Steve Sachs

Environmental Developments

      Michael D Shear, "Trump Will Withdraw U.S. From Paris Climate Agreement," The New York Times, June 1, 2017,, reported, " President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty."
      "Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the agreement for environmental action signed by 195 nations is a remarkable rebuke to heads of state, climate activists, corporate executives and members of the president’s own staff, who all failed to change his mind with an intense, last-minute lobbying blitz. The Paris agreement was intended to bind the world community into battling rising temperatures in concert, and the departure of the Earth’s second-largest polluter is a major blow."
      "But within minutes of the president’s remarks, the leaders of France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement saying that the Paris climate accord was “irreversible” and could not be renegotiated.
      But business leaders like Elon Musk of Tesla, Jeffrey R. Immelt of General Electric and Lloyd C. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs said the decision would ultimately harm the economy by ceding the jobs of the future in clean energy and technology to overseas competitors.
      Mr. Musk, who had agreed to be a member of a two business-related councils that Mr. Trump set up this year, wrote on Twitter that he would leave those panels ."
      Hiroko Tabuchi, and Henry Fountain, "Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord The New York Times, June 1, 2017,, reported, " Representatives of American cities, states and companies are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.
      The unnamed group — which, so far, includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses — is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission accepted alongside contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations.
       'We’re going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed,' Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is coordinating the effort, said in an interview."

       Under the rules President Trump said he would follow, the earliest any nation can leave the Paris Climate Change Accord is November 4, 2020, almost at the end of
Tump's term. But he can do a great deal in the meantime to undercut U.S. participation in the agreemen
t (Brad Plumer, "U.S. Won't Actually Be Leaving the OParis Climate Deal Any Time Soon," The New York Times, June 8, 2017).

       Canada's Climate Strategy is to go around the White House, and work directly with U.S. states and municipalities (Ian Austen. "Canada's Climate Strategy: Work Directly with American States," The New York Times, June 8, 2017).

       India has switched energy policy, away from coal - cancelling some coal plant construction - and rapidly electrifying rural areas with wind and solar panels (Greeta Anand, "Until Recently a Coal Goliath, India Is Rapidly Turning Green ," The New York Times, June 3, 2017).

      Justin Jillis, "Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year," The New York Times, January 18, 2017,, reported, "Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016, trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row."
      The rate of increase from year to year has been rapid as well, alarming scientists who had not expected such a rapid acceleration in increase of the Earth's temperature. One possibility for the surprise to most scientist in the rapidity of the increase may be an underestimation in the various positive feedbacks that have been occurring, including the rate of the ever increasing release of extremely global warming methane as once frozen areas melt.

      DarkSyde, " West Antarctica is cracking up, Daily Kos, January 19, 2017,, reported, " Temperature trends in West Antarctica (left) have greatly exceeded the global average. East Antarctica will soon join suit if present trends continue unabated.
       A berg the size of Scotland is poised to break off the Larsen ice shelf in West Antarctica at any time. And in an ironic twist, a similar and no doubt climate related lead nearby may soonshut down the British Antarctic Survey team that monitors climate at the cutting edge Halley research station :
      The highly unusual move is necessary because the Brunt Ice Shelf on which the research station sits has developed a big new crack.BAS officials say neither staff nor the base are in any immediate danger but believe it would be prudent to withdraw while the situation is assessed.
       The plan would be to go back once the Antarctic winter is over, in November."

      Oliver Milman, "A Third of the World Now Faces Deadly Heatwaves as Result of Climate Change: Study shows risks have climbed steadily since 1980, and the number of people in danger will grow to 48% by 2100 even if emissions are drastically reduced," Guardian UK, June 17, 2017,, reports, " Nearly a third of the world’s population is now exposed to climatic conditions that produce deadly heatwaves, as the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere makes it “almost inevitable” that vast areas of the planet will face rising fatalities from high temperatures, new research has found.
      Climate change has escalated the heatwave risk across the globe, the study states, with nearly half of the world’s population set to suffer periods of deadly heat by the end of the century even if greenhouse gases are radically cut."

      Scientists announced, in late May 2017 , finding that ice in Antarctica melting much faster than anticipated. With 60 percent of the Earth's fresh water frozen there, rapid melting poses major threats of horrendous flooding as oceans rise. Several ice sheets appear to be moving toward becoming unstable. There is considerable uncertainty at this point what the prognosis is for future melting. A preliminary worst scenario study suggests that the oceans could rise by six feet or more by the end of the century. Such a great and relatively rapid rise in the oceans would be terribly catastrophic. A great many of the worlds coastal areas, including their cities, and a great many islands would be underwater, or flooded so frequently that they would be uninhabitable. Aside from the deaths that could well occur, the flooding would cause huge migrations of people inland, as well as huge losses of productive land in manufacturing, energy production and agriculture bringing huge social, economic and political disruption, and likely a great deal of violence ("Antarctic Dispatches, Part I" The New York Times. May 18, 2017,

      Henry Fountain, "Arctic’s Winter Sea Ice Drops to Its Lowest Recorded Level," The New York Times, March 22, 2017,, reported, "After a season that saw temperatures soar at the North Pole, the Arctic has less sea ice at winter’s end than ever before in nearly four decades of satellite measurements.
       The extent of ice cover — a record low for the third straight year — is another indicator of the effects of global warming on the Arctic, a region that is among the hardest hit by climate change, scientists said."

       Large craters embedded with extremely atmospheric warming methane have been found within subglacial methane leaking sediments in the Bearing Sea, off Norway. It is hypnotized that thinning ice sheets at the end of recent glacial cycles lowered the pressure on pockets of hydrates in the sea floor, leading to explosive blowouts releasing large quantities of methane ("Methane takes the quick way out," Science, June 2, 2017).

       The western Alaska Native Village of Newtok was seeking disaster designation, in February 2017, for help with relocation as six of its homes were expected to be lost to rising ocean by 2018 ("Eroding village seeks disaster designation for relocation as homes are lost to rising seas," NFIC, February 2017).

      A study of data over a 50 year period has found that even a 1 degree rise in temperature raised the likelihood of mass heat related deaths in India by two and a half times. Even a small rise in the Earth's temperature has major health consequences (Mike Ives, "Study Finds Dire Effects from a Tad More Heat," The New York Times, June 9m, 2017).

       Scientists found that a series of heat waves in South Eastern Australia, that reached 113 degrees Fahrenheit, during February and March 2017 were caused by global warming induced climate change (Henry Fountain, "Australia Heat Tied to Global Climate Shift," The New York Times, March 3, 2017).

      "Environmental and Climate Related Migration," Population Connection, June 2017, reports that from 2008 to 2015 172.3 million people were forced to migrate because of global warming induced climate change, constituting 75% of all refugees or displaced persons. That averages out to 21.5 million climate change refugees created each year. In 2015, the last year for which there are figures, there were 14.7 million climate change related displacements of people. Of these, 8.3 million were displaced by floods, 6.3 million by storms, 87,000 by wildfires, 54,000 by wet mass movements (avalanches, landslides, sudden subsidences); and 2,000 by extreme temperatures.

      Elisabeth Malkin, Isidro Baldenegro, Mexican Environmental Activist, Is Shot to Death," The New York Times, January 18, 2017,,
" Isidro Baldenegro López, an indigenous activist whose struggle to protect the pine-oak forests of Mexico ’s Sierra Madre range won him the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, has been killed by a gunman, the authorities said on Wednesday.
       A leader of the Tarahumara people who live among the jagged peaks of the western Sierra Madre, Mr. Baldenegro defended the area’s old-growth forests against powerful local strongmen allied with drug traffickers and loggers.
      The killing was the second of a Goldman prizewinner in less than a year. Last March, gunmen attacked and killed Berta Cáceres , who led her Lenca people of Honduras against a proposed dam."

      Jugal K. Patel, "A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months," The New York Times, February 7, 2017,, reported, " A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day."

      Hiroko Tabuchi, "‘Vulnerable Voices’ Lash Out as Companies Sway Climate Talks," The New York Times, May 16, 2017,, reported, "Developing nations and environmental groups are challenging some of the world’s biggest companies and wealthiest countries over the role corporate lobbyists play in United Nations climate change negotiations.
      The dispute opens an additional battle in the struggle over how to fashion a global response to climate change, one that corporate interests appear to be winning, for now.
      Though companies are not permitted to participate directly in the climate talks, representatives from almost 300 industry groups are free to roam the negotiations in Bonn, Germany, as “stakeholders,” and to lobby negotiators on behalf of corporations that may seek to slow action, the developing nations and their allies say.
       Negotiators from Uganda, Ecuador, the Philippines and other countries have proposed guidelines on lobbying and conflicts of interest that could help curb the corporate presence at the talks. They cite rules that reduced the role of cigarette companies in the global treaty on tobacco as a precedent."

      Barack Obama, "The irreversible momentum of clean energy: Private-sector efforts help drive decoupling of emissions and economic growth," Science, January 18, 2017, reported, that the United States is demonstrating that mitigation of the production of greenhouse gasses (GHCs) does not have to conflict with economic growth. There is clear evidence that it can increase efficiency, productivity, innovation and well paying employment. From 2008 to 2015, the U.S. experienced a drop in energy sector GHC emissions of 9.5%, while the economy grew by over 10%, and the amount of energy consumed per dollar of real gross domestic product declined by 11%. During this period, the quantity of CO2 per unit of energy consumed fell by 8%, with the amount of CO2 emitted per dollar of GNP declined by 18%.
       From 2008 to to 2015, private sector energy efficiency has increased, partly from government regulation, but also because it saves money. Meanwhile, renewable energy costs have declined by 41% for wind, 54% for rooftop photovoltaic, and 64% for utility scale photovoltaic. This has resulted in increasing of investment in renewable energy world wide.

      Slashdot, January 28, 2017,, reported. "Solar energy now accounts for 43% of the workers in the U.S. power-generating industry, surpassing the 22% from all workers in the coal, oil, and gas industries combined, according to new figures from the Department of Energy."
      " Solar industry created jobs at a rate 20 times faster than the national average, according to the Energy Department, while 102,000 more workers also joined the wind turbine industry last year, a 32% increase. In fact, 93% of the new power in America is now coming from solar, natural gas, and wind -- but it's building out new solar-generating capacity that's causing much of the workforce increases, according to the Energy Department."

       Electric Utilities in California, and elsewhere around the world, are beginning to put into practice ways of storing solar and wind electricity for when the sun is not shinning and the wind not blowing. Examples include constructing storage facilities composed of huge numbers of newer batteries; building dams with upper and lower lakes so that water is pumped into the upper lake when solar or wind electricity is being generated, and when it is not, having the water flow back down through hydro-electric generators; and having a large array of mirrors concentrating sun light heat salt to very high temperatures, which then boils water, continuing to do so when the sun is not shining as the salt remains quite hot for many hours (Diane Cardwell, "The Biggest, Strangest 'Batteries'," The New York Times, June 4, 2017).

       With 30 hydrogen fuel cell automobile recharging stations now spread across the length of California, Air Liquide and Toyota plan to build 12 hydrogen fuel cell automobile recharging stations between New York City and Boston, making hydrogen fuel cell vehicles far more practical (Neal Boudetter, "Coming Soon to East Coast Highways: Clean, Quiet Hydrogen Cars," The New York Times, May 19, 2017).

       Some Republican controled states were beginning to follow Georgia's lead in repealing a $5000 tax credit for purchasing electric cars and instituting a $200 registration fee for them (Hiroki Tabuchi, "The State-by-State Assault on Electric Cars ," The New York Times, March 12, 2017).

       New York City is joining others in beginning to recycle organics, including waste food and yard waste, composting them to produce methane which is captured and burned to produce energy, with much lower greenhouse gas emissions than letting the material rot in place, or in landfills, while reducing the need to burn fossil fuels to produce electricity (Emily S. Rueb, "The 'Final Recycling Frontier:' Organics," The New York Times, June 4, 2017).

      The Sierra Club reported via E-mail, March 3, 2017, "Friends, If you've been paying attention to the EPA methane rules you'll remember that the rules that were enacted only cover new and modified sources. The agency had begun gathering data to deal with existing sources. Yesterday the EPA cancelled the information request of operators. The Environmental Protection Agency" on Thursday announced it was withdrawing a request that operators of existing oil and gas wells provide the agency with extensive information about their equipment and its emissions of methane, undermining a last-ditch Obama administration climate change initiative.
      The EPA announcement was a first step toward reversing an Obama administration effort — which only got underway two days after Donald Trump’s election — to gather information about methane, a short-lived but extremely powerful climate pollutant which is responsible for about a quarter of global warming to date.
      The agency cited a letter sent by the attorneys general of several conservative and oil-producing states complaining that the information request 'furthers the previous administration’s climate agenda and supports … the imposition of burdensome climate rules on existing sites, the cost and expense of which will be enormous.'
      Edf statement here:"

      Coral Davenport, "In Win for Environmentalists, Senate Keeps an Obama-Era Climate Change Rule," The New York Times, May 10, 2017,, reported, "In a surprising victory for President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy, the Senate voted on Wednesday to uphold an Obama-era climate change regulation to control the release of methane from oil and gas wells on public land.
      Senators voted 51 to 49 to block consideration of a resolution to repeal the 2016 Interior Department rule to curb emissions of methane, a powerful planet-warming greenhouse gas. Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, all Republicans who have expressed concern about climate change and backed legislation to tackle the issue, broke with their party to join Democrats and defeat the resolution."

       The Oregon legislature, in spring 2017, was considering, SB 557: Clean Energy Jobs bill (Cap, Trade, Invest):
      A cap and invest program (CIP) with trading is a flexible, market-based mechanism that reduces pollution at low cost. Regulated businesses must hold permits to pollute (allowances). Allowances are auctioned, raising proceeds, and may be traded between regulated entities. This creates value for reducing climate pollution by allowing business that can reduce pollution the quickest and fastest to sell (aka, trade) allowances to other businesses that need them. Proceeds can be reinvested to further reduce climate pollution, assist industry, create benefits for disproportionately impacted communities, retrain workers, and advance clean economic development.
      Bill language:
      ● The Purpose of the bill is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to promote adaptation and resilience by this state’s communities and economy in the face of climate change."

       Jonathan Marshall, Coal Miners' Futures in Renewable Energy," Consortium News, April 26, 2017,"If President Trump wants to earn a rare legislative victory and take political credit for reviving hard-hit regions of rural America, he should take a close look at how one Kentucky coal company is creating jobs.
      Berkeley Energy Group this month announced plans to put coal miners back to work by building the largest solar project in Appalachia on top of a closed mountaintop strip mine near the town of Pikeville. The Eastern Kentucky coal company is partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund, which has helped develop 9,000 megawatts of renewable energy, to bring jobs and clean energy to the region."

      While jobs in the coal industry continued to decline, renewable energy jobs have continued to rise. In 2016, 373,807 were employed in solar, 130,877 in bioenergy, 101,738 in wind, 65, 554 in hydroelectric, 76,771 in nuclear energy, whole 160,119 worked in coal, 515,518 in oil, and 308,235 in natural gas (Nadia Popovich, "Solar and Wind, But Not Coal: Where Energy Jobs Are Growing," The New York Times, April 26, 2017).

       Numerous members of the Trump administration, with its multiple connections to fossil fuel interests, are deniers of climate change and moving to weaken and destroy environmental regulations, while removing environmental information from U.S, government web sites and databases. This includes head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, who says that carbon dioxide does not contribute to global warming (Coral Davenport, "E.P.A. Chief Doubts Consensus View of Climate Change," The New York Times, March 9, 2017,
      In line with that , a number of Republicans in Congress have been calling for the EPA and other agencies to make data underlying proposed new rules publicly available and to state how they pick scientists. While having the ability to see that "the best science" is actually used in decision making, the intent appears to be to bog down the regulatory process (David Malakoff, "A battle over the "best science," The Christian Science Monitor Weekly, February 13, 2017).

      The Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Earth, February 2, 2017, , reported, " Trump Orders Massive Rollback of Environmental Protections," "In a major effort to dismantle environmental protections, President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order requiring all federal agencies to repeal two regulations before implementing a new rule.             
      This unprecedented, illegal restriction would hamstring every federal agency's efforts to implement laws and dramatically curtail the federal government's ability to protect human health, wildlife and the environment from emerging threats. "
       President Trump signed an order, March 29, 2017, ordering the EPA to roll back Obama Administration clean air rules, which would allow for more coal to be used in energy production (Coral Davenport and Alissa J. Rubin, "Trump Signs Rule To Block Efforts on Aiding Climate," The New York Times, March 29, 2017.
       President Trump, on April 25, 2017, was preparing a pair of executive orders to allow expanded offshore oil and gas drilling and to roll back conservation on public lands (Coral Davenport, "Trump to Sign Orders That Could Expand Access to Fossil Fuels," The New York Times, April 26, 2017).

       With the Trump administration backing away from environmental protection and clean energy production, nearly half the Fortune Five Hundred companies in the U.S. are planning to move to 100% renewable energy with varying time tables (Hiroko Tabuchi, "With Government in Retreat, Companies Step Up Efforts on Emissions," The New York Times, April 26, 2017).

      Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport, "Trump Budget Proposes Deep Cuts in Energy Innovation Programs," The New York Times, May 23, 2017,, reported, " Mr. Trump’s budget , released Tuesday, says it will raise about $36 billion over the next 10 years by selling off major American energy resources and infrastructure, opening up vast new areas of public land for oil and gas drilling, and redirecting state revenues from oil and gas royalties back to Washington.
            At the same time, the budget would cut $3.1 billion from energy research programs at the Energy Department, an 18 percent reduction from last year’s spending. These programs are aimed at developing innovative technologies like better batteries for electric vehicles or carbon capture for coal and gas plants — all of which could one day help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat global warming ."

      Coral Davenport, "Trump Orders Easing Safety Rules Implemented After Gulf Oil Spill," The New York Times, April 27, 2017, ttps://, "Just past the seventh anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, President Trump on Friday directed the Interior Department to “reconsider” several safety regulations on offshore drilling implemented after one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history.
      Friday’s executive order was aimed at rolling back the Obama administration’s attempts to ban oil drilling off the southeastern Atlantic and Alaskan coasts. It would erase or narrow the boundaries of some federally-protected marine sanctuaries, opening them up to commercial fishing and oil drilling."

      Warming and increasingly wetter climate has brought a shift in where tree spieces are growing in the eastern United States. The Eastern white pine has been extending its range to the west, while the Eastern cottonwood has expanded north, according to research published in May,2017. With drying in the Southeast and greater wetting in the northweset areas of the Appalachians, the scarlet oak has been shifting from the southweast to the northwest of the region ("U.S. Forests Shifting With Climate Change, The New York Times, May 22, 2017,       Richard Schiffman, "Amazon rainforest under threat as Brazil tears up protections," New Scientist, April 26 2017,, reported, " The Amazon rainforest is facing a new threat: politics. Brazilian laws that protect the world’s largest rainforest are threatened by the country’s continuing political turmoil following the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff.
      The so-called “ruralista” bloc in the National Congress of Brazil, which represents the interests of agribusinesses and large landholders, has been using the chaos in the political system as a cover to push through legislation to reverse longstanding protections for the rainforest, says Phillip Fearnside, an ecologist with the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) in Manaus.
These initiatives include a move to open portions of conservation areas in Para state to mining and agricultural activities.
      The government of Rousseff’s successor, Michel Temer, is also fast-tracking major development projects that will lead to further deforestation, including hydroelectric dams and highways. For example, the proposed Cuiaba-Santarem road would “cut Amazon in the middle with a lot of additional deforestation”, says Adalberto Luis Val, also at INPA.
Fearnside worries about legislation that would eliminate Brazil’s longstanding environmental licensing process. He says that constitutional amendment 65, which is being considered by Congress, “would force government agencies to rubber stamp all infrastructure projects, regardless of their potential impact on the environment”. A three-fifths majority would be needed to pass this amendment."
      Deforestation in Brazil has been rising after years of stability. In 2016, the rate of deforestation rose by 29% over 2015. Agriculture is the major force bringing about the clearing of forests, in response to rises in beef and soy on the world market. Cattle grazing and growing soy have been the main agricultural activities on the newly cleared lands.
       The conservative post-impeachment administration has been contributing to the deforestation by cutting the nation's Ministry of Environment budget by 43 percent  and 44 percent cuts in its science research budget by 44 per cent. Among other results, this has gutted enforcement of laws regulating cutting of forests, and ended funding for fighting forest fires. This is especially serious, as with climate change large fires are anticipated in 2017.
      " These destructive trends have been somewhat offset by the notable success of indigenous peoples in Brazil in protecting their own lands. A study published last year reported that deforestation rates in reserves under tribal control in Brazil were less than one tenth of the losses seen in other forest areas.
      But the ability of indigenous Brazilians to safeguard their land is being challenged by 'a whole raft of constitutional amendments and draft laws', says Sarah Dee Shenker of the UK- based nonprofit Survival International."
       Some 3000 Indigenous people from Brazil's Amazon Region joined protests in the Brazilian Capital, in late April 2017, against budget cuts to FUNAI, which oversees the government's Indigenous policies. The protests are also in opposition to proposed bill PEC 215, which would give Congress the power to indefinitely put off the demarcation and protection of their territories and prevent their further expansion.

      Nika Knight, " Cities Worldwide Take on Climate Fight—And See Pushback From National Governments: Many cities are outpacing national governments in the climate fight, setting the stage for power battles," Common Dreams , March 13, 2017,, reported, " Cities worldwide are setting climate goals that are far more ambitious than the targets agreed upon by national governments, leading to clashes between urban leaders and national ones, Reuters reported Monday.
      'Just over half the world's population lives in urban areas, meaning municipalities will help to determine whether the historic shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy agreed in Paris succeeds or fails,' Reuters notes. 'But as many cities become more assertive, governments are reluctant to cede control.'
      Oslo, for example, is battling Norway's right-wing coalition government to enact an aggressive plan to cut the city's carbon emissions.
       The city is pushing 'to more than halve the capital's greenhouse gas emissions within four years to about 600,000 tons," Reuters reports. 'The plan for the city of 640,000 people includes car-free zones , 'fossil-fuel-free building sites,' high road tolls, and capturing greenhouse gases from the city's waste incinerator.'
      Yet the national government's 'Transport Ministry is dragging its feet' on the plan, introducing delays that have slowed the introduction of new tolls and car-free zones for months, Oslo's deputy mayor told Reuters.
      It so happens that supporters of the far-right Progress Party, which together with the Conservative Party forms the ruling coalition, are deeply opposed to climate change policies.
      In Denmark, meanwhile, Copenhagen's mayor is accusing the national government of levying unfairly high fees on the city for using the national grid to power its fleet of electric buses. And on the other side of the world, Sydney officials are battling the conservative Australian government for the city's right to power itself with its own solar panels without paying hefty fees.
      And in the U.S., green-minded city leaders are taking to the frontlines of the climate fight in the face of a right-wing, climate change-denying Trump administration.
       Cities are powerful players in the global effort to combat climate change. Urban dwellers consume 75 percent of the world's resources and are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions, according to Columbia University's Earth Institute. Because of their large and dense populations, locations, and infrastructure, cities are also most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
       'Cities are on the front line of both the cause and effect of climate change,' said Somayya Ali Ibrahim, program manager for the Urban Climate Change Research Network at the Earth Institute. 'Cause—because if there are so many people gathered in one spot, there are more emissions and more energy is used. And on the converse side, they will be most affected by climate change because of coastal flooding, heat waves, urban heat island effects, epidemics, [and impacts on] water and sanitation systems, and transport systems. So most of the people affected [by climate change] will be in cities.'"

       Nika Knight, " This Is What It Will Look Like When New Orleans, New York City, and Mar-A-Lago Disappear Under Rising Seas: New research finds that most previous estimates for sea level rise were too conservative, while visualizations show what U.S. cities may look like by 2100, Common Dreams , April 27, 2017,, reported,

President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort would be completely drowned in the most extreme scenario for sea level rise. (Image: Climate Central )
      " A new report shows that many previous estimates of global sea level rise by 2100 were far too conservative, the Washington Post reported Thursday, and the research comes as new maps and graphics from Climate Central vividly show how disastrous that flooding will be for U.S. cities.
      The report, Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic , found that previous estimates of sea level rise didn't account enough for the fast pace of melting ice in the Arctic and Greenland.
      The Post writes:
       'The assessment found that under a relatively moderate global warming scenario—one that slightly exceeds the temperature targets contained in the Paris climate agreement—seas could be expected to rise 'at least' 52 centimeters, or 1.7 feet, by the year 2100. Under a more extreme, 'business as usual' warming scenario, meanwhile, the minimum rise would be 74 centimeters, or 2.4 feet.
The report explored a minimum rise scenario, but not a maximum or worst-case scenario. However, a separate report (pdf) published at the end of the Obama administration by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) did just that, and found that in the most extreme case, the sea in some locations will rise a stunning eight feet by the century's end.
      Illustrating how devastating this would be, Climate Central created 3D visualizations of what U.S. cities will look like in NOAA's most extreme scenario.
       Some cities, such as New Orleans, would simply be uninhabitable, the images show:

      Rising seas alone may displace over 13 million people in the U.S., dispersing climate refugees and reshaping inland cities, as Common Dreams reported last week.
      See more examples of Climate Central's visualizations at: and, and find a 2D map of sea level rise projections here.
      The ominous new research come as President Donald Trump continues to dismantle climate policies, boosts the fossil fuel industry, and considers pulling out of the Paris climate accord.
      But even Trump won't be spared from the looming disaster, Climate Central observes, showing that the projected sea level rise will completely flood the president's Mar-a-Lago resort."

      A group of Australian Scientists has built a group of mini-ocean ecosystems to test separately and together the impacts of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and warming oceans. They found that increased carbon dioxide, though the increased acidity it brings is damaging to marine animals and plants, increased photo synthesis and growth in algae, providing more food for invertebrates whose population expanded, thus making available more food for predator fish, whose population also grew. However , when combining increased co 2 with warming the water by 5 degrees (less than many scientists believe the ocean near Australia will warm), while the algae grew more rapidly, the invertebrates, were stressed, and did not eat more, or expand population, while the predator fish had an increase in metabolism, necessitating them to eat more. This led to a continuing drop in the invertebrate population and ultimately a collapse of the ecosystem (Carl Zimmer, "To Simulate Climate Change, Scientists Build Miniature Worlds," The New York Times, May 11, 2017,

       Deforestation has been increasing greatly in Brazil and Bolivia, especially by giant agriculture firms, including Cargill, according to recent reports. In Bolivia estimate are that in the 1990s deforestation averaged some 266,000 acres a year. In the 2000's it rose to about 667,000 acres annually. As of 2016, reports are that deforestation had reached 865,000 acres a year. The number of acres deforested a year were not available for Brazil, but there were reports that there too, deforestation is greatly on the rise (Hiroko Tabuchi and Clare Rigby, "Deforestation Roars Back," The New York Times, February 26, 2017).

      In China's Pearl River Delta, rapid development is beginning to suffer, and eventually will be overwhelmed by, climate change. In an area including the port city of Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, that was once mostly farm land, frantic development has increased the population from one to 42 million people in and around several cities with a great deal of manufacturing. The low area has always been subject to flooding, but as the Pacific ocean rises floods have been becoming more frequent and much more serious. The entire region will eventually come unlivable as the waters rise (Michael Kimmelman, "Rising Waters Threaten China’s Rising Cities: In the Pearl River Delta, breakneck development is colliding with the effects of climate change," The New York Times, April 7, 2017,

      "How to keep cool without costing the Earth: A film worth watching," The Economist , February 11, 2017,, reported, " About 6% of the electricity generated in America is used to power air-conditioning systems that cool homes and offices. As countries such as Brazil, China and India grow richer, they will surely do likewise. Not only is that expensive for customers, it also raises emissions of greenhouse gases in the form both of carbon dioxide from burning power-station fuel and of the hydrofluorocarbons air conditioners use as refrigerants.
      As they describe in a paper in this week’s Science, Ronggui Yang and Xiaobo Yin of the University of Colorado, in Boulder, have a possible alternative to all this. They have invented a film that can cool buildings without the use of refrigerants and, remarkably, without drawing any power to do so. Better yet, this film can be made using standard roll-to-roll manufacturing methods at a cost of around 50 cents a square meter.
      The new film works by a process called radiative cooling. This takes advantage of that fact that Earth’s atmosphere allows certain wavelengths of heat-carrying infrared radiation to escape into space unimpeded. Convert unwanted heat into infrared of the correct wavelength, then, and you can dump it into the cosmos with no come back."

      "RISING VOICES: COLLABORATIVE SCIENCE WITH INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE FOR CLIMATE SOLUTION," Cultural Survival, April 20, 2017,, reported, "The 5th annual workshop of Rising Voices: Collaborative Science with Indigenous Knowledge for Climate Solutions held at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado was organized in partnership with Cultural Survival and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The event was a collaboration between the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Cultural Survival, Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN) Inter-tribal Council on Utility Policy (ICOUP), Indigenous People’s Climate Change Working Group (IPCCWG), and the International Indian Treaty Council.
      Indigenous people have drawn on Indigenous knowledge and science for millennia to understand and respond to climate and environmental change they faced. This knowledge is deeply embedded in our worldviews and relationship with the natural world as well in our cultural practices. What is different and challenging today is the rate of climate change occurring made by man and our ability to respond to it. We must correct the path we are walking on and return to the special relationships, the teachings, the knowledge and practice that maintains respect, honor and relationship with the natural world,' said Cultural Survival Executive Director Suzanne Benally (Navajo/Santa Clara Tewa).
       The theme of the 5th Rising Voices workshop was 'Pathways from Science to Action.' Through collaborative research presentations and group discussions, participants worked on developing specific pathways to move from science to action for climate adaptation at local, national, and international levels. Rising Voices seeks to diversify scientific research and solutions to weather and climate extremes that includes Indigenous science. The fifth workshop was an opportunity to address the climate change issues impacting Indigenous communities globally.
      Indigenous Peoples’ relationships with the natural environment are very much rooted in sacred connections to land, water, plants, and animals. Tsui Shortland from New Zealand said, “Our knowledge is based on not only on our own genealogical link to the environment, but also the environment as its own spiritual entity, with its own rights, and that needs to be respected. We look at a forest as a whole, as a whole living entity, in a holistic way.“
      Presentations and discussions covered topics such as collaborative research; making links from local initiatives to international mobilization; the tensions and discrimination Indigenous science faces within the western science community; building collaborative knowledge about extreme weather, climate change, and disasters; and strategies for implementing knowledge into action and policy making. Climate change affects us all but Indigenous women are at the frontlines of those impacted. “Women are very strong voices in the work for the protection of the environment. The knowledge of Indigenous women in particular as food producers, as knowledge holders, as the first teachers of the children, plays a very key and central role. The cultural practices and traditions that Indigenous women keep alive and pass down generation to generation in Indigenous communities is being recognized very strongly all the way to the United Nations, but also in Indigenous communities and the broader movements addressing climate change. The importance of that knowledge and that role, in not only addressing the adaptation and mitigation, but also confronting the solutions to climate change,” said Andrea Carmen (Yaqui), executive director of International Indian Treaty Council.
      Attendees from all over the world shared their experiences about the links between their cultures and the environment. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, from a Mbororo pastoralist community of Chad, also spoke on the role of women in confronting climate change and also its greater impact on them. 'Indigenous women are the most affected by the climate change firstly because they are the ones who are collecting food and water to feed their families and also their traditional medicine for the health of the communities. In my communities and in my regions, women have the knowledge of water protection and they also have the knowledge of food collection and of the land protections. [For example], through certain kind of trees that they have to harvest some times and in other seasons they have to feed these trees in order to get a good rainy season. Their roles are very important at the community level and also at the national level. The women of the communities understand climate change because they are seeing it through all the production that they’re having. In my peoples, because we are cattle herders, [the women] harvest milk. The women see during the dry season that the quantity of milk is reducing from one liter to becoming just one cup. They are not getting milk every day, [but rather] once every two days, and that’s affecting them.'
      Kaimana Barcarse (Native Hawaiian) shared lessons about how the environment relates to language, 'I always say, watch what you say, because you can never take it back, and that’s not just to people, that’s also to the environment. We can use that mana, which is that spiritual power, and we can use that olelo, which is our language, but we have to use it in the right way.'
      For information about Rising Voices, please visit the website ( ) or contact: Heather Lazrus (; Julie Maldonado (; Bob Gough (
      For information about Cultural Survival, please contact: Suzanne Benally (sbenally@cs,org); Danielle Deluca ( )."

       A three-month listening tour by an expert panel in Canada on rewriting environmental regulations was completed, in September 2016, aimed at realizing Prime Minister Trudeau's promise "to ensure that major projects are based on science, facts and evidence" (Lesley Evans Ogden, "Canada aims to rewrite environmental law, Science, September 30, 2016).

      Nika Knight, "Methane Emissions Are Soaring, Report Finds, and Agriculture Is to Blame: Research suggests agriculture is the main culprit for recent rapid increase in atmospheric methane—a greenhouse gas 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide," Common Dreams , December 12, 2016,, reported, Mere months after atmospheric carbon dioxide permanently surpassed a symbolic threshold of 400 parts per million, scientists have more bad news: emissions of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas, have skyrocketed in the past 20 years—and show no sign of slowing.
      That's according to a new analysis published Monday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
      The report, The Growing Role of Methane in Anthropogenic Climate Change, finds that 'methane concentrations in the air began to surge around 2007 and grew precipitously in 2014 and 2015,' observes

(Image: NOAA)
      Methane is 28 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat from the sun, making its short-term effects on global warming far more severe.
Agence France-Press reports that 'the pace of recent [methane] emissions aligns with the most pessimistic scenarios laid out by the U.N.'s top science authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.'
       Indeed, the rising rate of methane emissions poses a threat to ambitious global goals to limit warming to 1.5ºC by 2100, as laid out in the Paris climate accord, experts note. And the current rise of 1ºC over preindustrial levels is already resulting in extreme weather and widespread extinctions .
       When looking for the source of the rapid increase, the authors of the paper take note of the global rise in fossil fuel extraction—such as the fracking boom in the U.S. and the growing coal industry in China—as one culprit, but they concluded that the research mainly finds the agricultural sector to blame for the methane spike.
      'We think agriculture is the number one contributor to the increase,' Rob Jackson, an earth scientist at Stanford University who co-wrote the study, told the Washington Post, which adds:
      Jackson said some of the rise is 'almost certainly' coming from livestock and specifically cattle, and also pointed to rice paddies, landfills, and the management of manure in agriculture.
      'According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,' reports, 'livestock operations around the world expanded from producing 1,300 million head of cattle in 1994 to nearly 1,500 million in 2014—with a similar increase in rice cultivation in many Asian countries.'
      The report's authors suggest renewed efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, which other recent research supports as a critical tactic in the fight to mitigate climate change.
      'When it comes to methane, there has been a lot of focus on the fossil fuel industry, but we need to look just as hard if not harder at agriculture,' Jackson told 'The situation certainly isn't hopeless. It's a real opportunity.'"

      Deirdre Fulton, " Climate Change and the Coming 'Humanitarian Crisis of Epic Proportions': Military and national security experts are sounding the alarm about tens of millions of climate refugees," Common Dreams , " December 01, 2016,, reported, " Climate change—and resultant natural disasters, droughts, and sea level rise—'could lead to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions,' senior military figures told the Guardian on Thursday.
      Specifically, the experts echoed a recent warning from the United Nations that without radical action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 'we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy,' as the number of global climate refugees climbs.
       'We're going to see refugee problems on an unimaginable scale, potentially above 30 million people,' Maj. Gen. Munir Muniruzzaman, chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on climate change and a former military adviser to the president of Bangladesh, told the Guardian.
      'Climate change could lead to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions,' added Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, a member of the U.S. State Department's foreign affairs policy board and CEO of the American Security Project. 'We're already seeing migration of large numbers of people around the world because of food scarcity, water insecurity, and extreme weather, and this is set to become the new normal.'
       Such a crisis would serve 'as an accelerant of instability,' Cheney said—even more so than it has already.
      As Forbes explained on Tuesday:
       Natural disasters displaced 36 million people in 2009, the year of the last full study. Of those, 20 million moved because of climate-change related factors. Scientists predict natural disaster-related refugees to increase to as many as 50 to 200 million in 2050 . This will cause increasing social stress and violence, mostly in developing nations without the resources to cope, such as in poorer coastal countries in Asia, and in regions of Africa subject to desertification.
      Dozens of military and national security experts, including former advisers to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, issued a similar admonition in September, in the form of a Briefing Book for A New Administration (pdf) that warned of 'the potential for ongoing climatic shifts to contribute to near and/or over-the-horizon instances of instability,' including mass migration.
      But it's not clear these words of caution will be absorbed or acted on by the incoming Trump administration.
      As Scientific American pointed out this week, '[t]he military and intelligence communities may soon turn a blinder eye toward some climate change-related threats, indicated by President-Elect Donald Trump's recent choices of climate-change skeptics for national security jobs, along with his own dismissive comments."
      With climate skeptics like Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) nominated for high-profile national security positions, University of Texas at Austin professor Joshua Busby told the magazine, 'some of the gains made by the Pentagon and other executive agencies to prepare for the security consequences of climate change could be undone.'"

       Global warming is profoundly changing the ecology of the Arctic Ocean food chain. Specific changes have been noted, but it is too early for scientists to predict what the long term result will be. From 1997 to 2015, the production of algae, the base of the food chain, increased by 47%, while the ocean has been increasingly greening up earlier in the year (Carl Zimmer, "Warming Alters Arctic Food Chain From the Bottom Up, Scientists Say," The New York Times, November 23, 2016).

      randym77, " Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts," Daily Kos, May 19, 2017,, reported, " It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault , buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.
      The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide ' failsafe' protection against 'the challenge of natural or man-made disasters'”.

      Lauren McCauley, “Wilder Fires and Rising Waters, Climate Impacts Coming to America's Door: Pair of new studies show how American climate refugees will 'reshape' population landscape of the nation," Common Dreams , April 18, 2017,, reported, "Americans in many cases have been slow to acknowledge the real threats posed by global warming. But two new studies out Monday found that people living throughout the United States could soon see their communities forever altered by higher seas and raging forest fires.
      While the United States has lagged in taking dramatic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or transform its power grid to accommodate renewable energy sources, other nations have taken the lead. Further, studies have historically shown (pdf) that Americans are generally reluctant to perceive climate change as anything more than a moderate risk, seeing it as something that impacts people in more vulnerable, developing nations.
      The idea of a person becoming a climate change refugee seems similarly foreign.
      However, Mathew Hauer, a demographer at the University of Georgia, estimates that by the end of the century as many as 13.1 million Americans could too find themselves displaced due to rising sea levels. His research is published in the journal Nature Climate Change and suggests those migrants will be forced to move to inland cities, ultimately "reshaping" the population landscape.
      The report notes that unmitigated sea-level rise (SLR)—primarily seen as 'a coastal issue'—is 'expected to reshape the U.S. population distribution, potentially stressing landlocked areas unprepared to accommodate this wave of coastal migrants.' For instance, if seas rise the expected 1.8 meters by 2100, Texas could see a surge of nearly 1.5 million additional residents. Specifically, inland cities including Austin and Houston, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia could each see more than 250,000 people migrating from the imperiled coasts.
      Meanwhile, Miami and New Orleans are expected to lose more than 2 million people each due to flooding, while nine states could experience declining populations: Virginia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Louisiana, California, and New York.
      At the same time, residents who live near the sun-scorched valleys and drought-wracked forests of the western U.S. are going to increasingly see larger, more devastating forest fires—and researchers are beginning to recognize that the only way to deal with them is to get out of the way.
      A study published at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that typical methods of wildfire suppression and management are inadequate to address the threat posed by the 'new era of western wildfires' prompted by human-induced global warming.
       'Neither suppression nor current approaches to fuels management adequately reduce vulnerability of communities to increasing wildfire,' said the study's lead author, Tania Schoennagel, a research scientist at the University of Colorado-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.       'We've been very effective with fire suppression for many years, but wildfires are increasing beyond our capacity to control, especially with more people in fire's way.'
      Alternately, the report recommends that affected states take steps to adapt by discouraging development in wildfire-prone areas and, in some cases, letting the fires rage with controlled burns.
      InsideClimate News reported further on the study:
      The report notes that a century of suppressing wildfires in the West has created a tinderbox because trees aren't being removed naturally by fire.
      'Most people recognize that our forest systems have not had the fire they need,' Schoennagel said [...]
      The concept of allowing fires to burn is controversial, in part because of the risk it poses to people and structures, but also because of the carbon released into the atmosphere. Schoennagel argues, though, that prescribed burns ultimately could help ecosystems and species adapt to warming.
      'Fire can be used as a tool for ecosystems to adapt to a changing climate,' she explained. 'It can allow species to migrate and help species keep pace with climate change.'
Park Williams, a bioclimatologist the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University who was unaffiliated with the study, told Climate Central, 'We now know that continued increases in fire activity are inevitable, but we've been able to come up with no other way forward other than to fight fires as hard as we can. All we're doing is paying huge amounts of money to deliver an even worse problem onto the next generation.'
      And Schoennagel added, 'The first step is to expect that wildfire will come to your door rather than assume it will not.'
      One could say the same for the seas."

      The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management finalized rules, in November 2016, governing the development of wind and solar energy on BLM lands.
      "Department of the Interior Finalizes Rule Providing a Foundation for the Future of BLM’s Renewable Energy Program
Rule codifies BLM’s Smart from the Start approach, establishes a robust framework for competitive leasing, and increases transparency and certainty,"’s-renewable-energy, saying in a press release,
      "Advancing the President’s Climate Action Plan to create jobs, cut carbon pollution and develop clean domestic energy, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized its rule governing solar and wind energy development on public lands. The rule strengthens existing policies and creates a new leasing program that will support renewable energy development through competitive leasing processes and incentives to encourage development in suitable areas.
      'This new rule not only provides a strong foundation for the future of energy development on America’s public lands, but is an important and exciting milestone in our ongoing efforts to tap the vast solar and wind energy resources across the country' said Secretary Jewell. 'Through a landscape-level approach, we are facilitating responsible renewable energy development in the right places, creating jobs and cutting carbon pollution for the benefit of all Americans.'
      The rule formalizes key aspects of the BLM’s existing Smart from the Start approach to renewable energy development. Notably, the rule:

> Supports development in areas with the highest generation potential and fewest resource conflicts through financial incentives, awarding leases through competitive processes and streamlining the leasing process

> Ensures transparency and predictability in rents and fees – for example, gives developers the option of selecting fixed rate adjustments instead of market-based adjustments; and

> Updates the BLM’s current fee structure in response to market conditions, which will bring down near-term costs for solar projects.
      The rule complements the Department’s landscape-scale planning efforts, including the Western Solar Plan, California’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, and Arizona’s Restoration Design Energy Project, which were designed to streamline development in areas with high generation potential, while protecting important environmental, cultural and recreational resources.
      'By offering incentives for development in areas with fewer resource conflicts, the BLM’s rule provides a framework to support all of the landscape scale planning we’ve done to better plan for and manage wind and solar development,' said Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider. 'The rule also refines the BLM’s approach to fair market value, to ensure that taxpayers get a fair return from these important resources.'
      The President’s Climate Action Plan calls on Interior to permit 20,000 megawatts of renewable power by 2020. Since 2009, Interior has approved 60 utility-scale renewable energy projects on public lands, including 36 solar, 11 wind and 13 geothermal projects and associated transmission infrastructure that could support nearly 15,500 megawatts of renewable energy capacity, or enough to power approximately 5.1 million homes.
      'The BLM is incredibly proud of the work we’ve done over the last eight years supporting wind and solar development,' added BLM Director Neil Kornze. 'We went from only a handful of approved projects in 2008 to a robust program with over 15,000 MW approved, six times the amount we had approved in the 25 prior years.'
      The rule will support the full range of development activities anticipated by the BLM across the lands it manages. The rule’s competitive leasing provisions will help renewable energy development flourish on the 700,000 acres of public lands that have been identified in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The regulations will become effective 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register.
      The rule refines the application review process and increases financial certainty by giving developers the option to lock in in fixed rate adjustments and providing for MW capacity fee phase-ins. The rule also allows the BLM to offer lands outside of DLAs competitively; however, the BLM anticipates that most projects in these areas will continue to use the application-by-application process.
      Copies of the signed rule and a fact sheet explaining the key changes between the proposed and final rules are available on BLM’s website: The BLM intends to schedule additional information sessions as part of the implementation process for the rule."

       Many cities around the world are being seriously impacted by climate change. One is Mexico City, whose sinking and water shortage has been greatly increased. Built over what was once flat land, alternatively volcanic or clay soil, parts of the city are sinking at different rates as increased heat and drought dry the land and increase demand for water from the aquifer beneath the city. With more pumping of water, the subsidence increases, opening sinkholes, tilting and damaging thousands of buildings. It is also bringing a huge water crisis, with insufficient water in many, mostly poorer areas, and in worsening an inadequate sewer system. For many residents, water has to be trucked in. Deliveries for ordered water may be only once a week, and will be canceled if no one is home to receive them, pinning many women at home waiting. The water crisis is made worse by corruption, as ordered water may be sold enroute and never arrive (Michael Kimmelman, "Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis: Climate change is threatening to push a crowded capital toward a breaking point," The New York Times, February 17, 2017,
      Eduardo Porter, "To Curb Global Warming, Science Fiction May Become Fact," The New York Times, April 4, 2017,, reported, " News about the climate has become alarming over the last few months. In December, startled scientists revealed that temperatures in some parts of the Arctic had spiked more than 35 degrees Fahrenheit above their historical averages . In March, others reported that sea ice in the Arctic had dropped to its lowest level on record . A warming ocean has already killed large chunks of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef .
      Let’s get real. The odds that these processes could be slowed, let alone stopped, by deploying more solar panels and wind turbines seemed unrealistic even before President Trump’s election. It is even less likely now that Mr. Trump has gone to work undermining President Barack Obama’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
       That is where engineering the climate comes in. Last month, scholars from the physical and social sciences who are interested in climate change gathered in Washington to discuss approaches like cooling the planet by shooting aerosols into the stratosphere or whitening clouds to reflect sunlight back into space, which may prove indispensable to prevent the disastrous consequences of warming.
       The world’s immediate priority may be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet and hopefully exceed the promises made at the climate summit meeting in Paris in December 2015. But as Janos Pasztor, who heads the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative , told me, 'The reality is that we may need more tools even if we achieve these goals.'
       The carbon dioxide that humanity has pumped into the atmosphere is already producing faster, deeper changes to the world’s climate and ecosystems than were expected not long ago. [ And methane entering the atmosphere, often the result of underestimated positive feedbacks of warming, has contributed greatly also, and may be a critical aspect of the ever increasing warming]. Barring some technology that could pull it out at a reasonable cost — a long shot for the foreseeable future, according to many scientists — it will stay there for a long time, warming the atmosphere further for decades to come."
      Such engineering approaches are inherently dangerous, as they often have great unexpected and unwanted side effects. But as the global warming situation gets bad enough, there is an increasing temptation to use them.

      Damian Carrington and Jelmer Mommers, "'Shell Knew': Oil Giant's 1991 Film Warned of Climate Change Danger," Guardia, March 1, 2017, reported, "The oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered.
      However, since then the company has invested heavily in highly polluting oil reserves and helped lobby against climate action, leading to accusations that Shell knew the grave risks of global warming but did not act accordingly."

       Canada was moving to tax carbon emissions, in January 2017 ("Henry Gass, "Why Canada readies a 'carbon tax'," Science, January 2 and 9, 2017).

      Diane Cardwell, "Wind Project in Wyoming Envisions Coal Miners as Trainees," The New York Times, May 21, 2017,,
"Goldwind Americas, an arm of a leading wind-turbine manufacturer based in China, has been expanding its business in the United States. It has been careful to seek out local, American workers for permanent jobs on the wind farms it supplies.
      Now it is trying to extend that policy to an unlikely place: Wyoming, which produces more coal than any other state and has hardly welcomed the march of turbines across the country, even imposing a tax on wind-energy generation.
      On Thursday at an energy conference in Wyoming, the company announced plans for a free training program for one of the nation’s fastest-growing jobs: wind farm technician. And it is aiming the program at coal miners having trouble finding work, as well as those from other industries."

       China is producing a huge number of wind farms with more than 92,000 wind turbines, able generating 145 gigawatts of electricity. This is almost twice the capacity of wind farms in the United States. However, many of the wind turbines are idle. Among the many causes, two are paramount. First, many local officials favor coal and refuse to switch renewable energy. Second, the building of transmission lines to connect the generated electricity to users lags way behind the building of wind turbines (Javier C. Hernandez,  "It Can Power a Small Nation. But This Wind Farm in China Is Mostly Idle," The New York Times, January, 15, 2017,

      Choe Sang-Hun, "China Suspends All Coal Imports From North Korea," The New York Times, February, 18, 2017,, reported,
" China said on Saturday that it was suspending all imports of coal from North Korea as part of its effort to enact United Nations Security Council sanctions aimed at stopping the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile program.
      The ban takes effect on Sunday and will last until the end of the year, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a brief statement posted on its website on Saturday. Chinese trade and aid have long been a vital economic crutch for North Korea, and the decision strips North Korea of one of its most important sources of foreign currency."

      As part of the move away from coal because of its relatively higher cost, in New Mexico, Kevin Robinson-Avila, "PNM plan calls for eliminating coal generation," Albuquerque Journal, April 21, 2017, reported, "Public Service Company of New Mexico is proposing to shed all of its coal-fired electricity in the next 14 years and replace it with solar, wind, natural gas and nuclear power.
      The company’s latest integrated resource plan – which looks out over 20 years to determine the cheapest, most reliable and environmentally friendly mix of resources – has found that shutting down the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington in 2022 and relinquishing the utility’s 13 percent share in the nearby Four Corners Generating Station in 2031 would save consumers money in the long term.      The company published a first draft of the resource plan late Thursday. It’s now open for public comment before a final version is filed with New Mexico Public Regulation Commission in July."
      The question is what the new mix of natural gas, nuclear, wind and solar power will be. Environmentalists, including the intergroup energy committee that meets in Albuquerque at the Sierra Club (of which Stephen Sachs is a member) has been pushing for no nuclear, little natural gas, and as much wind and solar as possible.

       California was beginning to install piezoelectric crystals to generate solar electricity on many of its freeways, in September 2016 ( Christian Science Monitor, September 5, 2016).

       A 5.7 mile long section of the Dongru Glacier in western Tibet suddenly collapsed, July 17, 2016. killing nine people below ("Rapid glacier fall a deadly mystery," Science, September 2, 2016).

      Another result of climate change: Jess Bidgood, Ticks, Thriving in Warm Weather, Take a Ghastly Toll on New England Moose," The New York Times, January 19, 2017,, reported, " The moose is an iconic image in the Northeast and a crucial part of its tourism and recreational economy. But in parts of northern New England, researchers say moose are being killed by droves of winter ticks that thrive when the fall is warm and the winter comes late. By the thousands, the ticks attach themselves to moose — calves are the most vulnerable — and essentially drain their blood and strength.
      Researchers say that over the last few years, ticks have killed about 70 percent of the calves they have tagged in certain regions, an indication that the tick is taking a significant toll."

      Dan Levin, "Ice Roads Ease Isolation in Canada’s North, but They’re Melting Too Soon," The New York Times, April19, 2017, "In Canada’s northern latitudes, the frigid winter means freedom.
      That is when lakes and rivers freeze into pavements of marbled blue ice. For a few months, trucks can haul fuel or lumber or diamonds or a moose carcass to the region’s remote communities and mines that are cut off by water and wilderness, reachable for most of the year only by barge or by air.
      But Canada’s ice roads — more than 3,300 miles of them — have been freezing later and melting earlier, drastically reducing the precious window of time that isolated residents rely on to restock a year’s worth of vital supplies, or to simply take a road trip.

      Two thirds of the states in the United States and an increasing number of counties have decoupled energy usage from economic growth. This is being achieved largely in moving away from coal to other forms of energy, so that GNP is now increasing while carbon emissions are dropping, according to a report from the Brookings Institution. Beyond that report, it is clear that the more the move is made to clean renewable energy, the less economic growth will be linked to carbon emitting ("Going Green and Still Seeing Growth," Christian Science Monitor, February 13, 2017).

      The Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Earth, February 2, 2017, , reported, " Trump Orders Massive Rollback of Environmental Protections," "In a major effort to dismantle environmental protections, President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order requiring all federal agencies to repeal two regulations before implementing a new rule.             
      This unprecedented, illegal restriction would hamstring every federal agency's efforts to implement laws and dramatically curtail the federal government's ability to protect human health, wildlife and the environment from emerging threats. "

       Even as the Trump proposed federal budget seeks to seriously cut all environmental and a host of other programs, as of mid-May 2017, under Scott Pruitt as head of EPA, the agency's move toward weaker environmental rules and less enforcement was already finding energy companies doing less to protect the environment, and more that is quite likely to damage it (For represented examples see, Hiroko Tabuchi and Eric Lipton, "How Rollbacks at Scott Pruitt’s E.P.A. Are a Boon to Oil and Gas," The New York Times, May 20, 2017,

      Coral Davenport, "Trump Orders Easing Safety Rules Implemented After Gulf Oil Spill," The New York Times, April 27, 2017,, Reported, " Just past the seventh anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill , President Trump on Friday directed the Interior Department to “reconsider” several safety regulations on offshore drilling implemented after one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history.
      Friday’s executive order was aimed at rolling back the Obama administration’s attempts to ban oil drilling off the southeastern Atlantic and Alaskan coasts. It would erase or narrow the boundaries of some federally-protected marine sanctuaries, opening them up to commercial fishing and oil drilling.
       But Mr. Trump also took aim at regulations on oil-rig safety. In the final years of the Obama administration, the Interior Department implemented several new rules aimed at improving the safety of specific pieces of offshore drilling equipment that had failed during the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and were found to have been responsible for the deadly BP oil rig explosion that caused that spill." reported and commented, January 25, 2017,, "It's been 48 hours since Trump signed his executive actions on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and already more than 50,000 people have pledged to fight these projects to the end.
      Trump made it seem like he was approving these pipelines, but he didn't. Both Dakota Access and Keystone XL face legal, procedural and financial hurdles -- not to mention the multi-million person opposition to his administration.
       If you're ready and committed to take action to stop these projects, take the Pledge of Resistance to get plugged in to action opportunities to stop Keystone XL, Dakota Access and fossil fuel projects everywhere.
      We've stopped these pipelines before, and we can do it again.       Here's what you need to know about Trump's actions on Tuesday:

> He did *not* approve Keystone XL or Dakota Access. He briefly succeeded in confusing a lot of people on this point (including me, I will admit).

> On Dakota Access, he told the Army Corps of Engineers that the pipeline is in our "national interest" and told them to "consider" revoking the environmental review placed on it by the Obama Administration.

> On Keystone XL, he invited TransCanada to re-apply and if they do, mandated a final decision on the pipeline within 60 days and waived input from environmental agencies.

> And when TransCanada does re-apply, they no longer have permits in Nebraska, and their permits in South Dakota are being challenged.

> Trump also placed conditions on approval of the pipelines -- like limiting oil exports, and determining where the steel comes from -- that the oil companies might not accept.
And even if either pipeline moves forward, they will face a fierce, mobilized resistance from Indigenous communities and landowners who will bear the biggest impacts of spills and toxic pollution on their lands.
In other words: it ain't over until it's over -- and it's definitely not over. Every pledge is a demonstration that this mass movement is prepared and ready to resist. We, the signers, are a warning to any company, bank, or politician who chooses to support fossil fuel projects that will further tip our climate past its limits.
       More than 50,000 people have already pledged. Together we can make a huge impact. Join the Pledge of Pipeline Resistance.
      These pipelines will transport more oil that we don't need, and that our climate can't bear. We have the solutions to transform our energy system -- and we have the power and will to fight for them."

