By Steve Sachs

Environmental Developments

The fifth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declares that the authors are now 95% to 100% confident that human activity is the primary cause of planetary warming, while warning that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue to increase at their current rate. The draft report attributes a recent slowdown in the increase of warming as most likely to short-term factors, as it emphasizes that the basic facts about future climate change are more established than ever, reiterating that many of the consequences of escalating emissions are likely to be profoundly destructive (Justin Gillis, “Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty on Warming,” The New York Times, August 19, 2013,

Justin Gillis, “U.N. Climate Panel Endorses Ceiling on Global Emissions,” The New York Times, September 27, 2013,, reported, “The world’s top climate scientists on Friday formally embraced an upper limit on greenhouse gases for the first time, establishing a target level at which humanity must stop spewing them into the atmosphere or face irreversible climatic changes. They warned that the target is likely to be exceeded in a matter of decades unless steps are taken soon to reduce emissions. Unveiling the latest United Nations assessment of climate science, the experts cited a litany of changes that were already under way, warned that they were likely to accelerate and expressed virtual certainty that human activity is the main cause.” For the first time, the panel called for a “carbon budget” for humanity — a limit on the amount of the primary greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, that industrial activities and the clearing of forests can produce, which should be a maximum of one trillion metric tons of carbon burned and the resulting gases released into the atmosphere if global warming is to be kept below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above the level of preindustrial times. That temperature is a target above which Scientists project the most dangerous effects of climate change would begin to occur if that temperature is surpassed. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution slightly more than a half-trillion tons have been burned, as the rate energy consumption continues to expand. At currently projected rates, the trillionth ton is expected to be burned around 2040. More than three trillion tons of carbon are still left in the ground as fossil fuels. The report calls for requirement that when the trillion-ton budget is exhausted, those who want to continue burning fossil fuels would have to develop with ways to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground. In the United States, the Obama administration is moving forward with rules that would essentially require such technology, which is likely to be quite expensive for any future coal-burning power plants.  The summary report is available at:

David Jolly, “United Nations Group Warns on Emissions,” The New York Times, November 5, 2013,, reported, " Major polluters must immediately begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if the rise in global temperatures is to be held in check, or else a higher price will have to be paid later, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Nations Environment Program. While a failure to act swiftly will not necessarily doom the effort to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels, it will make it much harder and more expensive to do so, the agency said in its latest Emissions Gap Report . The authors said delay today would require more drastic measures in the future as well as a gamble on currently unproven technologies. Speaking at a news conference in Berlin to introduce the report, Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, said the window of opportunity for meeting the target was 'becoming ever more elusive.' But he said meeting the emissions target by 2020 was still possible “by strengthening current pledges and by further action. ' Scientists believe that any increase in global average temperatures above 2 degrees Celsius could create conditions for potentially catastrophic climate change. Negotiators at a United Nations climate summit meeting in Mexico agreed in 2010 to try to hold temperatures below that level by aggressive measures."

Steven Lee Myers and Nicholas Kulish, “Growing Clamor About Inequities of Climate Crisis,” The New York Times, November 16, 2013,, reported, " Following a devastating typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, a routine international climate change conference here turned into an emotional forum, with developing countries demanding compensation from the worst polluting countries for damage they say they are already suffering." "From the time a scientific consensus emerged that human activity was changing the climate, it has been understood that the nations that contributed least to the problem would be hurt the most. Now, even as the possible consequences of climate change have surged — from the typhoons that have raked the Philippines and India this year to the droughts in Africa, to rising sea levels that threaten to submerge entire island nations — no consensus has emerged over how to rectify what many call 'climate injustice.'” "Many negotiators here have pressed to create a new mechanism that effectively accepts the idea that the results of climate change are irreversible and that the countries that are hit hardest first must be compensated."

A report by a panel appointed by the National Research Council, and funded by several U.S. government agencies, released in early December 2013, found that increasing global warming poses risks of rapid events that could have catastrophic effects. Among the relatively sudden occurrences that are seen as a greater danger for the more distant than the immediate future are: huge rapid releases of the powerful greenhouse warming gas methane from the arctic [where this is already a serious problem as permafrost has been melting] and the oceans, causing a rapid extremely destructive heating of the Earth; the sixth largest mass extinction of plant and animal species in the history of the planet; the formation of huge oxygen starved dead zones in the oceans; the collapse of the West Arctic Ice Sheet causing a large ocean rise that previously had been estimated at 20 feet (Similarly it had previously been reported that if melting the Greenland ice cap completely collapsed, that would raise the oceans 20 feet, while the melting of all glaciers and ice caps combined with warming of ocean waters would bring a 200 foot rise in ocean levels); and a shutting down or rerouting of heat circulation by the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic that would very seriously chill many northern nations (Justin Gillis, "Panel Says Global Warming Risks Sudden, Deep Changes," The New York Times, December 4, 2013).

Justin Gillis, “Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies,” The New York Times, November 1, 2013,, reported, that a preliminary draft of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to be released in March (with possible modifications), now finds that while global warming induced climate change will have some beneficial effects on some agriculture, over all the impact will be detrimental, and if warming increases at the currently projected rate the net result is projected to be a 2% decline in agricultural production every decade, while populations are expected to continue to grow from the present  7.2 billion people, to 9.6 billion by 2050. The greatest reduction in agriculture is predicted to come in the tropics. The impact of this change alone would bring food price inflation, scarcity, political turmoil and violence. Meanwhile, “the scientists say, they are already seeing the harmful effects in some regions.” “The report also finds other sweeping impacts from climate change already occurring across the planet, and warns that these are likely to intensify as human emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise. The scientists describe a natural world in turmoil as plants and animals colonize new areas to escape rising temperatures, and warn that many could become extinct. The warning on the food supply is the sharpest in tone the panel has issued. Its previous report, in 2007, was more hopeful.” “The report finds that efforts to adapt to climate change have already begun in many countries. President Obama signed an executive order on Friday to step up such efforts in the United States. But these efforts remain inadequate compared with the risks, the report says, and far more intensive — and expensive — adaptation plans are likely to be required in the future.” However, there is still opportunity to have a strong impact in moderating climate change by greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. See Justin Gillis, "A Jolt to Complacency on Food Supply," The New York Times, November 12, 2013, showing that in the United States we are already experiencing declines in agricultural production from climate change, and Elizabeth Weise, "Some Crops Migrate North with Warmer Temperatures," USA Today, September 18, 2013, showing increases in agricultural opportunities in more temperate areas as crop yields decline closer to the equator [though the overall impact is negative].

Justin Gillis, “By 2047, Coldest Years May Be Warmer Than Hottest in Past, Scientists Say,” The New York Times, October 9, 2013,, reported, “ If greenhouse emissions continue their steady escalation, temperatures across most of the earth will rise to levels with no recorded precedent by the middle of this century, researchers said Wednesday. Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa calculated that by 2047, plus or minus five years, the average temperatures in each year will be hotter across most parts of the planet than they had been at those locations in any year between 1860 and 2005. To put it another way, for a given geographic area, ‘ the coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past,’ said Camilo Mora, the lead scientist on a paper published in the journal Nature.” The rising temperatures will put increasing stress on the tropics, particularly on tropical rainforests (needed to help absorb carbon dioxide from the air) and their habitats, and on coral reefs and other habitats."

Dr. Robert Reuschlein’s presentation on “ Hurricanes, Droughts, and the Global War Cycle” to the World Future Society Conference, Saturday, July 20, 2013 at the Chicago Hilton Hotel shook the world,, states, “Reuschlein shared proof of two important global warming discoveries with an enthusiastic group of about 50 World Futurists. Jaws dropped and cell phone cameras from several people in the front rows emerged to capture the moment on the power point where Reuschlein proved two things. He proved the existence of the 55 year climate warming and cooling cycle and showed that a linear growth of baseline world temperature has existed since 1910. He further showed that we have doubled the linear rate of global warming since 1973 in a new baseline.”

As glaciers round the world melt from global warming, holes form through the glaciers through which water pours to the bottom of the glacier, flowing out, causing more melting at the bottom of the glacier, and causing instability in the mass above. When these flows are rapid, they can cause flooding, as has happened in short bursts in the brief Alaska summer in the city of Juneau (Kirk Johnson, “Alaska Looks for Answers in Glacier’s Summer Flood Surges,“ The New York Times, July 22, 2013,

Arctic Sea Ice, while expected to keep shrinking over time with global warming, does so unevenly, in the summer of 2013 shrinking 30% less than its record low in the summer of 2012 (Gautam Naik, “Arctic Ice Grows After Record Melt in 2012,” Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2013).

The October 2013 issue of the journal Climatic Change was devoted to indigenous perspectives on climate change (“Obama Taps Tribes to Assist in Adapting to Climate Change,” ICTMN, November 1, 2013,

The Alaska Village of Kivalina, and its 400 residents is threatened to soon become the next inhabited place to be devoured by the rising oceans of global warming induced climate change (“BBC News Magazine Profiles Disappearing Kivalina, Alaska,” ICTMN, August 15, 2013,

Ian Lovett, “California Court Upholds Emissions Curbs,” The New York Times, September 18, 2013,, reported, “A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld California’s transportation fuel standards, which are designed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fuel to 1990 levels by 2020.”

A report by the non-profit research organization CDP, released in Decenmber 2013m found that at least 29 large companies with close ties to the U.S. Rpublican party, including Walmartm ExxonMobil, and American Electric Power are expecting and open to paying for carbon pollution as a means for limiting global warming (Coral Davenport, "Large Companies Prepared to Pay Price on Carbon," The New York Times, December 5, 2013).

Energy and other environmental issues are extremely complex, and it takes great care, with good holistic thinking, to come up with a good plan of action. Even then, implementation is often difficult to achieve properly, as unanticipated impacts and circumstances often arise, so flexibility and continual adjustment are needed applying even the best plan. So it is that Germany, already working to reduce CO 2 emissions, in part by reducing burning of carbon based fuels, decided to rapidly faze out nuclear power plants, greatly increasing the use of wind and solar power to make up the difference, has run into serious problems in implementation. Building large windmill farms at sea, not only takes time and expense, but it is also costly and time consuming to construct the infrastructure to get the electricity generated to people, thus this aspect of the program is behind schedule. Meanwhile, the wind does not always blow, nor the sun shine, so that expensive and CO 2 polluting fossile fuled back up generators need to periodically come on line when renewable energy output falls. These and other problems have resulted in Germany’s greenhouse gas pollution continuing to increase, while, given the financial arrangements of the plan, elecricity costs have risen greatly, cauing difficulties for individuals and businesses. As all political parties supported the plan, there likely will not be politcal fall out in the next election. But if appropriate ajustments can not be made, there could be down the road (Melissa Eddy and Stanley Reed, “Germany’s Effort at Clean Energy Proves Complex,” The New York Times, September 18, 2013,

A strong indicator of climate change is that reinsurance companies are teaming up with climate scientists to change how they calculate risks from natural events, and are urging the insurance companies they insure to do the same. Until now, risk of a natural damaging event was calculated from past history. But as climate changes, history is no longer a good basis for risk calculation, so risk calculations are being shifted to being based on current scientific projections. One conclusion is that denying climate change is now not only foolish, but bad for business  (Mggie Koerth-Baker, “Mutually Insured Destruction,” Eurka, September 1, 2013).

Diane Cardwell, “U.S. Revives Aid Program for Clean Energy, The New York Times,: September 19, 2013, , reported, “The Obama administration has decided to revive a controversial loan guarantee program at the Energy Department, administration officials said on Thursday, even as the program remains under Congressional scrutiny after losing hundreds of millions in taxpayer money on investments in failed green energy start-ups like the solar module maker Solyndra.” The program would be expanded from renewable energy, devoting as much as $8 billion to making coal, gas and oil energy cleaner.

Navajo Nation is in the planning stages on building a huge solar electric generating park, tenttively to produce 4370 megawatts at Iyanbito, NM, under an agreement with between Navajo Nation and Nabeecho Power (Bill Donovan, "Future Looks Bright for Solar Park," Navajo Times, August 1, 2013; and Alastair Lee Bitsoi, "New, Large Solar Project Planned for Easterrn Navajo," Navajo Times, September 26, 2013).

Arizona Public Service in its Solana is experimenting with storing heat from its huge mirror solar elctric plant in underground tanks of moltan salt from which the heat can be returned when the sun goes down to continue boiling water togenerate electricity (Mathew Wald, "Arizona Utility Tries Storing Solar Heat for Use After Dark," The New York Times, October 18, 2013).

The European Union Parliament voted, in December 2013, to revive its carbon trading program, suffering from two many cargon pollution permits being issued, by cancelling the third round of new carbon permits to be issued over the next three years. Many experts say that further steps need to be taken for meaningful reform (Stanley Reed, "European Lawmakers Support Carbon Trading System," The New York Times, December 11, 1013).

Australian Prime Minister Rudd announced plans, in July, to replace an unpopular tax on carbon emissions with a market based carbon trading system (Matt Siegel, “Premier Cancels Carbon Tax, The New York Times, July 17, 2013).

William Neuman, and Andre Zarate, “Corruption in Peru Aids Cutting of Rain Forest, The New York Times, October 18, 2013,, reported that pervasive corruption in Peru has allowed illegal logging to go unabated in the Amazon rain forest that covers half the country, that is needed to absorb carbon dioxide and reduce global warming.

Earth Justice reported, October 20, 2013, “High Court Rebuffs Industry Over Climate Change, Lands,” Supreme Court victories topped an especially successful month for Earthjustice work. The high court refused to hear industry attacks on whether climate change pollutants endanger our health, and it rejected attacks on pollution limits for cars and trucks ( The court also ended a long fight over oil and gas development on public lands (

Gary Paul Nabhan, “Our Coming Food Crisis,” The New York Times, July 21, 2013, commented, that again this summer hot weather, with temperature often over 100, spread for long periods across the western United States, considerably reducing crops and the availability of seeds for future plantings in the 17 western states producing 40% of U.S. net farm income, while increasing farming costs and water use, amidst long term drought reducing the amount of available water. This is a new reality to which farmers, federal farm policy and the nation need to adjust, but workable alternatives are being resisted by much of agro-business, focused on keeping profits up from crop insurance payments, and avoiding more regulation that could come with appropriate new agricultural programs. Nabhan proposes, based upon successful experience with desert farming, that, “ One strategy would be to promote the use of locally produced compost to increase the moisture-holding capacity of fields, orchards and vineyards. In addition to locking carbon in the soil, composting buffers crop roots from heat and drought while increasing forage and food-crop yields. By simply increasing organic matter in their fields from 1 percent to 5 percent, farmers can increase water storage in the root zones from 33 pounds per cubic meter to 195 pounds. And we have a great source of compostable waste: cities. Since much of the green waste in this country is now simply generating methane emissions from landfills, cities should be mandated to transition to green-waste sorting and composting, which could then be distributed to nearby farms. Second, we need to reduce the bureaucratic hurdles to using small- and medium-scale rainwater harvesting and gray water (that is, waste water excluding toilet water) on private lands, rather than funneling all runoff to huge, costly and vulnerable reservoirs behind downstream dams. Both urban and rural food production can be greatly enhanced through proven techniques of harvesting rain and biologically filtering gray water for irrigation. However, many state and local laws restrict what farmers can do with such water. Moreover, the farm bill should include funds from the Strikeforce Initiative of the Department of Agriculture to help farmers transition to forms of perennial agriculture — initially focusing on edible tree crops and perennial grass pastures — rather than providing more subsidies to biofuel production from annual crops. Perennial crops not only keep 7.5 to 9.4 times more carbon in the soil than annual crops, but their production also reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed to till the soil every year. We also need to address the looming seed crisis. Because of recent episodes of drought, fire and floods, we are facing the largest shortfall in the availability of native grass, forage legume, tree and shrub seeds in American history. Yet current budget-cutting proposals threaten to significantly reduce the number of federal plant material centers, which promote conservation best practices. If our rangelands, forests and farms are to recover from the devastating heat, drought and wildfires of the last three years, they need to be seeded with appropriate native forage and ground-cover species to heal from the wounds of climatic catastrophes. To that end, the farm bill should direct more money to the underfinanced seed collection and distribution programs. Finally, the National Plant Germplasm System, the Department of Agriculture’s national reserve of crop seeds, should be charged with evaluating hundreds of thousands of seed collections for drought and heat tolerance, as well as other climatic adaptations — and given the financing to do so. Thousands of heirloom vegetables and heritage grains already in federal and state collections could be rapidly screened and then used by farmers for a fraction of what it costs a biotech firm to develop, patent and market a single “climate-friendly” crop. Investing in climate-change adaptation will be far more cost-effective than doling out $11.6 billion in crop insurance payments, as the government did last year, for farmers hit with diminished yields or all-out crop failures.”

Grass Roots International reported, November 4, 2013,, “ Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta and other agribusinesses hit a wall in their quest to plant more than 6 million acres (an area about the size of El Salvador!) in Mexico with genetically modified (GM) corn when the Federal Mexican Tribunal suspended authorization for the planting of all GM corn.” The decision can be reversed.

Meanwhile, following a year of drought, much of the southeastern United States has suffered from an excess of rain and cloudy days in the summer of 2013 greatly reducing crop yields and quality. Some melon growers have reported their harvests down by half, with most of the melons of poor quality. Other crops including tomatoes and tobacco have been similarly hit, while peaches look good, and are larger than normal, but their flavor is watered down (Tim Severson, “With Too Much Rain in the South, Too Little Produce on the Shelves,” The New York Times, July 29, 2013,

The drought in California in summer 2013, bringing low water on the Klamath-Trinity Rivers System has brought a water fight to court that could lead to a huge salmon decline if corporate agricultural interests are successful in their suite to prevent the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from releasing extra water from dams along the Trinity River (which would not be available for irrigation) to keep water levels high enough to allow salmon to return and spawn. The case was to be heard in late August ( Brian Smith , “ Crisis In Court: Mega-farms Trying to Seize Salmon Water,” Earthjustice, August 16, 2012, ).

Wildfires continue to become worse in the parched western U.S., as a result of drought, and warming climate plus drought greatly increasing tree deaths from bark beetles.  In mid August a wildfire near Park City Utah raced across several mountains, destroying 14 homes, as of August 15, when the fire was 25% contained (on scene report from a home owner whose house escaped with some singeing), while another blaze in Western Utah spread into Idaho threatening the Sun valley resort, where 1600 homes were evacuated, August 16, ahead of the then 100 square mile Beaver Creek Fire (“Idaho: Fire Threatens Resort,” The New York Times, August 16, 2013, As global warming continues to become more personal, this writer has been concerned about people he knows whose enterprise is threatened by the Rim Fire, one of 10 on August 22 in California, that had burned over 26 miles to threaten the town of Groveland.  The Rim Fire continued to spread quickly, by August 30 it was threatening San Francisco electrical supplies, and water as the fire approached the Hech-Hechy Reservoir, threatened to contaminate a major San Francisco water supply. As of August 30, the Rim Fire had consumed 201,894 acres, making it the largest active wildfire in the country and the fifth largest in California history, with containment of only some 30%. With travel in large areas near Yosemite interrupted, the fire has been a major blow to the economy of the area, greatly reducing tourism (Malia Wpllan, “Wildfire Chokes Off Tourist Towns’ Livelihood,” The New York Times, August 29, 2013, In all, the Rim Fire burned 257,341 acres (Carol Pogash, “Hit Twice by Hard Times, a Town Works to Rebound,” The New York Times, November 7, 201,   Wildfires in California, as in much of the west, were continuing on September 9, 2013, as a blaze in Mount Diablo State Park in Contra Costa County intensified (“Calif. Wildfire Intensifies,” USA Today, September 10, 2013). “California: Fires Prompt Air Quality Warning,” September 9, 2013,, reported, “Air quality officials are warning San Joaquin Valley residents of potential health hazards because of increasing ozone levels and smoke from lingering wildfires. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued an air alert, the second this year, on Monday for San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings and Tulare Counties and parts of Kern County”. There have been so many severe fires in the U.S. west in 2013 that, as of August 22, the Forest Service was about to run out of fire fighting money, and was taking funds from other programs to fight fires, having spent $1.17 billion of its $2,4 billion budget on wild fires (“Money for Fighting Wildfires Runs Low,” The New York Times, Published: August 21, 2013, ). President Barack Obama declared a major disaster exists for the Karuk Tribe of far northern California (Syskue County), on August 29, 2013, as a result of a wildfire from July 29 to August 2, 2013, allowing for federal aid to supplement the tribe’s efforts in the affected areas (“President Obama Declares Disaster Exists for the Karuk Tribe,” ICTMN, August 30, 2013,

Wildfires were again a serious problem in Australia, in the most populated state of New South Wales, in October, 2013, with some of the most damaging fires in the nation's history streached along a 190 mile front ("Australia Struggles to Control Wildfires," The New York Times, October, 21, 2013).

University of Colorado Physics Professor Miku KaKu commented on TV Morning News, September 11, 2013, that while the hurricane season has been the quietest in decades to date, with many small storms missing major landfalls, the Caribbean has become warmer than it was historically, reaching what may be a new normal, with a 50% greater chance of hurricanes in 2013, and 1 72% chance of a major hurricane reaching land.

Michael Wines, “Study Sees a Higher Risk of Storms on the Horizon,” September 23, 2013,, reported, “The eastern and central United States likely will see a greater risk of severe weather by the middle of this century as rising temperatures trigger atmospheric changes that favor storms, a new study by climate scientists from Stanford and Purdue universities concludes. By the century’s final 30 years, the study forecasts, the eastern United States could experience severe thunderstorms an average of nearly 7.5 spring days, an increase of almost 42 percent. A 15 percent increase is forecast during June, July and August. The largest single increase, an average of more than 2.4 days, was likely from March through May across parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.  The study’s data suggest — but do not flatly predict — that the number of days with conditions favorable to tornadoes will increase as well. “

U.S. costal city mayors are beginning to pay attention to the growing rising oceans coming with global warming induced climate change, as they met to consider attempting to develop plans to adopt to rising oceans, as they met in a two day conference in Fort Lauderdalem FL, in November. But state governments have yet to give attention to the approaching serious problem [except for the South Carolina Legislature that passed a law that the ocean can not be considered rising faster than the now out dated projected rates of several years ago. Should they punish the ocean for rising faster by holding it in jails in costal areas when the waters pour in?]. South Florida is particularly threatened with many areas less than three feet above current high tide line. Wit in less than a century (and quite possibly much sooner), barrier islands, the Florida Keys, coastal communities and subtropical beaches will be mostly submerged, while  the Everglades, that gives the region its fresh water, will become salty, as the ocean is expected to rise four to six feet by 2100. Long before that many areas, with billions of dollars worth of property, and tremendous amounts of infrastructure that will be impacted, as Florida has 2,555 miles of road, 35 public schools, one power plant and 966 sites listed by the Environmental Protection Agency, including hazardous waste dumps and sewage plants that will become serious pollution problems if flooded. Businesses have so far paid little attention to the now nearing flooding problem. Hopefully they will begin to plan before insurance companies force them to by refusing to cover loss related to the rising ocean (Nick Madigan, “South Florida Faces Ominous Prospects From Rising Waters,” The New York Times, November 10, 2013,

Huge downpours of rain, beginning in May, 2013, brought heavily polluted Lake Okeechobee, to the point where it had either to risk its 143 mile earthen dyke breaking, sending an immense flood of highly polluted water across agricultural lands and small communities south of the lake, or release billions of gallons of polluted water into the St. Lucie River Estuary to the East, and the Caloosahatchee River Estuary to the West. The Army Corps of Engineers chose the latter, resulting in the combination of upsetting the fresh-salt water balance of the estuaries, combined with the toxic pollution, killing shell fish and manatees in their breeding grounds, and seriously damaging sea grasses and reefs (important breeding places). Florida Governor Rick Scott proposed a pair of projects, totaling $130 million to fix the economic and environmental serious problem in the future: one to let more water from the lake return to flowing south, as it historically did, to the Everglades (which environmentalists have long called for, for the health of the Everglades), and the second would clean more of the pollution from farms, ranches, septic tanks and golf courses before it reached the lake (Lizette Alvarez, “In South Florid, Polluted Bubble Ready to Burst,” The New York Times, September 9, 2013).

Colorado and New Mexico were deluged with record rains in mid-September, 2013. In some areas as much as 15” of rain fell in 48 hours, and with rain continuing for days, Boulder, CO received its normal yearly total of 21 inches in one week. A very wide series of storms simultaneously dropped huge amounts of rain across a wide area, flooding many communities and rural areas. A number of towns were completely isolated, at least four people were known dead and some 800 were missing as of September 15, as bridges and sections of roads washed away or blocked by debris or rock slides, dams broken, and many homes washed away, as 800 people were evacuated in what the governor of Colorado called a “thousand year storm.” The worst flooding was from Denver north to Fort Collins. In Boulder, the sheriff commented that in previous floods only one or two drainages were involved. This time, all the drainages were deluged. The flooding in Colorado also has caused oil spills from turned over tanks and other sources (but no oil well’s appear to have leaked or flooded). At the end of September 26, 2013, more than 37,000 gallons is known to have leaked, and is a pollution problem (Jack Healy, “After the Floods in Colorado, a Deluge of Worry About Leaking Oil,” The New York Times, September 26, 2013   Wide areas of New Mexico were hit by record rains, bringing historic river flows, evacuations, and wide spread damage, from the Colorado to the Texas boarders. As much as 7 inches of rain had fallen in Pecos in four days, as of September 13, with rain continuing, though generally at a lesser rate in both Colorado and New Mexico. The Navajo Nation, in the “worst rain in decades," suffered from the flooding which brought numerous home evacuations and school closings, along with sufficient damage to warrant U.S. disaster relief. At least 100 families were flooded out of their homes (Jack Frosch and Jack Healy, “Colorado Floodwaters Force Thousands to Flee,” The New York Times," September 13, 2013,; Patrick Lohmann, “Historic Rainfall,“ Albuquerque Journal, September 14, 2013; CBS Morning News, Denver, September 12-13, 2013, and Jack Healey, “More Rain in Colorado Frustrates Rescue Efforts, “ The New York Times: September 15, 2013,; .Cindy Yurth and Bill Donovan, "Monsoon Lashes Nation," Navajo Times, September, 12, 2013; Bill Donovan, "Worst Rain in Decades," Navajo Times, September 19, 2013).

As  a result of a forest fire two years previous, Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico suffered serious flooding in July and in September, 2013, bringing FEMA to declare emergencies in bothj occasions to provide support to the Pueblo (“Second FEMA Disaster Declaration for Flooded Santa Clara Pueblo in a Month,” ICTMN, November 1, 2013, Navajo Nation also suffered in the September floods, with many houses destroyed and dozens of people displaced (“Flash Flooding on Navajo Nation Displaces Scores, Wrecks Homes With Mold and Mud,” ICTMN, September 14, 2013,

We can see the impact of climate change clearly in New Mexico with the continuing worsening, now record, drought, making water NM’s greatest problem: For three years, 2011-13, the Rio Grande went dry in summer 25 miles south of Albuquerque, and in 2013 was almost dry in ABQ when the rains came. In 2013: Magdalena ran out of water, and in Placitas people are digging deeper wells. Farmers in Southern New Mexico received only 10% their normal allotment of irrigation water, and as of July 8, there was no more irrigation water for farmers from Cochiti Lake to Elephant Butte, and it was expected to run out for farmers south of the Butte in days. Starving bears and other animals have been coming down from the mountains in search of food. One extreme to the other: when the rains came in September, temporally relieving the drought, they were at record levels across much of the state, bringing record river flows, flooding and damage. Drought brought three bad fire seasons, as drying, and dying trees from increased bark beetles, led to the largest wildfire in NM history in 2011, and then again in 2012 (Stuart Dyson, ‘Rio Grande River drying up,” KOB Eyewitness News 4, July 8, 2013, 6:32 PM,
; personal reports to Stephen Sachs in Albuquerque, and past reports in these pages).

Even as, sometime, record, rains, with flooding in September, at least temporarily broke deep droughts in  Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, Neena Satija, “Amid Drought, a Water Fight Spills Into Legal Territory,” The New York Times, September 14, 2013,, reported, “ As Texas’ rivers run dry and lakes fall to record low levels, part of the fight over water supplies is moving underground. Neighbors who pump water from the same formations beneath their land have long argued over that water. But the stakes are rising as cities and industries see groundwater as a solution to the demands of explosive population growth. But Texas law governing groundwater is murky, and a recent state appeals court decision signals that only years of expensive legal battles will provide clarity.”

The long southwest drought continued in Texas, in November 2013. “With or Without $2 Billion, Water Woes Unlikely to Go Away,” The New York Times, November 2, 2013,, reported, “ Texas has a long way to go before solving its water deficit. The drought has shown little sign of letting up soon, and the state’s population explosion has not abated, either. Officials in Austin say its reservoirs could run dry in the next several years, echoing concerns across the state. Near the Oklahoma border, Wichita Falls is also facing a dire water situation as its reservoirs’ levels near 30 percent of capacity.” But Texas also suffered extreme local storms, such as the one, in mid-November 2013, reported to this author from people in Wimberly TX, "the powerful storm being that visited our area in Wimberley and elsewhere early Thursday morning. That storm is front and center. As many of you know, we received 13.5 inches of rain in 7 hours on Thursday morning.The severe flooding inundated homes, causing loss of property and livestock.

At the end of June, the Western United States was hit with a record heat wave, reaching a record 130 degrees Fahrenheit in death valley, and much of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Idaho suffering very high temperatures (“Western U.S. Wilts in Record Heat Wave,” ICTMN, June 30, 2013,

An immense and unseasonable, record, storm, in mid-October 2013, sweeping across the Great Plains dumped up to five feet of snow in winds up to 70 MPH in freezing weather that killed between 60,000 and 100,000 cattle in Montana and South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation declared an emergency, as people were isolated and thousands of cattle died on the reservation. Other reservations in the two states also suffered. The aftermath of the storm included flash flooding in Rapid City and Keystone, SD  ( Christina Rose,  “Entombed in Snow: Up to 100,000 Cattle Perished Where They Stood in Rogue South Dakota Blizzard,” ICTMN, Oxtober 13, 2013,;  Steven Yaccino, “South Dakota Ranchers Face Storm’s Toll, but U.S.’ Helping Hands Are Tied,” The New York Times, October 15, 2013,; “Oglala Sioux Declare State of Emergency After Record-Breaking Early Blizzard,” ICTMN, October 9, 2013,; and “Flash Floods in Keystone and Rapid City After Rain and Wind Pummel Black Hills Region,” ICTMN, October 11, 2013, On November 17, 2013, a huge storm spread more than 80 tornadoes acraoss the Midwest leveling towns, killig at least six people and many injuries (in early reports) and causing thousands of power outages, while interrupting ground and air transportation, as well as causing a precautionry two hour delay of the Chicago games football game and evacuation of the stands (Emma G. Fitzsimmons, “Scores of Tornadoes Slam Midwest States,” The New York Times, November 17, 2013, Another very large storm brining snow and freeing rain, accompanied by unseasonable cold, spread across the U.S. in early December, to varying degrees disrupting ground and air transportation, from New Mexico to the East coast, knocking out electric power in several wide areas, while the accompanying cold was responsible for several deaths from hypothermia among homeless people in the San Francisco area (Emma G. Fitzsimmons, "Winter Storms Grip U.S., Knocking Out Power and Grounding Flights," The New York Times, December 7, 2013,

Mexico suffered a pair of damaging hurricanes, in late September, the effects of which critics charged were made worse by corruption. Early reports were that 97 died, and the number was expected to rise (Elisabeth Malkin, “In Mexico, Crirics Say that Political Corruption Worsened Impact of Storms,” The New Yoirk Times, September 21, 2013).

Elisabetta Povoledo, “Storm Brings Flooding and Destruction to Sardinia,” The New York Times, November 19, 2013,, reported, ” Streets and fields were flooded, homes and cars were submerged, and at least 16 people were killed on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia after 17 inches of rain — half a year’s worth — pummeled the island over a 24-hour period. The worst of the storm had passed by Tuesday evening, but a persistent rain kept falling.” In early December, a huge storm, with huricane force gust winds struck Great Britain and swept on to the continent, in Britain disrupting ground and air transportation and electricity for thousands of homes as 10,000 homes along the East coast were evacuated with the possibility of the greatest tidal surge in 60 years. As the storm began to hit, flooding was anticipated in Brittan, Scandinavia and Germany, where low lying areas of Hamburg were evacuated ("Big Storm Moves Across Britain and the Continent," The New York Times, December 5, 2013,

A storm across the Middle East in mid-December brought the heaviest snows since the 1950's to Jerusalem, and more suffering in snow and cold for Syrian refugees across the region (Anne Barnard, "For Syrian Refugees Short of Food and Clean Water, Snow Is an Added Challenge," The New York Times, December 13, 2013,

Gardiner Harris, “Quick Evacuation Efforts Help India Minimize Deaths From Cyclone,” The New York Times, October 13, 2013,, reported, “The powerful cyclone that struck India ’s eastern coast this weekend washed away thousands of mud homes, knocked down power lines, blocked many of the region’s roads and damaged crops and fishing boats. But reports from the region on Sunday showed the success of one of the biggest and most rapid evacuations in India’s history, an operation that moved more than 800,000 people to safety.” The storm, measured as one of the strongest force 5 storms in history while at sea, reached land with less than expected, but still great force. In late October, “Dozens Killed in Southeast India Floods,” The New York Times, October 26, 2013,, reported, “ Days of torrential rains have unleashed floods in southeast India that have killed dozens of people and forced the evacuation of more than 70,000 others from hundreds of low-lying villages.”

“Pakistan: Rough Weather Wreaks Havoc Across Region,” The New York Times, August 5, 2013,, reported, “ Heavy rains that caused flash floods and collapsed houses in several areas of Pakistan have killed 53 people over the past three days, a Pakistani official said Monday. The same storm system hit eastern Afghanistan , leveling homes and killing at least 69 people in five provinces since Saturday.”

Martin Fackler, “Japan: Many Dead or Missing After Typhoon,” October 16, 2013,, reported, “A powerful typhoon struck eastern Japan on Wednesday, causing landslides and floods that left at least 17 people dead and 43 missing, the police said. Tokyo briefly ground to a halt as bullet trains and flights were suspended when the storm, Typhoon Wipha, swept through with strong winds and rain. At the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, workers released the Pacific rainwater that collected near storage tanks, but the company that operates the plant said the contamination was far below safe drinking water levels.”

Edward Wong, “Dozens Dead After Heavy Rains in China,” The New York Times, August 19, 2013,, reported, “ At least 83 people have been killed in recent days in floods and landslides in three different parts of China, according to reports on Monday by Xinhua, the state news agency. With mass evacuations taking place, millions of other people across China have been affected by heavy rains and flooding.”

Gerry Mullany, “Strong Typhoon Nears China, Putting Hong Kong on Alert,” The New York Times,  September 21, 2013,, reported, “The strongest typhoon to hit Asia this year [as of September 21] caused landslides in the Philippines and flooding in Taiwan on Saturday as it appeared headed toward the densely populated Pearl River Delta area of China, with the financial center of Hong Kong preparing for possible business shutdowns at the start of the workweek. Andrew Jacobw, “Typhoon Kills at Least 25 People in China, Reports Say,” The New York Times,: September 23, 2013,, reported, “A powerful typhoon that had threatened Hong Kong brushed past the southern Chinese city on Sunday night and crashed into Guangdong Province. The local news media said at least 25 people were killed. Typhoon Usagi, described as among the region’s most dangerous storms in three decades, forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights in Hong Kong and delayed the opening of financial markets on Monday. But it weakened as it approached the densely populated Pearl River Delta with winds that topped out at around 110 miles per hour.“

Care reported, November 8, 2013, or,  “ Typhoon Haiyan may be the strongest storm in recorded history. Early this morning it made landfall in the Philippines, bringing severe winds, heavy flooding, and downed communication. 10 million are in the path of the super typhoon. Early reports are showing widespread damage to buildings, houses, and infrastructure. We are hoping that the death toll will remain low. CARE is on emergency alert and will be providing people in need with food, shelter kits, and more. We are also preparing now for the storm's next projected target: Vietnam.” Keith Bradsher and Gerry Mullany, “Devastation Feared Across Central Philippines in Typhoon’s Wake,” The New York Times, November 10, 2013,, reported, “ One of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded now appears to have devastated cities, towns and fishing villages with heavy loss of life when it played a deadly form of hopscotch across the islands of the central Philippines on Friday. Barreling across palm-fringed beaches and plowing into frail homes with a force that by some estimates approached that of a tornado, but sprawling across a huge area of this far-flung archipelago , Typhoon Haiyan delivered a crippling blow to this country’s midsection. Disorder and looting over the weekend compounded the destruction.” The destruction was heavy on several islands. Tacloban on Leyte Island, a city of 220,000 was totally destroyed, most houses being destroyed or seriously damaged, in the storm surge as high as 13 feet in the city, with the city administrator fearing the toll could reach 10,000 in Tacloban alone. In numerous communities along the storm’s path, virtually all communications were cut off. Winds were variously reported as being between 150 to over 190 mph. With many areas in the storms path no higher than ten feet above normal sea level many villages not yet heard from on November 10 may have been wiped out. Ten days after the typhoon’s landfall many area’s remained isolated, and it was difficult to get any supplies or aid to many inland places, though aid efforts were making slow progress in expanding their reach. At this point the death toll was reported at perhaps 2,500, but expected to rise, as 4 million people were displaced, while hunger was rising and the danger of disease was increasing (Austin Ramzy, “ Challenge for the Government: 4 Million Are Displaced, and Hunger Grows,” The New York Times, November 18, 2013,

Sudan was deluged by floods in August, killing dozens, destroying or damaging 74,00 homes and impacting some 300,000 people. Nafeer, a youth volunteer group, revived a tradition of providing aid in times of need (Isma’il Kushkush, “As Floods Ravage Sudan, Young Volunteers Revive a Tradition of Aid,” The New York Times, August 30, 2013).

Somalia ’s semiautonomous Puntland region was struck by a tropical cyclone, in early November, that early reports said killed at least 100 people, with hundreds of people reported missing, and more than 100,000 livestock were lost and fishing boats were swept away, endangering the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people (“Somalia: Cyclone Kills at Least 100,” The New York Times, November 11, 2013,

Terri Hansen, “8 Tribes That Are Way Ahead of the Climate-Adaptation Curve,” ICTMN, October 15, 2013,, reported that Native nations in the U.S. are in the lead in adopting to climate change. 1. Swinomish Tribe: From Proclamation to Action: On the southeastern peninsula of Fidalgo Island in Washington State, the Swinomish were the first tribal nation to pass a Climate Change proclamation, in 2007, and have since implemented a concrete action plan in the face of a rising ocean bringing greater tidal surges with storms, which in 2006, caused flooding and damaging reservation property. In 2008 the nation commenced a project to identify needed actions, and then begin taking, among others, with the assistance of funding through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Administration for Native Americans to support the $400,000 Swinomish Climate Change Initiative, by providing 80% of the funding. “Since the Swinomish started work on climate issues, many tribes across the country have become active on these issues as they also realize the potential impacts to their communities and resources. The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) has been funded over the last few years to conduct climate adaptation training, Knight said, ‘and probably more than 100 tribes have now received training on this’.” 2. Jamestown S’Klallam: Rising Sea Levels and Ocean Acidification: The Jamestown S’Klallam nation on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State released a climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation plan , in the summer of 2013, identifing key tribal resources, outlining the expected impacts from climate change and setting out adaptation strategies for each resource. It included sea-level-rise maps are for three time frames, near ( low), mid-century ( medium) and end of century ( high). 3. Mescalero Apache: Bolstering Tribal Resilience: The Mescalero Apache in southwestern New Mexico flank the Sacramento Mountains and border Lincoln National Forest, where a long and expected to continue drought combined with warming has been increasing the frequency and intensity of wildfires. The tribe has undertaken innovative environmental initiatives to help bolster tribal resilience to climate change impacts, one example of which is constructing a 500,000 gallon pond as an alternative water supply to the fish hatchery in the event of a catastrophic flood event, and with the application of solar powered water pumps, provides water to supply water the Mescalero community garden.” 4. Karuk Tribe: Defending the Klamath River: The Karuk Nation of Northern California, with lands within and around the Klamath River and Six Rivers National Forests, has been implementing parts of its Eco-Cultural Resources Management Draft Plan , released in 2010, synthesizing the best available science, locally relevant observations and traditional ecological knowledge to create an integrated approach to natural resource management, encompassing the potential impacts of climate change. 5. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes: Strategic Planning: The Salish and Kootenai nations of Montana, issued a climate change proclamation in November 2012 and adopted a Climate Change Strategic Plan in 2013. Next the tribes will establish a Climate Change Oversight Committee to monitor progress, coordinate funding requests, continue research involving traditional ecological knowledge, and applying the strategic planning results in other guiding documents, such as the Flathead Reservation Comprehensive Resource Management Plan and others, while updating the plan on a regular basis, according scientific research and ongoing experience. 6. Nez Perce: Preservation Via Carbon Sequestration: The Nez Perce Tribe, of the Columbia River Plateau in northern Idaho, recognized carbon sequestration on forested lands as a means of preserving natural resources and generating jobs and income, while reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. In the mid to late 1990s the Nez Perce Forestry & Fire Management Division developed a carbon offset strategy to market carbon sequestration credits, with an afforestation project of some 400 acres to establish marketable carbon offsets, develop an understanding of potential carbon markets and cover the costs of project implementation and administration. “As carbon markets soften and actual project development slows, the tribe cites the increased awareness and education of other tribes of the carbon sales process and opportunities for more carbon sequestration projects in Indian country as its biggest accomplishment of the last two years.” 7. Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians: Attacking Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Santa Ynez Chumash of southern California has moved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, significantly, and address the impacts of climate change on tribal peoples, land and resources, including launching the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office (SYCEO), in 1998. Joshua Simmons, Santa Ynez environmental director, stated that the tribe was considering opening a public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station, replacing its vehicle fleet with CNG vehicles, while installing EV charging stations, implementing an innovative home, and building upgrade training program through an EPA Climate Showcase Communities grant. SYCEO’s numerous projects have made considerable advances, including major reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. One example is the Chumash Casino’s implementing of a shuttle bus program, in 2009, that eliminated 800,000 car trips that year, replacing them with 66,000 bus trips. Meanwhile, the casino has been reducing its energy consumption, chemical waste and use of one-use materials, while implementing an extensive rainwater and gray water collection and treatment system. “Many of these initiatives have economic benefits and provide a model and economic incentive for tribal and non-tribal businesses to implement similar changes.” 8. Newtok Village: Ultimate Adaptation Plan—Evacuation: This Native village on the western coast of Alaska became some of the U.S.’s first climate refugees, by beginning to relocate to a viable site nine miles to the south, in 1984, rather than attempt temporary adaptation-mitigation, as it became clear that as sea and river cut through and then eroded the permafrost beneath their village, the community would be endangered within 25 to 30 years.

With delay and difficulty achieving the approval of the Keystone XL and other Pipelines, Candian oil companies have been increasing capacity to ship tar sands oil by train and have been increasing production (Clifford Kraus, "Working Around Keystone XL, Suncor Energy Steps Up Oil Production in Canada," The New York Times, November 21, 2013,

Toyota has shown off a prototype of a car running on hydrogen from a fuel cell that it hopes to begin selling in 2015 (Eric Pfanner, “Toyota Shows Off Fuel-Cell Automobile,” The New York Times, November 20, 2013, ).

Care2, August 4, 2013,, reported, “The official, Governor-appointed board which manages the levees and storm protection system for New Orleans just filed a lawsuit against nearly 100 oil and gas companies which have been linked to the destruction of wetlands between New Orleans and the Gulf. This is an historic step, because while scientists have shown that at least 36% of Louisiana's catastrophic wetlands loss was caused by the oil and gas industry, no state leaders have ever held them accountableLouisiana is losing an average of a football field worth of wetlands every hour, so this is a critical effort to bring some of the wealthiest corporations in the world to the table and make them fix what they have destroyed. Unfortunately Governor Tindal immediately came out in opposition to the lawsuit. These wetlands make up important coastal lines of defense which help protect our communities, and can help buffer New Orleans' flood protection system.  This is a critical issue, and only getting more urgent as sea levels and flood insurance rates are rising!” Care2 initiated a campaign to change the governor’s mind. Oil company activity is only part of the loss of wetlands. A major contributor has been the diking of the Mississippi, preventing the mud it brings from flowing into the delta and renewing it, leaving the delta and its wetlands open to erosion, including from storms. There have been proposals to put locks in levies that can be opened to allow the muddy water to again flow into the delta.

A study by a group from the Louisiana Universities’ Maritime Consortium, released in late August, found much greater contamination of water and sediment in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, than was reported in an earlier U.S. study, raining questions about the sampling used in the first study (Henry Fountain, “Gulf Spill Sampling Questioned,” The New York Times, August 20, 2013).

“North Dakota: Oil Leak Is Under Scrutiny,” The New York Times, October 16, 2013,, reported, “ Officials are trying to determine if the Tesoro Corporation knew about potential problems with a pipeline that leaked more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil in a wheat field in the northwestern part of the state. Dave Glatt, chief of the state Department of Health’s environmental health section, said Wednesday that regulators want to know more about inspections conducted before the spill, which was reported by a farmer harvesting wheat near Tioga on Sept. 29.”

" Campaign Update—Canada: Federal Review Panel Critical of Taseko’s Mining Plans," Cultural Survival, November 15, 2013,, reported, "On October 31, 2013, Canada’s Federal Environmental Review Panel submitted an extensive report with their major findings regarding Taseko’s plan to mitigate adverse impacts of the “New Prosperity” gold-copper mine, a project proposed on the lands of the Tsilhqot’in First Nation." "In the report, the Panel concludes that constructing the “New Prosperity” Mine would have a range of negative impacts to the environment and Indigenous communities. In particular, the findings show that Teztan Biny or Fish Lake would be significantly impacted. Identified as a vital cultural, environmental, and economic resource to the Tsilhqot’in people, Fish Lake’s fate is directly tied to the fate of the Indigenous group. The Panel found that the “New Prosperity” Mine would result in significant adverse effect on the Tsilhqot’in current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, cultural heritage, and archaeological and historical resources. Additionally, the Panel identified adverse impacts on Indigenous tourism, the ability of Indigenous people to harvest food, and the Esk’etemc Community Forest. The Canadian Federal government has up to 120 days to make a final decision regarding Taseko’s plan. Due to the critical findings of the report, it is expected that history will repeat itself—that the proposed “New Prosperity” Mine will be struck down."

Uranium mining clean up from the Cold War is continuing on the Navajo Reservation. In April 2013, the Uranium Contamination Stakeholders Workshop met in Farmington, NM on ways to alleviate the extensive remaining contamination over the next five years. In July, the GAO was auditing the removal of tons of radioactive tailings from the North East Churchrock Mine to be moved to the nearby UNC Mill Site for long term storage (Bill Donovan, "Navajo families help create five-year uranium, cleanup plan," Navajo Times, April 18, 2013; and Alastair Lee Bitsoi, "GAO auditing uranium cleanup," Navajo Times, July 25, 2013).

