "” even by fax or e-mail "” for the first time and would include protection for witnesses and other figures in the cases. Soldiers and marines convicted in civilian trials would serve their sentences in military prisons, both for their protection and to keep them from the influence of organized-crime syndicates, which are known to have broad sway in civilian jails and prisons. Civilian courts have their share of complaints of justice delayed or denied, but Mexico has embarked on a long process to make trials speedier and more open. accusations of arbitrary killings and beatings that were not considered torture would remain under the jurisdiction of the military authorities. The military would remain the initial investigator of all accusations, raising questions over whether cases would be turned over to civilian prosecutors. The proposals Mexico's have the support of the military that Mr. Calderón has used for close to four years to fight drug traffickers threatening public order in vast stretches of the country. Some human rights groups, however, called the changes too modest to make a difference, contending that Mr. Calderón's strong-arm tactics, while popular with a public lacking faith in police agencies, have yielded scores of disappearances, unlawful killings and other abuses at the hands of the military. At least some of those crimes, possibly even murder, would not be handled by civilian courts under the proposal. At the time of the proposal, the Mexican human rights commission had more than 4,000 complaints pending against the military. Rarely have these been prosecuted and, when they have been, the proceedings have been controlled by the military in secret, with results seldom made public. The U.S. State Department, in September, withheld some funding for Mexico in the drug war, over complaints that Mexico had not gone far enough to investigate abuse and make the military, which has strongly resisted civilian intrusion in its affairs, publicly accountable. The human rights complaints have also led some members of the United States Congress to question whether more aid should be sent to Mexico (Randal C. Archibold, "A Proposal to Address Rights Abuse in Mexico," The New York Times, October 19, 2010,

Michael Collins, " Mexican Elections: Oaxaca and Territory in Play "“ by Luis A. Gómez, Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar and Cesol-Oaxaca ," Americas Program Updater, July 21, 2010,, reports, "The elections of July 4, in fourteen Mexican states can be seen as a struggle for Mexican territories by diverse power groups, including the drug cartels. And in the case of Oaxaca, it is, furthermore, the exercise of its citizenship by an aggrieved population whose movement was defeated in 2006, and which has subsequently turned to voting as a manifestation of their rejection of Ulises Ruiz and the political group that he represents."

"Mexican Drug Trafficking," The New York Times, August 18, 2010,, reports, " Although Mexico has been a producer and transit route for illegal drugs for generations, the country now finds itself in a pitched battle with powerful and well-financed drug cartels. Top police commanders have been assassinated and grenades thrown, in one case into the crowd at an Independence Day celebration. The upsurge in drug-related violence is traced to the end of 2006 when President Felipe Calderón launched a frontal assault on the cartels by deploying tens of thousands of soldiers and federal police to take them on. Mr. Calderon has successfully pushed the United States to acknowledge its own responsibility for the violence in Mexico since it is American drug consumers who fuel demand and American guns smuggled into Mexico that are used by the drug gangs. Reflecting concern over drug trafficking, in June 2010 a Justice Department report described a "high and increasing" availability of methamphetamine mainly because of large-scale drug production in Mexico. In August 2010, with the pace of killings rising, officials have backed off their effort to persuade Mexicans that the mounting death toll was proof that the government was succeeding in disrupting the cartels. Instead, Mr. Calderón set up series of high-level forums drawing Mexico's entire political establishment in an effort to show that the government was willing to engage its critics and listen to suggestions." Official reports say that as of early August 28,228 people, including 2,076 were local, state and federal police officers, had been killed since 2006, when the government began its crackdown on drug cartels. The violence has spilled over into the U.S., raising concerns there, while the U.S. Department of state has allowed consulate workers to evacuate their families across the border to the United States. "While Mr. Calderon dismisses suggestions that Mexico is a failed state, he and his aides have spoken frankly of the cartels' attempts to set up a state within a state, levying taxes, throwing up roadblocks and enforcing their own perverse codes of behavior. The Mexican government has identified 233 "zones of impunity'' across the country, where crime is largely uncontrolled, a figure that is down from 2,204 zones a year ago. Responding to a growing sense that Mexico's military-led fight against drug traffickers is not gaining ground, the United States and Mexico set their counternarcotics strategy on a new course in March 2010 by refocusing their efforts on strengthening civilian law enforcement institutions and rebuilding communities crippled by poverty and crime," The $331 million plan is an expansion of the so-called Mérida Initiative that was started by the Bush administration, including cooperation among American and Mexican intelligence agencies and American support for training Mexican police officers, judges, prosecutors and public defenders. It calls for, American and Mexican agencies working together to refocus border enforcement away from building an expanded wall "to creating systems that would allow goods and people to be screened before they reach the crossing points. The plan would also provide support for Mexican programs intended to strengthen communities where socioeconomic hardships force many young people into crime." U.S. anti drug aid to Mexico now will spend more money for civilian police training, and less for military and police equipment. U.S."“Mexican military cooperation is expected to continue, despite reports by human rights groups of an increase in human rights violations by Mexican soldiers. The new program is beginning by targeting the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez.

Marco Antonio Martínez García, "Honduras since the coup: Drug Traffickers' Paradise," Americas Program Updater, August 31, 2010,, finds, " When Felipe Calderón took up the Mexican presidency, he declared war on drug trafficking. Now, three years down the line, many are worried that Mexican traffickers intend to broaden their networks to Central America, bringing in their wake corruption, violence and death. Such a move would be the prelude to the widespread adoption of a militarized strategy similar to Mexico's, where there are constant complaints of human rights violations."

A study by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), May 15-18, and released May 19, finds that opponents of the government of Honduras, including numerous Indigenous people, are in serious danger of continuing human rights violations . The current report supports IACHR"˜s earlier observations and findings by indigenous rights and other human rights organizations. The IACHR and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression received "information about the murders of a number of persons, including journalists and human rights defenders." The IACHR and the Office of the Special Rapporteur have expressed their deep concern over the absence of effective investigations that could lead to the clarification of these events. Without prejudice to the high rate of criminality that in general exists in Honduras, the IACHR believes that the complaints received could correspond to the same pattern of violence that the IACHR reported in "˜Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup d'État,' published January 20, 2010." In that report, the IACHR found evidence of severe human rights violations including murder, arbitrary detention, attacks on media equipment and journalists, harassment and rape, among other crimes. Both reports found that among those who targeted were indigenous protestors. The May study stated, ""¦ the IACHR would like to state that human rights violations particularly affect those sectors of the population that have been marginalized historically and are most vulnerable, such as. "¦ indigenous and Garifuna people.". The Garifuna are descendants of escaped African slaves and the indigenous Caliponan people. Members of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) protested these human rights violations, and mass firings of professors and other staff in various universities, on May 3 outside President Porfirio Lobo's house in the capital Tegucigalpa. Salvador Zuniga, COPINH president, asserted in a press statement that the protestors were forced to leave the area by soldiers who beat them (Rick Kearns, "Danger continues for Honduran protestors," Indian Country Today, June 11, 2010,