      Lakota Peoples Law Project, February 1, 2017,, reported, "Early Wednesday morning, the acting secretary of the army—appointed two weeks ago by President Trump—ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to reverse course and grant the permits necessary for the Dakota Access Pipeline to be completed. Hours later, the barricades on Highway 1806 were taken down, possibly paving the way for a police raid of the Water Protectors’ camps. The moment for increased action is now."

      The Lakota People's Law Project reported, February 2, 2017,, "Yesterday, as many of you already know, Chase Iron Eyes—Lakota People’s Law Project lead counsel and one of the most important spokespersons for our NoDAPL movement—was arrested along with 75 other Water Protectors. He was seized from Last Child’s Camp after militarized police conducted a raid on treaty land."
      "The authorities are up to their usual nasty tricks. Chase reports from inside jail that law enforcement has unfairly delayed the hearing process for the Water Protectors, allowing many to suffer in inhumane conditions—some left for too long in locked vehicles without access to restrooms."

      Food and Water Watch reported, June 12, 2017,;jsessionid=00000000.app325a, " This is alarming — Internal documents, first leaked by The Intercept, reveal that Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), hired the private security firm TigerSwan to employ military-style, counterterrorist measures against the Indigenous-led movement to stop DAPL. 1
       And Food & Water Watch was one of the organizations targeted by these operations. 2
TigerSwan infiltrated our Chicago office and posed as volunteers, to spy and collect information about the work we and others were doing to fight the pipeline and all fossil fuel infrastructure.
       We are being targeted, because we're effective — and we will NOT back down. Donate to Food & Water Action Fund today to fight back.
       Documents show that TigerSwan worked to 'create divisions between activists, manipulate and discredit pipeline opponents, and collect evidence that law enforcement could use to prosecute Standing Rock activists.'
      This is what we're up against: the industries that we're fighting have nearly unlimited resources to spy, lie and try to discredit us.
Donate today because we will never give into industry intimidation — we will always fight to put you before corrupt corporations.
       Throughout the fight against the construction of DAPL, water protectors maintained a peaceful resistance, even as police used rubber bullets, bean bag pellets and water cannons against demonstrators. Now we are learning how Energy Transfer Partners shared the information gathered by TigerSwan with law enforcement in order to target the water protectors.
      It's clear there is no limit to how low greedy corporations like Energy Transfer Partners will go to make some money — and it's absolutely disgusting.
      But the reason Energy Transfer Partners has invested so much in targeting Indigenous water protectors and allies like Food & Water Watch and Black Lives Matter is because building people power and organizing works.
      TigerSwan admitted it in one of the leaked reports: “[Food & Water Watch] is expending a large amount of resources and through a very organized and disciplined strategic messaging campaign, interest and participation is growing rapidly.” 3
      Corporations are worried because they want to frack and build pipelines everywhere they can, but they know that when we work together we have the power to stop them in their tracks.
       Will you stand with us and build the power it takes to stop these corporate bullies?
      Last year, our research staff supplemented on-the-ground organizing against DAPL by releasing information about the banks financially backing the project. 4 Our research showed that these banks were pushing decision makers to move the pipeline forward despite the impact it would have on Indigenous lives and the safety of their water.
      We can't trust corporations to protect the interests of people — that's why we expose corporate greed and fight for you. Help us continue this work with a donation today.
      Food & Water Action Fund doesn't take any money from corporations or the government so that we can remain truly independent and fight for what's best for people, without compromising on the things we can't live without. We rely on donations from our supporters like you to do the research, advocacy and build the people power that it takes to win.
      It's moments like this that make it clear how hard corporations will work to oppose us and put the bottom line first. But trust me when I say: We will never back down.
      Onward together,
      Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Action Fund, act(at)fwwatch(dot)org

      The Sierra Club reported, February 7, 2017, reported, " The Trump administration just issued the final approval for the Dakota Access Pipeline, putting corporate profits above the safety and sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux. Trump is blatantly ignoring the environmental review and public comment period that the Army Corps of Engineers already started under the Obama administration.
      The Standing Rock Sioux recently stated, 'We stand ready to fight this battle against corporate interest superseding government procedure and the health and well-being of millions of Americans.' We continue to stand with them."

      The Dakota Access Pipeline leaked 84 gallons of oil, April 4, which was soon cleaned up (Blake Nicholson, "Dakota Access Pipeline leaked 84 gallons of oil in April," NFIC, May 2017).

      Clifford Krauss, "U.S., in Reversal, Issues Permit for Keystone Oil Pipeline," The New York Times, March 24, 2017,, reported, “During his presidential campaign , Donald J. Trump repeatedly hailed the Keystone XL pipeline as a vital jobs program and one that sharply contrasted his vision for the economy with that of Hillary Clinton.
      “Today we begin to make things right,” President Trump said Friday morning shortly after the State Department granted the pipeline giant TransCanada a permit for Keystone construction, a reversal of Obama administration policy.
      The pipeline would link oil producers in Canada and North Dakota with refiners and export terminals on the Gulf Coast. It has long been an object of contention, with environmentalists saying it would contribute to climate change and the project’s proponents — Republicans, some labor unions and the oil industry — contending that it would help guarantee national energy security for decades to come."

      The Indigenous Environmental Network, " Dakota Access Pipeline is Officially Operational," June 2, 2017,, "Yesterday, June 1st, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the parent company of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) announced that DAPL is officially fully operational.
      This comes just a week after documents were leaked by a TigerSwan contractor revealing that Energy Transfer Partners was involved in using counterterrorist tactics on non-violent Water Protectors. What’s more is that DAPL has already had three oil spills during test runs, this adds to ETP’s already bad track record of being responsible for oil spills, yet taking very little accountability clean spills up or prevent future spills.
      While the pipeline is fully operational a federal Judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals still holds the power to halt the project.
      Statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network:
      'We must not lose sight of why the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline began. The pipeline was originally set to go through Bismarck, ND but the community rejected that plan because they were afraid it would jeopardize the Bismarck water supply. Thereafter the pipeline was routed to pass thru treaty lands of the Oceti Sakowin, also known as the Great Sioux Nation, and within miles of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s primary intake for drinking water, without proper consultation or free, prior and informed consent. Since day one, we have been standing up against this blatant act of environmental racism and social injustice towards Indigenous Peoples.'
      'The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's water supply is officially at risk with the pipeline being fully operational. Many other Native and non-Native allies will continue to stand with Standing Rock and continue to organize to ensure Energy Transfer Partners is held accountable for the human rights crimes they have committed, not just against Standing Rock but the many other Native nations along its path.”
      Statement from Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, Dave Archambault II:
'Now that the Dakota Access Pipeline is fully operational, we find it more urgent than ever that the courts and administration address the risks posed to the drinking water of millions of American citizens.
      'This pipeline became operational today, yet it has already leaked at least 3 times. This is foreboding as the company does not yet have a plan in place to address how they would contain and clean a serious spill.
      'We will continue to battle the operation of this pipeline in court and remind everyone that just because the oil is flowing now doesn't mean that it can't be stopped. The courts can stop it by demanding that the administration be held accountable for the full Environmental Impact Statement it initiated and then abandoned.'

      The Indigenous Environmental Network was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals in 1990 to address environmental and economic justice issues across Turtle Island, also known as North America."

      Coral Davenport, "E.P.A. Dismisses Members of Major Scientific Review Board," The New York Times, May 7, 2017,, reported, "The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s regulatory reach by reducing the role of academic research.

      A spokesman for the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate, as part of the wide net it plans to cast."
      Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) reported February 1, 2017,, " I just heard that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) may try to rush a number of fracked-gas pipeline permits through this week."
      "FERC is the little-known but powerful federal agency that regulates interstate transmission of natural gas, oil and electricity and approves construction of interstate natural gas pipelines and related infrastructure. That gives it a deciding voice in the drive to replace coal-fired power plants with fracked natural gas.
      This week, FERC may try to rush through the approval of several pending permit applications. Due to the resignation of a FERC commissioner, FERC may lose by Friday the quorum they need to approve permits – leading to speculation that the industry is pushing FERC to approve several pending permit applications in the next two days. These pipelines would cross the states of MI, IL, OH, PA, NY, MD, VA, WV, NC and SC."

       Embridge Energy terminated its plan to build the Sandpiper crude oil Pipeline in Northern Minnesota, in September 2016 ("Embridge Energy drops plans for Sandpiper crude oil Pipeline through Northern Minnesota," NFIC, September 2016).

      The Obama Administration, in November 2016, banned all Arctic gas and oil drilling, which will likely be attempted to be reversed by the Trump Administration (Brady Denis and Steven Mufson, "Arctic offshore drilling banned, 'right path forward," Christian Science Monitor, November 19, 2016).

      Although the world's major banks have begun, slowly, to move away from financing deforestation, recent studies indicate that over the last few years they have continued to fund numerous very large projects that involve massive deforestation, including palm oil plantations. Some details are in Hiroko Tabuchi, "The Banks Putting Rain Forests in Peril," The New York Times, December 4, 2016).

      Shusini Raj, "Oil Spill Near Chennai, India, Threatens Wildlife," The New York Times, February 3, 2017, ttps://, "Thousands of volunteers and Indian Coast Guard personnel were working on Friday to clean sludge from shores near the southern city of Chennai nearly a week after an oil spill that activists said could have dire repercussions for wildlife and fishery.
      Officials disagreed about who was to blame for the failure to contain the spill. Commandant Rahul Dev Sharma, a local spokesman for the Coast Guard, said on Friday that at least 20 tons of oil had leaked into the Bay of Bengal.
      The spill occurred before dawn last Saturday after two tankers, one empty and the other carrying petroleum, collided near Chennai, Commandant Sharma said."

      The governments of more than 190 nations agreed for the first time, in October 2016, to act to reduce the emissions of jet aircraft as a step to limit global warming induced climate change. This will likely lead to greater fuel efficiency for aircraft, among other measures (Henry Fountain, "Countries Agree to Climate Accord On Jet Emissions," The New York Times, October 7, 2016).

       Volkswagen and BMW have teamed up with Charge Point of California to install 100 electric car charging stations at key points along major highways on the U.S. east and west coasts ("Signs of Progress," Christian Science Monitor, October 21, 2016).

       Numerous Nations at the International Climate talks in Morocco, in November 2016, reacted to the election of Donald Trump, a climate change denier, as President of the United States, by threatening to penalize the U.S. if it does not keep its Paris Accord commitments to counter global warming (Coral Davenport, "'New World Order, Sinks in At Talks on Climate Pact," The New York Times, November 16, 2016).

       A series of earthquakes in Alberta from 2011-16 have been found to have been caused directly by fracking, as a result of pressure increases, first from injecting fracking fluids, and then from their remaining in the ground (Henry Fountain, In Alberta, a Link Between Fracking and Earthquakes," The New York Times, November 18, 2016).

       To combat illegal logging, the European Union has gone into partnership with Indonesia, one of the world's largest deforesters, under a wood trading licensing program. Businesses that earn certification under the program receive expedited access to European markets ("Signs of Progress," Christian Science Monitor, October 21, 2-016).

      A study by Scientists at the University of Utah published in the Proceedings of the National Science Foundation, October 10, 2016, found that since 1979 climate change has been responsible for more than one-half of the dryness of western forests and in the increase in the length of fire season. Since 1984, those factors have enlarged the cumulative fire area by 16,000 square miles (Tatiana Schlosberg, "Half of Rise in Fire Risk Is Tied to Climate Change," The New York Times, October 11, 2016).

      John Schwartz, "Climate Change Reroutes a Yukon River in a Geological Instant," The New York Times, April 17, 2017,, reported,
In the blink of a geological eye, climate change has helped reverse the flow of water melting from a glacier in Canada’s Yukon, a hijacking that scientists call “river piracy.”
      This engaging term refers to one river capturing and diverting the flow of another. It occurred last spring at the Kaskawulsh Glacier, one of Canada’s largest, with a suddenness that startled scientists.
      A process that would ordinarily take thousands of years — or more — happened in just a few months in 2016.
       Much of the meltwater from the glacier normally flows to the north into the Bering Sea via the Slims and Yukon Rivers. A rapidly retreating and thinning glacier — accelerated by global warming — caused the water to redirect to the south, and into the Pacific Ocean."

      Along the entire coast of Tasmania, and on its off-shore islands, oceans rising from global warming are devouring significant amounts of land (Justin Gillis, As Rising Seas Erode Shorelines, Tasmania Shows What Can Be Lost," The New York Times, April 26, 2017,

      The U.S. Department of the Interior announced, October 27, 2016, that it will auction more than 79,000 acres offshore of New York State for wind energy development ("Interior Department to Auction Over 79,000 Acres Offshore New York for Wind Energy Development," U.S. Department of the Interior News Release, October 27, 2016,

       As of late September, 2016, Costa Rica had run on 100% renewable energy, for 100 days in 2016, with 76 of those days in a row. The ecological downside may come from the high reliance on dams creating hydroelectric power ("Costa Rica: The country ran for 76 straight days on renewable energy," Christian Science Monitor, September 26, 2016).

      While agriculture accounts for about 25% of global warming (through livestock emissions, tilling practices, and deforestation) and farming around the world is being negatively impacted by global warming initiated climate change, to date only a few countries have done much assist farmers in adapting to climate change or to use agricultural practices to counter global warming. One of the nations that has is Morocco. There the government has supported a number of projects, including assisting cooperatives planting argan treesin further drying arid areas. The trees absorb carbon dioxide, are extremely drought resistant, and produce a nut with an oil in high demand, bringing a good price. There are a range of practices that are essential to adapt agriculture in most of the world to climate change and help it counter global warming. The particulars of what these are depend on the circumstance of each location. In general, they consist of reducing water use, switching to and diversifying climate appropriate crops, improving soil and land management, and working with natural landscapes to develop "green infrastructure", which is also important for pollinators, discussed below.
      As of the beginning of 2017, only 2% of the $331 billion in global climate financing has been going to agriculture. Much more is needed. But a number of nations have taken steps that are good examples of what can be done. Mongolia, for example, is switching to growing crops in greenhouses and stopping grazing on disappearing grass lands. Similarly, Vietnam has introduced new rice seeds that sprout earlier in germination, making them more resistant to drought. In Sub-Saharan Africa, numerous governments and aid agencies are promoting appropriate fruit and other trees that are drought resistant and increase carbon absorbsion. [There is much that private farmers can do on their own, if they have the information and funding to do so. For example, many California farmers have met extreme drought, reducing water use, by watering through feed lines, often technologically controlled, rather than by spraying into the air which wastes a great deal of water through evaporation and putting water where it is not needed. But too many still water by spraying, and too often during the day where there is high evaporation loss] (Zac Coleman, "Climate: A Small Nut's Big Secret," Christian Science Monitor Weekly, February 13, 2017).

       The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reversed its findings on fracking, reporting in December 2016 that fracking for oil and gas has contaminated some drinking water (Coral Davenport, "E.P.A. Shifts on Fracking, Citing Harm to Water," The New York Times, Decmber14, 2016).

      "Cambodia: Communities Key to Forest Conservation," Cultural Survival, January 26, 2017,, reported, "On January 11, 2017, the government of Cambodia signed a $1.5-million deal to launch the planning phase of a REDD+ carbon trading project involving Prey Lang forest, the largest remaining lowland evergreen forest on the Indochinese peninsula and home to approximately 200,000 Indigenous people.
      REDD+ is a UN framework where investors can purchase carbon credits from developing country’s intact forests, effectively paying for the maintenance of forests based on how much carbon they prevent from entering the atmosphere. In the case of Prey Lang, the credits will be based on how much projected forest loss can be prevented.
      However, REDD+ has been criticized by Indigenous Peoples globally for failing to channel funds in a way that benefits the local communities who have stewarded these forests and are responsible for their continued biodiversity. As REDD+ funds must be administered by the States, similar projects have proven the difficulty in ensuring that funds reach the community level. 'REDD+ puts a huge amount of trust in both expertise and the market. Yet it has proven itself incapable of tackling the inevitable political problems which arise when dealing with managing forests in Cambodia,' said researcher Timothy Fewer to the Phnom Penn Post. . He added that large inputs had seen ‘‘only very modest outcomes.”
      A case study on the effectiveness of REDD+ for Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia, published in 2014 by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, warns that many risks accompany the benefits of the project, such as the privatization of Indigenous lands leading to fencing or exclusion from conservation areas, and recommend Indigenous Peoples get involved at the earliest possible stages for their concerns to be addressed effectively.
      Cultural Survival emphasizes that for REDD+ to effectively benefit communities and their forests, the project must take a rights-based approach, and keep the right to Free, Prior, Informed Consent central to its operations at every stage. The project must recognize land titling and Indigenous-led land management as keys to maintaining and strengthening the practices that have led to the forests being sustained thus far.
      Cambodia has committed to prevent the loss of forest cover in the COP negotiations on climate change. Forest cover has been sharply declining in Cambodia in recent years, and was recorded at 57% in 2010. Under the Cambodia’s implementation plan for the COP21’s Paris Climate Treaty, the government’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or INDC, outlines a goal to not just prevent deforestation but to increase forest cover to 60% by 2030. Cambodia reiterated these goals at the November 2016 COP in Marrakesh, but noted that their ability to work towards deforestation is dependent on aid from developed countries, those largely responsible for carbon emissions and climate change. In Marrakesh, Cambodian officials asked for a commitment of U $1 billion dollars per year from developed to developing nations for mitigation, adaptation and loss. “Our INDCs focus on both mitigation and adaptation, but with our mitigation projects, the commitment is conditional. We will implement them if there is financial support,” Ponlok said, according to the Phomn Penn Post. So far developed nations have committed to $1 billion by 2020, but have actually provided only a fraction of that amount. This may be a driving force to look for private-sector funding through projects like REDD+.
      On the ground in Prey Lang, data from Indigenous community monitors show that illegal logging remains a problem despite promises from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to act aggressively against loggers in the Prey Lang forest one year ago in January 2016. With new tracking technology in a smartphone app developed specifically to their needs, forest patrollers from the Prey Lang Community Network (PCLN) have been able to compare data to show that although decreases were seen in initially, illegal logging increased by 14 percent between April and July of 2016 compared to the previous four-month period.
      This finding comes despite large areas of Prey Lang Forest being declared conservation land in May 2016 by the government, and the government's stated goals to crack down on illegal loggers. The data showed that illegal logging has continued to occur in both protected and unprotected areas. Sao Sopheap, spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment, said the government was working with conservationists to prevent forest crimes, but admitted that its strategy had yet to see an end to illegal logging and forest clearance, according to Cambodia. Prey Lang Community Network has acknowledged and thanked the government for its strides in protecting Prey Lang, but notes that for more progress to be made, local Indigenous community monitors must be actively involved in management of the Prey Lang forest.
       Prey Lang Community Network has requested the following of the Cambodian government, among other points:
The inclusion of Prey Lang Community Network in a joint committee to monitor the work towards protecting Prey Lang forest.
Financial support for trainings on natural resource protection to members of the PLCN
Better cooperation between PLCN and government ministries such as the Ministry of the Environment
      Monitor the effectiveness of government officials and institutions charged with the environment and natural resources, and when necessary, take legal actions against officials and local authorities who are involved in illicit activities related to logging or intimidation of forest patrollers.
      Inclusion of the significance and inclusion of Prey Lang forest in the Cambodian national curriculum.
      Confiscation of all chain saws around the Prey Lang area.
      Ban the selling of all types of wood and wood crafts around Prey Lang, as well as saw mills
      Observe and investigate the land concessions around Prey Lang areas.
Read the Prey Lang Community Network’s monitoring report on the current status of Prey Lang at:

      Peter H. Gleick, "Water Strategies for the Next Administration: Water policy offers opportunity for nonpartisan agreement," Science, November 4, 2016, comments that the U.S. is urgently in need of an appropriate water policy, as "Water problems directly threaten food production, fisheries, energy generation, foreign policy, public health, and international security. Access to safe, sufficient and affordable water is vital to well being and to the economy. Yet the U.S. water systems, once the envy of the world, are falling into disrepair and new threats loom." The article provides an analysis of the problem complex and how it might be approached. reported and commented, January 25, 2017,, "It's been 48 hours since Trump signed his executive actions on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and already more than 50,000 people have pledged to fight these projects to the end.
      Trump made it seem like he was approving these pipelines, but he didn't. Both Dakota Access and Keystone XL face legal, procedural and financial hurdles -- not to mention the multi-million person opposition to his administration.
       If you're ready and committed to take action to stop these projects, take the Pledge of Resistance to get plugged in to action opportunities to stop Keystone XL, Dakota Access and fossil fuel projects everywhere.
      We've stopped these pipelines before, and we can do it again.       Here's what you need to know about Trump's actions on Tuesday:

> He did *not* approve Keystone XL or Dakota Access. He briefly succeeded in confusing a lot of people on this point (including me, I will admit).

> On Dakota Access, he told the Army Corps of Engineers that the pipeline is in our "national interest" and told them to "consider" revoking the environmental review placed on it by the Obama Administration.

> On Keystone XL, he invited TransCanada to re-apply and if they do, mandated a final decision on the pipeline within 60 days and waived input from environmental agencies.

> And when TransCanada does re-apply, they no longer have permits in Nebraska, and their permits in South Dakota are being challenged.

> Trump also placed conditions on approval of the pipelines -- like limiting oil exports, and determining where the steel comes from -- that the oil companies might not accept.
And even if either pipeline moves forward, they will face a fierce, mobilized resistance from Indigenous communities and landowners who will bear the biggest impacts of spills and toxic pollution on their lands.
      In other words: it ain't over until it's over -- and it's definitely not over. Every pledge is a demonstration that this mass movement is prepared and ready to resist. We, the signers, are a warning to any company, bank, or politician who chooses to support fossil fuel projects that will further tip our climate past its limits.
       More than 50,000 people have already pledged. Together we can make a huge impact. Join the Pledge of Pipeline Resistance.
      These pipelines will transport more oil that we don't need, and that our climate can't bear. We have the solutions to transform our energy system -- and we have the power and will to fight for them."

       Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the expansion of the Kinder-Morgan Pipeline in Western Alberta, linking the Alberta Tar Sands to an oil port in British Columbia. The pipeline's capacity is to be increased from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day ("Trudeau Approves Oil Pipeline Expansion in Canada," The New York Times, November 30, 2016).

       The rupture of a pipeline in Alabama, in September 2016, reduced gasoline supplies in the southeastern U.S., raising gasoline prices, while likely causing environmental damage. Perhaps 360,000 gallons of gasoline spilled in Shelby County, south of Birmingham, AL (Alan Blinder, "Gas Prices Rise in
South After Rupture in a Pipeline," The New York Times, September 20, 2016).
      Another Pipeline burst in Alabama, October 30, 2016. The Colonial gas pipeline broke with a fiery explosion south of Birmingham. People were evacuated from within three miles of the break, as the gas escaping from the pipe was allowed to burn off ("Fiery Pipeline Explosion in Alabama," The New York Times, November 1, 2016).

      Daphne Wysham, "This City Just Banned Virtually All New Dirty-Energy Infrastructure:  Portland, Oregon has adopted a first-of-its-kind offensive strategy to prevent new oil, gas, and coal export facilities from being built," Institute for Policy Studies, December 21, 2016,, reported, "On December 14, the city council in Portland, Oregon, voted unanimously to set “the first stone in a green wall across the West Coast,” in the words of Mayor Charlie Hales. He was referring to a groundbreaking new zoning ordinance that effectively bans all new fossil-fuel-export infrastructure within the city’s limits—including new port facilities for shipping coal, and holding tanks for oil and natural gas—and prevents existing facilities from expanding. The vote marks a hard-fought victory for local activists and environmental groups. And, in anticipation of the Trump administration’s pro–fossil fuel agenda, it signals to other cities that innovative action to counter climate change is still possible at a local level."

      Clifford Kraus, "BP Struggles to Control Damaged Well in Alaskan Arctic," The  New York Times, April16, 2017,, reported, " The British oil giant BP worked through the weekend to control a damaged oil well on Alaska’s remote North Slope that had started spewing natural gas vapors on Friday morning, the company and Alaska officials said.
`There have been no injuries or reports of damage to wildlife, but crews trying to secure the well have failed amid frigid winds gusting to 38 miles an hour."

       A rise in oil prices has brought increased production in Texas, but with increased automation there has not been a corresponding increase in jobs. [Expansion of wind and solar power, in contrast, has been, and is expected to continue to, greatly increase employment] (Clifford Krauss, "Texas Oil Fields Rebound From Price Lull, but Jobs Are Left Behind: The industry is embracing technology, and finding new ways to pare the labor force. But as jobs go away, what of presidential promises to bring them back?" The New York Times, February 19, 2017,

      The Tennessee Valley Authority announced, in September, that it is selling the partially constructed Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Alabama at a huge loss, the site to be used for other purposes ("Partially Built Nuclear Plant To Be Sold at Huge Loss," The New York Times, September 12, 2016).

       Westinghouse Electric filed for bankruptcy, in March 2017, as a result of financial troubles in its massive nuclear construction projects in the U.S. South, raising questions about the soundness of the world's nuclear industry (Diane Cardwell and Lonathan Soble, "Bankruptcy Rocks Nuclear Industry," The New York Times, March 30, 2017). 

       The government of Great Britain, in June 2017, approved the building of a nuclear electric generating plant, the Hinkley Point C generating station, on the Somerset Coast (Stephen Castle, "Britain Gives O.K to Build Nuclear Plant Tied to China.," The New York Times, June16, 2016).

      Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, "Radioactive Boars in Fukushima Thwart Residents’ Plans to Return Home," The New York Times, March 9, 2017,, reported,       " Hundreds of toxic wild boars have been roaming across northern Japan , where the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant six years ago forced thousands of residents to desert their homes, pets and livestock. Some animals, like cattle, were left to rot in their pens.

      As Japan prepares to lift some evacuation orders on four towns within the more than 12-mile exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant later this month, officials are struggling to clear out the contaminated boars.
      Wild boar meat is a delicacy in northern Japan, but animals slaughtered since the disaster are too contaminated to eat. According to tests conducted by the Japanese government, some of the boars have shown levels of radioactive element cesium-137 that are 300 times higher than safety standards."

       Japan continues to struggle with the remnants of the Fukashima nuclear disaster. Among the ongoing problems are enormous amounts of highly radioactive waste. This encompasses: 400 tons of highly radioactive water produced every day, currently 3,519 containers of radioactive sludge, radioactive branches and logs from 220 acres of deforested land, 200,400 cubic meters of radioactive rubble (which may increase), 3.5 billion gallons of radioactive Soil, 1,573 Nuclear Fuel Rods that have to be kept cool, and an increasing amount continually being discarded protective clothing - as of  March 2017 having reached 64,700 cubic meters (Motoko Rich, "Struggling With Japan’s Nuclear Waste, Six Years After Disaster," The New York Times, March 11, 2017,

      Tatiana Schlossberg, "In Reversal, E.P.A. Eases Path for a Mine Near Alaska’s Bristol Bay," The New York Times, May 12, 2017,, "In another reversal of Obama administration policy, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it had settled a lawsuit over a mine on Alaska’s Bristol Bay, one of the world’s most productive salmon fisheries."
      "Friday’s settlement allows the company [Pebble Limited Partnership], to file a new application for a permit, which it has said it will do. That effectively undercuts the E.P.A.’s previous determinations , based on years of scientific study, that the proposed mine on state land would be a risk to the long-term health of the fishery and wider ecosystem." Development of the Pebble Mine, which would involve using highly toxic chemicals, would also be a direct threat to the Native population living near where the mining would take place.

      The Tennessee Valley Authority's Gallatin Fossil Fuel Plant produces a good deal of electricity from burning coal, with an annual residue of 200,000 tons of coal ash. The toxic ash is mixed with water and stored in pits and ponds. It has been leaking into ground water and the river, potentially threatening water supplies, according to two law suits. over all, more than 100 million tons of coal ash is produced in the U.S. each year, creating a huge hazardous waste problem (Iatania Schlossberg, "Hidden Peril of Coal Ash To Water Many Drink," The New York Times, April 16, 2017).

       Cambodia's lime stone karsts are home to unique plants and animals, as well as small temples and shrines, but the karsts are being destroyed to use the limestone to make cement and the entire habitat and the cultural and sacred sites are being destroyed in the process (Julia Wallace, "Ground to Dust," The New York Times, April 30, 2017).

      Tatiana Schlossberg,      "Trillions of Plastic Bits, Swept Up by Current, Are Littering Arctic Waters," The New York Times, April 19, 2017,, reported, "The world’s oceans are littered with trillions of pieces of plastic — bottles, bags, toys, fishing nets and more, mostly in tiny particles — and now this seaborne junk is making its way into the Arctic.
      In a study published Wednesday in Science Advances, a group of researchers from the University of Cádiz in Spain and several other institutions show that a major ocean current is carrying bits of plastic, mainly from the North Atlantic, to the Greenland and Barents seas, and leaving them there — in surface waters, in sea ice and possibly on the ocean floor.
       Because climate change is already shrinking the Arctic sea ice cover , more human activity in this still-isolated part of the world is increasingly likely as navigation becomes easier. As a result, plastic pollution, which has grown significantly around the world since 1980, could spread more widely in the Arctic in decades to come, the researchers say."

       Long Island's Great South Bay, once the source of 90% of the U.S. shellfish consumed in the U.S., has become increasingly polluted, causing the collapse of its shellfish industry. New York State recently passed the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, with a $2.5 billion appropriation, that among other things aims to clean up sewage and septic systems polluting the bay, as well as protecting drinking water (Lisa Foderaro, "Long Island Sees Its Water Go From Bad To Alarming," The New York Times, May 9, 2017).

      Danny Hakim, "Monsanto Weed Killer Roundup Faces New Doubts on Safety in Unsealed Documents," The New York Times, March 15, 2017,, reported, " The reputation of Roundup, whose active ingredient is the world’s most widely used weed killer, took a hit on Tuesday when a federal court unsealed documents raising questions about its safety and the research practices of its manufacturer, the chemical giant Monsanto ."
      "The court documents included Monsanto’s internal emails and email traffic between the company and federal regulators. The records suggested that Monsanto had ghostwritten research that was later attributed to academics and indicated that a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency had worked to quash a review of Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, that was to have been conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
      The documents also revealed that there was some disagreement within the E.P.A. over its own safety assessment."

       Nika Knight, " EPA Rejects Own Science to Greenlight Brain-Damaging Pesticide: 'EPA chief Pruitt's move rejecting his scientists' advice to ban a pesticide? That's exactly what the pesticide maker, DowChem, asked for, “Common Dreams, March 30, 2017, Common Dreams, reported, " Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt denied a 10-year-old petition late Wednesday to ban the use of chlorpyrifos , a widely-used pesticide that harms children's brains, in a decision that outraged public health advocates and environmentalists.
       In greenlighting the dangerous chemical, the EPA defied its own research —and acquiesced to Dow Chemical, the maker of chlorpyrifos, which has been lobbying the agency for years to allow the pesticide's continued use.
       'Without the ban, farmworkers, their children, and others can't escape exposure because the poison is in [the] air they breathe, in the food they eat, the soil where children play.'
      —Erik Nicholson, United Farm Workers
      As the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) observed: 'The Trump EPA's denial of the NRDC and Pesticide Action Network 2007 petition to ban chlorpyrifos contradicts EPA's own analysis from November 2016 (just five months ago!) that found widespread risk to children from residues of the pesticide on food, in drinking water, and in the air in agricultural communities. Up until last night, EPA explained that because of these risks a ban was needed to protect children's health.'
       Environmental law group Earthjustice listed the risks the EPA discovered through its own research into chlorpyrifos:

All exposure to chlorpyrifos through food exceeds safe levels of the chemical. The most exposed population is children between one and two years of age. On average, this vulnerable group is exposed to 140 times the level of chlorpyrifos the EPA deems safe.

      Chlorpyrifos contaminates drinking water.

      Chlorpyrifos drifts to schools, homes, and fields in toxic amounts at more than 300 feet from the fields.

      Workers face unacceptable risks from exposures when they mix and apply chlorpyrifos and when they enter fields to tend to crops.
      There is little doubt about the science. Mother Jones'       Tom Philpott reported that 'Stephanie Engel, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina and a co-author of [a major study on chlorpyrifos at Mount Sinai], says the evidence that chlorpyrifos exposure causes harm is 'compelling'—and is 'much stronger' even than the case against BPA (bisphenol A), the controversial plastic additive. She says babies and fetuses are particularly susceptible to damage from chlorpyrifos because they metabolize toxic chemicals more slowly than adults do. And 'many adults' are susceptible, too, because they lack a gene that allows for metabolizing the chemical efficiently, Engel adds.'
      And the New York Times reported that 'Jim Jones, who ran the chemical safety unit at the EPA for five years, and spent more than 20 years working there until he left the agency in January when President Trump took office, said he was disappointed by Mr. Pruitt's action. 'They are ignoring the science that is pretty solid,' Mr. Jones said.'
The decision is in line with Pruitt's anti-science, pro-corporate stance. Yet advocates and researchers who have followed the years-long campaign to end the use of chlorpyrifos were still shocked by Pruitt's outrageous move.
      As a result of Pruitt's decision, children and farmworkers nationwide are endangered, rights advocates and environmental groups charge.
      'Without the ban, farmworkers, their children, and others can't escape exposure because the poison is in [the] air they breathe, in the food they eat, the soil where children play,' observed Erik Nicholson, national vice president of United Farm Workers. 'We all have a basic right to a healthy life.'
Some further argued that the decision breaks the law.
      'We have a law that requires the EPA to ban pesticides that it cannot determine are safe, and the EPA has repeatedly said this pesticide is not safe," Patti Goldman, managing attorney at Earthjustice, told the New York Times.
      Earthjustice has vowed to fight Pruitt's decision in court, reported NPR.'"

      "Argentina: Harvard 'Pauses' Investments in Certain Fossil Fuels," Cultural Survival, May 08, 2017,, reported, " After years of pressure from students and community groups, In April 2017 , Harvard University announced that it will 'pause' its investments is certain fossil fuel interests - including minerals, oil, and gas - citing the pressing problem of climate change as a reason to reevaluate their investment portfolio. This so-called “pause” in investment does not necessarily guarantee the freezing of new investments, and divestment from all indirect ties - two things that student activist group Divest Harvard has been calling for. However, it is still an important breakthrough in pushing Harvard to invest its 36-billion dollar endowment according to standards of environmental and social responsibility.
       Harvard’s statement stopped short of addressing concerns on the environmental and social impact of its other investments. Aside from heavy investment in fossil fuels, Harvard also invests over 10% of its endowment, approximately $3 billion, in natural resource projects across the world. With a move away from fossil fuels, Harvard may be doubling down on this 'green' investment area of its portfolio. According to a piece in the Harvard Crimson entitled “Harvard’s Timber Empire”. The timber holdings in particular include plantations in Argentina, New Zealand,      Romania, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Ecuador.
       Harvard Management Company is the largest shareholder in two Argentinian timber companies, Empresas Verdes Argentinas Sociedad Anonima and Las Misiones S.A., which control hundreds of square miles of monocropped pine and eucalyptus plantations the Iberá wetlands of Argentina, developed without the Free, Prior, Informed Consent of the Guaraní Indigenous communities who call the area home.
       The Iberá wetlands system , protected under the Ramsar Convention, in Northern Argentina in the Corrientes province, is one of the world’s largest freshwater bodies and is home to 30% of Argentina’s biodiversity. Many endangered species, including the maned wolf, caimans, pampas deer, neo-tropical river otter, and marsh deer, all depend upon the wetlands for survival. It is the ancestral territory of the Guarani Indigenous Peoples, who have lived in and around the Iberá wetlands for generations, their livelihoods dependent upon the wetlands. The monocropped timber plantations have destroyed their ancestral land, which holds cultural and spiritual significance, changing the water table dramatically and creating water shortages in nearby communities. The invasive plantations have destroyed the biodiversity in over half of the wetlands.
      In April 2014, Adrián Obregón, a Guarani community leader, met with the Harvard Management Company to ask them to divest from the plantations and invest in responsible and sustainable initiatives. Kevin Galvin, a spokesman from the university, alluded to their Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification to justify their investments in timber companies and other plantations. This certification does not require Harvard to comply with Indigenous Peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent, however, and so it does not justify the violation of this right.
      In his meeting with the Harvard Management Company, Adrián Obregón said “Many of the residents of Montaña have the plantations right on top of them. Around the Ipacarapá Lagoon, which forms part of our ancestral territory - my grandfather’s house was on the edge of it - the whole area is planted with pine trees now, right up to the water. There is only a small area of native forest left and we can’t access it without ‘intruding’ on private property.”
       Harvard students have joined the throng of outraged voices after a report from the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition and the Oakland Institute illuminated the environmental concerns and levels of poverty caused by the plantations. Protests outside of University President Drew Faust’s office have called for an end to these investments.
      It remains to be seen how Harvard’s so called pause in fossil fuel investment may impact the rest of their portfolio. But activists are to see that Harvard’s establishment politics may be moving in the direction of divestment, and that their portfolio is not immune to public pressure.
      Bill McKibben, co-founder of climate campaign group, told the Guardian: 'The significance is enormous: the richest and most famous educational institution on our planet is now siding with the future, not the past.'”

      The economically fairly poor island of Samso, Denmark, has become a model of green energy, selling its surplus of solar and wind power to the Danish mainland, as described in Tom A. Peter, "An Island of Green," Christian Science Monitor Weekly, April 17, 2017.

      A move to switch from gasoline to diesel powered vehicles, together with the burning of wood in private homes, has caused record levels of pollution during the winter in London, England. Unlike the great smog of 1952, and other previous years of "London fog", the current pollution is largely toxic nitrogen-dioxide, estimated to kill 23,500 people in Britain a year (Kimoko de Feyatas-Tamura, "A Push for Diesel Leaves London Gasping Amid Record Air Pollution," The New York Times, February 18, 2017).

       Climate Change appears to be increasing the terrible smog in China, that the government has been trying to decrease. Studies show that winds have been lessening in Northern China that reduce the amount of smog over urban areas as they blow some of it away (Javier C. Hernandez, "Climate Change May Be Intensifying China’s Smog Crisis," The New York Times, March 24, 2017,

      An increase in steel pollution in China - despite promises to reduce it - is reported by Greenpeace to have significantly increased sickening air pollution in northern China, especially around Beijing (Edward Wong, "Greenpeace Links Beijing Pollution to Steel Plants," The New York Times, February 17, 2017).

      In America’s Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying ‘Climate Change’.," The New York Times, January            28, 2017,, "Doug Palen, a fourth-generation grain farmer on Kansas’ wind-swept plains, is in the business of understanding the climate. Since 2012, he has choked through the harshest drought to hit the Great Plains in a century, punctuated by freakish snowstorms and suffocating gales of dust. His planting season starts earlier in the spring and pushes deeper into winter.
      To adapt, he has embraced an environmentally conscious way of farming that guards against soil erosion and conserves precious water. He can talk for hours about carbon sequestration — the trapping of global-warming-causing gases in plant life and in the soil — or the science of the beneficial microbes that enrich his land.
      In short, he is a climate change realist. Just don’t expect him to utter the words “climate change.”

      An unusually fast and intense (by previous standards) snow storm accompanied by previously rare thunder, dumped up to 18" of snow in parts of New England and 14" in New York City, accompanied by 35 mile and hour winds caused some transportation problems and power outages, February 9-10, 2017 ("Snowstorm Hits the Northeast," The New York Times, February 9, 2017,

      In what is likely another example of climate change, Nicholas Fandos, "Cherry Blossoms in Washington Could Peak Early," The New York Times, March 2, 2017,, reported, " The iconic blossoming cherry trees that ring the Tidal Basin here have symbolized the arrival of spring for nearly a century. This year, they will be one more sign of wacky and warming weather.
      The National Park Service, which maintains the trees, said on Wednesday that the pink and white blossoms could reach their peak as soon as March 14, a full three weeks earlier than normal. If the flowers indeed pop on that date, it will be the earliest bloom on record."
       Also an example of climate change is, by previous standards, an unusual late winter storm and cold snap that could bring East Coast temperatures below freezing as far south as Northern Florida, among other things threatening to kill the DC Cherry blossoms just as they are reaching their height (The weather section of The New York Times, March 15, 2017).

      With Tornado season now much longer, on November 30, 2016, tornadoes killed 5 people and damaged dozens of homes and businesses in Polk County, TN and Rosailie, AL ("Deadly Tornadoes Rip Through Alabama and Tennessee," The New York Times, November 30, 2016).
       Another tornado, in what previously would have been out of season, struck Hattiesburg, MS, January 21, 2016, killing four people and destroying and damaging numerous buildings ("Tornado Kills 4 People in Hattiesburg, Miss.," The New York Times, January 21, 2016,
      The unusually strong thunder storm weather continuing, Richard Fausset and Jonah Engel Bromwich,  "At Least 18 Die as Tornadoes Sweep Southeast U.S.," The New York Times, January 22, 2017,, — " At least 18 people were killed and 43 more injured in Georgia and Mississippi after thunderstorms and tornadoes roared through the South this weekend, leaving some things standing and some things fallen, some lives whole and others blown to bits."

      Several days of heavy rain resulted in flash flooding across the Carolinas during the week of April 23, 2017, closing roads and raising river levels that were still rising on April 23 (, April 23, 2017,
      The same set of severe storms continued across the central U.S. over April 25, causing flooding and damaging buildings in Arkansas, with flooding expected in Oklahoma, as strong winds and possible tornados expected from Texas and Louisiana north to Missouri and Illinois ( Ashley Williams, "Reports: Arkansas roads flooded, buildings damaged as severe storms pummel central US," AccuWeather, April 26, 2017,
       The continuing set of storms caused flooding, destruction and at least nine deaths from tornados and flooding across the Midwest and South, while Kansas suffered a late season blizzard, closing roads. In Texas four tornados swept an area 35 miles long and 15, and one tornado may have been on the ground for 40 miles! There was flooding or wind damage in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama ("Tornadoes and Flooding in South and Midwest Kill at Least 9," The New York Times, April 30,2017,

      As climate change brings larger and larger storms more often: Richard Perez-Pena, "Destructive Storm System Bruises the Nation’s Midsection," The New York Times, May 4, 2017,, reported, " Across a broad swath of the nation’s midsection, people fought on Thursday to hold back floodwaters, repair tornado damage and dry out homes and businesses, after a powerful storm front stretching nearly a thousand miles barreled through, bringing destructive winds and more than a foot of rain in places.
Over several days, punishing weather from that system struck from Texas to Michigan, with the heaviest downpours in eastern Arkansas and eastern Missouri ; at least 20 deaths have been traced to the storms, which have also flooded thousands of homes and displaced their occupants. By Thursday, as the storms moved eastward, flood warnings were in effect across Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, and on Friday, the front was expected to drench a region spanning from Tennessee, across the Ohio River Valley, the Carolinas, the Northeast and into Canada.

       Hundreds of roads were closed by flooding and debris, and several small communities were the hardest hit, leaving some accessible only by boat."
       About 70 percent of the 2017 Texas peach crop was lost, as early hot weather brought the peach trees into bloom early, with a freeze following killing many of the flowers ("Texas peach crop nipped in the bud by too warm weather," Albuquerque Journal, April 23, 2017).

      Jack Healy, "Burying Their Cattle, Ranchers Call Wildfires ‘Our Hurricane Katrina’ The New York Times, March 20, 2017,, reported, "Death comes with raising cattle: coyotes, blizzards and the inevitable trip to the slaughterhouse and dinner plate. But after 30 years of ranching, Mark and Mary Kaltenbach were not ready for what met them after a wildfire charred their land and more than one million acres of rain-starved range this month.
      Dozens of their Angus cows lay dead on the blackened ground, hooves jutting in the air. Others staggered around like broken toys, unable to see or breathe, their black fur and dark eyes burned, plastic identification tags melted to their ears. Young calves lay dying.
      Ranching families across this countryside are now facing an existential threat to a way of life that has sustained them since homesteading days: years of cleanup and crippling losses after wind-driven wildfires across Kansas, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle killed seven people and devoured homes, miles of fences and as much as 80 percent of some families’ cattle herds."

       The outbreak of a great many wild fires in the western United States, in late spring 2017, especially in Arizona, was causing major air quality problems from the smoke in the western portions of the Navajo Nation (Krista Allen, "Smoke from wild fires is concern in Western Navajo," Navajo Times, June 15, 2017).

       Global warming induced climate change continues to bring more extreme weather, sometimes in pairs of opposites as hit the U.S. west coast in January when somewhat eased severe long term drought, especially in California, was broken by a series of storms with tremendous rains and snow bringing floods from Southern California to Portland Oregon. On one day, Long Beach, CA received a record 1.54" while record snows brought many feet snow pack to the Sierra Nevada, quickly going from very little to 163% of normal. 12 feet of snow fell at the ski area at Taho, while Crater Lake in Oregon received some 8 feet of snow, and a foot fell in southwest Washington, that normally receives precipitation as rain. There was severe flooding, evacuations and rescues in some areas, including near Sacramento, CA (Adam Nagourney, "It Never Rains in California (It Pours)," The New York Times, January 14, 2017; and Marcio J. Sanchez and Janie Har, "Drought-ending storms swamp Northwest," Albuquerque Journal, January 12, 2017).
       With the continued switch of extremes, drought to flood, the Oroville Dam, in Oroville, CA went from perhaps record low to record high, necessitating emergency water release to keep the reservoir from overflowing. That brought: Mike McPhate and Jess Bidgood, "In Shadow of California Dam, Water Turns From Wish to Woe," The New York Times, February 13, 2017,, reported, " It wasn’t so long ago that residents here had to drag their houseboats into a dusty field from the barren banks of Lake Oroville, which had almost no water left to keep them afloat.
       Now after weeks of rain, that dusty field is swelling with water and nearly 200,000 people had to evacuate the area when the state’s second-largest reservoir developed a hole in its auxiliary spillway and threatened to catastrophically flood nearby towns."
      Thomas Fuller, "California, Parched for 5 Years, Is Now Battered by Water," The New York Times, February 18, 2017,, reported, " A powerful storm with near hurricane-force winds swept through Southern California on Saturday, killing at least two people and causing widespread disruptions, but providing a definitive respite from five years of drought.
       Amid one of the wettest winters in decades, more heavy rainfall was due to strike Northern California starting on Sunday.
       'I’ve been a meteorologist here for 25 years and I personally can’t remember a storm that had that much wind with it,' said David Sweet in the Los Angeles office of the National Weather Service. “It was a very impressive storm.”
       Parched for the past five years, California now finds itself in some areas with too much water.
      Workers have rushed to fix the damaged embankment of the Oroville Dam north of Sacramento, which this past week was weakened by water discharged from an emergency spillway. Some forecasts said that the area could be hardest hit by the new round of rainfall on Sunday.
       At the Port of Los Angeles, winds reached 75 miles an hour on Friday, just above the threshold to be considered a hurricane, Mr. Sweet said. Rainfall on some inland mountain slopes reached nine inches, the same amount of precipitation that would normally fall during an entire winter month.
      Mr. Sweet described a plume of moisture extending from Hawaii to Southern California, bringing with it tropical moisture. 'It was an atmospheric river,' he said.
      The combination of wind and rain knocked down trees across the Los Angeles area, prompted mudslides, flooded freeways and opened up a sink hole in the San Fernando Valley large enough to almost swallow two cars.
      Tens of thousands of Southern California residents lost power during the storm, portions of Amtrak train service were suspended and dozens of flights were canceled or delayed."

      As a likely indicator of climate change, The English City of Carlisle has received three huge deluging storms since 2005 of a scale that previously occurred only once every 200 years ("Storms in Succession The New York Times, September 13, 2016).

      Unusually strong winds and dryness spread wildfire through Haifa and areas of Northern Israel for a number of days, in November 2016, devouring forests, damaging homes and other buildings and prompting the evacuation of thousands of people (Isabel Kershner, Israeli Officials Pointing to Arson as Wildfires Rage for Third Day," The New York Times, November 25, 2016).

      Darishia Bastian, "Floods in Sri Lanka Displace Half a Million," The New York Times, May 28, 2017,, reported, "Flooding and mudslides in Sri Lanka over the weekend left more than 150 people dead and almost half a million displaced after the worst torrential rains to hit the tropical island nation since 2003."       Russell Goldman, "Mudslide in Colombia: Death Toll Surges to More Than 230)," The New York Times, April 1, 2017,, reported, "More than 230 people were killed, many of them asleep in their beds, when a giant wall of water carrying tons of mud and debris surged through a city in southwest Colombia on Saturday after heavy rains caused a nearby river to overflow, officials said."
       The Columbia mudslide was one of many caused by widespread far from what has been normal very heavy rains. Nicholas Casey and Andrea Zarate, "Mud Erased a Village in Peru, a Sign of Larger Perils in South America," The New York Times, April 6, 2017,, reported, " A catastrophic mudslide essentially erased Barba Blanca from the map last month. Yet somehow all 150 people who lived here in this Peruvian village managed to escape."
      " Large parts of South America have been pummeled for weeks by torrential rains that are wreaking havoc throughout the western region of the continent. Floods and destructive mudslides in Peru , Ecuador and Colombia have killed hundreds and displaced thousands more."

       Jonathan Watts, and Mauricio Weibel, "Deadly wildfire razes entire town in Chile: 'Literally like Dante's Inferno': One body found in smoldering ruins of Santa Olga, the worst-hit of several smaller communities, as hot, dry weather fuels fiercest fires in recent history," The Guardian, January 26, 2017,, reported, " An entire town has been consumed by flames in Chile as unusually hot, dry weather undermined efforts to combat the worst forest fires in the country’s recent history .

       More than 1,000 buildings, including schools, nurseries, shops and a post office were destroyed in Santa Olga, the biggest of several communities to be reduced to ashes in the Maule region."
      Pascale Bonnepoy, "Flooding Leaves Millions Without Water in Santiago, Chile," The New York Times, February 27, 2017,, reported, " Rapid runoff of rainfall near Santiago, Chile , has paradoxically left millions of the capital city’s residents without water.
      The rains caused flooding and destructive mudslides on vulnerable mountainsides near the city over the weekend, killing at least three people, with 19 more reported missing.

      The mudslides and floods in turn contaminated the Maipo River, a main source of drinking water for much of Santiago and the surrounding metropolitan region. The water utility Aguas Andinas, whose plants draw from the river, suspended service on Sunday for about 1.5 million customers, affecting a total of about five million residents."
       Northern North Korea suffered severe rains bringing the worst flooding in many years, in September 2016, causing tens of thousands of people to lose homes (Choe Sang-Hun, "North Korea Draws Aid In Response To Flooding: Emergency Food For Over 140,000," The New York Times, September 15, 2016).

      Jeffrey Gettleman, "Drought and War Heighten Threat of Not Just 1 Famine, but 4," The New York Times,  March 27, 2017,, reported that climate change combined with war are having a deadly impact, " Another famine is about to tighten its grip on Somalia . And it’s not the only crisis that aid agencies are scrambling to address. For the first time since anyone can remember, there is a very real possibility of four famines — in Somalia , South Sudan , Nigeria and Yemen — breaking out at once, endangering more than 20 million lives."

       With rain still falling, heavy rains across much of Sri Lanka had already caused extensive flooding and mud slides, in late May 2016, that had displaced 500,000 people (Dharisha Bastians, "Floods in Sri Lank Displace Half a
Million," The New York Times,  May 29, 2017).

       A major cyclone in the area of Bangladesh, where most of the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar were living, destroyed 17,000 homes and damage 35,000 others. Authorities evacuated 450,000 people before the storm hit (Nida Najar and Maher Sattar, "Cyclone in Bangladesh Wreaks Havoc on Rohingya Migrants Camps," The New York Times,  May 31, 2017).

      Henry Fountain, "Sydney’s Swelter Has a Climate Change Link, Scientists Say." The New York Times, March 2, 2017,, reported, Australia has suffered through a series of brutal heat waves over the past two months, with temperatures reaching a scorching 113 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the state of New South Wales."
      "Her analysis, conducted with a loose-knit group of researchers called World Weather Attribution, was made public on Thursday. Their conclusion was that climate change made maximum temperatures like those seen in January and February at least 10 times more likely than a century ago, before significant greenhouse gas emissions from human activity started warming the planet.
      Looked at another way, that means that the kind of soaring temperatures expected to occur in New South Wales once every 500 years on average now may occur once every 50 years. What is more, the researchers found that if climate change continued unabated, such maximum temperatures may occur on average every five years."

      Jacqueline Williams, "Cyclone Debbie Strikes Queensland in Australia With Full Fury," The New York Times, March 27, 2017,, reported, " A powerful cyclone packing wind gusts as high as 160 miles per hour struck the northeastern coast of Australia on Tuesday, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee, leaving 48,000 homes without power and drenching Queensland with heavy rains.
      The Category 4 storm, named Cyclone Debbie, battered the tourist islands off the coast before hitting the mainland with its full fury, gathering enough force that officials feared the potential for widespread damage. Aggravating the situation was the storm’s slow, potent march onto the coastline.
       'Debbie is a very large, slow-moving system,' said John Fowler, a spokesman for Ergon Energy, noting that 48,000 customers were without power in the Bowen, Whitsunday and Mackay areas. “This one is actually taking its time, so the longer it takes, the more damage it will do — not just to our network but obviously to property as well.'”

      The New Mexico Rio Grande Pueblos of Isleta, Sandia, Santa Ana and Cochiti came together with the Audubon Society and the Club at Las Campanas, a Santa Fe golf course, to return important water flow to the Rio Grande River. The Pueblos and the club each contributed around 100 acre-feet of their water from the San Juan-Chama diversion project, while the Audubon Society worked closely with the Middle Rio Grande Conservation District on bringing the San Juan-Chama water to the Rio Grande, and sought New Mexico state funding for habitat restoration on tribal land (Sandra Postal, "Native Americans and Conservationists Collaborate to Return Vital Flow to the Rio Grande," National Geographic's Freshwater Currents, September 28, 2016).

      Studies have found that the world's oceans have always been near the point of anoxia, oxygen depletion to the point that they cannot support life, and past environmental crises have caused very wide spread anoxia. Currently, oxygen levels in the oceans are dropping, partly as the result of human activity that has increased the nutrients flowing down rivers into oceans, but more importantly as a direct result of global warming (Andrew J. Watson, "Oceans on the edge of anoxia," Science, December 23, 2016).

       Rising global temperatures are reducing ocean fish populations. A study of 892 ocean species finds that, over fishing and other factors aside, a rise in atmospheric temperature of 1.5 degree C. would cause global fish losses of 2.5%. At 3.5 degrees increase in global temperature, fish losses would rise 8% over all, but in tropical locations fish declines would be between 20% and 80% (Elizabeth A. Fulton, "A stich in time saves nine...billion," Science, December 23, 2016).