Michael Wines, “E.P.A. Is Expected to Set Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions by New Power Plants,” The New York Times, September 13, 2013,, reported, “that following up on President Obama ’s pledge in June to address climate change , the Environmental Protection Agency proposed, in Mid-September, the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from newly built power plants.” The proposed regulations would require new and innovative equipment to remove carbon dioxide from emissions.

The special Energy section of The New York Times, October 9, 2013 contained several articles about energy trends and developments . Older Nuclear plants in the U.S. are more often closing because the cost of producitn electricty is now lower, and fluctuates hour by hour where nclear plants can not widely vary their output. This is having an impact on building new plants. Also, shortages of certain maetals and rare earths – also used in making photovoltaic cells – because of the environmnetal damage in mining them in the U.S., may restrict the ability of nuclear plants to operate (Matthew L. Wald, “Nuclear Plant Vexed by Prices That Shift as Demand Does”). The drought in parts of the United States has begun to create a shortage of water for cooling in energy production, bringing efforts to find other ways to achieve cooling (Jim Withkin, “In a Hot, Thursty Energy Business, Water is Prized”). India has been increasing the use of agricultural waste to generate biomass energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the decomposition of the waste if not processed (Amy Yee, “India Increases Effort to Harness Biomass Energy”). Advanced experiments have been in progress off the Scottish coast to harness wave motion so that tidal currants can be used to create electricity (Mark Scott, “Of Scottish Coast, Harnesing Motion of Ocean Waves”). There is evidence that oil, and thus gasoline, prices have dropped from high levels and will remain in a relatively stable range in the mid-term, as production is high, in addition to which the seeming improvement of the Iranian Nuclear and Syrian poison gas situations have lowerd fears of oil flow interruptions, wich fuel price speculation (Clifford Krauss, “Is Stability the New Normal)”.

A study , conducted by the University of Texas and sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and nine petroleum companies, involving a well considered group of scientific investigators , found that in the drilling process and at the well head (a future study will examine Ntural gas leaks beyond the well head) shale gas is cleaner and better than coal in terms of its impact on global warming, and that the leakage of methane (natural gas) into the air, while substantial – over one million tons annually - was less than previously expected (including by EPA) at the more than 500 wells analyzed. An important finding was that   containment measures captured 99% of methane that escaped from new wells during completion, the proces of  preparing new wells for production. EPA is requiring drillers to control leaks during completions, which are believed to be one of the major sources of methane losses at fracking wells, by January 2015. A number of companies already capture escaped gases at wells being prepared for production. While EPA-mandated measures appear to have reduced emissions during well completions, the study also concluded that leaks elsewhere in the fracking process were higher than the E.P.A. had previously estimated. Estimates of leaks from chemical pumps, while small, were double past estimates, while leaks from pneumatic controllers, or valves, were found to be 33% higher than previous estimates, at more than 639,000 tons a year. None of those components are currently subject to federal regulation. Shale-gas drilling has been expanding rapidly, as of September 2013, accounting for 30% of all United States natural gas production, and is expected to reach 50% by 2040.

While a fracking for gas and a lesser extent oil is taking place at a rapid rate in the United States, Europe has been more cautious and in places resistant. Fracking has been banned in France and Bulgaria, while in Britain, where little Fracking has yet taken place, the government’s attempts to promote it have led to heated demonstrations in the countryside, and in at least one instance, the abandoning of drilling. Poland, anxious to be less reliant on Russia for natural gas, has begun applying fracking, but at only a modest pace compared to the United States, While the Ukraine signed a lease with Chevron to undertake fracking.  In Europe, more densely populated than the U.S., where people are used to paying more for energy and where environmental consciousness is higher, there is considerable doubt about fracking. In early October, the European Parliament voted to require companies wishing to frack to first carry out extensive environmental studies showing the drilling to be safe in each instance. Meanwhile, the more readily available, and thus cheaper, natural gas in the U.S., has found it rapidly replacing coal as a fuel, lowering the world price of coal, and making it attractive to import from the U.S. In Germany, ending its use of nuclear power, with solar and wind energy not increasing fast enough to meet all energy needs, the country is increasing its use of coal, despite attempting to lower fossil fuel pollution (Steven Erlanger, “As Drilling Practice Takes Off in U.S., Europe Proves Hesitant,” October 9, 2013,; and “ Europe Votes to Tighten Rules on Drilling Method ,” The New York Times,  October 10, 2013, Reed and Andrew Kramer, "Chevron and Ukraine Set Shale Gas deal," The New York Times, November 1, 2013

Argentina signed an agreement with Chevron to undertake shale oil drilling, likely by fracking, in October 2013 (Simon Romero and Clifford Krauss. "Potential of Oil Field Leads Argentina to Join Forces with Chevron," The New York Times, October 22, 2013).

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management issued new draft rules, May 16, 2013, that would make it more restrictive in drilling on Indian and public lands. Included are that drillers must disclose chemicals used in drilling, verify that ground water is not being contaminated, and have management plans to properly handle liquids that come to the surface (Alysa Landry, "New rules to address fracking on Indian lands," Navajo Times, May 23, 2913).

Food & Water Watch,, reported, November 6, 2013, “In Colorado, three cities successfully stopped fracking and a fourth is too close to call, despite nearly $900,000 being spent by big oil and gas interests supported by Governor Hickenlooper, who has publicly opposed community efforts to halt fracking.” The Governor of Colorado, in Mid-November , proposed new rules on gas and oil drilling to decrease air pollution, particularly from fracking. The rules would require limiting methane emissions from valves, pipes, well heads and storage tanks, and high efficiency burners to burn off waste gasses. The rule would apply to old and new wells and facilities (Michael Wines, "Governor of Colorado Proposes strict Limits on Greenhouse Gas Leaks from Drilling," The New York Times, November 19, 2013).

Jim Malewitz, "Wastewater Case Raises the Concept of Underground Trespassing," The New York Times, December 5, 2013,, reported, " A case involving the disposal of industrial wastewater pits two interests that are dear to many Texans against each other: oil and gas resources versus private property rights. A decision by the state’s highest civil court could have major implications for both. The Texas Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Jan. 7 in a dispute between a company that operates injection wells in Liberty County and a nearby rice farm that says wastewater from those wells has migrated into a saltwater aquifer below its land. It calls the migration trespassing, for which it should be compensated. Among several smaller questions, the court will weigh a broad one: Just how far below the earth’s surface do property lines extend?"

Years of drilling into a huge salt dome underground in Louisiana has led to a collapse of the dome, creation of a huge and expanding sink hole threatening to swallow houses, and the leaking of highly global warming methane into the atmosphere from underground. Local residents are engaged in a law suit against the drilling company, Texas Brine  Co., over the damage and continuing threat to their properety andlives (Michael Wines, “Ground Gives Way, and a Louisiana Town Struggles to Find Its Footing,” The New York Times, September 25, 2013,

British Petroleum (BP) was being sued, September 11, 2013, on claims that its former PLC oil refinery in Texas City, TX exposed neighboring residents to toxic gasses creating potential health dangers (Ben Lefebvre, “BP Faces Claims Over Air Pollutants,” Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2013).

TransCanada announced, August 1, 2013, that it plans to build an oil tar sands pipeline to the East Cost, in light of the uncertainty over pipeline proposals to the West Cost, and to the U.S. Gulf Coast vi the Keystone Pipeline (Ian Austen, “TransCanada Plans Pipeline in East Coast,” The New York Times, August 2, 2013)

In England, following much protest, and an early experiment  elsewhere in England in drilling that caused minor earth quakes, Quadrilla Resources announced that it would stop its drilling operation at Balcombe, South of London (Stanley Reed, “Shale Gas Company Halts Drilling at British Site,” The New York Times,  August 13, 3013).

NRDC, September 23, 2013,, reported that in a surprise decision, British mining giant Anglo American, the lead company behind the Pebble Mine being planned at Alaska's Bristol Bay, announced that it is abandoning the project. The announcement dealt a heavy blow to the proposed gold and copper operation, which would produce some 10 billion tons of contaminated waste and threaten the largest wild salmon runs on the planet, as well as threatening other serious environmental and human harm. NRDC Members helped make this victory possible by deluging Anglo American with nearly one million messages of protest. NRDC says, “The fight is not over yet -- we'll need new funding to ratchet up the pressure on the remaining companies behind the mine and win EPA action to protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining.”

Campaign Update–Canada: Fish Lake Will Be Dead In Ten Years If Mine Proceeds,” Cultural survival, August 23, 2013,, reports, “ The evidence from independent and government experts against the proposed New Prosperity Mine proves the Tsilhqot'in Nation is fully justified in its total opposition to the proposed  Teztan Biny  (Fish Lake) proposal. Dr. John Stockner from the UBC Fisheries Centre, a senior lake research scientist and past associate editor of Canada's most prestigious aquatic journal, the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, told the federal panel hearing on the proposed New Prosperity mine that the project would render the lake dead to fish within a decade. Stockner testified the lake would effectively become an aquarium, and nutrient loading and algae blooms would create oxygen deficiencies in the water, resulting in a massive die-off of rainbow trout.” “Federal and provincial government experts raised serious concerns about the proposal that add to Stockner's and Brandt's findings during the technical phase of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's review panel hearings. This evidence has reinforced the  Tsilhqot'in Nation's total opposition to the project during the past two weeks of community hearings and will continue to do so as the hearings move this week to the Secwepemc Nation and final arguments on Friday August 23rd.” Cultural Survival’s campaign to Save Fish Lake at

While domestic demand for coal has been falling, rising demand in Asia has been leading to increases of exports of U.S. coal to Asia from west coast ports, leading to significant increase in the amount of coal shipped in open rail cars across the west, bringing extensive pollution from coal pieces and dust from the large number of coal rail cars, with some of the coal going directly into waterways. Environmental and other groups are opposing the expanded coal transport (Kirk Johnson, “With Proposed Rail Expansion, Northwest Confronts Its Clean Image,” T he New York Times, August 19, 2013,

Terri Hansen, “Wisconsin Ignored Findings of Scientists to Rewrite Mining Laws For GTAC,” ICTMN, August 6, 2013,, reported, “ Wisconsin legislators didn’t heed the scientific data when they passed AB1/ SB1 last spring, say scientists who testified before lawmakers. The bill removed environmental hurdles for Gogebic Taconite’s (GTAC) proposed 4.5 mile long, 1.5 mile wide, 1,000-foot deep open pit iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin’s Gogebic Iron Range. It created a separate set of regulations for ‘ferrous metallic mining’ of iron ore as opposed to mining for sulfide minerals, which require higher environmental standards because of the potential for acid mine drainage. However, scientific analysis contained in a July 2012 report, ‘ Geochemical, mineralogical and structural characterization of the Tyler Formation and Ironwood Iron Formation, Gogebic Range, Wisconsin ,’ shows that sulfide minerals such as pyrite are present both in one layer of the iron formation and throughout the overburden rock that would need removal to mine the iron deposit.”

New developments are making turning urban trash into gas more practical. Previously, relatively high amounts of energy were needed to produce a small amount of useable gas through a polluting incineration of trash process. Sierra Energy of California has developed the FastOx Pathfinder , a shower stall size, highly efficient blast furnace, with an output includes hydrogen and synthetic natural gas that can be burned to generate electricity or made into ethanol or diesel fuel. The U.S. Army has contracted to buy some, and if successful, the FastOx Pathfinder may begin producing significant amounts of fuel without extracting or using crops (or their agricultural alternatives) that otherwise could be used for food. Other firms are also making progress with new trash to fuel equipment. For example, Ineos Bio of Florida announced in July that it had produced ethanol from gasified wood waste, using a method that it expects to be commercially viable, and KiOR Inc. will make one million to two million gallons of diesel and gasoline this year from wood waste at its plant in Columbus, MS (Paul Tullis, “Trash Into Gas, Efficiently? An Army Test May Tell,” The New York Times, August 17, 2013,

The spreading problems of monoculture – growing the exact same crop over large areas, uninterrupted by other crops or varieties of the same basic crop, that sets them up for pests and disease to cause major rapid destruction, that have been hitting grain, oranges and other agriculture around the world, in 2013 have been devastating to oranges in Florida. As of July 2013, attempts were being made to modify the orange trees genetically to save them world wide from disease that has been destroying them (Amy Harmon, “A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA,” The New York Times, July 27, 2013,

After a long legal battle, in which the State of Vermont’s attempt to have the plants shut was recently defeated in court, the owners of the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in southern Vermont decided, in late August 2013, to close the plant for good in 2014, as electricity production costs generally have dropped so much that the generating station was losing money (Matthew Wald, “Vermont Yankee Plant to Close Next Year as the Nuclear Industry Retrenches,” The New York Times, August 27, 2013,

Coral Davenport, "Eastern States Press Midwest to Improve Air," December 9, 2013,, reported, "In a battle that pits the East Coast against the Midwest over the winds that carry dirty air from coal plants, the governors of eight Northeastern states plan to petition the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to force tighter air pollution regulations on nine Rust Belt and Appalachian states. The East Coast states, including New York and Connecticut, have for more than 15 years been subject to stricter air pollution requirements than many other parts of the country. Their governors have long criticized the Appalachian and Rust Belt states, including Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan, for their more lenient rules on pollution from coal-fired power plants, factories and tailpipes — allowing those economies to profit from cheap energy while their belched soot and smog are carried on the prevailing winds that blow across the United States."

Hiroko Tabuci, “Tank Has Leaked Tons of Contaminated Water at Japan Nuclear Site,” The New York Times, August 20, 2013,, reported, “ Three hundred tons of highly contaminated water has leaked from a storage tank at the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on Japan’s Pacific coast, its operator said Tuesday, prompting regulators to declare a ‘radiological release incident’ for the first time since disaster struck there in 2011 and adding new fears of environmental calamity.” Workers were attempting to contain the leak with sandbags. Much of the radioactive water has been absorbed by the soil, which must be removed, but radio active water could again flow into the Pacific.

On September 3, the New York Times reported that the attempted cleanup of the Fukushima site has been badly flawed, often attempting short term fixes for ongoing long term problems, casting in doubt whether adequate containment and cleanup can be attained (Martin Fackler “Errors Cast Doubt on Japan’s Cleanup of Nuclear Accident Site,” The New York Times, September 3, 2013, Yet another problem occurred at the Fukushima atomic plant, in early October, 2013, when a cooling water pump briefly shut down (Martin Fackler, “Pump for Reactor Stops in Japan, The New York Times, October 7, 2013, As of December 22, 2013, Since Japan passed new vague national security secrecy legislation in December, we have seen no reports on the dangerous operation of removing fuel rods from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Cloe Sang-Hun, “Scandal in South Korea Over Nuclear Revelations, The New York Times, August 3, 2013,, reported, “ Like Japan, resource-poor South Korea has long relied on nuclear power to provide the cheap electricity that helped build its miracle economy. For years, it met one-third of its electricity needs with nuclear power, similar to Japan’s level of dependence before the 2011 disaster at its Fukushima plant. Now , a snowballing scandal in South Korea about bribery and faked safety tests for critical plant equipment has highlighted yet another similarity: experts say both countries’ nuclear programs suffer from a culture of collusion that has undermined their safety."

“China: Foreign Tourism Falls, and Smog May Be One Reason,” The New York Times, August 13, 2013,, reported, China , one of the world’s most popular destinations for international travelers, has experienced a significant decline in the number of tourists this year. Among the factors cited by the China National Tourism Administration were worsening smog, the sluggish global economy, a stronger Chinese currency and bird flu.”

Singapore suffered record levels of air pollution, in June, heavily contributed to by illegal burning of agricultural waste in Indonesia. The Prime Minister of Indonesia apologized to Singapore and Malaysia, saying that the government of Indonesia would work harder to end this old agricultural practice (“Singapore: Record Levels of Pollution,” The New York Times, June 21, 2013; and “Indonesia: Leader Apologizes for Haze,” The New York Times, June 25, 2013).

Cornelia Dean, “Plenty of Water, but Little to Drink: Four Books Explore Humans’ Relationship With Water,” The New York Times, October 7, 2013,, reported, “Earth, ‘ the blue planet,’ has a lot of water. Most of the planet’s surface is covered with it. But less than 5 percent of that water is fresh, and much of that is locked up in ice sheets or inconveniently far underground. And it is not always most abundant where it is most needed. As a result, we are drawing on underground aquifers faster than they can recharge. And the water we have is often polluted by sewage, industrial waste, parasites and other contaminants that can make ‘natural’ water unsafe to drink.” This situation is worsening, making water the world’s most valuable resource, and increasingly making wars over water a likelihood.

“Parasite Susceptibility, Apis-USA: Fungicides,” A ProMED-mail post of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, July 25, 2013,, Source: Wildlife News [edited], susceptibility, reported, “ A study just published seems to show that honey bees [_Apis_spp] can be exposed to sub-lethal levels of widely used fungicides which will make them more at risk of gut parasite_Nosema ceranae_. The researchers examined pollen across beehives across a wide range of crops in the United States of America and identified 35 different pesticides. Of particular interest were high levels of fungicides. While fungicides are typically considered as fairly safe for honey bees, the researchers found an increased probability of nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load.” This parasite has been found to be extremely damging to bee colonies, and related to the collapse of entire hives.

Neil Gough, “Pollutants From Plant Killed Fish in China,” The New York Times, September 4, 2013,, reported, “ Thousands of dead fish floating along a 19-mile stretch of a river in Hubei Province in central China were killed by pollutants emitted by a local chemical plant, provincial environmental officials said Wednesday. Environmental protection officials said tests on water taken from the Fu River upstream from the metropolis of Wuhan revealed that extremely high levels of ammonia in the water were caused by pollution from a plant owned by the Hubei Shuanghuan Science and Technology Company.”

The decline in shrimp to histoiric lows in the Gulf of Maine from over fishing and warming waters that had already a drop in caught shrimp valuation from $10 million in the 2011 season to $1.2 million in the in the limited 2013 season, caused the Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission Northern Shrimp Section to cancel the 2014 shrimp fishing season, the first shutdown ordered since 1978 ("Maine: Shrimp Season Is Called Off," The New York Times, December 4, 2013).

Care2, “US, Join India in Banning All Dolphinariums,” July, 2013,, commented, “ In banning the capture of dolphins for public entertainment, India has set a standard the rest of the world should follow. So why is the U.S. still lagging behind? The ministry last month advised all state governments to reject any plans to establish a dophinarium by anyone - whether private or public, commercial enterprise or government agency. Along with taking this action, India’s Central Zoo Authority recognizes that dolphins possess unusually high intelligence and sensitivity that should classify them as “nonhuman persons.” It further notes that dolphins do not thrive in captivity and are among the endangered cetacean species that deserves special protection. A former trainer who now works to protect dolphins, Ric O’Barry applauds the Indian government not only for speaking out against cruelty but for helping to change the way we think about dolphins - as “thinking, feeling beings,” rather than property to exploit for financial gain.”

The moose population in Minnesota has declined so precipitously that the state is on the verge of declaring them endangered, as the Bois Forte, Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa have cancelled their annual moose hunting seasons (“Minnesota Tribes Cancel Moose Hunt as Animals' Population Plummets,” ICTMN, September 13, 2013,

As farming has spread to larger areas in key parts of the U.S. west and mid-west, and as native vegetation has been reduced from other causes, while bioengineered crops containing nicotine as a pesticide have been taking a huge toll on insects, including needed ones such as bees, many insect population have been declining over the past years, most visibly the migratory monarch butterflies whose sole food source of milkweed has been largely wiped out. Annually the Monarchs have arrived in Mexico by the hundreds of millions around the time of the Day of the Dead in November. But that number has been in serious decline, down to 60 million in November 2012, and in November 2013 only a few Monarchs came a week later than normal, indicating a possible collapse of the population (Jim Robbins, "The Year the Monarch Didn't Appear," The New York Times, November 24, 2013).

In western North America global warming and drought have brought an increase in the bark beetle killing millions of trees. In late October, it was noted that the spreading north accompanying climate change of the related southern pine beetle had reached New Jersey and was spreading among the Pinelands (Justin Gillis, In New Jersey Pines, Trouble Arrives on Six Legs," The New York Times. November 2, 2013).

Sabrina Tavrnise, "F.D.A. Restricts Antibiotics Use for Livestock," The New York Times, December 11, 2013,, reported, " The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday put in place a major new policy to phase out the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in cows, pigs and chickens raised for meat, a practice that experts say has endangered human health by fueling the growing epidemic of antibiotic resistance." There is concern among critics that the ban may not be very effective in practice."

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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, Reports from Indian Country Today Media Network, from the web, are listed as from ICTMN.

U.S. Government Developments

Presidential Actions

President Obama signed the Executive Order 13647, June 26, 2013, establishing a White House Council on Native American Affairs (Council) (Complete text of the order is below). Executive Orders are a key tool used by presidents in guiding federal agencies and they apply only to federal agencies. Establishment of a cross-federal agency entity focusing on Indian policy and coordination has been advocated for by the National Congress of American Indians and other Indian organizations. The President states in the Executive Order: “ This order establishes a national policy to ensure that the Federal Government engages in a true and lasting government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes in a more coordinated and effective manner, including by better carrying out its trust responsibilities. This policy is established as a means of promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient tribal communities. Greater engagement and meaningful consultation with tribes is of paramount importance in developing any policies affecting tribal nations. ”The membership of the Council consists of the heads of 30 executive agencies, departments, and offices and allows the Secretary of Interior, who is the Chair of the Council, to designate additional executive agency members. The Council is to "coordinate development of policy recommendation to support tribal self-governance and improve the quality of life for Native Americans, and shall coordinate the United States Government's engagement with tribal governments and their communities." The Council recommendations to the President on policy priorities will be coordinated with the White House Domestic Policy Council, while engagement with tribal governments and Native American "stakeholders" (i.e., tribal consortia, tribal colleges, health care providers) will be coordinated with the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. The Council is charged with coordinating a "more effective and efficient" process for tribal consultation and assisting the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs in organizing the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. Executive Orders remain in effect after the President who signed the Order is out of office until revoked or amended by a subsequent Administration. President Obama, like other presidents, has revoked a number of his predecessors' Executive Orders. Among the Executive Orders President Obama rescinded from the George W. Bush era were ones concerning regulatory planning and review, detention/interrogation guidance, restrictions on public access to presidential records and stem cell research. The complete text of the order is below (“White House Council on Native American Affairs Established by Executive Order,” General Memorandum 13-062, July 17, 2013, Some critique of the Council is in Dialoguing, below. An additional critique is that placing the council on the level of the Domestic Council is an improvement over the original arrangement of the similar Working Group as it was first established in the Clinton administration at the cabinet level, headed by the Secretary of the Interior, so that it is now at the White House level, above that of the often competing departments. However, as the Secretary of the Interior is still head of the council, he remains subject to the conflicts of interest within his department (and between interests of Native Americans and other interests within Interior) that seriously limited the previous working group, despite its many achievements [See LaDonna Harris, Stephen M. Sachs, and Barbara Morris, et al, Recreating The Circle: The Renewal of American Indian Self Determination (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2011), Ch 3].

Presidential Documents

39539 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 126/Monday, July 1, 2013/Presidential Documents

Executive Order 13647 of June 26, 2013 Establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to promote and sustain prosperous and resilient Native American tribal governments, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. The United States recognizes a government-to-government relationship, as well as a unique legal and political relationship, with federally recognized tribes. This relationship is set forth in the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders, administrative rules and regulations, and judicial decisions. Honoring these relationships and respecting the sovereignty of tribal nations is critical to advancing tribal self-determination and prosperity. As we work together to forge a brighter future for all Americans, we cannot ignore a history of mistreatment and destructive policies that have hurt tribal communities. The United States seeks to continue restoring and healing relations with Native Americans and to strengthen its partnership with tribal governments, for our more recent history demonstrates that tribal self-determination—the ability of tribal governments to determine how to build and sustain their own communities—is necessary for successful and prospering communities. We further recognize that restoring tribal lands through appropriate means helps foster tribal self-determination. This order establishes a national policy to ensure that the Federal Government engages in a true and lasting government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes in a more coordinated and effective manner, including by better carrying out its trust responsibilities. This policy is established as a means of promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient tribal communities. Greater engagement and meaningful consultation with tribes is of paramount importance in developing any policies affecting tribal nations. To honor treaties and recognize tribes’ inherent sovereignty and right to self-government under U.S. law, it is the policy of the United States to promote the development of prosperous and resilient tribal communities, including by: (a) promoting sustainable economic development, particularly energy, transportation, housing, other infrastructure, entrepreneurial, and workforce development to drive future economic growth and security; (b) supporting greater access to, and control over, nutrition and healthcare, including special efforts to confront historic health disparities and chronic diseases; (c) supporting efforts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of tribal justice systems and protect tribal communities; (d) expanding and improving lifelong educational opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives, while respecting demands for greater tribal control over tribal education, consistent with Executive Order 13592 of December 2, 2011 (Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities); and (e) protecting tribal lands, environments, and natural resources, and promoting respect for tribal cultures.

Sec. 2. Establishment. There is established the White House Council on Native American Affairs (Council). The Council shall improve coordination of Federal programs and the use of resources available to tribal communities.

Sec. 3. Membership. (a) The Secretary of the Interior shall serve as the Chair of the Council, which shall also include the heads of the following executive departments, agencies, and offices: (i) the Department of State; (ii) the Department of the Treasury; (iii) the Department of Defense; (iv) the Department of Justice; (v) the Department of Agriculture; (vi) the Department of Commerce; (vii) the Department of Labor; (viii) the Department of Health and Human Services; (ix) the Department of Housing and Urban Development; (x) the Department of Transportation; (xi) the Department of Energy; (xii) the Department of Education; (xiii) the Department of Veterans Affairs; (xiv) the Department of Homeland Security; (xv) the Social Security Administration; (xvi) the Office of Personnel Management; (xvii) the Office of the United States Trade Representative; (xviii) the Office of Management and Budget; (xix) the Environmental Protection Agency; (xx) the Small Business Administration; (xxi) the Council of Economic Advisers; (xxii) the Office of National Drug Control Policy; (xxiii) the Domestic Policy Council; (xxiv) the National Economic Council; (xxv) the Office of Science and Technology Policy; (xxvi) the Council on Environmental Quality; (xxvii) the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs; (xxviii) the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; (xxix) the Denali Commission; (xxx) the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs; and (xxxi) such other executive departments, agencies, and offices as the Chair may, from time to time, designate. (b) A member of the Council may designate a senior-level official, who is a full-time officer or employee of the Federal Government, to perform his or her functions. (c) The Department of the Interior shall provide funding and administrative support for the Council to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations. (d) The Council shall coordinate its policy development through the Do-mestic Policy Council. (e) The Council shall coordinate its outreach to federally recognized tribes through the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. (f) The Council shall meet three times a year, with any additional meetings convened as deemed necessary by the Chair. The Chair may invite other interested agencies and offices to attend meetings as appropriate.

Sec. 4. Mission and Function of the Council. The Council shall work across executive departments, agencies, and offices to coordinate development of policy recommendations to support tribal self-governance and improve the quality of life for Native Americans, and shall coordinate the United States Government’s engagement with tribal governments and their communities. The Council shall: (a) make recommendations to the President, through the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, concerning policy priorities, including improving the effectiveness of Federal investments in Native American communities, where appropriate, to increase the impact of Federal resources and create greater opportunities to help improve the quality of life for Native Americans; (b) coordinate, through the Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, Federal engagement with tribal governments and Native American stakeholders regarding issues important to Native Amer-icans, including with tribal consortia, small businesses, education and train-ing institutions including tribal colleges and universities, health-care pro-viders, trade associations, research and grant institutions, law enforcement, State and local governments, and community and non-profit organizations; (c) coordinate a more effective and efficient process for executive depart-ments, agencies, and offices to honor the United States commitment to tribal consultation as set forth in Executive Order 13175 of November 6, 2000 (Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments), and my memorandum of November 5, 2009 (Tribal Consultation); and (d) assist the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovern-mental Affairs in organizing the White House Tribal Nations Conference each year by bringing together leaders invited from all federally recognized Indian tribes and senior officials from the Federal Government to provide for direct government-to-government discussion of the Federal Government’s Indian country policy priorities.

Sec. 5. General Provisions. (a) The heads of executive departments, agencies, and offices shall assist and provide information to the Council, consistent with applicable law, as may be necessary to carry out the functions of the Council. (b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect: (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or (ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals. (c) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations. (d) For purposes of this order, ‘‘federally recognized tribe’’ means an Indian or Alaska Native tribe, band, nation, pueblo, village, or community that the Secretary of the Interior acknowledges to exist as an Indian tribe pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994, 25 U.S.C. 479a. (e) For purposes of this order, ‘‘American Indian and Alaska Native’’ means a member of an Indian tribe, as membership is defined by the tribe. (f) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

THE WHITE HOUSE, June 26, 2013.

President Obama, in a speech at Georgetown University, June 25, 2013, unveiled his plan for dealing with climate change. The President's Climate Action Plan (Plan) is available on the White House website, along with graphics to illustrate key points. . A video of the speech is also posted on the website. In the speech, the President recalled that he has urged Congress to forge a "bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change," and he expressed willingness to work with members of Congress. "But," he said, "this is a challenge that does not pause for partisan gridlock. It demands our attention now." As such, the Plan emphasizes actions that can be taken by the Executive Branch without need for additional legislation. The Plan includes a variety of executive actions, presented in three broad categories or "pillars": (1) Cut Carbon Pollution in America; (2) Prepare the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change; and (3) Lead International Efforts to Combat Climate Change and Prepare for its Impacts. Cut Carbon Pollution in America. In 2009, the President made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, setting a goal that, by 2020, emissions will be reduced by 17 percent below 2005 levels. The Plan notes progress that has been made toward this goal by doubling electric power generation from renewable resources and by adopting new fuel economy standards for motor vehicles. The Administration says it will take the steps outlined in this part of the Plan "in partnership with states, local communities, and the private sector." Tribes are not expressly mentioned in this "partnership," although tribes are mentioned at a few points (notably in the section on preparing for climate change) and there are several other points that could be read to implicitly include tribes. Tribes may need to proactively seek inclusion in particular parts of the Plan. This pillar of the Plan includes five main headings: (1) Deploying Clean Energy; (2) Building a 21st Century Transportation Sector; (3) Cutting Energy Waste in Homes, Businesses, and Factories; (4) Reducing Other Greenhouse Gas Emissions; and (5) Leading at the Federal Level. Under the heading "Deploying Clean Energy," the key action is for the Environmental Protection Agency to develop regulations to limit carbon pollution from both new and existing power plants. This heading also includes steps to accelerate permitting of renewable energy projects on federal lands and to upgrade the electric power grid and streamline the review process for transmission projects. Under the heading "Building a 21st Century Transportation Sector," the Administration will support research and development of next-generation biofuels and will leverage public-private partnership to deploy new transportation technologies. The Plan also says the Administration will work with "states, cities and towns … to improve transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment." Under the heading "Cutting Energy Waste in Homes, Businesses, and Factories," the Plan says that the Rural Utilities Service in the Department of Agriculture will update its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program for rural utilities to finance investments by businesses and homeowners. The Federal Housing Administration will hold a mortgage roundtable to identify options for incorporating energy efficiency into mortgages for both new and existing homes. The Administration is also launching an initiative called "Better Buildings Accelerators" to support "State and local policies to cut energy waste." Under the heading " Leading at the Federal Level," the Plan says that federal agencies will work together to "synchronize building codes … to improve the efficiency of federally owned and supported building stock." Prepare the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change. This pillar includes three main headings: (1) Building Stronger and Safer Communities and Infrastructure; (2) Protecting our Economy and Natural Resources; and (3) Using Sound Science to Manage Climate Impacts. Under the heading "Building Stronger and Safer Communities and Infrastructure," the Plan says that the President will establish a task force of 'state, local, and tribal officials to advise on key actions the federal government can take to better support local preparedness and resilience-building efforts." In addition, the Administration commits to " continue to assist tribal communities on preparedness through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, including through pilot projects and by supporting participation in federal initiatives that assess climate change vulnerabilities and develop regional solutions." Under the heading "Protecting our Economy and Natural Resources," the Plan notes ongoing efforts, with "tribes, states, and local governments as partners, "to make landscapes more resistant to wildfires." Lead International Efforts to Combat Climate Change and Prepare for its Impacts. This pillar of the Plan includes two main headings: ( 1) Working with Other Countries to Take Action to Address Climate Change; and (2) Leading Efforts to Address Climate Change through International Negotiations. This part of the plan lists a number of actions which the Administration is taking in the international arena to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop resilience to climate change impacts. Tucked away in this part is the President's call to eliminate tax subsidies for fossil fuels (“President Obama Releases Climate Action Plan,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-064, July 7, 2013,

“Obama Taps Tribes to Assist in Adapting to Climate Change,” ICTMN, November 1, 2013,, reported that President Barack Obama issued an executive order on November 1, 2013 establishing a blueprint for the “deliberate preparation, close cooperation, and coordinated planning by the Federal Government, as well as by stakeholders,” that is required in order “to facilitate Federal, State, local, tribal, private-sector, and nonprofit-sector efforts to improve climate preparedness and resilience; help safeguard our economy, infrastructure, environment, and natural resources; and provide for the continuity of executive department and agency (agency) operations, services, and programs. The seven point plan requires that federal programs be modernized to support investment that is “climate resilient” and to “identify and seek to remove or reform barriers that discourage investments or other actions to increase the Nation's resilience to climate change while ensuring continued protection of public health and the environment.” The order establishes the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, including tribal leaders Karen Diver, Chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota, and Reggie Joule, Mayor of the Northwest Arctic Borough in Alaska. Unlike many earlier executive orders that refer directly only to state and local entities, the order makes many references to tribes. The order calls for relevant information and data sharing, largely through a new web portal,, to be accessible to the public. The executive order also establishes a Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, comprised of representatives from some two dozen federal agencies, from the State Department, to Homeland Security, to Veterans Affairs and the Millennium Development Corp., to “work across agencies and offices, and in partnership with State, local, and tribal governments.” The council replaces the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, created in 2009. The council has nine months to compile an “inventory and assessment of proposed and completed changes to their land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations necessary to make the Nation's watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them, more resilient in the face of a changing climate.” The State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience will “inform Federal efforts to support climate preparedness and resilience,” and has one year to “remove barriers, create incentives, and otherwise modernize Federal programs to encourage investments, practices, and partnerships that facilitate increased resilience to climate impacts, including those associated with extreme weather.” In addition the body is to “provide useful climate preparedness tools and actionable information for States, local communities, and tribes, including through interagency collaboration,” and otherwise support climate-change preparedness efforts at the state, local and tribal level. Six months after providing these recommendations, the task force will disband. Hobbs-Straus further detail the climate change order: "Executive Order on Preparing for Climate Change; Appointment of State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force of Climate Preparedness," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-103, November 8, 2013,, reported The President issued the attached Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, 76 Fed. Reg. 66819 (Nov. 6, 2013). Executive Order on Preparing for Climate Change; Appointment of State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force of Climate Preparedness On the same date, the White House issued a Fact Sheet on this Executive Order, which includes the names of officials whom the President has appointed to the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The establishment of the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force was announced in June in the President's Climate Action Plan. Hobbs-Straus  also notes that the Bureau of Indian Affairs recently announced in a notice a competitive grant program for climate change adaptation planning, which is open to tribes and to inter-tribal organizations, tribal colleges, and non-governmental organizations with documented tribal support. The total amount of funding available is $600,000, which the BIA acknowledges is insufficient. The deadline for applications is November 29, 2013. The Executive Order establishes an interagency Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience (Council) comprised of senior officials of 15 departments of the federal government and fifteen other federal agencies. This Council will be co-chaired by the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which had been established in 2009, will terminate after the new Council has its first meeting, although working groups that had been created in conjunction with that Task Force may be given new charters to continue their work. The mandate of the Council, as provided in section 2 of the Executive Order, is to "modernize" federal programs so that they support efforts by states, local communities, and tribes to make investments in resilience to climate change. In carrying out this mandate, the Council is directed to consider the recommendations of the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force. The Council is also directed to consider recommendations of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council established pursuant to Executive Order 13231 (Oct. 16, 2001). Section 3 of the Executive Order directs seven named federal agencies to complete an "inventory and assessment of proposed and completed changes to their land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations necessary to make the Nation's watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them, more resilient in the face of a changing climate." The agencies are directed to include in this assessment a timeline and plan for making changes in policies, programs, and regulations. The Executive Order calls for building on efforts already underway, citing three published interagency climate adaptation strategies. Section 4 of the Executive Order directs federal agencies to work together to provide information and "decision-support tools" on climate preparedness and resilience to support efforts by federal agencies, states, local governments, tribes, the private sector and the non-profit sector. Section 5 of the Executive Order directs federal agencies to evaluate risks to their agency operations and missions posed by climate change. Each agency is directed to develop, implement, and update a comprehensive climate change adaptation plan, with the first update due in 120 days. The State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force, as established by section 7 of the Executive Order, is comprised of the governors of eight states, fourteen mayors, two county officials, and two tribal officials. The tribal officials are the Chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Minnesota) and the Mayor of the Northwest Arctic Borough (Alaska). The mission of this Task Force is to provide recommendations for how the federal government can:
(i) remove barriers, create incentives, and otherwise modernize Federal programs to encourage investments, practices, and partnerships that facilitate increased resilience to climate impacts, including those associated with extreme weather;
(ii) provide useful climate preparedness tools and actionable information for States, local communities, and tribes, including through interagency collaboration as described in section 6 of [Executive Order 13653]; and
(iii) otherwise support State, local, and tribal preparedness for and resilience to climate change. The Task Force has one year to develop its recommendations. Tribes that are interested in having their concerns and suggestions considered by Task Force will need to be aware of the short time frame in which it will be operating.

"Tribal Leaders Meet With President Obama And Thirteen Cabinet Officials, Emphasize Need For 21st Century Trust Relationship," NCAI, November 14, 2013,, reported, " President Obama and thirteen members of his Cabinet joined over 300 tribal leaders at the fifth annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. Through speeches and listening sessions, the Administration highlighted the improving partnership with tribal nations and declared a commitment to elevating the relationship throughout the next three years. The Conference included a townhall portion during which tribal leaders asked questions of several members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. In the townhall’s opening statement, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Brian Cladoosby firmly asserted the need to establish a “trust relationship for the 21st century” and urged the Council to regularly convene cabinet officials and tribal leaders at the White House and throughout Indian Country. Other tribal leaders emphasized the importance of addressing the Carcieri Supreme Court decision, fully funding Contract Support Costs, and honoring the trust responsibility in the federal budget. In afternoon remarks to tribal leaders, President Barack Obama committed to visiting Indian Country next year and echoed Cladoosby’s call for close communication between the nations: “The Iroquois called their network of alliances with other tribes and European nations a ‘covenant chain.’  Each link represented a bond of peace and friendship.  But that covenant chain didn’t sustain itself.  It needed constant care, so that it would stay strong.  And that’s what we’re called to do, to keep the covenant between us for this generation and for future generations.” Attorney General Eric Holder also delivered poignant remarks as he recommitted to a close partnership with tribal nations and spoke of the progress made since Robert Kennedy's address to NCAI in 1963. AG Holder acknowledged the "injustice inflicted on Native peoples" in the past and committed to a relationship "not as a patron but a partner." NCAI welcomes AG Holder's proposed "Statement of Principles" that will guide the Department of Justice’s dealings with Indian Country. NCAI looks forward to working with the White House to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship and continuing the policy conversations begun during the Conference. The full list of Cabinet officials participating in the White House meeting included: Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Rand Beers, Acting Small Business Administrator Jeanne Hulit. Also participating: Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz."

           President Obama nominated Diane J. Humetewa (Hopi) to the U.S. District Court for Arizona, in September 2013 (Rob Capriccioso,  “ Obama Nominates Native American Woman to Federal Court,” ICYMN, September 10, 2013,

Congressional Developments

President Obama signed into law, July 30, 2012, the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act amendments to the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act, 25 U.S.C. § 415. The HEARTH Act provides authority for Indian tribes to lease tribal trust lands directly pursuant to tribal law, without further Secretarial approval, if the requirements of the Act are met. A tribally promulgated leasing ordinance must be "consistent with" the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) leasing regulations and include an environmental review process. Within 120 days the BIA must make an approval determination on submitted tribal leasing regulations. Once the tribal leasing regulation receives BIA approval, the tribe may immediately begin to process and approve leases. The BIA leasing regulations at 25 C.F.R. Part 162 became effective on January 4, 2013. Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, announced that these regulations were meant to work "hand-in-glove" with the recently enacted HEARTH Act. On January 16, 2013, the BIA issued a National Policy Memorandum (Interim Guidance) providing guidance to BIA decision makers on the standards and processes to be followed when reviewing and approving leasing regulations submitted by tribes pursuant to HEARTH Act authority. This guidance will expire on January 16, 2014. There are a number of significant reasons why tribes should consider submitting tribal leasing regulations for BIA approval before the Interim Guidance expires. First, the Interim Guidance requires the review and approval of tribal leasing regulations to occur in the office of Deputy Bureau Director, Office of Trust Services – meaning at the BIA's Central Office in Washington, D.C. Currently that office has staff members dedicated to review tribal leasing ordinances. This review and approval occurs in coordination with the Solicitor's office. Whether this review and approval responsibility will remain with Central Office or be delegated to BIA Regional offices once the Interim Guidance expires is yet to be determined. However, not all BIA Regional Offices or Field Solicitor Offices have the same capacity or technical expertise. Some are staffed better than others, and experience teaches us that some have difficulty uniformly implementing what was intended to be a BIA-wide policy. Second, the Interim Guidance contains a very succinct and easy-to-follow checklist of items that must be included in a tribal leasing ordinance submitted under HEARTH Act authority. The checklist covers required (and suggested) leasing regulation provisions for agricultural, residential, business, wind and solar resource leases – as well as leases for educational, recreational, public, and religious uses. Once the Interim Guidance expires the checklist may be revised. The passage of the HEARTH Act was nationally lauded as a tool that would empower tribes to realize their potential for economic growth and job creation on tribal lands, increase community development, streamline business development and housing development, and strengthen tribal self-determination. To date, very few tribes have taken advantage of this opportunity to promulgate tribal leasing ordinances and submit those for BIA approval. Hobbs-Straus recommend that tribes immediately examine current leasing practices and identify how the BIA leasing regulations, together with authority under the HEARTH Act, can be utilized as a powerful tool for economic development and as potential leverage during negotiations with states and local governments. The most important feature of the new regulations is the language concerning taxation. The regulations at 
25 C.F.R. § 162.017(a)-(c) state that "subject only to applicable Federal law" permanent improvements, activities, and leasehold or possessory interests on leased Indian land "are not subject to any fee, tax, assessment, levy, or other charge imposed by any State or political subdivision of a State." (Emphasis added). Examples of the types of prohibited taxation, include "severance taxes," "business use, privilege, public utility, excise, [and] gross revenue taxes." Under HEARTH Act authority tribes that desire a greater deal of autonomy may choose to promulgate their own tribal leasing ordinance (codifying the taxation provisions into tribal law) to address leasing of tribal trust and restricted land for a wide variety of purposes.

Tribes that choose to adopt their own leasing regulations under HEARTH Act authority will: (1) enjoy a greater measure of self-governance and control over the leasing of tribal lands, (2) create a leasing process tailored specifically to their tribal needs, and (3) implement a leasing process that will move at a tribally determined pace rather than depending on BIA officials to take action in a timely fashion” (“BIA Interim HEARTH Act Guidance Set to Expire January 16, 2014,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-089, October 11, 2013,

Several developments emerged in September 2013 regarding policy efforts to clarify the taxability of tribal government program benefits. • The House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Camp (R-MI) and Ranking Member Levin (D-MI) wrote Treasury Secretary Lew to urge full consideration of tribal comments as Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) finalize the rules for applying the general welfare exclusion to tribal programs set forth in Notice 2012-75.
• The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) concluded that HR 3043, the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act, "would have a negligible effect on Federal fiscal revenues."
• Senators Moran (R-KS) and Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced a companion general welfare bill in the Senate (S 1507) containing the same terms as HR 3043. Ways and Means Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin Weigh in on IRS Notice 2012-75. On December 5, 2012, the IRS and the Treasury Department released a new proposed revenue procedure to govern the application of the General Welfare Exclusion (GWE) to tribal government program benefits as IRS Notice 2012-75. In the time since the Notice was released, Representative Nunes (R-CA) introduced HR 3043. While HR 3043 is primarily a clarification and codification of the Notice (with expanded flexibility for tribes) it includes two important provisions which were not in the Notice: • a provision directing the Secretary to establish a Tribal Advisory Committee which would be charged with advising the Secretary on matters relating to the taxation of Indians and the development of mandatory training and education for IRS field agents
• a provision that would temporarily suspend audits and examinations of tribal governments and tribal citizens relating to the distribution of tribal general welfare benefits and would empower the Secretary to waive any associated interest and penalties that may have accrued. By a letter dated September 12, 2013, Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin urged Secretary Lew to: • review comments received on the Notice and ensure final administrative guidelines are fair and comprehensive
• provide any necessary guidance to the IRS and IRS field agents
• establish a Tribal Advisory Committee to advise the Secretary. The letter urges the Treasury Department to follow many of the provisions included in
 HR 3043/ S1507. Concerning the Joint Committee on Taxation Providing Revenue Estimate on HR 3043, the JCT conclusion that HR 3043 would have little federal budget revenue impact improves the bill's prospects to be included in a tax reform bill or to be attached to another legislative vehicle than would have been possible if the bill had received a high revenue score that would have required budget offsets. Since Hobbs-Straus writing, Representatives Blumenauer (D-OR); Grijalva (D-AZ); Hunter (D-CA); Noem (R-SD); Rangel (D-NY); and Simpson (R-ID) have added their names to the list of the 14 original cosponsors, bringing the total to 20. Both Blumenauer and Rangel serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction for this bill. On S 1507, senators Moran and Heitkamp introduced S 1507 on September 17. S 1507 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Moran in his press release states: " Tribes are sovereign governments with the responsibility to provide services to their citizens. By clarifying the definition of general welfare programs, this bill respects tribal sovereignty while making certain [that] tribal citizens are not unfairly taxed. This legislation will also enhance economic development and the quality of life in Indian Country." Senator Moran's press release may be viewed here: Senator Heitkamp in her press release states: "This bill levels the playing field by recognizing the inherent sovereignty of tribal governments to provide programs and services to its citizens, without subjecting them to heightened scrutiny from the IRS. Just as state and local governments are able to determine what programs best help their citizens – like scholarships, elder or child care, or housing assistance – we must recognize tribal governments also have those same rights. With this bill, we're supporting tribal self-determination and taking a step toward living up to our trust and treaty obligations to tribes." Senator Heitkamp's press release may be viewed here: (“Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Developments,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-084, September 27, 2913,

 On August 2, 2013, Representatives Nunes (R-CA), Kind (D-WI), and Kilmer (D-WA) each introduced legislation to address tax policy priorities of tribal governments. The bills contain provisions that would provide tribal governments with tax treatment similar to state governments on a number of matters and would provide temporary relief from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits while regulations are promulgated and IRS field agents are retrained on the tax rules governing general welfare benefits provided by tribal governments to their citizens. As the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee continue efforts to craft an overhaul of the nation's tax code, the bill sponsors seek to include their proposals as part of a comprehensive tax reform or in other tax-related legislation. Below, Hobbs-Straus summarizes the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2013 (HR 3043), the Tribal Tax and Investment Reform Act of 2013 (HR 3030) and the Adoption Tax Credit Tribal Parity Act of 2013 (HR 2332).

Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act


HR 3043 is a response to the now well-documented and unwarranted uptick in the auditing of tribal governments by IRS field agents – often for tribal governments taking actions such as providing school supplies and backpacks for children or paying the utility bills of needy tribal citizens. After an outcry from Indian Country and a number of listening sessions, the Treasury Department issued guidance on a General Welfare Exclusion Doctrine in December 2012. This bill would expand, clarify, and codify that guidance. HR 3043 would allow tribal governments to provide assistance and services to their citizens without creating a taxable event – just as state and local governments provide assistance to their citizens. The bill defines "Indian general welfare benefit" to include: any payment made or service provided to or on behalf of a member of an Indian tribe (or any spouse or dependent) provided that such payment or service is made pursuant to an Indian tribal government program. The bill would require that these programs be for the promotion of general welfare, be administered under specified guidelines and that the benefits be available to any tribal member who meets the guidelines. The benefits are not to be lavish, extravagant, or compensation for services. With regard to ceremonial activities, the bill clearly states that "any items of cultural significance, reimbursement of costs, or cash honorarium for participation in cultural or ceremonial activities for the transmission of tribal culture shall not be treated as compensation for services." HR 3043 would direct the Treasury Secretary to establish a Tribal Advisory Committee which would be charged with advising the Secretary on matters relating to the taxation of Indians and the development of mandatory training and education for IRS field agents. It would also temporarily suspend audits and examinations of tribal governments and tribal citizens relating to the distribution of tribal general welfare benefits and would empower the Secretary to waive any associated interest and penalties that may have accrued. HR 3043 is sponsored by Representative Nunes and co-sponsored by Representatives: Boustany (R-LA); Cardenas (D-CA); Cole (R-OK); DelBene (D-WA); Gerlach (R-PA); Gosar (R-AZ); Jenkins (R-KS); Kilmer (D-WA); Kind (D-WI); McCollum (D-MN); Moore (D-WI); Mullin (R-OK); Reichert (R-WA); and Valadao (R-CA).

Tribal Tax and Investment Reform Act

HR 3030 is designed to treat tribal governments in the same manner as state and local governments with regard to: bond issuance, pension and employee benefit plans, and the formation of foundations and charities. Regarding tax-exempt bond issuance, HR 3030 would provide parity for tribes by repealing the essential government functions test and applying the same federal tax standards and requirements to tribes as states for governmental tax exempt bond issuances. The bill would also establish private activity volume cap rules to enable tribal governments, like state governments, to issue limited quantities of such bonds for economic development purposes. In addition, the bill would provide tribes and tribal entities with a $200 million allocation per calendar year (for three years) of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) to finance clean energy development projects. Regarding pension and employee benefit plans maintained by tribal governments, the bill would end the requirement that tribal governments distinguish between "governmental" employees of the tribe and "commercial" employees of the tribe (the pension and benefit plans for "governmental" employees are treated differently under the tax code than those for "commercial" employees). Often determining which employees should fall under the "commercial" or the "governmental" classification is difficult and time consuming. State and local governments are not required to make this distinction. HR 3030 would amend public charity classification rules to make it easier for tribes to form and fund separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. The bill would also extend to tribes the authority which is currently available to states to access the Federal Parent Locater Service (FPLS). The FPLS assists child support agencies in locating noncustodial parents, enforcing and establishing child support orders, and collecting child support. And finally, the bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to extend to tribal child support agencies the authority to collect past due child support payments from the tax refunds of parents who have been ordered to pay child support. HR 3030 is sponsored by Representative Kind.

Adoption Tax Credit Tribal Parity Act

HR 2332 would treat tribal courts in the same manner as state courts with regard to determining whether an adopted child has special needs for the purposes of federal tax credits. Currently, if a child is determined by a state court to have special needs the child's adoptive parents are eligible to receive an increased federal adoption tax credit. By recognizing tribal courts' authority to make this determination this bill recognizes tribal sovereignty and provides tribal courts parity with state courts in this regard. HR 2332 is sponsored by Representative Kilmer and is co-sponsored by Representatives: Becerra (D-CA); Blumenauer (D-OR); Cardenas (D-CA); Cole (R-OK); Conyers (D-MI); Cook (R-CA); Grijalva (D-AZ); Grimm (R-NY); Hanabusa (D-HI); Alcee Hastings(D-FL); Heck (D-WA); Honda (D-CA); Keating (D-MA); Kind (D-WI); Kline (R-MN); Larsen (D-WA); Maffei (D-NY); McCollum (D-MN); Moore (D-WI); Moran (D-VA); Pocan (D-WI); Rangel (D-NY); Ruiz (D-CA); Shea-Porter (D-NH); Slaughter (D-NY); and Don Young (R-AK) (“Three Tribal Tax Bills Introduced in the House,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-075, August 16m 2013,

In June and July (up to the time the memorandum was written) legislative action was in progress regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The ESEA was last reauthorized in 2001 as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. That authorization expired in 2007 but Congress has continued to appropriate funding for the various education programs. The House-passed ESEA reauthorization bill (HR 5) reflects the Republican view to greatly reduce the federal role in education and provide greater flexibility to states and local districts. The Senate Committee-approved version (S 1094) also provides some flexibility but reflects more of the Administration's education goals, including waivers, mandated interventions for poor-performing schools, and mandated evaluation systems for teachers and administrators. S 1094 may be brought up in the fall for full Senate consideration under an open amendment procedure which would allow Republicans the opportunity to offer amendments reflecting their interests. Hobbs-Straus reports b elow on the major ESEA reauthorization and Native-specific education bills.

“SEA Reauthorization Legislation

House-approved ESEA Bill: On July 19, 2013, the House amended and passed the Student Success Act (HR 5, H. Rept. 113-150 Part 1) by a vote of 221-207. HR 5, introduced by House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman Kline (R-MN), is the first major ESEA reauthorization bill to be acted on in the 113th Congress. Although the House adopted a number of amendments to HR 5, it would still seek to reduce the federal role in education policy, and promote flexibility for states and school districts to exercise greater control over education. The Administration has threatened to veto a bill like HR 5 should it reach the President's desk. HR 5 would reauthorize the ESEA through 2019, with funding levels authorized at near FY 2013 post-sequestration levels. It would eliminate a number of programs as well as consolidate many programs under two new flexible grant programs. It would also eliminate the current school accountability requirements enacted as part of the NCLB. Among the other proposed ESEA changes are provisions that would: In lieu of the NCLB-mandated accountability system, allow states to develop their own academic standards and other academic indicators in reading, math and science, and, at the state's discretion, standards in other subject areas; Allow states to identify the poorest performing schools and allow local districts to develop improvement strategies and rewards; Eliminate the "highly qualified teacher" requirements, and allow states, at their option, to develop teacher evaluation systems; Eliminate the Maintenance of Effort spending requirements as a condition for receipt of federal funding, and adjust the Title I (Improving Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged) funding allocation so funds would "follow the student" to other public or charter schools instead of the current statute's process of funding allocated to schools with high levels of low-income students; Consolidate a number of programs to create the Local Academic Flexible Grant and the Teacher and School Leader Flexible Grant programs, and eliminate over several dozen programs; Prohibit the Secretary of Education from imposing conditions on states regarding curriculum standards and assessments (e.g., Common Core Standards); The bill would maintain the requirement that states and school districts issue and distribute an annual report card, including disaggregated data on student achievement and high school graduation rates. Title VI – Indian Education: One of the amendments to HR 5 adopted on the House floor that is of particular importance to Native students is a provision that would retain American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian education as a separate title under the ESEA. The House adopted the amendment by a vote of 263-161. HR 5 as introduced would have merged ESEA's Indian education programs into Title I (and eliminate Title VII, which is the separate Indian education title in current law). The amendment was offered by Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Chairman Don Young (R-AK), along with Representatives Gabbard (D-HI), Hanabusa (D-HI), and McCollum (D-MN). HR 5 would revise the Indian Education section as "Title VI–The Federal Government's Trust Responsibility to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Education." Among the proposed changes under Title VI are ones that would: Expand the eligible entities applying for formula grants to include not only local educational agencies and Indian tribes but also Indian organizations, Alaska Native organizations, or a consortium of such entities; Provide that once student documentation of eligibility for services has been completed, it does not have to be renewed or duplicated for subsequent grant awards; Authorize a new National Activity for Native language acquisition and restoration programs; Authorize tribe/tribal education agency cooperative agreements with state and local educational agencies that would allow the option to operate programs in public schools located on tribal lands that serve Native students; Revise the Title I committee requirements to include "family members" (rather than "parents") of children who are attending the school/s; Eliminate several programs, including the Gifted and Talented Indian Students program and the Fellowships for Indian Students; Senate Committee-approved ESEA Bill: Strengthening America's Schools Act of 2013, S 1094. On June 12, 2013, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved on a party-line vote the Strengthening America's Schools Act (S 1094), with amendments. S 1094, which is the Senate version of the ESEA reauthorization, was introduced by HELP Committee Chairman Harkin (D-IA). The bill would provide flexibility to states and districts in formulating student accountability systems (states with approved flexibility waiver plans could continue that process); impose mandated interventions for poor performing schools; require teacher and principal evaluation systems; and consolidate a number of programs. Regarding Indian education, S 1094 would: Continue an ESEA title (Title VII) specific to Native education; Provide an exemption for American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Native language teachers from the teacher certification requirements; Expand eligibility for Indian Education formula grants to include Indian organizations or a consortia of eligible entities; Increase minimum grant amounts from $3,000 to $10,000 (this amount would be further increased to $15,000 if the Secretary determines it necessary for program quality purposes); Provide that once student documentation of eligibility for services has been completed, it does not have to be renewed or duplicated for subsequent grant awards; Authorize use of Title VII funds to support the preservation, reclamation and restoration of Native languages, while eliminating several programs authorized (but not funded) under the National Activities category; Senate Republican ESEA Bill: Every Child Ready for College and Career Act, S 1101. On June 6, 2013, HELP Committee Ranking Member Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Republican version of ESEA reauthorization legislation as S 1011, the Every Child Ready for College and Career Act. Like HR 5, S 1101 would eliminate the NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress accountability system and allow states to develop their own academic standards and assessments. It would allow states to self-identify the poorest performing schools and allow local districts to develop their own improvement strategies. Title I funds would follow the student to whichever school they attend and would consolidate numerous programs authorized in current law into two block grants to give states more flexibility in use of those funds. The bill would retain current law requirements that states have "high academic standards" and administer annual tests in reading, math and science. S 1101 would also allow states, at their discretion, to utilize Title II teacher development funds to develop teacher and principal evaluation systems. S 1101 would authorize set amounts for the Indian Education, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native grants–at approximately five percent less than the FY 2013 appropriated levels. No other changes are proposed for Title VII. S 1011 was not marked up by the HELP Committee but will likely be the source of a number of Republican floor amendments when S 1094 is considered by the full Senate.

Native-Specific Education Bills

Two ESEA bills have been introduced that are limited to Native education, S 1131 and HR 2367. We do not know whether any of these provisions will be incorporated into the Senate ESEA or a final ESEA bill. BUILD Act for Native Education, S 1131/HR 2367. On June 11, 2013, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced S 1131, the Building upon Unique Indian Learning and Development (BUILD) Act, which is nearly identical to the bill he introduced in the 112th Congress. S 1131 was referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Representative Lujan (D-NM) introduced a companion bill (HR 2367) on June 13, which was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The main provisions of the BUILD Act would: Authorize the In-School Facility Innovation Program Contest to generate innovative solutions to school facility deficiencies in the BIE system and other tribal schools; Authorize grants to eligible institutions (with priority for grants to tribal colleges and universities) to develop educational programs to expand the number of and provide incentives for teachers and administrators qualified to teach in schools serving Native students; Provide that the "highly qualified teacher" definition would not apply to teachers of Native languages in lieu of state-devised alternative licensure or certification requirements for teachers of Native languages; Authorize a grant program to help ensure the survival and vitality of Native languages; Increase BIE-funded and other tribal schools access to grants, contracts, or other assistance otherwise available to elementary and secondary schools or early childhood and pre-kindergarten programs; Establish "Safe and Healthy Schools for Native American Students" program to improve school environments and enhance student skill development with a focus on the prevention of substance abuse, suicide, violence, pregnancy and obesity as well as the establishment of programs to promote healthy eating, anger and conflict management, and drop-out prevention. Section 8 of the bill would authorize forward-funding for the handful of tribal colleges not already covered by the current law's forward funding authority – United Tribes Technical College, Navajo Technical College, Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development, Haskell Indian Nations University, and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute. In addition the bill would forward fund Interior Indian scholarships, adult education and special higher education scholarships (“Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization Moving in Congress,” General Memorandum 13-072, August 9, 2013,

Senators Heitkamp (D-ND) and Murkowski (R-AK) introduced legislation to establish a commission on Native American children, October 30, 2013. The bill, S 1622, is entitled the "Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native American Children Act" and was referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The Commission is to undertake a comprehensive study of tribal, federal, state, and local programs that serve Native children and make recommendations based on its findings. The Senators' introductory statements are attached and a copy of the bill is available at: The 11-member Commission would be located in the Office of Tribal Justice within the Department of Justice. The President would appoint three commissioners and the remainder would be appointed by congressional leadership. The bill would require that commissioners have expertise in Indian affairs, health care, education, juvenile justice and social service programs as they relate to Native children. In addition, at least one member would "be responsible for providing the Commission with insight into and input from Native children on the matters studied by the Commission" and one member is to have expertise in statistics or social science research. Commissioners would be appointed for a three-year term. Upon a two-thirds vote of the Commission one or more employees of the Departments of Justice, Interior, Education and Health and Human Services are to be detailed to the Commission. The Commission would establish a Native Advisory Committee consisting of one representative of Indian tribes from each region of the BIA and one Native Hawaiian. Advisory Committee members are to have expertise in the matters studied by the Commission and serve as an advisory body. The Advisory Committee would establish a Native Children Subcommittee consisting of at least one youth (not older than age 24) from each BIA region and one Native Hawaiian. The Native youth chosen are to "have experience serving on the council of a tribe, regional or national youth organization." The bill includes a list of issues that are to be evaluated by the Commission, including the impact of concurrent jurisdiction on child welfare systems, barriers to obtaining sufficient federal and non-federal financial support for programs benefitting Native children, and obstacles to obtaining valid statistical data. Following the study, the Commission is to develop goals for federal policy relating to Native children and make recommendations "on necessary modifications and improvements to programs that serve Native children at the Federal, State, and tribal level that integrate the cultural strengths of the communities of the Native children …" Among the many areas for which recommendations would be expected are those to reduce the disproportionate rate at which Native children are in child protective services and in foster homes; improve the mental and physical health of Native children; increase school attendance, graduation rates and academic proficiency for Native children; improve services for incarcerated Native children and reduce incarceration and recidivism rates; expand access to a continuum of early development and learning services from prenatal to age five; development of comprehensive, multi-agency wrap-around services for youth; increased flexibility in federal programs that are designed to benefit Native children; improved data collection; and identification of successful models of programs in the areas studied by the Commission. The Commission would hold hearings in the course of its work and at least five hearings are to be held in Native communities. A witness requested to appear before the Commission is to be paid fees and allowances as are provided in section 1821 of title 28, United States Code. The bill provides that up to $2 million in unobligated balances from funds made available to the Secretary of Interior, the Attorney General or the Secretary of Health and Human Services be made available to carry out the work of the Commission. The Commission is to file a report within three years of all its members being appointed and funds made available to carry out its work. The report is to be filed with the President, Congress, and the White House Council on Native American Affairs "Bill to Establish Commission on Native American Children Introduced," Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 13-102, November 8, 2013,

On July 24, 2013, a bill (S 1352) to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) was introduced in the Senate. On July 31 the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) held a hearing on S 1352. The current iteration of the NAHASDA legislation expires on September 30, 2013. S 1352 is sponsored by SCIA Chairwoman Cantwell (D-WA) and co-sponsored by SCIA Vice Chair Barrasso (R-WY), as well as Senators Johnson (D-SD), Udall (D-NM), Franken (D-MN), Begich (D-AK), Heitkamp (D-ND), Schatz (D-HI), and Hirono (D-HI). During the hearing, in his opening remarks, Vice Chairman Barrasso praised the bill for being bipartisan and for "streamlining bureaucracy in Indian housing." S 1352 would amend and reauthorize NAHASDA for another five years. A number of the provisions which would amend NAHASDA were contained in a draft bill proposed by the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC). Hobbs-Straus provides a summary of the Senate bill below, noting those items that were contained in the NAIHC draft bill. Program income: Any income generated from program income (as opposed to being generated by Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) funds) will be treated as nonprogram income and will have no restrictions. Currently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) treats income that is generated by program income as program income, with the attendant restrictions. [This concept, albeit in slightly different form, was in the NAIHC bill.] Tribally-determined prevailing wage rates: If a tribe has adopted prevailing wage rates applicable to a NAHASDA-funded project, those rates will apply to the entire project, including other federal funding sources. [This concept, albeit in slightly different form, was in the NAIHC bill.] Environmental review: If a tribe has carried out an environmental review on a NAHASDA-funded project consistent with the applicable HUD requirements, that review will satisfy the environmental review requirements from other federal funding sources. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill.] Binding commitments: Binding commitments would no longer be required for funds utilized on privately owned homeownership units if aggregate cost is less than $10,000 over a five-year period. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill, but with a $40,000 cut-off, though with a fallback position of $7500.] Conversion of rental unit to homebuyer unit: If a family initially occupied a rental unit as a low-income family, but later gains enough income to exceed the low-income threshold, that family can still convert to a homebuyer for that same unit without having to re-qualify as low-income. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill.] Lease Termination notice period: Clarifies application of local/tribal laws for timing of lease termination notices even if there are other funding sources with different requirements. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill.] Total Development Costs: Authorizes recipients to exceed total development cost (TDC) caps by 20 percent (under current HUD regulations, it is 10 percent). This concept resulted from concerns that recipients trying to use energy efficient building designs and materials were prevented from doing so by TDC caps. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill.] Self-Monitoring: The self-monitoring requirement would be changed from annually to every other year, except for subrecipients, who must be monitored by the recipient every year. [This concept, albeit in slightly different form, was in the NAIHC bill, which did not include language regarding subrecipients.] Reports to Congress and public availability: HUD reports regarding the NAHASDA program would go to the House Committees on Indian Affairs and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives rather than "Congress" generally. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill, which actually would require the HUD reports go to tribes.] Indian Veterans' Housing Assistance Demonstration Project: HUD would be authorized to take up to five percent of the rental assistance amounts appropriated under the 1937 Act to establish an Indian Veteran-specific housing assistance voucher program for the benefit of Indian veterans who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness and who are residing on or near Indian lands. The program would be operated by IHBG recipients. The language actually involves an amendment to the 1937 Housing Act. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill, although the NAIHC bill did call for a restoration of tribal eligibility to participate in the Section 8 voucher program, of which the Veterans' housing assistance vouchers is a subpart.] Low Income Housing Tax Credits Preference: Section 42(m)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code would be amended to require states to provide preference to applicants for Low Income Housing Tax Credits who are tribes, TDHEs, or entities wholly-owned by tribes/TDHEs, or subrecipients of tribes/TDHEs. There would also be a preference for projects being developed in Indian areas as defined by NAHASDA. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill.] Indian Community Development Block Grant Eligibility for TDHEs: Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) would be defined as Community-Based Development Organizations eligible to apply directly for Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) funding. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill.] Cherokee Nation funding: The restriction on the Cherokee Nation receiving IHBG funds, which was tied to resolution of the "Cherokee Freedmen" issue, would be removed. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill.] Native Hawaiian NAHASDA: The title providing for a Native Hawaiian housing program would be restored. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill.] Matching or Cost Participation: IHBG funds would qualify to be used as matching or cost participation funds for projects where other federal or non-federal funding is conditioned on having matching or cost participation funds included. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill.] No companion bill had yet been introduced in the House, but one was expected to be introduced in the near future (“NAHASDA Reauthorization Bill Introduced in Senate,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-070, August 1, 2013,

Senator Murkowski (R-AK) introduced S 1574, the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2013. The purpose of the bill is to amend and expand the scope of the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Demonstration Act of 1991, PL102-477, commonly referred to as the "477 Program." The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. A copy is available at: Public Law 102-477 has no expiration date and no specific authorization level as it is an authorization for tribes to combine programs serving similar purposes across federal agency lines. Under the current 477 Program tribes and tribal organizations are allowed to carry out consolidated programs combining federal formula-funded employment, training and related services programs of the Departments of Interior (DOI), Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Labor (DOL). The 477 Plan, which must be approved by the Secretary of Interior, allows tribes to utilize a single consolidated budget and a consolidated reporting system. The 477 Work Group. In the recent past more than 250 tribes have been involved in operating 477 Plans, some as single-tribe plans and others as tribal organization plans. More than $100 million a year has been funded to 477 Plans through agreements under Titles I and IV of the Indian Self-Determination Education and Assistance Act (ISDEAA). Unusual among federal initiatives, the 477 Program was not implemented with federal regulations. Instead, participating tribes and tribal organizations formed an independent organization called the 477 Tribal Work Group, which developed an extensive guidebook describing the 477 Program and assisted tribes and tribal organizations with developing 477 Plans. The 477 Work Group also conducts periodic symposiums and workshops to keep participating and non-participating tribes and tribal organizations informed about program requirements and operating procedures. S 1574 Proposed Changes. S 1574 would expand the reach of the 477 Program, and resolve differences between participating tribes and affected agencies that have disrupted the administration of the 477 Program in recent years. It would add eligible employment-related programs from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation, and other agencies that tribes and tribal organizations could draw on in designing their own employment-related programs consolidated in an approved 477 Plan. It would expand the scope of the original program to cover a wider range of departmental and agency funds and funding types (including competitive funds). Other provisions address timely approval of 477 Plans and waivers of regulations, and would streamline reporting requirements, provide means for dispute resolution, and allow tribes and tribal organizations to recover indirect costs for all programs that are included in a 477 Plan. S 1574 would also address two of the 477 tribes' primary concerns with current administration of the 477 Program by the federal agencies: 1) the 2008 decision by DOI and HHS to end the practice of transferring 477 Program funds to tribes through ISDEAA; and 2) the 2009 Circular A-133, issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which requires that tribes report 477 expenditures separately by funding source number for auditing. Under the proposed amendments, all funds for programs and services covered by an approved plan would be transferred to a tribe or tribal organization pursuant to an existing contract, compact or funding agreement under ISDEAA, and tribes and tribal organizations could combine federal funds for use in performing allowable activities authorized under an approved 477 Plan, with no requirement to maintain separate records tracing services or activities conducted under an approved 477 Plan to individual federal program sources for audit purposes. Prior Congressional Efforts to Address Tribal Concerns. In 2011, the House Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee included language in Section 430 of its FY 2012 appropriations bill that would have resolved the tribal-federal agencies differences in a manner proposed by the tribes participating in the 477 Program. The federal agencies opposed the change. The Appropriations conferees agreed to defer consideration of legislation and requested that federal agencies and the tribes participating in the 477 Program engage in government-to-government consultations to resolve the issues. This led to the formation of the "P.L. 102-477 Administrative Flexibility Work Group" which has included policy and program representatives from the tribes and DOI, HHS, DOL, and OMB. The appropriations conference language made clear that the consultation process should conclude with a "general consensus" and "permanently resolve" the issues addressed in the proposed legislation. After two years of meetings and negotiations, the "Flexibility" group has not reached any agreement on these issues. The introduction of S 1574 by Senator Murkowski is in response to tribal concerns regarding federal agency resistance to and weakening of the 477 Program. In the past the 477 Program has enjoyed bipartisan support, and has been recognized as an important mechanism of self-governance because it authorizes tribes to manage 477 Plan funds locally to best meet the employment needs of the local American Indian or Alaska Native population ("Legislation Introduced to Amend the 477 Program," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-101, November 8, 2013,

Senators Begich (D-AK), Baucus (D-MT), Udall (D-NM), and Schatz (D-HI) introduced S 1575, legislation to ensure that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) uses the same definition of "Indian" to define eligibility of Indians for federal services, October 16, 2013. The proposed change will not affect eligibility for Indian Health Service (IHS) coverage, rather it is designed to ensure that everyone who is eligible for IHS services will be eligible for the Indian-specific benefits and protections in the ACA. The ACA contains a number of special benefits and protections for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). For example, AI/AN are eligible for cost-sharing protections when they enroll in health insurance coverage through the new Health Insurance Exchanges, and also qualify for open enrollment on those Exchanges. In addition, the ACA exempts members of Indian tribes from the tax penalties associated with not having minimum essential health insurance coverage. The issue is that the ACA definitions of Indian only include members of federally recognized tribes or Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act corporations, and do not include AI/AN who are eligible for IHS services but who are not members of tribes (such as certain children and descendants). The IHS serves more than just tribal members, and includes "Eskimo or Aleut or other Alaska Natives"; an individual "considered by the Secretary of Interior to be an Indian for any purpose"; an individual determined to be Indian under Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations; individuals who are members of organized groups of Indians, including state-recognized tribes or tribes terminated since 1940, or their first or second degree descendants; California Indians as defined by 25 U.S.C. § 1679; and urban Indians meeting these criteria. Without the Indian definition amendment proposed by S 1575, many Native people who are eligible for IHS services may not be eligible for the ACA benefits provided to others. Currently, the HHS has only been able to use regulatory means to exempt the wider group of Native people from the tax penalty, though even that is a short-term fix. This legislative proposal is intended to be a permanent solution to the problem of disparate definitions (“Affordable Care Act Bill on Definition of Indian Introduced,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-094, October 25, 2013,

Representative Ruiz (D-CA) along with Representatives Cook (R-CA), Polis (D-CO), and Tipton (R-CO) introduced the Wildfire Prevention Act of 2013 as HR 3333, October 23, 2013. This bill would expand the eligibility criteria for certain areas to receive post-fire hazard mitigation assistance and would provide federal cost sharing for hazard mitigation efforts, whether or not a major disaster has been declared. Often, the response to fighting wildfires is well coordinated among federal agencies and state, tribal, and local governments. However, generally the mitigation efforts for post-fire hazards, which commonly include severe flooding, do not enjoy the same level of coordination or funding. HR 3333 was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) authorizes the federal government to provide fire management assistance in the form of "grants, equipment, supplies, and personnel, to any State [, tribal,] or local government for the mitigation, management, and control of any fire on public or private forest land or grassland that threatens such destruction as would constitute a major disaster." 42 U.S.C. § 5187. Essentially, the federal government may provide fire management assistance (fire suppression) in anticipation that a fire could result in enough damage to warrant a major disaster declaration. Once the fire has been controlled without a major disaster declaration, access to post-fire hazard mitigation assistance is limited. The statute currently provides that "[t]he President may contribute up to 75 percent of the cost of hazard mitigation measures which the President has determined are cost-effective and which substantially reduce the risk of future damage, hardship, loss, or suffering in any area affected by a major disaster." 42 U.S.C. § 5170c(a).
Because State, tribal, and local governments may only receive this type of hazard mitigation assistance after a major disaster has been declared, there is often a very dangerous unaddressed risk of post-fire flooding. HR 3333 would allow for the provision of post-fire hazard mitigation assistance and increased federal cost sharing in instances when fire management assistance was provided under Stafford Act authority but the damage from the fire did not reach the threshold for a major disaster declaration (“Wildfire Mitigation Bill Introduced,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-095, October 25, 2013,

Senator Murkowski (R-AK) introduced S 1574, the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2013, October 16, 2013. The purpose of the bill is to amend and expand the scope of the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Demonstration Act of 1991, PL102-477, commonly referred to as the "477 Program." The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. A copy is available at: Public Law 102-477 has no expiration date and no specific authorization level as it is an authorization for tribes to combine programs serving similar purposes across federal agency lines. Under the current 477 Program tribes and tribal organizations are allowed to carry out consolidated programs combining federal formula-funded employment, training and related services programs of the Departments of Interior (DOI), Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Labor (DOL). The 477 Plan, which must be approved by the Secretary of Interior, allows tribes to utilize a single consolidated budget and a consolidated reporting system. Concerning the 477 Work Group: In the recent past more than 250 tribes have been involved in operating 477 Plans, some as single-tribe plans and others as tribal organization plans. More than $100 million a year has been funded to 477 Plans through agreements under Titles I and IV of the Indian Self-Determination Education and Assistance Act (ISDEAA). Unusual among federal initiatives, the 477 Program was not implemented with federal regulations. Instead, participating tribes and tribal organizations formed an independent organization called the 477 Tribal Work Group, which developed an extensive guidebook describing the 477 Program and assisted tribes and tribal organizations with developing 477 Plans. The 477 Work Group also conducts periodic symposiums and workshops to keep participating and non-participating tribes and tribal organizations informed about program requirements and operating procedures. Concerning S 1574 Proposed Changes: S 1574 would expand the reach of the 477 Program, and resolve differences between participating tribes and affected agencies that have disrupted the administration of the 477 Program in recent years. It would add eligible employment-related programs from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation, and other agencies that tribes and tribal organizations could draw on in designing their own employment-related programs consolidated in an approved 477 Plan. It would expand the scope of the original program to cover a wider range of departmental and agency funds and funding types (including competitive funds). Other provisions address timely approval of 477 Plans and waivers of regulations, and would streamline reporting requirements, provide means for dispute resolution, and allow tribes and tribal organizations to recover indirect costs for all programs that are included in a 477 Plan. S 1574 would also address two of the 477 tribes' primary concerns with current administration of the 477 Program by the federal agencies: 1) the 2008 decision by DOI and HHS to end the practice of transferring 477 Program funds to tribes through ISDEAA; and 2) the 2009 Circular A-133, issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which requires that tribes report 477 expenditures separately by funding source number for auditing. Under the proposed amendments, all funds for programs and services covered by an approved plan would be transferred to a tribe or tribal organization pursuant to an existing contract, compact or funding agreement under ISDEAA, and tribes and tribal organizations could combine federal funds for use in performing allowable activities authorized under an approved 477 Plan, with no requirement to maintain separate records tracing services or activities conducted under an approved 477 Plan to individual federal program sources for audit purposes. Relating to Prior Congressional Efforts to Address Tribal Concerns: In 2011, the House Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee included language in Section 430 of its FY 2012 appropriations bill that would have resolved the tribal-federal agencies differences in a manner proposed by the tribes participating in the 477 Program. The federal agencies opposed the change. The Appropriations conferees agreed to defer consideration of legislation and requested that federal agencies and the tribes participating in the 477 Program engage in government-to-government consultations to resolve the issues. This led to the formation of the "P.L. 102-477 Administrative Flexibility Work Group" which has included policy and program representatives from the tribes and DOI, HHS, DOL, and OMB. The appropriations conference language made clear that the consultation process should conclude with a "general consensus" and "permanently resolve" the issues addressed in the proposed legislation. After two years of meetings and negotiations, the "Flexibility" group has not reached any agreement on these issues. The introduction of S 1574 by Senator Murkowski is in response to tribal concerns regarding federal agency resistance to and weakening of the 477 Program. In the past the 477 Program has enjoyed bipartisan support, and has been recognized as an important mechanism of self-governance because it authorizes tribes to manage 477 Plan funds locally to best meet the employment needs of the local American Indian or Alaska Native population (“Legislation Introduced to Amend the 477 Program,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-101, November 8, 2013,

Christina Rose,  “Indian Education Lagging Due to Lack of Priority and Input," ICTM July 13, 2013,, reported that the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing, in July 2013, discussing the need for more tribal input in Indian education, and other educational issues. Acting director of the Bureau of Indian Education, Charles Roessel, said there is to be an increasing focus on instruction in the classroom, including work toward changing the framework of teaching and increasing the quality of teachers and instruction. "Many tribal leaders, federal agencies, and representatives from Teach for America, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, TEDNA, and National Federation of Federally Impacted Schools expressed concern over the difficulties involved with hiring highly qualified teachers. If BIE schools cannot provide pensions or pay competitive salaries, teachers, especially those with high student loan payments, will teach elsewhere. One question posed was whether there was a way to get congressional relief for the student loans of tribal members who want to come home to teach. Cecelia Fire Thunder, president of the Oglala Lakota Nation Education Coalition, cited the report, Broken Promises, Broken Schools which focuses on deteriorating BIE schools, a significant problem across Indian country. A number of the BIE school facilities are not up to par with local public school systems, including schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Fire Thunder and Dayna Brave Eagle, director of Tribal Education in Pine Ridge, requested more of a voice in distribution of funds and crafting Indian education programs." Executive Director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, Bill Mendoza, noted that it is important to develop mechanisms for collaboration and cooperation between states and tribes. Gila River, AZ, Bill Mendoza, noting that their 21,000 tribal members utilize a mix of schools including grant, public, and parochial, "joined the majority of speakers about the lack of clarity and role of tribal governments in education," which needs to be increased.

Federal Agency Developments

The U.S. State Department published a notice, September 26, 2013, seeking public comments on the draft 2014 Climate Action Report, 78 Fed. Reg. 59412. The deadline for submitting comments was noon, October 24, 2013. As described in the notice, the Climate Action Report consists of two documents that have been prepared in response to reporting requirements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was negotiated in 1992. One document is referred to as the Biennial Report, and the other is the National Communication. The Biennial Report is a relatively brief summary of actions that have been taken by the federal government in recent years and actions that are planned, to achieve the goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas (GHS) emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The National Communication, which is called for every four years, is a much more detailed document. There is also a document prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency captioned Methodologies for U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections: Non-CO2 and Non-Energy CO2 Sources. All of these documents are available at: The Biennial Report includes an extended discussion of The President's Climate Action Plan (June 2013). As described in the Report, the President's Plan sets out "executive actions the administration will take, in partnership with states, communities, and the private sector, to continue on a path toward meeting the U.S. 2020 target." The Report discusses in some detail the roles of states and local governments in helping to meet the 2020 target. The Report does not mention Indian tribal governments at all. In the National Communication, while several chapters do not mention tribes at all, some of the chapters do include references to Indian tribal governments. The coverage of issues relevant to tribes, however, is far from comprehensive. For example, Chapter 4, "Policies and Measures," includes eight pages on "Nonfederal Policies and Measures." This section begins with the statement, "In the United States, local, state, and federal governments share responsibility for the nation's economic development, energy, natural resources, and many other issues that affect climate mitigation. The federal government supports state and local government actions to reduce GHG emissions by sponsoring policy dialogues, issuing technical documents, facilitating consistent measurement approaches and model policies, and providing direct technical assistance." Tribes are included in a table in this section, but there is no mention of tribal governments anywhere in the text. There is considerably more discussion of tribal issues in Chapter 6, "Vulnerability, Assessment, Climate Change Impacts, and Adaptation Measures," including a section captioned "Tribal Culture, Lands, and Resources." The coverage of tribal issues in this chapter probably reflects the extent to which a number of tribes have been engaged in coping with climate change impacts and planning for adaptation. The Climate Action Report is a report to the international community about what the United States has been doing to deal with climate change, and what it plans to do, both through reducing GHG emissions and through adaption to the changes that cannot be avoided. There may well be points at which some discussion of tribal issues should be added, or existing discussion enhanced. Aside from reviewing the documents with a view toward filing comments, the Climate Action Report could be valuable resource for tribal governments in that it can serve as a source of information about the range of programs through which the federal government provides assistance to states and local governments. Some of such programs may also be available to tribal governments, and some might be made available if tribes were to ask for inclusion. For example, the Building Energy Codes Program administered by the Department of Energy (discussed in chapter 4, on page 16) provides assistance to states to improve energy efficiency in buildings through adoption and enforcement of energy standards in building codes. The statutory authorization for this program does not mention tribes, but DOE could probably include tribes. In a related development, on September 27, 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced the release of the first part of its Fifth Assessment, the IPCC Working Group I assessment report, Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis, as well as a Summary for Policy Makers, available at: Reports of the other two IPCCC working groups: Impacts, Adaptation, & Vulnerability and Mitigation of Climate Change, are scheduled for release in March and April 2014, respectively, to be followed by a Synthesis Report in October 2014 (“State Department Releases Draft Climate Action Report for Public Comment,” Hobbes-Straus General Memorandum 13-085, September 27, 2009,

The Treasury Department announced, September 30, 2013, the availability of $325 million in low-cost community development loans issued through the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Bond Guarantee Program for which tribes are eligible entities. These loans are issued for a term of 30 years and are backed by the federal government. The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program was created through the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and this is the inaugural round of this Program. The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program is administered by the Treasury Department's CDFI Fund and works as follows: 1. The Treasury Department approved "term sheets" for $325 million in bonds with maturities up to 30 years that, when issued, will be guaranteed by the federal government for the purpose of financing community development and economic development projects. 2. The CDFI Fund has selected three Qualified Issuers to make bond loans available to Eligible CDFIs. The four Eligible CDFIs for this round of the program include: Enterprise Community Loan Fund ; Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) ; The Community Development Trust ; and Clearinghouse CDFI. These CDFIs will make low-cost loans available to low-income and distressed communities for Eligible Purposes.
 3. Examples of Eligible Purposes include: supporting commercial facilities that promote revitalization and community stability; community facilities; the provision of basic financial services; senior living and healthcare facilities for uninsured or underinsured people; businesses that provide jobs for low-income people or are owned by low-income people; and other community or economic development activity in low-income or underserved urban and rural areas. 4. The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program is structured so that the federal government is repaid for all credit issued. The Program that does not cost the federal government and taxpayers any money. Lack of access to financing is a well-documented impediment to economic development in Indian Country. The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program is intended to fill the important need in Indian country for low-cost financing and smaller loan amounts than available through traditional bond offerings. The Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) estimates that interest rates will be approximately 3-4 percent for a term of 30 years and that interest rates will be approximately 3-4 percent for a term of 30 years and that the Qualified CDFIs are intending to make loans ranging in size from $1-4 million for qualified projects.  (“Tribes among Eligible Entities for $325 million in Community Development Loans Through Treasury’s New CDFI Bond Guarantee Program,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-092, October 11, 2013,

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published a notice in the Federal Register, October 1, 2013 , seeking applications for membership on the Advisory Committee for Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT). ACT members present the interested public's observations about current or proposed IRS policies, programs, and procedures carried out under the IRS's Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) Division. Applications are being sought to fill ten vacancies, two of which are reserved for members representing tribal governments. Applications wee due November 4, 2013. Over the years the ACT has taken on topics of great significance to Indian Country. Recent topics include: the General Welfare Doctrine as Applied to Indian Tribal Governments and Their Members; (2012, 2013); Tax Exempt Bonds (2012); Administrative Guidance on Section 906 of the Pension Protection Act (2011); Tribal Economic Development Bonds (2010, 2011); and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) Taxes in Indian Country (2010). The ACT includes members representing tribal governments but it also includes members representing: employee plans, tax exempt organizations, and federal state and local governments (all of which fall under the TE/GE Division). The IRS-level ACT is different from the Treasury-level Tribal Advisory Committee proposed as part of the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion legislation (HR 3043/S 1507) and requested by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Camp (R-MI) and Ranking Member Levin (D-MI) in their September 12, 2013, letter to Treasury Secretary Lew. This proposed Tribal Advisory Committee would be charged with advising the Secretary on matters relating to the taxation of Indians and the development of mandatory training and education for IRS field agents. However, in the interim while Tribal General Welfare Exclusion legislation is being considered by Congress and Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin's letter is being considered by Secretary Lew, the ACT remains an avenue for Indian Country's tax policy concerns and recommendations to be evaluated and heard within the IRS (“IRS Seeks Tribal Representatives for Advisory Committee,” Hobbs-Straus GENERAL MEMORANDUM 13-087, October 10, 2013,

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in a Federal Register notice, announced proposed regulations which would permit tribal members who are paid for certain fishing-rights related activities to contribute this non-taxable income to a qualified retirement plan. Comments and requests for a public hearing must be received by February 13, 2014. Treasury and the IRS will host a telephonic consultation on December 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm EST (877-918-2508 / Passcode 4284). The proposed regulation arises from the treaty-protected fishing rights income exclusion codified in section 7873 of the Internal Revenue Code. Section 7873 clarified that income derived from fishing rights-related activity is exempt from federal, state, Social Security and unemployment taxes. Previously, the IRS had determined that this non-taxable compensation could not be placed into a tax-deferred retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan. In the Federal Register notice IRS proposes to clarify that although section 7873 "income" is non-taxable, it may be treated as "compensation" for the purpose of establishing an individual's eligibility for participation in certain qualified retirement plans ("IRS Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Treatment of Income from Indian Fishing Rights-Related Activity; Requests Comments," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-110. December 6, 2013,

In a Dear Tribal Leader letter dated July 23, 2013, the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs invites public comments on the draft regulations governing the leasing of school land and facilities operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) as well as fundraising by employees of BIE-operated schools 1 for the benefit of the school. The proposed regulations are applicable only to the 59 schools and two post-secondary schools operated by the BIE, but the opportunity to submit comments was also open to tribes in recognition of the fact that tribal members and their children may attend such schools. The draft regulations are at: The deadline for submitting comments is September 1, 2013. The authority for developing the regulations was included the FY 2012 Interior Appropriations Act (PL 112-74), which states in part: SEC. 115. (a)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law or Federal regulation, including section 586(c) of title 40, United States Code, the Director of the BIE, or the Director's designee, is authorized to enter into agreements with public and private persons and entities that provide for such persons and entities to rent or lease the land or facilities of a Bureau-operated school for such periods of time as the school is Bureau operated, in exchange for a consideration (in the form of funds) that benefits the school, as determined by the head of the school. …

 (c) The Secretary of the Interior shall promulgate regulations to carry out this section not later than 16 months after the date of the enactment of this Act. Such regulations shall include–

 (1) standards for the appropriate use of Bureau-operated school lands and facilities by third parties under a rental or lease agreement;

 (2) provisions for the establishment and administration of mechanisms for the acceptance of consideration for the use and benefit of a school in accordance with this section (including, in appropriate cases, the establishment and administration of trust funds); … The proposed regulations cover the following areas: Subpart A—General Provisions: addresses the purpose, scope and terms of this part (Part 48-Leases Covering Bureau-Operated Schools and Fundraising Activities at Bureau-Operated Schools); Subpart B—Leasing Bureau-operated Schools: identifies the official who may enter into the lease, the entities eligible to lease a school facility, what school facilities may be leased, compensation, authorized uses for and length of availability of funds; Subpart C—Standards for Leases and Ethical Conduct: includes standards for determining entering into a lease, lease instrument format and provisions, payment processes, monitoring use of funds, and applicable accounting standards; Subpart D—Fundraising Activities: identifies persons authorized to fundraise on behalf of the school and the limitations applicable to them; sets forth policies regarding fundraising, use of funds, and solicitation of donations. Instructions for submitting comments on the draft regulations are included in the Dear Tribal Leader letter. Comments on the consultation process employed for this consultation were also welcome to be submitted, per the instructions within the attached letter.