ICG, "Guatemala: Squeezed between Crime and Impunity," Latin America Report Nº33 22 June 22, 2010,, warns, " The 1996 peace accords formally ended Guatemala's civil war but failure to address the conflict's root causes and dismantle clandestine security apparatuses has weakened its institutions and opened the door to skyrocketing violent crime. Guatemala is one of the world's most dangerous countries, with some 6,500 murders in 2009, more than the average yearly killings during the civil war and roughly twice Mexico's homicide rate. Under heavy pressure at home, Mexican drug traffickers have moved into Guatemala to compete for control of Andean cocaine transiting to the U.S. The UN-sanctioned International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has brought hope by making some progress at getting a handle on high-level corruption. However, in June 2010 its Spanish director, Carlos Castresana, resigned saying the government had not kept its promise to support CICIG's work and reform the justice system. President Álvaro Colom needs to consolidate recent gains with institutional reform, anti-corruption measures, vetting mechanisms and a more inclusive political approach, including to indigenous peoples. The administration of President Álvaro Arzú and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) guerrilla group signed peace accords fourteen years ago that promised a massive overhaul of the military and of a system that marginalized the majority of citizens, among them large sectors of the indigenous population, and served the interests of the small economic and political elite. However, there has been little follow-through. Tax collection is still the lowest in Latin America (some 10 per cent of gross domestic product, GDP), in flagrant violation of a key provision of the peace accords. In addition to the rise of clandestine groups, many directed by ex-senior military officers and politicians, the country has seen the proliferation of Mexican drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs) and youth gangs ( maras) .Criminal organizations traffic in everything from illegal drugs to adopted babies, and street gangs extort and terrorize entire neighborhoods, often with the complicity of authorities. Guatemala has become a paradise for criminals, who have little to fear from prosecutors owing to high levels of impunity. An overhaul of the security forces in the wake of the peace accords created an ineffective and deeply corrupt police. High-profile assassinations and the government's inability to reduce murders have produced paralyzing fear, a sense of helplessness and frustration. In the past few years, the security environment has deteriorated further, and the population has turned to vigilantism as a brutal and extra-institutional way of combating crime. President Colom took office in 2008 with the promise, like his predecessors, at least to slow the spiral of violence and to end impunity. However, his administration has been plagued by instability, corruption and a lack of capacity. There have been five interior ministers, two of whom are facing corruption charges, while two police chiefs have been arrested for connections to drug trafficking. The president himself was nearly toppled, when a prominent lawyer and businessman were assassinated under bizarre circumstances in 2009. Nevertheless, some progress has been made with international assistance, in particular from the CICIG. To achieve lasting results, however , Guatemalans and their international counterparts need to act in the following areas: The government of Guatemala should give priority to reforming the police and military as well as the corrections and justice systems; ensuring the vetting of and financial disclosure by high-level government and state officials, so as to combat corruption; stimulating the full political and economic participation of indigenous leaders and communities; and improving the legislature's professional capacity in the area of justice reform and law enforcement. Central American governments, as well as Panama and Mexico, together with the Andean region, should continue to advance cooperation and information-sharing initiatives, in order to better combat crime, gangs and drug trafficking. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should quickly appoint a new CICIG director, and the international community should extend CICIG's mandate beyond September 2011; expand it to specifically address crime and corruption; and increase political and financial support. At the same time, the international community should increase support for institutional reform and capacity building, so that Guatemala can eventually take over CICIG's functions effectively.

The U.S., within the Mérida Initiative framework, should increase funding and make its support to Central America, especially Guatemala, more effective.

Mark Schneider, "Guatemala: Country must find the way forward," The Miami Herald, June 23, 2010,, comments, " The Guatemalan Constitutional Court's recent annulment of the 3-week-old controversial appointment of Attorney General Conrado Reyes was a promising blow against impunity in a nation wracked by drug trafficking, violence and corruption. The court's courageous action came after Carlos Castresana, head of the U.N.-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), resigned and denounced the alleged contacts between Reyes and organized crime and Reyes' efforts to gut the country's anti-corruption units. A new Crisis Group report, Guatemala: Squeezed between Crime and Impunity, found that CICIG had given Guatemala renewed hope that combating organized crime, drug trafficking and state corruption is possible. Over the past three years, CICIG has been responsible for ridding the country of 2,000 corrupt police, firing the top police officials and an interior minister, and arresting the country's former president, Alfonso Portillo, on charges of embezzling public funds. Yet Guatemala still faces serious challenges, which make naming an equally tough new CICIG director even more urgent. Its murder rate is among the highest in the world, Mexican cartels have made Guatemala the frontline of their battle for control of the cocaine corridor, and youth gangs and organized crime have undermined citizen security." "For the past 14 years, Guatemala has fluctuated between a functional and predatory state. In 1996, amid much optimism, the government of President Alvaro Arzú signed a peace agreement with the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (UNRG), an umbrella guerilla group, bringing the country's 36-year civil war -- the region's bloodiest armed conflict in the 20th century -- to an end. The promise of those peace accords remains unfulfilled. Failure to address structural deficits linked to the causes of the civil war has created a destructive environment in which many in the elite prosper, indigenous peoples are marginalized, and ordinary citizens have no faith in government. Central to the 1996 agreement was a promise to reform Guatemala's security sector and military apparatus. These reforms were bungled: The overhaul of security forces created an ineffective and deeply corrupt police force. The accords fell short of holding accountable those responsible for atrocities during the conflict, which has contributed to creating a pervasive culture of impunity." " Despite the current crisis, there is a way forward. "¢ The Guatemalan government should make reforming the police, military, justice, and tax systems its top priority, implementing a transparent and improved vetting process with CICIG support. "¢ Internationally, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must immediately appoint Castresana's successor, and work with President Colom to extend the CICIG's mandate beyond September 2011, when it is due to expire. For his part, Colom can press for internal reform so that a future Guatemalan government can gradually take over responsibility from the CICIG. The United States and Canada as well as other countries in the region and Europe should increase support to CICIG and to helping Guatemala build the rule of law. "¢ Finally, President Colom is running out of time: Elections are scheduled for 2011, and if he wants his legacy to be one of progress against Guatemala's national ills, his first task is to support the CICIG reforms and insulate the justice system from partisan and criminal influence. perhaps then Guatemala will begin to feel the winds of change."

Grassroots International, "A Victory for Human Rights: Marlin Mine in Guatemala Ordered to Shut," June 16, 2010., reports, " After tireless campaigning by the indigenous people of Guatemala and international solidarity organizations, including Grassroots International, the Goldcorp Marlin Mine has been ordered to shut by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This is a huge victory for local Mayan residents who have fought for the past six years to hold Goldcorp accountable for appalling social and environmental problems caused by the mine. Grassroots International supported their struggle for justice by funding indigenous representatives to attend meetings with allies in Canada and the United States as well as hearings at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights."

Cultural Survival reported, September 11, 2010, that the government of Nicaragua ratified International Labor Organization Convention No. 169 on August 27, 2010, the only legally binding international instrument that specifically addresses Indigenous Peoples' rights ("Nicaragua Ratifies ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention No. 169," Cultural Survival, September 11, 2010,

A report released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that at least thirty-four Colombian tribes face extinction due to continuing violence on their lands. The report found that, " In spite of new efforts by the state"¦ the risk of physical or cultural disappearance remains, and in some cases has risen," amidst an increase in murders, death-threats, and the forced recruitment of indigenous youth into armed groups. Internal displacement is also cited as a major issue that disproportionately affects Colombia's tribal peoples. Of the country's four million internal refugees, Indians make up 15% of the total, despite the fact that they represent just 2% of the national population. Just two weeks before the report was released, Luis Socarrás Pimienta, leader of the Wayúu tribe was shot-dead by an alleged paramilitary outside his home in the northern Colombian province of la Guajira. The report finds that murders of indigenous Colombians rose by 63% between 2008 and 2009, and thirty-three members of Colombia's Awa tribe were killed in 2009 alone.  The Nukak, one of the Amazon's last nomadic tribes, have lost more than half their members since the arrival of coca-growing colonists on their land, where they remain trapped in a cruel limbo between oppressive refugee shelters on the outskirts of a town and the violence-stricken forest. The Nukak were identified in the report as requiring "˜special attention.' An earlier UN report cites a suspected program of "˜ethnic cleansing' in the country to make way for illicit crops or "˜to establish large-scale agro-business ventures, including palm oil plantations and beef cattle production'." For further details go to:

ICG, "Improving Security Policy in Colombia," Latin America Briefing N°23, June 29, 2010,, finds, " President Álvaro Uribe's eight-year military campaign against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has taken a heavy toll on Colombia's largest insurgent organization. The government is now working to consolidate security gains by expanding state presence in several of the formerly most conflict-ridden regions. This strategy faces numerous challenges, not least because FARC's command and control structure has not collapsed. The insurgents are adapting to military pressure through guerrilla warfare tactics, aggressive recruitment among rural populations, broadened involvement in drug trafficking and alliances with other armed groups and drug-trafficking organizations. Colombia's next president, Juan Manuel Santos, will take office on 7 August. As part of an integrated conflict resolution strategy, his government must increase the country's law enforcement and military capability against all illegal armed groups, including FARC. It also has to strengthen institutions, expand the rule of law, rigorously protect human rights, reduce poverty and design the political/negotiations component of a successful conflict resolution strategy. Security consolidation can only take root if Colombia tackles its pervasive problems of organized violence, criminality and illegality in an integrated manner. Uribe's sustained military campaign against FARC has produced tangible results but did not break the backbone of the 45-year old insurgency." "The new government should reassess current security policy and the efforts underway to consolidate the gains made under Uribe. The incoming Santos administration should acknowledge that Colombia has still not reached the post-conflict phase and implement an integrated conflict resolution strategy, which will be the subject of a forthcoming Crisis Group report. On security issues, the government should: Maintain military pressure on FARC while effectively responding to the insurgents' new modi operandi and their broadened participation in drug trafficking, while avoiding the human rights violations that have tarnished the record of the armed forces. This requires improving military intelligence and operational capacities as well as regional security cooperation, particularly with Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. As tense relations with Venezuela have facilitated an increase in cross-border crime, the incoming Colombian government has to make every effort to open a new chapter of bilateral cooperation in order to effectively cut off supply routes, support networks and trafficking chains. Relations with Ecuador also need to be fully re-established. Develop and implement a comprehensive citizen security strategy to address the different threats emerging from FARC, ELN, paramilitary successors and NIAGs to both rural and urban populations. This strategy should be based on in-depth analysis of the new tactics of, and alliances among, the different armed groups and their impact on citizen security. Increased protection of civilians, especially among vulnerable groups such as indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, is essential. Tackle the threat posed by paramilitary successors and NIAGs by (a) officially acknowledging the expansion and complex nature of paramilitary successors and NIAGs and the severe humanitarian impact caused by their actions; (b) stepping up efforts to integrate effective law enforcement with military measures; and (c) decisively fighting and ending collusion and ties between illegal armed groups and members of local authorities and the security forces. Advance military and citizen security policy reform in tandem with the implementation of the security consolidation strategy so as to increase the chances of success of the latter and rapidly shift it to a civilian-led operation with a whole-of-government budgetary commitment."

Mark Schneider, "New leader must tackle security reforms," The Miami Herald , August 10, 2010,, proposes, " Just three days after Juan Manuel Santos was sworn in as Colombia's president, he has already begun to distance himself from his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, most visibly by holding a summit Tuesday in Bogotá with Venezuela president Hugo Chávez. Uribe's eight-year military campaign weakened the country's largest guerilla organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but it by no means eradicated it." "The military strategy had sought to isolate the FARC secretariat from the rest of the organization, pushing it into remote regions and reducing its presence from half of the nation's 1098 municipalities in 2002 to a quarter today. No longer a menace in major cities, it is still nowhere near the point of collapse." "In his inaugural speech, Santos lauded Uribe's work to strengthen the Colombian armed forces, but he also alluded to those policies that failed to achieve the critical objective of ending Colombia's 50-year conflict. Perhaps most important, he repeated his intention to improve relations with neighbors by inviting Chávez to Tuesday's summit. President Santos seemed to understand the challenges he faces require Colombia to significantly broaden its security strategy, but that will not be easy, particularly if Uribe objects. "¢ To get past that, Santos should first maintain military pressure on the FARC and respond to the insurgents' new tactics while ending the human rights violations that tarnished the reputation of Uribe's armed forces. The security policy also requires cooperation with Colombia's neighbors: Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, and Peru. With Venezuela, it means convincing other Latin leaders to help Chávez recognize the diplomatic dangers of flirting with the FARC. "¢ Second, Santos should implement a comprehensive citizen security strategy that addresses the emerging illegal armed groups as seriously as it does the FARC, ELN, and paramilitary groups. That requires strengthening law enforcement, judiciary and human-rights prosecutors, particularly to protect minority communities. "¢ Third, Santos should emphasize rural poverty reduction and extending state presence in municipalities as soon as they are secure. It means seriously acting on land reform, enabling hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people to return home and tasking government ministries as full partners in a civilian-led consolidation strategy." ""¢ Finally, it means devising an end-game negotiating strategy that offers the FARC and ELN a way in from the cold without adding to Colombia's history of impunity . If President Santos fails to implement badly needed security reforms, which he promised on Saturday, he may find himself staring down the barrel of a new and protracted war with guerrillas, paramilitary and narcotraffickers. And stuck in the shadow of his predecessor.

Laura Carlsen, "Uribe's Parting Shot," Americas Program Updater, August 25, 2020,, states, "The accusations of harboring guerrilla forces leveled by the outgoing government of Alvaro Uribe against the Venezuelan government in a special session of the Organization of American States led to the rupture of diplomatic relations between Venezuela and Colombia. Uribe's parting shot is an attempt to lock in hostilities between the neighboring countries and discourage attempts to seek a political solution to the conflict through peace talks." However, with President Santos in office in Columbia, his government and Venezuela's quickly reestablished diplomatic relations after a three day summit, in early August (Benjamin Birnbaum, "Venezuela-Colombia re-establish diplomatic ties," Washington Times, August 10, 2010,

While there have been improvementnts in the lives of many Indigenous peoples in Venezuela during the government of President Hugo Chávez, who has made empowerment of indigenous groups a focus of his 12-year rule, this is not universally the case in the country. In Ciudad Guayana, about 300 Warao now live in shacks and tents on the edge of the city garbage dump, Cambalache, where many of them survive on discarded and often rotting food they find there, along with scrap metal and other thrown out items they can sell, although they are in danger from thieves who pray on those who sell scrap to dealers. A number perish under the trash-compacting trucks, including a 14-year-old boy who was crushed to death in July. Some Warao women engage in the sex trade to survive, contributing to reports of H.I.V. infections in the community. The Warao of Cambalache do have access to some social programs, including health care, that has reduced the amount of illness emanating from the garbage dump, and literacy projects, while the Mayor's office has his said that it is planning to build more homes for the indigenous families, and Corporación Venezolana de Guayana, a state-owned industrial conglomerate, recently donated 15 cinderblock houses to the Warao there. Although the government's efforts to improve the situation of indigenous peoples in Venezuela are slow, and not always consistent (e.g., when Warao leaders and researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, informed federal health officials in 2008 of an outbreak of a rabies like disease that killed dozens in Delta Amacuro, the authorities refused to see them, attacked them in speeches, tried to discredit their findings, and opened a criminal investigation into their report), there does appear to be overall progress (Simon Romero, "Left Behind in Venezuela to Piece Lives Together," The New York Times, September 18, 2010,

Raúl Zibechi, "Bolivia and Ecuador: The State against the Indigenous People, Americas Program Updater, July 23, 2010,, reports, "In the two Andean countries with the greatest percentage of original peoples, Bolivia and Ecuador, there is a growing confrontation between the Plurinational State and the indigenous. While members of the two administrations claim the indigenous are being manipulated, social organizations demand that their sovereignty be respected. Underlying this conflict are disputes over common assets." See the full article in Research Notes, below.