       Kelsey J. Pieper, Min Tang, and Marc A. Edwards, "Flint Water Crisis Caused By Interrupted Corrosion Control: Investigating “Ground Zero” Home," ACS Publications, February 1, 2017,,reported, Flint, Michigan switched to the Flint River as a temporary drinking water source without implementing corrosion control in April 2014. Ten months later, water samples collected from a Flint residence revealed progressively rising water lead levels (104, 397, and 707 μg/L) coinciding with increasing water discoloration. An intensive follow-up monitoring event at this home investigated patterns of lead release by flow rate–all water samples contained lead above 15 μg/L and several exceeded hazardous waste levels (>5000 μg/L). Forensic evaluation of exhumed service line pipes compared to water contamination 'fingerprint' analysis of trace elements, revealed that the immediate cause of the high water lead levels was the destabilization of lead-bearing corrosion rust layers that accumulated over decades on a galvanized iron pipe downstream of a lead pipe. After analysis of blood lead data revealed spiking lead in blood of Flint children in September 2015, a state of emergency was declared and public health interventions (distribution of filters and bottled water) likely averted an even worse exposure event due to rising water lead levels."
       Ben Panko, "Scientists Now Know Exactly How Lead Got Into Flint's Water: New report points blames corrosion and warns that fixing lead poisoning nationwide will require more work than we hoped,", February 3, 2017,, reported further, " This suspicion isn’t limited to Flint. Guyette says that on his travels across the country, he's encountered many Americans who now know and worry about lead in their own drinking water. 'What this study does is only add to the evidence of how widespread the concern should be,' he says. Edwards is now working to study the efficacy of Flint's citywide efforts to replace lead pipes, and says this study is just the first step in getting the full picture.
      'A lot of work still needs to be done to better understand the origins of this manmade disaster,' Edwards says.
       While Flint is also planning to replace galvanized iron pipes as well as lead pipes, Guyette says, there are thousands of cities across America where lead and iron pipes have been and are still being used together. While Walters had plastic pipes inside of her house, many older homes have galvanized iron pipes in their walls, meaning that removing any chance of lead contamination would take costly renovations."

       A meeting of the Gold King Mine Spill Citizens Advisory Committee, held almost two years after the spill from the mine in Colorado into the Animas and San Juan Rivers, was told by experts that the condition of the rivers in the aftermath was complex, and the degree of safety or usability of the river and its waters depended on the specific use (Alysa Landry, "Are the rivers safe yet? It's complicated, committee hear," Navajo Times, May 28, 2017).

       Faced with the shrinking of Ponyang, China's largest freshwater lake, the local government has proposed building a 10,000 foot slice gate, to keep more water in the lake in the winter. But environmental scientists object, saying that damming the lake in that way would interrupt regular water cycles and cause great ecological damage (Mike Ives, "As China's Largest Freshwater Lake Shrinks, a Solution Faces Criticism," The New York Times, December 29, 2016).

      Gerry Mullany, "Dust Storms Blanket Beijing and Northern China," The New York Times, May 5, 2017,, reported, " Dust storms enveloped parts of northern China for a second day on Friday, reducing visibility in cities like Beijing and threatening the health of millions of people.
      Such storms have become an increasingly common phenomenon for the region, as China’s deserts expand by gobbling up roughly 1,300 square miles a year. A half-century ago, such storms happened every seven or eight years; now they are an annual occurrence.
      The storms typically happen in the spring, as strong winds send soil and sand from the Gobi Desert over northern China and even the Korean Peninsula.
      This week’s dust storms led to the cancellation of scores of flights and caused pollution in northern China to soar. Beijing’s air-quality index hit a dangerous level of 623 on Thursday; the United States government rates readings above 200 as '“very unhealthy' and 301 to 500 as 'hazardous.'
       Experts tie the problem to the rapid urbanization of northern China, deforestation and climate change. The government has spent billions of dollars to plant forests to stop the creeping desertification, but some experts have questioned whether it has been effective enough in doing so."

      Thomas Erdbrink, "Protests in Iranian City Where ‘Everything Is Covered in Brown Dust’," The New York Times, February 19, 2017,, reported, " Days of protests over dust storms, power failures and government mismanagement in one of Iran ’s most oil-rich cities subsided on Sunday after security forces declared all demonstrations illegal.
      Residents of Ahvaz, a city with a majority Arab population near the border with Iraq, had been protesting for five days in increasingly large gatherings, shown in cellphone video clips shared on social media.
      The region around Ahvaz is a center of oil production in Iran, and since economic sanctions were lifted, Iran’s government has been hoping for foreign investment in the area to update refineries and power stations and fix deepening ecological problems."
      "Demonstrators can also be heard shouting, 'Unemployment, unemployment,' another big problem in the region, and urging their countrymen to offer assistance."
      Oil production was also affected, with the Ministry of Petroleum reporting that production had temporarily fallen by 700,000 barrels a day.
       In addition to the short-term effects of the dust storm, the city is wrestling with long-term environmental challenges.
      Ahvaz, home to around one million people, is surrounded by petrochemical factories that emit pollutants on a large scale.
      A 15-year drought, in combination with poorly planned dam building, has caused local marshes to dry up, increasing the level of dust particles in the air to record highs.

      " The World Health Organization said in 2015 that Ahvaz was the most polluted city in the world."
       A combination of heavy demand for water from oil drillers and the shrinking of glaciers due to global warming has been drying up the centuries old Karez tunnel irrigation system of China's Xinjiang Provence (Andrew Jacobs, " Xinjiang's Ancient Water Tunnels Are Running Dry," The New York Times, September 22, 2016).

      "Catastrophic dam inaugurated today in Ethiopia," Survival International, December 17, 2016,, reported, " One of the most controversial dams in history is to be inaugurated today. The Gibe III dam has put an end to the natural flooding of Ethiopia’s Omo River, on which 100,000 indigenous people depend and a further 100,000 rely indirectly.
       Experts have warned that this could also mean the end for Lake Turkana in Kenya – the world’s largest desert lake – and disaster for the 300,000 tribespeople living along its shores.
      The dam was built by Italian engineering giant Salini Impregilo, against which Survival has filed a formal complaint that is still ongoing. Plans are now underway to build the Gibe IV and Gibe V dams downriver.
       The Ethiopian government and Salini claimed that artificial floods would replace the natural floods, but for the past two years the authorities have failed to release enough water to sustain people’s livelihoods.
      Many are now reliant on food aid, which has not been delivered regularly or in sufficient quantities. One witness told a board member of International Rivers in November: 'The river does not provide for us anymore. My people are facing a big problem. The aid isn’t enough to live on.
       'The river continues to go down. The crocodiles are still in the river, but having problems. The fish are having trouble laying their eggs. Less and less fish each year'
      The region is one of the most important sites in early human evolution, and an area of exceptional biodiversity, with two World Heritage Sites and five national parks. The head of Kenya’s national conservation agency said in March that the dam was unleashing 'one of the worst environmental disasters you can imagine.'
      Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today: 'What is really being inaugurated today? Mounting hunger, insecurity and environmental destruction. For years experts urged the government and Salini to take caution – but they paid no heed. They may try to frame the ensuing famine as a natural disaster but this misery is of their own making.'”

       Ivory Coast has suffered perhaps the fastest deforestation in Africa, having lost 80 percent of the woodland it had in 1960, by 2010. Officials say the largest cause is the thousands of people who set up illegal cocoa farms in the midst of protected forest. Recently, the government has taken steps to end the practice, forcing perhaps 51,000 cocoa growers out of the forest. But no steps have been taken at resettlement, and the flood of refugees has been creating a humanitarian crisis (Sean Lyngaas, "From Dwindling Forests, a Flood of Refugees," The New York Times, December 2, 2016).

      The Navajo Nation Department of Health announced, in September 2016, that the Navajo Birth Cohort Study has found high concentrations of uranium in the urine of those studied. 21% of those studied had higher amounts of uranium in their urine than the national average, with more than a third of the men and almost a quarter of the women having uranium in their urine. Most disturbing is that Navajo young people have on average an increasing amount of the metal in their urine. As new born babies, the average is only .6%.  At six months that rises to 17%, and at one year 24%. The overall Navajo average of uranium concentration in Urine has also been increasing. In 2014, it was 7%. in 2016, it was 21%. Further study is needed to determine the geographical spread of the uranium contamination of people, resulting from year's of mining of the radioactive metal at over 500 sites on the reservation (Terry Bowman, "Study finds uranium in Navajo Babies," Navajo Times, September 22, 2016).

       The chemical industry in China suffered almost one accident a day from January to August 2016, with 232 reported, mostly involving highly toxic substances, killing 199 people and injuring 400, according to Chinese government data studied by Greenpeace (Javier Hernandez, "Grim Toll in China Chemical Accidents," The New York Times, September 22, 2016).

       Evidence that Monsanto's weed killer Roundup may pose health hazards, and that the company's research methods may be improper became public, in March, with the release of court documents in a case challenging Roundup's safety (Danny Hakim, "Herbicide Is Facing New Doubt on Safety," The New York Times, March 15, 2017).

       At least 2 million bees were killed by spraying of insecticide intended to kill mosquitos that carry zika virus, at an apiary in Summerville, SC, when a city employee failed to notify the apiary of the coming spraying (Alan Blinder, "Aimed at Zika Mosquitoes, Spray Kills Millions of Bees," The New York Times, September 2, 2016).

      Tatiana Schlossberg, "A Bumblebee Gets New Protection on Obama’s Way Out," The New York Times,  January 10, 2017, , reported, "The Obama administration, rushing to secure its environmental legacy, has increased protection for a humble bumblebee.
      The rusty-patched bumblebee, once common across the continental United States, has been designated an endangered species by the Fish and Wildlife Service: the country’s first bumblebee, and the first bee from the lower 48 states, to be added to the register. Seven bees were previously listed as endangered, but they are found only in Hawaii."

      As the Chinese middle class grows and demands more protine, including fish, China's world wide fishing fleet contributes to diminishing fish stocks around the world. 90% o the world's fiheries are fully exploited or facing collapse (Andrew, "China’s Appetite Pushes Fisheries to the Brink," The New York Times, April 30, 2017,       There are now only 30 vaquita porpoises left in the Gulf of Mexico, and the species seems on the brink of extinction (Elizabeth Malkin, :Little Hope for Tiny Porpoise," The New York Times, February 2, 2017).

       Ten Fishers, the second largest Weasel, were reintroduced to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, and thus to Washington State, December 2, 2016, a culturally important event to Tribes in the state, as well as a conservation advance ("Fishers Return to Washington State," Christian Science Monitor, December 26, 2016).

      Lynn V. Dicks, et al, " Ten policies for pollinators: What governments can do to safeguard pollination services," Science, November 2016, discusses the following " Ten pollinator policies" to protect bees and other pollinators: 1. Raise pesticide regulatory standards; 2. Promote integrated management (IPM); 3. Include indirect and subleathal effects in GM crop assessments; 4. Regulate movement of managed pollinators; 5. Develop incentives, such as insurance schemes, to help farmers benefit from ecosystem services instead of agrochemicals; 6. Recognize pollination as an agricultural input in extension services; 7. Support diversified farming systems; 8. Conserve and restore "green infrastructure" (a network of habitats that pollinators can move between) in agricultural and urban landscapes; 9. Develop long term monitoring of pollinators and pollinating; 10. Fund participatory research on improving yields in organic, diversified and ecologically intensified farming.

      Another result of climate change: Jess Bidgood," Ticks, Thriving in Warm Weather, Take a Ghastly Toll on New England Moose," The New York Times, January 19, 2017,, reported, " The moose is an iconic image in the Northeast and a crucial part of its tourism and recreational economy. But in parts of northern New England, researchers say moose are being killed by droves of winter ticks that thrive when the fall is warm and the winter comes late. By the thousands, the ticks attach themselves to moose — calves are the most vulnerable — and essentially drain their blood and strength.
      Researchers say that over the last few years, ticks have killed about 70 percent of the calves they have tagged in certain regions, an indication that the tick is taking a significant toll."

       The African elephant population shrank by 30 percent from 2007-2014, largely because of poaching. Both of Africa's elephant species were impacted (Niraj Chokshi and Jeffrey Gettleman, "Dire Figures on Elephants Across Africa," The New York Times, September 29, 2016).

      Jeffrey Gettleman, "Elephants Get a Reprieve as Price of Ivory Falls," The New York Times, March 29, 2017,, reported, " Finally, there’s some good news for elephants.
      The price of ivory in China , the world’s biggest market for elephant tusks, has fallen sharply, which may spell a reprieve from the intense poaching of the past decade.
      According to a report released on Wednesday by Save the Elephants, a respected wildlife group in Kenya, the price of ivory is less than half of what it was just three years ago, showing that demand is plummeting.
      Tougher economic times, a sustained advocacy campaign and China’s apparent commitment to shutting down its domestic ivory trade this year were the drivers of the change, elephant experts said."

      A court in South Africa has overturned the nation's ban on selling rhinoceros horns (Russell Goldman, "Court Says Rhino Horns May be Sold," The New York Times, April 6, 2017).

       A variety of new tools have begun to be employed against invasive species. Among them are a robot that traps lion fish in the waters of Bermuda, a helicopter that drops poison bated dead mice on trees in Guam to rid them of brown tree snakes, and boats with very large outstretched nets that stun and capture Asian carp in the U.S. Midwest (Beth Borenstein, "Nee tools deployed against invasive species, Albuquerque Journal, April 29, 2017).

      The Environmental Protection Agency issued a final report, in January 2017, finding that water quality in the affected rivers, including the San Juan. have returned to their state before the Gold King Mine Spill of August 2015 (Donovan Quintero, "EPA final report: Water back to pre-spill state," Navajo Times, January 12, 2017).

      Aurora Almendral, "Philippines Moves to Shut Mines Accused of Polluting," The New York Times, April 27, 2017,, reported, "In February, Gina Lopez, the acting secretary of the environment, said she was shutting down the operations of 28 of the country’s 41 mining companies. Those companies, which account for about half of Philippine nickel production, have been accused of leaving rivers, rice fields and watersheds stained red with nickel laterite.
      And on Thursday, she said she would soon issue an order banning open-pit mines, calling the pollution of rivers with heavy metals 'a perpetual liability.'”

       President Obama established the first U.S. Atlantic marine monument, preserving an area of underwater mountains and canyons off the coast of New England, in September, as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument It is an area about the size of Connecticut, about 130 miles from Cape Cod (Julie Hirishfield Davis, "Obama Protects an Area Of Canyons and Peaks In the Warming Atlantic," The New York Times, September 16, 2016).

      Tarania Shlossberg, "Mass Die-Off of Whales in Atlantic Is Being Investigated," The New York Times, April 27, 2017,, reported, "Humpback whales have been dying in extraordinary numbers along the Eastern Seaboard since the beginning of last year. Marine biologists have a term for it — an “ unusual mortality event ” — but they have no firm idea why it is happening.
      Forty-one whales have died in the past 15 months along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Maine. In a news conference on Thursday, officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries said that they had not identified the underlying reason for the mass death, but that 10 of the whales are known to have been killed by collisions with ships."

      An analysis by The New York Times, in October 2016, found that in the United States and Canada the use of genetically modified crops has neither increased crop yields nor reduced pesticide use (Danny Hakim, "Doubts About a Promised Bounty," The New York Times, October 30, 2016).

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

      "Executive Order on Review of National Monuments, especially Bears Ears; Public Comments Requested by May 26 on Bears Ears," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-027, May 11th, 2017,, reported, "On April 26, 2017, the Trump Administration released Executive Order 13792, "Review of Designations under the Antiquities Act," which directs the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a review of national monuments established or expanded since January 1, 1996. 82 Fed. Reg. 20429 (May 1, 2017). The scope of this review is to include all such monuments that are larger than 100,000 acres plus any other monuments which the Secretary determines to have been designated or expanded "without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders." The stated purpose of this review is "to determine whether each designation or expansion conforms to the policy set forth" in section 1 of the order. That policy statement asserts that national monument designations may "create barriers to achieving energy independence, restrict public access to and use of Federal lands, burden State, tribal, and local governments, and otherwise curtail economic growth." The policy statement concludes: "Designations should be made in accordance with the requirements and original objectives of the Act and appropriately balance the protection of landmarks, structures, and objects against appropriate use of Federal lands and the effects on surrounding lands and communities." The Order may be found here:
      The Order directs the Secretary to produce an interim report within 45 days and a final report within 120 days. In both the interim and final report, the Secretary is directed to make recommendations for "such Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other actions" to carry out the policy stated in section 1 of the Order. The interim report will focus on the Bears Ears National Monument, which was established by presidential proclamation on December 28, 2016. 82 Fed. Reg. 1139 (Jan. 5, 2017), see our General Memorandum 17-004 (Jan. 10, 2017). Other national monuments may be included in the interim report, but Bears Ears is the specific target. The Office of the Secretary has published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER inviting written comments for the review. 82 Fed. Reg. 22016 (May 11, 2017). The notice lists 22 national monuments that are being reviewed. The deadline for filing comments on the review of Bears Ears is May 26; the deadline for comments relating to the other national monuments is July 10.       The notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER may be found here:
National monuments are established under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906, 54 U.S.C. § 320301, which authorizes the President to proclaim national monuments on lands owned or controlled by the federal government in order to preserve "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest." Designation as a national monument provides enhanced protection for lands that are already under federal control, putting these lands off-limits for new claims under the federal mining laws and from other kinds of extractive resource development under the public land laws. Valid existing rights are not affected. The statute does not give the President authority to abolish a national monument, although Congress can, and, through the appropriations process, place restrictions on allowable uses that can be rendered unenforceable.
      The driving force in the establishment of Bears Ears National Monument was a coalition led by five tribes: the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Zuni Tribe. It is the first national monument established at the behest of Indian tribes, and the proclamation creating it also established the Bears Ears Commission, consisting of one elected officer from each of the five tribes, to ensure that decisions made by the federal land-managing agencies are informed by tribal traditional and historical knowledge. On April 26, the date the Executive Order was signed, the Bears Ears Commission sent a letter to the Secretary of the Interior, renewing the requests for meetings previously made by the tribes that comprise the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and inviting him to the next meeting of the Commission on May 17. The letter may be found here:
      In both the interim and final report, the Secretary is directed to consider six factors, plus "such other factors as the Secretary deems appropriate." The first listed factor appears to be intended to build a case for reducing the size of specific national monuments. This factor quotes statutory language providing that the land area set aside be "the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected." The second factor calls for an examination of whether the designation of any given national monument was appropriate. The third and fourth factors call for looking into possible interference with the "multiple-use policy" applicable to most federal public lands and effects on non-federal land. The fifth factor calls for considering the concerns of state, tribal, and local governments, particularly fiscal impacts and the effects on economic development."

      "Bears Ears and Gold Butte National Monuments Established by Presidential Proclamation," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-04, January 10th, 2017,, reported, "On December 28, 2016, President Obama issued proclamations establishing two new national monuments, Bears Ears in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada, both of which are important to Indian tribes for cultural and religious purposes. These proclamations were issued under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906, 54 U.S.C. § 320301, which provides that the President may establish national monuments on lands owned or controlled by the federal government in order to preserve "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest." Both proclamations were published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on January 5, 2017, and are available at and
      Bears Ears National Monument encompasses approximately 1.35 million acres of federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture. As described in the proclamation, the diverse topography of the Bears Ears landscape supports a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife. There is abundant evidence of human habitation for thousands of years. The driving force in the establishment of this national monument was a coalition led by five tribes: the Hopi Tribe; Navajo Nation; Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation; Ute Mountain Ute Tribe; and Zuni Tribe. As described in the first paragraph of the proclamation, this is 'one of the densest and most significant cultural landscapes in the United States' which contains rock art, cliff dwellings, ceremonial sites, and countless artifacts. Acknowledging that the 'extraordinary archaeological and cultural record' is important to all Americans, the proclamation adds, 'most notably the land is profoundly sacred to many Native American tribes.'
      Gold Butte National Monument encompasses approximately 296,937 acres, mostly administered by BLM. The Gold Butte proclamation cites evidence of human habitation for at least 12,000 years, and notes that, when Spanish explorers arrived in the eighteenth century, it was part of the homeland of the Southern Paiute people, 'who to this day, retain a spiritual and cultural connection with the land and use it for traditional purposes such as ceremonies and plant harvesting.' The coalition that advocated for creating this national monument included the Las Vegas Tribe of Paiute Indians and Moapa Band of Paiute Indians. In addition to its importance for present-day tribal traditions and for evidence of past human habitation, the Gold Butte landscape provides habitats for many species of vegetation and wildlife, which are described at length in the proclamation. The area has also become important for paleontological research.
      The main legal consequence of both these proclamations is to put these lands off-limits for new claims under the federal mining laws and from other kinds of extractive resource development under the public land laws. Valid existing rights are not affected.
      Each of these proclamations provides for the land-managing agencies to 'ensure protection of Indian sacred sites and traditional cultural properties in the monument and provide for access by members of Indian tribes for traditional and customary uses.' The Bears Ears proclamation expressly adds 'collection of medicines, berries and other vegetation, forest products, and firewood for personal noncommercial use.' The Gold Butte proclamation allows for 'traditional tribal collection of seeds, natural materials, salt, or materials for stone tools.'
      When the President proclaims a national monument, the standard practice is to direct the land-managing agency with jurisdiction over the federal lands to develop a management plan to carry out the proclamation, providing for public involvement and for consultation with state, tribal, and local governments. Each of these proclamations calls for the development of such a management plan, as well as for the establishment of an advisory committee to provide information and advice in developing and carrying out the management plan. The Bears Ears proclamation adds that the advisory committee 'shall consist of a fair and balanced representation of interested stakeholders, including State and local governments, tribes, recreational users, local business owners, and private landowners.'
      The Bears Ears proclamation goes beyond the standard practice for seeking input into the management plan by establishing the Bears Ears Commission, consisting of one elected officer from each of the five tribes. The reasons for establishing this Commission are to recognize 'the importance of tribal participation to the care and management of the objects identified [in the proclamation] and to ensure that management decisions affecting the monument reflect tribal expertise and traditional and historical knowledge.'"

      "President Trump Orders Federal Hiring Freeze; Some Categories of Personnel Exempted," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-014, February 3rd, 2017,, "On January 23, 2017 , President Trump issued a Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies (Memorandum), ordering a hiring freeze, with some exemptions, effective January 22, 2017. The Memorandum directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), to provide within 90 days a long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal government's workforce through attrition. The hiring freeze would end upon implementation of such a plan. The freeze does not apply to military personnel. Since the issuance of the Memorandum, two sets of guidance have been issued which expands the exempted categories.
      January 25 Initial Guidance. On January 25, OMB issued guidance which explains that agencies can make limited exceptions to the freeze for positions necessary for public safety and national security. Agencies are instructed to direct questions about the guidance to their OMB Resource Management Office.
      January 31 Further Guidance. On January 31, OMB and OPM jointly issued more detailed guidance regarding civilian personnel which may be exempted by agencies. Among the categories of personnel for possible exemption are: Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service, Postal Service employees, seasonal personnel (e.g., fire fighters); and reassignment of current employees within an agency or between agencies. In addition, the Director of OPM may grant additional exemptions from the hiring freeze for "critical situations". The agency head will need to make the case in writing for such "critical situation" exceptions to OPM and also notify their OMB Resources Management Office of such request.
      The January 31 guidance also references the November 17, 1981 OMB Memorandum regarding categories of employees which may be retained in the case of a government shutdown due to lack of appropriations and notes that examples in 3(a) through (k) may be used as examples of categories that can be exempted from the hiring freeze. Among them are medical care of inpatients and emergency outpatient care; activities to ensure continued public health and safety; positions related to the power distribution system; emergency and disaster assistance; and air traffic control and other transportation safety functions. We attach both the January 31, 2017, OMB/OPM guidance and the November 17, 1981, OMB Memorandum.
      When the January 23 Memorandum was issued there was immediate concern by tribes and tribal organizations about the status of the Indian Health Service as it did not reference the provision of health care as an exempted category. On January 31 the National Indian Health Board, National Congress of American Indians, Direct Service Tribes Advisory Committee and the Self-Governance Communication and Education Tribal Consortium jointly wrote the President making the case for an exemption for the Indian Health Service to be exempted. Six Democratic Senators (Udall-NM; Tester-MT; Schatz D-HI: Cortez Masto-NV; Cantwell-WA; Franken-MN; and Heitkamp-ND) wrote the President requesting that the freeze not apply to core programs for the IHS, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Indian Education.
      While the Veterans Administration and the Defense Department have provided information regarding specific categories of personnel they intend to exempt from the hiring freeze, there is not yet any detailed information from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Interior, or other agencies."

      "Expedited Environmental Review of Infrastructure Projects," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-011, January 27th, 2017,, reported, "On January 24, 2017, the Trump administration issued an Executive Order titled 'Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects'. Copy available here:
      In a substantively related development, on January 13, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a guidance document titled 'Guidance to Federal Agencies Regarding the Environmental Review and Authorization Process for Infrastructure Projects'" (available, as of this date, at:
      The OMB/CEQ guidance document was developed pursuant to Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015 (FAST-41). PL 114-94 (42 U.S.C. §§ 4370m – 4370m-12). The guidance document also builds on an Executive Order and two Presidential memoranda issued during the Obama administration.
      The Trump executive order provides for the designation of 'high priority' infrastructure projects, to be made by the Chairman of CEQ in response to requests from state governors or the heads of federal departments and agencies. For any project so designated, CEQ is directed to coordinate with the relevant federal agency and establish expedited procedures and deadlines for completing environmental reviews and approvals 'in a manner consistent with law.' If the deadlines are not met, the agency head must provide a written explanation to CEQ. This executive order does not mention FAST-41 or the OMB/CEQ guidance document.
      FAST-41 applies to a wide range of infrastructure projects that are subject to review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal laws. The OMB/CEQ guidance document addresses the statutory requirements of FAST-41, which are intended to achieve: increased predictability through project-specific timetables, with processes for resolving issues and modifying timetables; increased transparency and accountability in the federal environmental review process; and improved early consultation among federal agencies. The guidance also explains the federal Permitting Dashboard, which is an online framework for tracking covered projects: FAST-41 established a Federal Permitting Improvement Council (Council) comprised of an Executive Director appointed by the President and members designated by the heads of ten federal departments (Agriculture, Army, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Interior, Transportation) and three independent agencies (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation). The Chairman of CEQ and Director of OMB are also members of the Council. The scope of FAST-41 is governed by the statutory definition of the term 'covered project':
      The term 'covered project' means any activity in the United States that requires authorization or environmental review by a Federal agency involving construction of infrastructure for renewable or conventional energy production, electricity transmission, surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resource projects, broadband, pipelines, manufacturing, or any other sector as determined by a majority vote of the Council that—
(i)(I) is subject to NEPA;
(II) is likely to require a total investment of more than $200,000,000; and
(III) does not qualify for abbreviated authorization or environmental review processes under any applicable law; or
(ii) is subject to NEPA and the size and complexity of which, in the opinion of the Council, make the project likely to benefit from enhanced oversight and coordination, including a project likely to require—
(I) authorization from or environmental review involving more than 2 Federal agencies; or
(II) the preparation of an environmental impact statement under NEPA.
       The extent to which the Trump executive order overlaps or adds to the FAST-41 process is not readily apparent. Most projects that could be treated as 'high priority' under the executive order are likely 'covered projects' for FAST-41. One difference is that, under the executive order, a state governor can designate a project high priority. Under FAST-41, if a project does not meet the $200 million threshold, the decision to treat it as covered is made by the Council."

      Fernanda Santos, "Border Wall Would Cleave Tribe, and Its Connection to Ancestral Land," The New York Times, February 20, 2017,, reported, "The phone calls started almost as soon as President Trump signed his executive order , making official his pledge to build a wall to separate the United States from Mexico.
      Verlon M. Jose, vice chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation , whose reservation extends along 62 miles of the border, heard from people he knew and those he had never heard of. All of them were outraged and offered to throw their bodies, Standing Rock-style, in the way of any construction that would separate the tribe’s people on the north side of the border and the south side, where they live in six villages within the boundaries of the group’s ancestral lands."
      "Then there are the 62 miles belonging to the Tohono O’odham, a tribe that has survived the cleaving of its land for more than 150 years and views the president’s wall as a final indignity.
       A wall would not just split the tribe’s traditional lands in the United States and Mexico, members say. It would threaten an ancestral connection that has endured even as barriers, gates, cameras and Border Patrol agents have become a part of the landscape.
      'Our roots are here,' Richard Saunders said, standing by a border gate in San Miguel, which he and his wife pass through — when it is open — to visit her grandparents’ graves, 500 yards into Mexico. 'Our roots are there, too, on the south side of this gate."”
      "Presidential Memorandum on Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Our National Parks, National Forests, and Other Public Lands and Waters," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-010, January 27th, 2017,, reported, "
      On January 12, 2017, President Obama issued a memorandum for the heads of federal departments and agencies on "Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Our National Parks, National Forests, and Other Public Lands and Waters." 82 Fed. Reg. 6179 (Jan. 19, 2017), available at The agencies that are covered by this memorandum are those that manage federal public lands and waters: the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Department of Commerce, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (Army Corps of Engineers). As stated in the memorandum, its purpose is:
      [T]o ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to experience and enjoy our public lands and waters, that all segments of the population have the chance to engage in decisions about how our lands and waters are managed, and that our Federal workforce--not just the sites it manages--is drawn from the rich range of the diversity in our Nation.
      Section 1 of the memorandum addresses diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce. Each covered agency is directed to carry out a number of activities, consistent with existing legal authorities, to 'prioritize building a more diverse and inclusive Federal workforce reflective of our Nation and its citizens.' Obviously, agencies will be constrained by the hiring freeze imposed by President Trump's memorandum of January 23, 2017. 82 Fed. Reg. 8493 (Jan. 25, 2017), available at Nevertheless, many of the activities set out in section 1 address matters other than initial hiring, such as taking steps to enhance opportunities for professional development and upward mobility.
      Section 2, 'Enhancing Opportunities for all Americans to Experience Public Lands and Waters,' directs each covered agency to develop an action plan to:
1) improve access for diverse populations--particularly for minority, low-income, and disabled populations and tribal communities--to experience and enjoy our Federal lands and waters, and
2) address barriers to their participation in the protection and management of important historic, cultural, or natural areas
      In developing their action plans, covered agencies are encouraged to draw on external perspectives. The memorandum suggests several kinds of activities that could be included in agency action plans, such as conducting 'active outreach' to diverse populations, including tribal communities. Another suggested activity is to forge ' new partnerships with State, local, tribal, private, and non-profit partners to expand access for diverse populations, particularly those in the immediate vicinity of a protected area.' Similarly, agencies are encouraged to 'increase opportunities for diverse populations to provide input and recommendations on protecting, improving access to, or otherwise managing important historic, cultural, or natural areas.'
       Tribes who are concerned regarding access for tribal members to particular places on public lands may want to initiate communication with the relevant land-management agencies and express interest in providing input. In contacting these land-management agencies, tribes may want to make reference to relevant agency policies on relations with tribes, such as Secretarial Order 3342 titled "Identifying Opportunities for Cooperative and Collaborative Partnerships with Federally Recognized Indian Tribes in the Management of Federal Lands and Resources" (see our General Memorandum 16-071 of October. 31, 2016); the revised regulations of the National Park Service on gathering plants or plant parts by federally recognized Indian tribes for traditional purposes, 81 Fed. Reg. 45024 (July 12, 2016) (see our General Memorandum 16-044 of July 12, 2016); and the regulations of the Forest Service on providing forest products to tribes for traditional and cultural purposes. 81 Fed. Reg. 65891 (see our General Memorandum 16-063 of October 20, 2016)."

Congressional Developments

      The National Defense Authorization Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama December 9, 2016, included a provision transferring Fort Wingate back to the Navajo and Zuni Nations (Trudy Bowman, "National
Defense Bill to transfer Fort Wingate back to tribes," Navajo Times, January 5, 2017).

      Mark Trahant, FEDERAL INDIAN PROGRAMS LABELED AS ‘HIGH RISK,’ BUT REAL SOLUTIONS NEED CONGRESS, Trahant Reports, February 17, 2017,, reported,
       Federal Indian programs have been added to the “high-risk” category by the Government Accountability Office . That designation could not come at a worse time.
The details. This is how the GAO defines its high risk identification: 'The federal government is one of the world’s largest and most complex entities: about $3.9 trillion in outlays in fiscal year 2016 funded a broad array of programs and operations. GAO’s high-risk program identifies government operations with greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or the need for transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges.'
      The GAO said it added federal Indian programs to its high risk category because 'we have found numerous challenges facing Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education and Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service in administering education and health care services, which put the health and safety of American Indians served by these programs at risk. These challenges included poor conditions at BIE school facilities that endangered students, and inadequate oversight of health care that  hindered IHS’s ability to ensure quality care to Indian communities. In addition, we have reported that BIA mismanages Indian energy resources held in trust and thereby limits opportunities for tribes and their members to use those resources to create economic benefits and improve the well-being of their communities.'
      More from the GAO: 'Congress recently noted, ‘through treaties, statutes, and historical relations with Indian tribes, the United States has undertaken a unique trust responsibility to protect and support Indian tribes and Indians.’ In light of this unique trust responsibility and concerns about the federal government ineffectively administering Indian education and health care programs and mismanaging Indian energy resources, we are adding these programs as a high-risk issue because they uniquely affect tribal nations and their members.'
The three agencies are lumped together as one in this report, yet the causes of what makes the agencies high risk are considerably different, requiring solutions that go well beyond what the agencies themselves can accomplish.
      So let’s break it down.
      First : GAO complains that the BIA has a problem quickly approving energy projects. This is Congress’ favorite problem. Congress can’t wait to solve this one by making the approval process faster than filling your car with a tank of gas. But the solutions ahead will also have unintended consequences for the very notion of trust lands, tribal control of energy projects, and the challenge of global warming. What happens when a tribe says, 'hell no!' to say, the Keystone XL pipeline ? That is a policy question that this Congress has all but answered.
      Next the GAO says the Bureau of Indian Education “improves how it manages Indian education … including that Indian Affairs develop a strategic plan for BIE that includes goals and performance measures for how its offices are fulfilling their responsibilities to provide BIE with support; revise Indian Affairs’ strategic workforce plan to ensure that BIA regional offices have an appropriate number of staff with the right skills to support BIE schools in their regions; and develop and implement decision-making procedures for BIE to improve accountability for BIE schools.” My translation: Measure what works. Make better hires (with the right skills). And improve the decision-making process. Easy, right? Only hiring for BIE schools is easier said than done and the decision-making process is complicated by community priorities.
      There is another problem at play: Conservative think-tanks have targeted BIE as operating 'failing schools' and would replace them with a whacky scheme to create Education Savings Accounts.  ( Previous: Day One. Dramatic restructuring of government.) This whole notion is written by people who have no understanding of the geography of Indian Country or the makeup of the Native students. The BIE has unique challenges and there are many, many improvements that could be made. So adding to this discourse a GAO high-risk warning is, well, not helpful.
       The third high-risk agency identified by the GAO is the Indian Health Service. The report says: 'To help ensure that Indian people receive quality health care, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Director of IHS to take the following two actions: as part of implementing IHS’s quality framework, ensure that agency-wide standards for the quality of care provided in its federally operated facilities are developed and systematically monitor facility performance in meeting these standards over time; and develop contingency and succession plans for replacing key personnel, including area directors.' My translation: Measure what works. Make better hires (with the right skills). And improve the decision-making process. Easy, right? Again, it’s not as if the IHS is not trying to hire people. The problem is funding and a hiring process that is both cumbersome and required by law.
      What I don’t get is why the GAO doesn’t see that the IHS mission has changed dramatically. One part of the agency is a funding mechanism, directing resources to tribal, non-profit, and urban health care facilities. The report alludes to that fact with this recommendation: 'To help ensure that timely primary care is available and accessible to Indians, IHS should: develop and communicate specific agency-wide standards for wait times in federally-operated facilities, and monitor patient wait times in federally-operated facilities and ensure that corrective actions are taken when standards are not met.' The key phrase here is 'federally-operated' because many of the tribal and nonprofit centers have solved this problem. GAO should have said this and focused on what works and why.
       Another GAO recommendation about IHS might be the most tone deaf. It says, “we recommend that IHS realign current resources and personnel to increase capacity to deal with enrollment in Medicaid and the exchanges and prepare for increased billing to these payers.”
      Clearing my throat here. Umm. Congress is going in exactly the opposite direction. The serious questions — the ones that Congress ought to be answering — are how much will it cost IHS when Medicaid is turned into a block grant? What replaces Medicaid expansion funding at the local unit level? And, will states even fund a federal health care delivery system?
       The GAO report makes a big deal about IHS developing a fair method for how it spends money on purchased and referral care. What the report should have said is that Congress is to blame. The problem is not the architecture; it’s the funding. No federal agency. No state agency. Hell, no private medical system spends less than the Indian health system. The real problem here is that it’s impossible to defy gravity.
      Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. "

      The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved a bill, February 8, sponsored by Montana's two senators, that would recognize the Little Schell Tribe (Matthew Brown, "Senate committee supports tribal recognition  of Little Shell, NFIC, February 2017).

      "Sen. Jon Tester Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Native Education: REST and NEST Acts provide incentives to teachers in Native Education," ICMN, March 1, 2017,, repored, "On February 20, Sen. Jon Tester announced two bills that would strengthen Native education by boosting teacher recruitment in rural areas and address workforce shortages at Indian country schools.
      The Rural Educator Support and Training (REST) Act would address teacher shortages in rural America by providing scholarships, loan forgiveness, and professional development opportunities to educators who commit to work in rural schools."
      "Teachers working at a rural school for five consecutive years will be eligible for up to $17,500 in federal student loan forgiveness. The REST Act would provide scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students working on degrees in education or school administration who contract with rural schools for at least three years to cover tuition, fees, books, and a living stipend.      
      The second bill introduced by Sen. Jon Tester is the Native Educator Support and Training (NEST) Act, which will help recruit and retain teachers in Indian country by providing new scholarships, federal student loan forgiveness, and teacher development courses to prospective and existing educators who are either Native American or who commit to teaching at schools that have a high population of Native American students."

       Chelsey Luger, "Hoeven, Udall to Lead Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: Hoeven’s track record shows support and disregard for Native issues," ICTNM, January 9, 2017,, reportd, "U.S. senators John Hoeven (R – North Dakota) and Tom Udall (D – New Mexico) have been elected to serve as Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for the 115th Congress. Both Hoeven and Udall have served as members of the Committee before.
      While Udall maintains a reputation for staunch commitment to tribal nations, with a record of bolstering tribal sovereignty and improving the well-being of Native communities, Hoeven is considered a controversial figure for tribes due to his support of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline. Both senators have expressed a bipartisan commitment to improving the economies and overall well-being of tribal nations."

Federal Agency Developments

      "OMB Releases Memorandum on Reforming and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce; Hiring Freeze Lifted," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-025, April 14th, 2017,, reported, "On April 12, 2017, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mulvaney issued a Memorandum to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies entitled "Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce" (Memorandum). The Memorandum addresses issues of: 1) immediate workforce reductions and cost-savings; 2) maximizing employee performance; and 3) long-term agency reform and workforce reductions which will be encompassed in a "Government-wide Reform Plan." The Memorandum is a follow-on to President's Trump's hiring freeze order of January 23, 2017, which required a long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal workforce and his March 13, 2017, Executive Order 13781 which required a reorganization of executive branch departments and agencies. The 14-page OMB Memorandum is here:
       The Memorandum lifts the hiring freeze but requires that agencies, in making near-term decisions, adhere to the Administration's proposed FY 2018 preliminary or "skinny" budget recommendations regarding budget cuts. OMB Director Mulvaney cautioned that lifting the freeze does not mean that agencies can "hire people willy nilly." For instance, the preliminary FY 2018 budget proposes to reduce funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by 17.9 percent; the Department of Interior (DOI) by 12 percent; and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 31 percent. At the same time, the FY 2018 proposal is supportive of the Indian Health Service (IHS), referring to it as a "high priority" and the DOI section states that the Administration supports tribal sovereignty and self-determination while proposing to reduce funding for initiatives that serve only a few tribes. For more information see our General Memorandum 17-020 of March 20, 2017, regarding the Administration's preliminary proposed FY 2018 budget. The detailed proposed FY 2018 budget is expected in mid-May.
      The Memorandum requires with regard to employee performance that agencies develop and begin instituting plans to ensure enhanced employee performance oversight, including appropriate and rigorous training for managers and the ability, when necessary, to remove poor performing staff from their jobs. Each agency is also directed to create an "Agency Reform Plan" which will identify how the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of their respective agency can be improved. As part of this process, agencies are to determine whether their agency should or should not be performing certain activities, and whether such activities are correctly aligned with the mission and role of the agency. This review is to result in proposals in four categories: 1) eliminate; 2) restructure or merge; 3) improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness; and 4) workforce management. As part of this analysis, agencies are to consider whether an office, program or activity: is duplicative; is non-essential; is efficient and effective; could be better performed by a non-federal entity; what the cost-benefit is; and whether good customer service is provided. OMB will have a crucial role in working with agencies on these matters, including coordinating crosscutting proposals that may involve multiple agencies.
      Looking further down the road , it will be the FY 2019 proposed budget that will contain the Government-wide Reform Plan. The Government-wide Reform Plan will encompass both agency-specific reforms and crosscutting reforms and will provide the significant detail with regard to budget reductions and the means (administrative actions and proposed legislative language) to make the proposals reality. The Memorandum provides that the FY 2019 budget is to align with the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010 in development of the Agency Reform Plans.
      The Memorandum sets forth the following deadlines:
June 12, 2017 – OMB has established a website for the public to weigh in on the proposed workforce reduction and agency reorganization. The website prompts respondents to share which federal agencies and programs they think should be eliminated and why. Respondents are also encouraged to provide ideas on management reform, including procurement reform. Comments are due by June 12, 2017. The website is here:
      June 30, 2017 – Agencies are to submit to OMB: 1) an "initial, high-level draft" of their Agency Reform Plan; 2) a report on near-term workforce reductions actions; and 3) a plan to maximize employee performance.
      September 2017– Agencies submit their proposed FY 2019 budgets and Agency Reform Plans to OMB.
      Early 2018 – The Administration submits to Congress its Government-wide Reform Plan as part of the proposed FY 2019 budget and will begin tracking progress on the Plan.
      Federal government reorganization is something many Administrations take an interest in, with varying degrees of success. In order to be fully implemented, this Memorandum would need substantial buy-in from Congress."

      "OPM Publishes Final Rule Governing Access to Federal Employee Health Benefits for Tribal Employers and Employees," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-018, March 6th, 2017,, reported, "On December 28, 2016, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a final rule in the FEDERAL REGISTER governing access to Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) for tribal employers and employees under section 409 of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), as amended by section 10221 of the Affordable Care Act. 81 Fed. Reg. 95397 (Dec. 28, 2016). (See our General memorandum 16-056 of August 31, 2016 regarding the proposed rule). The final rule establishes procedures for the administration of FEHB benefits including enrollment, coverage selection, and the regulation of premium contributions by tribal employers and employees. The FEDERAL REGISTER notice may be found here:
      On January 20, 2017, President Trump issued a White House Memorandum requiring federal agencies to temporarily postpone the effective date of certain rules that had been published in the FEDERAL REGISTER but had not yet taken effect within 60 days of the date of the Memorandum. The FEHB final rule fell within the scope of President Trump's mandate. The effective date for the final rule is now March 21, 2017.
       The regulations incorporate statutory eligibility provisions that extend the right to offer FEHB coverage to Indian tribes and tribal organization administering programs under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) and urban Indian organizations carrying out programs under Title V of the IHCIA. See 25 U.S.C. § 1647b. A tribal employer who purchases FEHB coverage for at least one billing unit carrying out at least one program under the ISDEAA or Title V of the IHCIA is able to offer FEHB coverage to other billing units regardless of the type of programs offered by those other units. However, tribal employers cannot contribute toward or offer an alternative employer-sponsored health insurance plan for tribal employees within FEHB-covered billing units, with the exception of a collectively bargained alternative plan. Tribal employers that elect to purchase FEHB coverage for their tribal employees must contribute a share of the premium that is at least equivalent to what the federal government contributes for federal employees, but are permitted to vary their contribution amount by enrollment type or by billing unit.
      Consistent with existing FEHB and federal tax standards, the regulations define the term "tribal employee" to mean a common law employee of a tribal employer. Intermittent, seasonal, and temporary tribal employees are treated similarly to their federal counterparts; although a tribal employer may choose not to extend coverage to such employees if written notice is provided to the Director of the OPM. Eligible tribal employees have the same plan options and be entitled to choose from available FEHB health plans to the same extent as federal employees in the same geographic area, namely, "self only," "self plus one," or "self and family" enrollment options.
      In order to purchase FEHB coverage, the regulations require tribal employers to enter into an agreement with OPM confirming the tribal employer's eligibility and setting out various conditions of participation. These conditions include, among several others: agreement by the tribal employer not to offer alternate tribal employer-sponsored health insurance coverage to FEHB-eligible employees concurrently with FEHB; acknowledgement that the tribal employer will be subject to federal audit with respect to FEHB participation; an agreement to establish or identify an independent dispute resolution panel to adjudicate employee disputes; and agreement that the tribal employer will notify OPM if it ceases to carry out at least one program under the ISDEAA or Title V of the IHCIA. Responsibilities of tribal employers administering FEHB also include eligibility determinations, enrollment, and notification requirements.
      Among other things, the regulations codify procedures and rules for payment; revocation and re-election of purchase of coverage; employee eligibility; enrollment and cancellation or termination of employee coverage; temporary extension of coverage and conversion to individual policy; and enrollment and eligibility appeal rights."

      "Department of the Interior Accepting Applications to Begin Participation in the Tribal Self-Governance Program," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-079, December 22nd, 2016,, reported, " The Department of the Interior Office of Self-Governance (OSG) has established that March 1, 2017, is the deadline for Indian tribes or consortia to submit an application to begin participation in the tribal self-governance program in fiscal year 2018 or calendar year 2018. The OSG may select up to 50 additional tribes and consortia per year to participate in the tribal self-governance program and negotiate and enter into a written funding agreement with each participating tribe. The regulations at 25 CFR 1000.10 to 1000.31 will govern the application and selection process for tribes or consortia to begin their participation in the tribal self-governance program. The FEDERAL REGISTER notice announcing this deadline is here:
      Other Key Dates. OSG estimates that initial negotiations with a tribe or consortium located in a region and/or agency which has not previously been involved with self-governance negotiations will take approximately two months from start to finish. Agreements for an October 1 to September 30 funding year need to be signed and submitted by July 1. Agreements for a January 1 to December 31 funding year need to be signed and submitted by October 1.
      Application. Application packages should be sent to: Ms. Sharee M. Freeman, Director, Office of Self-Governance, Department of the Interior, Mail Stop 355-G-SIB, 1951 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20240."

      NCAI, "CAI Congratulates US Department of the Interior and Craig Tribal Association on Land-into-Trust in Alaska," January 13, 2017., "Today, the Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs announced the Department of the Interior’s decision to place a 1.08-acre land parcel owned by the Craig Tribal Association into federal Indian trust status."

      "Indian Trader Regulatory Update Announced by Interior: Comments Requested and Tribal Consultations Scheduled," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-077, December 22nd, 2016,, reported, "December 9, 2016, the Department of the Interior (DOI) published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) in the FEDERAL REGISTER seeking comments on whether and if so, how, to comprehensively update the Indian Trader regulations (25 CFR part 140) in a manner that is consistent with the federal policies of tribal self-determination and self-governance. The Indian Trader regulations are among DOI's most outdated: they were promulgated in 1957 and have not been comprehensively updated since 1965. Tribal consultation sessions have been scheduled across the country for February and March of 2017 on the dates listed below. A copy of the FEDERAL REGISTER notice with information on how to submit comments is attached. Comments on the ANPRM are due April 10, 2017.
      DOI explains 'The Department recognizes that many Tribes have enacted comprehensive laws concerning economic activity occurring on Tribal lands and that Tribal courts often retain jurisdiction over Indian traders. This ANPRM solicits information regarding current Tribal regulatory activity over trade occurring within Indian Country. Additionally, the Department recognizes that dual taxation on Tribal lands can undermine the Federal policies supporting Tribal economic development, self-determination, and strong Tribal governments. Dual taxation of traders and activities conducted by traders and purchasers can impede a Tribe's ability to attract investment to Indian lands where such investment and participation are critical to the vitality of Tribal economies. Tribal communities continue to struggle with unmet needs, such as in their schools and housing, as well as economic development, to name a few. Moreover, beyond the operation of their governments, Tribes continually pursue funding for infrastructure, roads, dams, irrigation systems and water delivery. Thus, the Department solicits information under this ANPRM about how revisions to the regulations could promote economic viability and sustainability in Indian Country.'
       DOI seeks comments on the following seven questions:
      1. Should the Federal government address trade occurring in Indian Country through an updated 25 CFR part 140, and why?
      2. Are there certain components of the existing rule that should be kept, and if so, why?
      3. How can revisions to the existing rule ensure that persons who conduct trade are reputable and that there are mechanisms in place to address traders who violate Federal or Tribal law?
      4. How do Tribes currently regulate trade in Indian Country and how might revisions to 25 CFR part 140 help Tribes regulate trade in Indian Country?
      5. What types of trade should be regulated and what type of trader should be subject to regulation?
      6. How might revisions to the regulations promote economic viability and sustainability in Indian Country?
      7. What services do Tribes currently provide to individuals or entities doing business in Indian Country and what role do tax revenues play in providing those services?
Tribal Consultation Schedule. DOI will be hosting tribal consultation sessions on the ANPRM at the following dates and tentative locations. Specifics on the venue for each location will be provided in a subsequent FEDERAL REGISTER notice.
      Date Time (local time zone) Location
Thursday, February 23, 2017 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m Seattle area.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m Southeastern U.S.
Thursday, March 2, 2017 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m Southern California.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m Billings, Montana.
Thursday, March 9, 2017 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m Rapid City, South Dakota.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m Prior Lake, Minnesota.
Thursday, March 16, 2017 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m Northeastern U.S."

      "BIA Office of Trust Services Initiates Tribal Consultation on Safety of Indian Dams," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-015, February 3rd, 2017,, reported, " On February 2, 2017, the Water and Power Division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Trust Services (BIA) published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER initiating tribal consultation to determine deferred maintenance needs and funding prioritization criteria for Indian dams (dates and times listed below). A second notice was published announcing a public teleconference to solicit comments and recommendations from landowners served by relevant Indian dams. Written comments must be received by March 3, 2017.
      Background. The poor condition of Indian dams and the levels of deferred maintenance were the impetus for Senator Barrasso's (R-WY) introduction of S 2717, the Dam Repairs and Improvements for Tribes Act of 2016 (DRIFT Act). Ultimately, the DRIFT Act was incorporated as Sec. 3101 of the Water Infrastructure Investments for the Nation Act (WIIN Act, PL 114-322, signed December 16, 2016), the most recent Water Resources Development Act reauthorization. Section 3101 of the WIIN Act establishes a program to address the deferred maintenance needs of Indian dams and authorizes $32.75 million per year ($22.75 million designated for high- and significant-hazard potential dams and $10 million designated for low-hazard potential dams), plus accrued interest, for each of the fiscal years 2017 through 2023. Subject to appropriations, the funds would be available to carry out maintenance, repair, and replacement activities for qualified Indian dams. Section 3101 also requires the BIA to (1) consult with tribes and solicit comments from landowners served by relevant Indians dams within 60 days of the Act's passage; and (2) submit a report to Congress within 120 days of the law's enactment (by April 14, 2017).
Purpose. The purpose of initiating consultation and soliciting comments is to determine how to address the deferred maintenance needs of Indian dams and funding prioritization criteria for distributing funds from the High-Hazard Indian Dam Safety Deferred Maintenance Fund and the Low-Hazard Indian Dam Safety Deferred Maintenance Fund.
      Eligibility. The WIIN Act defines eligible dams as those that are included under the Indian Dams Safety Act of 1994 and that are: (1) Owned by the Federal Government (per Executive Order 13327) and managed by the BIA, including dams managed under Indian Self-Determination contracts or compacts; or (2) have deferred maintenance identified by the BIA. BIA explains that all tribes are potentially affected by the Indian Dam Safety component of the WIIN Act because while BIA has an inventory of high-hazard potential dams, no such inventory yet exists for low-hazard potential dams. For this reason, BIA also asks that Tribes notify Yulan Jin, Division Chief, Water and Power, (202) 219-0941, of any low-hazard potential dams subject to the Indian Dams Act of 1994.
Tribal Consultation Sessions. The BIA will be hosting three in-person tribal consultation sessions. Additionally, two webinars will be held for tribes unable to make an in-person session. BIA is developing drafts of the programmatic goals and funding prioritization criteria for discussion at the consultation sessions, available at:
Date Time Location
Monday, February 6, 2017 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Local Time Bureau of Indian Affairs, Medicine Wheel Room—Third Floor, 2021 4th Avenue North, Billings, MT 59101.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Local Time Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Silver/Turquoise Conference Room, 2401 12th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104.
Friday, February 10, 2017 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Local Time Bureau of Indian Affairs, Federal Building Auditorium, 911 NE 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232.
Monday, February 13, 2017 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Eastern Time Call-in number: (888) 810-4934, Passcode: 7199390.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Eastern Time Call-in number: (888) 810-4934, Passcode: 7199390.
Public Teleconference. The BIA will be hosting a public meeting by teleconference on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern Time. The call-in number is (800) 857-9738 and the passcode is 7199390.

      "BIA Issues New Indian Child Welfare Act Guidelines; HHS Issues Final Rule Which Includes Collection of ICWA Data," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-002, January 6th, 2017,, reported, "In the past year, long-term efforts by tribes, Indian organizations and child welfare advocates to improve the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) were realized when federal agency regulations were finalized regarding both ICWA implementation and inclusion of ICWA data in the federal child welfare placement database. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) issued its ICWA Proceedings Final Rule on June 14, 2016 (to take effect December 12, 2016) followed by issuance of Guidance for that Rule on December 30, 2016. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued on December 14, 2016 , a new Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Final Rule which for the first time will require state Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption agencies to report on data elements specific to ICWA.
       BIA ICWA Implementation Rule and Guidance. The BIA Rule on ICWA proceedings addresses state court implementation of ICWA in Indian child welfare proceedings and the required state maintenance of ICWA records. It also provides clarity regarding numerous matters including: identification early in the proceedings as to whether a child is Indian; notice to parents and tribes in involuntary proceedings; standards for denial of transfer of cases to tribal court; expert witness criteria; placement preferences; rights of adult adoptees to information from the state; emergency proceedings; and clarification regarding what some courts have deemed the 'existing Indian Family exception'. (See our General Memorandum 16-038 of June 20, 2016.)
      The BIA Guidance for this Rule was issued on December 30, 2016. The Guidance does not have the effect of law. Rather, it includes explanatory information about the ICWA statute and regulations and provides concrete examples for consideration by state agencies and state courts when implementing ICWA. The Department of Interior press release of December 30, 2016, notes that state agencies and state courts have 'sometimes differed in their interpretations of the law and been inconsistent in their implementation of it. To address this problem, the updated guidelines provide information for them to consider in carrying out the Act's and the final rule's requirements, often drawing upon approaches states have already used.'
      The BIA Rule may be found here:
      The BIA Guidance may be found here:
      You may also access the Guidance by going to and clicking on "Indian Child Welfare Act" on the right-hand side of the page.
       HHS Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Rule. The HHS Rule on AFCARS was issued December 14, 2016. AFCARS provides national information on children in foster care and children who are adopted and is used to inform national policies and to guide child welfare practices. The data is made available in a Child Welfare Outcomes Annual Report. This Rule replaces the one issued in 1993.
       Of significance is that the Rule incorporates over 30 ICWA-related data elements that are to be collected and reported on to HHS by state Title IV-E (Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) agencies in an effort to have more comprehensive national data on the status of American Indian/Alaska Native children to whom ICWA applies. Among the ICWA data elements are: whether a child is a member of, or eligible for, membership in a federally recognized tribe; efforts made at family reunification; whether the placement was an ICWA preferred placement; and the status of transfer of the case to tribal court. The National Indian Child Welfare Association will be making available a detailed paper on the various ICWA-related data elements in the AFCARS Rule.
      The AFCARS Rule may be found here:

      "Indian Health Service Injury Prevention Cooperative Agreements," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-013, February 3, 2017,, reported, "The Indian Health Service (IHS) published a notice in the January 26, 2017, FEDERAL REGISTER soliciting applications for cooperative agreements under the Part II Effective Strategy Project portion of its Injury Prevention Program. Subject to appropriations, the IHS expects to have $375,000 in FY 2017 funds for this aspect of the Injury Prevention program. The deadline for receipt of applications is February 26, 2017.
      The FEDERAL REGISTER notice can be found here:
      The purpose of the cooperative agreement is to:
      1) Increase the understanding of the injury problem;
      2) Promote tribal capacity to implement effective strategies to prevent injuries; and
      3) Improve the quality of life of American Indian/Alaska Native people
       Eligible applicants are tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations who are administering health programs and do not have a current IHS injury prevention cooperative agreement. There is no IHS user population requirement. Funds are for three-year projects. The IHS expects to make 15 awards, ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 each.
The application package and detailed instructions for this announcement can be found at http://www.Grants.govor"

      The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Superintendent, William Schott, stated, in late February 2017, that he wants to upgrade the collaboration between the Area administration and neighboring tribes, so that the tribes are "true partners." "Right now, we're consulting with numerous tribes on our volunteer agreement for air tour management." The Area intends soon to hire a tribal liaison (Krista Allen, "Glen Canyon seeks better partnership with tribes," Navajo Times, March 2, 2017).