1. The draft regulations define "Bureau-operated school" to mean a day school, boarding school, or a dormitory for students attending a school other than a BIE school, an institution of higher learning and associated facilities operated by the BIE. The term does not include Public Law 100-297 tribally controlled schools, Public Law 93-638 contract or grant schools, or public schools (“Proposed Rule for Leases and Fundraising at Bureau of Indian Education-Operated Schools,” General Memorandum 13-074, August 16, 2013,

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, Kevin Washburn, stated in August that he intends to make the casino compact process more transparent, especially by posting on the internet reasons for all agency decisions on granting or refusing to approve tribal-state gaming compacts ( Rob Capriccioso, “Interior Aims for Transparency in State-Tribal Casino Compact Process,” ICTMN, August 30, 2013,

For over the last two years, a congressionally-authorized national advisory commission, The Indian Law and Order Commission (Commission), traveled the United States conducting field hearings, meetings, and conversations with tribal, state, and federal stakeholders about the criminal justice systems serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The result of its work is a 326-page report released in November, 2013 entitled "A Roadmap for Making Native America Safer." The Report recommends a ten-year plan to make American Indian and Alaska Native communities safer and more just for all U.S. citizens, and to reduce the unacceptably high rates of violent crime in Indian Country. The report may be found at: The Commission was created by the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. The nine Commissioners, who were appointed by the President and the Democratic and Republican leadership in Congress, were tasked with developing a comprehensive study of Indian Country criminal justice, and creating recommendations on essential reforms and developments to the tribal, state, and federal justice systems. The unanimous bipartisan conclusions, findings, and recommendations contained in the Report represent the Commission's views on how to make Indian Country safer. The Commission notes that "when Congress and the Administration ask why the crime rate is so high in Indian country, they need look no further than the archaic system in place, in which Federal and State authority displaces Tribal authority and often makes Tribal law enforcement meaningless." This imposition has resulted in "limited law enforcement; delayed prosecutions, too few prosecutions, and other prosecution inefficiencies; trials in distant courthouses; justice system and players unfamiliar with or hostile to Indians and Tribes; and the exploitation of system failures by criminals, more criminal activity, and further endangerment of everyone living in and near Tribal communities." The Report contains six chapters, addressing: (1) Jurisdiction; (2) Reforming Justice for Alaska Natives; (3) Strengthening Tribal Justice; (4) Intergovernmental Cooperation; (5) Detention and Alternatives; and (6) Juvenile Justice. While some of the Commission's recommendations require legislative action, others can be addressed by the Executive Branch, and still others will require action by the federal judiciary. The Commission found "that for public safety to be achieved effectively in Indian country, Tribal justice systems must be allowed to flourish, Tribal authority should be restored to Tribal governments when they request it, and the Federal government, in particular, needs to take a back seat in Indian country, enforcing only those crimes that it would otherwise enforce on or off reservation." The Commission found that disproportionately high rates of crime in Indian County "have called into question the effectiveness of current Federal and State predominance in criminal justice jurisdiction in Indian country." The Commission's recommendations include the suggestion that any tribe should be able to choose, fully or partially, to immediately opt out of federal and/or congressionally authorized State- Indian Country criminal and/or juvenile jurisdiction, which would include the recognition of the inherent criminal jurisdiction of tribal government over all persons within the exterior boundaries of a tribe's lands. The Commission also recommends that tribes should be able to opt-out of the sentencing restrictions of the Indian Civil Rights Act. The tribe would be required to provide civil rights protections equal to those guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, and tribal court decisions would be subject to federal judicial appellate review. To properly implement this recommendation, the Commission also recommends that a new federal circuit court, the United States Court of Indian Appeals, be established to hear appeals from tribal courts. The Commission devoted a full chapter to the unique situation in Alaska, which has only one Indian reservation and largely lacks the "Indian Country" that primarily defines the geographic scope of tribal criminal jurisdiction. The Commission offered several recommendations designed to put Alaska on the same footing as tribes in the lower 48, including legislation that would provide avenues for expanding Indian Country and trust land acquisition in Alaska. The Commission also recommends that Congress repeal the exclusion of Alaska tribes (outside of the one reservation) from the tribal jurisdictional provisions of the Violence Against Women Act and affirm the inherent criminal jurisdiction of Alaska Native tribal governments over their members within the external boundaries of their villages. To strengthen tribal justice, the Commission recommends directing sufficient funds to Indian Country law enforcement to bring their coverage numbers into parity with similarly situated off-reservation non-Indian communities. Furthermore, the Commission calls on the Executive Branch to take actions that would strengthen tribal justice systems and on the U.S. District Courts to provide more judicial services in and near Indian Country. The Commission stresses the importance of fully funding each provision of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, both for FY 2014 and future years, and finally funding the Indian Tribal Justice Act of 1993. To improve the management of federal criminal justice programs in Indian Country, it recommends eliminating the Office of Justice Services in the Department of the Interior and consolidating all Department of Justice (DOJ) Indian Country programs and services into a single "Indian Country component" at DOJ. Along with this consolidation would be legislation to require Indian preference in the new office's hiring decisions and an affirmation of its trust responsibility for Indian Country. Significantly, the Commission recommends amending the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) to give tribal governments the opportunity to contract or compact with the new DOJ office under ISDEAA. In order to ensure stronger coordination among federal, state, and tribal law enforcement, the Commission stresses the need for federal incentives to states and tribes to increase participation in cross-deputation and other agreements. Additionally, the Commission recommends requiring intergovernmental sharing of data on arrests, court proceedings, and reentry. To address deficiencies in detention, such as systemic disproportionally in sentencing, distance from their homes, and the failure to provide culturally relevant support to offenders, the Commission recommends providing tribes greater access to federal prison programs, establishing incentives for the development of high-quality regional Indian Country detention facilities, and converting the DOJ Bureau of Prisons (BOP) pilot program, which allows a limited number of tribal prisoners to be detained in BOP facilities, into a permanent program. The Commission found that Native youth are among the most vulnerable children in the United States, and that "the same complexities and inadequacies of the Indian country adult criminal justice impair juvenile justice." The Commission recommends jurisdictional reforms for Native youth, such as (i) providing tribes with the opt-out option discussed above, and the right to consent to any U.S. Attorney's decision before federal criminal charges against any juvenile can be filed; (ii) establishing greater and more stable access to federal juvenile justice funding; (iii) requiring federal and state juvenile justice systems to maintain proper records indicating tribal membership and the location of the underlying conduct within Indian Country that brought the juvenile into the judicial system; and (iv) amending the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to provide that all of the notice, intervention, and transfer provisions of ICWA apply when a state court initiates any delinquency proceeding involving an Indian child for acts that took place on the reservation. The Commission found that the public safety crisis in Native America is "emphatically not an intractable problem," and dramatic improvements to public safety in Indian Country are possible, but only after tribes are given a greater freedom to build and maintain their own criminal justice systems ("The Indian Law and Order Commission Issues Its Report Containing over 40 Recommendations to Make Indian Country Safer," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-107, November 22, 2013,

The newly appointed Advisory Committee of the Attorney General's Task Force on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence (Task Force) held its first hearing December 9-10, 2013, in Bismarck, North Dakota. Attorney General Holder announced the creation of the Advisory Committee on November 13, 2013, at the White House Tribal Nations Conference. The creation of the Attorney General's Task Force specific to Native children was in response to a national report published in December 2012 regarding children exposed to violence which noted the high levels of violence experienced by Native children and the lack of services for them. The Task Force consists of U.S. Attorneys and others from the Departments of Interior and Justice. The new Advisory Committee which will make recommendations to the Task Force includes non-federal people with expertise in Native issues, including child health and trauma. The hearing in Bismarck focused on American Indian/Alaska Native children's exposure to violence in the home. Those wishing to provide testimony during the hearing were to register at seven or more days in advance.
 Future hearings were to be in Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, and Anchorage in early 2014. Members of the Advisory Committee are:
• Joanne Shenandoah, Iroquois, composer and musical artist. Shenandoah will co-chair the Advisory Committee
• The Honorable Byron Dorgan, Chairman, Board of Advisors, Center for Native American Youth; former U.S. Senator and chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Dorgan will co-chair the Advisory Committee.
• Dolores Subia Bigfoot, Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, Director, Indian Child Trauma Center, University of Oklahoma
• Rear Admiral Eric Broderick, former Deputy Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
• Eddie Brown, Pasqua Yaqui Tribe and Tohono O'odham Nation, Executive Director of the American Indian Policy Institute and Professor of American Indian Studies, Arizona State University
• Valerie Davidson, Orutsararmiut Native Council Member and Senior Director, Legal and Intergovernmental Affairs, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
• Anita Fineday, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Director, Indian Child Welfare, Casey Family Programs
• Matthew Fletcher, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Director, Indigenous Law and Policy Center, Michigan State University
• Alicia Lieberman, Director, Child Trauma Research Program, University of California at San Francisco
• Chaske Spencer, Lakota, actor
• Ron Whitener, Squaxin Island Tribe, Executive Director, Native American Law Center, University of Washington School of Law
• Marilyn J. Bruguier Zimmerman, Assiniboine-Sioux/Fort Peck Reservation, Director, National Native Children's Trauma Center, University of Montana ("First Hearing of the Advisory Committee on Native Children Exposed to Violence," Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 13-106, November 22, 2013,

The Department of Justice (DOJ) published, November 29, 2013, in the Federal Register a final notice and solicitation of applications for a voluntary Pilot Project established under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) for Indian tribes who wish to commence exercising "special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction" (SDVCJ) on an accelerated basis. See This notice establishes the procedures for a tribe to request designation as a participating tribe and for the Attorney General to act on such requests. Section 904 of VAWA 2013 (25 U.S.C. § 1304) amended the Indian Civil Rights Act to recognize and affirm the inherent power of "participating tribes" to exercise SDVCJ over certain defendants, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, who commit acts of domestic violence or dating violence, or violate certain protection orders in Indian Country. Although section 908 of the Act provides that tribes generally cannot exercise SDVCJ until at least two years after the enactment of VAWA 2013, it also establishes a Pilot Project that authorizes the Attorney General to grant a tribe's request to be designated as a participating tribe on an accelerated basis. The DOJ notice provides a lengthy statutory background statement that helps illustrate the underlying constitutional and legal issues, and provides historical context for section 904. DOJ notes that the term SDVCJ is defined to mean "the criminal jurisdiction that a participating tribe may exercise under [25 U.S.C. 1304] but could not otherwise exercise" and that for most tribes SDVCJ is effectively confined to criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. There is, however, no SDVCJ over an alleged offense if neither the defendant nor the alleged victim is an Indian, and the defendant must have "significant ties" to the prosecuting tribe. To establish significant ties a defendant must: 1) reside in the participating tribe's Indian Country. 
2) be employed in the tribe's Indian Country; or 
3) be a spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner either of an Indian who is a member of the tribe or who resides in the tribe's Indian Country. The notice also clarifies that the SDVCJ does not apply to conduct that occurs outside of Indian Country and does not generally cover crimes of child abuse or elder abuse and crimes between two strangers (including sexual assaults) unless a violation of a protection order is involved. Section 904 also specifies the rights that a participating tribe must provide to a criminal defendant when exercising SDVCJ, and the notice provides DOJ's interpretation of those rights. In order to request designation as a participating tribe that may commence exercising SDVCJ on an accelerated basis, a tribe must fill out an Application Questionnaire that asks the tribe to identify provisions of the tribe's criminal code, rules of procedure, and written policies, as well as actual practices that qualify the tribe to exercise SDVCJ on an accelerated basis. For a copy of the Application Questionnaire see /docs/appl-questionnaire-vawa-pilot.pdf. The Attorney General may only grant a request after concluding that the requesting tribe's criminal justice system "has adequate safeguards in place to protect defendants' rights consistent with [25 U.S.C. § 1304]." DOJ developed the Application Questionnaire to accommodate a self-certification process advocated by tribes during the planning phase of the project. Each requesting tribe must provide certified answers to a list of detailed questions about the various safeguards that the tribe has put in place to protect defendants' rights, but the questions are designed to be answered with a single sentence or a simple "yes" or "no" (a copy of the Application Questionnaire is appended to the final notice). The Application Questionnaire must be completed and certified as accurate by the tribe's chief executive, judicial, and legal officers. Each requesting tribe is also asked to attach the relevant portions of its laws, rules, and policies to its completed Questionnaire and these materials will be made publicly available. The final notice sets out eight steps DOJ will take after receiving a tribe's complete, certified Application Questionnaire process: 1) the application will be shared with relevant components of DOJ and the Department of the Interior (DOI); 
2) notice will be posted on a DOJ website and DOJ will consult with the elected and appointed officials of the affected tribes; 
3) DOJ may make follow-up inquiries about the tribe's criminal justice system; 
4) DOJ and DOI will coordinate in reviewing the application; 
5) if funding is available, DOJ may provide training or technical assistance to a tribe; 
6) DOJ personnel will recommend to the Associate Attorney General whether a tribe should be designated as a participating tribe on an accelerated basis; 
7) if the recommendation is positive, DOJ will consult with the requesting tribe to establish a date for commencement of SDVCJ; and; 
8) if a commencement date and any conditions are agreed upon, the Associate Attorney General may make the designation. At a tribe's request, DOJ will also engage in one-on-one, government-to-government consultation with a tribe before the tribe submits its application. If an application receives a negative response, DOJ may, if funding is available, provide training and technical assistance that may enable the tribe to submit a revised request.
 DOJ will give the same priority consideration to any tribal request received within 30 days of the publication of the final notice, and on January 6 and 7, 2013, DOJ will conduct telephonic consultation with affected tribes on all of the applications received on or before December 29, 2013 See attached Dear Tribal Leader Letter. DOJ will also consider any tribal request received before March 7, 2013, when the Pilot Project expires. After the expiration of the Pilot Project, any tribe who determines it meets the statutory requirements for exercising SDVCJ may do so without the approval from DOJ. A primary goal of the Pilot Project is therefore the development of best practices that other tribes can use to implement SDVCJ in 2015 and beyond. To that end, the DOJ has assembled an Intertribal Technical-Assistance Working Group on Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (ITWG), which has already begun work developing best practices and advice, including a tribal code checklist, which may serve as a useful resource for tribes wishing to participate in the Pilot Project or to exercise SDVCJ after March 7, 2013 ("DOJ Solicits Applications from Tribes to Participate in VAWA Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction Pilot Project," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-109, December 5, 2013. General Memorandum 13-109).

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) issued the Final Rule, November 13, 2013, amending its land-into-trust regulations at 25 C.F.R. Part 151 in response to the Supreme Court's decision in Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, 132 S.Ct. 2199 (2012 ) (the " Patchak" decision). In Patchak, the Supreme Court held that the Quiet Title Act did not prevent challenges to the trust status of land after lands had been taken into trust. Prior to that decision, the prevailing view was that the Quiet Title Act precluded judicial review of decisions by the United States to take land into trust after the land had been taken into trust. As a result in 1996, the Department of Interior (Department) had revised its Part 151 regulations to provide potential challengers a 30-day window to bring a lawsuit after the Department decided to take land into trust but before actually taking the land into trust. In Patchak, the Supreme Court held that the Quiet Title Act was no bar to bringing a challenge to a fee-to-trust decision after lands had been taken into trust when the challenger did not actually claim title to the land at issue. The Court held that fee-to-trust decisions were subject to challenges under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which raised the concern that land-into-trust decisions could be challenged for up to six years after lands had been taken into trust. Hence, after the Patchak decision, there is no longer any need for the Department to delay taking land into trust for 30 days. The Final Rule is designed to reflect this and amends the Part 151 regulations so as to delete the 30-day waiting period. The Final Rule provides that the Secretary shall complete the trust acquisition immediately after the decision to take land in trust is final for the Department. The Final Rule will differentiate between two types of land-into-trust decisions: those made at the Secretary or Assistant Secretary level, and those made by other BIA officials (e.g., Area Directors). Decisions made by the Assistant Secretary are final as of the date of decision. When the Assistant Secretary approves an application, the land will be taken in trust immediately at that time, and any challengers will have the right to go to federal court to sue under the APA. At a tribal leader meeting on November 12, 2013, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn indicated that he would decide appeals involving any decisions appealed to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA) involving more than 200 acres. Decisions made by other BIA officials are not final agency action that can be appealed in federal court until all administrative remedies have been exhausted or the time for filing a notice of appeal has passed and no appeal has been filed. Under the Final Rule, a decision made by other BIA officials must be challenged, if at all, within 30 days by filing an appeal to the IBIA. If there is no challenger within that time, the decision becomes final, the land is then taken into trust, and any challenge after the
 30-day period is deemed to be improper due to a failure to exhaust administrative remedies. If a challenger does appeal within the 30-day period, the normal IBIA process will apply. If the challenger is successful, the land will not be taken into trust. If the challenger is not successful, then the land will be taken into trust immediately after the IBIA process is complete. Only then will the challenger have the right to challenge the decision in federal court under the APA. The BIA accepted many suggestions submitted by tribes, improving the rule from its proposed form. However, many changes suggested that would limit the time the BIA can take to decide appeals, to further improve or circumvent the IBIA process, or to otherwise accelerate the land-into-trust process were rejected. The BIA did not accept any of the suggestions by the many state and local governments or non-Indian advocacy groups who responded disfavorably to the Rule. The Rule went into effect on December 13, 2013, and may be found at: ("BIA Releases "Patchak Patch": Final Rule on Land-Into-Trust Appeals," Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 13-104, November 22, 2013,

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a notice, September 16, 2013, in the Federal Register announcing a reverse auction through which the FCC will award up to $50 million to telecommunications carriers to support the expansion of mobile services on Tribal lands, 78 Fed. Reg. 56875, available at The auction was scheduled for December 19, 2013, but carriers that choose to participate in the auction were required to file a short-form application by October 9, 2013. For decades, the FCC has administered a Universal Service Fund to support telephone service in high-cost areas. In 2011, the FCC issued the USF/ICC Transformation Order, which made comprehensive changes in the Universal Service Fund to include support for the expansion of mobile services (voice and broadband) into areas that lack such services. 76 Fed. Reg. 73830 (Nov. 29, 2011); 76 Fed. Reg. 81562 (Dec. 2011). As explained in the Federal Register notice, the Mobility Fund is a universal service support mechanism dedicated to expanding mobile services. The Tribal Mobility Fund Phase I is a one-time allocation of $50 million to support "the buildout of current- and next-generation mobile networks on Tribal lands where these networks are not available." The goal is to extend the availability of networks that provide 3G or better performance and to "accelerate the deployment of 4G wireless networks where it is cost-effective to do so with one-time support." This auction is designated as Auction 902. Detailed information is contained in the Auction 902 Procedures Public Notice, which was released by the FCC on August 7, 2013, available at That website also includes a tutorial that explains the auction process, as well as an interactive map that identifies areas of Tribal lands that are eligible for the auction. As defined by the FCC, "Tribal lands" include the reservations of every federally recognized Indian tribe, former reservations in Oklahoma, Alaska Native regions established by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Indian allotments, and Hawaiian Home Lands. In determining whether any particular area of Tribal lands is eligible for Tribal Mobility Fund Phase I support, the FCC analyzed census blocks within Tribal lands and determined whether there currently is 3G or better service at the geometric center of the block (using January 2013 data). If such service is not available at that point, the FCC concluded that the census block is not served and, as such, is eligible. In order to participate in the auction, an applicant must be designated as an "eligible telecommunications carrier" (ETC) for the area on which it wants to bid, although there is an exception of sorts for entities that are Tribally-owned or -controlled. Such an entity need not have been formally designated as an ETC, but it does need to have an application for ETC designation pending as of the deadline for the short-form application, i.e., October 9, 2013. The process for applying for designation as an ETC is summarized in the Federal Register notice, at pages 56879-80. Briefly, if an entity is subject to the jurisdiction of a state regulatory commission, it should seek designation from that state commission. If it is not subject to state jurisdiction, it must apply to the FCC. Guidance on the requirements for applying to the FCC for designation as an ETC may be found in a FEDERAL REGISTER notice published on March 8, 2012. 77 Fed. Reg. 1401, available at Any Tribally-owned or controlled carrier that participates in Auction 902 will be given a 25 percent reverse bidding credit, which will have the effect of reducing the entity's bid by 25 percent for the purpose of comparing it to other bids. (In a reverse auction, the lowest bid is the winner.) The reason for this bidding credit is the recognition of the Tribes' interest in self-government. After the auction takes place, each winning bidder will be required to file a long-form application. At that point in the process, and continuing as long as support from the Tribal Mobility Fund is provided, each winning bidder will be required to comply with the "Tribal engagement obligations" applicable to all ETCs. As noted in the Federal Register notice (at 56893), and as discussed in detail in the USF/ICC Transformation Order, "these obligations are designed to ensure that Tribal governments have been formally and effectively engaged in the planning process and that the services to be provided will advance the goals established by the Tribal government." Thus, the FCC encourages applicants seeking to serve Tribal lands to "begin engaging with the appropriate Tribal governments as soon as possible." As summarized in the Federal Register notice" A winning bidder's engagement with the appropriate Tribal government(s) must consist, at a minimum, of discussion regarding: (i) A needs assessment and deployment planning with a focus on Tribal community anchor institutions; (ii) feasibility and sustainability planning; (iii) marketing services in a culturally sensitive manner; (iv) rights of way processes, land use permitting, facilities siting, environmental and cultural preservation review processes; and (v) compliance with Tribal business and licensing requirements (“$50 Million Available in FCC Tribal Mobility Fund Auction,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-082, September 20, 2013, General Memorandum 13-082).

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) was soliciting applications for competitive grants from the Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund (TTPSF). Eligible applicants are federally-recognized tribes. The announcement also contains final selection and evaluation criteria for the program since it is the first round of funding under the newly approved fund, which is discussed below. Grant applications were due to the FHWA by September 19, 2013. Applicants can access a recorded webinar of how to apply for the grants at The TTPSF grants will fund highway safety projects such as correction of a hazardous highway safety problem; correcting or improving a road location or feature; or strategies, activities, and projects on public roads consistent with State Strategic Highway Safety Plans, including infrastructure or education activities. The requirement that projects align with State Strategic Highway Safety Plans touches every aspect of this program. To be eligible for this program, the proposed activity must also address a priority in tribal transportation safety plans, and any proposed facilities improvement must be included in a tribe's National Tribal Transportation Facility Inventory and be listed in a tribe's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). If a proposed project meets the above requirements, the FHWA will give priority to projects that fall in one of the following four areas: 1) safety planning activities (40 percent of funding); 2) engineering improvements (30 percent of funding); 3) enforcement and emergency services improvements (20 percent of funding); and 4) education programs (10 percent of funding). FHWA expects a maximum of $18 million could be made available for FYs 2013 and 2014 combined. It recognizes that demand will likely exceed this level, and thus "encourages applications for modest-sized, scalable requests that allow more tribes to receive funding." The notice contains comprehensive information about what must be submitted with the applications, the criteria it will use to evaluate applications, as well as examples of projects to fulfill each priority area. Applications must be submitted by September 19, 2013, either via or directly to the FHWA at (FHWA added this option after the Federal Register notice was published) “Tribal Transportation Program Safety Grants,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-071, August 9, 2013,

The Department of Agriculture published, in an August 27, 2013, Federal Register notice, a final rule regarding the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). The rule is designed to simplify the administration of the FDPIR and more closely align it with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or Food Stamp Program). Notable among the changes is the elimination of household resources from consideration when determining FDPIR eligibility – this does not affect the requirement to meet current maximum FDPIR income limits. The Department received 98 comments, virtually all of them favorable to the proposed changes; the final rule makes little change to the rule as proposed. The Department notes that because the FDPIR is now more closely aligned with the SNAP program, changes in that program could result in additional changes in the FDPIR. Congress is currently considering reauthorization of the Farm Bill which includes SNAP and FDPIR. The new changes to the FDPIR regulations include: Elimination of household resources in determining FDPIR eligibility including non-recurring lump sum payments (i.e., security deposits on rental property or utilities, tax refunds) and non-monthly per capita payments derived from profits of tribal enterprises. Expansion of the current income deduction for Medicare Part B Medical Insurance and Part D Prescription Drug Coverage premiums to include other out of pocket monthly medical expenses in excess of $35 for households with elderly and/or disabled members Establishment, by region, of an income deduction for shelter and utility expenses (Northeast, Midwest, and Mountain Plains - $400; Southeast and Southwest - $300; and West - $350.) The notice includes a list by state. Establishment of verification requirements regarding income deductions and revision of household reporting requirements, including changes in income exceeding $100 (“Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations Final Rule,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-076, August 29, 2013,

The Department of Agriculture, July 17, 2013, announced new funding for rural electrification projects, including $9.8 million that will benefit Indian communities: Black Hills Electric Cooperative in South Dakota, Central Rural Electric Cooperative in Oklahoma and Lacreek Electric Association serving South Dakota and Nebraska (“Vilsack Announces Funding for Rural Electric Projects Including $9.8M for Native Communities,” ICTMN, July 18, 2013,

The U.S. Bureau of Land Reclamation signed an agreement with 10 tribes, in September 2013, to study what to do about projected water shortages due to global warming induced climate change and increasing water use in the Colorado River Basin ("Colleen Keane, "Signing ceremony seals agreement to conduct tribal water study," Navajo Times, September 19, 2013).

The Forest Service published a notice in the Federal Register, August 27, 2013, requesting applications for the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (CFP). Indian tribes (including Alaska Native Corporations) are among the entities eligible to apply for an estimated $4 million in FY 2014 grant funding to establish community forests through fee simple acquisition of private forest land. Applications are due February 17, 2014. The purpose of the CFP is to protect forest land from conversion to non-forest uses and to provide community benefits such as: wildlife habitats, forest-based educational programs and recreational benefits secured with public access. Lands eligible for funding are those that are: private forest land that is at least five acres in size, suitable to sustain natural vegetation, at least 75 percent forested, and threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. Additionally, eligible land must not be held in trust by the United States on behalf of any Indian tribe or be tribal allotment lands. Lands acquired prior to a grant award are not eligible for funding. Of the $4 million estimated to be available in FY 2014, the Forest Service will award grants in amounts of $400,000 or less to grantees. A 50 percent match is required but grantees may use a combination of cash, in-kind services, and donations from a non-federal source to achieve the match. Grants are for a period of two years but this timeline may be extended by the Forest Service to accommodate unforeseen circumstances in the land acquisition process (“Forest Service Seeks Applicants for Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-077, August 29, 2013,

The National Park Service published proposed rules on the disposition of unclaimed Native American human remains and other cultural items excavated or removed from federal lands after the date of enactment of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), 78 Fed. Reg. 64436, October 29, 2013. The proposed rules will implement section 3(b) of NAGPRA, 25 U.S.C. § 3002(b), which directs the Secretary of the Interior to promulgate regulations, in consultation with the NAGPRA review committee and with "Native American groups, representatives of museums and the scientific community." The Federal Register notice describes the steps that NPS has taken to carry out the required consultation. The deadline for submitting comments on the proposed rules is December 30, 2013. The proposed rules define the term "unclaimed cultural items" as "Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony excavated or removed from federal lands after November 16, 1990," which have not been repatriated pursuant to NAGPRA because either "(i) No identified potential claimant … has exercised its rights to claim ownership or control … or (ii) No potential claimant can reasonably be identified." The proposed rules apply only to federal lands because, under NAGPRA, new discoveries on tribal lands are subject to the control of the relevant tribe, except when there are known lineal descendants. The proposed rules also add a new section 10.7 to the regulations implementing NAGPRA. 43 C.F.R. Part 10. Agencies that have unclaimed cultural items must compile a list of such items and submit the list to the National NAGPRA Program; they must care for the items in a manner consistent with the federal regulations governing "Curation of Federally-owned and Administered Archaeological Collections" (36 C.F.R. Part 79); and they must consider and respect the traditions of potential claimants regarding treatment of the items. Agencies would have discretion, after providing notice, to transfer items to an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization, to reinter the items, or to offer the items for disposition in accordance with state or other law (“National Park Service Proposed Rules for Disposition of Unclaimed Human Remains and Cultural Items under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-097, November 1, 2013,

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a final rule, July 9, 2013, updating the baseline energy efficiency standards for new federal commercial buildings and for new multi-unit residential buildings that are higher than three stories. The rulemaking document does not include any discussion of Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, which requires each federal agency to seek input from tribes in developing regulatory policies that have tribal implications. Apparently, DOE not only concluded that there are no "tribal implications" but also that there was no need to explain such a conclusion. It appears to us, however, that there may be tribal implications that have been overlooked. DOE is required by statute to establish energy efficiency standards for new federal buildings. 42 U.S.C. § 6834(a) (regulations codified at 10 CFR Part 433). A federal building is "any building to be constructed by, or for the use of, any Federal agency. Such term shall include buildings built for the purpose of being leased by a Federal agency, and privatized military housing." A "commercial building" is "any building other than a residential building, including any building developed for industrial or public purposes." 42 U.S.C. § 6832. Issues relating to buildings constructed by tribal governments for the operation of federally-funded programs are not addressed in either the statute or the regulations. Presumably, a building constructed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) or Indian Health Service (IHS) is a federal building even though title to the building may be transferred to a tribe through a self-determination contract. If a tribe constructs a building with federal funds, e.g., through self-determination contract or self-governance compact, then it is arguably not a federal building and, so, not subject to federal energy efficiency standards. The rule updating the energy efficiency standards for new federal buildings is part of a multi-faceted program to promote energy efficiency in new buildings. 42 U.S.C. §§ 6831 – 6836. Other components include support for non-governmental organizations that develop standards for incorporation into building codes and support for states and local governments to periodically review their building codes and incorporate such standards. Tribes are not included in the statutory language, and have generally been left out of the assistance that DOE provides to state and local governments. The program for federal buildings seeks to provide leadership in energy efficiency. The goal is to reduce consumption of fossil fuel energy in federal buildings such that by 2030 new buildings will consume zero fossil fuel energy. The basic approach is to incorporate by reference the standards in the "voluntary consensus codes" developed by two organizations: the International Code Council (ICC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The ICC's International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is the referenced code for low-rise residential buildings (three stories or less above grade), and ASHRAE Standard 90.1 is the referenced code for commercial buildings and high-rise residential buildings. Both the IECC and ASHRAE 90.1 are updated periodically. Whenever one of these codes is updated, DOE must determine, based on a life-cycle analysis of cost-effectiveness, whether to amend the baseline standards to incorporate the updated referenced code. In the new final rule, DOE has determined that it will be cost-effective to update baseline standards for new federal commercial and high-rise residential buildings to incorporate the 2010 version of ASHRAE 90.1 as the minimum. New federal buildings are required to at least meet the minimum standards, but they are supposed to do better – they are supposed to be 30 percent more efficient than a building that complies with the minimum standards, as long as the incremental efficiency improvements are life-cycle cost-effective. Thus, after the new rule takes effect, the standard for a new federal building will be 30 percent more efficient than a building that just meets the ASHRAE 90.1 2010 standards and, consequently, will have energy costs of about 30 percent less per year. A new building that is federally funded but not "federal" will have to meet the energy efficiency standards in the applicable building code, if there is one. If a new building constructed by a tribe is held to compliance with the 2010 version of ASHRAE 90.1, the tribe's new building would have energy operating costs of about 30 percent more than a comparable new federal building. For reasons explained in the preamble to the final rule, it was not published for public review and comment. Nevertheless, tribes could file comments with DOE to raise concerns regarding the tribal implications of this final rule and other aspects of the DOE program to promote energy efficiency in new buildings. For example, tribes could ask for assistance from DOE to develop tribal building codes that incorporate an energy reduction target like that in the new final rule, i.e., 30 percent better than ASHRAE (“Department of Energy Updates Energy Efficiency Standards for New Federal Commercial and High-Rise Residential Buildings,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-065, July 19, 2013,

"Nine Tribes to Receive $7 Million From Department of Energy for Wind, Biomass, Solar Projects," ICTMN. November 14, 2013,, reported, " Nine tribes will receive a total of more than $7 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for clean-energy projects, the agency announced on November 14 [at the White House tribal conference]. The Coeur d'Alene Tribe in Idaho, the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribal Government in Fort Yukon, Alaska, the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Milwaukee, Menominee Tribal Enterprises in Wisconsin, the Seneca Nation of Indians in Irving, New York, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Growth Fund in Ignacio, Colorado, the Tonto Apache Tribe of Payson, Arizona, the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council in Minnesota and the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska will use their respective funds to develop a variety of alternative energy sources involving wind, biomass and solar power. Moniz said the DOE intends to continue and expand on these efforts. “ From community solar projects in New Mexico and Colorado, to the commercial scale wind projects in Maine, small biomass projects in Wisconsin, DOE is working with 20 tribes and Alaskan Native villages to empower leaders with tools and resources needed to lead energy development that can foster self-sufficiency, sustainability, and economic growth,” he told the tribal leaders at the conference. “At the Department of Energy I have certainly made it a priority to raise our game with state, local governments, tribes. We believe, in the end, a national policy needs to build from tribal, state, local, and regional policies and activity.”

 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Fugate released the Agency's draft Tribal Consultation Policy, October 28, 2013, in a Dear Tribal Leader Letter, with comments requested by March 3, 2014. A copy of the draft policy is available at: The purpose of the policy is to establish a process to guide FEMA officials on how to engage Indian tribes and Tribal Officials in regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration on actions that have tribal implications. There are four phases of the consultation process that are detailed in this policy:
• Identification of whom to consult and what type of consultation to conduct
• Notification to tribal officials of the consultation
• Input from tribal officials and documentation of comments
• Follow-up by FEMA on the input received. Concerning when Consultation Should Occur: For instances when consultation is not already required by law the draft policy states that "(1) FEMA may identify an action that might be appropriate for consultation; or (2) an Indian tribe or Tribal Official may make a request to FEMA to consider an action appropriate for consultation" and "Agency officials are to initiate consultation on actions with tribal implications and are to do so early enough in the decision-making process to allow tribes the opportunity to provide meaningful input and to give FEMA the opportunity to consider the input." Concerning definitions: The draft policy defines "tribal implication" and "substantial direct effect" as follows: 
"A 'tribal implication' occurs when the action has a substantial direct effect on: (1) one or more Indian tribes; (2) the relationship between the Federal government and Indian tribes; or (3) on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes." "The term 'substantial direct effect' generally refers to an effect or impact on an Indian tribe(s), either beneficial or adverse, that is directly caused by the FEMA action and that is significant in size or amount when compared to the effect or impact on non-tribal stakeholders." In instances an action would affect tribes but is not a substantial direct effect the draft policy explains that "the Senior Agency Officials and Tribal Consultation Coordinators should include tribes in the outreach normally conducted with other stakeholders affected by the action, such as States and local governments, emergency managers, or members of the public." Since the enactment of PL 113-2 on January 29, 2013, which amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to recognize the authority of tribal governments to directly petition the President for a declaration of an emergency or major disaster , tribes are more directly affected by FEMA's actions. In light of these changes, this tribal consultation policy takes on an even greater importance (“FEMA Draft Tribal Consultation Policy Released; Comments Requested,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-099, November 1, 2013,

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced, in a November 1, 2013 Federal Register notice, the availability of $288 million in firefighter assistance grants for FY 2013. Tribes, tribal organizations, Alaska Native villages, and Alaska Native Regional Corporations are among the eligible applicants. Applications were due by December 6, 2013. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program makes grants directly to fire departments, non-affiliated emergency medical services (EMS) organizations and state fire training academies for the purpose of enhancing the abilities of first responders to protect the health and safety of the public as well as that of first responder personnel facing fire and fire related hazards. Categories of Funding. Funding is provided under two categories: Operations and Safety Funding Priorities and Vehicles Acquisition. Further Information. Further information may be found at which provides a schedule of webinars and information on preparing quality applications ("FEMA Accepting Applications for Firefighter Assistance Grant Program; Tribes Eligible," Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 13-105, November 22, 2013,

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) issued a guidance document on the intersection of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration) and the review process under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), November 22, 2013. On March 1, 2013, the ACHP adopted a plan to support the Declaration, and the new guidance document is a step in carrying out that plan. In the plan, the ACHP committed itself to raising awareness about the Declaration in the historic preservation community and incorporating the principles and aspirations of the Declaration into ACHP initiatives and programs. The new guidance document, the plan, the Declaration, and related documents are all available on the ACHP website at: . Section 106 of the NHPA requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties, and afford the ACHP an opportunity to comment. The Declaration contains 46 Articles. The ACHP has identified nine Articles that intersect with the mission and work of the ACHP and with the section 106 process: Articles 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 25, 31, and 38. The new guidance document addresses the relationship between Article 18 and the requirements of the section 106 process for consultation with Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations (NHOs). The ACHP plans to address the other Articles in future guidance documents. Article 18 provides: Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions. Section 101(d)(6) of the NHPA and the regulations implementing the section 106 process require federal agencies to consult with any tribe or NHO that attaches religious and cultural significance to a historic property that would be affected by a proposed federal undertaking. The guidance document notes that the scope of the section 106 process is in one sense narrower – it is limited to the impacts of proposed federal undertakings on historic properties – and in another sense broader than Article 18 – the consultation requirement applies regardless of whether a tribe or NHO holds any rights in such properties. Regardless of this difference in scope, the guidance document states that section 106 is consistent with the thrust of Article 18. In addition, unlike the Declaration, the section 106 process has the force of law ("AHCP Guidance on the Intersection of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Section 106 Process," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-108, December 6, 2013,

The 1964 Columbia River Treaty between the United States and Canada for power production and flood control for both countries is under consideration for revision, which requires a 10-year written notice for changes to take effect. Work has been underway for three years, with the U.S. Entity led by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and with a Sovereign Review Team (SRT) that includes four northwest states, 15 tribes, and 11 federal agencies. The aim is to have changes included in the year 2024, which means having them finalized and agreed upon in 2014 Jack McNeel, “Water Power: 15 Tribes Have a Say in Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty,” ICTMN, July 25, 2013,

The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) passed several regulations. Published in the Federal Register /Vol. 78, No. 207 / Friday, October 25, 2013 /Rules and Regulations 63873, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, National Indian Gaming Commission, 25 CFR Part 543, RIN 3141–AA27, was the Final rule that amends its minimum internal control standards for Class II gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to add standards for kiosks. "Effective November 25, 2013, The rule added a new part to the Commission’s regulations establishing Minimum Internal Control Standards (MICS) to reduce the risk of loss because of customer or employee access to cash and cash equivalents within a casino. The rule contains standards and procedures that govern cash handling, documentation, game integrity, auditing, surveillance, and variances, as well as other areas. The complete text is available at: On  April 2, 2013 - The National Indian Gaming Commission published the final rule in the Federal Register, that became effective on Sept. 1, 2013, for the self-regulation of class II gaming by Indian Tribes. “This final rule is designed to more clearly define and streamline the self-regulation certification process for Tribes who wish to pursue Class II self-regulation." The complete test is available at: The National Indian Gaming Commission Policy on Consultation with Indian Tribes, finalized in July, is available at:

Federal Indian Budgets

Impact of Government Shutdown (and some on Sequestration of Federal Funds) on Indian Nations and People

         The impact of the U.S. government shutdown had varied with different tribes.  Dan Frosch, “Pulling Aid Away, Shutdown Deepens Indians’ Distress," The New York Times, reported that on the Crow reservation in Montana, as elsewhere , many rely on lease payments from the Bureau of Indian Affairs on land owned by their families, but with the partial shutdown of the federal government, which began on Oct. 1, 2013, they did not received their checks, until the shutdown ended. For many this was an extreme hardship, which would have been most serious if the shut downs had lasted longer. Moreover, "Some 364 Crow members, more than a third of the tribe’s work force, have been furloughed. A bus service, the only way some Crow are able to travel across their 2.3-million-acre reservation, has been shuttered. A home health care program for sick tribal members has been suspended. Though the tribe has enough money to keep a skeleton government operating for now, it is running out." "The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which provides a vast sweep of services for more than 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, has kept essential programs, like federal police and firefighting services, running. But it has stopped financing tribal governments and the patchwork of programs and grants that form the thin blanket of support for reservations racked by poverty and other ills." Many nations, such as The Yurok tribe in Northern California, rely almost entirely on federal financing to operate. "Its reservation, which spans parts of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, already has an 80 percent unemployment rate, said Susan Masten, the tribal vice chairwoman. With money suddenly unavailable, the tribe has furloughed 60 of its 310 employees, closed its child-care center and halted emergency financial assistance for low-income and older members." Financing for the environmental program that ensures clean drinking water on the reservation was running low, and would have run out if the shut down had lasted much longer, which would also have brought a second round of furloughs that could have included tribal police officers. The situation was more serious on the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians reservation in northern Minnesota, all nonemergency medical procedures were placed on hold, but the nation was able to budget enough funding to keep the most critical services running until the end of the month, and the shutdown ended before that. For many nations the shut down was made more difficult by the federal budget sequestration, that imposed 5% percent cuts to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service, as well as programs from other agencies, which had already caused the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan to shut down its H.I.V. prevention program and furlough employees in its Head Start program for a month. The shutdown forced the Sault Tribe to shift casino revenue from other programs to keep its government operating. Assistant secretary for Indian affairs, Kevin Washburn, noted that the shutdown could have long-term effects for tribes and their members. For example, financial deals and economic programs were suspended for the duration, while. environmental reviews of tribal projects were be delayed. Moreover, the impact on the thousands of Bureau of Indian Affairs employees who were furloughed was compounded because many support poor relatives. By contrast,       Bryan Daffron, “Oklahoma Tribes Weathering the Shutdown,” ICTMN, October 11, 2013,, reported that while in the Southwest Oklahoma town of Anadarko, Oklahoma, one of the largest employers is the federal government, that shut down most of its operations during the shutdown, the essential services remained operating, including the BIA Police, part of the Indian Health and Riverside Indian School—a federal boarding school that is part of the Bureau of Indian Education— because Riverside’s federal funding was allocated on an annual basis, from July to July of the following year. In general, " Tribal governments in Oklahoma are faring better than expected at press time. For some tribes, it is due in part from gaming and other diversified interests. For others, it is due to grant monies and other funding from established “draw-downs” already in place." For example, the Cherokee Nation continued to operate its programs and businesses, and could have done so for some time, even if the shutdown had lasted longer. Similarly, the Muscogee Creek Nation was able to implement measures against a federal shutdown that were in place against that possibility which could have kept programs running for at least 30 days. Similarly, the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma was able to keep its programs running through the relatively short shutdown, using other tribal revenues. Also able to keep programs operating were the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes, and the Caddo Nation, among other Oklahoma tribes. Further north, “Shoshone-Bannock Takes Preemptive Approach to Government Shutdown,” ICTMN, October 4, 2013,, reported that the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho were also able to shift other funding in preparation for the government shutdown that kept their programs operating during its short duration, but would not have been sufficient to continue doing that for a much longer period. The relatively well off Southern Utes of Colorado also had sufficient revenue from tribal businesses to keep services going through the short recession, while the shutdown delayed several projects requiring federal involvement, including damage to forest roads forced to close by recent extraordinarily heavy rains (Ace Stryker, "Does a federal shutdown matter to the tribe?" Southern Ute Drum, October 4, 2013). Similarly, the Navajo Times reported that Navajo Nation was able to keep programs functioning during the shutdown by using tribal funds. Prior to the Shutdown, the White House held a conference call with tribal governments to discuss the possible impacts a shutdown would have on tribal programs. It indicated that while the federal government would have to stop funding many Indian programs, essential services would continue. For example, the Indian Health Services continued direct service programs, while the BIA, Bureau of Indian Education, and Health and Human Services (IHS) posted contingency plans for some operations. On the other hand, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) shut down public safety, and child protection among other services.

         As of July, the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota was feeling the impact of the 5% sequester of U.S. government funding. With the police force facing a 14% cumulative budget reduction, it had let 14 officers go, and was unable to keep up needed maintenance on its nine police cars, while the North Dakota U.S. Attorney warned that recent gains in increased federal law enforcement support and prosecution in Indian country were likely to be lost as a result of rollbacks from the sequester. With housing on the Pine ridge Reservation far from sufficient in quantity, and much of it in very bad condition, the housing improvement program with a 1500 person waiting list was forced to shut down ("Abandoning Indian Country," The New York Times, July 24, 2013).