The angry relationship between Ecuador's President Rafael Correa and the country's Indigenous leaders intensified, in July, when the government charged Delfin Tenesaca, Puruha Kichwa and Marlon Santi, Shaur, presidents of the largest indigenous organizations in Ecuador, with terrorism and sabotage, following an Indigenous protest outside a summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, June 25, in Otavalo, Ecuador. The summit, which was presided by Presidents Correa, Evo Morales, of Bolivia and Hugo Chavez, of Venezuela, was dedicated to the region's Native and African-American peoples and was attended by many members of those ethnic groups. However, the government declined to invite representatives of the country's principal Native organizations "“ the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador ( CONAIE) and the Kichwa confederation ECUARUNARI "“ both of which once supported Correa, but have grown critical of him over the past two years. The organization leaders organized a protest outside the summit and attempted to deliver a letter to Morales, but were prevented from entering the summit by the police, resulting in a shoving match. Tenesaca, president of ECUARUNARI, stated, "We haven't acted in a way that we should be accused of anything. The only thing we've done is to demand that they respect indigenous people and their organizations .Correa, who has governed Ecuador since 2007, is instituting "socialism of the 21st century" in an attempt to improve life for the country's poor majority. He oversaw the drafting of a new constitution in 2007-2008 that recognizes Ecuador as a "plurinational state" and guarantees the respect of Native peoples' rights, and acknowledges the rights of nature and the indigenous concept of "good living," including a healthy environment. In the meantime, Correa has facilitated the expansion of oil exploration in the Amazon basin and large-scale mining and farming to help finance his social programs. Correa stated at the summit, "The principal problem of our ancestral peoples and communities of African descent has been, and continues to be poverty. We have to change this in a rapid, revolutionary way; of course, while respecting our plurinationality and cultures." However, Santi, president of CONAIE, comments that many of Correa's policies and laws that his party has passed are in contradiction to the spirit of the new constitution and threaten Native rights, bringing protests. His organization has fought a proposed water law and is demanding that a mining law passed in 2009 be reformed (David Dudenhoefer, "Ecuadorian government cracks down on Native leaders," Indian Country Today, August 6, 2010,

Raúl Zibechi, "One Year since the Bagua Massacre: New Actors Facing a State in Crisis," Americas Program Updater,, reports an important shift in progress in Peru, a year after the Bagua massacre, in which 34 Indigenous people died and 200 were wounded, and 23 police officers killed in the counter attack, "when Alan García's government decided to clear out the Awajun people who were blocking roads in the Amazon in protest of the indiscriminate exploitation of the forest." " Shortly after the repression, four of the legislative decrees that had provoked the demonstrations were revoked and, on May 19, parliament approved the Consultation Law, which dictates that locals must be consulted before any projects to exploit community resources are approved [however, the President later vetoed the measure]. These are two substantial victories for the movement. But, in addition to their legal triumphs, the indigenous people who make up the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), which brings together around 1,500 communities, obtained the recognition of Peruvian society as new and decisive actors in national political life. This is a symbolic act. On June 5, the father of the missing Major Felipe Bazán, travelled to the Curva del Diablo, near Bagua and the Ecuadorian border, one thousand kilometers northeast of Lima, to embrace indigenous people as they participated in a memorial act, baptizing the site as the "˜ Curva de la Esperanza.' Days before the anniversary, the president of the AIDESEP, Alberto Pizango, who has been branded a "terrorist" by the government, returned to the country after a year of exile in Nicaragua. As soon as he arrived in Lima's airport, he was arrested and freed in a matter of minutes, though he cannot leave the country. The fifth indigenous victory was unexpected. Guido Lombardi Elías is a member of congress from the Unidad Nacional party and one of the country's most prestigious journalists. He presided over the parliamentary investigative commission regarding the events in Bagua and found the indigenous people were in the right. Despite belonging to the most conservative party in Peru and being closely tied to the Right, on June 4, Lombardi appeared on Canal N television saying, "The motive of the repression was to punish the indigenous people, to teach them a lesson before they left the Curva del Diablo.' In his opinion, this is the only reasonable explanation for what took place. He shares his opinion with the head of the investigation. Of course, his words caused uproar in the government, but they are echoed by the many voices that support the position held by the indigenous people. These voices make up a broad range of people that runs from the People's Defense Office to the right-wing daily El Comercio, via the National Human Rights Committee. This latter organization complains that there is still no consensus in the Executive Branch or in Parliament that identifies those responsible for the Bagua massacre. The lack of consensus is an indication of "the profound disconnect between the Peruvian State and the Indigenous People of the Amazon, whose rights are ignored and violated permanently by a political system that neither understands them nor includes them in a fair and suitable manner'. Pizango, perhaps in recognition of his victory, arrived in Bagua on June 5 with a speech on peace and reconciliation. Meanwhile, President Alan García, in a show of insensitivity, declared the date "˜Rum Day'." "The demonstrations in memory of the Bagua victims were important in Lima and in the Amazons. But beyond the mere quantity of protestors, the diversity of the social actors involved stands out. Young people, women, union members, workers in the cultural and artistic sectors, agricultural workers, people from the city and the country as well as gays, lesbians and transsexuals all took part in the demonstrations." " The conservative newspaper El Comercio, the paper that supported the candidacy of Alan García against his nationalist opponent Ollanta Humala, published an editorial on June 4, the night before the first anniversary of the events at Bagua, which is perhaps the best yardstick to measure the situation in Peru. "˜What did the government, congress and the political class do to prevent this tragedy and to penalize those responsible, who remain unpunished?' asks the daily. Then it goes much further and denounces "˜the unnerving incapacity of the powers of the State to face up to this social and political crisis, before and after it happened' "˜It is undeniable that the events of Bagua made us rediscover another world, the world of the Amazon communities, which had been historically overlooked. This is how we have noticed that we are a nation under construction, with an identity that is far from being inclusive and unifying', said El Comercio. It went on to indicate that the Peruvian State should be founded anew to include "˜the ancestral rights of original Peruvians'. But it doesn't end there. "˜We are a multicultural nation that is also centralist and should strive to decentralize, to integrate all Peruvians and to respect rural and ancestral communities'." " The crisis in the Peruvian State is caused by the emergence of new social and political actors, which is expressed in a growing level of conflict. Report 64 from the People's Defense Office states that in the first six months of 2009 there were 273 social conflicts. 47 per cent of those conflicts were related to social and environmental issues and 71 per cent to mining activity. The conflicts are double those counted in 2008, which reveals that communities are ever more unwilling to tolerate the activity of transnational mining, which contaminates water sources and damages the population's health." "Anthropologist Rodrigo Montoya, who is very close to indigenous movements, explains that the people of the Amazon were never defeated and that in this rebellion, the second in their history, "˜they have solidified a leadership strong enough to present an alternative not just for indigenous people but for Peruvian society as a whole. And I'm not exaggerating at all when I say that this Amazonian movement is the same as the indigenous movements in Bolivia, Ecuador, Chiapas or Guatemala. It is diverse and plural. It is offering the world a horizon, hope, a new perspective; different values, ideas and dreams'." The other group which has emerged as a strong actor is indigenous women. The reality for women living in rural areas is terrible: 22% of heads of rural households are women, but 50% of women living in rural areas have no identification documents and only 4.7% have property titles in their name. A new generation of women created the National Federation of Peasant, Artisan, Native and Working Women of Peru (FEMUCARINAP) in 2006 upon recognizing that they had no space in mixed organizations."