      "Administration for Children and Families Reminds Tribes/Tribal Organizations of May 9 Deadline for Comments on ACF Grant Programs," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-024, April 12th, 2017,, reported, "This week the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) sent out a reminder about the May 9, 2017, deadline for tribes, tribal organizations and others to provide comments on the challenges they face in working with ACF and in the implementation of ACF programs. ACF originally posted a notice regarding this solicitation on January 9, 2017, in the FEDERAL REGISTER and had a comment deadline of March 10. Since then they extended the comment period to May 9. We reported on the March 10 notice in our General Memorandum 17-017 of February 17, 2017. The original ACF notice can be found here:
       Programs. ACF administers a wide array of programs directly impacting tribes, including:
      Title IV-B, Subparts 1 and 2, Child Welfare and Promoting Safe and Stable Families
      Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance
      Child Support Enforcement
      Child Care and Development Block Grant
      Head Start
      Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
      Native American Employment Works Program
      Family Violence and Prevention Services/Battered Women's Shelters
      Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program
      Administration for Native Americans grant programs (including Environmental       Regulatory Enhancement; Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance; and Social and Economic Development Strategies for Native Americans)
      Questions. The ACF poses nine questions covering the following areas and asks that responses be as specific as possible to programs and processes. Tribal comments could prove helpful in improving policy and practices with regard to ACF programs which tribes' access.
      Challenges posed by non-federal match or cost sharing requirements
      Challenges posed by administrative costs caps
      Expansion of waiver authority
      Streamlining existing waiver authority processes
      Regulatory or administrative barriers to program implementation
      Identification of ACF practices, policies and procedures that are particularly effective
      Recommended data collection and analysis
      Suggestions for better sharing of data related to AI/AN grantee performance, outcomes, and sustainability
      Application eligibility processes that may discourage application for programs."

      "IHS FY 2017 Tribal Self-Governance Program Planning Cooperative Agreements," Hobbs-Straus  General Memorandum 17-028, May 22nd, 2017,, reported, "On May 22, 2017, the Indian Health Service (IHS) announced in the FEDERAL REGISTER the availability of FY 2017 cooperative agreements for planning purposes under the Tribal Self-Governance Program (TSGP). This competitive grant program is authorized by Title V, Tribal Self-Governance Amendments of 2000, of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, PL 93-638, as amended. The TSGP is designed to promote self-determination by allowing tribes to assume more control of IHS programs and services through compacts negotiated with the IHS. Applications are due by June 23, 2017. A copy of the notice is available here:
       The purpose of this cooperative agreement is to provide planning resources to tribes interested in participating in the TSGP. Under the agreements tribes may undertake planning such as legal and budget research that leads to a greater understanding of which programs, functions, activities, and services they may want to assume and any organizational changes that may be necessary to do so. They may also be used to help identify programmatic alternatives that will better meet tribal needs. Receipt of a planning grant is not a pre-requisite to enter the TSGP.
There is $600,000 available to fund up to five tribes to enter the TSGP planning process. Accepted tribes would be awarded up to $120,000 for a 12-month project period (August 15, 2017 to August 14, 2018).
       To be eligible for the planning agreement, the applicant must be a tribe, tribal organization or inter-tribal consortium; and demonstrate financial stability and management capability by having had no significant and material audit exceptions for three previous fiscal years. Alaska Native Villages or Village Corporations are not eligible to apply for this funding if they are located within an area served by an Alaska Native regional health entity (including the Native Village of Eyak, the Eastern Aleutian Tribes, and the Council for Athabascan Tribal Governments which have been deemed Alaska Native regional health entities and are eligible to apply) already participating in the Alaska Tribal Health Compact.
      With regard to the submission of resolution authorizing the application, the IHS states:
An Indian Tribe or Tribal organization that is proposing a project affecting another Indian Tribe must include resolutions from all affected tribes to be served. Applications by Tribal organizations will not require a specific Tribal resolution if the current Tribal resolution(s) under which they operate would encompass the proposed grant activities.
The solicitation also provides that "an official signed Tribal resolution must be received by the Division of Grants Management prior to a Notice of Award being issued to any applicant selected for funding".
      Applications are to be submitted electronically via If a tribe/organization needs to submit a hardcopy/paper application, they must obtain a waiver from the IHS. Detailed eligibility, application criteria and contact information are contained in the announcement."

      "IHS FY 2017 Self-Governance Program Negotiation Cooperative Agreement," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-029, May 22nd, 2017,, reported, "On May 22, 2017, the Indian Health Service (IHS) published in the FEDERAL REGISTER a notice of the availability of FY 2017 cooperative agreements for negotiation under the Tribal Self-Governance Program (TSGP). This competitive grant program is authorized by Title V, Tribal Self-Governance Amendments of 2000, of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, PL 93-638, as amended. The TSGP is designed to promote self-determination by allowing tribes to assume more control of IHS programs and services through compacts negotiated with the IHS. Applications are due by June 23, 2017. A copy of the notice is available here:
      The purpose of the negotiation cooperative agreement is to defray some of the costs tribes incur in preparing for and negotiating compacts and funding agreements. A tribe is not required to have had a negotiation agreement in order to enter the TSGP.
      There is $240,000 available to fund approximately five tribes to enter the TSGP negotiation process for compacts. Awards are expected to be $48,000 each for a 12-month project period (August 15, 2017 to August 14, 2018).
       To be eligible for a negotiation cooperative agreement, the applicant must be a tribe, tribal organization or inter-tribal consortium; and demonstrate financial stability and management capability by having had no significant and material audit exceptions for three previous fiscal years. Alaska Native Villages or Village Corporations are not eligible to apply for this funding if they are located within an area served by an Alaska Native regional health entity (including the Native Village of Eyak, the Eastern Aleutian Tribes, and the Council for Athabascan Tribal Governments which are deemed Alaska Native regional health entities and are eligible to apply) already participating in the Alaska Tribal Health Compact.
With regard to the submission of resolutions the IHS states:
      An Indian Tribe or Tribal organization that is proposing a project affecting another Indian Tribe must include resolutions from all affected tribes to be served. Applications by Tribal organizations will not require a specific Tribal resolution if the current Tribal resolution(s) under which they operate would encompass the proposed grant activities.
The solicitation also provides that 'an official signed Tribal resolution must be received by the Division of Grants Management prior to a Notice of Award being issued to any applicant selected for funding'.
      Applications are to be submitted electronically via If a tribe/organization needs to submit a hardcopy/paper application, they must obtain a waiver from the IHS. Detailed eligibility, application criteria and contact information are contained in the notice."

      "Indian Health Service Soliciting Applications for FY 2017 Loan Repayment Program," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-006, January 12th, 2017,, reported, " The Indian Health Service (IHS) is soliciting applications, via the attached January 11, 2017, FEDERAL REGISTER notice, for the repayment of health professions educational loans. Under the Loan Repayment Program (LRP), authorized under Section 108 of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the IHS may make awards to persons for the repayment of health professions educational loans in return for full-time clinical service in Indian health programs. The IHS is currently being funded via a Continuing Resolution at FY 2016 levels and final amounts for the FY 2017 loan repayment program are subject to the final appropriations of funds.
      The IHS estimates that it will provide $18.40 million in FY 2017 funds for the LRP, which will support 'approximately 400 competing awards averaging $46,000 per award for a two-year contract.' Applications for the FY 2017 LRP will be evaluated monthly beginning January 15, 2017, and will continue to be accepted each month thereafter until all funds are exhausted for FY 2017. Subsequent monthly deadline dates are scheduled for Friday of the second full week of each month until August 15, 2017.
      In addition, $9.32 million is estimated to be available for 'approximately 373 competing awards averaging $25,000 per award for a one-year extension.'
      The attached notice contains a list of priority health professions that will be considered in making awards under the LRP. Loan repayment awards will be made "only to those individuals serving at facilities which have a site score of 70 or above through March 1, 2017, if funding is available." In addition to the level of need for specific disciplines, factors that will be taken into consideration are: 1) an applicant's length of current employment in the IHS, tribal, or urban program; 2) availability for service earlier than other applicants; and 3) date of receipt of the individual's application. Tribally and urban-administered program staffing needs are to be considered on an equal basis with those of the IHS-administered programs.
The IHS Area Offices and Service Units are authorized to provide supplemental funds for LRP participants for use in their areas, but the total amount cannot exceed the amount authorized by statute plus tax assistance.
      Application materials may be obtained here:
Additional information regarding this program may be obtained from:
Jacqueline Santiago
Chief, IHS Loan Repayment Program
5600 Fishers Lane
Mail Stop: OHR (11E53A)
Rockville, Maryland 20857

      "Indian Health Service FY 2017 Scholarships," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-005, January 10th, 2017,, reported, "The I ndian Health Service (IHS) is soliciting applications, via the attached
January 10, 2017, FEDERAL REGISTER notice for FY 2017 full- and part-time scholarships
. American Indians and Alaska Natives are invited to apply under the three programs described below. The funding is $13.7 million for continuation and new awards combined, the same as in FY 2016, although funding is contingent upon final appropriations. No more than five percent of funds may be used for scholarships for part-time students. The deadline for applications for continuation awards is February 28, 2017 and the deadline for applications for new awards is March 28, 2017.
      • Health Professions Preparatory Scholarships and Health Professions Pregraduate Scholarships. Approximately 20 new and 10 continuing awards will be made for these 2 programs combined (compares to 80 awards in FY 2016). The average award for a full-time student is approximately $31,919. The IHS is allocating in FY 2017 a smaller portion of the scholarship funds for these programs, electing to direct more funding into the Indian Health Professions program. Eligible applicants are members of federally (including those from tribes terminated since 1940) or state recognized tribes and first and second degree descendants of federal or state recognized tribal members and Alaska Natives. Applicants for the Preparatory program must have been accepted for enrollment in a compensatory, pre-professional general education course or curriculum. Applicants for the Pregraduate program must have been accepted for enrollment in an accredited pregraduate program leading to a baccalaureate degree in pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, pre-optometry or pre-podiatry.
      • Indian Health Professions. An estimated 263 awards will be made (compares to 245 in FY 2016). This scholarship is available only to members of federally recognized tribes who are enrolled in an appropriately accredited school and pursuing a course of study in a health profession as defined by section 1603(10) of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The average award for a full time-student is approximately $48,500.
The attached notice provides IHS contact information for questions regarding the scholarship programs. It also describes the eligibility requirements and lists the health profession priority areas by type of scholarship. The IHS provides the following instructions for obtaining and filling out applications:
      Applicants must go online to: to apply for an IHS scholarship and access the Application Handbook instructions and forms for submitting a properly completed application for review and funding consideration. Applicants are strongly encouraged to seek consultation from their Area Scholarship Coordinator (ASC) in preparing their scholarship application for award consideration. ACS's are listed on the IHS Web site at:
      The attached notice also includes contact information for IHS Area Scholarship Coordinators."

      "Indian Health Service Issues Reimbursement Rates for Calendar Year 201," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-008, January 19th, 2017, reported, "The Indian Health Service (IHS) issued in a January 18, 2017, FEDERAL REGISTER notice its Calendar Year (CY) 2017 reimbursement rates applicable to Medicare and Medicaid services provided by IHS-funded health programs (operated by IHS and tribes/tribal organizations). These rates are set annually by IHS, with the concurrence of the Office of Management and Budget, and are based on cost reports compiled by IHS. The notice may be found here:
      Medicare Part A (Inpatient Services) rates are not included in the notice as they are paid based on the prospective payment system. A comparison of the 2016 and 2017 rates follows:
Inpatient Hospital Per Diem Rate (Excludes Physician Services) for MEDICAID
CY 2016 CY 2017
Lower 48 $2,655 $2,933
Alaska $3,335 $3,235
      Outpatient Per Visit Rate (Excluding Medicare) for MEDICAID
CY 2016 CY 2017
Lower 48 $368 $391
Alaska $603 $616
Outpatient Per Visit Rate for MEDICARE
CY 2016 CY 2017
Lower 48 $324 $349
Alaska $582 $577
MEDICARE Part B Inpatient Ancillary Per Diem Rate
CY 2016 CY 2017
Lower 48 $637 $ 679
Alaska $1,082 $1,046
      The Outpatient Surgery Rates for Medicare are the established Medicare rates for freestanding Ambulatory Surgery Centers."

      "Department of Health and Human Services Issues Hiring Freeze Guidance," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-016, February 10th, 2017,, reported, " This Memorandum updates our General Memorandum 17-014 (February 3, 2017) on the Presidentially-ordered federal hiring freeze with information about the guidance issued this week by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) detailing the occupational exemptions that may be granted to the federal hiring freeze, including for the Indian Health Service (IHS).
      On February 6, HHS Acting Deputy Secretary Colleen Barros signed a Memorandum (HHS Memorandum), which added welcome detail to the President's January 23 hiring freeze order and the two subsequent guidance documents regarding the categories of HHS personnel to be exempted from the hiring freeze. We attach as one document the HHS Memorandum, the previous Office of Management and Budget/Office of Personnel Management (OMB/OPM) guidance of January 31, and the HHS listing of occupations exempt from the hiring freeze.
The OMB/OPM guidance of January 31 had, via reference to a 1981 OMB Memorandum, exempted from the freeze personnel undertaking "medical care of inpatients and emergency outpatient care" but with no further detail. The February 6 HHS Memorandum attached a list of 78 occupations which goes beyond direct medical care and includes critical support such as food service, housekeeping, medical records administration, security, and social services. The HHS Memorandum notes that it "specifically includes Indian Health Service Critical Hire appointments, which are temporary excepted service appointments under Schedule A, section 213.3102(i)(2)."
      There are seven occupations which require pre-approval from HHS to ensure that the work is for "recruitment and placement activities directly related to public safety and national security" and they are also listed in the attached chart. The HHS Memorandum notes that the Commissioned Corps is in the exempted category (they had been listed as exempt in previous guidance as well). HHS also notes that "additional guidance for requesting further exemptions will be forthcoming."
      The HHS Memorandum should go a long way in helping IHS programs make plans during the duration of the hiring freeze. There is, at this time, no end point specified for the hiring freeze. The President's Memorandum of January 31 provides that it would end upon implementation of a plan to reduce the size of the federal government's workforce through attrition."

      "DOJ says the United States Retains Concurrent Jurisdiction in 'optional' PL 280 States," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-012, February 3rd, 2017,, reported, "On January 18, 2017, the United States Department of Justice through John C. Cruden, Assistant Attorney General, and Sam Hirsch, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, sent a memorandum to all U.S. Attorneys in so-called 'optional' PL 280 states (Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Florida) advising them that the official position of the Justice Department is that the United States retains concurrent criminal jurisdiction in those states. The memorandum resolves ‘“a longstanding question' as to whether the United States has concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute crimes under federal criminal statutes in states such as Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Florida, which "opted in" to criminal jurisdiction in Indian country under Section 7 of Public Law 83-280 (PL 280).
      The memorandum clarifies that the Justice Department 'no longer adheres to the position [the Office of the Solicitor General] took more than 35 years ago on this issue.' In Washington v. Confederated Bands and Tribes of the Yakima Indian Nation, 439 U.S. 463 (1979) (Yakima), DOJ argued that the United States had ceded federal jurisdiction to Washington, an optional PL 280 state. A year later, the Office of the Solicitor General declined to authorize an appeal in a criminal case against an Indian in Washington because the State had optional jurisdiction under PL 280.
      In support of its position the Justice Department cited the DOJ manual as well as a provision of its regulations codified at 28 C.F.R 50.25(a)(2) that states that its 'view' is that concurrent jurisdiction exists in optional PL 280 states. More importantly, the Justice Department interprets the text of PL 280 to suspend federal criminal jurisdiction in
Indian country only in the "mandatory" states. The Justice Department also concludes that its position of concurrent jurisdiction is supported by the well-established presumption against implied repeals. Finally, the Justice Department argues that while the "mandatory" PL 280 states were consulted prior to passage of the law, the 'optional' PL 280 states were not. This distinction supports the argument that Congress intended to treat criminal jurisdiction in 'mandatory' and 'optional' PL 280 states differently."

      "Tribes Can Benefit from Expedited Process for Amending Land Management Plans Under the Forest Service's New Final Rule," Hobbs-Straus
General Memorandum 17-007, January 12th, 2017,, reported, "On December 15, 2016, the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, published a final rule revising the regulations governing amendments to land management plans for the National Forest System. 81 Fed. Reg. 90723. This final rule, which adopts revisions proposed on October 12, 2016, will be useful for tribes who wish to see their priorities better reflected in forest land management plans. See our General Memorandum 16-063 (Oct. 20, 2016). The final rule may be found here:
      Many National Forest System lands are adjacent to tribal lands; encompass parts of sacred landscapes and sacred sites; and contain culturally-important plants and other natural resources. In addition, overgrown federal forests can pose a fire risk to adjacent tribal forests. The Forest Service has a statutory duty under the National Forest Management Act of 1976, 16 U.S.C. § 1604, to develop a land management plan for each of the units that comprise the National Forest System (154 national forests, 20 grasslands, and 1 prairie). The purpose of the final rule is to make it easier for the Forest Service to make relatively minor amendments to these land management plans, without going through the cumbersome process of fully revising the plan, which can take years and requires the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). One reason this final rule is important is that all of the plans now in effect were adopted before the Forest Service regulations required consultation with tribes in the development of land management plans. By promulgating a final rule which expedites the process for amending plans, the Forest Service has given tribes an opportunity to shape land management plans in ways that take their priorities into account.
      Background. As discussed in the preamble to the final rule, all of the plans that are now in effect were adopted pursuant to regulations issued in 1982. On April 9, 2012, the Forest Service issued a revised final rule governing land management plans. 77 Fed. Reg. 21161 (36 C.F.R. part 219). The 2012 rule includes provisions for outreach to, and consultation with, Indian tribes and Alaska Native corporations, including a requirement that, as part of tribal participation and consultation, the responsible Forest Service official "shall request information about native knowledge, land ethics, cultural issues, and sacred and culturally significant sites." 36 C.F.R. § 219.4.
      There are fundamental differences in structure and content between the 2012 rule and the 1982 rule. The 2012 rule reflects 30 years of experience with land management planning, including an emphasis on adaptive management in response to changing conditions and new information. As such, the 2012 rule calls for an iterative approach in which the Forest Service may "amend" a plan at any time in order to keep it current. The rule distinguishes between "amendment" of a plan and "revision." A plan revision, required by statute at least once every 15 years, is a comprehensive process that, in effect, creates a new plan. Of the existing 127 land management plans, 68 are past due for revision, but the Forest Service does not have the resources to conduct all of the revisions at once.
      Changes Made by the Final Rule. A plan amendment does not create a new plan, but, rather, leaves the underlying plan in effect except to the extent changed by the amendment. The regulatory changes made by the December 2016 final rule are intended to clarify the extent to which the underlying plan must be changed when an amendment is adopted. The 2012 rule includes four subjects that must be addressed in a plan: sustainability; diversity of plant and animal communities; multiple uses; and timber requirements based on the National Forest Management Act. 36 C.F.R. §§ 219.8-219.11. The December 2016 final rule provides that, in a plan amendment, the responsible official 'must determine which substantive requirements within §§ 219.8 through 219.11 of the 2012 rule are directly related to the plan direction being added, modified or removed by the amendment, and apply those requirements to the amendment' (Emphasis added.) Substantive requirements that are not directly related need not be addressed. In contrast, a new plan or plan revision must bring the plan into compliance with every requirement within §§ 219.8 through 219.11. As explained in the preamble, the final rule adopts the basic approach that had been set out in the proposed rule, although a number of minor changes in wording were made in response to comments to clarify various points.
       How This Helps Tribes. As noted in our General Memorandum 16-063, the changes in the rules to expedite the adoption of plan amendments can work to the benefit of tribes. For example, a tribe may seek to obtain trees, portions of trees, and forest products from National Forest System land for traditional and cultural purposes, as authorized by section 8105 of the law commonly known as the "2008 Farm Bill" (Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, PL 110-246 (25 U.S.C. § 3055)) and the recently issued final rule implementing that law. 81 Fed. Reg. 65891 (to be codified at 36 C.F.R. § 223.15). In such a case, if the tribe's interests were not accounted for in a management plan, the Forest Service could respond to the tribe's expression of interest in such an area by adopting a plan amendment, without having to wait years for a plan revision."

      "HUD Establishes Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee; Seeks Nominations," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-078. December 22nd, 2016,, reported, "On December 21, 2016, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER establishing the Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee (TIAC, or Committee) and soliciting nominations for tribal leaders (or their designees) to serve on the Committee. The purpose of the TIAC is to further communications between HUD and federally recognized Indian tribes on HUD programs, make recommendations to HUD regarding current program regulations, and provide advice in the development of HUD's American Indian and Alaska Native housing priorities. Nominations are due February 21, 2017. Further information on submitting nominations is in the attached FEDERAL REGISTER notice.
      Role of the TIAC. The TIAC is intended to enhance the government-to-government relationships, communications, and mutual cooperation between HUD and tribal governments. HUD notes that several other federal agencies have established similar tribal advisory committees, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of the Treasury. As is the case with these other tribal advisory committees, the TIAC is not intended to take the place of tribal consultation and nor is it intended to be a body that negotiates any changes to regulations which are subject to negotiated rulemaking. Specifically, the TIAC is not intended to and will not replace the negotiated rulemaking process for Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) regulations.
      Structure of the TIAC. The TIAC will be composed of up to six HUD officials (including the Secretary and his or her designee, as well as the Assistant Secretaries for Public and Indian Housing; Policy Development and Research; and Community Planning and Development). The TIAC will be composed of up to fifteen tribal representatives. Up to two tribal members will represent each of the six HUD Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) Regions. Up to three tribal members will serve at-large. Only tribal leaders may serve as members of the TIAC; however, once selected, a tribal leader may designate an alternate who is a tribal employee and has the authority to act on their behalf. The TIAC will develop its own ruling charter and protocols and HUD will provide staff for the TIAC. Members will serve staggered terms of two years. The Secretary will appoint the members of the TIAC from among the nominations received. Members will be selected based on proven experience and interest in American Indian and Alaska Native housing and community development matters. One of the tribal members will be selected by the TIAC to serve as the chairperson.
      TIAC Meetings. Subject to the availability of federal funding, the TIAC will meet in-person at least once a year and may meet on a more frequent basis by conference call. HUD may pay for these meetings, including travel costs. The TIAC will convene after October 1, 2017."

      "Nuclear Regulatory Commission Adopts Tribal Policy Statement," Hobbs, Straus
General Memorandum 17-009, January 27th, 2017,, reported, "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has adopted a Tribal Policy Statement to 'promote effective government-to-government interactions with American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, and to encourage and facilitate Tribal involvement in the areas over which the Commission has jurisdiction.' 82 Fed. Reg. 2402 (Jan. 9, 2017), available at:
      The Policy Statement includes the following six principles:
       1) The NRC Recognizes the Federal Trust Relationship With and Will Uphold Its Trust Responsibility to Indian Tribes
      2) The NRC Recognizes and Is Committed to a Government-to-Government Relationship With Indian Tribes
      3) The NRC Will Conduct Outreach to Indian Tribes
      4) The NRC Will Engage in Timely Consultation
      5) The NRC Will Coordinate With Other Federal Agencies
      6) The NRC Will Encourage Participation by State-Recognized Tribes

      The NRC is an independent federal regulatory agency with jurisdiction over activities involving uranium recovery, commercial nuclear power, and nuclear waste transportation, disposal, and storage. As an independent agency, it is not covered by certain executive orders, including EO 13175, 'Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments."' The FEDERAL REGISTER notice provides extensive information regarding the lengthy process that the NRC carried out in adopting the Tribal Policy Statement. Prior to its adoption, the NRC had not formalized an agency-wide policy regarding tribes. Rather, its interactions with tribal governments had been conducted on a case-by-case basis. As recounted in the FEDERAL REGISTER notice, NRC staff had recommended against adopting a formal policy, preferring to continue conducting relations with tribes case-by-case. The Commission, however, declined to accept that advice and, in May 2012, decided to proceed with development of a formal policy."

      "IRS Publishes Final Rule on the Reporting of Gaming Winnings; Tribal Comments Reflected," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-003, January 6th, 2017,, reported, "On December 30, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published in the FEDERAL REGISTER a Final Rule on the reporting of winnings from bingo, keno, and slot machines (pari-mutuel gambling winnings are addressed in a separate rulemaking process). The Rule did not adopt the proposed lower threshold for reporting slot winnings and electronic player tracking provisions which were identified as overly burdensome. The new Rule is effective immediately. A copy is available here:
      The publication of the Rule finalizes a rulemaking process that began in March 2015. The final regulations incorporate changes from the proposed rule that reflect these tribal and commercial gaming industry concerns. We briefly describe these provisions of the Rule below.
      • Reporting Thresholds. The Rule does not adopt a lower reporting threshold for gaming winnings.
      • Electronically Tracked Slot Machine Play. The Rule does not adopt the proposal of creating rules for electronically tracked slot machine play (through the use of a player reward card or similar system) to record the amount a specific individual wins and wagers on slot machine play.
      • Optional Aggregate Reporting Method. While the reporting of gambling winnings is required each time a payor makes a payment that meets the reporting threshold, the Rule creates a new optional aggregate reporting method, allowing payors under certain conditions to report the aggregate amount of such reportable gambling winnings on one Form W–2G.
      • Payee Identification Requirements. The Rule retains the requirement that the payor must obtain two forms of identification from the payee to verify the payee's identity. However, the Rule broadens the list of acceptable identification to include W-9 forms as well as tribal member identification cards issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe.
      Our firm prepared and submitted comments on behalf of several of our tribal clients on the proposed rule. Please let us know if we may provide additional information on the IRS Final Rule on Information Returns; Winnings from Bingo, Keno, and Slot Machines."

       Konnie LeMay, "Census Bureau Launches My Tribal Area for Indian Country: My Tribal Area is a statistical one-stop shop that pinpoints facts on reservation, trust lands," ICTMN, May 18, 2017,, reported, " A new online tool, My Tribal Area , launched the first week of May by the U.S. Census Bureau, intends to offer easy access to statistics about population, jobs, housing, economy, and education within reservation and trust-held lands for 618 federally or state-recognized tribes. The one-stop statistical shop includes a small map showing each area covered and a glossary explaining the different statistical designated areas.
      In a blog about the new launch, Census Director John H. Thompson said My Tribal Area was developed after 18 consultations with 18 tribal leaders."

      The U.S. Census Bureau, in February 2017, expanded the number of polling places in Alaska at which ballots will be in Native languages ("Feds expand areas in which ballots will be in native languages," NFIC, February 2017).

       The National Museum of the American Indian (NAMI has held 35 consultation sessions around the United States on the establishment of the Native American Veterans Memorial to be unveiled on the grounds of NAMI on Veterans Day 2020 (Sacha Smith, "Vets, NAMI talk national Memorial," Southern Ute Drum, May 12, 2017)

      " Notice of Violation and Closure Order Issued Against the Nooksack Tribe," National Indian Gaming Commission, June 15, 2017, , announced, "Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), Jonodev O. Chaudhuri, issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) and immediate Closure Order against the Nooksack Tribe’s gaming operation, the Northwood Casino, in Washington. The NOV resulted from a thorough and multi-faceted investigation by the NIGC that identified numerous violations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), NIGC regulations and the Nooksack Tribal Gaming Ordinance. The NOV details the violations as:
      The Tribe failed to maintain its sole proprietary interest and responsibility for the conduct of any gaming activity.
The Tribe failed to submit the required attestation certifying that the construction and maintenance of the gaming facility adequately protects the environment and public health and safety.
      The Tribe failed to maintain and operate the gaming facility in a manner that adequately protects the environment and public health and safety, which is evident in orders issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) detailing significant deficiencies of the Safe Drinking Water Act that have occurred at six water systems, including the Northwood Casino Water System.
      The Tribe failed to perform required licensing actions for members of the Nooksack Business Corporation II (NBCII) who are primary management officials of the Northwood Casino.
      'We do not take lightly the issuance of notices of violation and closure orders against tribal gaming operations. We are taking this significant enforcement action only after a complete analysis of the unique circumstances involved, including a full review of the structure of the Tribe’s governing and business bodies. The violations set forth in the Notice compromise the integrity of the Northwood Casino and the gaming industry as a whole, diminish the sole proprietary interests of the Tribe, threaten the health and safety of the public, and impede the Tribe’s ability to make necessary decisions to administer their operations.' Chaudhuri said.
In order to correct the ongoing violations, the Nooksack Tribe must comply with all licensing requirements, submit the required construction and maintenance attestation, and take corrective action to resolve the EPA violations. The Tribe could face civil penalty violations in the amount of $50,276 for each violation per day of occurrence until corrected.
The full Notice of Violations and Closure Order is available here.
      For additional developments, regulations and announcements from the National Indian Gaming Commission, visit:

Federal Indian Budgets

      "Congress Approves Extension of the FY 2017 Resolution for One Week," Hobbs Straus GENERAL MEMORANDUM 17-026, April 29th, 2017,, reported, Congress approved today, April 28, a one-week extension of the FY 2017 Continuing Resolution in order to continue funding federal agencies, thus averting a partial government shutdown at midnight tonight. The Resolution, H. J. Res. 99, will extend through May 5, 2017, and the President has said he will sign it. This is the third FY 2017 Continuing Resolution (see our General Memoranda 16-059 of September 29, 2016, and 16-076 of December 12, 2016).
      The only FY 2017 appropriations bill enacted thus far is for Military Construction-Veterans Administration programs. Congressional appropriators have been negotiating the remaining 11 appropriations bills which would likely be combined into an "omnibus" piece of legislation. Congress is hoping that the one-week CR will be a sufficient amount of time to finish the negotiations and produce an omnibus appropriations bill next week. Given that there are only five months left in the fiscal year, the changes that can be made from the FY 2016 funding levels and conditions provided under the CR, will be somewhat limited. It does, however, offer opportunities for some increases over FY 2016.
      Approval of the CR was in doubt earlier in the week over the insistence of the Administration that FY 2017 funding be provided to begin work on constructing a wall on our southern border and its resistance to continuing to pay subsidies for low-income persons who participate in the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Ultimately, the Administration dropped those demands. Democrats also indicated they would not support the one-week CR if House Republican leadership brought to a vote this week another version of the Affordable Care Act replace/repeal bill. The House GOP did not schedule such a bill for floor action, lacking the votes for passage."

      "Update on Status of FY 2017 Appropriations; Current Funding Expires Midnight April 28, 2017," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-021, April 7th, 2017,, reported, " Congress adjourned today for a two week break, leaving in limbo the status of FY 2017 funding for federal agencies which is set to expire midnight of April 28, 2017. Congress reconvenes April 24, leaving four days to reach a final agreement, for the legislation to pass the House and Senate, and to be sent to and signed by the President in order to avoid a partial government shutdown. The only FY 2017 appropriations bill enacted thus far is the Military Construction/Veterans Administration bill; thus the agreement would cover all other federal agencies.
       Federal agencies (other than Military Construction/VA) are being funded under a Continuing Resolution (CR) which provides funding primarily at pro rata FY 2016 levels and conditions. Given that there are only five months left in the fiscal year, there is some limitation on the changes that can effectively be made at this point in time. It has been 21 years (1996) since Congress did not need to rely on at least some form of CR to keep federal agencies funded.
      Up in the air is whether final FY 2017 funding will be provided through yet another CR at FY 2016 levels and conditions, an omnibus appropriations bill which reflects some of the FY 2017 Appropriations Committee recommendations, or a hybrid of these approaches. Even a CR which extends through the remaining five months of the fiscal year could contain a limited number of "anomalies" (funding levels which differ from the FY 2016 amounts).
      We understand that there have been productive behind-the-scenes negotiations on FY 2017 appropriations bills in an effort to reach agreement on legislation which would reflect some of the changes recommended by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, rather than to only continue funding at FY 2016 levels and conditions. For instance, the House Appropriations Committee has recommended increases for the Indian Health Service (IHS) in the areas of built-in costs, Purchased/Referred Care and Urban Indian Health while the Senate Committee has proposed more funding for IHS behavioral health. For the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), FY 2016 represented an important step forward in terms of Congress providing full funding for Tribal Grant Support Costs along with substantial increases for School Construction and School Facilities Operations and Maintenance. For FY 2017, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have proposed further increases for Tribal Grant Support Costs and School Facilities Operations and Maintenance while the House Appropriations Committee has also proposed an increase for Indian School Equalization Program (ISEP) formula funds, the primary funding source for educational programs at BIE-funded K-12 schools.
      As of this writing, we understand that some unresolved issues remain. An apparent pitfall – and one that could result in at least a short-term government shutdown due to opposition from Democrats – is the Administration's 11th hour proposal to increase FY 2017 defense spending by $30 billion and provide $3 billion for initial work on construction of a wall on our southern border. The Trump Administration proposal to partially offset the defense spending proposal is to reduce domestic discretionary spending by $18 billion – a proposal that is opposed by members of both parties.
      Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is expected to release its detailed proposed
FY 2018 budget in mid-May. We reported in our General Memorandum 17-020 (March 23, 2017) on their proposed FY 2018 "skinny" budget. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies has said they would like to have an FY 2018 hearing for public witnesses on Indian programs under its jurisdiction but thus far no date has been set."