2014 Budget Activity

Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) introduced HR 3229, October 1, 2013, legislation that would authorize advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The goal is for the IHS and tribal health care providers to have adequate advance notice of the amount of federal appropriations to expect and thus not be subjected to the uncertainties of late funding and short-term Continuing Resolutions (CRs). HR 3229 was referred to the Committees on Budget; Energy and Commerce; and Natural Resources. The current partial government shutdown due to Congressional inability to enact any fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations certainly highlights this precarious budget situation. If IHS was receiving funding on an advance appropriations schedule, its FY 2014 appropriations would have been enacted as part of a FY 2013 appropriations act and the IHS and tribal health care providers would not be faced with being in a new fiscal year with no knowledge of what amount of funding to expect. Instead, the IHS (and other agencies) has had to furlough some employees and have others working on a currently unpaid status. Tribal health care providers are similarly affected. Advance appropriations are enacted a year before the funds become available, thus allowing the federal agency knowledge of its funding level a year in advance. Fortunately the advance appropriations process does not put additional pressure on the appropriations subcommittees' allocations. For instance, if FY 2015 IHS advance appropriations were included in the FY 2014 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, those advance appropriations would not be counted against the FY 2014 Interior Appropriations Subcommittee allocation but rather would be counted against its FY 2015 allocation. For the first year of advance appropriations Congress would enact two years of IHS funds, and thereafter revert to appropriations one year at a time. Veterans organizations advocated for years for Congress to provide the Veterans Administration (VA) with advance appropriations, noting that chronically late funding negatively affected their ability to properly plan and manage its resources, including recruitment and retention of medical personnel. In 2009 Congress responded by authorizing advance appropriations for the VA medical accounts. Like the VA, the IHS and tribal organizations provide direct, federally-funded health care services to a specific population; the Young/Lujan bill would bring parity to the IHS with regard to the federal appropriations process. Enactment of legislation authorizing advance appropriations is the first step in actually realizing such funding. The Budget Resolution, while not having the effect of law, lists particular programs which may have advance appropriations. In order for IHS advance appropriations to not be subject to a point of order, one would want the IHS Services and the IHS Facilities accounts included on that list in the Budget Resolution. Finally, the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill needs to provide the advance appropriations. Hobbs-Straus has been working with the Maniilaq Association on the issue of IHS advance appropriations, and the effort has expanded to consist of a coalition of national Indian organizations including the National Indian Health Board, National Congress of American Indians, and the United South and Eastern Tribes. The on-line version of this memorandum has attach the text of HR 3229 as well as a Dear Colleague letter from Representatives Young and Lujan soliciting co-sponsors to the (“Indian Health Service Advance Appropriations Bill Introduced in the House, ”Hobbs-Straus GENERAL MEMORANDUM 13-088, October 10, 2013,

Senators Murkowski (R-AK); Begich (D-AK); Udall (D-NM); and Schatz (D-HI) introduced S 1570, October 10, 2013 , legislation that would authorize advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The goal is for the IHS and tribal health care providers to have adequate advance notice of the amount of federal appropriations to expect and thus not be subjected to the uncertainties of late funding and short-term Continuing Resolutions (CRs). S 1570 is the companion bill to HR 3229 which was introduced on October 1 by Representatives Young (R-AK) and Lujan (D-NM). S 1570 was referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs. The ongoing partial government shutdown due to Congressional inability to enact fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations certainly highlights this precarious budget situation. If IHS was receiving funding on an advance appropriations schedule in the manner that the Veterans Administration (VA) medical accounts do, its FY 2014 appropriations would have been enacted as part of a FY 2013 appropriations act and the IHS and tribal health care providers would not be faced with being in a new fiscal year with no knowledge of what amount of funding to expect. Instead, the IHS has had to furlough some employees and have others working on a currently unpaid status. Tribal health care providers are similarly affected. Like the VA, the IHS and tribal organizations provide direct, federally-funded health care services to a specific population; HR 3229/S1570 would bring parity to the IHS with regard to the federal appropriations process. Hobbs-Straus has been working with the Maniilaq Association on the issue of IHS advance appropriations, and the effort has expanded to consist of a coalition of national Indian organizations including the National Indian Health Board, National Congress of American Indians, and the United South and Eastern Tribes (“Indian Health Service Advance Appropriations Bill Introduced in the Senate,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-091, October 11, 2013,

In the Courts

Lower Federal Courts

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held in Los Coyotes Band v. Jewel, September 4, 2013, that the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeño Indians had no claim against the government based on the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) rejection of the Tribe's request to contract law enforcement services. In short, the Court determined that since the BIA did not carry out or fund a law enforcement program for the Tribe—given that California is a Public Law (PL) 280 state—there was no currently existing program conducted by the BIA that the Tribe may take over under the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA). Furthermore, the ISDEAA cannot be used to force the BIA to create and fund a new law enforcement program on the Tribe’s reservation. Under these circumstances, the Court held that the BIA properly declined the Tribe’s proposal on the ground that "the amount of funds proposed under the contract is in excess of the applicable funding level under 25 U.S.C. 450f(a)(2)(D)." The Court also rejected the Tribe's claims that: (1) the BIA allocation system was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and (2) violated equal protection. In this case, the Tribe asked the BIA to fund an ISDEAA contract for law enforcement services, as the State of California and the County of San Diego had failed to adequately protect tribal citizens. The BIA denied the request pursuant to Section 450f(a)(2)(D) of ISDEAA because the amount of funds proposed under the contract exceeded the funding level for the contract, as determined under Section
450j-1(a). The BIA explained that since it "generally does not allocate funds for direct law enforcement services to tribes in PL 280 states," its funding for Los Coyotes was zero. The Court relied on Section 450j-1(a)(1) of the ISDEAA to uphold the BIA’s funding decision. That Section provides that the "amount of funds provided under the terms of self-determination contracts . . . shall not be less than the appropriate Secretary would have otherwise provided for the operation of the programs or portions thereof for the period covered by the contract . . ." The Court interpreted this language to only require the Secretary to fund the proposed contract with the amount that the BIA would have otherwise spent on the program—in this case, zero dollars. The Court also rejected the Tribe’s argument that the BIA’s failure to fund law enforcement on the Tribe’s reservation was arbitrary and capricious and thus violated the APA. The Court held that this argument was foreclosed by the Supreme Court's decision in Lincoln v. Vigil, 508 U.S. 182 (1993), which prevented APA review of such discretionary allocations. Since the BIA received lump sum appropriations for law enforcement services, the Court held that the BIA was free to decide how to allocate those funds and it was up to the Tribe to show a "specific appropriation" for law enforcement on its reservation, or some language that deprived the BIA of discretion to allocate the funds. Since the Tribe had shown neither, the BIA was free to allocate the funds as it deemed necessary. The Ninth Circuit's opinion overturns the district court's decision that held the BIA could not discriminate against tribes in allocating and contracting law enforcement funding based on their location in states covered by PL 280. The Ninth Circuit rejected this holding and expanded the federal government's discretion to reject applications for ISDEAA contracts if the federal government is not currently funding the requested program covered by the contract at a particular tribe. The Court's reasoning sidesteps the fact that there is a contractible program at the BIA for law enforcement services and instead holds that the determinative factor is whether there is funding for a particular law enforcement program at a particular tribe. If not, then the government has no obligation to reallocate funds so that it can contract for those services with a tribe not already funded. This holding undermines the ISDEAA's goal of reducing "federal domination of Indian service programs," 25 U.S.C. §§ 450(a)(1), by allowing the BIA to limit programs, such as the provision of law enforcement services, on a tribe-by-tribe basis, based on previous discretionary allocations of program funding. While this holding precludes use of the ISDEAA to force the BIA to create and fund a program which a tribe or tribal organization may then contract to carry out, the holding is likely to be limited to that particular context. The holding does not preclude tribes or tribal organizations from contracting programs, functions, services, and activities (PFSAs) which the BIA already carries out directly at a particular funding level. Subsection 450j-1(a)(1) mandates that the BIA fund an initial contract at not less than the BIA would otherwise have provided for operating the PFSA directly. However, a contracting tribe or tribal organization may renegotiate contract funding for subsequent years to reflect changed circumstances and factors, including, but not limited to, cost increases beyond the control of the tribal organization under Subsections 450j-1(b)(5) and 450j(c)2 of the ISDEAA. The Court did note that tribes had "broad discretion to administer a variety of programs," including law enforcement, under self-governance compacts that provide tribes with single funding agreements. (Opinion at 11 n.3.) In addition, the Court notes that the Tribal Law and Order Act affords tribes the ability to petition the Attorney General to reassume concurrent criminal jurisdiction over their lands. However, the lack of funding for programs in the Tribal Law and Order Act makes this an empty option for many tribes. The Court took great pains to acknowledge the problems with crime and policing in Indian Country, repeatedly citing the statistics showing the prevalence of violence and lawlessness due to jurisdictional and funding problems. Yet, the Court refused to hold that the ISDEAA or the APA can be used to hold the government accountable for its failure to help remedy these problems by ruling against the Tribe. "If the question is whether the BIA should have spent money on law enforcement on the reservation, it is simply not our role to answer," claimed the Court, noting they doubt funding is adequate. The Los Coyotes Band may now petition for a rehearing of this case, an en banc hearing by a larger panel of Ninth Circuit judges, or petition the U.S. Supreme Court for review. None of these options appear likely to succeed, but we will continue to monitor this case and others related to this issue (such as Hopland Band v. Salazar, which was stayed in the Northern District Court of California pending this decision). Please see Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 11-128 (November 4, 2011) for a report on the lower court's decision (“Ninth Circuit Denies Los Coyotes Band's Self-Determination Act Claim for Law Enforcement Funds,” Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 13-078, September 9, 2013,

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, October 3, 2013, issued a decision, favorable to tribes, which affirmed tribal court jurisdiction over a non-Indian corporation for purposes of a civil tort action, in Dolgencorp, Inc. v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, No. 12-60668. The case involved a claim brought by a minor tribal member against Dolgencorp, Inc. and one of Dolgencorp's employees – both non-Indian – in tribal court. Dolgencorp operates a general store on the Mississippi Choctaw Reservation under a lease and business license from the Tribe, on land held in trust for the Tribe by the United States. The minor had been placed for an unpaid internship in the store after Dolgencorp agreed to participate in the Tribe's job training program for youth. The tort claim alleged that the employee molested the minor tribal member and that Dolgencorp had been negligent in hiring, training, or supervising the employee. Dolgencorp and the employee sought dismissal of the action in tribal court on the basis that the court lacked jurisdiction over them. The tribal court held that it had jurisdiction, and Dolgencorp then filed suit in federal district court seeking to stop the tribal court proceedings. When the district court denied Dolgencorp's motions to enjoin the tribal court, Dolgencorp appealed to the Fifth Circuit. A three-judge panel affirmed, with one dissenting opinion. The Fifth Circuit majority opinion is notable for its interpretation and application of Supreme Court precedent on tribal civil jurisdiction over non-Indians, in particular the important case of Montana v. United States (1981). In that case, the Supreme Court significantly curtailed tribal civil regulatory jurisdiction over non-Indians, ruling that, at least on non-Indian fee lands, tribes generally lack inherent regulatory authority over non-Indians. However, the Supreme Court recognized two exceptions: first, the Court held that a tribe may exercise regulatory jurisdiction over non-Indians "who enter into consensual relationships with the tribe or its members, through commercial dealing, contracts, leases, or other arrangements." Second, the Court held that tribal regulatory jurisdiction also extends to non-members when their conduct "threatens or has some direct effect on the political integrity, the economic security, or the health or welfare of the tribe." In the years since Montana was decided, the Supreme Court and other courts have tended to apply the Montana rule precluding jurisdiction broadly, and to construe its two exceptions narrowly. In this case, both the district court and the Fifth Circuit held that the tribal court had jurisdiction to hear the tort claim under the first Montana exception, since the non-Indian corporation had willingly participated in the Tribe's job training program. The Fifth Circuit majority also found, as required by Montana, that there was a sufficient connection between the minor's tort claims and the consensual relationship to justify tribal court jurisdiction to hear the tort claims. The opinion stated: "In essence, a tribe that has agreed to place a minor tribal member as an unpaid intern in a business located on tribal land on a reservation is attempting to regulate the safety of the child's workplace. … The fact that the regulation takes the form of a tort duty that may be vindicated by individual tribe members in tribal court makes no difference." The majority rejected the dissent's main argument that Supreme Court precedent requires that the consensual relationship specifically "implicate tribal governance and internal relations." The dissent pointed to language from the Montana opinion itself, stating that tribes do not retain the right to "exercise … tribal power beyond what is necessary to protect tribal self-government or to control internal relations … " and from language in a subsequent Supreme Court decision, Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co. (2008). Significantly, the majority disagreed and instead adopted the district court's holding that, "under Montana, 'disputes arising from member-nonmember or tribe-nonmember consensual relationships are deemed as a matter of law to impact tribal rights of self-government sufficient to permit the exercise of tribal court jurisdiction to adjudicate such disputes.' " The majority opinion also disagreed with the dissent's view that tribal court jurisdiction over non-Indians is not necessarily permitted under the Montana exceptions, since the Montana opinion involved tribal regulatory authority, not tribal court jurisdiction. Rather, the majority held that, if the Tribe could exercise regulatory jurisdiction over the non-member corporation under Montana, the tribal court could also exercise civil jurisdiction to hear tort claims for the same activity. Though the dissent was concerned that non-Indian parties might not have access to tribal tort law (which may rely on tribal custom), the majority opinion found that, in this particular case, Dolgencorp could have easily anticipated that the conduct alleged (molestation of a child) would be actionable under tribal law (“Fifth Circuit Upholds Tribal Court Jurisdiction Over Non-Indian Corporation for Civil Tort Claim,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-090, October 11, 2013,

A Three judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, July 15 2013 reversed a Massachusetts federal district court decision that said states and their subdivisions cannot tax property on Indian land regardless of who owns it, in ruling that state and local governments can collect taxes on slot machines leased from non-tribal businesses by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s (MPTN). The Pequots filed an appeal August 21, supported on August 28 by an amici curiae by the he Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Coquille Indian Tribe of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation ( Gale Courey Toensing, “Five Tribes Join Mashantucket Appeal of Critical Tax Ruling,” ICTMN, September 12, 2013,

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued its decision in Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin v. Village of Hobart , October 18, 2013, a case in which the Tribe sought a declaratory judgment that the Village lacks authority to assess stormwater management fees on parcels of tribal trust lands. The Village filed a third-party claim against the United States, asserting that if the Village cannot collect the fees from the Tribe, then the Unites States, as holder of the underlying fee title to the tribal trust lands, must pay the fees. The Seventh Circuit held that the Clean Water Act (CWA) does not authorize a state or a subdivision of a state to regulate stormwater runoff on trust lands within an Indian reservation. The court also held, in the alternative, that the fee the Village sought to collect was in fact a tax rather than a service charge, and federal law expressly forbids a state or its subdivisions from taxing Indian trust land. See, e.g., 25 U.S.C. § 465. The court also ruled against the Village in its claim against the United States. Hobart is a town of about 7,000 residents, within the boundaries of the Oneida Indian reservation. About 17 percent of Village residents are members of the Oneida Tribe. The trust land at issue comprises some 1400 acres, about 6.6 percent of the land within the village. The trust parcels are scattered throughout the village. Stormwater runoff is a serious environmental problem. Pursuant to amendments to the CWA enacted in 1987, discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) are required to obtain and comply with permits issued through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pursuant to CWA section 402. The NPDES permit program is operated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the first instance, but can be delegated to states and to those tribes that have been authorized to be treated like states. Wisconsin has been delegated authority to administer the NPDES permit program, but the delegation does not include Indian lands. So, the Village had applied to EPA for a permit for its MS4. Regulations issued by EPA govern discharges from MS4s, including those of "small" municipalities – those with a population of less than 100,000 – for which an NPDES permit need only cover the "urbanized area." For purposes of this program, tribes are included in the CWA definition of municipality. The Tribe had applied to EPA for a permit to cover the trust lands at issue. The federal CWA program does not specifically provide for a mechanism for funding MS4s, but many states have enacted laws authorizing municipalities to establish stormwater utilities, and such a utility typically has authority to assess fees on properties within its jurisdiction to support construction and operation of an MS4. The Village of Hobart had established such a stormwater utility. The Village's claim against the United States was based on section 313 of the CWA, which provides that the departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of each of the three branches of the federal government "shall be subject to, and comply with, all Federal, State, interstate, and local requirements … to the same extent as any nongovernmental entity including the payment of reasonable service charges." 33 U.S.C. § 1323. This section was first enacted in 1972. It has been the subject of litigation, including a Supreme Court decision that it does not require federal agencies to obtain state permits. EPA v. California, 426 U.S. 200 (1976). An amendment enacted in 1977 clarified that federal facilities are required to obtain state permits. An amendment enacted in 2011 added a new subsection (c) providing that "reasonable service charges" may include a "nondiscriminatory fee, charge, or assessment" associated with a stormwater management program. In its complaint in federal district court, the Tribe had argued that the charge the Village seeks to collect from the Tribe is in fact a tax on trust land, which is specifically barred by federal law. In the alternative, the Tribe had argued that, if the Village's ordinance is a regulation rather than a tax, it is preempted by operation of federal law, which broadly preempts state or local regulatory authority over tribal lands. The district court rendered summary judgment for the Tribe on the tax argument and did not reach the preemption argument. It also dismissed the claim against the United States. The Seventh Circuit found the Village's ordinance preempted, stating as a fact the proposition that tribal trust land is "for the most part not subject to state jurisdiction" and citing COHEN'S Handbook of Federal Indian Law for the proposition that "Federal preemption of state law in the field of Indian affairs has persisted as a major doctrine in the Supreme Court's modern Indian law jurisprudence." The court then framed the question as whether the federal government has authorized the Village to assess the fees on the trust lands at issue; found that the only premise the Village had advanced for such authority was CWA section 313; and rejected it, reasoning that, under the CWA, it is EPA that has regulatory authority over Indian trust lands. On the alternative ground that the fee at issue is a tax and not a service charge, the court reasoned that it is a tax because it is designed to raise revenue to pay for a project, not to compensate the local government for a service provided to particular landowners (“Seventh Circuit Rules that the Clean Water Act Does Not Authorize a Municipality to Charge an Indian Tribe Fees to Control Stormwater Runoff from Trust Lands,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-100, November 1, 2013,

Carsten v. Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada arose out of a claim against the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada (ITCN) by an employee who alleged that the ITCN violated the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by denying her request for time off due to a serious medical issue and thereafter terminating her employment. The United States District Court for the District of Nevada declined to address the FMLA issue and held that because the ITCN was entitled to sovereign immunity, the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case. The ITCN is a non-profit organization made up of 26 federally recognized Nevada tribes, and it is governed by an executive board composed of tribal leaders from each of the 26 tribes. The ITCN manages several federal and state funded programs on behalf of the member tribes, including the program for which the plaintiff worked. The plaintiff alleged in her complaint that she had a serious medical condition that made her eligible for time off under the FMLA. She requested leave from the ITCN's personnel director, but her request was ultimately denied by the ITCN's executive director. The ITCN argued that the plaintiff could not sue the ITCN because her suit was barred by sovereign immunity, and the Nevada District Court agreed with ITCN. In so holding, the Court relied in part on Pink v. Modoc Indian Health Project, 157 F.3d 1185, 1188 (9th Cir. 1998), in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a non-profit inter-tribal entity, operating off-reservation, served as an arm of its member tribes. The Court determined that the ITCN was similarly an arm of its member tribes and entitled to sovereign immunity. The Court also found that the other two defendants -- who were council members of the ITCN, sued in their official capacity and within the scope of their authority -- were entitled to immunity from suit as well. The Court did not reach the issue of whether the FMLA applies to the ITCN or, for that matter, to Indian tribes generally, nor was it confronted with the facts necessary to consider the application of the FMLA if enforcement were sought by the federal government (“District Court Declines to Address Individual FMLA Claim against Inter-Tribal Council, Dismisses Case on Sovereign Immunity Grounds,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-081, September 20, 2013,

Judge Lawrence Kahn of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of New York issued an important ruling, July 8, 2013, allowing critical portions of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s land claim to move forward. This ruling is the latest in a case between the St. Regis Mohawk, the State of New York, county and municipal governments, the United States, and other parties that has been going for more than three decades. The case, Canadian St. Regis Band of Mohawk Indians, et al., v. State of New York (No. 5:82-CV-0783), involves an ancestral land claim brought by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe for lands the State of New York had unlawfully taken from the Tribe in the early 1800s. The claim asserts that the State of New York violated the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act, 25 U.S.C. § 177, when the State purchased land from the Tribe without federal ratification. The Tribe seeks return of some 14,000 acres of land. The Defendants in the case had asked the court to dismiss all of the Tribe’s claims based on the legal defense of "laches" as applied in City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y. and similar Second Circuit land claims cases. This defense allows a court to dismiss claims if a tribe has waited "too long" to bring a claim about a historical injustice and if the "long-delayed" claims would disrupt the "justifiable" expectations of landowners and entities on the land today. Sherrill and its progeny have been roundly criticized for ignoring the reality of tribal land claims, and for improperly applying the equitable doctrine of laches in a legal claim, but have nevertheless quickly taken hold in “ancient” Indian land claims cases. Importantly, in the July 8 decision, Judge Kahn held that even though the Second Circuit has expansively applied the Sherrill laches defense to block Indian land claims in recent cases, the doctrine is not a "bright-line rule that forecloses any possibility of a successful ‘ancient’ Indian land claim." He concluded that to find otherwise would be to "prescribe a broader and disturbingly anti-democratic" meaning to the laches defense. The court noted that the Sherrill laches defense involves three distinct factors: passage of time, the disruptive nature of the claims, and the potential of the claims to upset justifiable expectations of individuals and entities currently occupying the land. The court’s ruling confirms that all of these factors must be considered on a case-by-case basis in any Indian land claim, and that the passage of a long period of time between dispossession of land and the commencement of a claim is not a dispositive factor or automatic bar to those claims. In this case, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe was able to show using census data that the population in the Hogansburg Triangle area of New York is over 75 percent Indian and clearly differs from that of the surrounding region, unlike the lands at issue in Sherrill, which the Supreme Court found had a "longstanding distinctly non-Indian character." Based on the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s population data, Judge Kahn found that the Defendants could have no "settled expectations" that would be upset by an ultimate judgment in the Tribe’s favor for that portion of the land claims – in other words, the third Sherrill factor did not apply. On that basis, the Court agreed with a Magistrate Judge’s recommendation to allow the Hogansburg Triangle claim to proceed. Though the District Court ruling did apply the Sherrill laches defense to the Tribe’s other claims, the ruling sets out important limits on the Sherrill defense for land claims over lands that are heavily populated by Indians—particularly those adjacent to reservations. The ruling confirms that the courts should not, in Judge Kahn’s words, take Sherrill and other recent land claims cases as a sign to "embrace and endorse a seemingly limitless version of laches that would stamp out even the most deserving of Indian land claims" (Federal Judge Allows Critical Portion of St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Land Claim to Proceed,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-066, July 19, 2013,

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted New York City’s request, September 9, 2013, for a preliminary injunction against Seneca Indian Nation-based tobacco wholesalers, Wolfpack Tobacco, Cloud and Company, Allegany Sales and Marketing, PM Delivery - and individuals employed by or associated with those companies regarding the sale and distribution of cigarettes from a place on the Seneca Indian Nation’s Alleghany Reservation to customers in New York City and elsewhere - that stops them from advertising, selling or shipping cigarettes without tax stamps or monthly reports of sales. The case involves allegations of violations of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT), the Cigarette Marketing Standards Act (CMSA), the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act (CCTA) ( Gale Courey Toensing, “Tough Tactics: NYC Wins Injunction Against Seneca Tobacco Wholesalers,” ICTMN, September 20, 2013,

Although U.S. District Court Judge Karen Schreier dismissed the Native voting-rights lawsuit Brooks v. Gant, August 6, 2013, Oglala Sioux Tribe members who had sued South Dakota and Shannon County officials, seeking a satellite early-voting and registration office that would give them elections in their own county and equal to those other South Dakotans enjoy, the Native plaintiffs had achieved their objective, as at the beginning of the lawsuit, the state and county defendants promised to use federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) money to give the 25 plaintiffs an early-voting satellite through 2018 ( Stephanie Woodard, “'They Caved': Tribe Claims Win in SD Voting-Rights Suit,” ICTMN, August 13, 2013,

Richard Levy, Appointed by Judge Thomas F. Hogan as special master in the Cobell settlement payments, issued an amendment, July 16, allowing Individual money class account holders and trust administration class holders of the suit to file probate documents or state issued small estate affidavits directly to the BIA to expedite settlement (Alistair Lee Bitsoi, "Amendment makes it easier to process Cobell claims," Navajo Times, July 25, 2013).

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe asked the federal government, September 17, 2013, to file suit against the state of South Dakota for crimes against tribal children, under the 1987 Proxmire Act, which enables the United States to prosecute acts of genocide, claiming that South Dakota has been taking its children into care and adopting them out of the tribe illegally, in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The resolution was passed the day after a child-welfare advocate notified the council that a young tribal member whom the state’s Department of Social Services (DSS) had placed with a white adoptive couple had become homeless on the streets of Aberdeen, South Dakota ( Stephanie Woodard, “Standing Rock Sioux Move to Rescue Children, Accuse State of Genocide,” ICTMN, October 3, 2013,

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of California filed suite in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, in Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of California v. Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) and Desert Water Agency (DWA), asking the court to declare that the tribe has “prior and paramount” rights to ground and surface water in the Coachella Valley, to quantify those rights, and stop the local water authorities from further degrading the quantity and quality of water in the aquifer ( Gale Courey Toensing,  “Agua Caliente Water Rights Lawsuit Puts Agencies in Hot Water,” ICTMN, July 17, 2013,

Federal Agency Adjudication

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), July 18, 2013, partially settled a lawsuit it brought in federal district court against several firms and individuals who are engaged in online payday lending businesses for several Indian tribes. Under the terms of the settlement in FTC v. AMG Services, Inc., the lending firms agreed to stop collection tactics that included threats of arrest, imprisonment, and/or lawsuit. The lending firms also agreed to stop requiring borrowers to approve electronic withdrawals from their bank accounts in order to get loan approval. The lending firms also agreed to file detailed compliance reports that also identify all owners, their contact information, and their involvement with each other. The firms in the case are owned by three tribes, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska (these tribes were not included as defendants in the case). The FTC alleged that the payday lending firms were engaging in unfair lending practices under the FTC Act, the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA). The defendants asserted tribal sovereign immunity in claiming that the FTC has no authority to regulate the defendants because they are acting as arms of the tribes themselves. The defendants also claimed they were not "for-profit corporations" and so the FTC Act did not cover them. The federal magistrate in the case recommended that summary judgment be granted to the effect that the FTC Act applies to Indian tribes and thus gives the FTC jurisdiction to enforce the FTC Act, TILA, and EFTA against the defendants. The magistrate, however, also found that there was a factual dispute as to whether the defendants were for-profit corporations under the FTC Act and thus refused to recommend summary judgment on that question. Rather, if the magistrate's recommendations are approved, the case will proceed to a trial on that issue. The magistrate relied on Fed. Power Comm'n v. Tuscarora Indian Nation, 362 U.S. 99 (1960) and Donovan v. Coeur d'Alene Tribal Farm, 751 F.2d 1113 (9th Cir. 1985) for the proposition that laws of general applicability, such as the FTC Act, apply to Indian tribes. The magistrate wrote: The court finds that the FTC Act (1) is one of general applicability, (2) is silent as to Indian Tribes, (3) provides for specific exemptions, none of which exempt Indian Tribes, arms of Indian Tribes, or employees of arms of Indian Tribes, and (4) gives the FTC the authority to bring suit against Indian Tribes, arms of Indian Tribes, and employees and contractors of arms of Indian Tribes. The court also finds that the FTC is given the authority to enforce TILA and EFTA 'irrespective of' any jurisdictional tests under the FTC Act. The FTC and the payday lending firms did not settle the FTC Act allegations of undisclosed charges and inflated fees. The approved settlement applies only to the named defendants and the settlement stipulates that the defendants do not admit violating federal laws. The activities of some tribes in payday lending has been growing rapidly since at least 2004, see our General Memorandum 12-037, dated March 9, 2012, reporting on a Colorado trial court decision (favorable to tribes). This appears to be a subject that will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court (“Federal Trade Commission Settles Online Payday Lending Suit Extending Its Jurisdiction in Indian Country,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-068, August 1, 2013,

State and Local Courts

The Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma, September 24, 2013 , affirmed the lower trial court's dismissal of a suit against the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that the Tribe is immune from suit in state court for compact-based tort claims and for dram-shop liability claims. The case is Sheffer v. Buffalo Run Casino, PTE, Inc., No. 109265, 2013 OK 77 (Sept. 24, 2013). This case arose when Charles Sheffer, Jennifer Sheffer, and their minor son ("Plaintiffs") sustained injuries when a rental vehicle operated by the employees of a company called Carolina Forge collided with the Plaintiffs' 18-wheeler tractor-trailer. The Plaintiffs not only sued the company, but also sued Buffalo Run Casino, the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, and PTE, Inc. ("Peoria Tribe"). The Plaintiffs claimed that, under Dye v. Choctaw Casino of Pocola, 2009 OK 52, 230 P.3d 507 (per curiam), Griffith v. Choctaw Casino of Pocola, 2009 OK 51, 230 P.3d 488 (per curiam), and Cossey v. Cherokee Nation Enterprises, 2009 OK 6, 212 P.3d 447, state courts could hear compact-based tort claims against the Tribe. The Plaintiffs also argued that, under the court's ruling in Bittle v. Bahe, 2008 OK 10, 192 P.3d 810, the Peoria Tribe waived its sovereign immunity by applying for and receiving an Oklahoma state liquor license, and therefore could be sued for dram-shop liability. The Oklahoma Supreme Court first addressed whether the Plaintiffs could bring their compact-based tort claim against the Peoria Tribe in state court. The model gaming compact (Okla. Stat. tit. 3A §§ 261-282 (2011)) provides for a limited waiver of tribal sovereign immunity for compact-based tort claims. It states that these claims can be brought against the Tribe "in a court of competent jurisdiction." The court had previously ruled in Dye, Griffith, and Cossey that state courts were "courts of competent jurisdiction" under the tribal/state gaming compacts. Since the Oklahoma Supreme Court's rulings in Dye, Griffith, and Cossey, nine tribes have obtained injunctions in federal court preventing Oklahoma state courts from hearing compact-based tort claims on the basis that state courts are not "courts of competent jurisdiction" under the gaming compacts. The trial court in this case found that the Peoria Tribe has not obtained an injunction to prevent the state courts from hearing compact-based tort claims. It held, however, that a state cannot "impose or allow State jurisdiction on Indian lands for the regulation of Indian gaming activities," "unless a tribe affirmatively elects to have State laws and State jurisdiction extend to tribal lands." Sheffer, 2013 OK 77, ¶ 13. Without an express agreement made by the tribe to allow the claim to be heard in state court, the state court is not a "court of competent jurisdiction" under the gaming compact. The Oklahoma Supreme Court examined other cases where courts have held that state courts do not have jurisdiction over tribes without an express waiver of sovereign immunity. The court noted that federal courts, including the Tenth Circuit, have held that gaming compacts do not waive a tribe's sovereign immunity to have compact-based tort claims heard in state court. Because the Peoria Tribe had not expressly waived its sovereign immunity, this court dismissed the case against the Peoria Tribe. In doing so, it overruled Dye, Griffith, and Cossey. The Oklahoma Supreme Court next looked to see if the Plaintiff's dram-shop liability claim against the Tribe could be heard in state court. Previously, the court held in Bittle that applying for and receiving a state-issued liquor license waived a tribe's sovereign immunity for dram-shop liability claims. The court in Bittle found that the United States Supreme Court holding in Rice v. Rehner, 463 U.S. 713 (1983), combined with statutory law regulating liquor in Indian Country, allowed for an implicit waiver of tribal sovereign immunity "in the area of alcoholic beverage laws." Sheffer, 2013 OK 77, ¶ 28. The court then examined its rulings in Seneca Telephone Co. v. Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, 2011 OK 15, 253 P.3d 53, and Diliner v. Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, 2011 OK 61, 258 P.3d 516, and determined that tribes are "immune from a negligence action in state court absent an express waiver by the tribe or express abrogation by Congress." Sheffer, 2013 OK 77, ¶ 31. It found that dram-shop liability claims are based in negligence, and that a tribe does not waive its sovereign immunity by applying for and receiving a liquor license because the liquor license does not contain an express waiver of sovereign immunity. The court held that "applying for and accepting a state liquor license is nothing more than a promise to comply with state liquor laws, not a voluntary waiver of sovereign immunity for private party lawsuits." Id., ¶ 45. In doing so, the Oklahoma Supreme Court overruled its prior holding in Bittle, and dismissed the Plaintiffs' dram-shop liability claim against the Peoria Tribe on the basis of tribal sovereign immunity. The ruling in Sheffer overturns prior case law undermining tribal sovereign immunity. In doing so, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has recognized that tribes are immune from suit in state court unless there is an explicit waiver of tribal sovereign immunity, either by Congress or by the tribe itself. This decision clears up the issue of which courts have jurisdiction over compact-based tort claims, and means that tribes in Oklahoma facing these claims will no longer be subjected to state court jurisdiction. Instead, any claims against the tribe must be brought in tribal court (“Oklahoma Supreme Court Finds Tribe is Immune from Suit in State Court from Compact-Based Tort Claims and Dram-Shop Liability,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-096, November 11, 2013,

The Court of Appeals of the State of New Mexico ruled in Hamaatsa, Inc. v. Pueblo of San Felipe, July 23, 2013, by a vote of 2-1 that the Pueblo of San Felipe was not immune to a lawsuit seeking a ruling that a road owned by the Pueblo was open to the public. The case arose after the Pueblo acquired land in fee simple previously owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Plaintiff, Hamaatsa, owns property contiguous to a road that also crosses through the former BLM parcel. Hamaatsa brought suit in state court after the Pueblo allegedly threatened to restrict Hamaatsa's use of the road. The complaint asks the court to declare that the road is a state public road and that the Pueblo cannot limit use of the road by members of the public, including Hamaatsa. The Pueblo moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the Pueblo could not be sued because of sovereign immunity. The district court denied the Pueblo's motion to dismiss, holding that sovereign immunity did not apply, and the New Mexico appellate court reviewed de novo. Because the Pueblo facially challenged the court's jurisdiction over the lawsuit and did not specifically challenge any of the factual allegations in the complaint, the court assumed that the road was in fact a public road for purposes of its ruling on the motion to dismiss. The appellate court ultimately based its decision on that fact, finding that the Pueblo's sovereign immunity did not apply because of the assumed status of the road. The court reasoned that "the Pueblo offered no evidence of any property or governance interests whatsoever in the road or that the road, concededly a state public road, would threaten or otherwise affect its sovereignty." The court further stated, "If common law sovereign immunity from suit is an attribute of sovereignty, one must wonder why immunity should exist in this case where the Pueblo has shown no other attribute of sovereignty – such as property, treasury, or governance interest in sovereign authority over the road – that could bestow immunity from inherent sovereignty." The New Mexico appellate court also expressed concern that, if sovereign immunity were found to protect the Pueblo, Hamaatsa and potentially many others would be denied legal recourse against the Pueblo for excluding them from a public road. Further, the court implied that it could be possible to infer a waiver of sovereign immunity from the fact that the Pueblo had knowingly purchased property subject to a state public road, though the court did not make its ruling on that basis. There is no automatic right of appeal to the New Mexico Supreme Court, and it is unclear whether the Pueblo will seek discretionary review. One judge dissented. The dissent criticized the majority for straying from the precedent set by the Supreme Court in Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma v. Manufacturing Technologies, Inc., 523 U.S. 751 (1998). In Kiowa Tribe, the Supreme Court held that sovereign immunity barred a suit to enforce a promissory note that the Tribe had signed in the course of commercial dealings outside of reservation boundaries. Though the Supreme Court majority expressed some distaste for the result, it nevertheless held that tribal sovereign immunity is settled law and applies even to off- reservation activity in the absence of a clear waiver or congressional abrogation. The dissent also pointed out that many of the cases relied upon by the majority opinion – cases establishing that tribes lack full jurisdiction over public rights-of-way running through their reservations – have to do with jurisdiction and not with sovereign immunity. The dissent further argued that the Supreme Court has made clear that "[t]here is a difference between the right to demand compliance with state laws and the means available to enforce them," and therefore that the majority's concerns about foreclosing legal remedies against the Pueblo were not an appropriate basis for the decision. Instead, the dissent would have found that sovereign immunity blocked the suit even though it was an in rem action (requiring jurisdiction only over the property at issue) rather than an in personam action (requiring jurisdiction over the property owner). The dissent reasoned that since the property was owned by the Pueblo, the action was in effect a suit against the Pueblo itself. On July 26, 2013, Hobbs-Straus reported on a sovereign immunity case (below) in the New York State Appellate Division, Sue/Perior Concrete & Paving, Inc. v. Lewiston Golf Course Corporation, et al., holding that tribal sovereign immunity did not extend to a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Seneca Niagara Falls Gaming Corporation. (See Hobs-Straus General Memorandum 13-067). Both of these recent cases restrict the scope of tribal sovereign immunity beyond what might be expected in light of the Supreme Court's broad ruling in Kiowa Tribe (“New Mexico Court of Appeals Holds Tribal Sovereign Immunity Inapplicable in Dispute over Use of Public Road Crossing Tribal Lands,” Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 13-073, August 8, 2013,

The Fourth Judicial Department of the New York State Appellate Division, June 17, 2013, issued its decision in Sue/Perior Concrete & Paving, Inc., v. Lewiston Golf Course Corporation, et al., holding that the Lewiston Golf Course Corporation – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Seneca Niagara Falls Gaming Corporation – was not entitled to the protection of the Seneca Nation's sovereign immunity. At issue in this case was the court's application of the multi-factor test established by the New York Court of Appeals for determining whether a tribal instrumentality is protected by the tribe's sovereign immunity. Matter of Ransom v. St. Regis Mohawk Educ. & Community Fund, 86 NY2d 553, 558-560 (N.Y. Court of Appeals 1996). The Lewiston Golf Course Corporation (LGCC) case involved a construction contract dispute over development of a golf course by LGCC, which operates the course as an amenity to the Seneca Niagara Falls Casino, in Niagara Falls, NY. LGCC was chartered by the Seneca Nation to be a subsidiary of the Seneca Niagara Falls Gaming Corporation (SNFGC), itself chartered by the Nation as a subsidiary of the Seneca Gaming Corporation (SGC), which is a wholly-owned Seneca Nation corporate entity. All three entities were established under Seneca Nation law for the purpose of enhancing economic development and employment for the Nation. The boards of all three entities are comprised of the same officials, all appointed by the Seneca Nation. The income generated by each of these entities ultimately is transferred to the Nation. SGC and SNFGC were actually named as co-defendants in this action, but after they were dismissed in a related action on sovereign immunity grounds, Plaintiff dismissed its claims against these entities and elected to proceed against LGCC only. LGCC moved for dismissal on sovereign immunity grounds in the lower court. Plaintiff opposed, arguing that LGCC was not entitled to immunity because it was not an "arm" of the Nation under the multi-factor test described by the Court of Appeals in Ransom. In a decision issued February 6, 2012, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Niagara County (the trial court) agreed with Plaintiff, noting that while LGCC did meet a number of the Ransom factors, it did not share the "purposes" of the Nation because LGCC was established to operate a championship golf course, which, according to the court, was not a governmental purpose. LGCC was "not specifically established to enhance the health, education, and welfare of the Nation." The court also found that the financial interdependence factors of the Ransom analysis had "greater significance" than the other factors, and that since LGCC could not – according to the court – bind the funds of the Nation, it did not meet these factors. ).The court also found, as an independent ground for avoiding sovereign immunity, that the posture of the action – to enforce a mechanics lien – was in rem, that therefore sovereign immunity was not a bar in any event, "since personal jurisdiction over the owners of the golf course (LGCC) is not necessary in the context of such relief." LGCC appealed the decision. The Fourth Judicial Department Appellate Division, in a unanimous decision, upheld the lower court's holding that LGCC was not entitled to the protection of the Nation's sovereign immunity. The Appellate Division noted that "several of the Ransom factors weigh in favor of extending sovereign immunity to LGCC:" it was organized under the Nation's laws and constitution; its governing body was comprised mainly of Nation officials; the Nation governing body has the power to appoint and dismiss the Board members; the Nation exercises control over administration and accounting activities. Yet the court went on to note that "[o]ther factors, however, including what the Court of Appeals has characterized as the "[m]ore important[]" financial factors, weigh in favor of a determination that LGCC does not share in the Nation's sovereign immunity." In particular, the court focused on an application for tax exemption and credits that LGCC submitted to the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, which the court interpreted to mean that LGCC was established "to serve as a regional economic engine" rather than serving ends specific to the Nation. Further, the Appellate Division focused on the lack of documentation in the record showing that the funds of LGCC ultimately went to the benefit of the Nation: With respect to the Ransom financial factors, we note that: (1) LGCC generates its own revenue; (2) there is no evidence in the record (and there is significant evidence to the contrary) that a suit against LGCC would impact the Nation's fiscal resources; and (3) LGCC does not have binding authority over the Nation's funds. The Appellate Division concluded its discussion of sovereign immunity issues by asserting that its decision would not undermine the policy of sovereign immunity. Rather, the court felt that a successful defense of sovereign immunity in these circumstances would adversely impact the Seneca Nation and its business entities: Here, permitting LGCC to retreat behind the Nation's cloak of sovereign immunity after it held itself out as an independent, market participating entity subject to the jurisdiction of the State of New York, including its courts, would discourage non-Indians from entering into business relationships with the Nation's corporations, which "may well retard [the Nation's] economic growth" and undermine one of the purposes of its sovereign immunity. The court did not address the in rem issue and its applicability to a sovereign immunity defense. Because the decision was unanimous, LGCC does not have an automatic right of appeal, but rather must ask for leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, the top appellate court in the state. LGCC filed its motion for leave to appeal on July 23, 2013 (“Interim New York Appellate Court Rejects Sovereign Immunity Defense by Subsidiary Tribal Corporation,” Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 13-067, July 26, 2013, General Memorandum 13-067,

A New Mexico state court, August 15, 2013, approved a water settlement under which Navajo Nation is assured of an additional 130,00 acre feet of water, above the 195,000 acre feet it was already using, from the San Juan River, sufficient to irrigate 40,000 acres of farmland, allowing agricultural expansion, as it removes uncertainty of the water rights (NM court signs off on Navajo water, agriculture settlement, Navajo Times, August 22, 2013).

Tribal Government and State and Local Government Developments,

 The Cherokee Nation Council has passed, and Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed into law, “Cherokee Nation-State of Oklahoma Tobacco Tax Compact Act of 2013 legislation to create a new tobacco compact with the State of Oklahoma, November 14, 2013, following negotiations with the state of Oklahoma. As of November 18, the governor had not yet set a date for finalizing the compact. The Cherokee Nation believes that the new compact provides a more competitive advantage to smoke shop owners within its jurisdiction in northeast Oklahoma, along with greater revenue to the Cherokee Nation as a whole, while the State of Oklahoma is authorized collect 100% percent of its share of tax revenue up front. Where according to the previous compact, “the Nation was required to collect a copy .50 tribal tax, and the State collected 50 percent of all applicable State taxes on cigarettes for sales to most tribal retailers,” and the tribe was not allowed to rebate any part of the tribal tax to tobacco retailers, under the new compact, there is a gradual decrease of tribal tax rates on cigarette cartons by retailers. From November 1 to December 31 of this year, the tax rate will be $3.65 per carton, with an eventual tax rate of $.80 per carton by October 1, 2014. The new compact sets forth dates on which Cherokee Nation and the State of Oklahoma collect varying percentages of revenue on cigarette cartons between 2013 and 2018. By May 1 2018, tax revenues will be spilt 50/50 percent through the end of the compact, which is scheduled to end December 31, 2024. Tax revenue splits between all other tobacco products—ranging from cigars to chewing tobacco—will be 65/35 percent between Cherokee Nation and the State of Oklahoma through December 31 2017, and a 50/50 revenue distribution beginning January 1 2018 through the end of the compact ( Brian Daffron, " Cherokee Nation Passes New Tobacco Compact With State of Oklahoma," ICTMN, November 18, 2013,

Following the Department of Interior Rejection of the original Mashpee-Massachusetts Gaming Compact , the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the governor of Massachusetts signed a revised tribal-state gaming compact, November 15, which was quickly approved by the Massachusetts House. The Department of Interior was considering the revised pact, having approved the federal Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the tribe’s land-in-trust application, October 23. The tribe, which has no reservation or trust lands, had asked Interior to take into trust as an initial reservation 145 acres for the proposed $500 million Project First Light resort casino in Taunton and 170 acres in 11 parcels Mashpee on Cape Cod. Both sites are currently held in fee. In February 2012, Interior issued a preliminary approval designating these lands as an initial reservation. Under the new compact the state would recieve 21% of the gross gaming revenue as long as the tribe’s casino is the only one operating in the state. When a commercial facility opens in one of the other two gaming regions approved by the legislature two years ago, the state’s share of revenue from the Mashpee casino would fall to 17%. The state’s revenue share would be reduced by an additional 2% to 15% if a slot parlor opens in the southeast region of the state ( Gale Courey Toensing, "Mashpee-Governor Sign Revised Tribal-State Compact," ICTMN, November 18, 2013,  The Wampanoag nation of Aquinnah, MA claimed rights for a casino on Martha's Vineyard, but that is of very doubtful legal validity, and some experts believe the tribe may be working for a casino elsewhere in the state (Katherine Q. Selys, "Tribe Claims Approval for Martha's Vineyard Casino, Reviving Fight," The New York Times, November 13, 2013).

Jack McNeel , "Yakama Win in $97 Million Historic Land Mega-Deal," ICTMN, November 22, 2013,, reported, "It took three years and $97 million, but the largest land purchase in Washington State history to benefit resource and conservation management has just been finalized, and the Yakama Nation was instrumental in its orchestration. Governor Jay Inslee, plus several state agencies and environmental groups, also worked to turn this land into the state’s first community forest. The seller was timber company American Forest Holdings. Arent Fox LLP helped broker the transfer. The 51,000-acre deal will protect a significant river and forest ecosystem from future development, said the law firm’s finance officer, Les Jacobowitz, and is a critical part of the larger Yakima River Basin Plan. “We have had a vested interest in the whole thing with this transfer of land,” said Phil Rigdon, who oversees the Yakama Nation Department of Natural Resources. “It has an immense potential for us doing restoration for spring chinook, coho, steelhead and some other fish species that once had inhabited the area but have dwindled due to past management decisions.” The deal gives local communities, including tribes, a voice in managing the lands—from water quality to fish and wildlife management to timber harvest, among other aspects of stewardship. The land lies north of the town of Cle Elum and includes the Teanaway River, a very important watershed in the upper Yakima River Basin."

In response to a 400% increase in HIV/AIDS cases on the Navajo Reservation in the last 13 years Arizona and New Mexico legislators, beginning with members of the congressional delegations, publicly committed to assist the tribe in fighting the epidemic, beginning with the congressional members writing a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expressing their concern (Alastair Lee Bitsoi, "AZ, NM legislators join forces to fight HIV increase," Navajo Times, June 22, 2013).

Navajo Nation completed updating its extradition process, in July, providing a vehicle for other jurisdictions to have access to wanted persons within the Navajo Nation, and preventing the repeat of instances when federal authorities have seized such people on Navajo land, who at times were being held by Navajo authorities (Noel Lyn Smith, "Council strengthens extraction process," Navajo Times, July 25, 2013).

Navajo Nation has taken over running the Gallup, NM Detox Center under an agreement with the City of Gallup, under which it will continue to provide funding for the center (Bill Donovan, "Tribe taking over Gallup Detox Center, Navajo Times, October 10, 2013).

Tribal Developments

According to an Indian Health Service report, not only do American Indians and Alaska Natives rank last among measured ethnicities in various health measures and longevity, but the death rate among Native men is by far the highest, ranging from 200% to 500% higher than for Native women for HIV, unintentional injury, suicide, homicide, diabetes and alcohol related causes, and 10-50 times higher than Native women from cancer, heart disease and liver disease. Over all, Native men have a six to eight year shorter life expectance than do Native women (Alysia Landry, "Report shows death rates among native men highest of all ethnicities," Navajo Times, May 18, 2013).

Mark Fogarty, “Top 5 Philanthropic Foundations Make Native Education a Priority, ICTMN, August 8, 2013, reported, that in the first decade of the Twenty-First Century philanthropy for Native Americans fell, with a 30.8% reduction in 2009, well above the overall reduction in charity of 12% in the U.S. that year with the recession, as, nationwide, the percentage of foundation funding to Natives fell from 0.5 percent in 2000 to 0.3 percent in 2009. One major reduction came with the Ford Foundation discontinuing its Indigenous working group. Funding exceeded $100 million in both—2002 and 2006— but fell to $68 million in 2009. The top 10 foundations accounted for 60% percent of all funding. By category, education received the most funding in 2009—$18 million. Arts and culture was second, at $12.4 million. Public affairs/social benefit was third, at $10.2 million, followed by human services ($10 million) and health ($7 million). By recipient type, colleges and universities were first, followed by educational support agencies, the arts, human service agencies and civil rights groups. The Top Five Foundations by Dollars Granted, 2009 were: 1. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of New Jersey, a four-time top Native funder in the first decade of this century, gave $10.2 million to Indian groups in 2009, 3.5% of its total funding. Some Native projects it has funded in more recent years include $153,000 for health data profiles for the United Southern and Eastern Tribes; nearly $700,000 for the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council to work on improved health care delivery for Wisconsin tribes; and $200,000 to the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council to help integrate Native health systems into multijurisdictional public health systems. 2. Ford Foundation of New York foundation, which led foundation funding to Natives three times in the last decade, granted $8.9 million to Native programs in 2009, 2% of its total funding. Some of its recent awards have included $75,000 to the American Indian College Fund in 2009 to increase higher education for social justice and grants of about $450,000 in 2009, 2010 and 2011 to the National Congress of American Indians to promote electoral reform and democratic participation. In both 2009 and 2010 it granted $1 million each year to Native Arts and Culture Foundation to support art spaces.  3. W. K. Kellogg Foundation of Michigan granted $5.6 million to American Indian issues in 2009, 2.5% of total funding. One of the Foundation’s largest grants for the year, $1.8 million, went to the National Congress of American Indians to support tribal governance. Another, for $300,000, was awarded to the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps to help Native and Hispanic kids in northern New Mexico develop leadership and employment skills. Kellogg has an American Indian program officer, one of less than 10 around the country. 4. Alfred P. Sloan Foundation of New York granted $4.7 million to benefit Indians in 2009, 8.7% of its funding for the year. Almost all of this came from a $4.5 million grant to National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering for its Minority Ph.D. program and its Indigenous Graduate Program. Since 1995, Sloan has assisted 900 minority candidates through the Ph.D. program. Sloan in 2011 granted $300,000 to the American Indian College Fund to pay for six fellowships for Indian tribal college faculty in the “Stem” area (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). That followed a similar grant of $100,000 in 2010. The Sloan Indigenous Partnership Grant funds Indian masters and doctoral candidates at six colleges. 5. Marguerite Casey Foundation of Washington gave $2.8 million to Native concerns in 2009, 9.2% of its 2009 funding. Some of its Native grants have gone to American Indians in Texas—Spanish Colonial Missions ($200,000) for leadership development and policy advocacy in South Texas and northern Mexico, and the Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School for $300,000, also for leadership development and policy advocacy. Its 2011 grantees include the American Indian Center of Chicago and the Potlatch Fund, Seattle. Since 2010, there have been a number of important gains, according to Michael Roberts, president of First Nations Development Institute of Colorado. He stated that, “’For the last two to three years, the Northwest Area Foundation has committed at least 40 percent of its funding to Indian programs,’” while “ the Bush Foundation created an emphasis area in Indian programs, recognizing tribal sovereignty by making grants to individual tribes and allowing them to decide what to do with the funds.” The Midwest Area Foundation of Minnesota committed a minimum of 40% of its grant portfolio in 2013 “to Native American programs and Native-operated nonprofit organizations working to build community and individual financial know-how, access to capital, and entrepreneurial skills.” The Lannan Foundation of New Mexico granted $4.5 million to the Santa Clara pueblo in New Mexico to help it purchase back some of its former land. It said its “Indigenous Communities Program supports the resolve of Native Americans to renew their communities through their own institutions and traditions. Funding priority is given to rural indigenous projects that are consistent with traditional values in the areas of education, Native cultures, the revival and preservation of languages, legal rights, and environmental protection.” Other foundations that over the last decades have supported Native concerns include: Enterprise, Maryland, an affordable housing developer and funder for low and moderate income people, that, according to its website, “ Since 1997, has invested more than $100 million in grants, loans and equity to Native American communities for affordable housing and economic development, developed more than 1,700 homes in 20 states and provided training to 38 tribes and tribal housing entities in financial acquisition.” It has a specific program for Rural and Native American housing. One program it has funded is a 28-unit housing development at the San Felipe Pueblo in New Mexico, the first major housing development on the reservation in 40 years. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of Washington has been funding a major educational effort, the Millennium Scholars program, to give scholarships to as many as 20,000 minority students, including American Indians. “In 2013 the foundation confirmed as Gates Millennium Scholars, 150 American Indian and Alaska Native college freshmen, representing communities from coast to coast, joining approximately 850 other American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduates, graduate and doctoral degree candidates who receive scholarship support from the Gates Millennium Scholars program (GMS) in the 2013-2014 academic year. The Gates Foundation partners with the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars (AIGCS) to recruit, select and support American Indian and Alaska Native Gates Millennium Scholars. It has also funded the Potlatch Fund and in the past has helped the Navajo Nation with $6 million in grants to help bring computers to the reservation.

The Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F) announced, in Albuquerque, NM, that it will launch a new national initiative to expand its fight against childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes for Native American children. This announcement, which includes plans to lead extensive research and advocacy initiatives while assisting more Native American communities in developing their own evidence-based health and wellness programs, was made possible through a $1.5 million grant to NB3F by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of the nation’s largest health foundations (“NB3F Launches National Initiative Against Native Youth Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes,” NB3F, September 4, 2013,

Mark Fogarty, "Indian Home Mortgages Underfunded in 2012," ICTMN, October 28, 2013,, reported, that Nearly one in two American Indians who applied for a mortgage in 2012 didn’t get the money. Reporting under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) indicated that some $7.5 billion in home finance went to American Indians and Alaska Natives in 2012, while $5.6 billion in applications were not funded, a 56% approval rate. 60% percent approval rate, as $4.8 billion in their mortgage applications not funded. The overall national funding rate was 64%. Note that not all not funded loan applications were actively denied by a lender, as some applications were not completed or were withdrawn by the borrower. Wells Fargo Bank issued the most loans to Indians last year, totaling $1 billion. Next was Bank of America, with $400 million, followed by JPMorgan Chase at $361 million. Wells was also the largest lender to Native Hawaiians, at $900 million. In California about 25% of all Indian mortgages were granted in 2012, totaling around $2 billion, at a 60% funding rate. In some states, less than 50% of Native American applications were funded, including North Carolina, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Maine and Louisiana, while states with highly favorable ratios of up to more than 2 to 1 included: Alaska (with $249 million in mortgages funded for Native people with just $23 million in denials), South Dakota, (with $29 million in approvals versus just $3 million in unfunded, and New Mexico (with $39 million funded and $30 million unfunded). The Council defeated a proposal to place a tax on junk food, in July (Antonio Ramirez, "Council votes down junk food tax," Navajo Times, July 18, 2013)

Stephanie Woodard ,  “Navajo Nation and DOJ Look at Violence, Discrimination in Border Towns,” August 20, 2013,, reported, “The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission (NNHRC) has completed a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with the U.S. Department of Justice. Signed in July by commission chairperson Steven A. Darden, Navajo, and Justice Department officials, the MOU focuses on enforcement of tribal members’ federal civil rights in border towns surrounding the Navajo Nation. The off-reservation municipalities lie in four states: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Going forward, NNHRC and the Indian Working Group— a team of attorneys within the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division—will share information and forward documented incidents in the towns to the proper authorities, said NNHRC executive director, Leonard Gorman, Navajo. Prior to participating in this historic agreement, NNHRC held 25 hearings culminating in a 2010 report on border town discrimination. Like previous reports—including by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission—this one found rampant hostility towards Navajos. Hearing attendees reported unfair and hazardous employment practices, insensitive schools, denial of service in public places, predatory businesses, criminalization of spiritual traditions, tragic land losses and police brutality. Threaded through the grievances is a horrific litany of uninvestigated beatings and killings of Navajos.” NNHRC put on a seminar, in September 2013, on car buying, for Navajo consumers, following a nine month investigation hearing more than 100 written and oral complaints from Dine car buyers about predatory practices aimed at Dine by auto sellers in Navajo Nation border towns (Cindy Yurth and Alistair Lee Bitsoi, "Human Rights Comm. sets car buying seminar," Navajo Times, September 14, 2013).

Navajo nation completed setting up its own sex offender website, in November, taking over that function from neighboring counties (Bill Donovan, "Sex offender website up and running," Navajo Times, November 14, 2013).

Navajo Nation is considering a proposal to further decentralize aspects of government by decentralizing services to 15 regional centers, each serving from six to 14 chapters. Each center would be staffed by a senior planner working at the disposal of the chapters served by each center. Employees would continue to be overseen by the nation's Division of Community Development, which would make five attorneys available to advise the new center. Chapters could process their own payroll, eliminating congestion at Window Rock on paydays. The centers could also assist the 22 chapters on the waiting list to achieve local governance certification to gain that certification. The regional planners could also consult with each of the chapters on developing their development plans, which they are supposed to do annually, but few do. Also, the centers could partner with area universities on providing training for chapter personnel, which has been badly needed, as many chapter officials lack supervisory and other skills. Discussions of the plan were underway around the nation in November 2013, showing initial support, though there were some proposals for modifications, including of the boundaries to be served by some centers to make the number of chapters they serve more equal (Alastair Lee Bitsoi and Cindy Yurth, "Decentralization plan draws support at chapter meetings," Navajo Times, November 27, 2013).  Many Navajo chapters continue to have difficulties with finances under decentralization of some government functions to chapters, a lot of the problem in educating chapter officials and providing sufficient accounting support with limited funding. An audit in November found the Alamo Chapter having made a number of errors in how its spends its $500,000 annual budget, including using funds for travel expenses of chapter officials that are to be "expended for the best interest of the community." The recommendations of the Navajo Nation Auditor General included that the chapter establish guidelines "to help prevent waste and abuse of the fund." Chapter officials promised to put the auditor's various recommendations into effect (Bill Donovan, "Auditors shoot down Alomo practices, officials agree to correct," Navajo Times, December 5, 2013). Navajo Nation itself has been under criticism for mishandling of funds and not spending all of the federal money it receives, when it is seriously underfunded to begin with, with three agencies being cited for problems: Navajo Department of Workforce Development, Navajo Housing Authority, and Navajo Nation Division of Transportation, which built no new roads after 2008, despite having millions of dollars available (Cindy Yurth, "Workforce Development Gets 'Hammered'," Navajo Times, November 7, 2013; Bill Donovan, "NDOT audit shows no new roads since 2008, millions in bank," Navajo Times, September 26, 2013)

). At the beginning of October , President Shelly used his line Item veto power to remove $8.7 million in items that had been added as supplemental items by amendment to the record $587 million annual budget passed by the Navajo Council, saying that those items had been added in violation of the Dine Fundamental Law. Some of the items vetoed were from the Personal Laps Fund, and the vetoes raised the Undesignated Unreserves Fund Balance from just $107 dollars over its legal minimum of $17.3 million by an additional $7/7 million. The budget includes $3 million to decentralize services, $3 million to begin infrastructure development of the Bennet Freeze Area, as well as funding construction of much needed new chapter houses, fuel emergency vehicles on the road, and provide a 3% raise for tribal employees  (Alastair Lee Bitsoi, "Shelly vetoes $8.7 million in budget line items," Navajo Times, October 3, 2013; Antonio Ramirez, "Half Billion budget includes funds for decentralization," Navajo Times, September 12, 2013).

The Navajo Nation Council passed the Navajo Nation Housing Authority Reform Act, in October 2013, that would authorize the Nation's president to nominate housing commissioners who would then need to be approved by the council’s Naabik'iyati' Committee. If the President fails to appoint a commissioner within 90 days of a vacancy, the appointment would be made by the committee (Alistair Lee Bitsoi, "Council passes bill to oversee housing board," Navajo Times, October 24, 2013). President Ben Shelly’s Uranium Task Force, proposed creation of a Uranium Commission composed of up to 13 commissioners: six technical members, six community members, and one youth member ,  to apply the Fundamental Law of the Dine as a guiding principle in to resolve any historical and possible future impacts of uranium mining on the reservation among grassroots groups, industry and government. The proposal had strong support from the Dine Men's Association, Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining, and Hada'Asidi. Other grassroots organizations had members at the meting at which the proposal was made (Alastair Lee Bitsoi, "taskforce recommends creating uranium commission," Navajo Times, November 7, 2013).

Navajo Nation's Nahata Dziil, AZ is scheduled to receive a health clinic, in October 2014, so residents will no longer have to drive to Fort Defiance or Gallup, NM for health care (Alastair Lee Bitsoi, "Factory to become clinic at Nahata Dziil," Navajo Times, November 27, 2013). The Navajo Nation obtained its first mobile veterinarian clinic, in May, to help care for the many animals across the huge reservation (Shondiin Silversmith, "Navajo Nation gets first mobile vet clinic." Navajo Times, May 16. 2003). With many residents of the Navajo Nation distant from usable water, so that people in Box Springs, AZ have had to drivee 12 miles for water, the Leupp Chapter received a Slingshot water distiller to make wells at Box Springs usable, from the Swire Coca-Cola bottler of Flagstaff, AZ, September 28, 2013 (Krista Allen, "Flagstaff firm donates water distiller to Leupp Chapter," Navajo Times, October 3, 2013). Navajo Nation, with many miles of unpaved roads, quite a few of which are dangerous because of washbording or other poor conditions, obtained two additional paved highway in 2013. One was Navajo route 20, completed to replace U.S. 89, a section of which was severely damaged in a landslide, and would take considerable time to repair and make passable (Krista Allen, "ADOT opens newly paved coppermine road," Navajo Times, September 5, 2013; Cindy Yurth, "Pavement through the pines," Navajo Times, August 15, 2013).

“Navajo President Ben Shelly Signs $3 Million Drought Relief Bill,” ICTMN, July 29, 2013,, reported, “ Under a state of emergency and watching its horses die of thirst, the Navajo Nation is getting $3 million of relief from the tribe's coffers.” “The bill, known as Legislation CJY-44-13, will give about $4 million to the Department of Agriculture for feral horse round ups, and $202,761 to the Department of Resource Enforcement and the remainder to the Navajo Department of Water Resources for well and windmill repairs, the Navajo Nation said in a press release.” In October, Shelly signed three energy policy bills into law, including setting policy for energy development, exploration and sustainable management and use of energy resources. Among other things, the legislation authorizes Dine energy companies, such as Navajo Gas and oil, to conduct business in the national and international markets (Alastair Lee Bitsoi, "Shelly signs energy policy, $4.1 million for NTEC into law," Navajo Times, October 31, 2013).

Sacred object handed back to Hopi tribe after ‘shameful’ Paris auction,” Survival International, July 15, 2013,, reported, “In a historic handover ceremony, an object sacred to the Hopi people has been returned to Hopi after dozens of katsinam (‘friends’) were sold at a Paris auction house in April 2013 despite repeated requests and litigation. Representatives of tribal rights organization Survival International and lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber returned the katsina to Hopi. The katsinam are of cultural and religious significance to the Hopi, who were vehemently opposed to the auction and asked the Paris auction house Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou to cancel the sale on the grounds that the objects are considered sacred to Hopi. After the auction house ignored the Hopi’s request, attorney Pierre Servan-Schreiber of the firm Skadden Arps (Paris) filed legal papers on behalf of Survival International and the Hopi, asking for the sale of the katsinam to be halted until the lawfulness of the collection was established. However the Paris Court rejected all attempts to stop the auction and the sale of dozens of sacred objects went ahead on April 12, 2013, in what Hopi tribal chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa called a ‘shameful saga’. Mr. Shingoitewa added, ‘We are deeply saddened and disheartened by this ruling … It is sad to think that the French will allow the Hopi Tribe to suffer through the same cultural and religious thefts, denigrations and exploitations they experienced in the 1940s. Would there be outrage if Holocaust artifacts, Papal heirlooms or Quranic manuscripts were going up for sale … to the highest bidder? I think so.’ M. Servan-Schreiber then bought one katsina at the auction to return it to the Hopi. He said, ‘It is my way of telling the Hopi that we only lost a battle and not the war. I am convinced that in the future, those who believe that not everything should be up for sale will prevail. In the meantime, the Hopi will not have lost everything since two of these sacred objects have been saved from being sold.’   The Hopi tribe brought Suit, in early December, against the Paris auction house, Drouot, in an attempt to block the December 9 and 11, 2013 sale of 32 sacred Katsinam masks, alongside a Zuni altar and Native American frescoes and dolls, arguing they are “bitterly opposed” to the use of sacred objects that represent their ancestral spirits as merchandise ("Hopi Tribe Sues Paris Auction House," The New York Times, December 3, 2013, For four years there has been a delay in the return to Apaches of 77 objects by the American Museum of Natural History as the Apache insist that these are, and should be recognized by the Museum as, sacred objects, while the Museum calls them cultural items, as many museums do of items being returned that may be sacred items (Tom Mashbeg, ""Where Words Mean as Much as Objects," The New York Times, August 20, 2013).

The Southern Ute Tribe put its new health benefits program into effect, October 1, 2013, following extensive planning with ongoing consultation with tribal members and tribal health personnel. Each tribal member was mailed a health insurance card, in October, providing access for all tribal members at a nation wide network of doctors, clinics and hospitals - mirroring the tribal employee health plan (Ace Stryker, "New health plan goes live," Southern Ute Drum, October 4, 2013).

The Oglala Sioux Tribe at Pine Ridge voted in an August 14, 2013 referendum to legalize the sale of alcohol on the reservation and tax the sales. The impact may destroy the just off reservation liquor business in Whiteclay, NB, and bring in significant revenue to the tribe ( Vincent Schilling , “Pine Ridge Vote to Sell Alcohol Could Kill Whiteclay, Bring Huge Revenue to Tribe,” ICTMN, August 16, 2013,

A new South Dakota statewide coalition to support and promote homeownership in Native communities was launched in a meeting of six of the state's nine Indian reservations, including six representatives of housing authorities, along with the South Dakota USDA Rural Development, South Dakota Housing Development Authority, and the Great Plains Native Asset Building Coalition, in July 2013. An electronic poll revealed the most effective avenues for homeownership are to provide credit counseling and financial/home-buyer education (“South Dakota Tribes Building Home Ownership Coalition,” ICTMN, July 21, 2013,

A resolution in support of the Public Health and Safety Code of the San Carlos Apache Tribe (SCAT) was passed, in July, that “allows the protection and confidentiality of public health information and patient privacy, especially for those who have been infected by HIV/AIDS.” The code is expected to reduce HIV infections, and increase survival rates, as those with HIV/AIDS who previously were afraid to seek treatment and counseling will now be much more likely to do so ( Eisa Ulen, “Victory at Last: Apache Activist Helps Pass HIV/AIDS Confidentiality Resolution,” ICTMN, July 17, 2013, The Navajo Division of Public Service posted the Nation's website of  its registry of sex offenders at:, in November, 2013, taking over the function form surrounding

Brian Daffron, “Gravel Mining Puts Kiowa Sacred Place in Peril,” ICTMN, July 12, 2013,, reported, “ The Kiowa Tribe has gathered cedar for ceremonies and prayed on Longhorn Mountain south of Gotebo, Oklahoma for generations. That practice is in serious jeopardy as efforts to mine gravel out of the mountain are scheduled to begin by summer’s end, turning generations of sacred usage into rubble.”

The Bay Mills Indian Community of Michigan is planning a large real estate development, Wadiiwong Oden (Hilltop Village), 77 single-family units to be built, along with a commercial property, which is expected to reduce the waiting list for housing for this Ojibwe tribe ( Mark Fogarty, “Tribe Plans Big Hilltop Housing Development,” July 9, 2013,

  Genetic analysis of a 24,000 year old body found in Siberia with European and Native American ancestry has raised interesting questions about theories of migration and contact (Nicholes Wade, “24,000-Year-Old Body Shows Kinship to Europeans and American Indians,” The New York Times, November 20, 2013


Economic Developments

The National Indian Gaming Commission announced, July 23, 2013 , that 2012 Indian gaming revenues increased 2.7% over 2012 to reach a record $27.9 billion, and the third consecutive year of growth of gross gaming revenues (GGR) since the recession began in 2008. The overall growth of GGR in 2012 is attributable to 66% of the Indian gaming operations, which reported an increase in gaming revenues. Of the operations that reported an increase in revenue, approximately 44% percent showed moderate growth of less than 10%. Since 2010, the Indian gaming industry experienced approximately 3% percent annual growth attributed to small and moderate gaming operations that compose 56% percent of Indian gaming. In 2012, 98 Indian gaming operations reported gaming revenue between $10 million and $25 million, 70 Indian gaming operations reported gaming revenue between $3 million and $10 million and 69 Indian gaming operations reported gaming revenue less than $3 million. In 2012, all seven NICG regions experienced growth in gaming revenues. The largest regional increase of 5.1% or $233 million occurred within the St. Paul Region, consisting of 120 gaming operations in nine Great Plains states. The Tulsa Region, consisting of 64 gaming operations in Kansas and eastern Oklahoma, enjoyed the largest percentage increase from 2011-6.6% or $125 million. The charts and graphics included in the NIGC report, as well as additional data spans on the more than 420 gaming establishments, associated with nearly 240 tribes in 28 states, can be found at The New Mexico Gaming Control Board released figures, in October 2013, indicating that the two Navajo Casinos in the state continued to do well, bringing in more than $1 million more in the April to June period in 2013 than 2012 (Bill Donovan, "Gaming officials: New Mexico casinos continue to do well).

The Colville Confederated Tribes of Washington opened Chief Joseph Hatchery, for salmon, near Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River, June 20, 2013, some 70 year’s later than planned ( Jack McNeel, “Fishing For Compliments: Chief Joseph Hatchery Opens 70 Years Late,” ICTMN, July 22, 2013,

The Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota broke ground on Indian Country’s first oil refinery, on the Fort Berthold Reservation, in late October (Talli Nauman, "MHA Nations break ground on Indian Country's first oil refinery," News From Indian Country, November 2013).

Navajo Nation, July 18, 2013, signed a lease extension with the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station, with some increased pollution reduction, which received a lukewarm response from environmental groups, and an increase in annual payments to Navajo Nation from $508,400 to $42 million ( Anne Minard , “Navajo Nation Signs Historic NGS Extension; Clean Air Battle Rages On,” ICTMN, July 31, 2013, On October 31, Navajo Nation signed a final agreement for Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) to purchase the Navajo Mine, a coalmine. There has been opposition to the mine on environmental and financial grounds by Navajo Nation citizens, particularly via Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment (CARE) (Alistair Lee Bitsoi, "Final agreements signed on mine purchase," Navajo Times, November 7, 2013).

“Potawatomi Break Ground on Biogas Plant—Converting Food Waste to Electricity,” ICTMN, July 11, 2013,, reported that the Forest County Potawatomi Community-owned FCPC Renewable Generation, LLC broke ground, July 2013, on its food waste-to-energy facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The $18.6 million renewable energy facility in the Menomonee Valley, scheduled to be completed in July 2014, “will convert liquid and solid food wastes to biogas through an anaerobic digestion process. The biogas will fuel two 1-megawatt generators to produce a total of approximately 2 megawatts of gross electrical power output—enough electricity to power about 1,500 homes. The power will be sold to WE Energies, the local electrical utility.”

Cherokee Nation Technologies has begun its work under a $35 million five year contract with the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians' Office of Historical Trust Accounting (OHTA) to provide research and historical documentation services in support of the U.S. Department Of Interior's efforts to reconcile monetary accounts with Native American tribes.  For more information visit ("Cherokee Nation Technologies Wins $35M Contract to Help Interior Reconcile Monetary Accounts With Tribes," ICTMN, December 3, 2013,

The Oneida Nation of New York officially opened its $25 million, Exit 33 entertainment complex, extension of its Turning Stone Casino, July 18, 2013, "Nisqually Tribe Invests $45 Million to Expand Red Wind Casino in Olympia, Washington," ICTMN, November 20, 2013,, reported, "The Nisqually Tribal Council has approved a $45 million expansion of its Nisqually Red Wind Casino including 42,700 square feet of new floor space and a new 600-space parking facility. Construction is expected to begin in November and the new facilities will be open by December 2014." The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria of Northern California, who received federal recognition in 2000, opened their Graton Resort and Casino with record crowds for a tribal gaming facility opening, in November 2013 (Lynn Armitage, "New Game in Town: Record Crowds Swarm Graton Resort & Casino Opening," ICTMN, November 12, 2013, "Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe Gets Federal Approvals for Class II Casino on Martha's Vineyard," ICTMN, November 12, 2013,, reported, " The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has secured the federal approvals necessary for it to open a Class II gaming facility on the Tribe’s existing Indian lands on Martha’s Vineyard. On August 29, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) approved amendments to the Gaming Ordinance specifically identifying the Tribe’s existing trust land on the Island. On October 25, the NIGC’s General Counsel issued a legal opinion concluding that the existing trust lands qualify for gaming under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Finally, on October 22, the NIGC acknowledged the Tribe’s Facility License for the Aquinnah site." The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downes in Pennsylvania began a $50 million hotel expansion, in November 2013 (Michael Rubinkam, "Mohegan making bet on hotel at Pennsylvania casino," News From Indian Country, November 2013).

Education and Culture

The University of Minnesota Duluth graduated its first 22 students from the master of tribal administration and governance (MTAG) program, May 16, 2013. The program was designed after consultation with tribal administrators, officials and Indian organizations across the Midwest. The program is offered both face to face and on line. It is focused on educating future American Indian tribal leaders and managers through coursework grounded in ethics, that involves tribal governance and the management issues encountered on a reservation as well as the complex relations among tribal, state and the federal governments. The curriculum includes classes on principles of tribal sovereignty; tribal budgets, finance and accounting; principles of tribal management; federal Indian law; and leadership and ethics. The curriculum centers on the roles that tribal administrators, leaders and professionals play in formal and informal situations that support tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Traditional language and culture are also important aspects of the program ( Ed Minnema , “M.A. Program in Tribal Governance Goes Online in 2014,” ICTMN, October 20, 2013 ,


Clayton Brascoupe, director of Traditional Native American Farmers Association , has taught a course, Indigenous Sustainable Communities Design, for 18 years in New Mexico. Brascoupe is known around Turtle Island as Clayton or "Scoobie." He is Mohawk and Anishnabe, and was raised in Tuscarora, NY. He married Margaret Vigil from Tesuque Pueblo, NM and served in an appointed position on the Tesuque Pueblo Tribal Council, and has been involved in community gardens and marketing for years. Clayton's course is a two-week hands-on grassroots workshop of from 20 to 25 people, mostly Native people from New Mexico, with the most ever being 35. Urban Natives, and Indigenous people from Canada, Central and South America are regularly among the participants. Many students return to become instructors, and the staff is 98% indigenous, including many women. Recently there’s been a Midwifery component -- the thinking being, if we can grow clean food in a non-industrial way, then why not our children? Brascoupe stresses the importance of students developing a resource base of knowledge in their communities and becoming experts in their respective communities. He focuses on Identifying resources, land bases, elders’ knowledge, youthful energy, water sources, urban parks, markets and outlets, recycling discarded resources and discarded people too. The idea is to Identify problems and solutions and use local resources to fix them, and if there aren’t enough local resources, go out in wider and broader networks to find more. Its base knowledge is agriculture, but it’s not just about planting gardens. Health care is everyone’s biggest issue and expense, but fresh food dramatically changes diet and lifestyle, positively affecting diabetes and heart disease. Food, health, economies, energy, housing, spiritual well-being, elder care, raising children, education -- it all becomes inter-related. The course originally began as Permaculture Design, but as class came with different issues, so the course evolved as a living organism, adapting and changing. Citing examples around Indian country, Brascoupe talks about ecology and borders and what he terms eco-tones, where two environments come together. These “edges” are where things happen and exchanges are made, where there is more diversity of plants and animals. It’s the difference between a riparian area with a meandering river or a re-created “seaway”, dug out and made straight for industrial traffic. Communities become just like these traffic lanes -- dollars don’t stay, they leave immediately like out a pipeline fast, instead of percolating around families. In most communities, dollars are replenished in grants instead of recycling via local diverse economies. Just like a riparian wetland or our own digestive system, there needs to be more meandering, more edges where things meet, interact and exchange, to yield more nutrients, more bang for the buck, rather than having everything of value be extracted by corporations and outside markets. The 2013 session of Sustainable Communities Design ran from July 28 through August 9 in Santa Cruz, New Mexico. For more information visit  Among the ways people and communities have been affected by his course are: The South American students who took back their knowledge and heritage seeds to create gardens and build a new community house. They grew a certain yellow watermelon and when presented to the elders at a fiesta, they began to cry because they hadn’t tasted the fruit since they were children. They were also recognized at the national level for this community work. The mother of a young man from Arizona reported that her son had completely changed from a game-playing couch potato into an engaged busy gardener. Another young man, who was a hard-core gang member returned home to Los Angeles, started urban gardens, and changed his community by providing fresh food. A Mayan group from Belize learned to preserve surplus garden-grown food and marinated chicken, so that when hurricanes damaged everything, they still had the preserves to feed the community ( Alex Jacobs , “Teaching Indigenous Solutions to Modern Agricultural Problems,” ICTMN, July 23, 2013,

Navajo Nation's Window Rock High school, with its 2006 class, ranked in the top third of Arizona and Dine public high schools in having students obtain a college degree, despite financial difficulties that caused restructuring. The district superintendent credits the success to team work by teachers and other staff in implementing the vision of Exemplary Student Centered Organization Reflecting the Dine Values of Lifelong Education (Alistair Lee Bitsoi, "WRHS outperforms other Arizona Schools, Navajo Times, November 21, 2013).

Recognizing that different people learn differently, Ganado Unified School District on the Navajo Reservation initiated new elective science, technology, engineering and math classes (STEM), including a great deal of hands on learning, such as leaning about acoustics by building and playing a guitar, and about botany by growing plants, in a five year development program that is to eventually merge with the whole curriculum (Shondiin Silversmith, "Guitars and Hydroponics," Navajo Times, October 5, 2013).

The Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy, a primary school on the Southern Ute Reservation, has shown excellent results since it started. Early on, its students all passed standard achievement tests, and in 2013 numerous parents remain very positive about the school, saying, that upon moving on to public schools, their children were very well prepared and did well. Some commented that their children entered public school reading above their grade level. Several factors appear to contribute to the Academy's success. One is that the Montessori approach, very appropriate for a great many students, is very close to traditional Indian ways and fits the Ute culture. Learning is individualized and mentored, encouraging students to be creative and move at their own pace, instilling a love of learning. Ute language and culture is a major part of the curriculum, which is important for preserving and enhancing the nation's culture, while giving students a sense of who they are and a basic confidence that is important to function well in school and in life. In addition, parents are very much involved in the education process (For more information, see Carol Baker Olguin, "Defining the Montessori Approach," and Ace Stryker, "SUIMA parents laud school's personal touch," Southern Ute Drum, August 9 2013; previous articles in the Drum's four part series on Ute education in 2013, and earlier Drum articles on the Academy).

The FCC's E-Rate Program and a partnership with Cellular One brought first rate wireless technology to the Navajo Nation Red Mesa School District in fall 2013 (John Stanford, "E-Rate Brings First Rate Technology to Red Mesa Schools," Navajo Times, September 12, 2013


During Native American Heritage Month, November 2013, PBS Television stations around the U.S. showed varying numbers of films about American Indian contributions to history, and Indian culture  (“Public Television Highlights Native Contributions and History, ICTMN, November 1, 2013,

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International Developments

International Organization Developments

Special Rapporteur Issues Report on Extractive Industries and Indigenous Peoples,” Cultural Survival, August 8, 2013,, reported, “ James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, released a report on August 6, 2013 addressing extractive industries and the implications that they have had for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. In the report, which Anaya will present to the Human Rights Council in September 2013, he systematically sets forth a series of observations and recommendations regarding models of natural resource development, the obligations of States, the responsibilities of companies, consultation processes, and the principle of free, prior and informed consent to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, within the context of challenges posed by extractive industries on a global scale. These observations and recommendations build upon the Special Rapporteur's previous reports and draw on information gathered through country visits, seminars, written submission from various sources and independent research. Anaya highlighted the important role of free, prior and informed consent in safeguarding Indigenous Peoples rights, calling it "a general rule" and "just good practice". As before, the Rapporteur  stopped short of giving 'veto' power to Indigenous communities facing extractive industry. Instead, he emphasized their right to withhold consent. "Indigenous individuals and peoples have the right to oppose and actively express opposition to extractive projects promoted by the State or third party business interests. Indigenous peoples should be able to oppose or withhold consent to extractive projects free from reprisals or acts of violence, or from undue pressures to accept or enter into consultations about extractive projects." He also narrowed the qualifying situations in which the right to Free, Prior, Informed Consent may be by-passed by a State, and requires that if a State determines that it is permissible to proceed with an extractive project that affects indigenous peoples without their consent, that decision should always be subject to independent judicial review. He concludes, ‘ Indigenous Peoples around the world have suffered negative, even devastating, consequences from extractive industries. Despite such negative experiences, looking toward the future it must not be assumed that extractive industries’ and indigenous peoples’ interests are entirely or always at odds with each other. However, models of resource extraction that are different from the heretofore prevailing model are required if resource extraction within Indigenous Peoples’ territories is to be carried out in a manner consistent with their rights.’ One of these models includes Indigenous Peoples control extractive industries through their own initiatives and enterprises. Anaya has invited Indigenous Peoples, governments, companies, and NGOs to an open dialogue on the report and its recommendations. He will engage in an inter-active dialogue with interested parties in Geneva in September in connection with his presentation of the report to the Human Rights Council. Also stay tuned for news on an on-line seminar with interested parties within the coming weeks.”  The complete report is available, in English at:, and in Spanish at:

UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Concludes Study on Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Justice, August 3, 2013, :, reported, “In July 2013, members of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), along with representatives of States, Indigenous Peoples, NGOs, human rights institutions, academics and UN Bodies gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, at the Sixth Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The five-day session convened around several discussions that endorsed the Alta Outcome Document as the official document for the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples; addressed the implementation and accountability of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by states; proposed that the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism be firmly incorporated in the post-2015 UN Development Agenda. A core agenda item of the meeting was to follow up on the current study Access to Justice in the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and identify and propose next year’s thematic study.” “In 2012, the Expert Mechanism completed a study on Indigenous Peoples’ access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The “gravity of the issues facing Indigenous Peoples, including discrimination against Indigenous Peoples in criminal justice systems, particularly for Indigenous women and youth” was highlighted. This is evident by the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in incarceration in regions around the world. In Australia Aboriginal people total 2.3 percent of the population, yet make up over 28 percent of Australia’s incarcerated population.  In Canada, First Nation’s people total 4 percent of the population, yet make up 23.2 percent of the incarcerated population. In the United States, states with high Native populations have correspondingly high Native American incarceration rates. Because of the importance and complexity of access to justice and the issues involved an extension of this study was proposed.” “Speaking at the 6th EMRIP Session, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya made a link clear between the structural dimensions and historical context that must be taken into account when trying to increase access to justice for indigenous peoples.  Through his own work, Anaya has seen firsthand how Indigenous people are harmed by justice systems external to their own, mainly the State justice system, a system very different from Indigenous models. In addition, the State justice system presents other obstacles for Indigenous peoples including the lack of financial resources for adequate legal representation, a lack of access to justice systems in remote areas, and inadequate provision of culturally appropriate justice services, including translation services. As such, the access to justice study concludes and recommends that States take a ‘rights-based and culturally appropriate approach to public safety and access to justice guided by Indigenous Peoples’ laws and justice systems.” The study also calls for the training of law enforcement and judicial officials on Indigenous Peoples’ rights.  The use of transitional justice mechanisms, such as truth commissions, which allow for administration of justice through prosecutions, truth-seeking, reparations programs, institutional reforms was also endorsed.  Anaya noted that a “flexible approach” was needed when it came to access to justice, one that increased respect for Indigenous Peoples’ own justice systems in both of recognizing and assigning value to these systems.  Anaya also noted that, “state responses that limit Indigenous control run the risk of undermining Indigenous self-determination and have been shown to be less effective long-term solutions, generally speaking, in comparison to judicial responses to problems that Indigenous Peoples themselves control.’ ‘The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides critical study and analysis of the human rights violations Indigenous Peoples suffer and the systematic failure of states to uphold these human rights. Importantly, the study and analysis is done by Indigenous people who assert traditional and cultural based Indigenous thinking and frameworks; who demand state accountability, and make recommendations based on human rights and Indigenous Peoples rights to self –determination,’ says Suzanne Benally, Executive Director of Cultural Survival.” The full EMRIP study on access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples can be viewed at:

Regional and Country Developments

UN Special Rapporteur's Tough Words for the Canadian Government about the Situation of Indigenous Peoples,” Cultural Survival, October i9, 2013,, reported, “On October 15, 2013, James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, concluded an eight-day trip to Canada. During the trip, Anaya visited several locations, meeting with government officials and First Nations with the intention of examining the human rights of Canada’s Indigenous population. Summarizing the findings of his trip, Anaya had tough words for the Canadian government in a statement published on October 15. ‘ From all I have learned, I can only conclude that Canada faces a crisis when it comes to the situation of indigenous peoples of the country. The well-being gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in Canada has not narrowed over the last several years, treaty and aboriginals claims remain persistently unresolved, and overall there appear to be high levels of distrust among aboriginal peoples toward government at both the federal and provincial levels.’ Canada ranks high among other nations with regards to development, education, and income levels. "Yet amidst this wealth and prosperity," Anaya notes, "aboriginal people live in conditions akin to those in countries that rank much lower and in which poverty abounds. At least one in five aboriginal Canadians live in homes in need of serious repair, which are often also overcrowded and contaminated with mould. The suicide rate among Inuit and First Nations youth on reserve, at more than five times greater than other Canadians, is alarming. One community I visited has suffered a suicide every six weeks since the start of this year. Aboriginal women are eight times more likely to be murdered than non-indigenous women and indigenous peoples face disproportionately high incarceration rates. For over a decade, the Auditor General has repeatedly highlighted significant funding disparities between on-reserve services and those available to other Canadians. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has consistently said that the conditions of aboriginal peoples make for the most serious human rights problem in Canada.” Still, Anaya acknowledges Canada’s recent focus on such issues with its Indigenous peoples, highlighting the steps the government has taken to redress such problems. Particularly, Anaya notes action taken toward the goal of reconciliation with the 2008 government apology for the boarding school practices of the last century and the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These are amount to steps in the right direction, but are not enough, according to Anaya. "These steps are insufficient, and have yet to fully respond to aboriginal peoples’ urgent needs, fully protect their aboriginal and treaty rights, or to secure relationships based on mutual trust and common purpose. Aboriginal peoples’ concerns and well-being merit higher priority at all levels and within all branches of Government, and across all departments. Concerted measures, based on mutual understanding and real partnership with aboriginal peoples, through their own representative institutions, are vital to the long-term resolution of these issues.” During his trip to Canada, Anaya met with many Indigenous peoples to hear their concerns. While there exist many disparities, Anaya notes one truly chilling aspect in particular. Indigenous women are significantly more prone than non-Indigenous women to be murdered or simply become "missing". Beyond this alarming detail, the investigations for cases involving missing Indigenous have a much lower rate of resolution. Again, Anaya points to what is being done by the government before stating how it is not enough. “Certainly, both federal and provincial governments have taken steps targeted at addressing various aspects of this issue. Yet over the past several days, in all of the places I have visited, I have heard from aboriginal peoples a widespread lack of confidence in the effectiveness of those measures. I have heard a consistent call for a national level inquiry into the extent of the problem and appropriate solutions moving forward with the participation of victims’ families and others deeply affected. I concur that a comprehensive and nation-wide inquiry into the issue could help ensure a coordinated response and the opportunity for the loved ones of victims to be heard, and would demonstrate a responsiveness to the concerns raised by the families and communities affected by this epidemic.” One aspect that brings both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities together is the prospect of focusing on educational outcomes. Particularly, the Canadian government has focused on developing standards under the First Nations Education Act. While Anaya agrees that the values of this legislation are well-founded, he also highly urges the Canadian government to push for a greater level of dialog, citing a evident level of mistrust among Indigenous peoples regarding the government's intentions. " I urge the Government not to rush forward with [the First Nations Education Act], but to re-initiate discussions with aboriginal leaders to develop a process, and ultimately a bill, that addresses aboriginal concerns and incorporates aboriginal viewpoints on this fundamental issue. An equally important measure for improving educational outcomes, and one that could be implemented relatively quickly, is to ensure that funding delivered to aboriginal authorities for education per student is at least equivalent to that available in the provincial educational systems." Commenting more generally, Anaya notes the need for improved communication between Canada and Indigenous peoples in order to facilitate consensus-building. "More generally, greater efforts are needed to improve avenues of communication between Canada and aboriginal peoples to build consensus on the path forward. In all my meetings with aboriginal leaders and community members it was evident that there is a significant level of discontent with the state of relations with federal and provincial authorities, as well as a widely held perception that legislative and other decisions over multiple matters of concern to them are being taken without adequate consultation or consideration of their inherent and treaty rights. I urge the federal Government especially to work with aboriginal peoples, through their representative institutions and authorities, to overcome this condition of mistrust. As with the Education Act initiative mentioned earlier, unless legislative and other government actions that directly affect indigenous peoples’ rights and interests are made with their meaningful participation, those actions will lack legitimacy and are likely to be ineffective." Continuing, Anaya illuminates the necessary path forward. He shows that is critical to arrive at a common understanding regarding the objectives to move forward. These should be based on the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, —which was endorsed by the country in 2010. "I was pleased to hear, throughout my visit, references by First Nations, Inuit and Métis people to the Declaration, and about the incorporation of its standards into their work. It is my hope that the provincial and federal governments in Canada, as well as the country’s courts, will aspire to implement the standards articulated by the Declaration. The Declaration can help to provide a common framework within which the problems that I have outlined here in a preliminary fashion can be addressed.’ Anaya is set to release a more detailed report  with recommendations in the next few weeks.”

Martha Troian , “Gas and Shoot Mi'kmaq Protesting Gas Exploration in New Brunswick,” ICTMN, October 17, 2013,, reported, “Chaos has erupted as Chief Arren Sock and council members from Elsipogtog First Nation are among at least 40 people arrested by riot-gear-clad police raiding a Mi'kmaq blockade protesting shale gas exploration in New Brunswick. Details are still emerging, but amateur photos and video have appeared online showing heavily armed police on the site and what appear to be snipers in nearby fields and forests. There are also photos of several police vehicles on fire. Those arrested, which may include elders conducting ceremonies at the site, are being detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). There were also some reports of shots fired.” 

Sámi protest against British mining company,” Survival International, September 3, 2013,, reported, “ Swedish police have broken up a protest by Sámi men and women protesting against iron ore mining in a crucial reindeer herding area in the Swedish Arctic Circle. The Sámi and other activists have been blockading a mining road since early July. They have prevented workers from British-based Beowulf Mining company from drilling and exploring on the traditional land of the Sámi. The first to be removed from the protest today was 85 year-old reindeer herder Apmut-Ivar Kuoljok. In recent weeks the Swedish police have dismantled the blockade and arrested the protesters, but the protesters rebuilt the blockade after the police had left. The protesters have also suffered racist abuse from locals who threatened them with axes. The Sámi Parliament issued a statement saying, ‘the police used a lot of unnecessary force, dragging the activists along the ground. The activists were passive and did not resist.’ British-based Beowulf, with its Swedish subsidiary, Jokkmokk Iron Mines AB, is seeking to conduct test drilling as they explore for iron ore in Gállok, just above the Arctic circle. The Sámi community believe that the planned mine would devastate the conditions for reindeer herding in the area. The territory is used by the Sirges and Jåhkågasska Sámi communities for reindeer herding, a practice which remains spiritually and culturally crucial to the Sámi. Jonas Vannar, from the Sirges Sámi community said, ‘This project endangers our entire existence’. The Sámi parliament has issued a demand to halt all mining on Sámi lands without free, prior and informed consent. The dispute has increased calls for the Swedish government to recognize Sámi ownership rights to their land and to ratify ILO 169, the only legally binding international convention on indigenous and tribal people. There are an estimated 80,000 Sámi in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, of whom more than 20,000 live in Sweden.”

" Cultural Survival Participates in a Central American Integration Conference in El Salvador," Cultural Survival, November 15, 2013, November 15, 2013, reported, "This week, a member of our Cultural Survival Community Radio Program team attended the Second Conference on the Process of Central American Integration for Marginalized and Excluded Social Groups, in Sonsonate, El Salvador. The coordinator of our most far-reaching community radio project yet, “Strengthening the Participation and Integration of Indigenous Youth of Belize and Guatemala through Community Radio” , attended the event and presented on the progress of this project, which now includes the participation of youth from El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize. The conference lasted three days, and included the participation of the coordinators and co-coordinators of the 15 projects that are being financed by this Central American Integration Fund by PAIRCA II , FLACSO , PNUD and the Unión Europea. All of the various organizations presented on the progress of their projects, sharing success stories and difficulties encountered. We were able to discuss our projects and new opportunities with the funders themselves and create important networks with other like-minded organizations. Some of the other projects that were presented during the conference are improving integration for at risk youth through poetry; working with differently abeled people towards creating a more inclusive society; and creating stronger networks for the Garífunas of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador, to name a few."

ICG, “Justice at the Barrel of a Gun: Vigilante Militias in Mexico,” Latin America Briefing N°29,  May 28, 2013,, comments, “ A rapid expansion in 2013 of vigilante militias – civilian armed groups that claim to fight crime – has created a third force in Mexico’s ongoing cartel-related violence. Some of these militias contain well-meaning citizens and have detained hundreds of suspected criminals. However, they challenge the government’s necessary monopoly on the use of force to impart justice. As the militias spread, there is also concern some are being used by criminal groups to fight their rivals and control territory. The Peña Nieto administration needs to develop a coherent policy for dealing with the vigilantes, so that it can work with authentic community policing projects while stopping the continued expansion of unregulated armed groups; this also requires demonstrating that the state has sufficient capacity to restore law and order on its own. If the government fails to deal with this issue, militias could spread across the country, triggering more violence and further damaging the rule of law. President Peña Nieto had expected to have to cope with the well-armed, ruthless cartels that dominate portions of the country, as well as the problems presented by uncoordinated national, state and municipal law enforcement bodies and a legacy of impunity. The appearance of a growing number of armed groups in at least nine of the 31 states, from close to the U.S. border to the south east, however, has added another dangerous level of complexity to the security challenge. Their epicenter, on which this briefing concentrates, is in the Pacific states of Guerrero and Michoacán, where thousands of armed men participate in a range of vigilante organizations. There have been more than 30 killings there since January 2013, either by or against the vigilantes, and they have become increasingly worrying hotspots of insecurity. While the vigilante killings are still only a fraction of the more than 5,000 cartel-related murders that took place across Mexico in the first five months of Peña Nieto’s administration, the concern is that this new type of violence could expand across the land. The violence has coincided with protests against government reforms in these states, including road blockades and looting of food trucks that are part of a broader challenge to authority. The government launched a major security offensive in Michoacán in May that has weakened the militia presence there, at least in the short term. In Guerrero, the state government has made agreements with some militia leaders in an attempt to lessen their impact. However, various vigilante groups are still active, and some of the core problems of insecurity that led to their presence are unresolved. The vigilantism issue is complicated by the fact that many communities, particularly indigenous, have a centuries-old tradition of community policing. Many groups have shown themselves to be successful and have demonstrated legitimate ways of providing security. However, it is legally ambiguous how far such community groups can go in bearing arms and imparting justice. Furthermore, many of the new militias copy the language and claim the same rights as these community police, even though they do not come from a local tradition or are not even rooted in indigenous communities. The government needs to work with the authentic and unarmed community police and clearly define the parameters of what they can and cannot do. Some rules can be established on the basis of guidelines that are being developed under state and federal laws or by expanding agreements being worked out between state governments and community leaders. In some cases, the government needs to require the disarmament of vigilante groups; in yet others, it needs to more aggressively detain and prosecute militias with criminal links. But the government also needs to significantly improve security in all the communities where militias have been formed. Many residents have taken up arms because the state has systematically failed to protect them. The clamor for security is legitimate; but justice is better served through functional state institutions than the barrels of private guns.”

“Leahy Freeze on Funds for Mexico Drug War Will Save Lives, Money,” AmericasProgram, August 6, 2013, ,, reported, “ Senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the Appropriations Committee, blocked release of $95 million dollars for the Merida Initiative, citing the lack of a clear strategy on the part of the U.S. State Department and the Mexican government. "The whole thing looks like just coughing up money with no accountability," Leahy told the press. The problems with the aid package to support Mexico's drug war go beyond the lack of transparency and accountability. A top aide told the Americas Program that "There is a concern that the Merida Initiative has not achieved what people hoped for." As drugs continue to flow over the border, Mexico's homicide rate has more than doubled since the drug war began.”

Tracy L. Barnett of The Esperanza Project, “ Campaign Update– Mexico: Injunction filed to halt illegal exploration drilling in Wirikuta,” July 5, 2013,, reported, “ Against a backdrop of heightened tensions in the region and other worrisome developments, Wixarika leaders have filed an injunction to stop the illegal drilling in exploration for gold and silver in their ancestral sacred lands of Wirikuta. Since March 1 of this year, the Wixarika Regional Council for the Defense of Wirikuta has been petitioning the Mexican government to intervene to stop the current exploration that is occurring in the region without the required permits, but they have received no response to date, prompting them to file the injunction in a federal court. The drilling and excavation is occurring on a wide and destructive scale, the Council said, in the sacred desert where the Wixarika or Huichol people have conducted their pilgrimages since the beginning of their history.” “Also last week, Wixarika leaders decried the appointment of Hector Moreno, current mayor of the town of Real de Catorce, as president of the Board of Directors of the Wirikuta Ecological Reserve. The appointment represents “an aggression against our people and the people of the region, given the scientific evidence, which makes any new mining projects prohibitive due to the extreme overexploitation of aquifers,” the Wixarika Regional Council wrote in a June 25 bulletin. Moreno’s financial ties to First Majestic Silver present a serious conflict of interest for a body whose aim is to protect the ecology of the region, they argued. They further accused Moreno of generating animosity against the Wixarika people, promoting rumors that the indigenous group is aspiring to gain financially by taking over the livestock and lands of the local inhabitants, an assertion they claim is entirely false and is generating a dangerous atmosphere of hostility and harassment against the Huichol people. Additionally, some Wixarika visiting the region have been threatened that they will be denied access to the lands where they have traveled to pray, leave offerings, and ceremonially hunt their sacred peyote, or hikuri, since time immemorial.  These pilgrimages to Wirikuta and the use of their sacred cactus are essential to their continued cultural survival – and indeed, to the continued equilibrium of the forces of nature on the planet, according to their beliefs.” “The Council further denounced the government’s failure to consult with the Wixárika people in the ways in which they traditionally make their decisions, through their Community Assemblies. In a regional assembly convoked on June 28 by the Wixarika Regional Council for the Defense of Wirikuta “Tamatsima Wahaa” and attended by representatives from the far-flung and remote communities of Santa Catarina Cuexcomatitlán, San Andres Cohamiata, San Sebastian Teponahuaxtlán and Tuxpan, Jalisco, and Bancos de San Hipólito, Durango, and the Wixarika Union of Ceremonial Centers of Jalisco, Durango and Nayarit, the group ratified the previous statements and further demanded that the government hold a binding consultation with the Wixarika community assemblies in the matter of another key sacred site, Haramara, where their ceremonial grounds on the Pacific Coast of Nayarit are being privatized and commercialized for a tourism project. ‘We call on the federal government and in particular the President in his capacity as chief of the Mexican State to monitor and not criminalize our ancient tradition,” wrote the Council, “and to instead monitor the dangerous actions of the Municipal President of Catorce, who is inciting local people against our people and trying to limit our right to ancestral pilgrimage to the home of our ancestors, upon which depends the fundamental equilibrium of the world.’”