On August 11, 2010, Alberto Pizango, leader of the 350,000 Perueviam Amazon Native organization AIDESEP, who was still facing accusations ranging from rebellion to homicide, announced at a press conference that tribal chiefs across the rainforest were creating a political party to help protect traditions, dignity and, most important, rights to millions of acres of forest increasingly targeted by oil, gas, lumber and gold extraction groups. "This is a party that will try to reach all citizens ready to do something to defend life, forests and the Earth," Pizango stated. Indigenous people were gathering signatures to register the party in time for presidential elections in April, 2011, when Pesident Alan Garcia must step down. Meanwhile, the special commission that the government in Lima organized to investigate the June 2009 deadly incident t it ended with a split decision, a majority of the panel blaming Natives who they said allowed themselves to be manipulated by journalists and others, and a minority, including the only Native, disagreeing and refusing to sign. AIDESEP stated it would take the issue to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica, after domestic recourses are exhausted. Commenting on President Garcia's veto of a law approved in Congress, May 19, requiring that local people must be consulted before any projects to exploit community resources are approved, Pizango commented that the measure had been enacted to make local legislation conform to agreements ratified by Peru with the United Nations about respecting rights of Indigenous People. Pizango said that as a ratified treaty, it is Pereuvian law without the May 19 legislation (Renzo Pipoli, "Peru Natives create party to protect Amazon from developers," By Indian Country Today, September 6, 2010,

The Upper Amazon Conservancy (UAC) made public a report, in July , finding that illegal mahogany loggers are plundering uncontacted Indians' land in the depths of the Peruvian Amazon, and that the logging "provides evidence that Peru is failing to uphold the environmental and forestry obligations of its 2009 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US" because "more than 80% of Peru's mahogany (is) exported to the United States." The report also indicates how loggers trick Peruvian and US authorities into believing the mahogany has been legally sourced, and states that the logging "will continue until the US government unilaterally rejects questionable Peruvian mahogany." The report includes photographs of an illegal logging camp and cut mahogany inside the Murunahua Reserve in south-east Peru, which is supposedly set aside for uncontacted Indians' sole use. It finds that logging is "˜widespread' in the reserve, and that a "˜vast network of logging roads' used by "˜over a dozen tractors' connects the reserve to a major Amazonian tributary. The logging violates the "˜Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species' (CITES), which aims to protect mahogany. The Murunahua Reserve was recently made off-limits to oil and gas companies because of the health threat exploration would pose to the uncontacted Indians living there. For more information go to:

In October, in a letter to the UN's Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, Prof. James Anaya, Survival International warned of massive oil operations in the northern Peruvian Amazon that could decimate uncontacted tribal people, stating, "By permitting companies to operate in this region Peru's government is flagrantly violating international law. Survival believes it very important to investigate this situation as soon as possible and for Peru's government to prohibit the companies from working there. If that is not done, some of the world's most vulnerable citizens could be wiped out," One of the companies, Presence had recently admitted to transporting 50,000 tons of "˜material and consumables' into this region, describing it as the equivalent of "˜seven Eiffel Towers.' Presence is awaiting approval from Peru's Energy Ministry to build a pipeline that will cut across 207 kames of land and will affect the rainforest for 500 meters on either side. The other companies are Repsol-YPF and ConocoPhillips, which have applied to cut 454 kms of seismic lines in their bid to find oil. According to scientists, this part of the Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places in South America. Survival's appeal to the UN came as the Peruvian government attempted to expel a British environmentalist, Brother Paul McAuley, for speaking out against environmental and human rights abuses in northern Peru. For more information visit:

On June 28, the Belize Supreme Court, June 28, granted the Toledo Qhe'chi Maya customary land tenure rights for 33 communities and the right to block resource extraction leases and exploration on their territory.  The government of Belize was required cease granting leases, grants, concessions, and contracts in the Toledo District affecting Maya land rights, except where the communities give their permission (Belizw Maya Win Land Rights," Cultural Survival, July 7, 2010,

Bolivia's president, Evo Morales, signed an anti-racism law, October 7, that law allows authorities to close down news outlets deemed to have published racist content. Mr. Morales, Bolivia's first president of native Indian descent, said the measure ensured greater equality for the indigenous majority in South America's poorest nation. His opponents say the measure could be used to stifle media criticism of his government, and senators from the eastern region of Santa Cruz, the nation's richest area and an opposition stronghold, have protested the act ("Bolivia: New Law Called Threat to Media Criticism of Government," The New York Times, October 9, 2010,

Under the leadership of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil and the Forum in Defense of Indigenous Rights, some 800 Indians representing many of Brazil's 233 tribes rallied in Mato Grosso do Sul state, south of the Amazon, to draw attention to the critical situation faced by the indigenous peoples of that state, especially Guarani Indians. The Guarani's lands have been stolen to make way for cattle ranches and sugarcane plantations, and having been left in desperate circumstances, the Guarani have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. But if the Guarani's is the worst case, other Indigenous nations from around Brazil were protesting their own grievances at the killing of their leaders, the theft of their land for industrial projects, and other threats to their survival. Of particular and growing concern was the plan of the government to build series of huge dams and roads in the Amazon. All the candidates in Brazil's then upcoming presidential election were invited to the to the rally. For more information visit:

The situation of the Guarani has continued to declines. Survival reports, that in September, a group of Guarani Indians were being held prisoner by gunmen hired by ranchers. The gunmen had cut off the Indians' access to food, water and health care since they surrounded their community in August. The mercenaries began to threaten the Guarani and prevent anyone from leaving or entering the area soon after the Indians returned to their ancestral land, which is now occupied by the Triunfo ("Triumph") ranch. Local authorities had not responded to pleas from the Guarani for police assistance and urgent medical care, while a team from the federal health ministry has allegedly refused to enter, citing "˜security problems'. Reports indicate that the only officials who have entered the community with the gunmen's agreement is a team from Brazil's Indian Affairs Department FUNAI, who delivered some food parcels. Survival International has written to the Brazilian authorities demanding immediate police action to lift the siege of the community. The last time the Guarani of Ypo'i attempted to reoccupy their land, in October 2009, they were violently attacked by gunmen. The body of one community member, Genivaldo Verá, was later found dead and badly bruised in a nearby river. In a letter to President Lula, in August, Guarani leaders said, "We are sure that you want to be remembered as a good President for this country and for humanity; you don't want to be remembered for killing our tribe. If you do not map out our land, unfortunately that is what will continue to happen to us." Survival's Director, Stephen Corry, said in September, "Anyone unfamiliar with the Guarani's appalling plight would be staggered that the authorities are prepared to stand by and watch a peaceful and defenseless community being held hostage in this way. The Guarani, though, have long known that their land is in the hands of people prepared to resort to violent intimidation to hold on to it "“ and that the authorities too often stand by and do nothing." For further information go to:

After decade of protests and battles, the proposed hydroelectric Belo Monte Dam was given written approval by Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The hydroelectric project on the mouth of the Xingu River, larger in size and volume than the Three Gorges Dam in China, will devastate vast regions and ecosystems in the Amazonian state of Para and displace more than 50,000 Indigenous people ("Belo Monte Dam Given Approval for Construction," Cultural Survival. September 3, 2010,

Leaders of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe in western Paraguay, who have been forced out of the forest in recent decades, issued a desperate public appeal, In September, on behalf of their family members of a yet uncontacted tribe, hiding in the forest targeted by cattle ranchers. The rain forest in the region is shrinking by the day as bulldozers are penetrating the tribe's last refuge. Several of their abandoned houses have been found in recent years. A major Brazilian cattle-ranching company, Yaguarete Pora, has bought up part of the area. Having already destroyed some 3,000 hectares, bulldozers were halted in May by the Paraguayan authorities, who accused the firm of failing to disclose that vulnerable uncontacted Indians lived in the area. However, after fierce lobbying by the ranchers to be allowed back in, two Ayoreo leaders have issued an urgent public appeal. Gabide Etacori and Porai Picanerai said, "We are very concerned because Yaguarete Pora does not want to negotiate with us or the Paraguayan government to give us"¦ the land that is the most important place for our people. "We ask you to"¦ help us to ensure that the land is protected so that the bulldozers do not enter and so that they are not given licenses." Survival International has written to INDI, the Paraguayan Indigenous Institute, demanding that it acts immediately to prevent further destruction. It has also launched an international advertising campaign to highlight the grave situation faced by the Ayoreo, one of the last remaining uncontacted tribes in South America. For more information go to:

As of September 14 , for 63 days Mapuche prisoners have been on a hunger strike in Chile, protesting the country's use of a Pinochet era anti-terrorism law to arrest them, as well as the use of "unjust political/judicial procedures," and military occupation of Mapuche territory. The Chilean government has arrested and prosecuted many Mapuche activists in the last decade, charging them in connection with arsons and illegal occupation of private properties. By August 24, some of the hunger strikers had lost between 12 and 25 pounds despite attempts to force feed them, but the protestors had expressed their willingness to continue with their liquid-only diet. Supporters in Mapuche territory and throughout the world were backing the protest, especially as it applies to the anti-terrorism law, enacted in 1984 by dictator Augusto Pinochet, that subjects arrested people to both civilian and military courts, permits the use of "anonymous" or unidentified prosecution witnesses, and allows for indefinite detention for people labeled as being terrorists. The United Nations Human Rights Council and Human Rights Watch, among other organizations, have condemned the use of the law against Mapuche protestors, with the council finding that the law "does not guarantee a fair trial" and has additional numerous problems. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has called for the law's repeal on the grounds that it violates international standards of justice. The use of the anti-terrorism law against Mapuches has resulted in protests and hunger strikes on an almost yearly basis since 2000, and regional and international agencies have regularly protested its application against the Mapuches. The Mapuche activists stated to the press, on the first day of their strike, July 12. "The reasons for this drastic and extreme action is in response to. "¦ situations that we have been denouncing unto the unjust political/judicial procedures we have been subjected to and violate all our rights as Mapuche and political prisoners." "In summary, we denounce that we have been part of media setups carried out by the Public Ministry through anti-Mapuche prosecutors and corrupt police forces. It is in this way that the Chilean state, in defense of corporate interests in the conflict with our people and in their urge to persecute and annihilate the Mapuche Movement, has criminalized the just cause of the communities, imprisoning and launching themselves against our people; imposing several dictatorial and fascist laws on honest social activists." According to Mapuche advocates the "criminalization" of the protests also included press statements made by the Chilean Public Ministry, which released documents that allegedly showed connections between the Mapuches and the FARC, the most famous guerilla organization in Colombia that is also known to be terroristic. By Aug. 12, Mapuche spokespeople and their lead attorney responded to what they categorized as a media campaign against the protestors, saying, "Here there is clearly the intent of silencing a just cause being forwarded by the Mapuches. It's not convenient to the Chilean State that the world might know that in Chile they commit human rights violations." Since the beginning of the hunger strike, protests have been held in Chile and throughout Latin America, the U.S., Canada and Europe on behalf of the Mapuche prisoners. In the meantime, Mapuche activists have asserted that most of the strikers are suffering from severe nausea, dizziness, low blood pressure and other conditions. The families of the strikers have petitioned that the International Red Cross be allowed to monitor the health of the prisoners and they have met with representatives of Chile's Supreme Court in efforts to halt the use of the law against their relations (Rick Kearns, "Mapuche prisoners continue with hunger strike in Chile," Indian Country Today, September 14, 2010,

Sebastian Pinera, Chile's president, announced during the country's bicentenary celebration, in September , that he would spend $4 billion for development in southern Araucania, which is where most Mapuche live, and that he would open talks with Mapuche leaders on land rights issues and other concerns, even as s 34 Mapuche activists continued their hunger strike in prison to protest their being jailed on charges of terrorism. Like many countries, Chile has used its antiterrorism laws to arrest Indigenous people who take action to recover their lands or defend their rights, even when the actions of the people are relatively minor and clearly not terrorism related. In this case, the Mapuche who have been conducting their hunger strike for two months, insist that they are political prisoners. The talks announced by Pinera began in late September with government officials, Mapuche representatives, and church leaders, are scheduled to begin next week. Pinera did not indicate whether Mapuche leaders would be involved in determining the development plans the he announced ("Chilean President Agrees to Talks with Mapuche," Cultural Survival, September 23, 2010,

Botswana Bushmen continue their long struggle against the national government, to remain in their home land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, one of the driest regions in the world, and to have access to water that the government has long been denying them. On July 21, a judge of the Botswana High court ruled that the Bushmen were not entitled to access an existing water borehole on their lands or to drill a new one inside, although the High Court had earlier decided that forced evictions of the Bushmen were illegal and unconstitutional, leading hundreds of Bushmen to return to their lands. The government has tried to force the Bushman out to open diamond mining, in which key government ministers have a direct interest, and to promote tourism in the game reserve. Wilderness Safaris opened a luxury tourist lodge, complete with bar and swimming pool, on Bushman land, while the government drilled new boreholes in the reserve to provide water for wildlife with funding from the Tiffany & Co Foundation; and Gem Diamonds was given environmental clearance to mine in the reserve on condition the Bushmen could not use any of its water. In September, over 30 laureates of the Right Livelihood Award, known as the "˜alternative Nobel Prize', signed an open letter to President Khama of Botswana urging him to allow the Bushmen access to water. For more information go to:; and

Survival International reported, August 19, the European Investment Bank has announced it is no longer considering funding Africa's tallest dam, in Ethiopia, which is likely to have a devastating effect on the eight tribes of the Omo Valley. For more information visit:

In southern Sudan, inter-ethnic conflict continues to be a serious problem in itself, and for the future of the country, pending a vote by the south on secession. ICG, "Sudan: Defining the North-South Border," Africa Briefing N°75, September 2,2010,, " The January 2011 referendum on self-determination could result in Sudan's partition, and the country's North-South border may ultimately become the world's newest international boundary. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of civil war called for the border between the North and the semi-autonomous South to be demarcated within six months. Five years later, the task remains incomplete. The sooner the parties break the border deadlock the better, though the process need not necessarily be completed prior to the referendum as Khartoum has argued previously. Furthermore, a solution to the border is about not only drawing a line, but also defining the nature and management of that border and the future relations of communities on both sides. A "soft" boundary is ideal, one backed by a framework for cross-border arrangements and, if necessary, safeguarded by a joint monitoring mechanism. Progress toward both demarcating and defining the border will prevent it from becoming a source of renewed conflict in the post-CPA era. The undefined boundary has hindered CPA implementation, fuelled mistrust between its signatories and, most recently, contributed to heightened anxiety and insecurity along the border. The governments in Khartoum and Juba alike rely heavily on oil revenues that derive primarily from the border lands. The concentration of resources there has amplified the political and economic dimensions of an already contentious task. Both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) have exhibited an aggressive military posture in some border areas. And many of the country's trans-boundary populations "“ some of whom represent significant political constituencies "“ fear possible secession of the South could result in a hardening of the boundary and a threat to their livelihood. This important issue has for far too long been tied up in the Technical Border Committee (TBC), the body mandated to demarcate the border as it stood at Independence Day in 1956. The committee's extensive deliberations "“ as well as a poisoned atmosphere "“ have led to an impasse. Solid information regarding the process, the work of those tasked to undertake it and the disputed areas has been scarce, leading to considerable confusion and speculation among political elites, border communities and international partners. While the committee has agreed on most of the border, five specific areas are disputed on technical grounds; and others remain contested in the public arena. Any prolonged review of maps and records is unlikely to yield agreement on the disputed areas, underscoring that this is no longer a technical issue, but a political one, and should be treated as such. The two parties that signed the CPA "“ the long ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) "“ began critical negotiations on post-referendum arrangements in July 2010. Border demarcation is not an agenda item, but the issues of border management and cross-border relations will undoubtedly arise and be affected by several others that are, including citizenship, national resources, economic cooperation, grazing rights and security. Progress on these fronts may lessen the potential impact of where exactly the boundary is drawn in the end. he type of border and its exact location could well become bargaining chips in a grander set of trade-offs that will define the negotiations on post-referendum arrangements. And, while not everyone will be satisfied in the end, stability along the border will depend in part on the extent to which local actors feel they have had some role in defining border management and trans-border relations. Border communities are among those most directly affected by the current atmosphere of post-referendum uncertainty; examination of the disputed areas illustrates that the border can mean very different things to political elites than it does to the communities who live on it. t is essential to feed into the post-referendum negotiations the promising work county and state actors, as well as international partners, are doing to lay the foundation for future cross-border relations. The NCP and SPLM, in concert with the UN and international partners, should: Recognize that resolution of the outstanding border disputes is no longer a technical issue, but a political one. As such, the national presidency "“ possibly through the recently established joint committee headed by Pagan Amum (SPLM) and Salah Gosh (NCP) "“ should assume full responsibility for achieving a solution. It should also decide on an agency to implement the demarcation, agree to UN participation in that process, and act upon renewed commitments to resume demarcation in the undisputed areas. Establish a sensitization and feedback mechanism to allow border communities to contribute advice and ideas directly to negotiations on cross-border arrangements. Such a mechanism should also communicate to border communities the goals of those arrangements, namely that a vote for separation should not mean the boundary will become a barrier, and that movement, trade, grazing rights and the interests of host communities will be protected. The "Tamazuj" forum "“ aimed at cooperation and integration among border state communities "“ is an appropriate framework for such a channel. Design one or more complementary border-monitoring mechanisms to support a soft and stable boundary, ensure the rights and responsibilities of border populations, and possibly monitor population movements and new security arrangements. This may include a monitoring and observation role for the UN and/or an alternative with a light footprint, high mobility and a focus on building local relationships, funded by international partners and employing lessens learned from previous models that have been used in Sudan.

The Dongria Kondh tribe in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa, India won a stunning victory, in late August, in their long struggle with one of the world's biggest mining companies to prevent a bauxite mine from being dug in their sacred mountain in the center of their homeland, which would have so polluted the water and land that life there quickly would nave become impossible. India's Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, affirming the findings of a board of enquiry in his department, blocked Vedanta Resources' plan to mine bauxite on the sacred hills of the Dongria Kondh tribe. Mr. Ramesh said Vedanta had shown a 'shocking' and 'blatant disregard for the rights of the tribal groups'. The Minister has also questioned the legality of the massive bauxite refinery Vedanta had already built below the hills. In October, Minister Ramesh denied Vedanta Resources' plan to expand its highly controversial alumina refinery six fold. Over a hundred families lost their homes when the refinery was built, and many others lost their land and livelihood, while the plant caused serious pollution problems, making the abundant water in the area unusable for human purposes. An expert committee tasked with investigating Vedanta's activities in Orissa concluded that the company had worked on the expansion of the refinery without official permission, a "˜serious offence'. An Indian Environmental Court then revoked Vedanta's "˜environmental clearance' for the mine, after members of the Dongria Kondh tribe appealed against it. The judge declared that the original clearance had not considered the "˜human miseries which the project is likely to inflict.' In a different Indian state, Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court ordered the closure of Vedanta's notorious Tuticorin copper smelter, concluding that it was releasing pollution into the air and water with "˜devastating impact'. India's Supreme Court is now examining the case. Stephen Corry, Director of Survival commented, "Vedanta is learning the hard way that it cannot ride roughshod over tribal peoples forever. Other companies should learn from Vedanta's mistakes: before investing time and money in a project, a company must gain the consent of local tribal communities." The victory over Vedanta was not easily achieved. Since the reports of the struggle in the last issue of IPJ, there were numerous protests by the Dongria Kondh and their supporters, in face of continuing, at times violent, action by the company, often with support of local authorities. In July, locals reported that paramilitaries combed a tribal village, and beat up a tribesman active in opposing the mine, while, the body of another leader from a different village was found dead in mysterious circumstances the day after he met with a team of experts sent by the government to investigate Vedanta. In August, two Dongria Kondh tribesmen who had been active in protesting the mining operation were abducted by plain-clothed policemen, beaten during their detention, and only released by being dumped by the side of the road, only after at least one of them was made to sign a written statement. It is not clear what the statement said. The international fight against the mine had received growing support, including the selling of Vedanta stock by a number of major shareholders. The most recent of these was PGGM. A Dutch firm managing pensions for more than two million people in the Netherlands that divested its €13 million (US$ 16 million) stake in the mining conglomerate, in early July. For more details visit:;;;, and

Poachers targeting rich fishing grounds in India's Andaman Islands are endangering the world's most isolated tribe. More than a hundred illegal fishermen from Burma were arrested in late summer and early fall by the Indian Coast Guard. Fourteen were fishing off North Sentinel Island, home to the Sentinelese tribe, who attack anyone approaching their island. Members of the tribe killed two fishermen in 2006. Burmese and local Indian poachers also threaten the survival of the Jarawa tribe, who have only had contact with outsiders since 1998. An Indian poacher and a Jarawa man died in a conflict in the Jarawa's reserve in 2008. Poachers catch turtles and dive for lucrative sea cucumber for the Chinese market, and also hunt in the Jarawa's forest. Local poachers often enter by the illegal road that cuts through the tribe's land. Survival has repeatedly urged the local authorities to close the road, but it remains open. Local sources say the scale of the problem is much greater than the recent arrests suggest, with most poachers going undetected. Both the Jarawa and the Sentinelese are hunter-gatherers, and theft of the fish and animals in their territory endangers their food supply. Poachers also risk introducing common diseases to the tribes. The Sentinelese are especially at risk: their complete isolation means they are likely to have no immunity to diseases such as flu and measles. For more information go to:

Andrew Jacobs, "Resentment Simmers in Western Chinese Region," The New York Times, September 4, 2010,, reports, " In the year since rioting between the Han and Uighur ethnic groups killed nearly 200 people in this city in far western China, life appears to be returning to normal." However, "Beneath the gloss and mercantile buzz of Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, there is a palpable unease that neither tens of thousands of surveillance cameras nor the patrolling squads of black-shirted police officers can completely assuage." "The Chinese authorities have arrested hundreds and tried to soothe frayed nerves with a $1.5 billion spending package, a change in local leadership and a barrage of uplifting slogans strung across public buses and highway overpasses." "The feel-good propaganda and revved-up economy have so far done little to repair the mutual distrust. And experts say the government's "strike hard" campaign, which has led to the secret detention of perceived troublemakers and the execution of at least nine people accused of having a hand in the bloodshed, has worsened tensions."