      "Indian Affairs FY 2017 Appropriations," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-032, June 16th, 2017,, reported, "On May 5, 2017, President Trump signed HR 244, the Consolidated Appropriations, FY 2017 Act (Act) which provides funding for federal agencies for the remaining five months of the fiscal year. Prior to this, only one full-year appropriations bill (Military Construction/Veterans) had been enacted. Consolidated Appropriations, FY 2017 is Public Law 115-31 and the accompanying House and Senate Committee reports are H. Rept. 114-632 and S. Rept. 114-281. An Explanatory Statement serves as the conference report. The final bill language and the Explanatory Statement are published in the May 3, 2017, CONGRESSIONAL RECORD. We attach excerpts of relevant budget charts from the Explanatory Statement. In this Memorandum, we report on the final FY 2017 funding for Indian Affairs (which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)) which is in Division G of the Act, as well as a few other selected programs.
      The Act halted federal agencies having to operate in FY 2017 under a Continuing Resolution, primarily at FY 2016 funding levels, as it represents a negotiated agreement among Congressional leaders.
      The Explanatory Statement provides that "Report language contained in House Report 114-632 and Senate Report 114-281 providing specific guidance to agencies regarding the administration of appropriated funds and any corresponding reporting requirements carries the same emphasis as the language included in this explanatory statement and should be complied with unless specifically addressed to the contrary herein. This explanatory statement, while repeating some language for emphasis, is not intended to negate the language referred to above unless expressly provided herein."
      The references to the "Administration's request" or "request" in this Memorandum refer to the Obama Administration's FY 2017 proposed budget for Indian Affairs. We will report separately on the Trump Administration's FY 2018 proposed budget for Indian Affairs.
      For FY 2017, the Act provides $2.8 billion for Indian Affairs. This is $73.9 million less than the Administration's request ($2.9 billion) but $63.6 million above the FY 2016 enacted level ($2.7 billion).
      The Administration requested and Congress continued to provide strong funding levels for priorities such as School Construction and the Tiwahe Initiative. Of note, Contract Supports Costs continued as an "indefinite appropriation" with Congress providing "such sums as may be necessary" and for the second fiscal year in a row, Congress provided what is estimated to be full funding for the Tribal Grant Support Costs of tribally-controlled schools.
      Indian Reorganization Act – Carcieri Fix Not Included. The Administration continued to request and Congress continued to not provide language which would reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's 2009 decision that the Secretary of the Interior does not have authority to take land into trust for tribes under federal jurisdiction after 1934. The Carcieri-Fix language that the Administration requested for FY 2017 is the same as what was requested in FYs 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
      Restriction on Implementation of New Federal Recognition Rule Not Included. The Act omits language from the General Provisions section of the House bill which would have restricted the Secretary of Interior from implementing, administering, or enforcing the new Federal Acknowledgment rule. Instead, the Explanatory Statement simply states:
      The Committees acknowledge concerns expressed by certain tribes, States, and bipartisan members of Congress regarding recent changes in tribal recognition policy on standards that have been applied to new applicants since 1978. Federal acknowledgement of a tribe impacts the Federal budget, other tribes, State and local jurisdictions, and individual rights. The Committees expect the Administration to maintain rigorous recognition standards while implementing a more transparent, efficient, and workable process.
FY 2016 Enacted $2,267,924,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $2,395,786,000
FY 2017 Enacted $2,339,346,000
      Operation of Indian Programs (OIP) budget includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).
      Rescission. The Explanatory Statement explains, "The bill includes a rescission of $3,400,000 from prior year unobligated balances within the Operation of Indian Programs account. The Bureau is directed to take the rescission from no-year funds within the Executive Direction and Administrative Services activity."
      Fixed Costs and Transfers. The Administration had requested a $5.2 million increase for fixed costs as well as a number of transfers between accounts. The Explanatory Statement states that the requested fixed costs and transfers are included in the final agreement.
FY 2016 Enacted $1,415,557,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $1,483,356,000
FY 2017 Enacted $1,447,833,000
      Activities within the Bureau of Indian Affairs are: Tribal Government; Human Services; Trust-Natural Resources Management; Trust-Real Estate Services; Public Safety and Justice; Community and Economic Development; and Executive Direction and Administrative Services.
FY 2016 Enacted $301,517,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $307,148,000
FY 2017 Enacted $308,815,000
      The Tribal Government sub-activities are: Aid to Tribal Government; Consolidated Tribal Government Program; Self-Governance Compacts; New Tribes; Small and Needy Tribes; Road Maintenance; and Tribal Government Program Oversight. (See attached: FY 2017 Enacted Budget Chart, p. 62U)
      New Tribes. This sub-activity provides $160,000 in Tribal Priority Allocation (TPA) base funding per tribe to support newly federally-recognized tribes. Once a tribe has been acknowledged, it remains in this category for three fiscal years. The Administration had requested no funding for this sub-activity in FY 2017; however, the Explanatory Statement provides $160,000, explaining, "If additional Tribes are recognized during fiscal year 2017 beyond those contemplated in the budget request, the Bureau is urged to support their capacity building efforts to the extent feasible."
      Small and Needy Tribes. This sub-activity provides a minimum base level by which small and needy tribes can run viable tribal governments. The Administration had requested $3 million but the Explanatory Statement provides $4.4 million, "ensuring that all Tribes receive the maximum base level provided by the Bureau to run Tribal governments."
      Road Maintenance. The Administration had requested $26.7 million for this sub-activity noting that the amount received by tribes in the TPA portion of this budget sub-activity generally equals about only 9 percent of the estimated $289 million in deferred maintenance. The Explanatory Statement provides $30 million and directs, "The Bureau is urged to focus the program increase on roads and bridges in poor or failing condition, particularly along school bus routes. The Bureau is directed to consolidate the reporting requirements for road maintenance contained in the House and Senate reports and to report back to the Committees within 60 days of enactment of this Act."
      The House Report states:
      The Committee recognizes that only 16 percent of BIA-owned roads and only 67 percent of BIA-owned bridges are in fair condition or better. The increase above the budget request is intended for BIA owned roads and bridges in poor or failing condition, particularly along school bus routes.
      The Committee remains concerned by the BIA's substantial road maintenance backlog, particularly as it impacts rural tribal communities that lack adequate emergency access corridors. The Committee directs the Secretary to submit a report outlining the steps the BIA is taking to address the safety and emergency access issues experienced by remote and isolated tribal communities.
      The Senate Report states:
      The Committee is concerned about the future funding of the Road Maintenance account and the backlog for deferred maintenance of roads in Indian Country; therefore, the Committee directs the Bureau to report back to the Committee in 60 days of enactment of this act on how the Bureau plans to allocate the funds provided in the bill.
      Tribal Government Program Oversight. The Administration had requested a $4 million increase above FY 2016 for this sub-activity in order to continue to develop a national Native One-Stop Support Center. The purpose of the Center is to make it easier for tribes to find and access information about programs, services and funding opportunities available across the federal government. Congress declined to fund this requested increase.
      The House Report explains:
      The recommendation does not include the requested increases for the web portal because of the already limited funding for core tribal government programs. Indian Affairs is encouraged to coordinate with the web portal, to share costs with other Federal agencies, and to reconsider the need to hire regional staff, before including the proposal in the fiscal year 2018 budget request.
FY 2016 Enacted $147,004,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $164,161,000
FY 2017 Enacted $159,161,000
      The Human Services sub-activities are: Social Services; Welfare Assistance; Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA); Housing Improvement Program (HIP); Human Services Tribal Design; and Human Services Program Oversight. (See attached: FY 2017 Enacted Budget Chart, p. 62U)
Tiwahe Initiative. The Administration had requested a $17.4 million increase for the portion of the Tiwahe Initiative funded by the Human Services activity. This requested increase came in the form of a $12.3 million requested increase for the Social Services sub-activity; a $3.4 million requested increase for the ICWA sub-activity and a $1.7 million requested increase for the Housing Improvement Program sub-activity. The Explanatory Statement provides $12.1 million of that $17.4 million requested increase and directs the BIA to "report back to the Committees within 90 days of enactment of this Act on the performance measures being used to monitor and track the Tiwahe initiative's effectiveness in Indian Country."
      The House Report emphasizes that the increase should be used to "provide culturally-appropriate services with the goals of empowering individuals and families through health promotion, family stability, and strengthening tribal communities as a whole… [and to] keep AI/AN children in need of foster care in AI/AN communities wherever possible." The House Report further emphasizes that "Indian Affairs is urged to make services available to law enforcement officers in coordination with the Indian Health Service."
      The Senate Committee concurs that the increases are to "expand and continue the Tiwahe initiative." Further, "The Committee recommends increasing funds for Tiwahe as a way to strengthen tribal communities in Indian country by leveraging programs and resources; however, it is important to measure program effectiveness as the initiative continues and grows. The Committee directs the Bureau to report back in 90 days of enactment of this act on the performance measures being used to monitor and track the initiative's effectiveness in Indian country."
FY 2016 Enacted $191,846,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $215,597,000
FY 2017 Enacted $200,992,000
      The Trust–Natural Resources Management sub-activities are: Natural Resources, general; Irrigation Operation and Maintenance; Rights Protection Implementation; Tribal Management/Development Programs; Endangered Species; Tribal Climate Resilience/Cooperative Landscape Conservation; Integrated Resource Information; Agriculture and Range; Forestry; Water Resources; Fish/Wildlife & Parks; and Resource Management Oversight. (See attached: FY 2017 Enacted Budget Chart, p. 62V)
      For FY 2017, the Administration had requested substantial increases across the Trust-Natural Resources Management Activity, totaling $23.7 million above FY 2016. Of the $23.7 million in requested increases, Congress provided $9.1 million. This increase was largely concentrated in the following sub-activities: Irrigation Operation and Maintenance; Rights Protection Implementation; Tribal Management/Development Programs; Forestry; and Fish/Wildlife & Parks.
      Rights Protection Implementation. The House Report states that the increase is provided "in order to meet Federal court litigated and mitigated responsibilities in the conservation and management of fish and wildlife resources."
      Tribal Management/Development Program: Alaska Subsistence. The Administration had requested a $5 million increase for this sub-activity with $2 million of that increase to be focused on subsistence management in Alaska. The Administration stated that "the funding will support and expand projects in targeted areas across the State that promote tribal cooperative management of fish and wildlife and improved access to subsistence resources on Federal land and waters. (FY 2017 Budget Justification, p. IA-TNR-22) Congress funded the $2 million requested increase.
      The Explanatory Statement provides:
      The agreement includes … a $2,000,000 program increase for Alaska subsistence programs as requested, including consideration of funding for the projects and pilot programs referenced in the budget submission including the Ahtna Subsistence Cooperative Management Project and the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission.
      Tribal Climate Resilience/Cooperative Landscape Conservation. The Administration had requested a $3.1 million increase for this sub-activity, specifically as a "… set-aside to support Alaska Native Villages in the Arctic and other critically vulnerable communities to improve the long-term resilience of their communities." (FY 2017 Budget Justification, p. IA-TNR-22).
Congress declined to provide this requested increase; however, the House Report directed the       BIA to act as follows:
      The Committee supports the Bureau of Indian Affairs' efforts to address the resiliency needs of tribal communities by working to address threats to public safety, natural resources, and sacred sites. The Committee is particularly concerned about coastal tribal communities and Alaska Native Villages that face severe challenges to their long-term resilience. Consistent with the Federal government's treaty and trust obligations, the Committee directs the Bureau of Indian Affairs to work with at-risk tribes to identify and expedite the necessary resources to support mitigation and relocation efforts.
      Forestry. The Administration had requested flat funding for this sub-activity; however, Congress provided a $2.2 million increase directed to forest thinning projects.
      The House Report continued the following report language on agreements with tribes:
      The Department of the Interior is encouraged to promote and expand the use of agreements with Indian tribes to protect Indian trust resources from catastrophic wildland fire, insect and disease infestation, or other threats from adjacent Federal lands, as authorized by law.
      Water Resources. The Administration had requested a $4.5 million increase for this sub-activity to fund:
      …additional activities necessary to manage tribal water resources, support additional BIA management staff and to provide an amount not to exceed $2.5 million for use by the Secretary's Indian Water Rights Office in analyzing individual water settlement proposals, training settlement and negotiation teams, and otherwise implementing national policy objectives concerning Indian water settlements. (FY 2017 Budget Justification, p. IA-TNR-5)
Congress ultimately provided only $83,000 of the requested increase; however, both the House and Senate Report specified that from within the total $10.4 million provided for the Water Resources sub-activity, $390,000 is to be used to continue the Seminole and Miccosukee water study (as requested by the Administration).
      Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The Administration had requested a $2 million increase for this sub-activity to be directed to ensure resilience in planning development , and operations. Ultimately, Congress provided a $1.5 million increase, specifying that $545,000 of that be directed to "Tribal hatcheries currently not receiving BIA hatchery operations funding as outlined in the Senate report, and $1 million for fish hatchery operations." The Senate Report elaborates that the $545,000 is for "substantially producing tribal hatcheries in BIA's Northwest Region currently not receiving BIA hatchery operations funding."
      Partnership with USGS. The Explanatory Statement directs, "The Bureau is directed to enter into a formal partnership with local Tribes and the United States Geological Survey to help develop a water quality strategy for transboundary rivers affected by discharges caused by mines across the Canadian border." The Senate Report elaborates that this includes the Unuk River.
      Challenges. The Senate Report states, "The Committee also recognizes that many tribes west of the Mississippi River tend to have reservations that are larger in terms of land mass than those east of the Mississippi River and face challenges including drought. However, the Committee expects that tribes across the country who have resource challenges receive appropriate funding."
FY 2016 Enacted $127,486,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $136,192,000
FY 2017 Enacted $123,092,000
      The Trust–Real Estate Services sub-activities are: Trust Services; Navajo-Hopi Settlement Program; Land Title and Records Offices; Real Estate Services; Land Records Improvement; Environmental Quality; Alaskan Native Programs; Rights Protection; and Trust-Real Estate Services Oversight.
      The major changes requested by the Administration were a $6.8 million reduction to the Trust Services sub-activity to reflect the completion of the Klamath River program and a $7.5 million increase to the Rights Protection sub-activity to support the quantification of Indian water rights through litigation and settlement negotiations. Congress obliged with the $6.8 million reduction.
      The Explanatory Statement describes the increases and decreases Congress ultimately provided within the Trust–Real Estate Services activity:
      The agreement includes $123,092,000 for real estate services and includes the following program changes: a decrease of $6,893,000 as requested from trust services; a $400,000 increase for the historical places and cemetery sites program, including ANCSA sites; and a $1,500,000 increase for settlement negotiations and implementation related to water rights and Tribal trust fishery resources in the Klamath Basin.
      Reservation Boundaries. In the Explanatory Statement, Congress ultimately rejected the following language from the House Report, "Indian Affairs is directed to recognize the Yakama Indian Nation's tribal boundary as the boundary established by the State of Washington and the Congress."
      Title Conveyance Requests. The House Report directs:
      The Committee directs the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to have no outstanding title conveyance requests older than 12 months, including those that have been initially rejected by the Land Titles and Record Offices for insufficient or incorrect documentation, by September, 2017. The Committee expects an update on the status of outstanding conveyances by September, 2017 and a report on what the BIA will be changing in their operations policy to ensure these backlogs and documentation related rejections do not occur in the future.
      Rights-of-Way Records.
      The Explanatory Statement urges:
      The Committees are concerned that the Bureau does not adequately maintain rights-of-way records. The Bureau is encouraged to develop a plan to update and digitize its inventory of records and to make the records publicly available in a commonly used mapping format, consistent with the guidance provided in Senate Report 114-281.
      The Senate Report directs:
      The Committee is aware that the Bureau's process for maintaining rights-of-way records has long been a problem and encourages the Bureau to develop a plan to update and digitize its inventory of records and to make the records publicly available in a commonly used mapping format. The Committee is concerned that some records have been lost and the Bureau often struggles to provide documentation to tribes and other stakeholders in a timely fashion. The lack of access to current records creates bureaucratic roadblocks that too often disrupt projects on Indian land and create unnecessary conflict. Updating and digitizing rights-of way documents and making them available on a public database will ensure that the BIA is fulfilling its responsibility to tribes and will help ensure that projects are completed in a more timely and cost-effective manner.
FY 2016 Enacted $377,423,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $373,460,000
FY 2017 Enacted $385,735,000
      The Public Safety and Justice sub-activities are: Law Enforcement; Tribal Courts; and Fire Protection. (See attached: FY 2017 Enacted Budget Chart, p. 62W)
In FY 2016, Congress exceeded the Administration's request by $13 million. In FY 2017, Congress once again exceeded the Administration's request, this time by $12.2 million.
Tiwahe Initiative. An aspect of the Tiwahe Initiative is identifying and treating the social, behavioral and substance abuse needs of convicted offenders and facilitating their re-entry into communities. Another is strengthening tribal court systems to address issues related to children and family services and as well as finding solutions to reducing recidivism. To carry out the Tiwahe Initiative, the Administration requested and Congress provided a $1 million increase to the Detention/Corrections program element (to bolster inmate support activities) for a total of $96.5 million and a $2.6 million increase to the Tribal Courts program element (to support existing Tiwahe pilot project sites and add five additional sites) for a total of $30.7 million.
      Tribal Justice Support and PL 280 States. For FY 2017, the Administration requested an $8.2 million cut to Tribal Justice Support, seeking to scale back a program element which had received an increase in FY 2016. Given the important sentencing provisions for tribes in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, Congress roundly rejected this proposed cut. Congress also emphasized the needs of tribal justice systems in PL 280 states.
      The Explanatory Statement explains:
      Funding for Tribal justice support is restored to $17,250,000, of which not less than $10,000,000 is to address the needs of Tribes affected by Public Law 83-280. The Committees remain concerned about Tribal court needs as identified in the Indian Law and Order Commission's November 2013 report, which notes Federal investment in Tribal justice in "P.L. 280" States has been more limited than elsewhere in Indian Country. The Committees expect the Bureau to work with Tribes and Tribal organizations in these States to fund plans that design, promote, sustain, or pilot courts systems subject to jurisdiction under Public Law 83-280. The Bureau is also directed to formally consult and maintain open communication throughout the process with Tribes and Tribal organizations on how this funding supports the technical infrastructure and future Tribal court needs for these jurisdictions.
      The Senate Report elaborates:
      The Committee remains concerned about the tribal courts needs as identified in the Indian Law and Order Commission's November 2013 report which notes Federal investment in tribal justice for Public Law 83–280 States has been more limited than elsewhere in Indian Country. The Committee expects the Bureau to work with Indian tribes and tribal organizations to consider options that promote, sustain, design, or pilot tribal court systems for tribal communities subject to full or partial State jurisdiction under Public Law 83–280. As part of this process, the Bureau should conduct meaningful consultations with tribes and tribal organizations and the Committee expects the Bureau to have extensive communication with tribes on how this funding may result in a strategic plan identifying the funding and technical infrastructure needs for these States.
The Committee is also aware the Bureau has not submitted reports required by the Tribal Law and Order Act, Public Law 111–211. Providing this information would help ensure tribal governments are receiving funding levels for public safety and justice programs based on need; therefore, the Committee strongly encourages the Bureau submit this annual report.
      Educational and Health-Related Services for Individuals in Tribal Detention Centers Considered Allowable Costs. The House Report expanded upon its report language from FY 2016, stating:
For the purpose of addressing the needs of juveniles in custody at tribal detention centers operated or administered by the BIA, the Committee considers educational and health-related services to juveniles in custody to be allowable costs for detention/corrections program funding. Indian Affairs is further urged to provide mental health and substance abuse services when needed by juvenile and adult detainees and convicted prisoners.
      Criminal Investigations and Police Services. Congress increased this program element above the requested amount for a total of $202 million. The House report notes that $3 million of this increase is to "continue reducing the disparity in the number of patrol officers per population size in Indian Country, as compared to the Nation as a whole." Further, the House Report urges Indian Affairs to improve officer safety by eliminating radio tower communications dead zones.
      Cultural Items Unit Created to Investigate NAGPRA Violations. The Explanatory Statement specifies that from within the $202 million provided for the Criminal Investigations and Police Services program element, there is a $1 million program increase to implement the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
      The House Report explains:
      The Committee recommends $1,000,000 to support the development of a Cultural Items Unit within the Division of Law Enforcement tasked with investigating violations of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) (25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.), and related law. Although domestic laws such as NAGPRA can be enforced to address the theft of tribal cultural items with both criminal and civil penalties, without active Federal support, tribes are left only to do what they each can independently afford to do to stop the theft and sale of their cultural items. Therefore, the Committee supports the BIA in developing the capacity to coordinate investigations of violations of NAGPRA and related law.
FY 2016 Enacted $40,619,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $42,844,000
FY 2017 Enacted $41,844,000
      The Community and Economic Development sub-activities are: Job Placement and Training; Economic Development; Minerals and Mining; and Community Development Oversight.
Congress ultimately provided an amount similar to the Administration's request. The Explanatory Statement describes the how this amount is to be allocated, "The agreement includes $41,844,000 for community and economic development, of which: $12,504,000 is for job placement and training; $25,304,000 is for minerals and mining; and $2,235,000 is for community development central oversight."
      NIOGEMS. The Senate Report directs:
      The Committee is concerned the Bureau has not maintained sufficient digital records for the oil and gas programs and understands the Bureau has developed a National Indian Oil and Gas Evaluation Management System [NIOGEMS] which has been distributed to some tribes and regional offices. The Committee instructs the Bureau to report back within 120 days of enactment of this act on the cost to further expand this system to more reservations and offices.
Energy Service Center. In FY 2016, the Administration requested and Congress provided $4.5 million to establish an Indian Energy Service Center staffed by BIA, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, the Bureau of Land Management and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians to facilitate energy development in Indian Country. The Center is to be tasked with expediting leasing, permitting, and reporting for conventional and renewable energy on Indian lands. For FY 2017, both the House and Senate report language push the Department of Interior to get the Energy Service Center up and running.
      The Senate Report directs:
      The Committee is also concerned about the status of the new Energy Service Center which is supposed to help facilitate energy development in Indian Country. The Committee directs the Bureau to report back in 120 days of enactment of this act on the progress of opening this office and outline any obstacles that may delay the opening of the Center.
The House Report urges:
Indian Affairs is encouraged to submit a budget request for fiscal year 2018 for the next phase of the energy office.
FY 2016 Enacted $229,662,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $243,954,000
FY 2017 Enacted $228,824,000
      The Executive Direction and Administrative Services sub-activities are: Assistant Secretary Support; Executive Direction; Administrative Services; Safety and Risk Management; Information Resources Technology; Human Capital Management; Facilities Management, Intra-Governmental Payments; and Rentals.
In the Explanatory Statement, Congress ultimately provided an amount substantially less than the Administration's request, to be allocated as follows:
      The agreement provides $228,824,000 for executive direction and administrative services, of which: $10,006,000 is for Assistant Secretary Support, $2,970,000 is for safety and risk management; $23,060,000 is for human capital management; $23,552,000 is for intra-governmental payments. The reductions from Assistant Secretary Support and human capital management reflect a transfer of school-related responsibilities, personnel, and budget to the Bureau of Indian Education.
      Data Quality Improvement. The Administration requested, and Congress ultimately declined to provide, a $12 million increase to the Assistant Secretary Support sub-activity to address data gaps in Indian Country and create Office of Indian Affairs Policy, Program Evaluation, and Data.
      Treaty Fishing Sites. The Senate Report directs the BIA as follows:
      The Committee is concerned that the Bureau's budget does not adequately fund operating costs for treaty fishing sites on the Columbia River that were authorized to be set aside by Congress by Public Law 79–14 and title IV of Public Law 100–581 to allow tribes access to fishing locations in lieu of traditional fishing grounds that were compromised by dams. The Bureau is directed to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and affected tribes and provide a report to the Committees on Appropriations within 60 days of enactment of this act that details the amounts needed to fully fund operating and law enforcement needs at such sites. The Bureau is also urged to incorporate any unfunded needs identified by the requested report in future budget requests.
FY 2016 Enacted $852,367,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $912,430,000
FY 2017 Enacted $891,513,000
      The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) category displays funds for the BIE-funded elementary and secondary school systems as well as other education programs including higher education and scholarships. The Bureau of Indian Education sub-activities are: Elementary and Secondary Programs (Forward Funded); Elementary and Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded); Post Secondary Programs (Forward Funded); Post Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded); and Education Management.
      Implementation of the BIE Reorganization and GAO Recommendations. Congress continues to provide strong funding levels for the BIE (a $21 million increase beyond FY 2016); however, these funding levels are not without concerns and not without oversight. The Explanatory Statement and House and Senate reports make clear that further increases are contingent upon successful implementation of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recommendations.
      The Explanatory Statement states:
      The Committees remain concerned about recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports detailing problems within the K-12 Indian education system at the Department of the Interior, in particular as they pertain to organizational structure, accountability, finance, health and safety, and ultimately student performance. As the Department takes steps to reform the system, the Secretary is reminded that future support from Congress will continue to be based in large part upon successful implementation of GAO report recommendations. In particular, consistent with GAO report 13-774, the Secretary is urged to reorganize Indian Affairs so that control and accountability of the BIE system is consolidated within the BIE, to present such reorganization proposal in the fiscal year 2018 budget request, and to submit to the Committees a corresponding updated workforce plan. Consistent with GAO testimonies 15-389T, 15-539T, 15-597T, and any subsequent reports, the Secretary is urged to personally oversee immediate actions necessary to ensure the continued health and safety of students and employees at BIE schools and facilities.
      The House Report states:
      Indian education remains among the Committee's top priorities because it is a fundamental trust responsibility and because elementary and secondary students in particular have fallen far behind their peers for reasons now well documented by the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Education, and others.
The BIE system is undergoing a major transformation, in direct response to these reports, in order to meet the changing needs of schools now that most schools are tribally-run, and in order to improve accountability. With the concurrence of elected tribal leaders and major intertribal organizations, the Committee continues to support this transformation. By the end of fiscal year 2017, all of the education-related responsibilities under Indian Affairs, including procurement, human resources, budget and finance, and BIE facilities operations, maintenance, and inspections, should be consolidated under the BIE, which should be led by an experienced and proven superintendent selected from a pool of qualified candidates inside and outside the BIE system.
      The Senate Report states:
      The administration is commended for its continued focus on tribal education programs, including efforts to improve collaboration between the Departments of the Interior and Education and to implement Executive Order 13592 to improve educational outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native students. It is noted the administration is currently in the process of making much needed reforms to the Bureau of Indian Education [BIE] to improve the quality of education offered to address the performance gap of students educated at BIE funded schools. The first phase of the reform effort was approved in 2015; however, the Bureau has not provided sufficient information to the Committee on the progress of implementing the first phase of reform nor has the Bureau provided sufficient information on the second phase of reform. The Committee is fully supportive of efforts to reform the Bureau in order to improve the quality of education and services provided to schools funded by the Bureau, particularly with respect to facilities maintenance and improvement needs. However, the Committee is very concerned that the Bureau continues to struggle to provide basic detail about proposed organizational and budgetary changes associated with the administration's reform efforts, including significant increases proposed in the request. As a result, funding increases proposed for the education program management activity have been withheld until the Bureau can better justify its request.
      The Committee is concerned that the Bureau has been unable to provide sufficient detail regarding how the education program enhancements funds will be allocated in fiscal year 2017. The Committee is also concerned that the Bureau has failed to fully account for the proposed costs of its new Education Resource Centers, which are now partially funded. Within 30 days of enactment of this act, the Bureau is directed to provide to the Committee a report that includes:       (1) a detailed allocation of the activities funded through the education program enhancement program for fiscal year 2015, 2016 and 2017; and (2) a line-item budget for the Bureau’s Education Resource Centers for fiscal year 2016 and 2017, including all sources of funding they are expected to receive.
      The Committee remains concerned the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, which includes the Bureau of Indian Education [BIE], and the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] has not addressed the findings or implemented 11 of 13 recommendations in the Government Accountability Office [GAO] reports (GAO–13–774, GAO–14–121, and GAO–16–313). These reports outline systemic problems with management and the safety condition of BIE schools, such as lack of oversight over school spending and facilities, including construction, operation, maintenance, basic repair, and safety upgrades needed to improve the condition of schools that serve Indian Country. The Committee stands ready to work with the administration on the appropriate steps forward and directs the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to report back within 30 days of enactment of this act on the progress made towards implementing the GAO recommendations.
      Expansion of Inter-Agency Coordination to Serve Native Children.
      The House Report states:
      The BIE is encouraged to coordinate with the Indian Health Service to integrate preventive dental care and mental health care at schools within the BIE system.
      The Senate Report states:
      The administration's emphasis on education must be complemented by efforts to improve interagency coordination for the multiplicity of programs that affect the wellbeing of Native children. In addition to education, these include healthcare, social service, child welfare and juvenile justice programs. The Committee encourages the Bureau to work with other relevant Federal, State, local, and tribal organizations to begin the process of identifying ways to make programs more effective in serving Native Children.
The Bureau, working with the Indian Health Service as appropriate, is also urged to consider integrating school-based preventative health services such as dental care into elementary schools in order to improve health outcomes of tribal students.
Continued Limitations on the Expansion of Grades, Charter Schools, Satellite Locations and BIE-funded Schools in Alaska. The Act continues the limiting language from prior years.
      The House Report explains:
      The recommendation continues bill language limiting the expansion of grades and schools in the BIE system, including charter schools. The intent of the language is to prevent already limited funds from being spread further to additional schools and grades. The intent is not to limit tribal flexibility at existing schools. Nothing in the bill is intended to prohibit a tribe from converting a tribally-controlled school already in the BIE system to a charter school in accordance with State and Federal law.
      The recommendation continues bill language providing the Secretary with the authority to approve satellite locations of existing BIE schools if a tribe can demonstrate that the establishment of such locations would provide comparable levels of education as are being offered at such existing BIE schools, and would not significantly increase costs to the Federal government. The intent is for this authority to be exercised only in extraordinary circumstances to provide tribes with additional flexibility regarding where students are educated without compromising how they are educated, and to significantly reduce the hardship and expense of transporting students over long distances, all without unduly increasing costs that would otherwise unfairly come at the expense of other
schools in the BIE system.
      Alaska Native Boarding Schools.
      The Senate Report states:
      The Committee recognizes the importance Alaska Native boarding schools play in the education and development of Alaska Native youth. The Committee encourages and recommends the Bureau take steps to ensure these schools receive sufficient support that allows them to help students effectively transition to post-secondary and career options.
      Elementary and Secondary Programs (Forward Funded)
FY 2016 Enacted $553,458,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $574,075,000
FY 2017 Enacted $575,155,000
      The Elementary and Secondary forward funded sub-activity includes all components for operating an elementary and secondary school system. For schools operated by tribes through grants, the program also includes funding to cover the tribe's administrative costs. The forward-funded sub-activities are: the ISEP Formula Funding; ISEP Program Adjustments; Education Program Enhancements; Tribal Education Departments; Student Transportation; Early Childhood Development, and Tribal Grant Support Costs (formerly titled Administrative Cost Grants.) Funds appropriated for FY 2017 for these programs will become available for obligation on July 1, 2017, for SY 2017-2018.
      The table below depicts which sub-activities received increases for FY 2017.
Sub-activity FY 2017 Enacted +/- Compared to FY 2016
ISEP Formula Fund $400,223,000 + $8,386,000
Education Program Enhancements $ 14,201,000* + $2,000,000*
Tribal Education Departments $ 2,500,000 + $ 500,000
Student Transportation $ 55,995,000 + $2,853,000
Early Child and Family Development $ 18,659,000 + $3,039,000
Tribal Grant Support Costs $ 80,165,000 + $6,889,000
      * The $2 million "increase" is actually attributed to Congress authorizing the Bureau's use of $2 million in prior-year unobligated balances.
      ISEP Formula Funding. The Indian School Equalization Program (ISEP) Formula Fund is the core budget account for BIE-funded elementary and secondary schools and dormitories. These funds are used for instructional programs and include salaries of teachers, educational technicians, and principals. The amount provided to each school is determined by a statutorily-mandated formula established by regulation. For years, the only increases Congress provided to the ISEP Formula Fund were increases attributed to fixed costs, as opposed to any program increases. FY 2017 marks the first program increase since FY 2010.
      Education Program Enhancements: Native Language Immersion Programs.
      The Explanatory Statement provides:
      The Committees support efforts to revitalize and maintain Native languages and expand the use of language immersion programs and have provided $2,000,000 within education program enhancements for capacity building grants for Bureau and tribally operated schools to expand existing language immersion programs or to create new programs. Prior to distributing these funds, the Bureau shall coordinate with the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that Bureau investments compliment, but do not duplicate, existing language immersion programs. The Committees also direct the Bureau to submit a report to the Committees within 180 days of enactment of this Act regarding the distribution of these funds and the status of Native language classes and immersion programs offered at Bureau-funded schools.
      The Senate Report directs:
      The Committee fully supports broadening access to Native language and culture programs, which have been linked to higher academic achievement for Native youth. The Committee is pleased to see that the proposed increase for the ISEP program is expected to enhance access to Native language and culture programs in BIE-funded schools and directs the Bureau to report within 60 days of enactment that details how the increases provided in this bill will be used to support these programs.
      Tribal Departments or Divisions of Education. This sub-activity funds the development and operation of tribal departments or divisions of education (TEDs). The House Report states, "TEDs are instrumental in helping tribes build the capacity to oversee the high quality and culturally appropriate education of tribal members."
Student Transportation. The House Report directs the BIE to oversee and report on the safety of school bus routes.
      Early Child and Family Development. The Explanatory Statement states that the $3 million increase should be used to expand the Family and Child Education (FACE) program. The Senate Report clarifies that in doing so, the Bureau shall not reduce funding for any currently operating FACE programs. The House Report directs the BIE to conduct an annual review of the FACE program and to publish its findings in order to improve program direction and transparency.
Tribal Grant Support Costs. The Administration had originally estimated that a level of $75.3 million would continue the (relatively new) practice of providing full funding for Tribal Grant Support Costs. As the year went on, the Appropriations committees and the Bureau came to the conclusion that $80.1 million was needed to provide full funding, which Congress ultimately provided. The House Report notes, "Fully funding these costs is consistent with the policy of fully funding contract support costs, and is instrumental for tribal control of more BIE-system schools."
      Elementary and Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded)
FY 2016 Enacted $134,263,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $144,295,000
FY 2017 Enacted $140,540,000
      The non-forward funded programs are: Facilities Operations, Facilities Maintenance and Johnson-O'Malley Assistance Grants. Funds for Facilities Operations and Facilities Maintenance are distributed by formula to schools in the BIE school system.
      Facilities Operations & Maintenance (O&M). The Administration requested and Congress provided $3 million increases to each account, totaling $66.2 million for Facilities Operations and $59 million for Facilities Maintenance. The Administration's FY 2017 budget request estimates that this will fund 78 percent of calculated Facilities O&M need across the BIE-funded schools. The House Report directs the Administration to recalculate the annual estimated need according to industry standards, and report any estimated shortfall in future budget justifications.
Johnson-O'Malley. Johnson O'Malley (JOM) education grants are provided through tribes and public schools to support Native students who attend public schools. The Administration had requested a $3.6 million increase, which Congress declined to provide. Congress also expresses concern about the accuracy of the JOM student count, requesting a report.
      The Explanatory Statement states:
      The Johnson O'Malley program is funded at the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. The Committees remain concerned that the distribution of funds is not an accurate reflection of the distribution of students. The Bureau is directed to consolidate the program reporting requirements contained in the House and Senate reports and to report back to the Committees within 60 days of enactment of this Act.
      The House Report states:
      The recommendation includes $14,778,000 for the Johnson O'Malley (JOM) program, equal to the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. The Committee continues to encourage the BIE and tribal partners to establish a regular and accurate student count so that future appropriations more accurately reflect the increase and distribution of the eligible student population. The Committee directs the Bureau, in consultation with tribal leaders and in coordination with the Department of Education and the Census Bureau, to examine the feasibility of using U.S. Census or National Center for Education Statistics data to provide the JOM student count. The Committee requests that a report be provided to Congress, tribal leaders, and existing JOM contractors no later than September 30, 2017, that (i) uses this data to estimate the number of potentially eligible Indian students, and (ii) proposes a process to reconcile this data with information from eligible contracting entities and tribal enrollment to determine funding distributions.
      The Senate Report states:
      The Committee remains concerned about the distribution methodology of the Johnson O'Malley assistance grants and requests the Bureau report back to the Committee within 30 days of enactment of this act on the status of updating the JOM counts and the methodology used to determine the new counts.
      Post Secondary Programs (Forward Funded)
FY 2016 Enacted $74,893,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $77,207,000
FY 2017 Enacted $77,207,000
      This sub-activity includes forward funded Tribal Colleges and Universities and forward funded Tribal Technical Colleges (United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) and Navajo Technical University (NTU)).
      Unfunded Needs. Congress provided the requested $69.7 million for Tribal Colleges and Universities and $7.4 million for Tribal Technical Colleges (a $503,000 increase); however, both the House and Senate reports urge the Administration to study the schools' funding needs and provide an FY 2018 budget requests that accurately reflects the level of need.
      The House Report states:
      The Committee recognizes that level funding and increasing enrollment has resulted in steadily decreasing funding for Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) on a per student basis. Therefore, the Committee directs the Bureau to articulate a process in the fiscal year 2018 congressional budget justification to annually fund TCUs on a per Indian student basis, as authorized under the Tribally Controlled Colleges & Universities Assistance Act in 1978 (P.L. 95–471), and to compare that funding to the authorized level of $8,000 per student.
      The Senate Report states:
      The Committee strongly supports the work that tribal colleges and universities do to provide high quality, affordable higher education opportunities to Native students.
      The Committee also recognizes that many tribal colleges have significant unfunded needs and directs the Bureau to work with tribal leaders and other stakeholders to develop a consistent methodology for determining tribal college operating needs to inform future budget requests. The Committee expects the methodology to address operating and infrastructure needs including classrooms and housing.
      Post Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded)
FY 2016 Enacted $64,602,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $66,841,000
FY 2017 Enacted $63,581,000
      The two post-secondary schools in the BIE's education system are Haskell Indian Nations University (Haskell), and the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI). The Non-Forward Funded Post Secondary Programs sub-activity also includes: Tribal Colleges and Universities Supplements; Scholarships and Adult Education; Special Higher Education Scholarships; and the Science Post Graduate Scholarship Fund.
      Congress largely provided the amounts requested by the Administration for a total of $22.1 million for Haskell and SIPI (a $2 million increase) and $2.9 million for special higher education scholarships. Congress provided $3.2 million of the $6.7 million increase the Administration requested for scholarships and adult education, for a total of $34.7 million.
Forward Funding Needed for Haskell and SIPI.
      The Explanatory Statement explains:
      The one-time increase of $5,100,000 provided in fiscal year 2016 to forward fund Tribal technical colleges bas been transferred to forward fund the Institute of American Indian Arts in fiscal year 2017. The Bureau is encouraged to forward fund Haskell and SIPI in future budget requests so that all Tribal colleges are on the same funding schedule.
      The Senate Report elaborates:
      The Committee's recommendation provides the requested $2,000,000 increase above the enacted level for the operations of Haskell and SIPI universities and supports the requested levels for Tribal Technical Colleges and postsecondary programs. The Committees provided sufficient funding to forward fund the Tribal Technical Colleges in fiscal year 2016 and continues to believe there should be parity in the way that all tribal colleges receive assistance and are funded. The Committee encourages the Bureau to look for ways to forward fund Haskell and SIPI in future budget requests so that all tribal colleges are on the same funding schedule.
      Education Management
FY 2016 Enacted $25,151,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $50,012,000
FY 2017 Enacted $35,050,000
      The Education Management sub-activity consists of Education Program Management and Information Technology.
      Education Program Management. The Administration requested and Congress provided an $8 million increase, for a total of $24.7 million, to fund the restructuring of the BIE (to include expanded responsibility for administrative services and construction) and staff the new Education Resource Centers.
Education IT. The Administration requested a $16.7 million increase in order to increase communications bandwidth in schools and to procure computers and software. Ultimately, Congress provided only a $2 million increase for a total of $10.2 million.
      The Senate Report states:
      The Committee understands the importance of bringing broadband to reservations and villages and includes an additional $2,000,000 in this bill to partially fund this effort. The Committee directs the Agency to report back within 90 days of enactment of this act on a scalable plan to increase bandwidth in schools, procure computers, and software.
      The House Report states:
      Without question, high speed internet access is essential for student success and economic development in modern society. However, the Government Accountability Office recently identified tribal internet access as an area of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication (GAO 16 375SP). Indian Affairs is urged to coordinate with larger, existing broadband access programs funded by the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
FY 2016 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary
(Estimated: $277,000,000)
FY 2017 Admin. Request Such sums as may be necessary
(Estimated: $278,000,000)
FY 2017 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary
(Estimated: $278,000,000)
      The Act, consistent with the Administration's request, continues Contract Support Costs (CSC) in FY 2017 as an indefinite appropriation at "such sums as may necessary" and maintains CSC in its own separate account comprised of Contract Support (Such sums as may be necessary, estimated to be: $ 273,000,000) and the Indian Self-Determination Fund ($5 million). The Administration and Congress provide non-binding estimates as to what the total will be.
      The Act states:
      For payments to tribes and tribal organizations for contract support costs associated with Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act agreements with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for fiscal year 2017, such sums as may be necessary, which shall be available for obligation through September 30, 2018: Provided, That notwithstanding any other provision of law, no amounts made available under this heading shall be available for transfer to another budget account.
      The Explanatory Statement explains:
      The bill provides an indefinite appropriation for contract support costs, consistent with fiscal year 2016 and estimated to be $278,000,000.
Carryover Authority Language Discontinued. The Act, consistent with the request of many tribes and tribal organizations, does not repeat the CSC language which was in the FY 2016 appropriations act for both the BIA and the IHS that could be read to deny the carryover authority granted by the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. The House Report directs, "Language addressing contract funds that go unspent in a given fiscal year is discontinued." The Senate Report explains "The Committee also modified the language to delete a provision that contradicted certain provisions of the Indian Self Determination Act." Thus, the Act does not contain this FY 2016 provision: "amounts obligated but not expended by a tribe or tribal organization for contract support costs for such agreements for the current fiscal year shall be applied to contract support costs otherwise due for such agreements for subsequent fiscal years."
      General Provisions Continued.
      The Act states:
      Contract Support Costs, Prior Year Limitation
      Sec. 405. Sections 405 and 406 of division F of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235) shall continue in effect in fiscal year 2017.
Contract Support Costs, Fiscal Year 2017 Limitation
      Sec. 406. Amounts provided by this Act for fiscal year 2017 under headings "Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service, Contract Support Costs" and "Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, Contract Support Costs" are the only amounts available for contract support costs arising out of self-determination or self-governance contracts, grants, compacts, or annual funding agreements for fiscal year 2017 with the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Indian Health Service: Provided, That such amounts provided by this Act are not available for payment of claims for contract support costs for prior years, or for repayment of payments for settlement or judgments awarding contract support costs for prior years.
FY 2016 Enacted $193,973,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $197,017,000
FY 2017 Enacted $192,017,000
      The Construction budget includes: Education Construction; Public Safety and Justice Construction; Resources Management Construction; and Other Program Construction/ General Administration.
FY 2016 Enacted $138,245,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $138,257,000
FY 2017 Enacted $133,257,000
      The Education Construction sub-activities are: Replacement School Construction; Replacement Facility Construction; Employee Housing Repair; and Facilities Improvement and Repair.
The Administration requested and Congress provided a continuation of the strong funding levels from FY 2016. The $5 million "decrease" between FY 2016 and FY 2017 is attributed to fact that in FY 2016 Congress provided, on top of the other increases in the Education Construction activity, a one-time additional $5 million "surge" of funding to reduce the backlog of critical deferred maintenance projects.
      For FY 2017, Congress and the Administration continue their commitment to funding school repair and construction while continuing to grapple with how to craft a comprehensive, long-term solution to this matter. The Explanatory Statement and House and Senate report language each provide direction to the Bureau regarding both the completion of the school replacement list created in 2016 by the National Review Committee as well as the need for a long-term, comprehensive plan to fund school repair and replacement throughout the entire BIE-funded school system.
      2016 National Review Committee List and Creation of a 2018 List.
      The Explanatory Statement directs:
      The Bureau is directed to submit an allocation plan to the Committees for campus-wide replacement and facilities replacement within 30 days of enactment of this Act.
Indian Affairs is directed to reallocate $2,000,000 from prior year unobligated balances in order to accelerate advance planning and design of replacement schools and school facilities as proposed. Of these unobligated balances, $1,000,000 shall be from the Construction Management activity and $1,000,000 shall be from the General Administration activity.
      The House Report directs:
      The Committee recognizes the School Facilities & Construction Negotiated Rulemaking Committee was established under Public Law 107–110 for the equitable distribution of funds. Appropriations in this bill for campus-wide replacement are limited to the 10 schools selected via the rulemaking committee process and published by Indian Affairs on April 5, 2016 ( AS–IA/OFECR/index.htm). The BIE should submit a similar list for facilities with the fiscal year 2018 budget request.
      National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education.
      The Explanatory Statement directs:
      The agreement does not include an authorizing provision in the House bill to reconstitute the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education. The Committees continue to strongly support innovative financing options to supplement annual appropriations and accelerate repair and replacement of Bureau of Indian Education schools, including through the use of construction bonds, tax credits, and grant programs. The Department is urged to revise and resubmit its proposal to reconstitute the Fund and to include authority for the Fund to facilitate public-private partnership construction projects.
      The House Report language countermanded by the Explanatory Statement is here:
To that end, the bill includes a general provision in Title I, which builds upon the President's proposal to reconstitute the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education (Fund).
      The Title I general provision would reconstitute the Fund as a federally chartered corporation affiliated with a 501(c)(3) national organization whose mission is to represent Native American students and educators for the improvement of schools and the education of Native children. The Fund would be authorized to leverage a portion of the annual construction appropriation with philanthropic donations of funds and property, and with other sources of Federal financing such as Qualified School Construction Bonds, New Markets Tax Credits, historical tax credits, and Federal grant programs.
      Long-Term Repair and Replacement Plan.
      The House Report directs:
      Looking ahead beyond the completion of the schools and component facilities on such lists, the Committee remains concerned that the current approach to construction focuses on only a subset of schools and requires those schools to submit applications and compete for the funding. A more comprehensive, long-term planning approach is needed for every campus and component facility in the BIE system, modeled after the Department of Defense Education Activity. Indian Affairs is therefore directed to publish a report on the status of its education construction program no later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act. The report shall include, at a minimum:
      (1) A comprehensive list of all current BIE schools and a quality assessment of each school's facilities (including dormitories and employee housing), indicating where facilities are nonexistent, undersized, or otherwise inadequate to support education and associated wellness programs including native language and other cultural programs;
      (2) A comprehensive list, which shall incorporate student enrollment projections as well as space for language and other cultural programming, of all construction projects and costs required to bring entire school campuses and component facilities up to industry standards and eliminate temporary facilities;
      (3) An estimate of the total annual sustainment, restoration, and modernization funds required to maintain the facilities of each BIE school up to code and in good condition; and
      (4) A complete accounting of the process and status of facilities health, safety, and condition inspections.
      The Committee recognizes the tremendous costs needed to bring and maintain all BIE schools up to code and in good condition, and the futility of doing so in a reasonable timeframe with funds provided solely via this annual appropriation. The Committee continues to look for innovative ways to leverage this appropriation with other sources of Federal financing, such as existing tax credits, in order to more quickly replace the substandard facilities throughout the BIE system.
      The Senate Report directs:
      The Committee understands many schools are in need of repair, improvement, and upgrades in order to bring schools into good condition. The Committee stands ready to work with the administration and tribes to develop a comprehensive strategy that provides safe, functional, and accessible facilities for schools. The Committee directs the Bureau to report back within 90 days of enactment of this act on the progress the Bureau has made towards implementing a long-term facilities plan similar to the Department of Defense [DOD] process in 2009 as encouraged in the joint explanatory statement accompanied by Public Law 114–113.
FY 2016 Enacted $11,306,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $11,306,000
FY 2017 Enacted $11,306,000
      The Public Safety & Justice Construction sub-activities are: Facilities Replacement/New Construction; Employee Housing; Facilities Improvement and Repair; Fire Safety Coordination; Fire Protection.
      Joint Venture Demonstration Program. The House Report directs:
      The Committee is concerned that Indian Affairs' focus on alternatives to incarceration has come at a cost to justice facilities construction. Indian Affairs, in coordination with the Department of Justice, is therefore urged to consider including with its fiscal year 2018 budget request a legislative proposal for a joint venture demonstration program for regional justice centers, similar to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes' Justice Center, and modeled after the joint venture program for Indian health facilities.
FY 2016 Enacted $34,488,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $36,513,000
      FY 2017 Enacted $36,513,000
The Resources Management Construction sub-activities are: Irrigation Project Construction; Engineering and Supervision; Survey and Design; Federal Power and Compliance; and Dam Projects.
FY 2016 Enacted $ 9,934,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $10,941,000
FY 2017 Enacted $10,941,000
      The Other Program Construction sub-activities are: Telecommunications Improvement and Repair; Facilities/Quarters Improvement and Repair; and Construction Program Management.
FY 2016 Enacted $49,475,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $55,155,000
FY 2017 Enacted $45,045,000
      In the Explanatory Statement, Congress provided $10 million less than the Administration's       request, directing the BIA as follows:
The bill provides $45,045,000 for Indian Land and Water Claims Settlements and Miscellaneous Payments to Indians. In addition, the Bureau shall reallocate $5,916,000 in prior-year unobligated funds that remain after completion of settlement requirements, for a total program level of $50,961,000. The Department is directed to submit an allocation plan for these funds to the Committees within 90 days of enactment of this Act.
      The House Report further notes:
      The recommended level enables Indian Affairs to meet statutory deadlines of all authorized settlement agreements to date.
The Committee supports the Department's efforts to fulfill commitments relating to Indian water rights settlements and its participation in negotiations of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians Water Rights Settlement.
FY 2016 Enacted $7,748,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $7,757,000
FY 2017 Enacted $8,757,000
      Congress provided $1 million above the Administration's request, with the House Report describing the Indian Guaranteed Loan Program as "the most effective Federal program tailored, dedicated to, and capable of facilitating greater access to private capital for Indian tribes and Indian-owned economic enterprises." The Senate Report clarifies that the total loan principal provided is not to exceed $119,907,851.
FY 2016 Enacted $15,000,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $15,431,000
FY 2017 Enacted $15,431,000
FY 2016 Enacted $ 9,985,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $11,985,000
FY 2017 Enacted $10,485,000"

      "Trump Administration Submits FY 2018 Budget Blueprint," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-020, March 20th, 2017,, reported, "On March 16, 2017, the Trump Administration submitted its FY 2018 Budget Blueprint titled: America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again (Blueprint). The Blueprint, commonly referred to as the "skinny" budget, is a 53 page document which addresses discretionary spending only and which details for each federal department, the total amount of decrease or increase proposed, relative to its FY 2017 annualized Continuing Resolution level. A full FY 2018 budget proposal is expected in May and that budget will likely also include proposals regarding mandatory funding and tax policy. A copy of the Blueprint is here:
      The Blueprint is receiving significant pushback from Members of all parties in Congress, and it is clear that Congress, as the appropriating arm of government, will not agree to many of the proposals. A major issue with the Blueprint is that it would break the statutory budget caps for defense and non-defense spending as it proposes a FY 2018 10 percent or $54 billion increase for defense and a $54 billion decrease for non-defense. In order to amend the 2011 deficit reduction law (PL 112-25), 60 votes will be needed in the Senate which is currently split 52 Republicans to 46 Democrats (plus two Independents who caucus with the Democrats). It is expected that Senate Democrats will remain united in opposition to the Trump budget cap proposal.
      The agencies in addition to the Department of Defense for which increases are proposed are the Department of Homeland Security (6.8 percent increase) and Department of Veterans Affairs (6 percent increase).
      While the Blueprint will not be adopted as proposed, it is important to know what has been put forward by the Administration and what programs might be vulnerable. There are some specifics regarding programs to be supported or eliminated but frequently the descriptions are broad or vague, noting, for instance, that funding for "duplicative" or "ineffective" programs is proposed for elimination but without any further detail as to which programs.
      Because the federal government is only funded through April 28, 2017, the Blueprint, in order to provide a means of comparison between what is proposed for FY 2018 and what the FY 2017 spending levels are, has taken the current FY 2017 spending levels for departments and projected out what that amount would be if the current rate of funding were to be continued for the remainder of FY 2017. We also note that a chart in the Blueprint requests a net $15 billion (3 percent) reduction in the non-defense FY 2017 funding cap, while requesting a $3 billion increase for "Border Wall and implementation of Executive Orders."
      Below are proposals for selected Departments and programs which may be of particular interest to Indian Country.
       Department of Health and Human Services – $15.1 billion (17.9 percent) decrease. The Blueprint notes that HHS has among its highest priorities, the Indian Health Service and community health centers, but provides no figures. Among the programs proposed for elimination are Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (tribes receive $35.8 million annually), Community Services Block Grant, and health professions and nursing training programs (while maintaining scholarship and loan repayment programs for service in health professional shortage areas). …" A surprise proposal is to cut the National Institutes of Health budget by 18 percent, an agency which has wide bipartisan support in Congress. The Blueprint proposes "a major reorganization of NIH's Institutes and Centers…"
      The Blueprint p roposes a $70 million increase for the CMS Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program. There would also be an investment in "mental health activities that are awarded to high-performing entities…"
       Department of the Interior – $1.5 billion (12 percent) decrease. With regard to Indian Country, the Blueprint states that the Administration "supports tribal sovereignty and self-determination across Indian Country by focusing on core funding and services to support ongoing tribal government operations. The budget reduces funding for more recent demonstration projects and initiatives that only serve a few Tribes." (No specifics are provided regarding the proposed reduction.)
       Overall, funding for energy development would increase while other activities are proposed for unspecified decreases – acquiring new federal lands, Payments in Lieu of Taxes, construction and major maintenance programs (while providing an unspecified increase to address National Park Service deferred maintenance projects). Funding for Abandoned Mine land grants and National Heritage Areas would be eliminated. It proposes funding fire suppression at the full 10-year rolling average.
       Department of Agriculture – $4.7 billion (21 percent) decrease. The Blueprint proposes to eliminate the Water and Wastewater loan and grant program for a savings of $498 million. The Blueprint states it is 'duplicative" and that rural communities can be served by private financing or the EPA's state revolving funds program. There is a proposed $95 million reduction from the Rural and Business Cooperative Service and an unspecified amount of reductions of staff at county service centers and in the Department's analytical/statistical services.
       Funding for wildland fire preparedness and suppression activities would receive $2.4 billion which is the full 10-year average for suppression operations. There would be unspecified decreases for other forest activities, with the Blueprint noting that funding would be focused "on maintaining existing forests and grasslands" rather than new federal land acquisition.
       Department of Commerce – $1.5 billion (16 percent) decrease. Citing duplication of programs at Rural Development, the Blueprint would eliminate the Economic Development Administration. Citing duplication of programs at the Small Business Administration the Blueprint would eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency. The Blueprint would zero out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's grants and programs supporting coastal and marine management, research and education in order to shield surveys, charting and fisheries management from cuts.
      The Blueprint proposes a $100 million increase for continuation of preparations for the 2020 Decennial Census. This is much less than President Obama's proposed increase for FY 2017 ($180 million). As we approach 2020, additional focus will be necessary in order to obtain reliable information in hard to count areas such as Indian reservations and Alaska Villages.
       Department of Education – $9 billion (13 percent) decrease. Despite the overall decrease, the Blueprint would direct an extra $1.4 billion to "school choice programs." This breaks down to: (1) an extra $1 billion for Title I that appears to be focused on portability, i.e. the Title I funds would follow low-income students to whichever school they attend, rather than going to the schools which serve the highest percentage of low-income students; (2) a $168 million increase for charter schools; and (3) $250 million for a new private school choice program. The Blueprint would eliminate funding for the $1.2 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports before- and after-school programs as well as summer programs. The Blueprint would maintain $13 billion in funding for Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) programs to support students with disabilities. It would reduce or eliminate "over 20 categorical programs" including Striving Readers and the Teacher Quality Partnership.
       Funding would be reduced for two programs designed to prepare students for college – TRIO and the GEAR UP. In addition, proposed is the cancellation of $3.9 billion from the Pell Grant reserves, funding which Congress and others were eying as a source of funds to allow students to receive grants for summer classes, thus restoring the program to its year-round status.
       Department of Energy – $1.7 billion (5.6 percent) decrease. The Blueprint would provide $6.5 billion to support the Environmental Management program's mission of cleaning up waste and contamination from energy research and nuclear weapons production. There would be substantial cuts to energy development research. Funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program, for which tribes are eligible, would be eliminated.
       Department of Homeland Security – $2.8 billion (6.8 percent) increase. The Blueprint would provide $2.6 billion for additional physical and technological security along the Southwest border of the United States and provide $314 million to recruit and train 500 new Border Patrol Agents and 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel. The Blueprint would eliminate or reduce grant funding by $667 million for programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) "that are either unauthorized by the Congress, such as FEMA's Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program, or that must provide more measurable results and ensure the Federal Government is not supplanting other stakeholders' responsibilities, such as the Homeland Security Grant Program." The Blueprint also proposes establishing a 25 percent non-federal cost match for FEMA preparedness grant awards that currently require no cost match.
       Department of Housing and Urban Development – $6.2 billion (13.2 percent) decrease. The Blueprint would eliminate funding for the Community Development Block Grant Program as well as programs deemed "lower priority" by the Administration such as the HOME Investment Partnerships Program and Choice Neighborhoods Program. It would also eliminate funding for the Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing program.
      The Blueprint does not contain specific details on the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) but on March 8, 2017, the Washington Post reported on information it obtained from leaks from the Trump Administration regarding the Administration's budget proposals for Indian housing. The leaked documents indicate the Administration may propose an IHBG appropriation for FY 2018 of $500 million, a cut of $150 million from current appropriation levels (approximately 20 percent). The documents also indicate that the Administration may propose canceling the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG).
       Department of Justice – $1.1 billion (3.8 percent) decrease. The proposed Justice Department budget would increase funding for border security and immigration enforcement. Proposed is a 19 percent increase of $80 million for an additional 75 immigration judge teams. Also proposed is the hiring of 60 additional border enforcement prosecutors, 40 additional Deputy U.S. marshals, and 20 attorneys to pursue federal efforts to obtain the land and holdings necessary to secure the Southwest border. The Blueprint recommends an increase of $175 million to target the "worst of the worst" criminal organizations and drug traffickers. The FBI is proposed to receive a $249 million (3 percent) increase.
      The Blueprint states that the proposed budget "safeguards federal grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement and victims of crime to ensure greater safety for law enforcement personnel and the people they serve." It also proposes a $700 million reduction "in unnecessary spending on outdated programs…" including a $210 million reduction for the State Alien Assistance Program. No other details are provided about which programs are targeted for the remaining $500 million reduction.
       Department of Labor – $2.5 billion (21 percent) decrease. The Blueprint notes, without much detail, that decreases are proposed "for job training and employment service formula grants, shifting more responsibility for funding these services to State, localities, and employers." This would seem to implicate the tribal Workforce Investment Act program (AKA the "section 166" program) and the Supplemental Youth Services program. Funding decreases are proposed for "ineffective, duplicative, and peripheral job training grants", specifically targeting for elimination the Senior Community Service Employment Program. Job Corps Centers that are deemed to be doing a poor job would be closed while states would be supported in their efforts to expand apprenticeship programs.
      Department of Transportation – $2.4 billion (13 percent) decrease. The Blueprint would eliminate funding for the TIGER discretionary grant program, suggesting that most TIGER grant eligible projects are eligible for funding under existing surface transportation formula programs or the new Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects grant program. It would also eliminate funding for the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which provides subsidized commercial air service to rural airports.
       Department of Treasury – $519 billion (4.1 percent) decrease. The Blueprint would eliminate funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Funds grants. The CDFI Fund was created to expand access to capital for private institutions that extend credit and provide financial services to underserved communities. It includes the Native American CDFI Assistance Program which uses a combination of financial, technical assistance, and training to build the capacity of CDFIs serving Native Communities.
       Department of Veterans Affairs – $4.4 billion (6 percent) increase. The Blueprint states that the increase is "to improve patient access and timeliness of medical care services for over nine million enrolled veterans." It extends the Veterans Choice Program to allow veterans to seek care at non-VA facilities, including the Indian Health Service. The proposed budget would continue to provide services to homeless and at-risk veterans, invest in information technology, and improve the veterans' claims process.
       Environmental Protection Agency – $2.6 billion (31 percent) decrease. The Blueprint would make some of the deepest cuts to the EPA's budget. The Blueprint would eliminate funding for more than 50 EPA programs, including a program that provides infrastructure assistance to Alaska Native Villages. It would also eliminate funding for specific regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration; and it would discontinue funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs. The Blueprint would, however, provide $2.3 billion (a $4 million increase) for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds which finance drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and it would maintain the current $20 million funding level for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program. (This, however, would not mitigate the elimination of the $498 million USDA Rural Development Water and Wastewater loan and grant program.)
       Independent Agencies – Denali Commission, the Arts. The Blueprint proposes to eliminate funding for a number of independent agencies including the Denali Commission in Alaska, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services."

      " Indian Health Service Fiscal Year 2018 Proposed Budget," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-031, June 13th, 2017,, reported, "In this Memorandum we report on the Trump Administration's proposed FY 2018 budget for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The proposed federal budget was released May 23, 2017, which is quite late, but not unexpected for the first year of a new Administration. The result is that the FY 2018 appropriations process is very far behind and Congress has not yet adopted a Budget Resolution which sets the spending caps for the fiscal year. Hence, the Appropriations subcommittees have not yet received their individual allocations which set upper limits on how much funding they have available when making appropriations recommendations.
There have been very few congressional hearings for public witnesses on FY 2018 appropriations, although the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies continued its recent tradition and held two days of hearings (May 16 and 17) for public witnesses on Indian programs under its jurisdiction. Federal agency witnesses are now bein called to testify on the proposed budget.
FY 2016 Enacted $4,807,589,000
FY 2017 Enacted $5,039,886,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $4,739,291,000

       The proposed budget is $301 million below the FY 2017 enacted level. The proposed decrease may not turn out to be as large as $301 million that due to an anticipated decrease in the estimated full Contract Support costs (CSC) need for FY 2017. However, the program increases realized in the Consolidated Appropriations, FY 2017 for behavioral health initiatives, accreditation emergencies, prescription drug monitoring, detoxification, small ambulatory construction program, domestic violence, and clinic leases are not continued in the proposed FY 2018 budget. Also absent are increases due to inflation.
      The only program proposed for an increase over the FY 2017 enacted level is Direct Operations, and that is almost a technicality as $4 million of Direct Operations FY 2017 funds were transferred to other accounts. In addition, the proposed budget would provide a $2 million increase for new and replacement quarters.
      The proposed budget came under heavy criticism at the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing of May 24, with Subcommittee Chairman Calvert (R-CA) noting it contains none of the FY 2017 enacted IHS increases. He expressed concern that such a budget would harm agency morale and recruitment efforts. Representative Cole (R-OK) deemed it "not defensible."
       Misleading Figures. The FY 2018 IHS Budget Justification can be misleading as the proposed funding levels are not explained in comparison to the enacted FY 2017 amounts in the Consolidated Appropriations, FY 2017 (PL 115-31). Instead, the figures are explained as being over or under a FY 2017 annualized Continuing Resolution (CR) amount (in other words, the FY 2016 enacted levels). Congress, in enacting the Consolidated Appropriations, FY 2017, provided $233 million over FY 2016 for the IHS – that increase does not appear in the FY 2018 Budget Justification and hence, its funding charts give the impression of smaller proposed reductions than are the fact. This is the case for other federal agency FY 2018 budget justifications as well. Had Congress enacted FY 2017 funding in a timely manner, federal budgets, which were largely drafted before we had a final FY 2017 bill, would have been able to provide realistic comparison between FY 2017 enacted and FY 2018 proposed.
       Built-in Costs. It is unclear whether the FY 2018 proposed IHS budget includes funding for pay cost increases. Per the action of President Obama last December, federal employees are to receive a 2.1 percent pay increase in 2017. The FY 2016 appropriation included $19.4 million for a 1.3 percent pay increase (but no other inflationary increases), and it may be that this amount is calculated into the proposed budget. The Indian Affairs FY 2018 budget proposes $17.3 million for pay raises.
      By comparison, the FY 2017 Appropriations Act includes $59.5 million for built-in costs of which $14.4 million is for pay costs and $45.1 million is for inflation.
Staffing Packages. The budget proposes $20 million for staffing of two newly constructed Joint Venture projects – the Flandreau Health Center in Flandreau, SD and the Choctaw Nation Regional Medical Center in Durant, OK. Of that amount $17.9 million is in the Services account and $2 million is in the Facilities Account.
      Appropriations Structure. The Administration proposes to strike language which has been in the Appropriations Act for a number of years which requires that the appropriations structure of the IHS may be not be altered without the advance notification to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. The IHS simply notes in the Budget Justification that they propose to strike the provision "to maximize operational flexibility".
FY 2016 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary
FY 2017 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary
FY 2018 Admin. Request Such sums as may be necessary
      The Administration's FY 2018 budget for IHS and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) does not make any major changes in the structure or amount of CSC appropriations—although the estimated expenditures are much lower than predicted in FY 2017. Funding for CSC in each agency remains a separate appropriation account with an indefinite amount—"such sums as may be necessary." This achieves the twin objectives of full payment CSC with no impact on programs.
The Administration estimates that CSC spending for IHS will total $717,970,000, which it frames as in increase of $1,365,000 over the annualized FY 2017 continuing resolutions. For comparison's sake, the FY 2017 budget estimated CSC needs at $800 million, although it is now believed actual FY 2017 expenditures will end up closer to $710 million.
      The budget's proposed bill language would reinstate two provisions of the FY 2016 appropriations act that tribes succeeded in having removed from the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2017:
      • Carryover clause: The proposed bill would reinstate the FY 2016 appropriations act language that could be read to deny the carryover authority granted by the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act: "amounts obligated but not expended by a tribe or tribal organization for contract support costs for such agreements for the current fiscal year shall be applied to contract support costs otherwise due for such agreements for subsequent fiscal years." The Consolidated Appropriations, FY 2017 Act does not contain this language.
      • "Notwithstanding" clause: The IHS proposal includes language the agency has used as part of the justification to not pay CSC on Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention (SASP), Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI), programs to improve collections public and private insurance, and for accreditation emergencies. The language which the IHS says precludes CSC for these programs is the phrase "Notwithstanding any other law," the funding for these programs "shall be allocated at the discretion of the Director." Congress dropped the "notwithstanding" phrase in the Consolidated Appropriations, FY 2017 Act, which gave tribes a better argument for CSC on these funds. But with the "discretion" clause retained, it is not clear that IHS will agree to pay CSC on them even in the absence of the "notwithstanding" clause.
      The FY 2018 budget proposal would continue prior language in the General Provisions section:
      Contract Support Costs, Prior Year Limitation
      Sec. 404. Sections 405 and 406 of division F of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235) shall continue in effect in fiscal year 2018.
      Contract Support Costs, Fiscal Year 2018 Limitation
      Sec. 405. Amounts provided by this Act for fiscal year 2018 under headings "Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service, Contract Support Costs" and "Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, Contract Support Costs" are the only amounts available for contract support costs arising out of self-determination or self-governance contracts, grants, compacts, or annual funding agreements for fiscal year 2018 with the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Indian Health Service: Provided, That such amounts provided by this Act are not available for payment of claims for contract support costs for prior years, or for repayment of payments for settlement or judgments awarding contract support costs for prior years.
FY 2016 Enacted $3,566,387,000
FY 2017 Enacted $3,694,462,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $3,574,365,000
FY 2016 Enacted $1,857,225,000
FY 2017 Enacted $1,935,178,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $1,870,405,000
      Of the total, $14.7 million is for staffing of Joint Venture facilities ($11.7 million for the Choctaw Regional Medical Center and $3.1 million for the Flandreau Health Center).
Tribal Clinic Leases. The proposed budget would provide only $2 million for tribal clinic leases, versus the $11 million provided in FY 2017. In addition, the IHS has proposed to amend the law in order to avoid full compensation for section 105(l) Indian Self-Determination and Education Act (ISDEAA) leases. The IHS proposal:
      • Is contrary to the decision in Maniilaq Association v. Burwell, 170 F. Supp.3rd 243(D.D.C. 2016) in which the court held that section 105(l) of the ISDEAA provided an entitlement to funding for section 105(l) leases separate from section 106(a)(1) of the ISDEAA.
      • Would in essence amend the ISDEAA on an appropriations bill.
      • Would be in violation of House and Senate rules which prohibit amending the law on an appropriations bill (House Rule XXI(2)(b) and Senate Rule XVI(2)(b)) and could be subject to a point of order.
      The new IHS-proposed appropriation language is as follows:
      Provided further, That, notwithstanding any other provision of law, for any lease under section 105(l) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, as amended, no additional compensation is required by the Act above the amount provided to the tribe or tribal organization under section 106(a)(1), except the Secretary, in the discretion of the Secretary, may award compensation for such leases, above the section 106(a)(1) amount, and if the Secretary awards such additional compensation, the amount of such compensation may be based on such reasonable expenses, if any, as the Secretary determines to be appropriate, which may include the expenses described in section 105(l)(2), and the exercise of this discretion to award additional compensation and determine its amount is not subject to sections 102(a)-(b), (e) or 507(b)-(d) of the Act.
      Accreditation Emergencies. The proposed budget would provide only $2 million for hospital accreditation emergencies the same as the FY 2016 level. This would be a huge reduction from the FY 2017 enacted amount of $29 million. The Appropriations committees, responding to growing accreditation problems, increased the final FY 2017 funding significantly beyond what had been their original recommendations.
FY 2016 Enacted $178,286,000
FY 2017 Enacted $182,597,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $179,751,000
      Of the total, $1.46 million is for staffing of Joint Venture facilities ($1.1 million for the Choctaw Regional Medical Center and $330,000 for the Flandreau Health Center).
The FY 2018 Budget Justification addresses the House and the Senate Committees
FY 2017 Appropriations report language which expressed strong interest in IHS establishing a pilot project for a centralized credentialing system for volunteer dentists, similar to what the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs have. The FY 2017 House Report directs the IHS to consult with those federal agencies and with private organizations to develop this pilot project. The FY 2017 Senate Report asks the IHS to consult with federal agencies, private organizations and state dental organizations and work to establish a pilot project. The IHS response is:
      The Indian Health Service (IHS) understands the Committee's concerns about the length of time required for credentialing of volunteer healthcare practitioners, including dental care practitioners, prior to work commencing at tribal or IHS facilities. The IHS is currently undergoing efforts to establish a national credentialing system which could encompass volunteer practitioners. (The background research for which included consultation with the Department of Veteran's Affairs, Department of Defense, and other organizations.) IHS has awarded a contract for centrally procured credentialing software for use at the IHS Area and Service Unit level that will provide enhanced capabilities and improve standardization of the credentialing process across IHS, as called for by the IHS Quality Framework. IHS will use the software to manage the credentialing of health professional staff agency-wide. The credentialing functions are best performed at the local or regional level since the local Service Unit is responsible (Governance responsibilities defined by the CMS Conditions of Participation and external accreditation standards) for the granting of privileges to provide services commensurate with the verified credentials and qualifications. Use of the credentialing software system is anticipated to accelerate the credentialing process and to facilitate transfer of credentials between facilities for staff who change duty location (including volunteers). (pp. CJ- 195 and 197)
FY 2016 Enacted $ 82,100,000
FY 2017 Enacted $ 94,080,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $ 82,654,000
Of the total, $554,000 is for staffing of Joint Venture facilities ($460,000 for the Choctaw Regional Medical Center and $94,000 for the Flandreau Health Center).
FY 2016 Enacted $205,305,000
FY 2017 Enacted $218,353,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $205,593,000
      Of the total, $288,000 is for staffing of Joint Venture facilities ($186,000 for the Choctaw Regional Medical Center and $102,000 for the Flandreau Health Center).
IHS states that the request includes $101.5 million for drug control activities and will maintain the program's progress "in addressing the alcohol and substance abuse needs by improving access to behavioral health services through tele-behavioral health efforts and providing a comprehensive array of preventive, educational and treatment services." (p. CJ-184)
FY 2016 Enacted $914,139,000
FY 2017 Enacted $928,830,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $914,139,000
      Of the total, $51.5 million is for the Catastrophic Health Emergency Program. The FY 2017 enacted level was $53 million.
FY 2016 Enacted $76,623,000
FY 2017 Enacted $78,701,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $77,498,000
      Of the total, $875,000 is for staffing of Joint Venture facilities ($601, 000 for the Choctaw Regional Medical Center and $274,000 for the Flandreau Health Center).
FY 2016 Enacted $18,255,000
FY 2017 Enacted $18,663,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $18,313,000
Of the total, $58,000 is for staffing for the Choctaw Regional Medical Center.
FY 2016 Enacted $58,906,000
FY 2017 Enacted $60,325,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $58,906,000
FY 2016 Enacted $1,950,000
FY 2017 Enacted $2,041,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $1,950,000
FY 2016 Enacted $44,741,000
FY 2017 Enacted $47,678,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $44,741,000
      The IHS states that the request includes $3.6 million for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Title V grants and notes that Urban Indian programs "have active partnerships with their local Veterans health Administration programs and several have identified joint alcohol and substance abuse initiatives." (p. CJ-184)
FY 2016 Enacted $48,342,000
FY 2017 Enacted $49,345,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $43,342,000
      Programs funded under Indian Health Professions are: Health Professions Preparatory and Pre-Graduate Scholarships; Health Professions Scholarships; Extern Program; Loan Repayment Program; Quentin N. Burdick American Indians Into Nursing Program; Indians Into Medicine Program; and American Indians into Psychology. The budget proposes $36 million for the loan repayment program. The IHS notes that the proposed level "will maintain the current loan repayments and scholarship commitments, and will not support additional awards." (p. CJ-129)
FY 2016 Enacted $2,442,000
FY 2017 Enacted $2,465,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request -0-
      The Tribal Management grant program, authorized in 1975 under the authority of the ISDEAA, provides competitive grants funding for new and continuation grants for the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of contracting IHS programs, developing tribal management capabilities, and evaluating health services. IHS notes that no funding is proposed for this program in order "to prioritize funding for direct care services." (p. CJ-134)
FY 2016 Enacted $72,338,000
FY 2017 Enacted $70,420,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $72,338,000
      IHS estimates that 58.7 percent of the Direct Operations budget would go to Headquarters and 41.3 percent to the 12 Area Offices. Tribal Shares funding for Title I contracts and Title V compacts are also included.
FY 2016 Enacted $5,735,000
FY 2017 Enacted $5,786,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $4,735,000
      The Self-Governance budget supports implementation of the IHS Tribal Self-Governance Program including funding required for Tribal Shares; oversight of the IHS Director's Agency Lead Negotiators; technical assistance on tribal consultation activities; analysis of Indian Health Care Improvement Act new authorities; and funding to support the activities of the IHS Director's Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee.
The IHS notes in its FY 2018 budget justification that in FY 2016, $1.9 billion was transferred to tribes to support 89 ISDEAA Title V compacts and 115 funding agreements.
While the entitlement funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) is not part of the IHS appropriations process, tribes and tribal organizations routinely include support for this program in their testimony on IHS funding. SDPI is currently funded through FY 2017 at $150 million annually, and the Administration supports $150 million for FY 2018. The program needs to be reauthorized this year.
FY 2016 Enacted $523,232,000
FY 2017 Enacted $545,424,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $446,956,000
FY 2016 Enacted $73,614,000
FY 2017 Enacted $75,745,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $60,000,000
      As of October 1, 2016, the Backlog of Essential Maintenance, Alteration, and Repair is $515.4 million. Maintenance and Improvement (M&I) funds are provided to Area Offices for distribution to projects in their regions. IHS estimates funding to be distributed as follows:
      • Routine maintenance - $57.1 million;
      • M&I Projects to reduce the backlog of maintenance - zero
      • Environmental compliance - $2.5 million, a reduction of $500,000, and
      • Demolition of vacant or obsolete health care facilities - While bill language would authorize up to $500,000, the budget narrative states they anticipate providing $400,000 for this purpose (a reduction of $100,000).
FY 2016 Enacted $222,610,000
FY 2017 Enacted $226,950,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $192,022,000
      Of the total, $2 million is for staffing of Joint Venture facilities ($1.56 million for the Choctaw Regional Medical Center and $466,000 for the Flandreau Health Center).
FY 2016 Enacted $22,537,000
FY 2017 Enacted $22,966,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $19,511,000
      While proposed bill language would provide up to $500,000 for TRANSAM equipment and up to $2.7 million for purchase of ambulances, the narrative states that IHS expects to provide $450,000 to purchase TRANSAM equipment from the Department of Defense and no funding for the purchase of ambulances.
      Construction of Sanitation Facilities
FY 2016 Enacted $ 99,423,000
FY 2017 Enacted $101,772,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $ 75,423,000
      IHS projected in the FY 2018 budget justification that the funds would be distributed as follows:
      • $37 million for projects to serve new or like-new housing ($20 million below FY 2017);
      • $37.9 million for projects to serve existing homes ($5 million below FY 2017); and
      • $523,000 for emergency projects (about $500,000 below FY 2017).
      • No funding would be provided for projects such as studies, training, or other needs related to sanitation facilities construction for which $2 million was provided in FY 2017.
      The IHS sanitation facilities construction funds cannot be used to provide sanitation facilities for HUD-built homes.
      Construction of Health Care Facilities
FY 2016 Enacted $105,048,000
FY 2017 Enacted $117,991,000
FY 2018 Admin. Request $100,000,000
      The IHS proposes construction funding for the following project:
      • $45 million to complete construction of the Rapid City Health Center, Rapid City, SD;
      • $50 million to continue construction of the Dikon Alternative Rural Health Center, Dikon. AZ; and
      • $5 million for design/build activities for the Alamo Health Center, Alamo, NM
      No funding is requested for the Small Ambulatory Program which received $5 million in FY 2017.
      New and Replacement Quarters. The IHS proposes $8.5 million for new and replacement quarters, the same as the FY 2016 level and $2.5 million above the FY 2017 level.
      The budget justification includes estimates of FY 2018 third party collections totaling $1,193,577,000 the same as the FY 2017 estimates:
      • Medicaid $807,605,000
      • Medicare $248,638,000
      • Private Insurance $109,272,000
      • VA Reimbursements $ 28,062,000
      The proposed bill continues language from previously enacted bills, including the following:
      IDEA Data Collection Language. The proposed budget would continue the BIA authorization to collect data from the IHS and tribes regarding disabled children in order to assist with the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The provision is:
      Provided further, That the Bureau of Indian Affairs may collect from the Indian Health Service and tribes and tribal organizations operating health facilities pursuant to Public Law 93-638 such individually identifiable health information relating to disabled children as may be necessary for the purpose of carrying out its functions under the Individuals with Disabilities       Education Act. (20 U.S.C. 1400, et. seq.)
      Prohibition on Implementing Eligibility Regulations. The proposed budget would continue the prohibition on the implementation of the eligibility regulations, published September 16, 1987.
      Services for Non-Indians. The proposed budget would continue the provision that allows the IHS and tribal facilities to extend health care services to non-Indians, subject to charges. The provision states:
      Provided, That in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, non-Indian patients may be extended health care at all tribally administered or Indian Health Service facilities, subject to charges, and the proceeds along with funds recovered under the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act (42 U.S.C. 2651-2653) shall be credited to the account of the facility providing the service and shall be available without fiscal year limitation.
      Assessments by DHHS. The proposed budget would continue the provision which provides that no IHS funds may be used for any assessments or charges by the Department of Health and Human Services "unless identified in the budget justification and provided in this Act, or approved by the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations through the reprogramming process."
      Limitation on No-Bid Contracts. The proposed budget would continue the provision regarding the use of no-bid contracts. The provision specifically exempts Indian Self-Determination agreements:
      Sec. 411. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act to executive branch agencies may be used to enter into any Federal contract unless such contract is entered into in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 33 of title 41 United States Code or chapter 137 of title 10, United States Code, and the Federal Acquisition Regulations, unless:
      (1) Federal law specifically authorizes a contract to be entered into without regard for these requirements, including formula grants for States, or federally recognized Indian tribes; or
      (2) such contract is authorized by the Indian Self-Determination and Education and Assistance Act (Public Law 93-638, 25 U.S.C. 450 et seq.) or by any other Federal laws that specifically authorize a contract within an Indian tribe as defined in section 4(e) of that Act (25 U.S.C. 450b(e)); or
      (3) such contract was awarded prior to the date of enactment of this Act.
Use of Defaulted Funds. The proposed budget would continue the provision that allows funds collected on defaults from the Loan Repayment and Health Professions Scholarship programs to be used to make new awards under the Loan Repayment and Scholarship programs.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information or assistance regarding the Trump Administration's proposed FY 2018 Indian Health Service appropriations."