The Commission for Indigenous Peoples  Holds Meeting on the Right to Community Radio in Guatemala,” Cultural Survival, September 13, 2013,

, reported, “On Wednesday, September 11, the Commission for Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala held a meeting in Congress to discuss the question of community radio in Guatemala. Congressman Carlos Mejia presided over the events. Cultural Survival’s Guatemalan team attended and participated in the meeting, along with traditional community leaders, or alcaldes, and other organizations that support Indigenous communities in Guatemala. Representatives from the Superintendence of Telecommunications in Guatemala, the Commission for Indigenous Peoples, the Minister of Communication, Infrastructure and Housing and the Governor General were all in attendance. Representatives from the communities presented on the criminalization of community radio in the country . They highlighted the negative effects that this criminalization has on Indigenous communities and denounced the raids routinely experienced by community radios around the country. Finally representatives from our team explained the importance of community radio for the development of their communities, as well as the 15-year long fight for its legalization. The Commission for Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala pleaded with the governing bodies present that the rights of Indigenous communities be respected and that the right to express oneself through community radio be put on the table while Initiative 4087 , which would legalize community radio across the country, is in process. Initiative 4087 has already received a favorable response, but has been put on the backburner along with various other initiatives concerning Indigenous rights. Finally, the Commission requested that the Attorney General’s Office for Human Rights present this issue to the Attorney General as a violation of the right to freedom expression for Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala in no more than one month. This event is another step in the right direction for the fight for Indigenous community radio in Guatemala. More than 50 community radios broadcast the event across the country, spreading the word of the community radio movement far and wide."

Guatemala: Shooting kills 11 in Kaqchikel community,” Cultural Survival, September 9, 2013,, reported, “ Eleven people were shot and killed on Saturday night, S eptember 7th in San José Nacahuil, a small Kaqchikel community of San Pedro Ayampuc, just outside of Guatemala City, Guatemala. Eleven others were injured. The circumstances of the shooting are still unclear, as reports from local news sources and government investigations tell a story of a drug related gang violence, but community members suspect foul-play by the national police. The shootings took place along the main street of the town, in a bar, and outside a small store, before the group of six masked shooters fled the scene in a car stolen from outside the locale. About an hour beforehand, a police patrol had driven through the town making rounds, asking for liquor licenses and whether the owners of the local bars were selling alcohol to minors. Felipe Pixtun, a cousin of one of the store owners, told the Diario newspaper that the police asked for a bribe of Q500 from the owner, which he refused to pay. A neighbor in the area commented that the assailants acted as “professionals". Early investigations have shown that they carried sub-machine guns as well as pistols and revolvers. Minister of the Interior Mauricio Lopez Bonilla declared that they consider the crime to be gang-related, pointing specifically to the MS 18 gang. He announced an explanation that the owner of the bar refused to sell alcohol to supposed gang-members, which caused them to open fire on the owner and the other patrons.  Many local community members find this story unbelievable and are rejecting that official theory.  They have announced they will continue to organize to demand further investigation. “We are strongly opposed to the statement of the Minister of the Interior that blamed gangs, which is completely false. It is premature to make statements without having initiated an investigation.” reported a group of grassroots organizations in a statement released September 9th. They continue: "Interestingly the route that the killers took is the same that the police patrol followed minutes earlier, for this reason the population wonders: where were the police when these events occurred? Or did they just create the conditions for the massacre and verify that there were no armed people in the area?” Nacahuil is an organized Mayan community that since 2005, has rejected the presence of the national police forces in their community.  Instead, traditional indigenous authorities have formed their own justice system and intervention by the national police is unwelcomed. According to locals, crime rates actually decreased while the police were not present in the area.  Lopez Bonnilla also agrees; “The crime rate has been very low in this sector, because the community is so well organized. It hasn’t been necessary to have police installed in the area.” Some groups in the community have also been active in a peaceful resistance movement known as La Puya together with the community of San Jose del Golfo.  The movement is organized against an American-owned mining company, Kappes Cassidy and Associates, who have a license for exploitation in the Tambor mountain region.  In July of 2012, two out spoken activists were shot and one was killed due to their opposition to the mine. It is unclear if Saturday’s shooting was related to the community’s anti-mining activism, but community groups theorize that it could have been orchestrated as an excuse to militarize their community, to intimidate anti-mining resistance. On Monday, the 9th, Lopez Bonnilla announced they are considering re-establishing a police base in San José Nacahuil.

 The Guatemala Solidarity Project (GSP) reported, November 10, 2013, that the Q'eqchi community of Saquimo Setaña, Cobán, in central Guatemala, has suffered, “…arson of houses, physical attacks on community members and the arrest of community leaders under false charges.” “The criminal acts were allegedly ordered by a person who claims to be the rightful heir of Saquimo Setaña's land,” the GSP asserts. “The woman in question (Maria Elena Garcia Ical) was also able to get an eviction order issued against the community.” GSP states that the Saquimo Setaña community purchased the land in 1997, and has been attempting to prove their legal ownership of the land since 2007 when Ical appeared in the area, claiming ownership of the land and demanding that the Q’eqchi residents leave immediately. Since then, Saquimo Setaña residents have alleged that families have been threatened, violently assaulted and had their homes burned to the ground, while much of the community's primary crop of cardamom and they report that much of it has been stolen and parts of the forest around the community have been cut down. GSP charges that some of these acts have been committed by members of Ical’s family. GSP advocate Palmer Legare was one of the people assaulted during a confrontation with Ical’s family in 2010. He is now helping to lead the international outreach for support on behalf of the Saquimo Setaña community. Legare says that the assaults against the community continue to occur, even after filing official complaints and lawsuits. for Peasant Unity (CPU), an indigenous advocacy organization. The CPU has filed a petition to the Inter American Commission for Human Rights to visit the indigenous regions to gather information on what they contend is government persecution and criminalization of protest, while Legare is requesting the international community to contact the Guatemalan Embassies and ask for justice for the Saquimo Setaña community ( Rick Kearns, "Mayan Community in Guatemala Under Attack, Seeking Assistance," ICTMN, December 7, 2013,

Campaign Update– Barillas: Impunity in Trial,” Cultural Survival, September 12, 2013, update-barillas-impunity-trial#sthash.Bfxm4ftD.dpuf, reported, “A surprise decision was made by courts in Guatemala on September 11, 2013 as two former employees of the Spanish dam company Hydro Santa Cruz were declared innocent of the assassination of  Q’anjobal community leader Andres Fransisco Miguel who was killed on the night of May 1, 2012. That night, Miguel, along with two other Q’anjobal men from the community, Pablo Antonio Pablo Pablo and Esteban Bernabé Mateo, were walking to their homes along a back road leading near the company’s installations when they were approached by a pickup truck and shot at by uniformed security guards of the company.  The three men had been outspoken in opposition to a hydroelectric dam on a river in their community, and had been previously threatened by the company after refusing to sell their land. The trial, coming to a close yesterday, was expected by all parties to result in a lifelong prison sentence for both men.  Two employees of the company, Ricardo Arturo García López and Oscar Armando Ortiz Solares, were accused of carrying out the assassinations, and were charged with murder and serious injuries.  The District Attorney asked for 40 years in prison for murder and 8 years for each of two counts of serious injury, meaning 56 years in prison for each of the accused men. The two men were declared innocent of the charge of murder, but declared Ricardo Arturo Garcia Lopez guilty of inflicting “serious injury,” meaning five years in prison or a fine of about $5,700 dollars, which he can pay rather than spending time in prison.”  “Witnesses of the trial say that the decision came contrary to much evidence provided throughout the trial.  Attorney Victor Alvarado, who represented the two Q’anjobal men, explained in an interview with Emisoras Unidas, that he would appeal the verdict, which he believes was not based on the facts presented. Judge Eugenia Castellanos denied any proof that the two accused men were employees of Hydro Santa Cruz, however, in a strange resolution, ordered that a “roundtable dialogue” be established in Barillas between the State, personnel of Hydro Santa Cruz, and three community leaders from Barillas over the course of three months, “with the purpose of establishing the utility and necessity of the dam, taking into the account the diversity and cultural necessities of the region. Nelton Rivera, of Prensa Comunitaria, questioned the resolution. “What’s strange here is that at no moment during the trial did the judge recognize the direct links between the company and the accused. The defense lawyer argued in various points that there was no existing proof that linked to Hydro Santa Cruz. Despite that, the court emits a resolution asking for the company to sit down in dialogue with the community. What is behind this?” he wrote in an opinion piece. Meanwhile, President Otto Perez Molina’s recently visited Barillas, on September 3 where he said a “roundtable dialogue” would be opened starting September 19 and he was awaiting a sentence the trial. ‘Friday we are awaiting a sentence in the court case, which has convincing proof…we don’t want impunity and it doesn’t matter who it is, I seek respect for the law’.”

Campaign Update– Barillas: "Conflict Will Repeat Unless State Consults Communities," Declares Bishop Ramazzinni,” July 10, 2013,, reported, “ In order to resolve the conflict generated by the installation of the Spanish company Hidro Santa Cruz’s Cambalam I Hydroelectric Project in Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala, the organized civil society, groups related to the company, and government representatives intend to hold dialogues mediated by Catholic Bishop Álvaro Ramazzinni, a long-time supporter of communities’ rights in conflicts with foreign companies and the government."

Arij Riahi, “ The End of Impunity? Indigenous Guatemalans bring Canadian mining company to court,” Cultural Survival, October 17, 2013,, reported, “ For the first time, a Canadian mining company will appear in a Canadian court for actions committed overseas. Hudbay Minerals, Inc, will be standing trial for murder, rapes and attacks committed against Indigenous Guatemalans by security personnel working for Hudbay’s subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN). The court case is proceeding thanks to a precedent-setting decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, which ruled this past July in favor of the Mayan Q'eqchi' people of Lote Ocho, near El Estor, Guatemala. ‘It is a massive victory for our clients and for human rights,’ Cory Wanless, an attorney with the Toronto-based Klippensteins law firm, told The Dominion. ‘Before this decision, no claim brought by individuals that had been harmed by Canadian mining abroad had ever gotten into Canadian courts at all. They didn’t even have the ability to forward their claims.’ Wanless represents the Q'eqchi' plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing the company of negligence in its ground management of the Fenix open-pit nickel mine project. They allege that security personnel—under the control of Hudbay—gang-raped 11 women, shot dead an Indigenous leader and outspoken critic of mining practices and left another man paralyzed from the chest down after sustaining a gunshot wound. Grahame Russell of Rights Action, a Canadian organization working mainly with Indigenous communities in Central America, has been doing solidarity work with the Q'eqchi' people for almost 10 years and has worked closely on the case. “Two major pre-trial issues were fought over. One was jurisdiction, and one [was] whether Hudbay could be held accountable—directly or via its subsidiary CGN—over what happened in Guatemala,” Russell told The Dominion. ‘We won on both counts. First, the company accepted that Canada can be the appropriate jurisdiction. Second, the judge decided in our favor, saying that it is appropriate to try to hold Hudbay accountable [for their negligence] in Guatemala.’ Russell explained that the conflict is rooted in unresolved tensions around what can be referred to in Canada as “prior land claims.” The events in question occurred between 2007 and 2009 in the context of a land dispute between the Q'eqchi' people and the mining company. ‘The specific context of the attack, rape[s] and murder is related to the mining company wanting to get the Q'eqchi' people off their land so they can get the mineral resources under the ground,’ Russell said. “There have been waves of repression in this region related to Canadian mining companies going back to the 1970s and early 1980s. This is an old story that is replaying itself out all over again.’ Rachel Small is an environmental justice activist working with communities impacted by Canadian extractive industry. “The abuses carried out by Canadian mining companies in Central America are part of a long and violent history of colonization, which continues today,” she told The Dominion. Small, who visited the Q'eqchi' community of Lote Ocho in 2010, said the Hudbay case is a classic example of environmental injustice. ‘Resources are being extracted for the benefit of Canadians—and primarily Canadian stockholders—at the expense of primarily Indigenous communities in Guatemala. It’s a blatant example of one of the ways that colonization plays out today and the costs are unimaginably huge for the communities who are being exploited.’ The Superior Court of Ontario’s decision, written by Judge Carole Brown, concluded that there was enough initial evidence to allow the actions to proceed to trial. Judge Brown emphasized that Hudbay is headquartered in Toronto, is incorporated under Canadian laws and was fully in control of its subsidiary. Hudbay has decided not to appeal the ruling. The court decision argued that “the pleadings disclose a sufficient basis to suggest that a relationship of proximity between the [Q'eqchi'] plaintiffs and the defendants [Hudbay and CGN] exists, such that it would not be unjust or unfair to impose a duty of care on the defendants.” The decision also listed a number of factors that might, at trial, prove the proximity between Hudbay and its subsidiary. This problem of proximity is one that has sunk many attempts to hold Canadian companies accountable in Canadian courts for human-rights abuses committed in other countries. Most mining companies have a complex corporate structure with a head office in one country, smaller offices in others and operations in the Global South. In courts, they have repeatedly been able to draw a line between the legal responsibility of a parent company that controls management and the subsidiary that controls daily operations on the ground. In November 2012, a group of Congolese people exhausted all legal options with a final failed attempt  to drag Anvil Mining in front Canadian courts for its involvement in a massacre of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The company admitted to a United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) that it had provided transportation, food and lodging to the Congolese soldiers who committed the massacre. Yet the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that there was no sufficient link between the company’s Quebec office and the events that led to the killings, and that Quebec’s courts therefore had no jurisdiction over the matter. At the time of the events, Anvil’s headquarters were in Australia. Wanless said that Hudbay’s corporate ties to Canadian law might explain why the case was allowed to go through while the Anvil case never made it to court. ‘The question in [the case of] Hudbay is different because there was no question that Ontario did have jurisdiction over Hudbay. It was an Ontario company through and through.’ Since the July 22, 2013, decision, Rights Action has reported that some Mayan Q'eqchi' women have received threats pressuring them to withdraw the lawsuits. ‘This is a new wave of intimidation,’ said Russell, who speaks with members of the community on a weekly basis. ‘In the past, it has targeted Angelica Choc—the wife of Adolfo Ich, [the man] who was shot and killed. Now, it is targeting the women, trying to turn some women against the other women.’ When asked to comment on the threats, both Small and Wanless said they are an unsettling development, but one that is not surprising. Small highlighted how geographical isolation could add to the community’s vulnerability. ‘The fastest way to reach Lote Ocho requires an uphill drive in a Jeep or all-terrain vehicle, followed by an over-two-hour trek up the side of a densely forested mountain,’ she explained. ‘The limited access to communication with family, friends and allies in other places certainly impacted Lote Ocho’s ability to respond to threats and attacks.’ Though the pre-trial decision has been hailed as a victory, the trial to follow could still take years. ‘[The decision] is absolutely a breakthrough, but this won’t all of sudden bring proper and full accountability,’ said Russell. ‘It was a step that had be fought for and won, but there is still a hugely long way to go.’ Small said the injustices committed in other countries implicate Canada’s whole political and economic system. ‘Canadian government actively supports the [mining] industry, both financially—such as through pension plan investments—and politically.’ She listed a host of political players, including Canadian embassies and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, who negotiate international trade deals and partnerships with mining companies operating in the Global South. For Small, this means that the problems faced by the Q'eqchi' won’t be solved in one courtroom. ‘We’re looking at complex systems...that serve to concentrate power and resources in the hands of a small few, especially at the expense of Indigenous peoples. It’s going to be a long struggle to reverse these patterns, and one that needs to play out on more than one continent and in a multitude of settings.’ Wanless was cautiously optimistic about the court’s decision. ‘This case is the first of this kind but I think that claims like this are going to be much more common,’ he said. ‘It is no longer possible for Canadian courts to deny that this is a Canadian problem that deserves a Canadian solution.’”

Campaign Update: Honduras Gives Title to Lands to Miskito People,” Cultural Survival, September 20, 2013, reported, “On Thursday, September 12, 2013 the Honduran government granted more than 1.6 million acres of coastal lands to the Indigenous Miskito people, who occupy the northeastern corner of Honduras known as La Moskitia, which runs along the border with Nicaragua and the Caribbean coast, The Miskito consist of about 21,800 people in more than 100 villages and sparsely populated towns. They now have title to seven land areas, comprising 128 communities, and about 7 percent of Honduras' total land area. Over the last year the government has awarded Miskito title to 265,000 acres. Another 1.9 million acres are promised. Honduras joins a trend set by Nicaragua, Belize and Panama, which have all given titles to Indigenous communities as well. Cultural Survival assisted Indigenous groups in the Moskitia area in the fight for their autonomy with a Global Response campaign launched in 2011. Four Indigenous Peoples, the Miskito along with the Pech, Garifuna, and Tawahka peoples who inhabit the area, have protested the construction of the Patuca III hydroelectric dam there and held a conference in 2011 centered around the theme of "Indigenous Governance and Territorial Autonomy” which was attended by Cultural Survival staff Danielle DeLuca. At the conference, Norvin Goff explained, "The defense of our territory is our first concern. Because we don't have the full legal titles to our land, the government is able to give concessions to foreign companies, without any kind of consultation with us.  The government is obsessed with bringing external investment into the country." Hopefully the grant of land titles will stem corporate incursions into the forest. MASTA took further actions to earn rights to the land, which they have finally received including a mobilization in the state capital and action in the Supreme Court of Justice. The land had been promised to the Miskito people in the 1850’s in a treaty from the British government. However, the treaty had not been written into law until now. The region’s relative isolation has allowed Miskito people to occupy the area continuously, but land speculators, loggers, ranchers, and foreign investors have been illegally claiming land and clearing forest in the territory. The Miskito have increasingly pressed for legal title to these lands over the past 40 years. Norvin Goff, chairman of Miskitu Asia Takanka (MASTA), a Honduras group representing the tribes, said that before “there wasn’t any legal support to complain to the government,” but “now with the backing of titles, we can stop this agenda.” He asserted that “the Miskito people can protect [the forest], but only if we have title to those lands." Goff also said that it is Miskito “tradition” and “duty” to protect the forests and natural resources. Along with other experts, David Kaimowitz, the director of natural resources at the Ford Foundation, who has been working with the Miskito communities, claims that the “recognition of the Miskito’s rights” will protect biodiversity in the coastal pine and rain forests. This land title will allow the Miskito to negotiate treaties with the UN through their REDD+ program. REDD stands for Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation and aims to reduce global carbon levels by paying tropical countries to keep their forests standing. ‘We have been doing REDD for 500 years,’ notes Goff. ‘Now we will be able to teach others how we have protected our forests and natural resources, and benefit from our role in helping the world that wants so badly to stop destroying the forests so we can slow climate change.’ Honduras is covered by forest in about 40 percent of its land area, but the country has one of the highest rates of deforestation in Latin America. According to, Honduras lost 37.1 percent of its forestland in the period from 1990 to 2005. The forests support a number of important species such as the jaguar (Panthera onca), Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), and mantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata). ‘With a substantial proportion of the total territory of Honduras now owned by Indigenous Peoples, we envision the creation of a new development agenda in Honduras, one built with guidance from Indigenous Peoples and with respect for our customary rights,’ Goff said.”

James Phillips, “ The Defenders: Walking the Path of Resistance with the Lenca of Rio Blanco, Honduras,” Cultural Survival, October 26, 2013,, reported, “

Along the river valleys and hillsides of this rugged sector of Honduras are the Lenca . The Lenca have inhabited areas of western Honduras for centuries and may be culturally related to the Chorti, one of the many branches of Maya peoples of Central America. The Lenca, who depend on the rivers for physical and spiritual support, have a long history of resistance to European colonialism; they claim Lempira, the great warrior who fought against sixteenth century Spanish conquest, as their own. Today, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) has become a leader in promoting the rights of the Lenca and other Hondurans. However, there is often a heavy price to pay for such activism, as the use of threats—and murder—to silence the opposition has become routine.  

 Lenca communities, with the assistance COPINH, are engaged in resistance to a new form of colonialism: this time the damming of the local rivers that are so vital to the community. The proposed dam of the Gualcarque River, which would be financed and developed by both foreign and Honduran investors, would provide hydroelectricity and water for mining operations in this part of the country. Gold, silver, iron, antimony, and other mining is a major industry in Honduras; thousands of tons of iron ore are shipped to China every month from Honduras and a sizable mining operation consumes huge amounts of water.  US, Chinese, Canadian, Italian, and other internationally-based companies are all mining in Honduras, and most of these transnational mining operations are located on or near Indigenous land and communities.

 Foreign mining companies sometimes contribute to a special fund administered by high police and military officials, giving the security forces incentive to support the companies and stifle popular opposition. They may also offer incentives to local mayors whose support can ease the way for the companies; this tactic may give a misleading appearance of local acceptance. In other cases, the State is more directly involved. In the case of the Agua Zarca dam, Honduras’s First Battalion of Engineers is actually working on the construction.

 a law passed in January 2013 suspended a moratorium on new mining concessions that had been in effect since 2005. Additionally, the new law allows for open-pit mines and the use of cyanide. The end of the moratorium has meant a flurry of new mining concessions granted across Honduras. But the law also requires that local communities be consulted and give their approval before mining operations begin. While this reflects at least a token acknowledgment that Honduras is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169 on Indigenous rights, reports from communities in different areas of Honduras indicate that the legal requirement of local consultation is routinely violated, and that threats and violence are used to force communities to accept mining and dam operations.  

The Lenca and COPINH have received expressions and acts of solidarity from other Hondurans, both Indigenous and non. Together they have engaged in traditional forms of nonviolent resistance, including the ancient Indigenous practice of caminata (walking the land), which has long been a form of spiritual observance and renewal. It is a practice that other native peoples have also been reviving in recent years, as exemplified by the Idle No More movement in Canada. 

On April 1, 2013, members of the local communities of Rio Blanco began blocking the road between the Agua Zarca dam project headquarters and the river, not allowing project machinery to pass. They also began nonviolent protests at the dam project headquarters nearby. The Lenca have long claimed the area as their traditional territory, a claim recognized, at least in theory, by previous Honduran governments. Members of other Indigenous communities, together with other organizations, Hondurans, and international visitors and observers, joined members of COPINH and local Lenca in walking the road to the company plant. At times the walk was led with prayer and burning incense in traditional fashion. 

During their protest, the walkers were faced daily with a contingent of the Honduran Army guarding the company compound of Sinohidro, the Chinese company contracted to build the Agua Zarca dam. On July 15, witnesses report that a soldier opened fire on the group, shooting and killing COPINH member Tomas Garcia and seriously injuring his teenage son, Alan. A third Lenca man was also injured in the incident. Shortly after, in an apparent perversion of justice, three COPINH leaders—Berta Cáceres, Tomas Gomez, and Aureliano Molina—were formally accused of inciting violence and causing economic harm to the company due to lost time and revenue. The court has so far ignored the Lenca claim that the company is trespassing on Lenca land, as COPINH leaders were ordered to appear at a criminal hearing in the city of Esperanza, Intibuca, on August 14, and then at another hearing in mid-September. In a show of international solidarity, crowds of Hondurans and others have gathered outside the courthouse during these hearings. Their banners include messages such as “Stop the violations against the defenders;” that is, the defenders of the land, water, and rights.

 The community at Rio Blanco has a strong spirituality based both on the Catholic popular church and traditional Indigenous beliefs. One community elder put his experience of facing threats and violence in the context of his religious faith: “If they kill me, well God bless them. I am not going to be afraid of death because from death I will be born...No man with money made the earth or the sky or the sea. All these things of this world—God gave them to us. To these men of the dam, please leave. We have received threats that if we work our land, they will kill us. We ask that they respect our dignity as Indians.” 

Another leader, who requested anonymity for fear of personal safety, said, “In the midst of all of this struggle, there are powerful and beautiful things. In our land and rivers and forests there are spirits that are helping us. We have faith in God and in the Holy Mother, and we are aided by the spirits of the ancestors. We have faith in everything we do in this place. We are really grateful for all the international solidarity we have been shown. We don’t feel alone, we feel supported.” 

On September 20, a Honduran court ordered the imprisonment of COPINH leader Berta Cáceres while she awaits trial. Her lawyer is also being sued in another court case—a continuation of the criminalization of those who defend the defenders. The day after the arrest order went out for Cáceres, a petition demanding her freedom began circulating on a website in the United States, receiving 10,000 signatures on the first day. Since then, several other petitions for Cáceres’s freedom have also been circulating. Lenca leaders count on the show of international solidarity in this matter to further their struggle.”

William Neuman, “Colombia and Rebels Reach Deal on Political Participation,” The New York Times, November 6, 2013,, reported. “ Negotiators for the Colombian government and the country’s largest guerrilla group announced Wednesday that they had agreed on a framework for the rebels to take part in the political process, a crucial step forward in peace talks aimed at ending nearly 50 years of fighting between the government and the rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.  The deal, announced in Havana, where the talks are taking place, was the second point of agreement reached since the two sides began negotiations to resolve a long list of differences late last year. In May, they announced plans to reduce rural inequality. The agreements on individual issues will go into effect only if a full peace deal is completed, and the two sides have a long way to go. Sporadic fighting is still taking place, and the rebel fighters have yet to surrender their weapons. Drug trafficking remains an important source of financing for the guerrillas and a source of conflict with the government.”

Campaign Update —Belize: Government Continues to Ignore Maya Land Rights Despite Court of Appeal Ruling,” September 5, 2013,, reported, “In its 25 July 2013 decision in the second Maya Land Rights case, the Court of Appeal upheld the Supreme Court ruling that the Maya people of southern Belize own our land through our customary land tenure system, and that this property is protected by the Constitution.  The appeal court disagreed with the remedies provided by former Chief Justice Conteh, but agreed with him on the main issue: Maya villages have customary title to our lands. This title is exclusive and equal to any other form of title in Belize. The government of Belize has done nothing to acknowledge the appeal court’s ruling. Instead, it has focused narrowly on the court’s decision not to provide the temporary higher level of protection to Maya rights that Justice Conteh had seen fit to order.  In doing so, the government has conveniently disregarded the central verdict.  It has also chosen to ignore the invitation of Maya leaders to resume negotiations about how best to implement Maya land rights that have now been upheld three times by the courts and by human rights bodies of the Organization of American States’ and the United Nations. The situation has recently become alarming as Crique Sarco village leaders who, along with SATIIM, attempted to visit a U.S. Capital site and were met by armed forces and told that they were trespassing.  The government makes much of the fact that the Court of Appeal rejected the injunction against issuing petroleum concessions over Maya lands, but it completely i gnores the requirements of the Petroleum Act that prohibit a company from entering onto concession lands without the written consent of the owner.  U.S. Capital is preparing a drilling site on lands owned by Crique Sarco(,) without the required consent.  Yet, the government insists it is the Maya who are the trespassers! The Prime Minster has said publicly that the area within the National Park is not Maya land, even though the court in the 2007 land rights case admitted into evidence and acknowledged that Conejo village includes land in the park. The government is well aware of this and intentionally excluded Conejo’s land from U.S. Capital’s permit to operate in the park. Now the government alleges that “there can be no kind of ownership other than state ownership” in a national park.  In fact, the National Parks Systems Act does not disturb existing ownership of lands within a national park, nor does it give ownership of a park to the state. Last week, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, released a letter to the government of Belize expressing concern about the oil exploration activities by US Capital Energy Belize Ltd. on Maya customary lands and the distribution of Maya customary land to private individuals.  He stated that: “ oil exploration activities on Maya land and the distribution of Maya traditional lands to private individuals have allegedly continued without prior, free and informed consent of the local Maya population and will affect the ability of the indigenous communities to feed themselves, as they rely on their customary lands for their livelihood”. He expressed concern that cutting and clearing for the seismic testing has polluted waterways and damaged the land used for farming of subsistence crops that form the basis of the Maya economy and diet, and that future exploratory drilling activities will lead to the development of new roads, drill sites and waste management sites, which will further affect the habitats of game animals and destroy areas used by us for subsistence and cash crop farming. The Special Rapporteur specifically cited section 26 of the Petroleum Act that requires oil companies to obtain the consent of landowners and lawful occupiers before the entering of their lands, and highlighted that if it is failing to protect Maya customary land rights, food and water sources, the government of Belize is violating its international obligations. As with anything concerning Maya land rights, the government ignored the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur. The Maya people have taken our land claims through the peaceful process of the legal system, and at every stage the courts have upheld our rights to our lands. The rule of law is fundamental to all Belizeans, and settling the land tenure issues in Toledo is vital to investment and the economy in the region. Yet the government’s insistence on ignoring our rights demonstrates how important the injunction and other relief ordered by Justice Conteh were. For this reason, our communities have decided to appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice those portions of the Court of Appeal judgment that removed lawfully ordered protection of our rights. Even as we appeal, we would prefer to resolve these issues through dialogue with our government on the premise that our land rights exist. We remain committed to dialogue based on good faith.  As a people we will fulfill our obligation to protect our rights and our lands. We ask that the international community, human rights organizations and United Nations bodies to continue monitoring the relationship between the Maya people and the government of Belize very closely.” (Source: September 5th, 2013.  Cristina Coc – Maya Leaders Alliance - (501) 637-5611).

Belize: Excluded Communities Finding their Voices through Community Radio,” September 5, 2013,, reported, “During the last week of August 2013, Cultural Survival's team traveled to Belize for the implementation of one of our newest community radio projects . This new project is aimed at improving integration for Indigenous communities in Central America through community radio. As a result of this project, we are expanding our Guatemalan community radio network to include a radio station in Belize and a radio station in El Salvador. We are holding exchanges, workshops and a forum for youth from all of the radios involved. The events are aimed at getting youth excited about using community radio as a tool for integration and development, and teaching them how to do so.” While walking near the community “through these swampy waters, the extent of the exclusion that many of these communities experience became clear. It is a common occurrence that these communities cannot be reached by vehicle. As well, the San Benito Poite community, like many others in the Toledo district, has no electricity. However, the majority of families have a battery-powered radio in their houses, where they can listen to their community radio station. When disasters occur, they can call the radio and inform the volunteers that they need help. This is one of the ways that community radio can help with extreme exclusion. As part of our project, Tumul K’in team is currently conducting surveys in these communities to ask them directly what they need and want from their community radio station. In this way, the communities can make decisions about how they want their community radio station to serve their communities. Community radio is an indispensable tool for minimizing exclusion. Without the help of Ak’Kutan Radio in Blue Creek, Belize, there would be no way of communicating to the outside world when communities like San Benito Poite experience flooding or other problems. Through this project, we will be directly involving youth from communities such as these in the radio, enabling them to represent their communities, helping to better integrate them with the greater Belizean and Central American communities.“ 

“Indian tribe blocks Pan-American Highway to protest land invasion,” Survival International, July 23, 2013,, reported, “ A key South American highway connecting Paraguay and Bolivia is being blocked by an Indian tribe angry at the destruction of their rapidly-shrinking island of forest. Ayoreo Indians today blocked the Trans-Chaco Highway, which forms part of the Pan-American Highway, and have vowed to maintain their protest until outsiders who have occupied their land are removed. The Indians are angry about the illegal invasion of their land by two Paraguayan farmers, in an area to which the Ayoreo secured official land title 16 years ago. The farmers and their workers have erected cattle fences and bulldozed wide tracks, and claim that the land belongs to them. They were guarded by police, to prevent any attempt on the Ayoreos’ part to stop the work. Although most members of the Ayoreo tribe are contacted, some groups are known to remain uncontacted in the forest in the area now under threat. The Ayoreo have said to Survival International, ‘We don’t want any outsiders in our territory – it’s dangerous for us, and dangerous for our relatives in the forest. We’ll stay here [on the road] until all the outsiders leave our land.’”

“Another casualty of ‘progress’: Ayoreo TB epidemic claims latest victim,” Survival International,” October 28, 2013,, reported, “Chiri Etacore, an Ayoreo-Totobiegosode man forced out of his forest home in the name of ‘progress’, has died from a lung disease. He is the latest victim of an epidemic of TB and similar diseases devastating Paraguay’s Ayoreo-Totobiegosode villages. The Ayoreo are the indigenous inhabitants of northern Paraguay and Bolivia. Most have been forcibly contacted and settled, but some remain in the forest, avoiding contact with outsiders. Chiri was one of a large group of Ayoreo captured in a ‘manhunt’ in 1986, an expedition assisted by the fundamentalist missionary organization New Tribes Mission. The incident prompted global outrage, and a successful Survival International campaign to prevent any further missions to forcibly contact isolated Indians.  Chiri, like many other Ayoreo who have been forced out of the forest, suffered chronic lung disease ever since – a sign of the neglect of recently-contacted Ayoreo communities by Paraguay’s medical services.”

“Peru repeals official report on threats to uncontacted tribes,” Survival International, August 9, 2013,, reported, “ Peru’s Prime Minister has announced that his government has scrapped an official report warning of the dangers a controversial gas project poses to uncontacted tribes. It is another sign of the intense pressure from the top of Peru’s government to push ahead with the project. The report was published by the government department responsible for indigenous affairs – the Ministry of Culture – in response to plans to expand the giant Camisea gas project in Peru’s south-east Amazon. The gas project lies in the heart of a reserve created to protect several uncontacted and isolated tribes . The report contains 83 ‘observations’ outlining the dangers the expansion plans pose to the lives of local tribal peoples. It was pulled from the Ministry’s website just hours after it was published, and now the government has repealed it entirely. Peru’s Ministry of Culture is responsible for protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, and could reject the plans to expand the gas project further into the tribes’ reserve. The scrapping of the report has been blasted by indigenous organizations and some Peruvian press as a tactic by the government to push the gas plans forward, despite widespread opposition. Nahua Indians, who were decimated following initial gas exploration in the area, have written to the Ministry rejecting the project plans, and several ministers have resigned, allegedly under pressure to give the project the green light.” At least three ministers resigned from the government over its plans to allow the extraction project (“Peruvian ministers resign over Amazon gas project,” Survival International, August 6, 2013,

"Waorani men arrested over killings of uncontacted Indians," Survival Internationalm, December 7, 2013,, reported, " Six Waorani Indians have been arrested over the killing last April of an unknown number of uncontacted Taromenane Indians in Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park. The Waorani and Taromenane are inter-related tribes from Ecuador’s east Amazon region. Waorani were contacted and settled into communities by missionaries from the 1950s, but the Taromenane continue to resist all contact with mainstream society. 

The alleged attack occurred in April 2013 following the murder of a Waorani couple , Ompore Omeway and his wife Buganei Cayga. The Waorani have been charged with entering the Taromenane’s forest and carrying out a revenge attack." " Ecuador’s government has been heavily criticized for its failure to prevent the revenge killings of the Taromenane that many had predicted. Indigenous organizations in the country have blamed the intense oil exploration and drilling in the area and the illegal colonization of Waorani lands for exacerbating inter-ethnic tensions, and for bringing once-separate groups into close proximity. In November, President Rafael Correa opened up the Yasuni Park to oil exploration following a failed attempt to gather international support and finance to protect the land and keep the oil underground.

“Yanomami denounce illegal miners and lack of health care,” Survival International, November 5, 2013,, reported, Yanomami Indians from Brazil and Venezuela met, in October, “in Venezuela to discuss indigenous rights and national policies. Government officials from both countries, indigenous organizations and NGOs working with the Yanomami also attended. Health issues and the impact of gold-mining were debated. Many Yanomami in both countries continue to suffer hugely from the impacts of illegal gold-miners on their land. In an open letter the Yanomami state that, ‘The situation on the frontier of Brazil and Venezuela is very serious; many illegal mining camps are established here which produce violence, epidemics, the destruction of our lands and contamination of the rivers… It is not possible to enjoy good health if our land is not protected. ‘It is also important to understand that for good health and the protection of our lands we need joint actions by both governments which include indigenous participation.’ They call for the Yanomami territory in Venezuela to be mapped out and fully recognized in Venezuela in accordance with the constitution, which guarantees indigenous peoples’ collective land rights. The letter expresses their huge concerns about both governments’ intention to open up Yanomami and other tribes’ land for large scale mining: ‘We want to be consulted about these projects, which we oppose because they threaten our lives.’ Those at the meeting recalled the massacre of 16 Yanomami by a group of gold-miners at Haximu twenty years ago. Representatives from the Yanomami organizations Horonami and Hutukara warned this could happen again if both governments do not put in place proper measures to stop the invasion of gold-miners. In August the UN expressed its grave concern at the impunity for illegal miners who commit acts of aggression and violence against the Yanomami. It called on Venezuela to carry out an ‘exhaustive’ investigation into those responsible for violent crimes against the Yanomami, and the Yukpa tribe of western Venezuela, and punish them accordingly. The UN report states that the violence against the Yukpa at the hands of landowners is a consequence of the government’s failure to demarcate the tribe’s land and urges it to accelerate the demarcation of their territories.

“Brazil: Congressional bill would be ‘unmitigated disaster’ for Indians,” Survival International, July 20, 2013,, reported, “ Brazil’s Congress is currently debating a controversial bill to open up indigenous territories for mining, dams, army bases and other industrial projects. If it becomes law, the bill would be an ‘unmitigated disaster’ for Brazil’s Indians. Most indigenous peoples rely on their lands to sustain themselves physically and culturally. Uncontacted Indians are particularly vulnerable and without their forests intact, they will not survive. The Brazilian constitution currently guarantees the Indians’ right to exclusive use of their land, except in extreme circumstances of ‘relevant public interest’. The new proposal, known as Draft Bill 227, is part of a wave of moves to weaken indigenous rights, being pushed by Brazil’s powerful rural lobby group. It is supported by several members of Congress, some of whom have reportedly received funds from mining and agri-business companies including Bunge, which is buying sugarcane grown on the Guarani tribe’s land. Indigenous peoples across the country are expressing their anger at this move, which has been branded an ‘anti-indigenous maneuver’ by tribes of Rondonia state in the western Brazilian Amazon. They say, ‘We want our anger at this serious insult to our constitutional rights to be heard nationally and all over the world… In the name of ‘progress’, [the government] kills rivers, forests and human beings… We will continue to resist, and fight to construct a new system of indigenist politics which is democratic and in line with our aspirations.’ Earlier this month, President Rousseff met with indigenous leaders for the first time since she took office in January 2011. She promised to listen to indigenous peoples, and stand alongside them in their fight against legislation which violates their rights. No indigenous people have been consulted about this proposed law. Survival is urging the Brazilian government to scrap Draft Bill 227 immediately.”

“Brazil: Female chief leads re-occupation of ancestral land after her three children die,” Survival International, September 18, 2013,, reported, “ Guarani Indians have carried out a courageous ‘retomada’ (re-occupation) of the sugar cane plantation that has taken over their ancestral land. The group is led by a female chief who has seen her husband and three of her children die on the roadside where they have lived for ten years. Their roadside camp was mysteriously destroyed in a fire last month and gunmen threatened to kill them. The same camp was torched by gunmen in 2009. In a statement released on Monday, Damiana Cavanha, the leader of the Apy Ka’y community, said, ’We decided to reoccupy part of our traditional land where there is a well of good water and a bit of remaining forest. ‘We decided to return to the land where three of our children, who were run over and torn apart by vehicles belonging to the ranches, are buried; where two leaders who were assassinated by gunmen employed by the ranchers, and where a 70 year old shaman who died from inhaling pesticides sprayed from a crop-spraying plane, are also buried.’  This is the fourth time the Apy Ka’y community has re-occupied its ‘tekoha’ (ancestral land) in Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul state since ranchers moved in almost 15 years ago. Every time the Guarani returned, the ranchers evicted them by force and the community has been living by the side of the road in squalid and perilous conditions for the last ten years. The Apy Ka’y Guarani are now at great risk. They have already received three death threats and say that an attempt was made to poison their water supply after the re-occupation on Sunday. The ranch that has taken over their land is now employing a notorious security firm to intimidate the Indians. Public Prosecutors in Brazil have described the firm, Gaspem, as a ‘private militia’, and called for it to be closed down. A 2009 report on the community’s treatment for the Public Prosecutor’s office concluded, ‘it is no exaggeration to talk of genocide.’ Damiana added in the statement, ’Faced with the threat of death, the loss of our relatives and so much suffering and pain, we decided for the fourth time to reoccupy our land, Apy Ka’y, on 15 September 2013. ‘We have decided to fight and die for our land.’ The situation of the Apy Ka’y is not unusual for the Guarani in Brazil, who are becoming increasingly desperate as they suffer violent attacks at the hands of ranchers occupying their ancestral land. Disillusioned by the government’s slow progress in demarcating their land, several Guarani communities have carried out retomadas in recent years. Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The government’s failure to restore land to the Guarani is shameful and illegal, and has been catastrophic for the Indians. President Rousseff is clearly in thrall to the agricultural lobby, which is immensely powerful and influential, and seems prepared to simply ignore her obligations under the law. In these circumstances, it isn’t surprising that the Guarani are taking matters into their own hands. They desperately need support, or they are likely to be evicted and attacked yet again.’” Download the community’s full statement (English translation, pdf, 50 kB) at: On December 1, 2013, as reported by, " Breaking news: Guarani leader and film-star murdered" Survival International, December 3, 2013,, Guarani Indian leader and film-star Ambrósio Vilhalva was murdered on Sunday night, after decades of campaigning for his tribe’s right to live on their ancestral land. Ambrósio was reportedly stabbed at the entrance to his community, known as Guyra Roká, in Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul state. He was found dead in his hut, with multiple knife wounds. He had been repeatedly threatened in recent months. Ambrósio starred as the main character in the award-winning feature film Birdwatchers, which portrays the Guarani’s desperate struggle for their land. He traveled internationally to speak out about the tribe’s plight, and to push the Brazilian government into protecting Guarani land, as it is legally obliged to do." "Guarani suffer one of the highest murder rates in the world," Survival International, November 22, 2013,, reported, "According to Brazilian NGO CIMI, the majority of Indians killed in Brazil are Guarani. In 2012, the rate of assassinations of Guarani was 4 times that of Brazil’s national homicide rate – which is already one of the highest in the world." However, "‘Private militia’ firm ordered to close over Guarani killings," Survival International,  September 4, 2013,, reported, " Brazil’s Public Prosecutors have called for the closure of a notorious security firm accused of carrying out at least eight brutal attacks on Guarani communities, and of killing at least two of their leaders. Ranchers reportedly paid Gaspem 30,000 reais (US$ 12,700) each time it violently evicted Guarani Indians from their ancestral lands, which are now occupied by ranches and sugarcane plantations. The Prosecutors describe the company as a ‘private militia’ and an ‘organized group which uses violence against the Guarani in the south of Mato Grosso do Sul state, at the hands of brutal people appointed as ’security guards’’. They have called for the company to be dissolved and for 480,000 reais (over US$ 200,000) to be paid to the Guarani in compensation. The Indians have reported that Gaspem employees, known locally as ‘pistoleiros’ (gunmen) have repeatedly threatened to kill the Guarani of Apy Ka’y community, whose roadside camp was recently devastated by a fire started on the sugarcane plantation which has taken over their land. The gunmen monitor the Indians day and night from a jeep with blacked-out windows, and regularly fire shots towards the Guarani’s camp. The community’s leader, Damiana Cavanha, said last week, ‘The gunmen told me they will kill all of us. But I’ll continue fighting for our ancestral land.’ Gaspem is being investigated for its possible involvement in the torching of Apy Ka’y in 2009, and for attacking hundreds more Guarani men, women and children who have desperately tried to return to their ancestral land, unable to further tolerate the appalling conditions they are forced to endure in their roadside camps and overcrowded reserves. The firm’s owner, Aurelino Arce, was arrested last year in connection with the murder of Nísio Gomes, Guarani leader of Guaviry community. The Prosecutors’ investigations also found that Gaspem contracted untrained security guards, and that its employees carried weapons illegally."

“Awá: Top human rights watchdog demands answers from Brazil,” Survival International, September 13, 2013,, reported, “The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Americas’ leading human rights body, has demanded answers from the Brazilian government about the plight of the Awá, Earth’s most threatened tribe, which is being driven towards extinction by the country’s failure to protect its forest. Following an urgent petition sent to the IACHR by Survival International and Brazilian NGO CIMI in May 2013, the human rights watchdog has pressurized Brazil’s authorities to provide details of the measures being taken to guarantee the survival of the Awá. The Commission’s demand draws attention to the uncontacted Awá, who number only around 100 and are living on the run in their dwindling forest which is being destroyed by an ever-advancing wave of illegal loggers. The IACHR has also questioned the government about a court ruling which demanded that the illegal loggers, settlers and ranchers be evicted from the Awá indigenous territory. The authorities failed to even begin to evict the invaders by the ruling’s deadline, which passed six months ago. Survival is calling on Brazil to conduct the evictions operation as a matter of urgency. The Awá are warning that they are becoming increasingly desperate and unable to hunt and feed their families, as their forest is being destroyed at an alarming pace, threatening their existence as one of the last nomadic hunter-gatherer peoples of the Amazon rainforest. One Awá man said in an appeal to Brazil’s Minister of Justice, ‘I am angry, very angry… The loggers come here and chop down the trees …  The Minister of Justice in Brasília can help us here, now. He must help us now!’ Over 53,000 people worldwide have written to the Minister urging him to save the Awá, since film-star Colin Firth launched Survival’s campaign in April 2012. Last month, the Awá’s plight received attention all over Brazil, as media giant O Globo published a front page spread about the tribe and the threats it faces, illustrated by photos by internationally renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado. The Commission is expected to make a final decision on the Awá case later this month [September 2013].” Earlier,  “Tanks move in around Earth’s most threatened tribe,” Survival International, July 16, 2013,, reported, Survival International has received reports that Brazil’s military has launched a major ground operation against illegal logging around the land of the Awá, Earth’s most threatened tribe . Hundreds of soldiers, police officers and Environment Ministry special agents have flooded the area, backed up with tanks, helicopters and close to a hundred other vehicles, to halt the illegal deforestation which has already destroyed more than 30% of one of the Awá’s indigenous territories . Since the operation reportedly started at the end of June, 2013, at least eight saw mills have been closed and other machinery has been confiscated and destroyed.” “But while the operation is making it more difficult for loggers to enter Awá territory and remove the valuable timber, the forces have not moved onto the Awá’s land itself – where illegal logging is taking place at an alarming rate and where quick action is crucial.”