ICG, "Indonesia: The Deepening Impasse in Papua," August 3 2010,, reports, "The two sentiments that define the political impasse in Papua are frustration on the part of many Papuans that "special autonomy" has meant so little, and exasperation on the part of many Indonesian government officials that Papuans are not satisfied with what they have been given. The gulf between the two might be reduced by dialogue, but any prospect of serious talks is hampered by an unwillingness of Jakarta to treat the problem as essentially a political, rather than an economic one. To move forward, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono needs personally to take the lead in recognizing that autonomy means more than increased budgetary allocations or accelerated economic development. He needs to explore directly with credible Papuan leaders how political autonomy can be expanded; affirmative action policies strengthened in all sectors; and Papuan fears about in-migration addressed. Unless these three issues are tackled head on in face-to-face meetings, the impasse is unlikely to be broken and increased radicalization is likely. Frustration and exasperation crystallized over a decision in November 2009 by the Papuan People's Council (Majelis Rakyat Papua, MRP), a body set up under special autonomy legislation to protect Papuan cultural values, that all candidates for elected office at the sub-provincial level had to be indigenous Papuans. The decision stemmed from fears that Melanesian Papuans were being rapidly swamped by non-Papuan Indonesians who in some towns already were a majority. As one Papuan put it, 'Every day planes come in, vomiting migrants'. The decision, known as SK14, had wide support in the Papuan community and was seen as an example of affirmative action. It was also seen as a natural extension of a provision in the autonomy law stating that the governor and deputy governor had to be indigenous Papuans. In Jakarta, however, the Home Affairs Ministry rejected the decision as discriminatory and in violation of a national law on local government. It was not just the flat rejection that irritated the Papuans who were privy to the process, it was how it was done: without any acknowledgment of the concerns behind SK14; without any effort to understand that "special autonomy" meant something different than the blind application of national law; and without any attempt to meet them half way. Jakarta's reaction underscored the powerlessness of the MRP and the contemptuous disdain of officials toward its attempt to assert authority. As the anger built, advocacy groups in Jayapura saw the issue as reflecting the deeper problems of special autonomy "“ in Indonesian, otonomi khusus or otsus "“ and looked for a vehicle to express those concerns publicly. In late May, they approached the MRP about holding a semi-public consultation that would evaluate its work as the end of the members' first five-year terms approached. MRP leaders agreed, sent out 200 invitations only days before the target date, and on 9-10 June, hosted an event billed as a Consultation of MRP and Indigenous Papuans (Musyawarah MRP dan Masyarakat Asli Papua). About three times as many people showed up as had been invited. To the discomfiture of some MRP members, the consultation produced eleven recommendations that included a rejection of otsus, a demand for an internationally-mediated dialogue and a referendum on independence, and a recognition of Papua's sovereignty as proclaimed on 1 December 1961. The organizers then asked the MRP to formally turn the recommendations over to the provincial parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Papua, DPRP) for further action. The MRP did so on 18 June, by which time activists from Papua's central highlands had organized thousands of protestors for a "long march" from the MRP office to the provincial parliament to symbolically "hand back" special autonomy. They held a second mass demonstration on 8 July to pressure the parliament to hold a special session to determine how to follow up the recommendations. Several smaller street actions followed. Non-Papuan officials from the police and military regarded not just the demonstrations but the consultation as unlawful because the MRP's role is supposed to be cultural, not political. Local intelligence operatives were almost certainly behind a slew of crude text messages sent to religious leaders, elected officials, academics and others across Jayapura, and probably across Papua, insinuating that those involved in the protests were actually raking in large amounts of money on the side. In the view of the security forces, the protests were neither legitimate nor sincere but they allowed them to go ahead as long as they stayed peaceful. The anger over the fate of SK14 obscured several other political developments in Papua that are taking place simultaneously. One is Governor Barnabas Suebu's Strategic Plan for Village Development (Rencana Strategis Pembangunan Kampung, RESPEK), an initiative to get block grants to local communities that can then decide on their use within certain parameters. Few Papuan leaders in Jayapura have anything bad to say about RESPEK or anything good to say about the governor, a directly-elected Papuan, whom they see as inaccessible and focused only on his own agenda. But it is almost certainly a different story in the villages where RESPEK has had an impact, and not all its beneficiaries would see eye to eye with the protestors in Jayapura. The second development is pemekaran or the dividing of Papua into more and more administrative units: districts, subdistricts and villages. There is supposed to be a nationwide moratorium on this fragmentation but the centrifugal impetus in Papua seems too strong to hold back. Villages are dividing up so that smaller units can get RESPEK funds; the same impetus, combined with the desire of minority ethnic groups to become dominant in their own territory, fuels the creation of new districts. Twenty local elections are being held in Papua in 2010, one of the factors that prompted SK14 in the first place. The candidates have no desire to throw away special autonomy because it underpins their chance for political and economic power. There is thus a disconnect between the urban protests on the one hand, and local elite interests and village-focused development initiatives on the other. That said, there are also widely shared grievances, over discrimination, unfulfilled promises and past injustices. The longer Jakarta refuses to discuss them, the stronger the radical voices will become."

Amnesty International reported, October 25, 2010, " One of the largest gold mining operations in Papua New Guinea has sat by silently while local police terrorized residents to remove them from valuable land." "The livelihoods of families living alongside the Porgera gold mine have been attacked. Last year, local police burned down over 100 homes, slaughtered livestock and reportedly raped women from the villages all for the sake of sending one blood-chilling message: Leave your home"¦or else. But these incidents are not random. The mine is 95% owned and operated by subsidiaries of the largest gold mining company in the world, Canadian-based Barrick Gold Corporation (Barrick), as part of the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV). The company supplies accommodation, food and fuel to the police under an agreement that PJV claims was conditional on the police abiding by national laws and international standards." AI is running a campaign to, "Hold mining companies Barrick and PJV responsible for the forced eviction of families in Papua New Guinea. For more information go to:

Disturbing and graphic footage of two Indigenous Papuan men, one elderly, being tortured, allegedly by Indonesian soldiers, has led to widespread demands for an independent inquiry, in October. The incident is believed to have been filmed on the mobile phone of one of the soldiers as a "˜trophy'. Analysis of the footage suggests it was taken in May this year in the highland region of West Papua, where a military operation has been taking place. Exact details of the victims are hard to confirm due to military control of the area and a ban on journalists and human rights organizations from entering the region. However, reports suggest that, as of late October, the elderly man was still missing, presumed dead and the younger man, who is shown with a knife held to his face and throat, has since been released. Survival comments that, "The Papuan tribal people have suffered enormously at the hands of the Indonesian military since 1963. The Indonesian army has a long history of human rights violations against the Papuans, including killings, torture and the rape of women, and children as young as three. For many years Indonesian soldiers have taken trophy photos, and now films, of killings and rapes, which they use to intimidate and humiliate Papuans." For further information go to:

In Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, Survival reported, in July, members of the Penan tribe had again mounted a blockade to stop the destruction of the forests they depend on for their survival. The Malaysian timber company Lee Ling has been logging in the area, and there are plans to clear the Penan's forests completely to establish plantations of fast-growing trees for paper production. The Penan say the plantations will leave them with nothing. They live by hunting, gathering and fishing, and will have nowhere to find food if the forests are leveled. Penan protesting at the blockade, including nomadic Penan, and those living in settled villages, in northern Sarawak, say they have experienced a violent attack by a logger. They are also going hungry, because manning the blockade means they are unable to spend time finding food. A new report released by a coalition of Malaysian human rights groups, called the Penan Support Group, has exposed an "˜environment of violence' against tribeswomen in Borneo, with repeated cases of rape and sexual assault against Penan women by the loggers who are destroying the tribe's forests. This report follows allegations by other Penan women in 2008, which the Malaysian government denied but was later forced to confirm. The current report condemns the Malaysian government for giving lucrative logging concessions on Penan land to "˜private companies closely tied to the state government', resulting in "˜dispossession, destruction, dislocation and impoverishment' and an "˜environment of violence' which leaves Penan women and girls "˜highly vulnerable'. The Sarawak state government licensed the Penan's land to logging and plantation companies that have devastated the rainforests the tribe relies on. The Malaysian Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development claims the new allegations are false. The Chief Minister of Sarawak also denied the previous allegations of rape, saying they were "˜lies' and an attempt at "˜sabotage'. A government investigation, however, later confirmed that the women's claims were true. For more information contact Miriam Ross: Tel (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (+44) (0)7504543367,,, with information on these particular reports at:; and