In the Courts

The U.S. Supreme Court

      "U.S. Supreme Court Ends Cowlitz Tribe's Land-Into-Trust Case," Hobbs-Straus
General Memorandum 17-023, April 12th, 2017, reported, "On April 3, 2017, the United States Supreme Court denied the certiorari petition filed by opponents of the Cowlitz Tribe's successful land-into-trust application with the Department of Interior (DOI). As usual, the Court's order did not come with an explanation. The move clears the way for the Tribe to open the Ilani Resort Casino in Washington, just north of Portland, Oregon.
      Opponents had argued that DOI should not have been allowed to take land into trust for the Tribe because it had no authority to do so in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2009 decision in Carcieri v. Salazar, 555 U.S. 379. But DOI prevailed at both the U.S. district court and Court of Appeals levels. The Court's denial of certiorari means that DOI's interpretation of the Carcieri decision, explained below, stands.
      In Carcieri, the Court held that an Indian tribe must have been "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934, the year the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) was enacted, in order to qualify for trust land under the IRA. See 25 U.S.C. § 5129. While some argued that decision meant that DOI could no longer take land into trust for tribes that were not federally recognized by 1934, DOI concluded that "federal jurisdiction" was different from "federal recognition" and that it was possible to be under federal jurisdiction even if not federally recognized. DOI set forth a detailed analysis and the standards for how it would apply the Carcieri decision in an Interior Solicitor's M-Opinion (M-37029, March 12, 2014). DOI's new test takes into account its course of dealings with a tribe in 1934 and prior, and any resulting federal obligations, duties, and responsibilities to the tribe. Essentially, the test is that "a showing must be made that the United States has exercised its jurisdiction at some point prior to 1934 and that this jurisdictional status remained intact in 1934." See M-Opinion, p. 19. In the Cowlitz Tribe's case, DOI took into consideration treaty negotiations and services provided to tribal members.
      The new "under federal jurisdiction" test allows DOI to review tribal land applications on a tribe-by-tribe basis, with the authority to take lands into trust for Indian tribes that can make the requisite jurisdictional showing, even if they were not formally recognized in 1934."

      "Appeals Court Holds that Groundwater is Included in Tribe's Winters Water Rights," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-019, March 9th, 2017, General Memorandum 17-019, reported, "On March 7, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Agua Caliente Tribe's claim that the creation of its reservation included Winters doctrine federally reserved water rights to groundwater. More than a century ago, the United States Supreme Court held in Winters v. United States, 207 U.S. 564 (1908)) that, when the federal government creates an Indian reservation, certain water rights are reserved by implication. The Agua Caliente case is the first federal appellate court that has found the Winters doctrine reservation of rights includes groundwater as well as surface water.
      The Appeals Court's decision comes in the Agua Caliente Tribe's lawsuit against the local water agencies from which the Tribe purchases water. The Tribe sued to establish its Winters doctrine right to groundwater underlying reservation lands in the Coachella Valley; to prevent the districts from reducing the quality of that groundwater by recharging the aquifer with inferior quality water from the Colorado River; and to establish the quantity of water to which the Tribe is entitled. The District Court, pursuant to agreement of the parties, split the case into three phases, roughly: (i) whether the Tribe has Winters rights; (ii) the ownership of the "pore space" in the groundwater aquifer and the right to maintain the water's quality; (iii) and the quantity of reserved rights. This decision addresses only the first phase.
      The Winters doctrine states that the when the federal government withdraws land for specific purposes (which Winters found includes creation of Indian reservations), the withdrawal necessarily and impliedly carries with it a reservation of water rights necessary to fulfill the purposes for which the reservation was established. The water reserved is limited to the amount of water necessary to fulfill the primary purpose of the reservation, and to water that is "appurtenant" or adjacent to the land reserved.
      In this case, the Ninth Circuit first addressed whether it needed to determine as a threshold matter if there was enough water then available from other sources to meet the "primary purpose" of the reservation. The water agencies argued that if other sources of water could meet the "primary" purpose of the reservation, then no other rights were impliedly reserved under Winters. The Court rejected that idea, and stated the initial question is much simpler: whether water was envisioned as necessary for the reservation's purposes at the time the reservation was created.
      The Court answered that question in the affirmative. It looked to executive orders that created Agua Caliente's reservation, finding that they established the reservation "for the permanent use and occupancy" of the Tribe and for "Indian purposes." Though the Court stated that specific purposes of reservations are "often unarticulated," the general purpose, to "provide a home for the Indians, is a broad one and must be liberally construed." The Court stated that water is necessary to establish permanent homes, especially in the arid climate of the Coachella Valley, and, accordingly, the U.S. reserved water rights when it created the Agua Caliente reservation.
      The Court then considered whether groundwater was "appurtenant" to the reservation, in order to fulfill the second prong of the Winters doctrine test. The Court stated that the rights need only be attached to the reservation, and that having land overlying the groundwater aquifer was sufficient to find that the groundwater was "appurtenant." The Court noted that surface water only flowed a few months a year on the Tribe's lands in Southern California. Building on its finding that water must come with establishment of tribal homelands, it stated that "survival is conditioned on access to water—and a reservation without an adequate source of surface water must be able to access groundwater[,]" otherwise the purposes of the reservation (to sustain life) would be defeated.
      The Court rejected the following three arguments advanced by the water agencies that the Tribe's reserved rights were diminished: (i) the Tribe enjoyed the same rights to groundwater as other overlying landowners under California law; (ii) the Tribe had not drilled for groundwater on their own lands; and (iii) the Tribe had been apportioned surface water in a 1938 adjudication of the Whitewater River. The Court found that none of these factors affected the federal rights, as those rights are supreme to and preempt state law, are not subject to loss through non-use, were envisioned as necessary to sustain life at the time the reservation was created, and were unaffected by state water entitlements.
      Finally, the Court noted that, while the Winters doctrine did not distinguish between surface water and groundwater, it is an open question regarding how much water would be reserved for the Tribe. That question will be handled in the third phase of the trial, and the Court noted that the water districts are likely to argue that the Tribe must have some demonstrated need for the groundwater. The districts will likely make those arguments, but this decision contains helpful language that identifies the purposes of the reservation broadly in terms of creation of a tribal homeland.
      Unless the water agencies decide to appeal the Ninth Circuit's decision to an en banc panel of the Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court, the case now returns to the Central District of California for the second phase of the trial."

Lower Federal Courts

      "New Decision Regarding When a Tribal Proposal is Received to Start the ISDEAA 90-Day Review Period," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-022, April 10th, 2017,, reported, " The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Navajo Nation v. Zinke, No. 16-5117 (April 4, 2017), has decided an important case regarding when a tribal proposal is "received" for purposes of starting the 90-day review period under § 102(a)(2) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act (ISDEAA), 25 U.S.C. § 5321(a)(2).
      The case involved a multi-year self-determination contract between the Navajo Nation (Nation) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to fund the Nation's judicial operations. The contract required the parties to enter into a separate funding agreement (FA) for each calendar year covered. On October 4, 2013, the Nation hand delivered a proposal for CY 2014 to an employee in the BIA Navajo Regional Office. The government was partially shut down at that time but the employee marked the proposal for intra-office mail delivery to the BIA official responsible for making award and declination decisions for the Nation's contracts under the ISDEAA. The proposal for CY 2014 was in excess of $17 million, a major increase over the $1.3 million awarded to the Nation for CY 2013 FA.
      Government operations resumed on October 17, and two days later, the BIA sent a letter to the Nation acknowledging receipt of the proposal and stating that the BIA considered the proposal to have been received on October 17 when government operations resumed. The letter asserted that the BIA had 90 days until January 15, 2014, to approve or decline the proposal. However, if the proposal was properly received on the date it was hand delivered (October 4), rather than on the date governmental operations resumed (October 17), then the 90-day review period would end on January 2, 2014.
      The Nation did not respond to the BIA letter; nor did the Nation respond to a January 9 letter from the BIA requesting a 45-day extension. The BIA partially declined the proposal on January 15, 2014. ISDEAA regulations (25 C.F.R. § 900.18) require that if a proposal is not declined within 90 days of receipt, or within any agreed extension, the proposal is deemed approved. The Nation filed suit to enforce approval of the proposal under the regulation. The district court decided the case in favor of the BIA. The district court determined that because the Nation was silent in response to BIA's letters announcing its position on the deadline for declining, the Nation was equitably estopped from asserting that the BIA received the proposal on October 4 and had to decline it within 90 days thereafter.
       On appeal, the D. C. Circuit held that the proposal was "received" on October 4, 2013, when it was unconditionally accepted by the employee in the BIA's regional office. The court determined that the ordinary meaning of "to receive" is to take possession or delivery of the proposal. The Court noted that the BIA had adopted this interpretation in its Internal Agency Procedure Handbook, even if the proposal was received by an office without the authority to process proposals. The Court also rejected the government's argument that receipt of the proposal on October 4 would violate the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA) because it would result in an obligation of funds in excess of appropriations. The court noted that the ADA does not cancel an agency's obligations under its own regulation; nor does the ADA defeat the rights of other parties.
      Importantly, the Court reversed the district court's holding that the Navajo Nation was equitably estopped from disputing the timeliness of the declination. The Court noted that equitable doctrines are grounded in fairness and justice. Because the government itself has consistently taken the position that equitable estoppel does not apply to the sovereign United States, the government cannot in this case seek to impose equitable estoppel on another sovereign, especially one to which the government owes "a distinctive obligation of trust" citing Seminole Nation v. United States, 316 U.S. 286, 296 (1942). The Court cited with approval the passage in the Seminole decision that the government, in its dealings with the Indians, "has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust. Its conduct, as disclosed in the acts of those who represent it in dealing with the Indians, should therefore be judged by the most exacting fiduciary standards." Id. at 297.
      This reliance on the federal trust responsibility of fair dealing to support the Court's decision on application of equitable estoppel is an important holding for Indian tribes. The Court also determined that this case did not present the sort of "extraordinary circumstances" that justify equitable tolling. The Court noted that if the government believes it cannot "receive" documents during a stoppage, it should instruct its employees not to receive them, rather than expect its citizens and its courts to "equitably" pretend it has not done so. Further, the BIA lost only the first 13 days of the 90 days it had to act on the proposal.
      Finally, the Court rejected the government's argument that the Nation cannot be awarded funds in excess of the "Secretarial amount." The Court noted that this argument would "transform a funding floor into a ceiling" because section 106(a)(1) of the ISDEAA requires that the funding amount "shall not be less" than the amount the Secretary would otherwise provide for operation of the programs for the period covered by the contract."      

       Debra Utacia Krol, "Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe Celebrates Gaming Ruling: Martha’s Vineyard tribe wins appeal in lawsuit establishing its right to open a Class II gaming facility," ICTMN, April 25, 2017,, reported, "The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) learned April 11 that the 1 st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had reversed a lower court ruling, affirming the tribe’s right to open a Class II casino on its Martha’s Vineyard island land. The case , Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association, Inc. and Town of Aquinnah, Mass. v. the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and the Wampanoag Tribal Council of Gay Head, Inc., was filed by then-Governor Deval Patrick, alleging that the tribe had forfeited its gaming rights as part of a 1983 land settlement, later ratified by Congress in 1987, that required the tribe’s compliance with state and local laws, including prohibitions on gaming.
      The Wampanoags had announced plans to develop a casino in an unfinished 6,200-square foot building initially slated to become a community center in 2012, and received approval from the National Indian Gaming Commission in October 2013. The state moved to file the initial lawsuit in state court shortly afterward, and the tribe successfully argued to move the case to federal court."

      The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals ruled in favor or the Gila River Community and the San Carlos Apache Tribe, June 13, 2017, blocking the rerouting of water from the Gila River in New Mexico by the company Freeport-McMoRan, holding that the company had not shown that the rerouting would not harm th two Indian communities (Ben Moffat, "Appeals court upholds tribes' claim iover Gila River water," Navajo Times, June 15, 2017).

       The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Navajo Nation, in June 2017, blocking attempts by the electric power comapany PNM to condemn two parcels of land within the Navajo Nation along rights of way for power lines established in the 1960, but which had expired. PNM had obtained consent from a majority of the land owners, but after several of them withdrew consent, bringing the number who consented less than a majority, the Navajo Nation withdrew its consent (Bill Donovan, "Nation wins right-of-way lawsuit against PNM," Navajo Times, June 15, 2017).

      Earth Justice reported June 14, 2017,, " The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a significant victory today in its fight to protect the Tribe’s drinking water and ancestral lands from the Dakota Access pipeline.
A federal judge ruled that the federal permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation, which were hastily issued by the Trump administration just days after the inauguration, violated the law in certain critical respects.
       In a 91-page decision (, Judge James Boasberg wrote, “the Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.” The Court did not determine whether pipeline operations should be shut off and has requested additional briefing on the subject and a status conference next week.
      'This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing ,' said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a recent statement. “The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests. We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately.”
      The Tribe’s inspiring and courageous fight has attracted international attention and drawn the support of hundreds of tribes around the nation.
      The Tribe is represented by the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice, which filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for issuing a permit for the pipeline construction in violation of several environmental laws.
      'This decision marks an important turning point. Until now, the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been disregarded by the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Trump administration—prompting a well-deserved global outcry,' said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman. 'The federal courts have stepped in where our political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities.'
       The Court ruled against the Tribe on several other issues, finding that the reversal allowing the pipeline complied with the law in some respects.
      The $3.8 billion pipeline project, also known as Bakken Oil Pipeline, extends 1,168 miles across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, crossing through communities, farms, tribal land, sensitive natural areas and wildlife habitat. The pipeline would carry up to 570,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois where it links with another pipeline that will transport the oil to terminals and refineries along the Gulf of Mexico."
      For an explanation of the court ruling and what is to happen next, visit: For more background on this case, go to:

       Natasha Geiling, "Federal judge denies Trump administration appeal in youth climate lawsuit: Looks like the historic lawsuit is headed to trial, T Think Progress, June 9, 2017,, reported, " A federal judge has denied the Trump administration’s appeal in a climate change lawsuit, paving the way for the unprecedented suit to go to trial.
      The case —  Juliana v. United States — pits a group of youth climate plaintiffs against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry. The plaintiffs allege that the federal government, through its actions and coordination with the fossil fuel industry, have violated their constitutional right to a livable climate. It is the first climate lawsuit to rely on a version of the public trust doctrine — known as atmospheric trust — to make its case, and adds to a growing number of attempts to force climate action through the judicial branch."

      Joseph Guzman, "Court Rejects Navajo Generating Station Cases: Court rejects two appeals regarding Navajo Generating Station emissions impact, closing," ICTMN, March 27, 2017,, reported, " A federal appeals court rejected two cases related to the Navajo Generating Station, one that aimed to tighten environmental restrictions on the coal-fired power plant, and another questioning the process that calls for the plant’s closure.
      A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday turned away an argument by environmental groups that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cut corners when it developed its plan to regulate nitrogen oxide emissions from the plant to reduce regional haze.
      The same panel rejected a separate claim by the Hopi Tribe that it was improperly left out of discussions on the federal emissions plan, which calls for the plant to ultimately close by 2044 at the latest.
      But the impact of those rulings may be overshadowed by the announcement last month that the Navajo Generating Station will cease operations after 2019 , a decision that could mean “much cleaner air and water in the region” while posing a huge hit to the economy, especially for tribes in the region."

      "Native American and Environmental Groups File Law Suit to Overturn President Trumps Keystone Pipeline Permit: First Suit Filed for an Injunction Against Trump’s Keystone XL Pipeline Permit by Indigenous Environmental Network, North Coast Rivers Alliance , Law Offices of Stephan C, Volker, March 29, 2017,, stated, "The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and North Coast Rivers Alliance (NCRA) have filed suit in Federal District Court in Great Falls, Montana, challenging the Presidential Permit issued by President Trump allowing construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
      IEN’s and NCRA’s Complaint challenging the State Department’s approval of a Presidential Permit for the KXL Pipeline is available here: f.pdf
      Stephan Volker, attorney for IEN and NCRA, filed the suit on Monday, March 27th. The suit alleges that the State Department's Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement ("FSEIS") fails to (1) provide a detailed and independent Project purpose and need, (2) analyze all reasonable alternatives to the Project, (3) study the Project's transboundary effects, (4) disclose and fully analyze many of the Project's adverse environmental impacts, (5) formulate adequate mitigation measures, and (6) respond adequately to comments. In addition, the FSEIS was irredeemably tainted because it was prepared by Environmental Resource Management ("ERM"), a company with a substantial conflict of interest. The suit also alleges that Trump’s permit violates the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
      'President Trump is breaking established environmental laws and treaties in his efforts to force through the Keystone XL Pipeline, that would bring carbon-intensive, toxic, and corrosive crude oil from the Canadian tar sands, but we are filing suit to fight back,' said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. 'Indigenous peoples’ lands and waters are not here to be America’s environmental sacrifice zone. For too long, the US Government has pushed around Indigenous peoples and undervalued our inherent rights, sovereignty, culture, and our responsibilities as guardians of Mother Earth and all life while fueling catastrophic extreme weather and climate change with an addiction to fossil fuels. The time has come to keep fossil fuels in the ground and shut down risky extreme energy projects like the tar sands that are poisoning our families, wildlife, water sources and destroying our climate.'
      'Oil, water and fish do not mix. KXL poses an unacceptable risk to the Missouri River and its fisheries, including the nearly extinct Arctic grayling,' said Frank Egger, President of The North Coast Rivers Alliance (NCRA). 'No oil pipeline is safe. One major oil spill, and the Missouri River and adjacent aquifers would be polluted for generations.'
      'Because President Trump has turned his back on the Native American community and protection of our clean water, endangered fisheries, and indeed, survival of the Planet itself, we have asked the Federal Courts to order him to comply with our nation’s environmental laws,' said Volker. 'We are confident that the courts will apply and enforce the law fairly and faithfully, and protect our irreplaceable natural heritage from the risky and unneeded KXL Pipeline. Alternatives including renewable energy and conservation must be given full and fair consideration to protect future generations from the ravages of global warming.'
      Additional documents pertaining to the litigation can be obtained from the Volker Law Offices.
      The Indigenous Environmental Network was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals in 1990 to address environmental and economic justice issues across Turtle Island, also known as North America. The North Coast Rivers Alliance (NCRA) is an association of conservation leaders from the western and northern United States and Canada which has advocated for decades on behalf of rivers and watersheds in jeopardy throughout North America."

       Kristi Eaton, "Tribal Members in Oklahoma Defeat Natural Gas Pipeline Company: Federal court orders removal of natural gas pipeline in Oklahoma for trespassing on original Kiowa Indian lands," ICTMN, April 12, 2017,, rep[orted, "The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma has ordered a natural gas pipeline operator to cease operations and remove the pipeline located on original Kiowa Indian lands Anadarko.
      The ruling in Davilla v. Enable Midstream Partners,, L.P. , issued at the end of March, found that Enable Midstream was continuing to trespass on the land and ordered the company to remove the pipeline within six months.
      The plaintiffs are 38 enrolled members of the Comanche, Caddo, Apache, Cherokee and Kiowa Tribes of Oklahoma. Additionally, the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma has an interest in the land. The interests vary from nearly 30 percent to less than 9/10th of a percent."

      Fernanda Santos, “Barely Two R’s Are Taught at School That Led Tribe to Sue U.S.," The New York Times, January 23, 2017,, reported, " Students at Havasupai Elementary, the only school in this tribal village near Grand Canyon National Park, say they don’t have a regular schedule of science and social studies classes, or gym or art classes, either. Often there are not enough teachers, they say.
      The children — in kindergarten through eighth grade — learn mostly reading and math, though barely. In the most recent evaluation made public, they tested at the first and third percentile , well below every other school on Indian reservations, already among the worst in the country.
      The abysmal test scores are highlighted in a federal lawsuit filed this month against the government by the Havasupai Tribe on behalf of nine students at the school. The tribe, a dwindling nation of 730, says the United States has reneged on its legal duty to educate their children by, among other things, allowing a janitor and a secretary to fill in for absent teachers, and by failing to provide special-education services and enough books for all students.

       Steve Russell, "Alabama-Coushatta Indians Litigate the Honor of Texas: Texas looks to fine the Alabama-Coushatta $10,000 a day for running electronic bingo games," ICTMN, May 24, 2017,, reported, "On May 11, lawyers for the state of Texas came to federal court in Beaumont asking that the Alabama-Coushatta Indians be held in contempt of court for running the Naskila (“dogwood”) electronic bingo parlor on their reservation in East Texas.
      Texas is asking that the Alabama-Coushattas be fined $10,000 for every day they offer electronic bingo because Texas claims the offer is in violation of an injunction the federal court entered in 2002 against casino (Class III) gambling."

       Richard Walker, "Native Americans and Taxes: Tulalip Tribes Challenge State Taxation on Tribal Lands: The state, county and Tulalip will go to court in June over taxes at Quil Ceda Village," ICTMN, January 9, 2017,, reported, "The Tulalip Tribes’ challenge of the state and county’s taxation of business conducted on its lands is scheduled for a 10-day trial beginning June 5, 2017 in U.S. District Court. Washington State, Snohomish County, and Tulalip Tribes failed on October 24 to resolve a dispute over the state and county’s contention they have the authority to tax business transactions in the Tulalip Tribes’ incorporated community of Quil Ceda Village, located on the reservation, and so the case is headed to trial."

       Suzette Brewer, "Cherokee Nation Sues Walmart, Drug Companies Over Opioids: ‘We have a world class team dedicated to addressing the scourge of opioids on our people,’ Cherokee Nation AG," ICTMN, April 21, 2017,, reported, "Declaring an 'opioid epidemic of unprecedented proportions' in Indian country, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma on Thursday, April 20 filed suit against CVS, Walmart and others alleging that the defendants knowingly created the conditions that amount to little more than legalized drug trafficking to citizens within its jurisdiction.
      By ignoring red flags and refusing to monitor the supply chain, contributing to what is known as 'drug diversion,' the suit alleges that the effects of opioid addiction has had a devastating human toll on the tribe’s citizens and crushing impact on its resources."

State and Local Courts

      "California Supreme Court Rules Tribal Businesses Not Immune in Payday Lending Case," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 17-001, January 6th, 2017,, reports, "On December 22, 2016, the California Supreme Court unanimously held that two tribally-controlled businesses established for the purpose of payday lending are not protected by the Tribes' sovereign immunity. The ruling in People v. Miami Nation Enterprises stems from a 2006 cease and desist order and a 2007 complaint filed by the Commissioner of the California Department of Corporations (now Business Oversight) against a number of payday lending companies that were operated by Miami Nation Enterprises and SFS Inc., which are tribally-chartered corporations of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska, respectively. The Commissioner alleged that the businesses were charging loan rates and fees in amounts larger than allowed by State law.
      The tribal enterprises successfully defended their sovereign immunity in the lower courts. The California Court of Appeals ruled in 2014 that the lending companies were sufficiently related to the Tribes to be protected by tribal sovereign immunity and dismissed the Commissioner's complaint. The California Supreme Court, however, reinstated the Commissioner's complaint.
       First, the court made an admittedly unusual conclusion that sometimes the defendant in a sovereign immunity case bears the burden of showing that it is entitled to immunity. The burden usually rests with the plaintiff. But the court held that in an 'arm-of-the-tribe' immunity case, the entity raising the immunity defense bears the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that it is an arm of the tribe. The court wrote that 'Arm-of-the-tribe immunity must not become a doctrine of form over substance.'
       Second, the court created a five-factor test to make that determination. The five factors are:
      (1) the entity's method of creation;
      (2) whether the tribe intended the entity to share in its immunity;
      (3) the entity's purpose;
      (4) the tribe's control over the entity; and
      (5) the financial relationship between the tribe and the entity.

      The court gave great weight to the last three factors, writing that 'evidence that the entity engages in activities unrelated to its stated goals or that the entity actually operates to enrich primarily persons outside of the tribe or only a handful of tribal leaders weighs against finding that the entity is an arm of the tribe.' The court concluded that the tribal businesses 'relied heavily on outsiders.' The court also gave great weight to the lack of evidence that the Tribes received a majority of the profits as well as lack of evidence that the tribal businesses exercised significant control over loan approvals. The court remanded the case back to trial court for further proceedings in order to give the tribal business entities the opportunity to provide evidence that they meet the newly created standards under the five-part test."

       Steve Russell, "New York High Court Rules for Fairness in Picking Juries: The all white jury selection has been getting harder since 1986," ICTMN, January 16, 2017,, reported, " It just got harder to kick Indians off juries for no reason. The New York Court of Appeals has handed down an opinion that will be another arrow in the quiver of Indians hunting for a fair trial in the colonial courts.
      "Indians in border towns face the same issues in selecting juries that the ex-slaves faced in the Jim Crow south. Border towns have historically been hostile to Indian voter registration. Indians have historically been hostile to participating in the colonial government, so when jurors are pulled from the pool of registered voters some Indians are kept from registering, some don’t want to register, and some who do register don’t want to show up for jury duty."

      MALDEF, "Families & School Districts Seek Court Action Against State of New Mexico: Landmark Education Suit Claims Students’ Constitutional Rights Are Being Violated," June 12, 2017, , "A state-court trial will start Monday in a landmark education lawsuit that alleges New Mexico is violating the state constitutional rights of students placed at risk.
       The trial will focus on legal claims filed by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (the Center) challenging the state’s failure to provide economically disadvantaged students, English-language learners (ELL), Native Americans, and students with disabilities with a “sufficient” education, as guaranteed by New Mexico’s constitution.
      'For far too long, New Mexico has left its most vulnerable students behind, disregarding its constitutional duty to fully support their education for all students,' said Marisa Bono, MALDEF Southwest regional counsel. 'All New Mexico children should have the opportunity to graduate ready to pursue their dreams and meet their full potential—this lawsuit will ensure that opportunity.'
       While the state’s constitution mandates a 'sufficient' and 'uniform' education for all students in New Mexico, a majority of public school students are unable to read, write, or do math at grade level. The consolidated lawsuit calls for the court to order the state to provide the programming and resources necessary for all public school students to succeed, as well as ensure that funds are distributed equitably, including for economically disadvantaged and ELL students.
      'The children of New Mexico are intelligent and capable, and have just as much potential as other students across the country. Unfortunately, the State has done little to invest in our children’s future,' said Preston Sanchez, an attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. 'It’s time that the State be held accountable to its constitutional duty to meet the educational needs of our students so that they may achieve not only academic success but success in other areas of their lives. Our kids’ and our state’s future are at stake.'
      MALDEF’s lawsuit, Martinez v State of New Mexico, was filed in April 2014 on behalf of parents and public schools in Española, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Zuni, Magdalena, Las Cruces and Gadsden. The suit alleges that the state’s inadequate funding for ELL and economically disadvantaged students, the lack of quality pre-K programs and other problems violate state constitution. State attorneys sought to dismiss the lawsuit, but the court denied the request and ruled for the first time in New Mexico’s history that education is a fundamental right.
      'I simply want my children to have an equal opportunity to get a good education,' said Roberto Sanchez, a plaintiff in the Martinez case whose children attend school in Santa Fe. 'I see that my three children don't have access to what they need to get ahead. Sometimes they have substitutes for a long time. We are simply asking that our children have a chance to get the education they need.'
      The Center’s lawsuit, Yazzie v. State of New Mexico, was filed in March 2014 on behalf of a group of families and school districts including Gallup, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Cuba, Moriarty/Edgewood, and Lake Arthur. The families represented have children who are ELL, Native American or economically disadvantaged and have been negatively impacted by the lack of resources provided to New Mexico public schools.
      'All I want is for my child to receive the best education possible, but my son and other Navajo students aren’t given the educational resources they need,' said Wilhelmina Yazzie, the named plaintiff in the Yazzie lawsuit whose son attends middle school in Gallup. 'My son is a smart and dedicated student, but I worry that he’s not getting the academic support relevant to his native culture and language that will prepare him for college and help him succeed.'
      MALDEF’s lead counsel is Marisa Bono, Southwest regional counsel, and legal counsel include staff attorneys Ernest Herrera and Jack Salmon; E. Martin Estrada, Nick Sidney and Jessica Baril with Munger, Tolles & Olson; and David Garcia. The trial is expected to last nine weeks. The Center’s legal counsel on the case include Gail Evans, Preston Sanchez, Christopher Sanchez, and Lauren Winkler of the Center along with co-counsel Daniel Yohalem and Mark D. Fine.
      'We can all agree that one of the most important things our society does is educate our children,' said E. Martin Estrada, a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. 'This case – on behalf of all schoolchildren in New Mexico – has the opportunity to meaningfully impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of students, particularly children from low-income backgrounds. For too long, the public education system has failed New Mexico’s school children, with the effects being acutely felt by Latino students, Native American students, and students with disabilities. With this case, we hope to change that.'
      Read the complaint at: and the court’s 2014 ruling at: And click: for a timeline of significant dates in the case, a fact sheet and a selection of news clips.
      For more information contact: Sandra Hernandez, (213) 629-2512, ext. 129,; Maria Archuleta, (505) 255-2840,
      Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: . For all media inquiries, please contact Sandra Hernandez at (213) 629-2512 ext. 129 or .
      The mission of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty is to advance economic and social justice through education, advocacy, and litigation. The Center works with low-income New Mexicans to improve living conditions, increase opportunities, and protect the rights of people living in poverty. Underlying its mission is a vision of New Mexico without poverty, where all peoples’ basic human rights are met. For more information on the Yazzie lawsuit, including plaintiff profiles, please visit: . For all media inquiries, please contact Maria Archuleta at (505) 255-2840 or .

Tribal Courts

      The Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma brought suit in its tribal court, March 3, 2017, against several oil companies for damages from a 5.8 earthquake the nation alleges was caused by the companies pumping waste water into deep wells ("Quake Damage Spurs Pawnee Nation to Sue Oklahoma Firms in Tribal Court," The New York Times, March 5, 2017).

       The Hopi Tribal Courts returned, February 1, 2017, to functioning in Upper Moenkopi to serve members of that Hopi community and Hopis who use their tribal courts who live in the nearby Tuba City area of the Navajo Reservation (Stan Bindell, "Hopi Tribal Courts Return to Upper Moenkopi," Navajo Times, February 23, 2017).

Tribal Government and State and Local Government Developments,

       Steve Russell, "Indian List 2017: Native Man Wins Tribal ID Case After Store Refuses to Serve Him: Montana Human Rights Bureau upholds that tribal ID is equal to a state ID when it comes to public and legal transactions," ICTMN, April 14, 2017,, reported, "The Montana Human Rights Bureau has ordered a convenience store chain to pay a $7,000 penalty for refusing to recognize a Northern Cheyenne tribal identification card in the face of a state law that declared tribal IDs equal to state IDs since 2007. The decision in a complaint brought by Carl High Pine, 59, makes plain that refusing a tribal ID is a denial of equal access to a place of public accommodation and writes the latest chapter in a fight against racial discrimination in public that has gone on for more than 50 years."

      Julie Bosman, "Nebraska Liquor Stores Near Pine Ridge Reservation Lose Licenses," The New York Times,  April 19, 2017,, reported, "Nebraska officials voted on Wednesday to revoke the liquor licenses of four stores in the tiny town of Whiteclay, potentially cutting off a major source of alcohol to Native Americans who live a short walk away on the dry Pine Ridge Reservation.
      The state liquor board said that the town was not adequately served by law enforcement, sufficient cause to deny the renewal of the licenses."
      Earlier: Julie Bosman, "Nebraska May Stanch One Town’s Flow of Beer to Its Vulnerable Neighbors," The New York Times, March 25, 2017,, reported on White Clay Nebraska, adjacent to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, "This town is a rural skid row, with only a dozen residents, a street strewn with debris, four ramshackle liquor stores and little else. It seems to exist only to sell beer to people like Tyrell Ringing Shield, a grandmother with silver streaks in her hair.      
      "... on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, alcohol is forbidden. In Whiteclay, though, it reigns supreme."
      "Now many residents of Nebraska and South Dakota are pushing for the liquor stores of Whiteclay to be shut, disgusted by the easy access to alcohol the stores provide to a people who have fought addiction for generations. The Nebraska authorities, in turn, have tightened scrutiny of the stores, which sell millions of cans of beer and malt liquor annually. Last year, for the first time, the state liquor commission ordered the stores’ six owners to reapply for their liquor licenses.
       The fate of the stores could be decided next month, when the three-member commission holds hearings in Lincoln, the state capital.
      The issue has left people in South Dakota and Nebraska deeply divided. Most agree that alcohol abuse on the reservation is an entrenched problem, but they are unsure of the solution — and who is responsible."

       Utah Foster Care, a nonprofit that contracts with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, has been collaborating with eight tribes in Utah to find Native family homes for Indian children the Davison of Family Services designates for fostering (Arlyssa Becenti, "Utah program seeks foster parents for Native children," Navajo Times, April 27, 2017).

       Richard Walker, "‘Squaw’ Closer to Being Removed From Two Place Names in Washington: Washington state could be the latest to replace the racist term on geographical names," ICTMN, May 26, 2017,, reported, "The state Committee on Geographic Names voted May 16 to recommend the state Natural Resources Board change the name of Squaw Bay on Shaw Island in San Juan County to Reefnet Bay, and Squaw Creek in Klickitat County to Walaluuks Creek.
      The committee also agreed to consider a proposal to change the name of Squaw Creek in Okanagan County to Swaram Creek."

       Dina Gilio-Whitaker, "California Coastal Commission Appoints First Native American: One of the most influential state bodies will now have a Native voice," ICTMN, May 4, 2017,, reported, "The California Coastal Commission has made history with the appointment of Ryan Sundberg, Yurok, to its Board of Commissioners. Sundberg is the first Native American to ever be appointed to the 12-member commission in its 41-year history."

      The St. Regeis Mohawks of New York collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wild Life Service, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Trout Unlimited, to take down the Hogansburg Dam on the St. Reigis river, as part of a major cleanup of industrial waste and restoration of the river and land. This is the first federally authorized dam to be decommissioned (Mary Esch, "Mowhawks become first to take down federal dam," NFIC, December 2016).

      The Arizona Department of Veteran Services, in Februaru 2017, certified four Navajo Veteran Service Officers, on the Navajo reservation, to submit claims and represent veterans in appeals (Chtistopher Pineo, "Arizona certifies 4 Navajos to process veterans' claims," Navajo Times, February 9, 2017).

      A Bill proposed in the Nebraska legislature, in January 2017, would no longer recognize Columbus Day as an official holiday, but would substitute for it "Standing Bear [a legendary Ponca leader] and Indigenous Leader Day" ("Bill would swap Columbus Day for Standing Bear Day," NFIC, February 2017).

      The Southern Ute Tribal Council has for several years held regular meetings with the school board of Ignacio, CO, a town in the center of the reservaiton At the May 27 meeting of the Councik with the Ignacio School Board, the focus was on what to do about the low graduation and high truency rate of Ute Children at Ignacio High School in 2017. The Southern Ute Education Depatment and the school district have been discussing the problem, with the Education Department working with seniors not doing well in school, beginning in October 2016, to try to rectify the problem early enough so that poorly acheiving students might be able to graduate at the end of the school year. A Tribal Council member said that the council, in addition to other possible action to help students and increase parents support, might consider instituting fining parents for unjustified absences, noting that the Pequot Tribe had seen a reducion in truency after instituting fining parents for it. A number of other ways of improving student learning were also discussed, including considering having the Southern Ute Academy eliminate its 6th grade, so that students would transfer a year earlier to the school in Ignacio (Sacha Smith, "School Board, Tribal Council meet," Southern Ute Drum, May 12, 2017)

       Alysa Landry, "Natives and City of Phoenix Push for Squaw Peak Drive Name Change: Residents of Squaw Peak Drive dig in for road that leads to Piestewa Peak," ICTMN,
March 15, 2017,, reported, "Every year, half a million hikers scale 2,600-foot Piestewa Peak, one of the highest crests in Phoenix and recently renamed as a memorial to Army Spc. Lori Piestewa, the first Native American woman to die in combat on foreign soil. But to reach the hiking trail, visitors first must travel Squaw Peak Drive, a mile-long residential street at the heart of a controversy that is pitting lawmakers against property owners. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton last fall began pushing to change the street’s name, which includes a derogatory term for Native American women."

Tribal Developments

       Lee Allen, "Who Belongs? The Epidemic of Tribal Disenrollment:Tribal disenrollment discussed during two-day forum," ICTMN, March 28, 2017,, reported, "The age-old question of “ who are you” has developed into a 21st century conundrum of “ who belongs,” the basis of a two-day forum discussing tribal kinship, Native Nation citizenship, and tribal disenrollment by exploring questions that relate to citizenship and community-belonging in Indian country. The forum was co-convened by the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the James E. Rogers College of Law and the Department of American Indian Studies."
      “ ' Disenrollment has been referred to as an epidemic that has impacted upwards of 9,000 people in 79 tribes across 20 states. There are 567 federally-recognized tribal nations, so those tribes already dealing with the concept represent a metric of 15 percent of Indian country—and that constitutes an epidemic.'”

       Renae Ditmer, "Improving Native Health, Holistically: New Indian Health Service initiative notes importance of historical trauma," ICTMN, December 26, 2016,, reported, " Indian country is plagued by significantly higher rates of depression, substance abuse, interpersonal violence and suicide than the general U.S. population. A new initiative supported by the Indian Health Service (IHS) aims to address those problems in a more comprehensive manner than has been previously attempted by federal health policy.
      In early December , the agency, in coordination with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), released what it is calling a Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda (TBHA) as a first step in formulating policy tailored to address tribe-specific issues.
      The TBHA is based on the assumption that social injustice “…endured over the course of multiple generations….” by tribal communities has produced a consistent array of symptoms across Indian country.
      To correct the problem, the TBHA establishes loose guidance for behavioral health policy for tribes and the federal and state departments, agencies and associations that support them. It provides a more holistic, identity-driven and culturally and spiritually-based approach to treatment of these problems in Indian country.
      The TBHA also calls for more collaboration amongst tribes."      "The practical direction for the TBHA:

  1. Focusing on healing from historical and intergenerational trauma;
  2. Using a socio-cultural-ecological approach to improving behavioral health;
  3. Ensuring support for both prevention and recovery;
  4. Strengthening behavioral health systems and related services and supports; and
Improving national awareness and visibility of behavioral health issues faced by tribal communities."

       Mark Fogarty, "Little River Band Building Big Housing Development: Housing development set to include 300 homes on 120 acres in ‘a collaborative economic development’," ICTMN, April 15, 2017,, reported, "The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians has broken ground for an ambitious housing development that would rank as one of the biggest American Indian projects ever undertaken.
      The tribe plans for the housing development in Fruitport Township, Michigan include 300 homes. Construction should start on the first phase of the project in late April or in May. That would see 115 houses rise on land the tribe bought from the Fruitport community school district in 2016.
      Homebuyers will not need to be tribal members to purchase a house in the project, described as 'a collaborative economic development investment' in the Fruitport community."

       Developer Mike Tompkins, on the discovery of an Indian burial mound within the boundaries of a neighborhood development project he was undertaking west of Columbus, MO, moved to incorporate the mound in the project, placing a park around it ("Burial Mound to be incorporated into Missouri neighborhood," NFIC, December 2016).

      The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, on May 9, 2017, received the deed to a 20 mile stretch of the Homestead Trail from the Nebraska Trails Foundation, changing  the name to the Chief Standing Bear Trail. The trail had been part of the Ponca Trail of Tears, over which the tribe was removed from Nebraska to Oklahoma in 1877 ("Ponca Trige gains ownership of Nebraska Homestead Trail," NFIC, May, 2017)

       Lynn Cordova, Same-Sex Marriage? Osage Nation Votes ‘Yes’: There are only a few dozen federally-recognized tribes that have amended their laws to approve of same-sex tribal marriage," ICTMN, April 4, 2017,, reported, " A Native American tribe in Oklahoma has voted to recognize same-sex tribal marriage, becoming one of only a few dozen sovereign nations in the U.S. to explicitly recognize such unions.
      After an historic vote, citizens of the Osage Nation amended its marriage law in late March with 52-percent of the vote. Although there are an estimated 15,000 registered Osage voters, only 1,123 cast their ballots, Osage News reported."
      "Only a few dozen of the 567 federally-recognized tribes explicitly recognize same-sex tribal marriage, LGBTQ Nation reports. The Cherokee Nation, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe – each in Oklahoma – also recognize same-sex tribal marriages."

       Sarah Sunshine Manning, "Jesuits Return 525 Acres to Rosebud Sioux Tribe:History between the Jesuits and Native Americans is marred with colonial onslaughts on indigenous lands, cultures and life ways," ICTMN, May 19, 2017,, reported, "On Tuesday, May 2, the Jesuit-run St. Francis Mission announced it will return more than 500 acres to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The land is within the boundaries of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, and has been held by the St. Francis mission since the 1880s."

       David Rooks, "Days Of Fear – Gun Violence Ripping Through Pine Ridge: Six shooting deaths since July have community seeking answers," ICTMN, January 4, 2017,, reported, "On Tuesday of the last week of 2016, a year in which five Pine Ridge Indian Reservation youth were victims in separate incidents of gun violence, three shots fired by a tribal police officer on the evening of December 27 ended the life of a sixth youth," who was reported to have been armed with a gun, which he drew on the officer, causing the officer to draw his own weapon.

      The Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado has undertaken an excellent example of using contemporary media to increase communication, and thereby participation, in inclusive tribal discussion and decision making. In order to reach as many tribal members as possible for the tribal educational meeting on April 10, 2017, to discuss the issues raised in a member proposed referendum on how to allocate $45,515,000 remaining of the Sisseton Settlement Funds received by the tribe , the tribal council arranged for membership only live streaming of the meeting on the internet. Members could log in via the web sites of the tribe or its newspaper, the Southern Ute Drum, or via tribal Facebook. The referendum and the meeting about it were announced in all of those media. (Lindsay Box, "Council Affairs: Membership can livestream educational meeting, Southern Ute Drum, March 31, 2017).
      The council had not previously taken any action on what to do with the funds in question. On reviewing the petition for a referendum on the matter, following the advice of tribal attorneys, the council had found that the petition was defective, and canceled the referendum, which had been scheduled, on February 14, by the tribal election board to take place March 17. As this was an issue of considerable concern to many members, the council set up the educational meeting on the matter with live streaming. At its April 4, 2017  meeting (which was proceeded by some protests by some tribal members that the referendum had been canceled), the Southern Ute Tribal Council authorized a referendum for May 4, 2017 for tribal members to vote on whether or not to distribute the remaining Sisseton Settlement Funds directly to tribal members.
      The May 4 referendum passed the proposition that the remaining Sisseton Settlement be distributed to tribal members (Jeremy Wade Shockly, "Election Board certifies Referendum results," Southern Ute Drum, May 12, 2017).

      Meanwhile, in February 2017, the Southern Ute Tribal Council began producing a half hour biweekly radio program, "Council Connect," on the tribal station, KSUT. The program has been featuring the agenda of the upcoming council meeting and updates on the council's calendar, along with information on tribal and community events. The council has been using the show to discuss tribal business, including new initiatives and membership meetings. Particular council members and guests have participated in the show to develop the topics the council has been discussing. The program's upcoming agenda has been posted on the tribal website and on its Facebook page (Lindsay Box, "Council Corner: Council brings "Council Connect' show to KSUT," Southern Ute Drum, March 17, 2017).

       Violent crime increased slightly on the Navajo Nation from 2015 to 2016. Homicides rose from 20 to 24. 13 arrests had been made in the '15 murders and 8 in those of '16 by March of 2017. Rape reports rose from 294 in 2015 to 319 in 2016, with 21 arrests for the 2015 assaults and 10 for those of 2016, by March of 2017. For other crimes in 2016 there were reports of: aggravated assaults: 417 - 200 arrests; Robbery: 26 - 4 arrests; burglary: 738 - 29 arrests; larceny: 896 - 136 arrests; motor vehicle theft: 1077 - 48 arrests. The Navajo police reported an increase of about 5000 calls for service from 2015 to 2016, the latter year experiencing over 221,000 calls (Bill Donovan, "Slight increase in violent crime on reservation," Navajo Times, March 30, 2017).

      Lack of adequate funding has caused staff shortages and major challenges across some 200 programs of the Navajo Nation, causing cut backs in services and strain on existing employees. The lack of funding to fully fill these positions contributes to the 45% unemployment on the Navajo Nation (Bill Donovan, "Staff shortage a major challenge for tribe," Navajo Times, 2017).

       The Navajo Nation Department of Health reported, in late April 2017, that 286 people on the Navajo Reservation were known to be living with HIV. 30 of those were new cases, a significantly lower number of new diagnoses than in past years, and well below the high of 47 new HIV infections identified in 2013. Of the 286 people with
HIV, 73% are men, 23% are women, and the remaining 2% are transgender
("286 people on rez living with HIV," Navajo Times, April 27, 2017).

       The Navajo Nation, Dine'Bich'iiya Summit on food and gardening, April 6-8 2017, initiated an ongoing tour as an education process to work toward food self-sufficiency and healthy eating on the reservation (Arlyssa Becenti,  "Gardening summit planning meeting idea for tour," Navajo Times, February 10, 2017).

       Families seeking home site lease approvals on the Navajo Nation will enjoy a speedier process, as the Bureau of Indian Affairs annonced that as of July 24, 2017, it will no longer require its approval for these leases (Bill Donovan, "BIA steps out of home-site lease OKs," Navajo Times, 2017).

       The Navajo Nation's considering moving its $2 billion from Wells Fargo was put on hold, in January 2017, after the bank's representatives said it respected Navajo Nation sovereignty, would improve the way it worked with the Nation, as well as reforming its practices generally, and noted that it spends $11 million in support to tribal nonprofit organizations, including a $3.4 million grant to the American Indian graduate center, which has awarded 30, $5000 scholarships to Navajo students. Complaints about Wells Fargo include its investing in the Dakota Access Pipeline, and pressuring its employees to create new accounts for people without their knowledge or permission. Some chapters may switch their banking business away from Wells Fargo (Arlyssa Becenti, "NN reconciles with Wells Fargo," Navajo Times, January 5, 2017).

      The Navajo Nation established the Navajo Nation Youth Advisory Council when the Nation's President signed the Council into law, April 30, 2017. The council consists of 12 members ages 14-24 and is intended to give young people a voice in Navajo affairs, and will function under the executive branch of government (Arlyssa Becenti, "Started by the Youth for the Youth," Navajo Times, May 4, 2017).
       Richard Walker, "Ancestral Land Made Available For Lummi Nation’s Use: 80 acres of donated land allow the Lummi Nation to perform ceremonies and educate about their culture," May 20, 2017,, reported, "The Lummi Nation has use of 80 acres on an island near their place of origin, thanks to the owner’s donation to a local land conservation organization.
      In August 2015, Sarah Hart opened her beach on Henry Island – which the Lummi know as Lhelhinqel – to participants in the Coast Salish Mini-University for Lummi youth; the visit to Henry Island was part of a week of visits by the youth to ancestral sites in the San Juan Islands."

      The increased racism in the U.S., enhanced by the Trump Presidential campaign, has also been ipacting Native Americans. For example, Lynn Cordova, "Vandals Deface Salish School for Kids With Racial Slurs: 'Racism in Washington state is quiet, but it’s as alive as it ever has been,' said a member of the Colville Tribe," ICTMN, May 9, 2017,, reported, "At some point during the night on May 4, vandals wrote hateful messages on the walls inside a language immersion school for Native American kids in Spokane, Washington. Staff at the Salish School of Spokane found the racial slurs the next morning and immediately erased some and covered up others, according to reports."

      "Grand Ronde Tribe Adopts Independent Press Ordinance: Tribal news publication creates independent editorial board," ICMN, January 8, 2017,, reported, "Since 1984, The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has published a tribal newspaper called Smoke Signals, but it was on December 28, 2016 that the Grand Ronde Tribal Council joined an increasing number of other Native American Tribes nationwide to adopt an Independent Press Ordinance. The ordinance goes into effect in mid-January and will codify that the tribal news publication has the independence to report Grand Ronde Tribe news objectively and free from undue political influence by tribal elected officials."

       Debra Utacia Krol, "Elem Indian Colony Halts Disenrollment Process: First step toward healing ‘tragic wounds of decades of internal disputes’ was to remove disenrollment option," ICTMN, April 26, 2017,, reported, "In a terse, three-sentence press release, Elem Indian Colony’s executive committee (their elected tribal council) took the first step toward healing a decades-long rift between two factions of the small Northern California tribe of Pomo Indians.
      On March 30, the executive leadership withdrew an action to disenroll some 61 members, and by extension their families and other descendents, from the approximately 200-member tribe. This would have resulted in all 130 residents of the 52-acre rancheria, located on the eastern edge of Clear Lake in Lake County, being ousted. The council cited a 2015 tribal ordinance as justification for the March 30, 2016, action. 'The Executive Committee looks forward to working with all Elem members to heal the tragic wounds of decades of internal disputes by affirming and nurturing Elem’s traditional values of tribal unity and collaboration for the benefit of all members,' the statement said."

      A study of the impact in Santa Fe County, NM of the underfunding of the Indian Health Service found that 53% of responents had to ration food in 2016, among the numerous problems undefunding caused tribal members. The report suggested that similar impacts were likely elsewhere (Francis Madeson, "Study: Urban Indians going hungry," Navajo Times, February 22, 2017).

       Mary Annette Pember, "A Beacon of Hope for Victims of Sex Trafficking in Seattle: Seattle Indian Center’s new Project Beacon is a three-year program serving Native victims of commercial sex exploitation and sex trafficking," ICTMN, May 8, 2017,, reported, "The Seattle Indian Center, serving the Seattle Native population since 1972, will now offer services especially designed to help victims of sex trafficking.
      According to Marissa Perez, Program Manager at the Center, Project Beacon is a three-year program that will serve Native American victims of commercial sex exploitation and trafficking regardless of age or gender. Project Beacon is funded by a $450,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Victim’s Services."

       Doris Clark, Navajo, was sworn in as the Navajo, AZ County recorder, in January, 2017 the first Native to win county wide office in the county (Cindy Yurth, "Dine sworn in as Navajo County Recorder," Navajo Times,  January 2017).