“EU beef imports threaten uncontacted Indians,” Survival International, September 16, 2013,, reported, “ Forest inhabited by uncontacted Indians in Paraguay is being destroyed to make way for cattle destined for the European market. New satellite images reveal that Brazilian company Yaguarete Pora has been felling forest in the north of Paraguay, the ancestral home of Ayoreo Indians . Some of the Ayoreo are uncontacted and are continually forced to flee from cattle ranchers who have taken over much of their land. Yaguarete is part of the UN Global Compact , an initiative set up to encourage companies to abide by principles that ‘support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights’. But the company’s work places the lives of the uncontacted Ayoreo in extreme danger. Uncontacted Indians have no immunity to diseases brought by outsiders and could be wiped out if contact occurs with company workers. In a recent report submitted to the UN body, Yaguarete reveals it has already begun cattle ranching on the uncontacted Indians’ land, and that some of the beef is being exported to Europe. However, its report makes no mention of the presence of the uncontacted Indians. Survival has written to the European Commission asking it to investigate its beef imports from the company. In an attempt to ‘greenwash’ its work, the company has set aside part of its land as a ‘private nature reserve’. Yet the land is the ancestral property of the Ayoreo, and they have been claiming title to it for more than 20 years. Many Ayoreo who have already been forced out of the forest have died in recent years, and many others are terminally ill. Paraguay’s forests are being rapidly cleared for cattle farming that supplies European, African, Russian and North American markets. Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘Yaguarete is flagrantly ignoring the noble principles to which it has signed up, and the UN is seemingly powerless to intervene. This isn’t the first time the company has been caught doing this – when will Paraguay stop them putting Indians’ lives at risk?’” Download Yaguarete’s report to the UN Global Compact (Spanish, pdf, 7 MB) at:

In Libya, in mid-August, Members of the Berber Indigenous minority, persecuted harshly during the Qaddfi regime, broke into the country’s parliament building demanding greater recognition in the constitution being drafted, and the recognition of the Berber language along with Arabic  (“Libya: Berbers Protest in Assembly,” The New York Times, August 14, 2013,

In July, the White House and the National Security Agency were attempting to have the international community pay more attention to the continuing ancient feud between the Neur and Murle people, in te Jonglei State of South Sudan, which has exploded to displace over 100,000 people, threatening a large humanitarian crisis and the possible destabilizing of South Sudan (Mark Landler, “U.S. Pushes for Global Eye on Obscure Conflict in South Sudan,” The New York Times, July 30, 3013).

Tuareg separatists in the North of Somalia suspended their peace deal with the government, charging that the government has failed to fulfill its agreement to release prisoners. Tuareg fighters also have violated the agreement, by not staying garrisoned in their bases, and there has been at least one small armed clash between Tuareg and government forces. Further peace negotiations were to begin in November, but are now in doubt  (“Rebels in Mali Suspend Peace Deal With Government,” The New York Times, September 26, 2013,

As there has been an increases in armed clashes between troops of the M23 rebels and government forces near the city of Goma in the Eastern Republic of Congo, despite a cease fire earlier in the year, and a U.N. report found that the rebels were being aided by Rwanda,  “U.S. Says Rwanda Aids Congo Rebels,” The New York Times, July 23, 2013,, reported, “The United States on Tuesday called on Rwanda to end support for the M23 rebels in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo , saying there was evidence that Rwandan military officials were involved.”

ICG, “Understanding Conflict in Eastern Congo (I): The Ruzizi Plain,” Africa Report N°206, July 23, 2013,, commented, “The February 2013 framework agreement signed by the UN, African organizations and eleven regional countries, as well as the deployment of an intervention brigade, represent yet another of many attempts to end the crisis in the Kivus. Conflicts in this region, however, stem mainly from competition between communities for land and economic opportunities and require tailored, grassroots solutions that should go beyond a military response and promote local conflict resolution. Those seeking to secure peace in the Kivus should gain sound knowledge of local dynamics and design strategies to tackle the root causes of violence and improve relations between communities. The imperative of pursuing local responses to the crisis is illustrated by the longstanding conflict in the Ruzizi plain, located in Uvira territory at the border of South Kivu and Burundi. In a context of impunity and distrust, the assassination on 25 April 2012 of the Ruzizi plain traditional leader, who belongs to the Barundi community, sparked renewed violence between it and a rival community, the Bafuliro. Despite several reconciliation attempts by the central government and the UN Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO), tensions persist in 2013. The Bafuliro and Barundi have fought over land and traditional leadership in the Ruzizi plain since colonial times. Tensions remain high because of socio-economic underdevelopment, the mismanagement of land affairs and poor local governance due to weaknesses in provincial and central administration. Instead of acting as secondary figures, traditional chiefs play a leading role in Congo’s politics and administration. Perceived as influential during elections, they are part of political patronage networks and have support in national and provincial institutions. Despite a decade of efforts to rebuild the Congolese state, the government remains ineffective in rural areas, leaving customary chiefs, whose role is recognized by the constitution but not fully defined, virtually in charge. They use their key position between the state and communities to benefit from any state and international investments and to protect their own interests. This fuels conflict, with intercommunal rivalries playing out in state institutions and among local and national politicians. In 2012, aware of the hostility between the Bafuliro and Barundi, MONUSCO and local, provincial and national authorities attempted to mediate between the two communities. But although the leaders of both signed in September 2012 a code of conduct, fighting resumed shortly afterwards. The natural death of the Bafuliro traditional chief in December 2012 has led to a lull in violence, but the conflict, although, dormant, could easily flare up again. The failure of mediation shows that local conflicts need local resolution strategies. These include controlling customary powers, setting up impartial and effective institutions to regulate and administer land, reducing armed violence and initiating intercommunal dialogue. Some of these measures will, admittedly, be more difficult to implement than others. But without an understanding of local issues, the peace process initiated by the UN, African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community (SADC), International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and regional countries risks addressing symptoms rather than causes of conflict in the Kivus. Stabilization initiatives in eastern Congo have so far been limited to military action against armed groups and top-down state building. This report, the first in a series that focuses on the local politics of conflicts in eastern Congo, recommends a complementary bottom-up approach aimed at improving intercommunal relations and restoring peace at the local level.” ICG recommends: To enhance control of customary powers: To the DRC government and local authorities: 1.  Disseminate the laws on customary powers to the population and customary authorities, and train customary chiefs so they can assume their functions in accordance with the law. To improve land management: To the DRC government and local authorities: 2.  Develop a land management code for traditional leaders in Uvira territory until more complete land reform that redefines the role of traditional authorities in land management is in place. 3.  Provide land management institutions (the local courts and land administration) with human and financial resources; ensure all ethnic groups in Uvira territory are adequately represented in these institutions; and set up a district court in Uvira to bring land justice closer to claimants and speed up procedures. To the UN and donors: 4.  Establish, under the auspices of UN-Habitat, a land committee in Uvira territory that will identify the sources of land disputes and define a local land dispute resolution strategy. 5.  Increase UN presence and coordination in Uvira by deploying staff of the UN Development Program (UNDP), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN-Habitat who will bring expertise in land dispute resolution and agricultural development to MONUSCO’s office in Uvira. To restore dialogue between communities: To the UN and donors: 6.  Commission a study on the local non-governmental organizations involved in conflict resolution in order to identify impartial local partners and strengthen their capacity to mediate disputes. 7.  Commission a study to identify all parties to the conflict in order to organize truly inclusive activities to promote peace and intercommunal dialogue. 8.  Disseminate, through the consultative local forum, the agreement signed by the Barundi and Bafuliro leaders, organize intercommunal meetings and promote joint development projects. To reduce armed violence: To the DRC government and local authorities: 9.  Launch investigations to identify the leaders of the main armed groups, arrest and try them, as well as those responsible for intercommunal clashes, outside South Kivu province. To the DRC government, the UN and donors: 10.  Produce a detailed intelligence report about the economic and logistical networks of armed groups that would inform a strategy to cut off their resources. The report should be a joint work of the UN group of experts and the officers of the joint border verification mechanism deployed by the ICGLR. 11.  Implement a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program (DDR) that prioritizes the communities of Uvira territory and the socio-economic reintegration of a majority of former Congolese combatants. 12.  Deploy Congolese security forces that are not from South Kivu, increase the number of UN peacekeepers, and ensure both forces prioritize the fight against smuggling. 13.  Formalize the mineral trade and use a share of the mining revenues to fund development programs targeting former combatants and the local population.”

“Plans to evict Botswana Bushmen revealed by leaked report,” Survival International, August 15, 2013,, reported, “ Survival International has obtained detailed plans for the forced relocation of Bushmen by a local council in western Botswana, despite a recent High Court order prohibiting their forced eviction and central government assurances that no evictions would take place. In June, the Bushmen at Ranyane community successfully challenged in court government attempts to remove them from their land and destroy their homes. But the new report – titled ‘Ranyane relocation phase II’ – exposes Ghanzi district council’s plans to start relocating the remaining Bushmen at Ranyane on August 12, 2013, at a cost of almost US $900,000, and to evict ‘those who resist relocation’. Despite the court ruling, the council planned to starve the Bushmen off their land by: stopping the provision of services such as basic rations, pensions and health services; cutting off their water supply; and destroying sanitation and health facilities. In the June court case the Ranyane Bushmen were represented by British advocate Gordon Bennett, but since the ruling Mr. Bennett has been controversially barred from re-entering Botswana. He was due to represent his long-standing clients, the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, last month. Current plans to evict the Ranyane Bushmen bear striking similarities to the brutal evictions of the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve between 1997 and 2002, when hundreds of Bushmen were forced from their ancestral land and their water borehole was cut off. The evictions were later deemed ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’ by Botswana’s High Court in a landmark ruling in 2006. The central government has disassociated itself from the council’s plans and said in a statement: ‘… under no circumstances should [the council] or anyone else engage in any acts that may reasonably be regarded as an attempt to forcibly relocate those residents who wish to remain behind.’ Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘In an apparent u-turn, the central government has categorically stated that Ranyane residents should not be forcibly evicted. The world is now watching to ensure it keeps its word. Botswana citizens might ask what it means for democracy, law and order in their country when local officials willfully ignore the word of the country’s highest court? When will the Botswana regime call an end to this relentless and cruel persecution? Justice is far too long in coming.’” Download the full report ‘Ranyane relocation phase II’ (pdf, 1.6 Mb)
 at: http://www. Download the June High Court order (pdf, 361 kb) at:  In late November, " Exposed: fracking licenses granted in Bushmen’s reserve," Survival International, November 25, 2013, , reported, " Large parts of Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) – home to Africa’s last hunting Bushmen – have been opened up to international companies for the controversial practice of ‘fracking’, according to an investigation for the documentary film ‘The High Cost of Cheap Gas’ and British newspaper The Guardian. A leaked map shows that exploration concessions have been granted for half of the CKGR – a reserve larger than Switzerland – raising fears of land grabbing, a drop in water levels and irreparable damage to a fragile ecosystem essential for the survival of the Bushmen and the reserve’s wildlife. The documentary reveals that Botswana has granted lucrative licenses to companies such as Australian Tlou Energy and African Coal and Gas Corporation, without consulting the Bushmen. While Botswana’s government has denied any fracking in Botswana, Tlou has already started drilling exploratory wells for coalbed methane on the traditional hunting territory of the Bushmen. The revelations expose the hypocrisy of Botswana’s President Ian Khama, who is a board member of Conservation International. Khama’s government has been heavily promoting tourism to the CKGR while driving the Bushmen off their land in the name of conservation. CKGR Bushman Jumanda Gakelebone said, ‘The government is doing everything it can to try to destroy us. They have lied in the past about diamond mining, and said there is no diamond mining in the CKGR, but now there is a functioning mine in the Reserve. Fracking is going to destroy our environment and if the environment is destroyed our livelihoods are too.’ The Kalahari Bushmen have been suffering persecution at the hands of the Botswana government for decades. Despite winning two court cases which granted them the right to live, hunt and access water in the CKGR, they are forced to apply for restrictive permits to enter the reserve, and are routinely arrested for hunting. Survival International has written to those companies with concessions in the CKGR, and has called for a boycott of Botswana tourism until the Bushmen are allowed to live freely on their land. Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, ‘This revelation shows once and for all that forced evictions of Bushmen from the CKGR have nothing to do with conservation and everything to do with paving the way for extractive industries to plunder Bushman land. Why does President Khama continue to receive prizes for his ’conservation’ efforts? It’s an absolute scandal that Conservation International accepts on its board a man who has opened up the world’s second biggest wildlife reserve to fracking, whilst persecuting the Bushmen whose home it is in the name of conservation.’ To d ownload the map (Pdf, 1.7 Mb) go to:

"Top human rights watchdog investigates Ethiopia and Botswana," Survival International, November 27, 2013,, reported, The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the region’s top human rights body, has called for the forced relocation of thousands of tribal people in Ethiopia to be halted, and has raised concerns over the denial of rights of Botswana’s Bushmen . The Commission urged Ethiopia to stop the forced resettlement of the Lower Omo Valley tribes to make way for vast plantations, while it investigates allegations of human rights violations. Ethiopia’s policy of ‘villagization’ is enforced by the military, and numerous reports of killings, beating, rapes, and imprisonment of local tribal people have surfaced – which both Ethiopia’s largest single donors, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and USAID, are aware of. A recent report, ‘Ignoring abuse in Ethiopia: DFID and USAID in the Lower Omo Valley’ by the Oakland Institute, revealed that despite investigations by the donor agencies which uncovered grave human rights violations, the agencies failed to take any action and have called the allegations ‘unsubstantiated’. The report further states, ‘ These agencies give virtually unconditional financial, political, and moral support to the Ethiopian government and DFID currently spends a larger proportion of its overseas aid budget on Ethiopia than any other country … they are willful accomplices and supporters of a development strategy that will have irreversible devastating impacts on the environment and natural resources and will destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people.’ The ACHPR has also sent an ‘urgent appeal’ to the President of Botswana for denying the Bushmen their right to legal counsel. The Bushmen’s lawyer Gordon Bennett was barred in July from entering the country ahead of a vital court case concerning the Bushmen’s right to their land. The Botswana government is doing everything in its power to drive the Bushmen from their land: as a result, Survival International has called for tourists to boycott the country. Recent revelations of large-scale fracking concessions on Bushman land have reinforced fears that the government is clearing the area for natural resource extraction." To download the report ‘Ignoring abuse in Ethiopia: DFID and USAID in the Lower Omo Valley’ (pdf, 3.1 MB) go to:

Curtis Kline at Intercontinental Cry, “ Campaign Update – Cameroon: Herakles Farms to Sell off Plantation, Cultural Survival, September 24, 2013,, reported, “The proposed 76,000 hectare palm oil plantation in Southwest Cameroon by New York based Herakles Farms has been a major source of controversy since the project was announced in 2009. Recently, the controversy was centered on the Cameroonian government's decision to lift a suspension of the project with no explanation after issuing it just two weeks earlier. The suspension followed frequent protests by human rights organizations, environmental groups and the Bassossi, Upper Balong, Nguti, Oroko, Bakossi, and Upper Bayang Indigenous Peoples. Now the local Indigenous communities--who are faced with displacement and the loss of their forest and livelihoods--are hearing reports that Herakles Farms’ Cameroonian subsidiary, Sithe Global-Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SG-SOC), is  looking to sell off its existing plantations  rather than shut down completely. Chief Tabi Napolean of Baro-Upper Balong, one of the villages located in the project area, has said that his people were never informed about the realities of the scheme. In an article from the Thompson Reuters Foundation, Chief Tabi Napolean stated that ‘We were only told a plantation was coming to our community, bringing employment opportunities to our youths. Now we realize our forest - which is our main source of living - is gradually being destroyed, putting the future of our children in jeopardy’. A report issued by Nature Cameroon, Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), and Green Peace says that Herakles is in the process of selling its nurseries to PAMOL, a state-owned palm oil company. Nasako Besingi, director of SEFE, says ‘Herakles Farms – which has leased land from the government for a period of 99 years – plans to sell off its plantations in 2017 to interested investors in a move that would completely quash the Indigenous community’s hope of regaining ownership of the land’. The affected communities in Nguti division nevertheless believe that their chances of stopping the project remain strong. This is because of a  recent study by Dschang University, in collaboration with the University of Gottingen and supported by Green Peace International, SAVE Wildlife and WWF Germany. According to the study, Herakles’ claim that the project is of little conservation value is a “severe misrepresentation”. The research found that the area is home to endangered chimpanzees, other primates, fish species and forest elephants. A recent tour by Nature Cameroon, SEFE, and Green Peace also found  evidence of illegal logging  in the massive concession area. Irene Wabiwa, Forest Campaigner at Green Peace states that, Herakles Farms announced the suspension in a press release on May 18 and the suspension was lifted on May 29. However, during this tour, photos were taken of logs stacked in the concession area and stamped with "May 22", implying they were cut down during the suspension. The press release Herakles issued announcing the suspension ironically states that Herakles “always has and will comply fully and transparently with government regulations and force”. The regent of an affected village, Adolf Ebong Ndbe has said “How can they enter our land without Permission? In the future we are worried that our children will not even get to see the animals that live in the area.” Now, just this week, the Divisional Officer of Nguti Subdivision  suspended the activities of Nature Cameroon. Referring to ‘incitement to rebellion and disturbance of public order” the suspension prohibits the local organization--involved in protection and conservation of the government has said it is reviewing the Establishment Convention signed in 2009 between then Minister of Plan and Regional Development, Louis Paul Motaze and SG SOC.”

Ben Ole Koissaba, “ President Uhuru and Vice-President Ruto Forestall Escalation of Maasai/Kikuyu Conflict in Kenya,” August 2, 2013,, reported, “
 The president of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and the vice-president William Ruto on August 1, 2013 forestalled the escalation of the Maasai/Kikuyu conflict arising from the forceful eviction and burning and destruction of Maasai property at Narasha in Naivasha County in South Rift in Kenya. The visit to Narasha by the president and the vice-president is as a result of the Maasai resolute declaration of not only demanding compensation for loss of life and property but demanded the arrest of all the government officials who took part in the dawn raid on the July 26, 2013 that left 250 houses burnt, over 2000 families rendered homeless, 600 children not attending school and several still missing. The aftermath of the destruction raised tension between the Maasai and the Kikuyu with most Maasai members of parliament elected through the ruling Jubilee Alliance threatening to defect from the party. The Maasai anger was witness on July 28, 2013 when government officials were forcefully ejected from a prayer meeting by the Maasai who used all manner of weapons to smash government cars as the government officials fled for their dear life from the meeting. The Maasai move and declarations regarding the raids prompted the Maasai to unilaterally declare that: No Maasai shall move out of the land All people who lost property should be compensated; All perpetrators of the act should be arrested. The Maasai gave ultimatum to the government that if their demands are not met, then the country should brace for an all-out exodus of Kikuyus from any parts of Maasailand in Kenya. This and the proposed visit by Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to Narasha is believed to be what prompted the president and vice-president to intervene by appointing a committee comprising of 8 elders form the warring communities, 2 members of parliament and the cabinet secretary in charge of internal security who happens to be a Maasai to look into the issue.” “The truce hopefully will hold but given the historical and magnitude and nature of the problem of land ownership in Kenya, the piece meal and quick fix the president is using may not provide a lasting solution. The Maasai claim ancestral ownership of most of the disputed land but on the other hand Kikuyus from central province hold title deeds for the land despite not even living there. This for President Kenyatta is a nightmare because the resettlement of the Kikuyus was done by his father who was the first president of Kenya. For Uhuru it is a must not happen situation especially if the Maasai make true their threats of ejecting Kikuyus from Maasai land where they have used the tyranny of numbers, government support and economic power to buy land all over Maasai land. The other suspicion is that from the president’s own words, there is “political incitement”. This is an expression that is a pointer to the unease the president has on solving the land questions and wants to blame any acts by the Maasai to protect their ancestral land on the opposition.”

Ben Ole Koissaba, “ Corruption and Impunity Entrenching Illegal Dispossession of Maasai Land in Kenya,” Cultural Survival, August 19, 2013,, reported, “ Land is an emotive issue in Kenya and has been associated with the many tribal clashes that have led to loss of life, destruction of property and displacement of thousands of people. The post- independence Kenya Government has had a dark history among the Indigenous Maasai people. The enactment of laws and legislations that ignored traditional land right and land use practices have taken advantage of the high illiteracy levels of the Maasai, corruption and greed for land by government officials with blessing from state offices has contributed to wanton, grabbing, alienation and dispossession. The laws and policies on the MAA people’s land in Kenya have been extremely devastating and exploitative. They are not sympathetic to the plight of the Maasai people. The policies are not sensitive to the livestock or the pastoralist lifestyle.  There has been a deliberate misconception of the pastoralism and livestock socio – economic lifestyle which has been viewed as being primitive and unproductive. The introduction of Group Ranches and private ownership of community land has not only been used as a mechanism to use officialdom to alienate Maasai land but it has resulted in creating a whole community of landless women, children and other vulnerable members of the community. A phenomenon that has clearly pushed for the dispossession is the subdivision of Group Ranches in Kajiado and Narok Counties which has not only led to illegal allocation of non- deserving non-indigenous communities, but has introduced a discriminatory system where corrupt group leaders have been used by government officials to sell community land. Starting from Illodo-Ariak, Ilkesumeti and Mosiro Group Ranches in the late 1980s to late 1990s, where vast tracks of land was illegally alienated from the Maasai and allocated to senior government officials, the forceful evictions in Eland Dawns in Laikipia, the most recent forceful evictions in Narasha, the pending land related disputes in Kamorora, Shompole, Namuncha, Mau, and the Kitengela Export Processing zone which was annexed from Kajiado without Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the Maasai are potent areas for ethnic clashes in the near future. The government of Kenya seems to have adopted a "don’t see evil, don’t hear evil and even don’t talk evil" attitude, and the events of the past that precipitated tribal clashes is evident in what is currently happening at Elangata Wuas Group Ranch in Kajiado County. The Residents of Elang’ata Wuas group petitioned the National Land Commission over fraudulent land transactions. The petition has documented deep state supported corruption where group ranch officials are giving out land to non-registered members and fraudulently allocating land to themselves and family members, and the local lands office with the knowledge of senior government officials legalize such transactions by issuing Title Deeds. The reports also accuse the officials of selling public land to outsiders as well as doubling as land brokers – a process that’s giving investors unfair advantage over the poor and ill-informed landowners in the area. The officials are said to have made double allocations to themselves and are making a killing by selling the land to investors. The process has contributed to dispossession of the poor, widows and disabled who have either been excluded from land ownership or pushed to the periphery.  Elang’ata Wuas group ranch was dissolved by members in 1990s and the process of subdividing and allocating members individual parcels of land has been doing on for several years. An elected committee is in charge of this process. This process of land subdivision has not only been marred by illegal alienation, acquisition and sale of individual and public land, land extortion, forceful relocation and disinheritance, said the letter to the National Land Commission, but it goes contrary to all laws of natural justices, the constitution and all International legal statutes on human rights.” “The role of government’s institutions at the county lever have significantly perpetrated these land injustices by failing to honestly and adequately address them on a number of occasions, and in according to the law. The residents are recommending that a thorough audit of Elang’ata Wuas land subdivision be carried out and all land sales in the area be stopped. Going by past events, the Maasai have a herculean task in seeking redress given that due to high handedness responses by government and use of brute force, and the legal processes which itself is corrupt. The government has in the past responded by using the police to kill, maim and arrest the Maasai whenever they challenged such government supported land allocation processes. Secondly, the current government which came to power after a highly charged and disputed election has not shown any resolve to support the National Land Commission given the fact that not only were their plans curtailed by meager allocation of finances, but there is a plan to place it under a government department contrary to the constitutional provisions that entrench its independence. The other body that might be of help to the Maasai is the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission which is also a constitutional body created to fight corruption but has been bogged down by political intrigues that have seen it deliver as expected. From the on goings at Elangata Wuas Group Ranch and the hundreds of other land related cases the Maasai have filed in courts, the situation is a recipe for potential clashes of higher magnitudes than any other that Kenya may have experienced in the past.”

Israel wass planning to move thousands of the Bedouins who live in the Negev to new villages, promising improvd living conditions, education, job training and jobs, though it continues to refrain frim realeasing details, including which Bedouin villages would be moved. Most Bedouins stromngly object from being moved from their own land, where they have lived nad farmed for generations, saying they have not been adequately consulted and Israel has paid no attention to their own development plan, and they have significant international support as well, as well as from Jewish progressive and peace organizations. As a result, Jewish Voice for Peace (1611 Telegraph Ave, Suite 550, Oakland, CA 94612, (510)465-1777, announced. Decamber 12, 2013, that the Prawer Plan to move many of th Bedouins has been canceleled, at least temporarily (Jodi Ruden, "In an Israeli Plan, Bedouins See a Threat to Their Way of Life," The New York Times, December 7, 2013,

The Uighurs, the overwhelming majority in their region in Western China, have been complaining that bias against them is increasing, illustrated by the clear majority of government jobs are not open to them (Andrew Jacobs, “Uighurs in China Say Bias Is Growing,” The New York Times, October 7, 2013, Violence continues to occur in Xinjiang, exemplified by, Jane Perlez,  “9 Attackers and 2 Officers Reported Killed in Tense Western China,” The New York Times, November 17, 2013,, reported, “ Nine assailants were shot and killed Saturday night after they tried to storm a police station in the restive western province of Xinjiang, the state-run Xinhua news agency and Radio Free Asia said. Two police officers also died in the attack.”

“Real ‘Avatar’ tribe deals fatal blow to Vedanta mine,” August 19 2013,, reported, “ India’s Dongria Kondh tribe has overwhelmingly rejected plans by notorious British mining giant Vedanta Resources for an open-pit bauxite mine in their sacred Niyamgiri Hills, in an unprecedented triumph for tribal rights. Twelve Dongria villages have now unanimously voted against Vedanta’s mine during consultations ordered by India’s Supreme Court in April 2013, because their religious, cultural and social rights would be jeopardized if mining were to go ahead.” “The mine would destroy the forests and disrupt the rivers in the Niyamgiri Hills, which are central to the livelihood and identity of the 8,000-strong tribe, whose struggle has been likened to the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Avatar’. The mine would spell the end of the Dongria as a self-sufficient people.” “The results of the consultations will now be considered by India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, who will have the final say on the mine – but few still believe that the mine will be given the green light. The overwhelming rejection by the Dongria Kondh has dealt a death blow to Vedanta’s mining plans in Odisha state and contradicts statements made by the company, such as, ‘It is our sincerely held belief, which is based on our extensive consultation activities, that the vast majority of the local population, including several indigenous peoples, the wider population of Orissa and other important stakeholders have welcomed the setting up of our project.’”

“Jarawa face year-round threat from ‘human safaris’ under new government plans,” Cultural Survival September 27, 2013,, reported, “As the world marks World Tourism Day, the administration of India’s Andamans is preparing to promote the islands from a seasonal to an all-year tourist destination, giving the Jarawa tribe no respite from tourists taking ‘human safaris’ through their forest home. Currently the season runs from September to May, when thousands of tourists take the ‘human safaris’ every week as they drive through the tribe’s forest to ogle at the recently contacted Jarawa. But now the tribe will have to face this high level of intrusion all year round. A local taxi driver said, ‘Some people go there to give them biscuits and take pictures … Just looking at them is a game, you know? This is like an entertainment.’ Mr. C. G. Vijay from the Directorate of Information, Publicity and Tourism recently announced plans for the promotion of activities such as ‘forest safaris and hiking for promoting the Islands as all-season destinations’ at tourism fairs in India and abroad. The announcement has caused alarm amongst those concerned for the hunter-gatherer Jarawa tribe. Survival Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Before the Andaman authorities starts to market the islands as a year-round tourist destination it should first get its house in order. ‘Human safaris’ into the Jarawa’s forest are an affront to human dignity – the idea that the Jarawa will not even have respite from this intrusion into their lives during the rainy season, doesn’t bear thinking about’. Thousands have pledged not to visit the Andaman Islands since Survival launched a boycott earlier this year, calling for visitors to stay away until tourists are banned from the road through the Jarawa’s forest and an alternative sea route is put in place. The Andaman administration has committed to opening up an alternative sea route by March 2015, but even this lamentably late date is looking questionable as the plans are still awaiting environmental clearance from Delhi.”

“Attempts to manipulate Jarawa backfire with arrests,” Survival International, October 14, 2013,, reported, “ Attempts by poachers to manipulate members of the Jarawa tribe in India’s Andaman Islands have backfired following swift action by the authorities. Five poachers have now been arrested and face up to seven years in prison. On October 3, a story emerged in the Andaman press that a group of ten Jarawa had left the forest demanding to meet with the Lieutenant Governor of the islands. They reportedly demanded iron tools and food, claiming they were hungry because they weren’t given food by the authorities. They were quoted as saying, ‘We want our children to study in school, like children of Onge. We also want to become rich’. For many, these demands did not ring true, as the hunter-gatherer Jarawa have shown no sign of wishing to enter the mainstream. The motive behind their demands became clearer when a local leader, who had originally alerted the media to the story, told the Andaman Chronicle, ‘They want to come into the mainstream… There are so many uninhabited islands. Why can’t the Administration settle them in one of the islands? In this way the settlers will also be able to live in peace.’ The administration responded swiftly and the following day a team was sent to investigate. They found that five people, who allegedly have a long history of poaching in the Jarawa’s forest, had entered the Jarawa’s reserve and apparently prompted the Jarawa to make these demands. The authorities also report that the suspects were found to have supplied alcohol to the Jarawa. The five have been arrested and charged with violating the regulations that protect the tribe and their land. This carries a prison sentence of up to seven years. The theft of the animals that the Jarawa rely on is a huge threat to the very existence of the tribe. The introduction of liquor to the Jarawa is also extremely dangerous. It could lead to a crippling dependency, not just on alcohol, but also on those from outside who can provide it. This would rob the Jarawa of their self-sufficiency – they have thrived on the islands for up to 55,000 years. Survival has long been calling for greater action against local poachers who remain a serious threat to the tribe. Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry has welcomed the swift action that the Andaman authorities have taken in this case and the message that it sends out to others who invade the Jarawa’s forest.”

“Success: Soliga tribe’s forest rights upheld in court,” Survival International, June 19, 2013,, reported, “ A village belonging to the Soliga tribe in southern India has won an important court victory after its entire stock of honey – its key source of livelihood – was seized by local forestry officials in May. The community, with the support of local organizations, took the matter to court – and won.” “The confiscation of honey was in direct violation of the 2006 Indian Forest Rights Act, which recognizes the rights of India’s tribal peoples, such as the Soliga, to live in and from their forests, and protect and manage their land. Tribal peoples like the Soliga have been living with and protecting the wildlife in their forests for countless generations. However many forestry officials still believe that forest and tiger conservation requires the removal of all people from the forests. These prejudices often make foresters unwilling to respect tribal rights – especially the right to make a livelihood from the forest. The recent court victory exposes this injustice and the necessity for the rights of India’s tribes to be respected.  The Soliga tribe of Karnataka made history in 2011 when their rights to their forests were recognized , even though they lie inside a tiger reserve. The community has been caring for the forest and harvesting its produce – including honey – for countless generations. After their rights were recognized one village established a collective to get a fair price for their honey. More Soliga villages are awaiting the recognition of their forest rights and local organizations Keystone, Atree and the Soliga Abhivriddhi Sangha (Soliga Peoples’ Collective) are supporting them in the process. Despite severe constraints from forestry officials, the Soliga remain determined to manage, harvest and protect their forests sustainably for current and future generations.”

Hari Kumar, “Militant Attack Kills Seven in Assam,” The New York Times,, reported, “ At least seven members of the Rabha tribe were gunned down during Diwali celebrations in the northeastern state of Assam, killed by militants from a rival tribe, the state police said Monday. On Sunday night, about half a dozen militants from the Garo National Liberation Army, all carrying automatic rifles, entered the village of Gandebari in Assam, said Ajit Prasad Raut, a senior police officer from Guwahati, Assam’s capital. Gandebari is in Goalpara district of Assam, which is near the state border with Meghalaya, where the Garo tribe has had clashes with the Rabhas in the past.”

"No more ‘primitive’ tribes: The Hindu pledges to end racist term 21 November 2013,, reported, " The Proud Not Primitive movement is celebrating its second major success in challenging negative stereotypes in the media that tribal peoples are 'backwards' or 'primitive'. The ‘Proud Not Primitive’ movement to challenge prejudice towards tribal peoples in India is celebrating a major success after The Hindu, one of the world’s largest English language newspapers, pledged to no longer describe tribal peoples as ‘primitive’. Several journalists from renowned Indian publications have also endorsed the movement, including Kumkum Dasgupta of the Hindustan Times, Nikhil Agarwal of the Press Trust of India, and V Raghunathan of the Times of India. Following complaints about an article which used the word ‘primitive’ twice to describe a Chenchu tribal man, The Hindu issued a correction and advised all reporters not to use ‘primitive’ while referring to tribal people. The Office of the Readers’ Editor recommended an ‘exercise of caution’ in this regard." "While the Indian government abandoned the use of ‘primitive tribal group’ to describe remote tribal peoples in favor of ‘particularly vulnerable tribal group’ in 2006, the phrase continues to be widely used in the Indian media. The Hindu’s correction is the second major success of the Proud Not Primitive campaign. Following complaints by supporters of the campaign, the editor of India’s Business Standard apologized for the use of the term ‘primitive’ in an article in July, 2013, which has since been corrected. Proud Not Primitive aims to challenge negative stereotypes which underpin discrimination and lead to the theft tribal peoples’ land in India. Thinking of tribal peoples as ‘primitive’ or ‘backwards’ assumes that their way of life is inferior and not part of today’s world. This leads to the notion that they should be ‘developed’ and ‘brought into the mainstream’, often with devastating consequences. An elder of the Paniyar tribe in southern India said, ‘For us Adivasis [tribal people of India], every tree is like a house. That is what the forest is for us. We are not backward, it’s just another way of life.’ Sophie Grig added, ‘For tribal peoples’ rights to their lands and ways of life to be respected we need to change the way that people think, talk and write about them.’" "Proud Not Primitive is urging all Indian media to amend their editorial guidelines and ensure that language such as ‘primitive’ or ‘backward’ is not used to describe tribal peoples. Please email to sign up. 
- Proud Not Primitive is part of Survival International’s worldwide ‘Stamp It Out’ campaign which challenges negative stereotypes of tribal peoples. Stamp It Out has been endorsed by UK newspapers The Guardian, The Observer, the Independent, and renowned journalists such as John Simpson, John Pilger, George Monbiot and many others. 
- The BBC guidelines on Reporting and Portrayal of Tribal Peoples state: ‘We should take care over the use of terms that have the potential to be misleading  or discriminatory, such as ‘primitive’, ‘backward’, ‘savage’ or ‘stone-age’. Care is also needed to avoid confusing a people that are not industrialized with one that is not part of the modern world or 21st century.’"

“Police arrest Penan as tribe blockades dam site,” Survival International, October 4, 2013,, reported, “ Tensions are mounting at the Murum dam in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Yesterday police arrested one man and dismantled Penan shelters. More than 100 Penan are currently blockading the dam site. The Penan , whose forest homes are due to be flooded, are demanding greater compensation, and more of the forest to be protected so they can continue to hunt and gather in their resettlement villages. The arrested man, Ngang Buling, is the Chairman of Peleiran Murum Penan Affairs Committee (PEMUPA), which was formed by the Penan to defend their rights in the face of the dam project. The 46 year old was held for nearly 24 hours, and the police have said more arrests are likely. Reports from the area state that police fired into the air, threatening and scaring the protesters. A large number of Penan are then believed to have offered themselves up to be arrested, along with Ngang Buling. Police are reported to have told protesters that general armed forces (PGA) and police reinforcements will be sent to the dam site. Approximately 1,400 Penan have been told they must move to make way for the Murum dam, the first of 12 new dams that are planned across the state of Sarawak. Penan from one village, Long Wat, have already moved to one of the resettlement areas, but the remaining villages are holding out for more land and compensation. Last October the Penan blockaded the dam for 36 days, before dismantling the blockade after they were told the government would only consider their demands if they stopped protesting. However, the authorities have not honored their promises and the Penan’s demands have still not been addressed. Two weeks ago, in a move that has shocked observers, the impoundment (flooding) of the dam was started, without informing the Penan, whose homes and ancestral forests will be submerged. It is estimated that it will take a year for the reservoir to fill. Speaking from the protest, Lugang Usang, Secretary of PEMUPA said, 
‘It is not true that we Penan do not want change or to improve ourselves. But don’t impose development (e.g. the dam project) on us. Our customary land, our ancestral burial grounds, our rivers and forest were taken away from us and now the government denies and intimidates us. These are criminal acts of the government that make our lives miserable.’ Survival International is calling on the Malaysian government to halt the impoundment of the dam until the demands of the Penan have been met, and they have given their free, prior and informed consent to the resettlement process.

Timothy King, “ Bougainville President Fails Victims of Brutal Resource Conflict,” July 15, 2013, more at:, reported, “ A decade long war in Papua New Guinea has left deep scars on Bougainville and its people. Some will never be erased, others may fade with time. Many of the horrors experienced are unimaginable.” “ Sadly political leaders on Bougainville charged with responsibility for peace-building have largely abrogated their domestic and international obligation to challenge impunity and seek redress for victims of gross human rights violations. Indeed, in perhaps the most gutting blow for victims, Bougainville’s President has aligned his government with Rio Tinto, a company he once accused of ordering and facilitating the atrocities. The conflict which sparked this ongoing injustice began in November 1988. For two decades (1972-1988) prior, the island played host to one of the world’s largest copper-gold mines, run by Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL). Most of the profits drifted abroad, or were funneled to the PNG state. The small portion reserved for Bougainville gradually drove a significant wedge through local communities, as a cabal of pro-mine landowners commandeered landowner trusts, companies and compensation payments. As the environmental damage and inequality mounted, people in the mine area amassed behind a vibrant new generation of young leaders, led by Perpetua Serero and Francis Ona. Serero and Ona vocally challenged the elite cabal, and voiced opposition to the mine and its corrosive impact on their island, culture and land. This emergence of local resistance culminated in a campaign of industrial sabotage directed against the mine. The response of the PNG state was swift and brutal. Villages around the mine were torched, and those displaced were thrown into crudely constructed detention camps. When this violence was met with resistance by independence fighters from the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) – a guerrilla group set up in response to the attacks – the bodies began piling up. There are many tragic stories from Bougainville’s crisis days, far too many to recount here – young men tortured and executed, pregnant women disemboweled, children blown apart by PNGDF mortars while attending Sunday School. By the war’s end between 10,000 and 20,000 people lay dead; no armed faction had clean hands. Now a new generation of Bougainvilleans who grew up among the violence and animosity, are attempting to excise the island’s demons by recording their memories, and the memories of elders, in simple blogs, poems and images. For example, university student and poet Leonard Fong Roka, has curated a powerful series of oral histories on his blog, which offer a dignified record of the suffering people endured during the crisis. From the perspective of the powerful, these are subversive pieces which weave together the themes of abuse, complicity and injustice.” “ These victims, of which there are many, and the contemporary chroniclers who attempt to give them voice, have been abruptly cast aside by Bougainvillean politicians – some of who formed part of the cabal opposed by Ona and Serero – whose eyes are now focused on reopening the controversial Rio Tinto mine. But it has not always been this way. In 2001, John Momis, the current Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) President, composed a remarkable five page statement. It was firm, principled and uncompromising in its willingness to speak truth to power.” “As Bougainville emerges from the conflict, an enduring, albeit fragile, peace has been forged. Yet significant lacunas remain. In his 2001 statement Momis pinpoints one gap: ‘It is important to Bougainvilleans and the long-term reconciliation process that Rio Tinto’s responsibility be addressed in an impartial forum by an impartial judge’. He continues: ‘There are high levels of support for the litigation in Bougainville. It is well understood if the Panguna mine did not happen the Bougainville war and blockade would never have occurred. Everyone on Bougainville is united in this feeling. If the court case can give Bougainvilleans an opportunity to air their claims against Rio Tinto and obtain justice, then it will strengthen the reconciliation process that is brining [sic] PNG and Bougainvilleans closer together’. What the people of Bougainville demand, and what Momis articulates so clearly, is an innate right to truth, justice and reparation enshrined in international law.  As the government that could lead Bougainville to full independence – pending a referendum – the ABG is duty bound to defend the rights of victims in domestic and international forums. And with president Momis at the helm one could very easily imagine the ABG setting the global standard in defending the rights of victims and bringing the powerful to account. Indeed, this small Melanesian island has something of a reputation for taking principled stances and winning against unspeakable odds. However, if victims were expecting a strong champion when Momis was finally elected ABG President in 2010 – and they had every right to in light of Momis’ stand in 2001 – the last three years have proven an anti-climax. Having once stood shoulder to shoulder with the victims of Rio Tinto’s actions, the ABG President now presents the company as a savior in a crisis of the ABG’s creation. Lets just put this profound u-turn in historical context. In 1987, when Bougainville began to rumble with serious discontent, Momis lambasted BCL in a letter to the company’s Managing Director. “You are invaders”, Momis wrote, with the “ideology of a cancer cell”. He claimed, BCL had “colonized our people” and eaten Bougainville’s “roots and leaves”. Momis implored the company to change its way and offer the people of Bougainville a fairer deal. Not only did BCL reject his advice, they were complicit in a devastating series of counterinsurgency operations, which aimed to silence some of the company’s loudest critics. Momis’ metaphor of a “cancer cell” could not have been more prescient. Accordingly, it is hard to believe that Momis could now ask his people to forego truth, justice, and reparation and welcome back a corporate actor which helped brutalize Bougainville. That said, the current position of Momis and the ABG would be at the very least understandable if BCL was publicly contrite, and stood ready to make amends for past wrongdoings. Yet to this day the company denies the accusations leveled against it. The last phrase needs to be underlined. Despite rigorous documentary evidence and damning oral testimony from its own executives, BCL publicly denies complicity in defense force operations. To add injury to insult their parent has bitterly fought Bougainville in the US courts. The crimes of the past cannot be laid to rest when the right to truth and reparation is being blocked. That the ABG has become complicit in this injustice is a blemish on a state which so many on the island fought and died for. To make matters worse the ABG has, with indecent haste, used high-pressure sales tactics and deceit to win community support for Rio Tinto’s return. The sad irony of this should not be overlooked. It has been the long held position of the ABG President that the conflict emerged in large part from the rushed, high-handed manner with which the mine was hoisted upon Bougainville during the 1960s by the Australian colonial administration. When introducing draft mining legislation earlier this year, that will pave the way for Rio’s return, Momis informed parliament: ‘I believe that it is not really the Panguna mine that caused the many problems and the conflict Bougainville has experienced since the 1960s. No – the real problem was the fact that we Bougainvilleans were ignored. The mine was imposed on us’. Yet in an a move that would have won the approval of Charles Barnes – the controversial Australian Minister of Territories – ABG officials have gone to communities claiming the ABG is broke, and the island’s shattered economy is moribund. Only by reopening the mine under BCL auspices, the people are told, will Bougainville attract the necessary injection of capital needed for self-sufficiency, autonomy and independence. It has been added, Bougainville must act fast; high copper prices may not be around forever, were they to drop, the low-grade deposit would become uneconomical. In one fell swoop the ABG has – on the dubious threat of bankruptcy and political dependency – asked the people of Bougainville to forego their right to justice. In contrast to the ABG’s position, the international human rights standard is clear, victims should not be forced to sell off their finite natural resources to repair damage caused by state and non-state actors. A large share of the responsibility for reparation and restoration lies with those responsible for the human rights violations. According to Momis’ own sworn testimony that is Rio Tinto. Now the ABG President appears to believe that reconciliation – and indeed the mine’s reopening – can in fact be achieved through short-cuts. Such a belief can only be held in defiance of the past. It was not the actions of colonial officials which so incensed those who would spearhead the island rebellion in 1988 – white men were expected to act as exploiters – it was rather the nefarious role that their own national, provincial and traditional leaders played. Indeed, two of the movement’s most articulate leaders, Serero and Ona, reserved some of their most pointed barbs for local leaders, many of whom are bulwarking the efforts to reopen the mine today. In one letter Serero refers to them as “self centered traditional landlords brainwashed by foreigners and minority elite nationals”. While in a later speech – which surely rates among one of the most important in the island’s history – Francis Ona censures provincial and national leaders: ‘We were forced to become passive observes of our own exploitation, first by the racist colonial administration and after independence by the black political leaders in white men’s coats … We are the ‘sacrificial lamb’ for the few capitalists whose hunger for wealth is quenchless and unceasing.’”  “Update: President Momis recently gave an interview in which he says he hopes Rio Tinto will be back on the ground in Bougainville before the end of this year to start work on opening up the Panguna mine.”

Curtis Kline, from Intercontinental Cry, “ The Republic of Murrawarri and Indigenous Self-Determination,” August 1, 2013,, reported, “On April 10 of 2013 the Queen of England received a letter sent to her by the Murrawarri Nation of northern New South Wales and Queensland in Australia. This letter was actually a notice for the declaration of independent sovereign statehood of the Murrawarri Nation. The Queen was given 28 days to produce one of three situations accepted in international law as well as British Common Law that recognized the governed taking over or acquiring of new land. The three situations could have been: 1) A declaration of war and a subsequent victory; 2) The signing of a treaty or agreement; and 3) a lack of occupation of that land by other peoples. The Murrawarri Nation requested that the Queen give proof of any of these three situations. Treaty documents between the Murrawarri and the British Crown, a deed of concession showing that the Murrawarri have indeed ceded their sovereignty, dominion and ultimate authority to the Crown of Great Britain, or documents showing a declaration of war against the Murrawarri Nation would have all qualified. However, the fact is that none of these documents exist, the Murrawarri Nation never signed any treaty with the British Crown, and war was never declared. This, along with the decision by the High Court in the Mabo case which stated that the principal of Terra Nullius–that the land was not under occupation at the time of Captain Cook’s coming to Australia–was complete fiction and no longer defensible, meant the Queen could produce no such evidence. In fact, the Queen did not even respond, allowing the Murrawarri Nation to de facto claim recognition of their Republic as an independent nation. The Republic of Murrawarri   is now functioning with a Peoples Council as an interim government. With its first meeting on July 13 the Peoples Council elected chairman Fred Hooper, passed a resolution to establish a provisional Council of State. A constitution and a bill of rights have already been drafted. The permanent government, when formed, will consist of a parliament of 54 representatives appointed by their respective ancestral family groups within their respective provinces. The representatives will strictly be half male and half female. There will also be four representatives from non-ancestral Murrawarri provinces, and residents who are not of Murrawarri descent will be allowed to stay on their land and automatically be granted Murrawarri citizenship.”

“Mining firm fined for ruining Aboriginal sacred site,” Survival International, August 2, 2013,, reported, “An Australian mining company has been fined for desecrating an Aboriginal sacred site, in a landmark judgment. It is believed to be the first successful prosecution by a government authority of a mining company for ruining a sacred site, although such acts have occurred many times in the past. The company, OM Manganese, has been operating the Bootu Creek manganese mine in the Northern Territory since 2005. But last year the detonation of explosives for opening up new seams of ore caused part of an ancient rock formation, known as ‘Two Women Sitting Down’, to collapse. The site is sacred to the Kunapa clan, who are the traditional owners and custodians of the area. Dr Ben Scambary, head of the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, said, ‘This site… relates to a dreaming story about a marsupial rat and a bandicoot who had a fight over bush tucker. As the creation ancestors fought, their blood spilled out, turning the rock a dark-red color.’ Kunapa community representative Gina Smith said, ‘It will always remain a sacred site to us, but it has been ruined and we don’t know what to do.’ The site is part of a Kunapa songline, an invisible pathway connecting events from the Aboriginal dreamtime long ago. The magistrate, Sue Oliver, ruled that OM Manganese favored ‘business and profit’ over its duty to protect the sacred site.”

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