Economic Developments

       Tribes involved in fossil fuel extraction are greatly affected by the changes in fortune in their extracting industry. This is especially the case with those who have relied on coal mining for an extensive part of their income and at least some jobs. With natural gas prices low, the demand for coal in the United States has fallen off considerably and the coal industry has been producing much less, dropping income considerably for the tribes that depend on it. This has also meant a loss of jobs, compounded significantly by increased automation in the Industry. President Trump has promised to revive the coal industry, but this seems unlikely even if he can overcome the political and legal challenges in attempting to do so, given the cheap price of natural gas. There is still the possibility of increasing coal production for export, but this appears limited. China is moving to reduce coal use, though it has been having difficulty cutting back on construction of new coal power plants that local interests continue to build - but may only partially put on line. India and perhaps some other nations are potential buyers, but several U.S. cities have moved to prevent expansion of coal export facilities, making it difficult to achieve a large increase in export capacity. Also, India has recently cut back on new coal powered generating plant construction as it greatly increases solar and wind power generation.
      The Crow Nation in Montana has been particularly hard hit by the reduction of U.S coal production. The 13,000 member tribe, long among the poorest, has had coal as the source of at least half the nation's non-Federal income, and per capita payments every four months of $225. The drop in coal production has severely reduced tribal income, bringing layoffs for 1000 of the tribe's 1300 employees, and a reduction of services. Crow tribal chief executive, Paul Little Light said of conditions on the reservation, in early 2017, “This is the worst I’ve ever seen it. Ever.”
       To a lesser degree, Navajo Nation, with modest economic development and income, has relied on coal mining on its reservation as an important source of income and jobs. The nation has done what it felt practical to move to green energy, but its government has felt compelled to continue to rely on coal as a source of jobs and income. This includes operation of the Navajo Mine, and the Navajo Generating Station. This coal powered electric generating station provides millions of dollars to the Navajo and Hopi nations, and employs 1885 people. As of April 2017, the plant was slated to be shut down at the end of 2019, 25 years ahead of the original schedule. Navajo President Russell Begaye has been asking the federal government to take majority ownership of the plant and keep it operating for another ten years while the tribe develops other sources of revenue.
       The situation for oil and gas producing tribes is less pressing. Even if President Trump is unsuccessful in increasing oil and gas production and distribution (including Pipeline expansion) while the development of renewable energy continues to accelerate without being cramped by new public policy restrictions favored by oil and gas lobbied Republican state and national legislators, the shift away from gas and oil will be slow, with the biggest effect continuing to halt what for several years was a huge increase in natural gas production. Moreover, a number of the tribes heavily involved in gas and oil production are relatively well off and have been able to diversify their investments. They would certainly experience a loss of income from reductions in oil and gas production, but would be in a better position than some of the coal involved nations to meet it.
      The Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado, for example, has been a major oil and gas producer. They have benefitted from taking over leases when they have expired to private companies, undertaking the extraction themselves. They have also purchased oil and gas pipelines extending as far as Mexico, which are likely to continue to operate for a long time even as production declines. The Utes have also made a variety of diverse investments, including in real estate, in a number of states, and undertaken joint development with the City of Durango as part of a project to build a new hospital (Julie Turkewitz, "Tribes That Live Off Coal Hold Tight to Trump’s Promises," The New York Times, April 1, 2017,; and other sources including various reports previously sited in these pages from the Southern Ute Drum and the Navajo Times).

       Brian Daffron, "Tribes Showing Continued Interest In Solar Energy: Funding for 2017 projects still available," January 10, 2017,, reported, "The past year saw a large commitment from the Department of Energy to support clean energy, with at least $9 million in grants given to 16 different tribal projects. Combined with cost-sharing matches raised by the award recipients, a minimum of nearly $25 million was used toward clean energy in Indian country. Solar energy made up a large portion of the grantees."

`      "Cherokee Nation’s economic impact on northeast Oklahoma now exceeds $2B," Cherokee Nation, April 21, 2017,, reported, " Cherokee Nation’s impact on the Oklahoma economy now exceeds $2.03 billion, according to a report produced and released today by economist Dr. Russell Evans, principal at the Economic Impact Group and assistant professor of economics at Oklahoma City University.
      'The Cherokee Nation is here to improve the lives of Cherokee people, and doing so improves the lives of all Oklahomans,' said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. 'During my time as Principal Chief, I’ve seen firsthand the changes we are making in families and communities throughout Oklahoma. Our focus is creating jobs, investing in vital infrastructure, building homes, improving health care, supporting education and making a difference in the lives of children. Those activities aren’t just an investment in Cherokee Nation. It is also an investment in Oklahoma.'
      Evans’ study shows the Cherokee Nation directly employs more than 11,000 people in Oklahoma and across the United States. Combined direct and indirect employment in northeast Oklahoma alone totals 17,788 jobs, supporting $785 million in total wages and benefits.
      'The Cherokee Nation continues to provide valuable economic opportunities in northeast Oklahoma, offering support to many rural areas challenged by the current patterns of urbanization,' said Evans. 'Continued growth in the direct impacts of the Cherokee Nation combined with improvements to the impact models combine to reveal an economic impact greater than $2 billion, resulting from fiscal year 2016 operations.'
      The Cherokee Nation’s government and business locations are spread throughout its 14-county jurisdictional service area, which encompasses most of northeast Oklahoma.
       Cherokee Nation Businesses, the tribe’s corporate holding company, generated a record-setting $1.02 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2016, the year studied by economists.
       The tribe operates more than two dozen businesses that span numerous industries, including consulting, health sciences, real estate, technology, distribution and logistics, engineering, manufacturing, construction and environmental services. These businesses secured more than $600 million in contracts, with revenue being spread throughout multiple years, and accounted for more than 37 percent of CNB’s revenue last year.
       Cherokee Nation Entertainment, CNB’s gaming and hospitality company, continues to see growth throughout the region. In the past two years, the company has opened three new gaming destinations. Cherokee Casino South Coffeyville opened in spring 2015 and Cherokee Casino &Hotel Roland was completed in December 2015. The tribe’s newest casino, Cherokee Casino Grove, near Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, opened in late 2016.
       CNB is also developing Cherokee Springs Plaza in Tahlequah. The new real estate development brought four new businesses and 170 jobs to the tribe’s capital city. Once completed, the development is expected to reach 1.3 million square feet of mixed use space.
Cherokee Nation’s investment in infrastructure and building resulted in hundreds of additional temporary construction jobs last year.
      Construction is underway on two more projects in Tahlequah. The expansion of Cherokee Nation’s W.W. Keeler Complex is adding a second floor, more office space and a new exterior to the nearly 40-year-old facility, and a $200 million, 469,000-square-foot outpatient health facility is being built next to W.W. Hastings Hospital. The tribe also completed the expansion of the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell and the new Sam Hider Health Center in Jay. Last year, the tribe’s health system served 1.7 million patient visits.
       Along with Cherokee Nation’s direct investment, the tribe offers an array of services such as housing, roads and bridges, career assistance, commerce services, education, human services and community development that have a significant impact on the local economy.
      'When we invest in the lives of our people, we make a lasting impact on families and on the economy,' said Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation secretary of state. 'Our investment strategy is solid, and our people are worth every penny and all the hard work that go into executing that strategy.'
      The research team carefully collected and reviewed data to ensure the Cherokee Nation’s impact on the state is accurately presented. Studies of Cherokee Nation’s economic impact have been conducted every two years since 2010. Reports from 2010, 2012 and 2014 showed the tribe’s economic impact as $1 billion, $1.3 billion and $1.55 billion, respectively.
      For more information about Cherokee Nation’s economic impact, please visit"

      Navajo Nation casinos in New Mexico in the first quarter of 2017 made enough money to cover all costs, except paying down the $220 million borowed from Navajo Nation to build the Twin Arrows Casino and Resort. During that period, the two gaming and resort facilities had net (income over payout to winners) income of $200,000 less than the $21,528,766 for the first 3 months of 2016. The state of New Mexico receives about 9% of the net earnings, or about $1.9 million the nation payed thestate in the first quarter. For New Mexico tribal gaminmg over all, individual casinos reported netincomes of slightly less or slighty more in first quarter 2017, compared to first quarter 2016, with an over all drop in net income of about $600 from the $173 million of the first three months of 2016 (Bill Donovan, "NM Casinos report $21.5 million in net earninge," Navajo Times, June 8, 2017).

       Navajo Nation Economic Development Division, in February 2017, reported progress on a number of projects with several of the nation's chapters. The Nahat'a Dzill Shopping Center Project in Sanders was moving toward opening in November 2017 with several reatail and food businesses, which may provide some 100 jobs. The nation remained in negotiations about possibly purchasing the Fourt Courage, a tourist restaurant west of Sanders. The Denneshoto Retail Market had recived funding to complete its design phase. The Chinle Chapter was developing a plan for a vendor village, while the Crown Point Chapter was developing a plan for a market where venders could sell food, arts and crafts.  The Karigan Estates Project had completed and rented 21 homes in its third phase, and was proceeding with more construction in phase four. In Shiprock, a hotel was under construction to provide on-reservation housing for some of the thousands of tourists who pass through the Nation each year, while a Rayathon wharehouse was 60% complete. The Nation was considering establishing one or more bed and breakfasts, as currently less than 5% of toruists who visit the reservation spend a night on it. The Nation, assisted by the U.S. Departmen of the Interior, continued to seek a tenant for the Shiprock Industrial Park. The tribe was considering building a sawmill, possibly at Leup, to begin scientifically managing and harvesting its forests (Bill Donovan, "Economic development taking place around the reservation," Navajo Times, February 23, 2017).
      The 30,000 square foot Raytheon missile factory opened on the Navajo Nation, Soiuth of Farmington, NM, in April 2017 (Terry Bowman, Dedication ceremony held for new Raytheon facility ," Navajo Times,
april 27, 2017).
      Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye stated, in late December 2016, the Navajo Nation creared 652 actual jobs, up to that point, in 2016 (Bill Donovan, "652 jobs added; NAPAI to go orgaic ," Navajo Times, December 29, 2016).

      The controler of the Navajo Nation estimated that the closure of the Navajo Generating Station will cause some where in the realm of a $23 million decrease in Navajo Nation revenue in 2018. The exact amount will depend on what happens to fuel prices. Arlyssa Becenti, "Closure of NGS will cause $23M decrease ," Navajo Times, April 6, 2017).

       Cherokee Nation Businesses, of Oklahoma, has partnered with Planet Technologies to form Evolve 365, which works with government and private sector Office 365 platrform users, providing training and support services. For more information go to ("Cherokee Nation Business partners with Planet Technologies to assist customers in digital Transformation," NFIC, February 2017).

       Cherokee Naion Technologies has been supporting the National Resource Conservation service in the rehabilitation of the Millsite Dam, in Emery County, UT. For details visit ("Cherokee Nation Technologies supporting Millsite Damrehabilitation effort," NFIC, February 2017).

       The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians of Oregon has partnered with Lone Rock Timber Management Company of Oregon to purchase 82,000 acres of the Elliott State Forest from the state of Oregon, to sustainably manage the land for timber harvesting, creating 40 jobs a year . Assistance is being provided by the Confederated Tribe of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Sisuslaw Indians (Emily Howard, "Cow Creek Take Holistic Approach to Forest Management," NFIC, February, 2017).

       Acoma Pueblo reached agreement, December 16, 2016, with Bright Green Group, for the company to lease land on the Pueblo for 25 years to build a 5.8 million square foot greenhouse for growing and developing medicinal plants in a joint venture with the Pueblo ("The Acoma Pueblo tribe and Bright Green Group of Companies sign a 25-year business agreement," NFIC, February 2017).

      The North Dakota Tribes are collaborating through the North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance to expand the state's 3.1 billion tourist industry and capture a larger share of it. The alliance is planning developing tourist related venues while working with and through a number of organizations and media to attract more tourists to the state and the tribal lands ("North Dakota Tribes Promote Tourism," NFIC, May 2017).
Education and Culture

      "Native Language Dictionary Added to Sealaska’s Free Offerings: SHI now has links to Tsimshian, Tlingit, and Haida dictionaries," ICMN, June 8, 2017,, reported, "In an effort to make Native language resources as accessible as possible, Sealaska Heritage Institute has posted its Dictionary of Shm’algyack (Tsimshian) online free of charge. SHI especially wants these resources available to those students who are helping to revitalize the language and speaking it on the land.
      The Dictionary of Shm’algyack can be found on Sealaska Heritage Institute’s language resources page: The dictionary was compiled by Donna May Roberts with assistance from the Elders of Metlakatla, Alaska. 'Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Dictionary of Shmalgyack is the product of years of documentation of the Tsimshian language with assistance from fluent Elders,' says the language resources page. 'It’s a must-have resource for language learners and for people who are interested in learning more about the Tlingit culture.' The version available for free online is a searchable pdf.
      Sealaska Heritage Institute encourages all Native language learners to make use of the free education tools available on the language resources page. The Dictionary of Shm’algyack joins other resources including a Tlingit and Haida dictionaries, a Haida phrasebook, verb databases, as well as audio links to clan name pronunciations and a long list of interactive tools and apps.

      Also available on the language resources page are links to Native language curricula for instruction of Southeast Alaskan Native languages. Teachers are encouraged to download and use them in class. Even more curricula resources can be found on the education resources page:"

       Christina Rose, "10 Ways to Boost Tribal Language Programs: Methods to encourage learning and cultural revival with minimal funding, ICTMN, May 6, 2017,, discusses learnings from tribal language programs that may be useful for such programs.
      The ten points covered are:
      1. Funding: obtaining sufficint moneys to run the program adequately, which can come from tribes and/or governmental or private organization grants.
      2. Elders: Finding ways to involve elders in the program to make it an effective emersion experience,
      3. Cultural Activities: To gain community involvement - a key element in success - as well as to make the learningmore effective, include, often extensice, cultureal activities.
      4. Community Involvemnt: As community involvement is a major element in the success of most programs, considerable time and effort may be required to develop it,
      5. Books or other learning materials: Developing appripriate learning materials coordinated with the learning process is essential. In the case of the Washoe Nation community members were involved in developing the materials, which contiuted to community enthusiasm and involvement.
      6. Handouts and other sharings with parents: To make learning meaningful and widespreadbeyond the program sessions, it is very helpful to provide parents with relevant materials, encouraging their speaking the language at home with their children who are in the program.
      7. Curriculum Development: It is very helpful to develop the curriculum so that the learning is useful in daily life, and students can and will use the language outside of the program from the earlist possible moments.
      8. Using Contemporary Media: Learning and entjhusiasm for it is enhanced if contemporary media can be developed and applied, including interactive computor programs, games, andpaticipation in social media - which can be undertaken beyond the program.
      9. Games: Playing games in the language has been foiund to be a very effective learning device.
      10. Free Resources: "Among Hayward’s top suggestions: make your language popular, visible, and accessible. Speak your language in your community with all community members. UtilizeYouTube and Facebook and use the tribe’s website as much as possible. Include a phrase of the day or week with a short recording."

       Mark Fogarty, "GAO: Better Data Needed As Bad Tribal Roads Could Lead to Native Student Absences: ‘Rough road conditions in some areas also contribute to greater wear on school vehicles,’ report says, ICTMN, June 7, 2017,, reported, "The federal Government Accountability Officehas rapped the Department of the Interior for deficiencies in data collection for tribal roads on tribal lands, something that could impact American Indian student attendance at schools.
      'The Bureau of Indian Education’s schools generally do not collect data on transportation-related causes for absences, despite broader federal guidance that recommends doing so. BIE’s attendance system lists causes, but transportation-related causes are currently not among them. Thus, BIE cannot quantify the effect of road conditions and target appropriate interventions,' says a new GAO study.
      'Rough road conditions in some areas also contribute to greater wear on school vehicles and associated higher maintenance costs,' it concludes."
      "Interior, responding to this recommendation, said BIE will explore adding a field to its database to see if absence has been caused by inclement weather or transportation."
      "In addition, 'School and district officials also mentioned that school attendance was lower when they altered or halted school bus routes because of adverse weather conditions that compounded the already poor road conditions.'”

       Mark Fogarty. "The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Big Robert Wood Johnson Grant Targets Young Native Men: The Forward Promise initiative focuses on graduation rates and employment specifically among Native boys," ICTMN,December 18, 2016,, reported, "The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has targeted young American Indian/Alaska Native men as part of a big $12 million grant in its Forward Promise initiative to help young men and boys of color achieve health and success.
      Forward Promise has seven key areas of focus, two of which it cites as especially applicable to Native boys and young men: graduation rates and employment.      
      'Forward Promise does not subscribe to the traditional model of focusing on risk factors, rather, we are focused on opportunity factors—factors and influences that play a critical role in helping young men grow up healthy, get a good education and find meaningful employment,' according to the Foundation. These include collaboration, diversity and innovation.
      Among its grants are one to the Alaska Native Heritage Center for $500,000.
      In its issue brief on dropout rates, the Foundation noted that for 2012, the status dropout rate was 14.8 percent for American Indian/ Alaska Native males. And it noted a correlation between dropouts and family poverty.
      It concludes the most successful efforts to combat dropouts include those that reach all grade levels and all stakeholders in the educational pipeline; include families and communities; establish collaboration among interested institutions and groups; heighten the relevancy of educational efforts; and establish relationships between youth and adults who will guide them and commit to their success."

       Tanya H. Lee, "United Tribes Technical College Tuition Waiver Is a Win-Win: Students and United Tribes Technical College benefitting from free tuition program," ICTMN, May 29, 2017,, reported, United Tribes Technical College has discovered that by offering free tuition it can increase enrollment by more than 25 percent and not put the school at financial risk—in fact, they may come out ahead.
      Last fall, United Tribes Technical College started a program that waives tuition for Native American students with financial need. Enrollment went up by 22 percent to 483 students, with another 6 percent increase in spring 2017. And students who take advantage of the tuition waiver program tend to do better academically than other students. UTTC       President Leander R. McDonald, Spirit Lake Tribe, explains how the numbers worked. 'We anticipated about $300,000 in lost tuition for the college and it ended up being a little over a half a million dollars.' On the other hand, overall enrollment went up and included students who were paying tuition, so tuition revenues increased, as did revenues from fees, student housing and food services. “With formula funding, the more students you have the more money you get, and we’re anticipating an increase from that. So really it ends up being pretty near break even,” he said.
      For students, the numbers are equally good, said McDonald. 'If the total cost for college were $10,000 a semester, and they get a Pell grant, that’s around $2,750. Tribes might contribute around $3,500, so right there they’ve got $6,000. Tuition averages about $1,800, so that’s in there. The American Indian College Fund might provide anywhere from $500 to $2,000.'”

      "Teleconferencing Brings More Courses to Tribal College: BSU courses available to tribal college students at Red Lake," ICMN, March 3, 2017,, reported on a promising trial interinstitutional cooperative program, "A unique partnership is allowing students at Red Lake Nation College in Red Lake, Minnesota, to take a Criminal Justice and Society course offered by Bemidji State University without having to leave their home campus."

      "Pipeline to College Program for Native American Youth Coming Up: Native American youth can experience college life at Cal Poly Pomona, ICTMN,May 15, 2017,, reported, "Native American high school students interested in attending a four-year university can get a taste of what college life can belike by attending the Cal Poly Pomona Native American Youth Leadership Summer Pipeline to College program.
      Students will have a week from July 16 to 22 to explore the university. They will stay on campus, attend lectures taught by Cal PolyPomona faculty, and cultural classes. Native American youth attending the program can also explore off campus activities so they can see what the environment is like outside the college.
      'We aim for the program to be a comprehensive mixture of relevant academic and cultural materials to provide a well rounded educational experience for Native American youth,” said River Garza, community liaison for Cal Poly Pomona. “We hope that the students who attend our program leave with greater insight into what it takes to navigate and be successful in college.'

      The program is free, but the students will have to get to the university to attend. Students have attended from as far away as Oklahoma. The majority of Native American youth who attend the program do continue on to attend a four-year university or a community college."

      In California, fourth grade students have begun learning what Indian life was really like at the Spanish missions in the state, which is not told to tourists who visit the missions. A piece of that education is reading the novel by Gary Robinson, Lands of Our Ancestors, written for fourth graders, showing the effects of Spanish colonization on Native Peoples of California ( Mark R. Day, "Lands of Our Ancestors: a Novel Approach to Educating: Fourth graders learn about life at the Spanish missions in California,"May 27, 2017,

       Saint Joseph's Indian School in Chamberlain, SD, serving Lakota students, reports that while overall in South Dakota only 46% of Indian young people graduated from high school in 2014, "Approximately 85% of the children who attend St. Joseph’s in their elementary years will graduate from high school." In 2010 95.5% of students who successfully completed eighth grade at St. Joseph's went on to graduate from high school. A considerable number of St. Joseph's graduates, after completing high school, have gone on to higher academic and vocational education. A number of the school's alumni have made careers in healthcare, education and counseling. Moreover, " Past graduates often return to St. Joseph’s campus and their reservation communities to motivate and advocate for the next generation. These successful graduates are able to make a real difference for our students because of their willingness to be good role models."

The school is home to more than 200 boys and girls. Following eighth grade, students can enroll in St. Joseph’s High School Program, which has a capacity of 50 students.
      Factors in Saint Joseph's success include: high level individualized education with individual care plans, and small classes (averaging 12 students a class) allowing for individualized learning; supportive counseling; Cultural integration, including having preserving and sharing Lakota culture a core part of St. Joseph's mission, with Lakota language and culture embedded in the curriculum, while engaging in education and mentoring of all teachers in Lakota culture, providing cultural experts on staff and advisors to assist students with ceremony, including on campus Inipi (sweat lodges), an annual powwow, and hosting the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center on campus; Imbedding Lakota ways and philosophy in the core classes in math, science and language, and working with the WoLakota program to provide a cultural thread in the classroom; and  student participation in a variety of extracurricular activities, including in Lakota Cultural activities (among them: Lakota language and powwow competitions, hand games, a traditional drum group, Lakota song and dance, and cultural trips), fine arts and sports. For more about St. Joseph's visit: (E-mail of May 31, 2017 from Fr. J. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ of St, Joseph's Indian School; and St. Joseph's publications:" Quality Education for a Bright Future," "Cultural Awareness," and "Life After St. Joseph's Indian School").

       The Navajo Nation Board of Education has developed an accountability plan for all BIE funded Dine schools. The new standards will include having Navajo government and culture in the curriculum (Christopher S. Pineo, "Accountability plan will include Dine culture and government," Navajo Times, February 16, 2017).

International Developments

International Organization Developments

      Julia Travers, "Pope Francis: Indigenous People Should Have Final Say About Their Land," EcoWatch, February 16, 2017,, reported, "" Pope Francis defended the rights of indigenous tribes at the Indigenous Peoples Forum in Rome Wednesday. As part of a UN International Fund for Agricultural Development meeting, he spoke in Spanish with 40 representatives of the 300 largest indigenous groups in the world.
       'The particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories,' must be protected, Francis said, according to Reuters. He stated this was especially true 'when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth.' He also promoted the full participation of indigenous peoples in local and national government.
      'The right to prior and informed consent should always prevail, as foreseen in Article 32 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,'" he added, according to US News. "Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict."
      The 2007 UN Declaration the Pope referenced was opposed by the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Pope Francis has a record of defending the environment. His 2015 encyclical on the environment and human ecology shared a prayer for the earth: "Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction."
      While he didn't specifically mention the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), many news outlets picked up on his suggestive and timely focus on indigenous land rights and reported the connection. Reuters described his actions as backing '      Native Americans seeking to halt part of the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying indigenous cultures have a right to defend 'their ancestral relationship to the earth.'"

      Hadley DesMeules, "Indigenous Women Take on CSW61," Cultural Survival, April 14, 2017,, reported, "On March 13-24, 2017, the 61st Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) convened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City to discuss three major issues: women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls, and the empowerment of Indigenous women. 2017 also marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and an opportunity for Indigenous women to vocalize their needs and concerns.
      The session focused on four thematic areas pertaining to Indigenous women: participation in decision making processes at all levels; violence; economic opportunities; and the impact of climate change and responses. Prior to the Commission taking place, the UN released a video describing some of the barriers to Indigenous women’s empowerment. While the focus on Indigenous women was historic in itself, the 2030 agenda pledges to leave no one behind and Indigenous women are perhaps “the group furthest behind,” noted H.E. Mr. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Brazil) in his opening remarks as Chair of CSW61. One of the points of discussion from the session was recognizing and portraying Indigenous women as agents of change rather than victims and the Indigenous women at CSW61 spoke powerfully about the injustices their peers face and provided unique insight into addressing these issues.
      Indigenous women leaders stated their need for rights to economic empowerment, education, and their right to be part of the decision making processes for solutions to worldwide problems. Indigenous women are underrepresented in decision-making processes across the board. Too often increasing participation is seen as a goal rather than a means to providing women with the opportunity to affect change and bring their unique and insightful perspectives to bear on the solutions to global problems. In a press conference, Aminatu Samiratu Gambo (Mbororo) of the Indigenous Information Network Kenya and Cameroon said, 'When the CSW came up with this topic [empowering Indigenous Women] and decided to involve the Indigenous women as one of their strategy teams, it is a very vital situation for us, we think that it is time for us to raise our voices, to make sure that this should not be the only time they are giving us that opportunity, but it should be a continuous process so that we can come out from our struggles and be able to embrace the development in the world at large.' Gambo went on to explain that in some cases 'the men in our communities don’t let us rise because of the cultures, the religions and so on, but it is the moment where we want the men to give us that space, that we should come together and work together so that we can be heard and our situations will be resolved.'  Providing women with the platform to speak about the injustices Indigenous women and girls face is an important step towards developing and implementing policies to address these injustices.
       Climate change is another issue affecting Indigenous communities, and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Igorot), UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, reminded everyone of the impact climate change has on Indigenous women and the potential role women can have as champions of sustainability. Many of the regions most affected by extreme weather conditions are home to Indigenous Peoples. Women have long been proponents of environmental preservation and sustainability for future generations, a sentiment that has become increasingly popular as climate change worsens. Tarcila Rivera Zea (Quechua), executive director Chirapaq, described the effects felt by her people in Peru, 'We globally, as Indigenous women, youth and the different actors of Indigenous peoples, we are against all kinds of violence, we call violences because one of the violences, for example, now is what happened with extreme climate. In my country, Peru, we are suffering from the floods, the plants, agriculture, the animals are going with the water to the sea, it’s terrible and in this case we as indigenous women, if we want to guarantee and continue preserving our seeds for food, for medicine, with biodiversity, with plants and all this, we are directly impacted by climate change, extreme climate change. In this case, we think, as Indigenous peoples and as Indigenous women we need to participate directly on the programs of mitigation, adaptation, with our proper knowledge and to be present in the ordinary budget not only as a small possibility to be first because now you need some blankets or something like that, we need to be present as a sustainable program.' Indigenous women, she argues, should be involved in the decision and policy making to mitigate what affects them, and climate change is one such issue that profoundly affects Indigenous women.
       The CSW61 Agreed Conclusions (advanced unedited version) released following the end of CSW61 reaffirm previous declarations including the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and outlines guidelines and frameworks for empowering women. The Agreed Conclusions include sections on strengthening education, training and skills development, implementation of social and economic policies for women’s empowerment, considerations of the growing informality of work and women workers, managing technological and digital change, strengthening women’s collective voice, leadership and decision-making, and strengthening women’s public sector role in economic empowerment. These Agreed Conclusions set an important foundation for continued work on behalf of Indigenous women and girls. According to Agnes Leina (Maasai),director of Illaramatak Community Concerns in Kenya, 'Indigenous women, and especially Indigenous girls are still behind, and they shall not be left behind. There is a lot that we still need to do in terms of Indigenous people, especially on violence against Indigenous women and Indigenous girls. Violence against women is so subtle, and it comes in a very sneaky manner because it is part and parcel of culture and Indigenous people are known to be so close to their culture.… Indigenous women, Indigenous girls -- no girl shall be left behind. All girls must be included in that spirit of living in the SDG’s.'
       On April 25, the UN will hold a high-level event under the auspices of the President of the General Assembly and Chandra Roy-Hendriksen, Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, during a press conference said of the event, 'we are expecting that - we are hoping - that when this event takes place, that there will be member states coming forward with other partners to say that this is what we have achieved, this is where we are now, and this is where we want to go because this ten year mark gives us an opportunity to see what has been done but also to identify what needs to be done, as we have seen in many cases, we know progress has been uneven. ... In terms of the CSW, the UN’s perspective in terms of how the indigenous women’s agenda can move forward, and this is something where I speak from our section we work on Indigenous peoples’ rights and our message is that this is an issue that should be picked up, needs to be picked up and given much more visibility.' On the same subject, Tarcila Rivera Zea offered similar sentiments, “I think the context of the Declaration is a very good opportunity to reflect how we advance as Indigenous organizations and how the governments or the states implemented actions in the different levels for respecting and taking into account this declaration. We are also in the 15th year of the permanent forum with Indigenous peoples and we have more than a thousand recommendations and we need to see what happened with these recommendations, what happened with the priorities for indigenous peoples, not only as they are the poorest sector, no, we need to be considered as subjects of rights, it’s time to do that.'
      The Commission on the Status of Women will convene again in March 2018. For more information about the CSW and its work throughout the year, visit UN Women."

The United Nations Permenent Forum on Indigenous Issues

UNPFII Sixteenth Session 24 April to 5 May 2017

United Nations, New York City

Recommendations to Member Staates of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

9. The Permanent Forum recommends that States recognize the language rights of indigenous peoples and develop language policies to promote and protect indigenous languages, with a focus on high-quality education in indigenous languages, including by supporting full immersion methods such as language nests and innovative methods such as nomadic schools. It is essential that States develop evidence-based legislation and policies to promote and protect indigenous languages and, in that regard, they should collect and disseminate baseline information on the status of indigenous languages. These activities should be conducted in close cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned.
Member States
10. The Permanent Forum recommends that States and the United Nations system, including United Nations country teams, provide support, including funding, for the efforts of indigenous peoples’ institutions to preserve and revitalize their languages, with the particular goal of fluency. Such efforts may include the sharing of positive experiences and the establishment of informal networks or caucuses involved in the promotion and revitalization of indigenous languages, as well as the use of information and communications technology in indigenous languages. It is important that States provide adequate funding for language revitalization and the preservation of cultural heritage as it relates to indigenous languages. In addition, States should facilitate funding for indigenous language projects from external donors, including the private sector, in accordance with law.
Member States
16. Recalling the study on decolonization of the Pacific region (see E/C.19/2013/12), the Permanent Forum invites the relevant States to provide information on the status of the situation of the indigenous peoples concerned to the Permanent Forum at its sixteenth session.
Member States
18. The Permanent Forum welcomes the endorsement by Canada of the United Nations Declaration, without qualification. The Forum looks forward to its immediate implementation, with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, as a critical step in the reconciliation process between indigenous peoples and the State.
19. The Permanent Forum expresses its appreciation to the Government of Guatemala and organizations of indigenous peoples, especially the Organismo Naleb', for the support provided to hold the preparatory meeting for the fifteenth session of the Forum in Guatemala from 10 to 16 April 2016. The Forum appreciates the country’s openness and dialogue with indigenous peoples’ organizations, women’s and youth organizations, the private sector, media and the United Nations country team, as well as the dialogue among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the Government. The Forum calls upon States to propose and host the preliminary sessions of the Forum in the future.
Member States
20. The Permanent Forum welcomes the initiation of a national dialogue to discuss and achieve key constitutional reforms in the field of justice in Guatemala, and encourages the recognition of indigenous justice systems. The Forum urges Guatemala and the private sector, in addition to the World Bank and other international economic institutions, to acknowledge that serious efforts require structural economic and social reforms rather than rapid growth of gross domestic product in order to reverse widespread and growing poverty among the indigenous peoples of Guatemala. Such crucial reforms must ensure more equitable distribution and access to traditional lands for the indigenous peoples of Guatemala, consistent with the rights affirmed in the United Nations Declaration, and on the basis of respect for and legal recognition of their collective rights, including their self-determined development. Furthermore, the Forum calls upon Guatemala to reinforce the effective and full implementation of the Peace Accords.
21. In accordance with international law, the Permanent Forum recommends that all States members of the Organization of American States recognize and respect that the United Nations Declaration constitutes the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples of the world, and requests them to ensure that the draft American declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples is consistent with or exceeds the standards affirmed in the United Nations Declaration.
OAS Member States
22. The Permanent Forum calls upon States to support the activities of representative institutions of indigenous peoples and to avoid any practice of limitation of such activities. The Forum urges all States to enable the functioning of indigenous peoples’ institutions, in accordance with articles 5, 18 and 19 of the United Nations Declaration, as well as its spirit and intent.
Member States
26. Considering the calls by the Sami of Finland and the indigenous peoples of Canada, among others, the Permanent Forum respectfully requests that all Member States that have not done so take action to ratify ILO Convention No. 169.
Member States
28. Consistent with articles 18 and 19 of the United Nations Declaration and in line with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with the call to “leave no one behind”, the Permanent Forum strongly recommend that States and funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system ensure the disaggregation of data on the basis of indigenous identifiers/ethnicity and the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in developing and monitoring national action plans and in all processes relating to the follow-up to and review of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, including at the high-level political forum on sustainable development.
Member States
29. Considering the statements made by Brazil at the fifteenth session, the Permanent Forum welcomes the willingness of the Government to engage in dialogue concerning the status, conditions and rights of the indigenous peoples of Brazil, many of whom have faced the suspension of the land demarcation process. The Forum respectfully requests Brazil to uphold its national and international obligations to recognize and respect the human
rights of indigenous peoples, as affirmed in the United Nations Declaration and ILO Convention No. 169. Furthermore, the Forum urges the interim Government of Brazil to safeguard the status of the National Indian Foundation and its mandate with regard to the indigenous peoples of Brazil.
31. Mauna Kea, the sacred mountain for native Hawaiians, is currently targeted for the placement of an international observatory featuring a 30- metre telescope. Such an activity inhibits and is contrary to the rights articulated in articles 11 and 12 of the United Nations Declaration. In addition, the Permanent Forum strongly recommends that the free, prior and informed consent of native Hawaiians be recognized.
United States
32. The Permanent Forum appreciates the willingness of Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth to make visible the situation of indigenous youth, in particular concerning suicide and self-harm, in his advocacy. The Forum calls upon Member States to implement the recommendations of the international expert group meeting on indigenous youth, held in 2013 (see E/C.19/2013/3), in collaboration with the United Nations Inter- Agency Network on Youth Development and with the full participation of indigenous youth. The Forum invites the Network to report on progress in this regard at the sixteenth session of the Forum. The Forum invites the Network and the Envoy to increase the participation of indigenous youth in the sessions of the Forum and all relevant United Nations forums, and to report on progress in this regard at the sixteenth session of the Forum.
Member States
33. The Permanent Forum invites the General Assembly to consider the creation of a distinct United Nations voluntary fund for indigenous youth or the earmarking of existing and future funds to increase and enhance the direct participation of indigenous youth at the United Nations. Furthermore, the Forum encourages every State Member of the United Nations to make multi-year voluntary contributions to such existing and/or future funds.
Member States
34. The Permanent Forum urges States to take the measures at the national level necessary for the prevention of self-harm and suicide among indigenous children and youth, in particular by promoting the training of experts in the field of psychology who focus on issues specific to indigenous peoples. Such special training should take into account economic, historical, social, ecological and other factors, such as the loss of indigenous languages, cultures and lands.
Member States
35. Building upon past work of the Permanent Forum with regard to indigenous women, in particular the study on the extent of violence against indigenous women and girls in terms of article 22 (2) of the United Nations Declaration (see E/C.19/2013/9) and the report of the international expert group meeting on combating such violence (see E/2012/43- E/C.19/2012/13) the Forum recommends that States adopt measures aimed at addressing the specific problems of police brutality, systemic police violence and discrimination against indigenous women, as experienced, for example, by indigenous women in Val-d’Or, Canada, Sepur Zarco, Guatemala, and north-east India.
Member States
38. The Permanent Forum urges Member States and funds, programmes
Member States
and specialized agencies of the United Nations system to implement action to reduce maternal mortality among indigenous women. The Forum recommends that the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women publish a factsheet, in collaboration with the Forum, on indigenous women’s maternal mortality and maternal health, with the aim of reducing maternal mortality and promoting sexual and reproductive health.
39. The Permanent Forum urges Member States and funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system to implement actions to strengthen the leadership and political participation of indigenous women.
Member States
40. Consistent with the commitments in the outcome document of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (General Assembly resolution 69/2) and the standards for indigenous peoples’ survival, dignity and well-being contained in the United Nations Declaration, the Permanent Forum recommends that States fully engage indigenous peoples in good-faith negotiations of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements on the basis of the unequivocal recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, territories and resources and to fully reject the extinguishment of indigenous rights in form or result. Furthermore, the Forum recommends that States address the call for full and effective redress for the loss of lands, territories and resources and State breaches of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. The Forum reiterates the urgent need for States to institute, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, high-level oversight bodies to guide and oversee the conduct of negotiations and implementation of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements in the light of ongoing negotiation and implementation issues. Building on the recommendations advanced at the eleventh session of the Forum, States are encouraged to support the resolution of disputes between indigenous peoples by providing financial and other methods of support to achieve peaceful resolution.
Member States
44. The Permanent Forum recommends that Member States, owing to the threat of biopiracy and the pharmaceutical industry, develop legislative measures, with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, to protect traditional medicine and knowledge, and to secure the rights of indigenous peoples to intellectual property.
Member States
45. While it is recognized that land and environmental degradation are factors of global concern, they have caused severe and stressful negative impacts among indigenous peoples as a result of land mismanagement such as the overexploitation of natural resources through factors such as mining and the overutilization of forest wood (timber) and other products. This has resulted in soil and water degradation, leading to the acceleration of the effects of climate change, low food production and uncertain livelihoods for communities. The Permanent Forum recommends that States stop development projects on indigenous peoples’ lands that lack environmental impact assessments and certificates of free, prior and informed consent.
Member States
47. The Permanent Forum requests UNESCO to host a joint seminar with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant United Nations mechanisms for the purpose of exploring the development of a new international mechanism on the repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains. Furthermore, the Forum calls upon all States with national repositories of indigenous cultural items and ancestral remains, including museums and universities, to work with UNESCO to create an international database and inventory of these items accessible to indigenous peoples as a basis for initiating dialogue.
Member States
51. States should take effective measures to eliminate violence against indigenous peoples by studying the root causes of conflict and human rights abuses, developing indicators and methodologies for risk assessment and early warning mechanisms and improving national legislation for the administration of justice with regard to the perpetrators of war crimes.
Member States
52. Consistent with articles 7 and 30 of the United Nations Declaration, States should take measures for settlement, protection and security in the post-conflict period, and for the construction of durable and lasting peace, promoting the full and effective inclusion of indigenous peoples, including indigenous women, in any initiative for peace and reconciliation.
Member States
55. The Permanent Forum urges Member States to contribute support to make possible the annual UNITAR training programme to enhance the conflict prevention and peacemaking capacities of indigenous peoples’ representatives so as to strengthen indigenous capacity to engage in negotiation, dialogue and peace processes to contribute to sustainable peace.
Member States
57. Sexual and gender-based violence increases in settings of conflict. Sexual violence has also been used systematically as a weapon of war against indigenous women. In the light of the particular risks and vulnerabilities of indigenous women and girls relating to sexual and gender-based violence, the Permanent Forum recommends that Governments, local authorities, specialized agencies of the United Nations system and civil society collaborate with indigenous peoples to establish multisectoral and holistic.
Member States
59. The Permanent Forum expresses its solidarity with the families of 43 trainee teachers of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico, who have been missing since 26 September 2014, and supports their efforts to seek justice. The Forum also welcomes and acknowledges the steps taken thus far by the Government of Mexico to resolve this disappearance, and encourages the Government to continue its efforts in collaboration with the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights and in close consultation with the relevant indigenous peoples and families.
60. With reference to article 42 of the United Nations Declaration, the Permanent Forum invites African States, in particular Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Mali, Nigeria and Rwanda, to present, at its sixteenth session, information on the situation of indigenous peoples affected by conflict in those countries.
African States, in particular Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Mali, Nigeria and Rwanda
61. The Permanent Forum urges the international community to support the peace process in Mali and establish an independent monitoring committee that, in accordance with articles 7 and 37 of the United Nations Declaration, would oversee the implementation of the peace agreement of 20 June 2015, with the effective and representative participation of the Tuareg peoples.
Member States
63. The Permanent Forum is concerned at the lack of implementation of its previous recommendations that States implement the agreements reached in peace accords, and encourages States to engage in constructive dialogue with indigenous peoples, including the Maya, Garifuna, Xinka, Jumma, Kanak, Naga, Chin, Amazigh, Tuareg and Maohis peoples, and provide information to the Forum at its sixteenth session on the status of the agreements. In accordance with articles 3, 4, 5, 18 and 27 of the United Nations Declaration, the Forum urges the States concerned to engage in implementation with the full participation of indigenous peoples.
Member States
64. The religious, spiritual and cultural sites of indigenous peoples, including the Ktunaxa Nation in Canada, the Aboriginal people of Australia, the Maya of Guatemala and the Amazigh peoples, continue to face destruction. This has profoundly negative impacts on indigenous peoples, including affecting their sacred practices. Consistent with articles 11, 12, 13, 19, 25, 31 and 32 of the United Nations Declaration and paragraphs 20 and 27 of the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, the Permanent Forum recommends that, in their national action plans, strategies and other measures, States:
(a) Take effective measures to ensure that indigenous peoples’ spiritual and cultural sites are protected;
(b) Ensure that, consistent with article 32 of the United Nations Declaration, indigenous peoples are not forced to defend these rights against proposed development projects or through litigation in courts;
(c) Actively resolve disputes directly with indigenous peoples, consistent with article 19 of the United Nations Declaration, given that these rights constitute critical elements of the survival, dignity and well- being of indigenous peoples.
Member States
67. Taking into account paragraphs 11, 14, 15, 17 and 26 of the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and article 23 of the United Nations Declaration, the Permanent Forum reminds Member States of the need to implement their commitments through national action plans, strategies or other measures, developed jointly and effectively with indigenous representatives on the basis of the right of free, prior and informed consent, in particular to ensure the adequate training and availability of health professionals in indigenous communities as a matter of urgency.
Member States
71. As a result of the dialogue between the expert members of the Permanent Forum and Member States, the Forum recommends that all Member States:
(a) Prepare, for the Forum at its sixteenth session, reports on the
Member States
implementation of the United Nations Declaration in their countries, with a focus on progress and outstanding issues, in particular in relation to legislative measures;
(b) In recognition of the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration, organize activities to commemorate the adoption at various levels, from local to national, including to raise public awareness of the Declaration and the progress achieved.
74. Given the holistic and integral vision of indigenous peoples, the Sustainable Development Goals must be implemented in a comprehensive way, taking into account that the absence of a single element would lead to a lack of equilibrium and harmony in relationships between human beings and Mother Nature. The Permanent Forum recommends that States and United Nations agencies widely disseminate the Goals to indigenous peoples, using culturally appropriate educational tools and in indigenous languages, observing protocols and times suitable for such dissemination, given the lack of knowledge about them.
Member States
Other Documents
available from the 16th session
Submitted by the Secretariat of the UNPFII:
· Provisional Agenda | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Proposed organization of work | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· E/C.19/2017/2 Implementation of the United Nations system-wide action plan on indigenous peoples | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· E/C.19/2017/3 Update on the implementation of the recommendations of the Permanent Forum | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· E/C.19/2017/4 Tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: measures taken to implement the Declaration | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· E/C.19/2017/5 Indigenous peoples and the 2030 Agenda | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· E/C.19/2017/5 /Corr.1 Corrigendum to Indigenous peoples and the 2030 Agenda | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· E/C.19/2017/6 Compilation of information from Member States on addressing the recommendations of the Permanent Forum | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· E/C.19/2017/7 Compilation of information received from indigenous peoples’ organizations | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· E/C.19/2017/8 Compilation of information received from agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental bodies on progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the Permanent Forum | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· E/C.19/2017/9 Compilation of information from national human rights institutions | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· E/C.19/2017/10 International expert group meeting on the theme “Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: the role of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and other indigenous-specific mechanisms (article 42)” | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
Responses to questionnaire submitted by Governments: Information received from:
· Argentina | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Australia | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Bolivia | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Annex 1
· Annex 2
· Annex 3
· Annex 4
· Denmark and Greenland | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· El Salvador | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Honduras | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Mexico | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Annex 1
· Peru | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Paraguay | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
Responses to questionnaire submitted by the UN System:
· Economic Commission for latin America and the Caribbean | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Food and Agriculture Organization | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· FAO Annex | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Global Compact | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· International Labour organization | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Office of the Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· PAHO | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity (SCBD) | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· UNICEF matrix | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· UN Women | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· World Bank | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· World Bank Letter | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
Responses to questionnaire submitted by National Human Rights Institutions:
· Argentina | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Australia | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Canada | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Denmark | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Indonesia | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Kenya | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· New Zealand | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Nicaragua | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
Responses to questionnaire submitted by Indigenous Peoples Organizations / Institutions and NGOs:
· Aboriginal Rights Coalition | AR | EN| ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact | AR | EN| ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Asociacion Qhana Pukara | AR | EN | ES| FR | RU | ZH
· Congres Populaire Coutumier Kanak | AR | EN | ES | FR| RU | ZH
· Federation des ONG en Kanaky | AR | EN | ES | FR| RU | ZH
· Indian Law Resource Center | AR | EN| ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Khoe-San Indigenous Women | AR | EN| ES | FR | RU | ZH
· National Indian Youth Council | AR | EN | ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Nation of Hawaii | AR | EN| ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Observatorio de Pueblos Indigenas (Guatemala) | AR | EN | ES| FR | RU | ZH
· Office of Hawaiian Affairs | AR | EN| ES | FR | RU | ZH
· Senat Coutumier de la Nouvelle-Caledonie| AR | EN | ES | FR| RU | ZH
· Union des Peuples Autochtones pour le Reveil au Developpement| AR | EN | ES | FR| RU | ZH
Other documents
· Proposed Agenda – Dialogue with Member States (closed meeting) – Item 3
Submitted by Indigenous Peoples Organizations
The Declaration of Tecpán, 3rd International Indigenous Peoples Corn Conference, Tecpán, Guatemala, March 9th, 2017

Report of the 15th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (9 – 20 May 2016)
Recommendations addressed to UN agencies, funds and programmes and other inter- governmental organizations
Contents Page
United Nations System ........................................................................3
United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO)........................................................3
United Nations Entities.........................................................................4
United Nations Oceans (UN-Oceans)...................................................4
United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC)............................................................4
International Seabed Authority.............................................................4
World Bank ...........................................................................................4
United Nations Inter-Agency Network on
Youth Development (UN IANYD)........................................................4
Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)........................................5
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the
Empowerment of Women (UN-Women)................................................5
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)............................................5
 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)...........................................5
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)..............5
United Nations Department of Peacekeeping
Operations (UN DPKO).............................................................................5
Inter-agency Support Group (IASG)..........................................................6
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Secretariat...................................................................................................6
Recommendations addressed to the United Nations System
10. The Permanent Forum recommends that States and the United Nations system, including United Nations country teams, provide support, including funding, for the efforts of indigenous peoples’ institutions to preserve and revitalize their languages, with the particular goal of fluency. Such efforts may include the sharing of positive experiences and the establishment of informal networks or caucuses involved in the promotion and revitalization of indigenous languages, as well as the use of information and communications technology in indigenous languages. It is important that States provide adequate funding for language revitalization and the preservation of cultural heritage as it relates to indigenous languages. In addition, States should facilitate funding for indigenous language projects from external donors, including the private sector, in accordance with law.
15. In reference to the study by Mr. John and Ms. Dorough on how States exploit weak procedural rules in international organizations to devalue the United Nations Declaration and other international human rights law, the Permanent Forum recommends that all funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental forums begin to reform their respective procedural rules, with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, with the aim of ensuring compliance and consistency with the human rights affirmed in the Declaration.
28. Consistent with articles 18 and 19 of the United Nations Declaration and in line with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with the call to “leave no one behind”, the Permanent Forum strongly recommend that States and funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system ensure the disaggregation of data on the basis of indigenous identifiers/ethnicity and the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in developing and monitoring national action plans and in all processes relating to the follow-up to and review of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, including at the high-level political forum on sustainable development.
39. The Permanent Forum urges Member States and funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system to implement actions to strengthen the leadership and political participation of indigenous women.
57. Sexual and gender-based violence increases in settings of conflict. Sexual violence has also been used systematically as a weapon of war against indigenous women. In the light of the particular risks and vulnerabilities of indigenous women and girls relating to sexual and gender-based violence, the Permanent Forum recommends that Governments, local authorities, specialized agencies of the United Nations system and civil society collaborate with indigenous peoples to establish multisectoral and holistic approaches to combat the various forms of violence against women and girls.
Recommendations addressed to UNESCO
12. The Permanent Forum recommends that UNESCO, with the participation of indigenous peoples, urgently declare as the organization’s priority the preservation, revitalization and promotion of indigenous languages. UNESCO is also urged to initiate international processes for the establishment of international standards on the preservation of indigenous languages. In particular, the Forum recommends that UNESCO collaborate with efforts led by indigenous peoples and others to map indigenous languages, such as the Endangered Languages Project.
14. In the light of the study by Ms. Toki on the relationship between indigenous peoples and the Pacific Ocean and the dire effects of climate change, such as forced relocation and the loss of culture and livelihood, on vulnerable small island Pacific States, the Permanent Forum recommends that United Nations entities, including UN-Oceans, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and UNESCO, in addition to the International Seabed Authority, comply with and implement the relevant articles of the United Nations Declaration (arts. 18, 27 and 32), so as to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples. This should include meaningful participation, such as dedicated indigenous representation within each of these United Nations entities, and regard for indigenous peoples’ world views.
47. The Permanent Forum requests UNESCO to host a joint seminar with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant United Nations mechanisms for the purpose of exploring the development of a new international mechanism on the repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains. Furthermore, the Forum calls upon all States with national repositories of indigenous cultural items and ancestral remains, including museums and universities, to work with UNESCO to create an international database and inventory of these items accessible to indigenous peoples as a basis for initiating dialogue.
Recommendation addressed to UN entities including UN-Oceans, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNESCO and the International Seabed Authority
14. In the light of the study by Ms. Toki on the relationship between indigenous peoples and the Pacific Ocean and the dire effects of climate change, such as forced relocation and the loss of culture and livelihood, on vulnerable small island Pacific States, the Permanent Forum recommends that United Nations entities, including UN-Oceans, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and UNESCO, in addition to the International Seabed Authority, comply with and implement the relevant articles of the United Nations Declaration (arts. 18, 27 and 32), so as to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples. This should include meaningful participation, such as dedicated indigenous representation within each of these United Nations entities, and regard for indigenous peoples’ world views.
Recommendation addressed to the World Bank
20. The Permanent Forum welcomes the initiation of a national dialogue to discuss and achieve key constitutional reforms in the field of justice in Guatemala, and encourages the recognition of indigenous justice systems. The Forum urges Guatemala and the private sector, in addition to the World Bank and other international economic institutions, to acknowledge that serious efforts require structural economic and social reforms rather than rapid growth of gross domestic product in order to reverse widespread and growing poverty among the indigenous peoples of Guatemala. Such crucial reforms must ensure more equitable distribution and access to traditional lands for the indigenous peoples of Guatemala, consistent with the rights affirmed in the United Nations Declaration, and on the basis of respect for and legal recognition of their collective rights, including their self-determined development. Furthermore, the Forum calls upon Guatemala to reinforce the effective and full implementation of the Peace Accords.
Recommendation addressed to United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (UN IANYD)
32. The Permanent Forum appreciates the willingness of Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth to make visible the situation of indigenous youth, in particular concerning suicide and self-harm, in his advocacy. The Forum calls upon Member States to implement the recommendations of the international expert group meeting on indigenous youth, held in 2013 (see E/C.19/2013/3), in collaboration with the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development and with the full participation of indigenous youth. The Forum invites the Network to report on progress in this regard at the sixteenth session of the Forum. The Forum invites the Network and the Envoy to increase the participation of indigenous youth in the sessions of the Forum and all relevant United Nations forums, and to report on progress in this regard at the sixteenth session of the Forum.
Recommendation addressed to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
36. The Permanent Forum welcomes the intention of the Commission on the Status of Women to make the issue of the empowerment of indigenous women a focus area of its sixty-first session, to be held in 2017. The Forum invites the Bureau of the Commission to consider organizing a half-day session on the issue. The Forum calls upon the Commission to consider the empowerment of indigenous women as a theme in future sessions, pursuant to paragraph 19 of General Assembly resolution 69/2.
Recommendations addressed to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women)
37. The Permanent Forum recommends that the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women prepare a specific report on the situation of indigenous women’s empowerment, in collaboration with the Forum and indigenous women’s organizations, for submission to the Forum at its seventeenth session.
38. The Permanent Forum urges Member States and funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system to implement action to reduce maternal mortality among indigenous women. The Forum recommends that the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women publish a factsheet, in collaboration with the Forum, on indigenous women’s maternal mortality and maternal health, with the aim of reducing maternal mortality and promoting sexual and reproductive health.
Recommendation addressed to UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women
38. The Permanent Forum urges Member States and funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system to implement action to reduce maternal mortality among indigenous women. The Forum recommends that the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women publish a factsheet, in collaboration with the Forum, on indigenous women’s maternal mortality and maternal health, with the aim of reducing maternal mortality and promoting sexual and reproductive health.
Recommendation addressed to the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
55. The Permanent Forum urges Member States to contribute support to make possible the annual UNITAR training programme to enhance the conflict prevention and peacemaking capacities of indigenous peoples’ representatives so as to strengthen indigenous capacity to engage in negotiation, dialogue and peace processes to contribute to sustainable peace.
Recommendation addressed to the UN DPKO
62. Owing to the particular vulnerability of indigenous peoples in conflict situations, the Permanent Forum recommends that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the Secretariat and regional peacekeeping forces factor the protection of indigenous peoples into analysis, planning and guidance on the protection of civilians.
Recommendations addressed to the Inter-agency Support Group (IASG)
72. On the basis of the constructive dialogue between the Permanent Forum and the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues, the Forum recommends that the members of the Support Group demonstrate strong commitment from the highest level, including by:
(a) Institutionalizing dialogue between the expert members of the Forum and the principals of the funds, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system;
(b) Allocating sufficient resources to implement the system-wide action plan for ensuring a coherent approach to achieving the ends of the United Nations Declaration;
(c) Establishing institutional consultation mechanisms to ensure active collaboration and partnership with indigenous peoples at the national, regional and global levels, in both developing and developed countries;
(d) Incorporating specific targets and indicators with disaggregated data to address the key issues and priorities of indigenous peoples at the national level;
(e) Ensuring active cooperation between the Support Group and Forum members holding relevant agency portfolios.
73. The Permanent Forum requests the members of the Inter-Agency Support Group to include in their annual reports to the Forum information on progress made in the implementation of the system- wide action plan.
Recommendation addressed to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Secretariat
75. Building upon the study prepared by members of the Permanent Forum on the situation of indigenous persons with disabilities, with a particular focus on challenges faced with respect to the full enjoyment of human rights and inclusion in development (see E/C.19/2013/6), and in the light of the call in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “leave no one behind”, the Forum is concerned that the experiences and rights of indigenous persons with disabilities require further study and examination. In that regard, the Forum calls upon the secretariat of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as the focal point within the United Nations system on matters relating to disability, to conduct a qualitative study with regard to indigenous persons with disabilities, in all seven regions of the world.
margin-left:0in;text-align:justify;line-height:12.0pt;vertical-align:baseline'>Numerous other documents from the 16th Meeting of the UNPFII are available at:, including decisions by hte forum, reports and statements from UN bodies, Indigenous organizations and states, along with listings (with some reports) of side events and other materials. The Report of the 16th Session is in Research Notes, below.
      The 16th session's special theme is: “Tenth Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: measures taken to implement the Declaration”

      Hadley Desmeules, "UN Special Rapporteur Highlights Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights Violations in the United States," Cultural Survival, March 09, 2017,, reported, " UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz met with Indigenous leaders, Tribal governments, and members of the federal government as part of her official visit to the United States on February 22 - March 3, 2017. The Obama Administration invited Tauli-Corpuz to conduct the visit and the Trump Administration honored the request for what was their first meeting with a UN Special Rapporteur.
       Consulting with and implementing the recommendations of Tribal governments remains a central issue, Tauli-Corpuz explained, 'The legislative regime regulating consultation, while well intentioned, has failed to ensure effective and informed consultations with Tribal governments. The breakdown of communication and lack of good faith in the review of federal projects leaves Tribal governments unable to participate in dialogue with the United States on projects affecting their lands, territories, and resources.' Resource extraction and other energy projects including the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the Keystone XL pipelines were prominent in Special Rapporteur’s conversations. Tauli-Corpuz visited Washington, D.C., Albuquerque, NM, Window Rock, AZ, Boulder, CO, Fort Yates, ND, Fort Berthold, ND, Bismarck, ND and met with federal government representatives from: Army Corps of Engineers, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Energy, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Department of Justice.
      In North Dakota, she also held meetings with Governor Doug Burgum, representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office and the Commission on Indian Affairs, members of the legislative branch including the office of Senator John Hoeven, chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the office of ranking member Norma Torres of the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs.
       Tribal communities Tauli-Corpuz met with and visited include the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Tohono O’odham Nation, several Pueblos, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Yankton Sioux, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Southern Ute Tribe, Northern Ute Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.
      Additionally, via the first ever virtual consultation, Tauli-Corpuz spoke with representatives from Indigenous communities she was not able to visit due to time constraints, including communities from Alaska and Hawaii. She also met with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and a wide range of other civil society and human rights organizations working on Indigenous Peoples’ rights. While in DC, the Special Rapporteur conducted meetings with officials from the Trump Administration to discuss budget cuts and executive orders that will impact the Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the environment, especially the Dakota Access pipeline. As part of her visit, Tauli-Corpuz sought to follow-up on recommendations made by her predecessor, James Anaya, in 2012 and 2013. Tauli-Corpuz recognized some 'encouraging steps being taken by federal agencies to follow procedures set out in the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” but found that many of the recommendations made by Anaya still remain unrealized and “are not really implemented in any significant way, especially human trafficking and domestic violence on reservations.'
      On March 2nd, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) hosted a consultation event entitled 'mproving Tribal Inclusion in the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Process' for the Special Rapporteur to hear from civil society organizations and Tribes. A representative from the Native American Rights Fund discussed the Cheyenne River Sioux injunction and the fact that Tribes who are pro development want to share in the benefits. Now most profits go to the state governments and private developers. A representative from an International Leonard Peltier Rights Commission discussed the role of mineral resources in Native American activism both of Peltier and others. Roberto Borrero, representing the International Indian Treaty Council spoke about the need for the US to also respect sacred lands and practices in territories such as Puerto Rico and other non-Federally protected lands such as state recognized reservations. He also mentioned that Indigenous religious practices should have equal protection as religions such as Christianity and that if sacred lands have mineral resources, Tribes should have some input on their use and compensation. The Amnesty International representative shared findings from the human rights observers sent to Standing Rock which led to Amnesty International’s demand that the Department of Justice investigate the policing at Standing Rock protests. The spokesperson for the National Women’s Indigenous Resource Center addressed the increase in crime and especially in sexual violence, in areas where more than 100,000 non-Native workers from extractive industries work. These workers tend to be temporary or transient and if one rapes or murders a Native woman outside reservation boundaries, such a crime is also outside Tribal police’s jurisdiction. So far, federal authorities have declined to prosecute 67 percent of these sexual assaults.
      The discussion at the March 2nd event reflected many of the same themes discussed in Tauli-Corpuz’s End of Mission Statement, including extractive industries and energy development. Regarding the DAPL and Keystone XL pipelines, Tauli-Corpuz stated, “I am deeply concerned by the January 24, 2017 presidential memorandum, granting the last easement necessary to begin construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe, and the Notice of Termination of the Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. I am also concerned about similar impacts on Indigenous Peoples of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the January 24, 2017 executive order inviting TransCanada to resubmit its permit application to the State Department, while ordering the Secretary of State to expedite the review process.” Citing the show of disrespect for treaties and Tribes when the Army Corps approved a draft environmental assessment that ignored the interests of the Standing Rock Sioux and included maps that omitted the reservation and made no mention of proximity to historic treaty lands, Tauli-Corpuz pointed out that the Corps “gave multiple domestic authorizations permitting the construction of DAPL,” including the authorization for discharging materials and waste into waters throughout Tribes’ ancestral lands “without an adequate social, cultural or environmental assessment, and the absence of meaningful consultation with or participation by the Tribes.”
      She also discussed the Pick-Sloan project, another example of a project 'undertaken without Tribal consent.' The Pick-Sloan project which included the construction of two dams by the US Army Corps of Engineers to control the flooding of the Missouri River “to improve irrigation, and to provide hydroelectric power to the region … created Lake Oahe and Lake Sakakawe' and 'submerged hundreds of miles of Tribal lands and displaced thousands of Indigenous people. The submerged lands, adjacent to the Missouri River that were flooded in the construction of the project were the most fertile and abundant in wildlife. In displacing Indigenous peoples from this watershed, the Corps failed to relocate Native American graves. The project has been described by the late scholar Vine Deloria, Jr. as ‘the single most destructive act ever perpetrated on any Tribe by the United States’ … Though Congress provided monetary compensation to the Tribes, the devastating effects of the Pick-Sloan persist today in the form of poverty and continued conflicts over Tribal lands. Particularly, the painful history of Lake Oahe has resurfaced in the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline issue./
       Tauli-Corpuz called on the federal government to meaningfully consult Tribal communities, positing that 'the goal of Tribal consultation is not simply to check a box, or to merely give Tribes a chance to be heard. Rather, the core objective is to provide federal decision makers with context, information, and perspectives needed to support informed decisions that actually protect Tribal interests. Treaty rights, the federal trust responsibility to Tribes, environmental justice, and the principles enshrined in the Declaration all must be given life and meaning in federal decisions that impact Tribes. Meaningful consultation has the potential to provide the solid foundation for such decision, but federal agencies must be willing to recognize these principles and to work actively to put them into practice uniformly at the local, regional, and national level.' Tauli-Corpuz commended the Bear Ears Monument which with its 'unprecedented model of co-management with local and regional Tribes … allows for the continued use of the area for cultural practices for future generations while using Indigenous communities’ traditional knowledge to protect a unique cultural and ecological landscape for the use and enjoyment of the Indigenous peoples concerned, as well as the public.'
      In other cases, however, the protection of sacred places is severely restricted by the US legal system. Tauli-Corpuz cited Mount Taylor and Chaco Canyon, which are designated as traditional cultural property and a UNESCO World Heritage site, respectively. However, 'despite these designations, proposed mining and oil and gas projects threaten to desecrate these landscapes and Indigenous lifeways as the federal government, rather than the Indigenous peoples concerned, has final authority over the exploration and development of these areas.' Tauli-Corpuz recommended working with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers to protect Tribal cultural materials and suggests that efforts “be made to amend existing laws governing the protection of sacred and cultural places to encompass an Indigenous definition of sacredness as an interconnected landscape with unique relationships to the practice of religions, strengthening of community, livelihoods, subsistence, and gathering of traditional medicines and resources.”
      The Special Rapporteur also addressed the risks to the health and safety of Indigenous people from extractive industries. Uranium mining in the 1940s continues to haunt the Navajo Nation, while the Gold King mine in Colorado, which caused 'hree million gallons of contaminated water to flow into the Animas River onto the Navajo Nation reservation over one hundred miles away … [and] caused severe damage to crops and livestock, threatening the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers' even after the Gold King Mine has not been operational since 1923. Tauli-Corpuz also referenced natural gas flaring in North Dakota’s Bakken formation as well as natural gas pipeline infrastructure that exposes the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation to harmful pollutants whose impacts include cancer, lung damage, and neurological defects. Water safety remains a critical issue in the Standing Rock protests but also for Indigenous people in general, for whom 'water provides lifeways, subsistence, and has undeniable spiritual significance. In Lakota they express this belief as Mni Wiconi: water is life.'
       Extractive industries also put women and girls at an increased risk of sexual abuse and trafficking; 'already Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes as compared to other women in the United States. And, when the oil boom began in the Bakken, the influx of oil and gas workers to the area coincided with a dramatic increase in violent crime and an incredible increase of human trafficking of Native women and children.” Tauli-Corpuz recognized that Indigenous control over their energy resources as part of a desire for self-determination, would better serve their communities both economically and with regards to health and safety. The Special Rapporteur thus expressed support for Tribe-owned companies, stating “I have been very impressed by the remarkable and unshakeable resolve Tribes have to find creative ways to self-determine their development. For example, the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation recently formed Missouri River Resources, a wholly-owned Tribal company dedicated to using best practices in the oil and gas industry to generate economic benefits for the Tribal community through responsible oil development. Similarly, the Red Willow Production Company, a $2 billion company wholly owned and managed by the Southern Ute Tribe, has been generating revenue through oil and gas development on their reservation since 1992 and continues to maximize benefits for their Tribal community while carefully managing their lands and resources.'
      In September 2017, at the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report on her findings and recommendations to United States government. The Special Rapporteur will continue to monitor organizations and governments to see if her recommendations are implemented."

      "UN Special Rapporteur Releases End of U.S. Mission Statement Focused on Energy Development Projects," Cultural Survival, March 03, 2017,, provided t he End of Mission Statement,"United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, released the following end of mission statement on March 3, 2017, following an official visit to the United States.
      'In my capacity as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, I carried out a visit to the United States of America from 22 February to 3 March 2017 to study the human rights situation of indigenous peoples, in particular with regard to energy development projects, and to follow up on key recommendations made by my predecessor, James Anaya, in both his 2012 report on the situation of indigenous peoples in the United States (1) and his 2013 report on indigenous peoples and extractive industries.(2)
      Over the last ten days I have travelled to: Washington, D.C.; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Window Rock, Arizona; Boulder, Colorado; Fort Yates, Fort Berthold and Bismarck, North Dakota. I met with representatives of the federal government in Washington, D.C., including federal and regional representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of State, the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Energy, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Department of Justice. In North Dakota, I met with the Governor, and representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office and the Commission on Indian Affairs. I also met with members of the legislative branch including the office of Senator John Hoeven, chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and the office of ranking member Norma Torres of the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs. Finally, I met with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
      I visited several tribal communities: the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, Arizona, and other tribes from the Southwest, including the Hopi Tribe, the Tohono O'odham Nation, and several of the Pueblos, as well as tribes from the Great Plains, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. I also met with leaders from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Southern Ute Tribe, the Northern Ute Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. I received numerous requests for visits from indigenous communities throughout the country who described their difficult situations, but due to time constraints I was unable to visit them all. I did however hold the first-ever virtual consultation where I spoke with representatives from indigenous communities around the country including from Alaska and Hawaii. I also met with representatives of indigenous peoples and a wide range of civil society and human rights organizations working on indigenous peoples' rights.
      I am grateful to the Government of the United States for its invitation and the full cooperation it has provided, and for allowing me to carry out my visit freely and in an independent manner. I would also like to express my deep gratitude to the representatives of indigenous peoples who invited me to visit their communities, to indigenous organizations, and to individuals who assisted me in organizing parts of my agenda, as well as to those who travelled from their communities in order to meet with me in various localities. This visit was made possible by a number of tribal nations, Native American individuals, and academic institutions that coordinated the regional consultations in various parts of the country and organized my agenda locally. These include the Councils of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the University of New Mexico, the University of Colorado, the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, Sitting Bull College, United Tribes Technical College, and the National Congress of American Indians. I am also grateful for the continued support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
During the course of my visit, I received a large volume of information from indigenous peoples, civil society organizations, and government representatives. Over the coming weeks, I will be reviewing this information in order to develop the report I will present to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2017. The purpose of the report is to identify best practices and to assist tribal nations and the federal government to find solutions to the ongoing challenges that indigenous peoples face in the United States. In advance of this report, I will provide some preliminary observations and recommendations on the basis of the findings of my visit. These do not reflect the full range of issues that were brought to my attention, nor do they reflect all of the initiatives on the part of the United States government.
      In the United States, engagement with indigenous communities in the context of resource extraction and infrastructure projects is governed by several domestic statutes, orders, regulations, policies, and protocols that specify procedures as to how federal departments and agencies are to conduct "government-to-government" consultations. During my visit, I studied energy development projects and impacts in part due to the issues surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.2 billion energy infrastructure project that crosses the Missouri River five hundred meters from the tribe's northern boundary.
      From my conversations with people throughout Indian Country, I have learned that many of the complex issues that Native Americans face in the energy development context today are rooted in a long history of land and resource dispossession. In particular, the policy of allotment implemented by the Dawes Act in 1887 continues to have significant impacts on the development of energy resources throughout Indian Country. The different types of land ownership that exist within reservation boundaries make consistent resource management and regulatory control difficult and complex. Additionally, the checkerboard ownership of private land within reservations resulting from centuries-old policies allows for a double-edged sword whereby state governments may assert tax and regulatory authority over energy development within tribal lands. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies approve energy projects on lands within reservation boundaries without the consent or input of the tribal government.
      More recent events affecting tribes in North and South Dakota continue to have ongoing impacts on the indigenous peoples in that region. The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie established the territory of the Great Sioux Reservation, an area whose boundaries have continually diminished in the last century and a half. For the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribes in North and South Dakota, the Pick-Sloan project, undertaken without tribal consultation, resulted in the construction of two dams by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The purpose of the project was to control flooding of the Missouri River, to improve irrigation, and to provide hydroelectric power to the region. The project which created Lake Oahe and Lake Sakakawe submerged hundreds of miles of tribal lands and displaced thousands of indigenous people. The lands, adjacent to the Missouri River that were flooded in the construction of the project were the most fertile and abundant in wildlife. In displacing indigenous peoples from this watershed, the Corps failed to relocate Native American graves. The project has been described by the late scholar Vine Deloria, Jr. as "the single most destructive act ever perpetrated on any tribe by the United States." Most affected were the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation; the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe; the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe; the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe; the Yankton Sioux Tribe; and the Nebraska Tribe. Though Congress provided monetary compensation to the tribes, the devastating effects of Pick-Sloan persist today in the form of poverty and continued conflicts over tribal lands. Particularly, the painful history of Lake Oahe has resurfaced in the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline issue.
      The United States' commitment to a process of consultation with tribal governments presents opportunities for a more positive future and meaningful engagement. But challenges remain. The contemporary executive action that provides the most direct guidance on consultation with tribes, Executive Order 13175, while well intentioned has developed into a confusing and disjointed framework that suffers from loopholes, ambiguity, and a general lack of accountability. The regulatory regime has failed to ensure effective and informed consultations with tribal governments. The breakdown of communication and lack of good faith involvement in the review of federal projects has left tribal governments functionally unable to participate in consequential dialogue with the United States on projects affecting their lands, territories, and resources. As the United States indicated at the time it supported the Declaration, meaningful consultation with tribes, without the need for the tribes' agreement, is the preferred process of the United States in lieu of obtaining "free, prior, and informed consent" as set forth in the Declaration. Therefore, at a minimum, meaningful engagement and effective participation of tribal governments in assessing and reviewing extractive industry projects is a key element to the United States' meeting its human rights obligations as a signatory to the Declaration. Further, implementation of best practices about tribal consultation will ensure a more positive and profitable outcome for all stakeholders concerned.
       Throughout the course of my mission, I heard universally that there is a pressing need for the federal government to precisely identify requirements for meaningful consultation with Indian tribes and to implement a consistent system across all federal agencies to ensure that consultation is undertaken with the goal of reaching agreement on projects and actions that affect indigenous peoples.
       Many indigenous peoples in the United States perceive a general lack of consideration of the future impacts on their lands in approving extractive industry projects in particular, and a lack of recognition that they face significant impacts from development of not just their own, but neighbouring resources as well. In the context of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the potentially affected tribes were denied access to information and excluded from consultations at the planning stage of the project. Furthermore, in a show of disregard for treaties and the federal trust responsibility, the Army Corps approved a draft environmental assessment regarding the pipeline that ignored the interests of the tribe. Maps in the draft environmental assessment omitted the reservation, and the draft made no mention of proximity to the reservation or the fact that the pipeline would cross historic treaty lands of a number of tribal nations. In doing so, the draft environmental assessment treated the tribe's interests as non-existent, demonstrating the flawed current process. Although the final environmental assessment recognized the presence of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe five hundred meters away, it dismissed the risks to the reservation and failed to mention any of the other tribes that traditionally used the territory. Without an adequate social, cultural or environmental assessment, and the absence of meaningful consultation with or participation by the tribes, the Corps gave multiple domestic authorizations permitting the construction of DAPL. One such authorization permitted construction beneath the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, while another authorized the discharge of materials and waste into waters throughout the tribes' ancestral lands.
      Sadly , I found the situation faced by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is shared by many other indigenous communities in the United States, as tribal communities nationwide wrestle with the realities of living in ground zero of energy impact. The goal of tribal consultation is not simply to check a box, or to merely give tribes a chance to be heard. Rather, the core objective is to provide federal decision makers with context, information, and perspectives needed to support informed decisions that actually protect tribal interests. Treaty rights, the federal trust responsibility to tribes, environmental justice, and the principles enshrined in the Declaration all must be given life and meaning in federal decisions that impact tribes. Meaningful consultation has the potential to provide the solid foundation for such decisions, but federal agencies must be willing to recognize these principles and to work actively to put them into practice uniformly at the local, regional, and national level.
      I also received reports during this mission regarding the criminalization of indigenous peoples asserting their right to protest in the now-world famous struggle of several tribes in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. As is well-documented, the controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline has drawn thousands of people to the boundaries of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation as they sought to protect the land and the water and uphold tribal sovereignty. While the actions taking place have been almost completely non-violent and peaceful, there has been a militarized, at times violent, escalation of force by local law enforcement and private security forces. As noted in my predecessor James Anaya's previous reports, indigenous peoples have the right to oppose extractive activities that impact their land and resources free from reprisals, acts of violence, or undue pressures to accept or enter into consultations about extractive projects.
      Finally, given the impacts on indigenous peoples of the Dakota Access Pipeline, I am deeply concerned by the January 24, 2017 presidential memorandum, granting the last easement necessary to begin construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe, and the Notice of Termination of the Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. I am also concerned about similar impacts on indigenous peoples of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the January 24, 2017 executive order inviting TransCanada to resubmit its permit application to the State Department, while ordering the Secretary of State to expedite the review process.
       Indian lands represent twenty percent of fossil fuel energy in the United States, and possess an even greater percentage of renewable energy potential. In addition to rich oil and gas deposits across Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Colorado, Alaska, and New Mexico, Indian lands have incredible wind and solar potential, as well as hydroelectric and geothermal resources. A number of tribes have made entrepreneurial efforts to create tribal utilities for the benefit of their own and neighbouring communities, and are involved in a wide array of energy generation and transmission as large parts of tribal lands serve as thruways for the national electrical grid system. Indian tribes are owners and operators of new and emerging technologies, breaking the pattern of reliance on outside entities. These examples and many more suggest that by exercising political sovereignty, indigenous peoples can approach energy resource development in a diverse way to support economic sovereignty.
      During my mission, it became clear to me that the indigenous peoples in the United States have a vibrant and enduring relationship to their culture and sacred places. Tribal colleges are promoting indigenous languages and culture through their curricula and efforts are being undertaken to preserve stories and traditions. However, the ability for indigenous people to protect their sacred places is severely restricted by the United States legal system. Two important examples are Mount Taylor and Chaco Canyon. Mount Taylor represents one of the six Navajo sacred mountains and has been designated as traditional cultural property under United States law, while Chaco Canyon has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its vast cultural resources with deep significance to the Pueblo and Navajo people. Despite these designations, proposed mining and oil and gas projects threaten to desecrate these landscapes and indigenous lifeways as the federal government, rather than the indigenous peoples concerned, has final approval authority over the exploration and development of these areas. In such cases, it is imperative that the government consult or otherwise secure the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples, in order to protect the sacred and cultural resources of indigenous peoples, not only when projects impact their current lands, but also when projects impact homelands that are customarily and aboriginally owned, occupied, or otherwise used regardless of whether they are located on federal, state, or private lands. Domestic laws cannot define sacredness or confine the idea to specific dots on a map. Instead efforts must be made to amend existing laws governing the protection of sacred and cultural places to encompass an indigenous definition of sacredness as an interconnected landscape with unique relationships to the practice of religions, strengthening of community, livelihoods, subsistence, and gathering of traditional medicines and resources.
      I learned from my visit that working closely with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs) is a best practice to protect tribal cultural material. THPOs hold unique expertise and knowledge about the tribal lands, territories, and resources. Not only are they intimately familiar with the state and federal permitting and regulatory processes but, as one tribal THPO said, 'our oral stories, star knowledge, and cultural history are what help me to evaluate what's on the ground to know what not to disturb.' Tribal member employees have a connection to the lands that cannot be undervalued and must be leveraged to best protect and respect tribal lands. Tribal THPOs should thus have the ability to provide input on projects taking place on tribal territories outside of reservation boundaries given their deep knowledge of history and culture.
       One recent example of proactive and laudable government action to protect indigenous sacred and cultural resources is the recent designation of the Bears Ears National Monument. Through its unprecedented model of co-management with local and regional tribes, the land use model adopted for the Bears Ears Monument allows for the continued use of the area for cultural practices for future generations while using indigenous communities' traditional knowledge to protect a unique cultural and ecological landscape for the use and enjoyment of the indigenous peoples concerned, as well as the public.
      In fact, development on and near indigenous lands has disparate impacts on tribal communities as distinct from other communities. For example, in the Bakken Shale region, the tribes have significant concerns about the safety of those living on the reservations, especially women and children. Already Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes as compared to other women in the United States. And, when the oil boom began in the Bakken, the influx of oil and gas workers to the area coincided with a dramatic increase in violent crime and an incredible increase of human trafficking of Native women and children. Risk factors contributing to the sex trafficking of Native women include higher incidences of poverty, lower educational attainment levels, and historical trauma. As a direct result of outside development, the entrance of transient workers with no ties to the community, who can for the most part not be prosecuted for their criminal acts that occur on the reservation creates an unsafe and unstable environment for families on the reservation. Additionally, there is no mechanism in place to increase needed resources for the tribe to adequately protect their citizens through law enforcement or other services.
      In reference to the increase of violence against women in the Bakken and near the Navajo Nation, tribes informed me that the oil and gas leasing approvals undertaken by the Bureau of Indian Affairs should but do not adequately consider the safety and welfare impacts of extractive energy projects on native women and children. Applicable United States regulations require that, at a minimum, the federal government consider safety, health and welfare impacts of these projects. Further, the United States acknowledges that it is committed to a trust responsibility for native peoples. This responsibility requires the United States to carefully review energy projects on, adjacent to, or outside of indigenous lands where there are potential impacts. In fact, Articles 21 and 22 of the Declaration explicitly task states with taking effective measures to ensure the continuing improvement of social and economic conditions of indigenous women and children, and to ensure that they have full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.
      This problem exacerbates other important issues as well. Much of the testimony that I received referenced the historical trauma that deeply affects indigenous individuals every day. This trauma cumulated as a result of the largely discriminatory policies of the government towards Indian tribes and individuals since first contact and today still results in distrust of government initiatives and poor health outcomes for Indian individuals.
       When resources are extracted from indigenous territories, the people living in those territories experience the attendant health impacts that result as evidenced in the 1940s when large uranium deposits were developed on the Navajo Nation's lands. Private companies developing uranium often employed Navajo workers and failed to communicate the known health risks of exposure to uranium. The workers, and the women and children living near the mines, continue to be burdened by high rates of lung disease and various cancers. Recently, the United States and the Navajo Nation entered into a historic settlement agreement to resolve latent claims remaining from the clean-up to restore healthy tribal communities on the Navajo Nation. To date, there are 15,000 abandoned uranium mines in the United States that need to go through the reclamation process, many of which impact indigenous lands.
Indigenous communities experience negative health impacts from extraction that occurs off the reservation as well. For instance, the Gold King mine disaster in Silverton, Colorado caused three million gallons of contaminated water to flow into the Animas River onto the Navajo Nation reservation, over one hundred miles away. Following the spill, levels of heavy metals in the water, including arsenic and cadmium, exceeded allowable state limits for domestic water. The contamination caused severe damage to crops and livestock, threatening the livelihood of Navajo farmers and ranchers. The long term health impacts of the spill remain unknown. Importantly, the Gold King Mine had not been operational since it was abandoned in 1923. The disaster which occurred almost a century after the project closed demonstrates the possible long-term future impacts of natural resource extraction and attendant infrastructure on indigenous peoples.
       The Gold King Mine spill and the Dakota Access Pipeline issue highlight the many water concerns associated with energy development. In places like the arid west, the substantial volumes of water used in drilling operations cause stress on surface water and groundwater supplies. Contamination of underground and surface waters is also a concern, with many projects threatening vital resources in water-scarce regions. In fact, a recent EPA study found scientific evidence that activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle can impact drinking water resources through spills, faulty well construction, discharges into surface waters, or disposal into underground injection wells. For indigenous peoples, water provides lifeways, subsistence, and has undeniable spiritual significance. In Lakota, they express this belief as Mni Wiconi: water is life.
      In addition, another implication of energy development being borne by indigenous peoples has been a dramatic increase in the flaring of natural gas in North Dakota's Bakken formation.
      Because of the lack of sufficient natural gas pipeline infrastructure in the relatively new production area, many wells in the area have been forced to flare the natural gas product as a method of disposal. The health implications of natural gas flaring are related to the exposure of hazardous air pollutants emitted during the combustion of the gas flare. The various pollutants, including methane, have been associated with a variety of adverse health impacts, including cancer, lung damage, and various other neurological defects. These effects are being felt by the residents of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, and in surrounding communities.
       Indigenous communities in the United States want more control over their energy resources as a part of their overall desire to be self-determined with respect to their lands, territories, and resources. They are committed to balancing many different sets of concerns in their own approaches to energy development. The tribes rely on the income generated from natural resources to not only support critical government programs, but also to balance the protection of their lands, waters, and sacred places with the benefit of revenue and jobs.
I have been very impressed by the remarkable and unshakeable resolve tribes have to find creative ways to self-determine their development. For example, the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation recently formed Missouri River Resources, a wholly-owned tribal company dedicated to using best practices in the oil and gas industry to generate economic benefits for the tribal community through responsible oil development. Similarly, the Red Willow Production Company, a $2 billion company wholly owned and managed by the Southern Ute Tribe, has been generating revenue through oil and gas development on their reservation since 1992 and continues to maximize benefits for their tribal community while carefully managing their lands and resources.
       Despite their successes, tribes continue to face significant challenges in harnessing their own development possibilities. In particular, the legal, regulatory, and tax structures currently in place serve to create additional hurdles while reducing the possibility of realizing important benefits. Of particular concern is the dual taxation regime that allows state governments to tax energy revenues derived from tribal lands without any requirement that those taxes are deployed to serve those tribal communities. Whether it is repaving destroyed roads, creating adequate environmental mitigation, providing emergency response plans, or bulking up the capacity of law enforcement, the energy-producing tribes find themselves alone in managing the impacts of development without adequate resources to do so.
       The issues surrounding energy development underscore the need for reconciliation with indigenous peoples in the United States. Tribal leaders and representatives indicate that they are interested in engaging in a program of reconciliation to remedy the harms they have faced and improve the government-to-government relationship going forward. Such a program would acknowledge the historical wrongs inflicted upon indigenous peoples in the United States and confront systemic barriers that prevent the full realization of indigenous peoples' rights.
      Nevertheless, there are encouraging steps being taken by federal agencies to implement the Declaration in consultation policies. Since 2012, the federal government has made commendable efforts to develop policies toward more robust measures to effectively implement existing policies and to advance towards full recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples.
For example, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has issued guidance to federal agencies in carrying out their Section 106 responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act, in line with the Declaration. These suggestions include developing a working knowledge of the Declaration and its articles, reviewing and updating agency policies to reflect the Declaration principles, and considering the Declaration to be a policy reference in the Section 106 process and beyond.
      Further, in January 2017, the Department of the Interior, the Department of the Army, and the Department of Justice issued a report, 'Improving Tribal Consultation and Tribal Involvement in Federal Infrastructure Decisions,' following a series of regional consultations with tribal leaders to solicit recommendations on engaging tribes in infrastructure-related activities. The report provides an encouraging path forward that strongly upholds the government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government. The report also provides constructive strategies to increase communication, to maximize opportunities for good faith negotiations, and to ensure tribal input at every decision point. I am encouraged by the process of meaningful consultation with the tribes that the United States undertook in creating this report, and applaud the efforts made by the government to consider ways in which to improve consultation processes consistently across agencies, incorporating input from indigenous peoples. In order to meet the obligations of the Declaration, the United States should continue to build efforts to incorporate principles of meaningful consultation with the goal of obtaining free, prior, and informed consent from indigenous peoples as set forth in Articles 10, 11, 19, 28, 29, and 32.
       As when my predecessor issued his 2012 report, significant work still needs to be done to implement policies and initiatives to further the rights of indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, the many recommendations of my predecessor in his 2012 report have yet to be realized.
       In order to fully realize the rights of indigenous peoples as enshrined in the Declaration, I recommend that the United States government continue to improve upon its policies to develop stronger government-to-government relations with tribes. To do so, the government must, at a minimum, adhere to its own consultation policy as set forth in Executive Order 13175. The federal, state, and local governments should adopt consistent practices in consulting with tribes on projects that could affect indigenous rights. The federal government should take steps to consider fully and implement the suggestions from its own 2017 report, 'Improving Tribal Consultation and Tribal Involvement in Federal Infrastructure Decisions.'
      Tribes must continue to be supported to develop capacity and resources to realize self-determination to take advantage of their expanded authority in all areas including in energy development and law enforcement. I urge the government to continue to honour its treaty and trust obligations to indigenous peoples.
       To ensure that native communities are not further plagued by violence, for measures that have the potential to create positive impacts on tribal communities, such as the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the United States must continue to take measures to ensure that tribal governments are able to implement them, including by providing adequate resources.
      The United States should take appropriate measures to ensure the United Nations Guiding Pri

nciples on Business and Human Rights are properly considered by all accountable actors in any projects that have impacts on indigenous peoples in the United States.
      Finally, I recommend that for any extractive industry project affecting indigenous peoples, regardless of the status of the land, the United States should require a full environmental impact assessment of the project in consideration of the impact on indigenous peoples' rights.

Regional and Country Developments

       Jack McNeel, "Colville Hunters Want to Hunt Ancestral Lands, BC Government Says No: BC Government filed appeal asking for a repeal questioning Canadian aboriginal rights to ancestral lands," ICTMN, May 25, 2017,, reported, "On April 25, the British Columbia government filed the appeal with the British Columbia Supreme Court, asking that a Provincial Court decision from March 27 be repealed. This appeal states that the Judge erred when deciding that Sinixt people living outside Canada can hold Canadian aboriginal rights as that is not consistent with Canadian sovereignty and the 1982 Constitution act."

      ICG, "Mafia of the Poor: Gang Violence and Extortion in Central America," Latin A,merica & Caribbean Report No. 62,, commented, " Central American gangs are responsible for brutal acts of violence, abuse of women and forced displacement of thousands. Governments must go beyond punitive measures and address the social and economic roots of gang culture, tackle extortion schemes and invest in communities .

      Executive Summary
       Born in the aftermath of civil war and boosted by mass deportations from the U.S., Central American gangs are responsible for brutal acts of violence, chronic abuse of women, and more recently, the forced displacement of children and families. Estimated to number 54,000 in the three Northern Triangle countries – El Salvador,        Guatemala and Honduras – the gangs’ archetypal tattooed young men stand out among the region’s greatest sources of public anxiety. Although they are not the only groups dedicated to violent crime, the maras have helped drive Central American murder rates to highs unmatched in the world: when the gangs called a truce in El Salvador, homicides halved overnight. But it is extortion that forms the maras’ criminal lifeblood and their most widespread racket. By plaguing local businesses for protection payments, they reaffirm control over poor urban enclaves to fund misery wages for members. Reducing the impact of these schemes, replacing them with formal employment and restoring free movement across the Northern Triangle’s urban zones would greatly reduce the harm of gang activity.
      Charting this route, however, requires a sharp switch in current policies. Ever since mara-related insecurity became visible in the early 2000s, the region’s governments have responded through punitive measures that reproduce the popular stigmas and prejudices of internal armed conflict. In programs such as Iron Fist in El Salvador, the Sweep-Up Plan in Guatemala or Zero Tolerance in Honduras, mass incarceration, harsher prison conditions and recourse to extrajudicial executions provided varieties of punishment. The cumulative effects, however, have fallen far short of expectations. Assorted crackdowns have not taken account of the deep social roots of the gangs, which provide identity, purpose and status for youths who are unaccommodated in their home societies and “born dead”. The responses have also failed to recognise the counterproductive effects of security measures that have given maras prisons in which to organise and confirmation of their identity as social outcasts.
      The succession of unsuccessful punitive measures is now coming under closer scrutiny across the Northern Triangle. All three countries are experimenting with new forms of regional collaboration in law enforcement. Guatemala has introduced vanguard measures to combat extortion rackets, many of them run from within jails, and has proposed a range of alternatives to prison terms. Although the collapse of the truce with the maras in 2014 spurred unprecedented violence in El Salvador, murder rates appear to have fallen again, while parts of the maras have proposed fresh talks with an eye to their eventual dissolution – an offer shunned by the government. Mass deportation from the U.S. back to these countries risks a repeated upsurge in gang crime. However, U.S. concern with reducing the migrant flow from Central America has generated significant new funds for development in the region via the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity.
       At the core of a new approach should stand an acknowledgement of the social and economic roots of gang culture, ineradicable in the short term, alongside a concerted state effort to minimise the violence of illicit gang activity. Focused and sophisticated criminal investigations should target the gangs responsible for the most egregious crimes, above all murder, rape and forced displacement. Extortion schemes that depend on coercive control over communities and businesses, and which have caused the murder of hundreds of transport workers and the exodus of thousands in the past decade, could be progressively transformed through a case-by-case approach. Ad hoc negotiations and transactions with gangs responsible for extortion are not uncommon in the Northern Triangle, and have generated insights into how the maras may be edged toward formal economic activity. Targeted and substantial economic investment in impoverished communities with significant gang presence could reduce the incentives for blackmail.
       Despite the mistrust bequeathed by the truce as well as El Salvador’s and Honduras’ classification of maras as terrorist groups, new forms of communication with gangs could be established on the basis of confidence-building signals from both sides, potentially encouraged by religious leaders. Government and donor support for poor communities and for improved prison conditions would ideally be answered by a significant reduction in violence from the maras. A momentous step by the gangs, above all in El Salvador, would be to guarantee free movement of all citizens through gang-controlled territories, as well as a restoration of the veto on violence and recruitment in schools.
       Rounding up all gang members, or inviting gangs to an open-ended negotiation, represent a pair of extremes that have both proven fruitless in the Northern Triangle. Gangs are both embedded in society and predatory upon it, and both victims and perpetrators. Policies toward them need to recognise their social resilience and find ways to reduce the harm they undeniably cause without branding them enemies of the people.
      To reduce the harm caused by gangs’ violence, restore the rule of law and address the socio-economic bases of gang recruitment and extortion
      To the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras:

Acknowledge that the Northern Triangle is facing a serious security and forced displacement crisis, and call for international support to tackle the humanitarian fallout by collaborating with local organisations in offering temporary shelter and assistance to those displaced by violence.

Engage transparently in confidence-building measures with the maras without necessarily engaging in direct dialogue; and prepare to support improved prison conditions in exchange for peaceful signals from gangs.

Promote a responsible approach to integral investment and business support in areas and communities showing signs of pacification but still affected by entrenched gang-run criminal rackets, especially extortion.

In Honduras, repeal categorisation of gangs as terrorist groups; and respect rule of law by promoting accountability efforts via the Office of the Attorney General and the Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH).

In El Salvador, release all facilitators of the gang truce accused of illegal association as a trust-building action; reverse the decision to renew the “extraordinary measures” against the gangs; and approve the stalled rehabilitation law.

Prioritise tri-national collaboration between prosecution services as a means to identify the most effective harm reduction approaches to gang crime; and promptly target certain mara crimes, above all murder, rape and forced displacement.
      To the government of the U.S.:

Continue providing Central American governments with financial support to carry out violence prevention initiatives and community development under the aegis of the Alliance for Prosperity, albeit with greater emphasis on long-term development projects involving grassroots organisations.

Refrain from instigating mass deportations or harsher anti-migration measures against Northern Triangle countries without prior guarantees of investment in returnees’ communities, proper attention to returnees’ employment and vocational needs, and close monitoring of security effects; and strictly respect human rights of migrants and deportees.

Drop the designation of the MS-13 gang as a significant transnational criminal organisation.
      To the UN:

Extend the mandate of the UN special envoy in El Salvador for a further six months and design long-term goals in the areas of education and economy; and create a working group on peacebuilding and invite all parties, including local churches, to explore the possibility of inclusive dialogue.
      To the Mara Salvatrucha and Eighteenth Street gangs:
Initiate efforts at pacification and spur future dialogue by declaring freedom of movement through gang-run territories; assure that schools and hospitals are violence-free zones; and renounce violence as a means of mass public intimidation."

      " Another Indigenous Radio Station is Born: The Inauguration of Radio Xyaab 'Tzuultaq'a," Cultiural Survival, March 10, 2017,, reported, "'It will go down in history, all the men and women who promoted radio, the radio will be used to defend our rights and defend our language, as Q'eqchi' people,' said teacher Guadalupe Quinich, during Radio Xyaab 'Tzuultaq'a’s inauguration on March 5, 2017, in El Estor, Guatemala. The inauguration coincided with the beginning of the Mayan New Year, Joob Tz'ikin.
      With candles , ocotes, and chocolates, the spiritual guides conducted a Mayan ceremony to thank God for giving life to the radio station. Pacaya leaves and pine decorated the community radio station. Little by little the local people stopped by to see the radio cabin and to congratulate the organizers in launching the radio.
      With great joy, people from El Estor listened to the first broadcast. 'What started as a dream became reality with the support of Cultural Survival, WACC and the accompaniment of Sobrevivencia Cultural,” said Robín Sicajan, director of Association for Integral Development (AEPDI). “We went through a process to truly understand what a community radio consists of. The support of Cultural Survival and Sobrevivencia Cultural was essential, as was ensuring the participation of women and spiritual guides in organizational processes.'
Sicajan pointed out, “We are going to amplify the voices of the community, we are not going to censor anything, radio will be a means for communities to make their complaints heard and to inform others about what is happening at the national and international level.” Sicajan also explained that the term Xyaab 'Tzuultaq' a means “the voice of the hills” in the Q'eqchi' language.
      According to Anselmo Xunic from Sobrevivencia Cultural, 'community radio is a right of the Indigenous Peoples.” During the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996, Guatemala committed to provide frequencies to Indigenous Peoples, yet that has not been fulfilled. “We do not want to be illegal, for that reason we have presented four bills to legalize community radio stations, and last year congress took the first two steps, by holding the first two readings of the proposed revision to the telecommunications law. However, the commercial radio owners, stopped the process,' said Xunic.
      'Information is fundamental to demand our rights. In 2013, we denounced the State of Guatemala for violating the right to freedom of expression and the lack of democratization of media before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,” said Cesar Gomez, who is the legal representative of Sobrevivencia Cultural. “Laws are not made for us, Indigenous Peoples, and only benefit a small privileged group. We must inform ourselves about our rights through radio and demand these rights.'
Cornelia Cul, a Women’s Department office representative called on women, men, young people, young women to join in the communication process, to defend the station that is part of El Estor.
      'We are happy to be part of Radio Xyaab 'Tzuultaq’a’s inauguration. It is the voice of the hill, of the planets, of the valleys, where voices from those who have not been heard will come. They will share their customs, traditions, their sadness and joy, and it will be a space where they can come and exercise their free thinking,' Community leader Domingo Caal pointed out. "We have to go back to our homes and tell our friends that we have a community radio station," he said.
      After hearing the words of Indigenous authorities, representatives, institutions, organizations and youth, the symbolic cut of a tape was inaugurated, accompanied by the music of the marimba.
Since 2013, El Estor-based AEPDI had dreamed to have a radio station serve the community, to inform, educate, entertain, and strengthen their identity as a people. They began planning and negotiations in July 2013, when Angélica Rao and Anselmo Xunic from Cultural Survival and Sobrevivencia Cultural made their first visit and met with Adelso Romel Reyes Reyes, the director of the Defensoría Q'eqchi' at the time who expressed the interest of the municipality to have this means of communication.
      Matilde Chocooj, leader of AEPDI, who was given the role of following up on the proposal, brought together about 35 people from various sectors of the community, including the Community Development Council and auxiliary municipalities to explain what community radio is and how it can benefit local people. At the meeting, Angélica Cubur and Anselmo Xunic shared the experience of Radio Ixchel, from Sumpango Sacatepequez.
The organization AEPDI, better known as the Defensoría Q'eqchi, has promoted the Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the demand for the right to Land and Territory through programs and radio spots on commercial media, paying high costs for limited time slots. Therefore, the participants were eager to open their own community-controlled radio stations that would reflect their needs and values.
      Since then, several proposals for funding were submitted but international support was not obtained. Despite these adversities, they continued searching and last year an opportunity with Cultural Survival’s Community Media Grants Project opened up. Consultations were made with various organizations and institutions in El Estor to find out about the viability of a community radio. "The result was positive," said Avexnim Cojti from Cultural Survival. "With the financial support from the grant, the community was able to purchase transmission equipment. AEPDI bought the land where the station was established and the communities collaborated in constructing the building.”
      El Estor is a municipality of Guatemala which is approximately 320 kilometers from Guatemala City. Eighty percent of the population speak Q'eqchi. With the station’s opening, Indigenous leaders present at the inauguration expressed their hope to strengthen their struggle and their identity and work hard utilizing educational and informational radio programs about their rights and civic participation."

      "Hidro Santa Cruz Terminates Dam Project in Barillas, Guatemala ," Cultural Survival, January 23, 2017,, reported, " After almost a decade of resistance, a cautious victory has been declared for a Maya community in Guatemala in their fight against a Spanish hydroelectric company attempting to install a dam on their sacred river.
      In December 2016 , Hidro Santa Cruz, a subsidiary of Spanish infrastructure companies owned by brothers Luis and David Valdivia, announced it would be pulling out of its project in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, after years of consistent and powerful resistance from Q’anjob’al communities prevented them from constructing the dams.
      The company announced the termination of the project in a press release , saying that it no longer considers the project viable: 'For various reasons, [the project] has not gained the acceptance of a significant part of the inhabitants of the territory in which it was planned for installation...The decision was adopted months earlier, after careful analysis that considered the fundamental social impact, as well as the petitions received from different non-governmental organizations. It has been officially communicated to the State of Guatemala.'
      The release does not mention that the company’s financial backers pulled their multi-million dollar investment in Hidro Santa Cruz in November of 2015 after complaints were filed to the World Bank.
      In July of 2015, representatives of the community in Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala submitted a official complaint regarding a proposed hydroelectric dam on the Q’am B’alam River in their small town in the department of Huehuetenango. Cecilia Mérida, the partner of an environmental defender who was arrested and falsely charged and imprisoned in Guatemala, testified at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. She spoke of the damage being inflicted by the Bank's financing of the project and the strategies of criminalization being employed by the Guatemalan government and Hidro Santa Cruz in an attempt to silence local opposition, giving firsthand testimony about the impacts on families and communities when leaders are illegally detained and imprisoned for months, or even years, on end.
      Since 2009, Hidro Santa Cruz has been planning a series of dams on the Q’am B’alam river that surrounds the town of Santa Cruz Barillas. The river and its three waterfalls are considered sacred by the Q’anjob’al community, whose ancestors named the river “yellow tiger” in the Q’anjob’al language after the animal that was said to drink from its waters. The project was to be installed in an area used by the community for ceremonial, recreational, and agricultural purposes, and in an ecosystem that is of highest priority for conservation, according to the International Commission on Tropical Biology and Natural Resources.
      The community has twice held referenda and both times voted unequivocally to reject the exploitation of its natural resources by transnational corporations. Nevertheless, the government approved the Cambalam I Dam without the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the community, nor any legitimate social or environmental impact assessments.
      Dozens of community organizers and leaders have been arbitrarily detained and arrested after speaking out against the dam, including Mérida’s partner, Ruben Herrera. Some were imprisoned for over two years. All were eventually released due to lack of evidence of having committed a crime. Two men have been killed; one, Andres Francisco Miguel, was shot at by security guards of the company in 2012, and another, teacher Daniel Pedro Mateo, was kidnapped while on his way to a community meeting training environmental defenders in 2013. His body was later found with signs of torture.
       Following the Money
       The World Bank continues to be a major funder of resource extraction companies around the world, lending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to companies working in the global South who are unable to guarantee that these investments are not contributing to human rights violations.
      The Hidro Santa Cruz project, proposed by Spanish-owned Ecoener/Hidralia Energia, through its subsidiary Hidro Santa Cruz, was funded by a private equity fund, Corporación Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura (CIFI), which is supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IFC, part of the World Bank Group, had committed to a $10 million equity and $20 million loan investment to Hidro Santa Cruz via the CIFI, with an additional $48.5 million syndicated loan.
      CAO, the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman, is the group tasked with investigating the complaint from the community. As an independent recourse mechanism for the private sector lending arms of the World Bank Group, CAO's mission is to address complaints by people affected by these projects and to enhance the social and environmental accountability of both the World Bank and its private sector lending institutions.
      CAO’s findings agreed that the accusations in the community’s complaint were serious and substantial in nature. The CAO is now investigating whether IFC performed its due diligence in reviewing the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments carried out by Hidro Santa Cruz. Results of that investigation are expected in June 2017.
      All evidence points to the fact that the IFC should never have invested in Hidro Santa Cruz. The project violated the rights of Indigenous Peoples by ignoring the community referendum of 2009, ignoring the community’s right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and turning a blind eye to the use of violence, excessive force, intimidation, rape, and false imprisonment as methods to further their business interests.
      The traditional authorities of the Maya nations in Huehuetenango, known as Payxail Yajaw Konob’, released a statement regarding the announcement of the termination of Hidro Santa Cruz in Guatemala. Rather than celebrating the announcement of the company’s exit, leaders who are all too familiar with the deceptive strategies of foreign companies are concerned that the license for the project may have simply changed hands, allowing another future company to move forward. They also point out that Hidro Santa Cruz is just one of various subsidiary companies of Ecoener and Hidralia Energia.
      In fact, as the Hidro Santa Cruz project in Barillas has quieted down in recent years, neighboring community San Mateo Ixtatan has faced increased aggression from hydroelectric project Promocciones de Desarrollo Hídrico (PDH), which also has ties to the Valdivia brothers: Hidralia Energia, Hidro Santa Cruz’s parent company, was awarded a contract to design the series of two dams in 2011.
      As the community has organized in opposition to the project, the same patterns of community unrest and repressive violence are being used against them. On January 17, 2017, 72-year-old Sebastián Alonzo Juan was killed during a demonstration in the Maya Chuj community of Yich K’isis, San Mateo Ixtatán, Huehuetenango, when National Police and armed private security opened fire on demonstrators outside of the facilities of PDH during a skirmish between community members for and against the dam. He is the third person to be killed as a result of conflict relating to the plans for that dam, in a community of just 39,000.
       PDH has also received funding from international development banks, specifically the Inter-American Investment Corporation (ICC), a branch of the Inter-American Development Bank, which has provided more than $13 million in financing for the project in San Mateo Ixtatán. There are 13 other licenses in various stages of development for hydroelectric projects in Huehuetenango.
      In the United States, the battle against oil and gas pipelines has been characterized as a fight against a medusa, a monster with many heads; it’s the same monster, activists say, with different names in different places. Meanwhile, Guatemala fights a similar monster in its conglomeration of hydroelectric projects.
       Less than a week after the ancestral government released a public statement warning that the fight against Hidro Santa Cruz is not over, they released another statement following the death of the Maya Chuj elder. 'We demand, once again, the immediate cancellation of all the licenses authorized on Q’anjob’al territory and the immediate removal of all extractive industry and security forces...Our nations have inhabited this territory for thousands of years'.”

      Nika Knight, " Honduran Farmers Sue World Bank Lending Arm for 'Profiting From Murder': A private lending arm of the World Bank is not 'ending poverty,' it is 'ending the lives of the poor,' says one farmer," Common Dreams , March 08, 2017,, reported, "H onduran farmers on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against a branch of the World Bank for funding a massive palm oil corporation that the suit alleges has been responsible for the killings of over 100 farmers, as well as torture, violent assaults, and 'other acts of aggression.'
      The World Bank has 'knowingly profited from the financing of murder,' argues the lawsuit filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C.
      'We have lost our compañeros, they have left our children without fathers, it's been difficult to move forward, we live from our families and our land and now we are left with nothing,' said one of the farmers, according to EarthRights International (ERI), the nonprofit which filed the suit on the farmers' behalf.
      All the farmers named in the suit were protected by the pseudonyms Juan Doe and Juana Doe, to shield them from retaliation on the part of the palm oil company, Dinant.
      'We want justice and the ability to raise our children again,' the farmer added. 'We have to move forward.' The suit is requesting damages for specific deaths.
       The suit alleges that the 'International Financial Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group's private lending arm, together with an IFC financial intermediary, the IFC Asset Management Corporation, have provided millions of dollars in financing to Dinant, even though, at the time, there were widespread allegations that Dinant employed hitmen, military forces, and private security guards to intimidate and kill local farmers who claim Dinant's owner stole their land decades prior,' ERI wrote in a statement.
      The rights advocacy organization continued:
The IFC (with U.S. taxpayer money) and IFC-AMC knowingly financed Dinant's campaign of terror and dispossession against Honduran farmers. The IFC's own internal watchdog, the Office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO), found that IFC failed to adhere to its own policies to protect local communities, and continued to allow the company to breach those safeguards and either failed to spot or deliberately ignored the serious social, political and human rights context in which this company is operating.
      The result was an explosion of extreme violence by public and private security forces against the farmers, their movement leaders, and lawyers representing them. Over 100 farmers have been killed since November 2009 when the IFC disbursed the first half of a $30 million loan to Dinant; and the number of killings continues to grow today. So too has IFC's support for Dinant; even after the IFC's internal watchdog scolded the IFC for the 2009 loan, the IFC continued supporting Dinant via an opaque system of financial intermediaries, including the IFC-AMC and the Honduran bank, Ficohsa.
       The suit claims that the purpose of the systemic violence is to 'intimidate farmers from asserting competing rights to land that Dinant has sought to control.'
       'The horrendous spate of violence that followed the IFC's loan to Dinant is probably one of the most severe instances of corporate-related human rights abuse and financier negligence in the past decade,' said one ERI lawyer, also unnamed because of security concerns.
      Another Honduran farmer quoted by ERI described the horrific violence: 'The police pulled people out of their houses. Military, police, and guards. We saw they were beating people including kids, so we were yelling, 'Don't hit the people!' One bullet hit me, it still affects my breathing. I didn't realize I'd been shot, but I touched it and saw blood. Another person was shot through the stomach.'
      'Every day I am scared, but this is how life has become,' said a different farmer. 'At the end of the attack against me, the guards and military told me that they know where I live and that they will come to get me if I file a complaint against them.'
      ERI argues: 'While the IFC boasts of its mission to ' end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost prosperity in every developing country,' the IFC has knowingly entered one of the world's most persistent and abusive land conflicts on the side of Dinant, a primary author of poverty and violence in Honduras. In the words of one farmer in the Bajo Aguán, the IFC is not 'ending poverty;' it is 'ending the lives of the poor.''
      'The IFC clearly cannot police itself and it should no longer be allowed to hide behind a veil of immunity,' an ERI lawyer said. 'The courts of the United States must be open to hear this case because nobody—not individuals, not corporations, not governments, and not the IFC—can get away with aiding these human rights abuses.'
       Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for land and rights defenders. In 2016 alone, multiple Indigenous activists —including Berta Cáceres , who won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work—were killed."

       John McPhaul, "Costa Rica’s Supreme Court Stops Hydroelectric Project for Failing to Consult Indigenous Peoples," Cultural Survival, January 02, 2017,, reported, "On November 1, 2016, the Constitutional Chamber of Costa Rica’s Supreme Court provided some good news to a Terraba (Teribe) Indigenous territory when it stopped the state-run Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE by its Spanish acronym) from going forward with the Diquis hydroelectric project for failing to consult Indigenous communities who would see part of their lands flooded.
      The permit, issued in 2007 under former President Oscar Arias, had declared the dam to be located at the mouth of the General River Valley in the southern Pacific and part of the country of 'national interest'
      The court ruling did not question the “national interest” part of the permit, but said ICE had failed to comply with a previous high court order to adequately consult the Indigenous communities. The project has been stalled since 2011 over the Indigenous consultation issue.
       The 650 megawatt hydroelectric project was to be the largest such project in Central America. The project’s reservoir would occupy 7363 hectares of land, 830 hectares of which are Indigenous territories, and displace over 1547 people.
       The project would also flood 10 percent of the Terraba (also known as Teribe) China Kichá Indigenous territory (104 hectares) and 8 percent of another Terraba communities of Curré and Boruca (726 hectares). Officials estimate that 200 sacred Indigenous sites would be destroyed by the reservoir.
      Some see the development as very positive. The $2.5 billion project would provide employment in the region to 3,500 people. The Diquis project would increase that renewable energy capacity and also allow Costa Rica to sell energy to neighboring Central American countries. Costa Ricans are proud of their electrical energy system which provides energy mostly from renewable resources. In 2016, the country went most of the year without resorting to using oil-fired thermal generators. But sometimes even renewable energy has high cost, especially when it comes to hydro-electric dams.
      The high court ruling referred to Article 8 of the Arias Administration decree which would have allowed ICE to gather materials for the dam, power station, and connected works in locales in the areas of El General, Buenos Aires, Changuena and Cabagra, despite the fact that Indigenous people live in the areas.
       According to the Constitutional Chamber’s press office, the annulled article was challenged previously in September of 2011, when the court determined that the decree was constitutional just as long as the Indigenous communities were consulted within a period of six months from the notification of the ruling.
       However, early the next year, the court ruled that the six months established by the Court had passed and the consultation had not been made. 'The Constitutional Chamber has demonstrated that, in fact, in the space of time established in the 2011-12975 ruling, the referred to consultation was not made nor did any party come to this Chamber request an extension of the time limit granted. Therefore, since the condition dictated in ruling 2011-12975 have not been met, the Article 8 of the No. 34312-MP-MINAE executive decree is unconstitutional because the consultation failed to occur.' said the press office.
       The Terraba say they are not interested in the offers made so far to relocate their communities to other lands and provide them with well-paid jobs. 'We don’t believe in the promises of employment for Indigenous Peoples, as up until today it had been demonstrated that all the qualified and best paid personnel have been brought from outside, Indigenous workers are used only to break rocks,' said community leader Jehry Rivera.
      For Indigenous people, ICE offers are only opportunism. Indigenous Peoples want better lands and compensation in order to agree for the project to go forward.
      The Court said that the consultation of Indigenous communities under Costa Rican law was necessary since the project is located in areas declared as an Indigenous reserve, “In fact, Costa Rica could be in violation of not complying with international conventions in relation to the autonomy of Indigenous Peoples over their territory. Costa Rica is a signatory of the International Labor Organization’s Convention on Indigenous and Tribal People.”
       Indigenous Peoples are not the only ones opposed to the project. Environmentalists say that the dam's reservoir would dry up the intensely green Térraba River Valley and would destroy irreplaceable habitats such as the Ramsar wetland and the river delta that drains into the Pacific. The wetlands and delta are the nesting grounds for many species including the endangered hump-back whale."

      "We will not be silenced: Indigenous Peoples Triumph in Nicaraguan Elections - A Statement by Brooklyn Rivera," Cultural Survival, January 02, 2017,, reportrd,
Introduction and translation by Laura Hobson Herlihy
       At the end of 2016, a small Indigenous political party, Yatama (Yapta Tasbi Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka/Sons of Mother Earth), achieved a victory in the Nicaraguan general elections and effectively confronted the dictatorial Sandinista state.
      Everyone knew that Daniel Ortega, the perennial candidate of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party, would win the presidential election. There were no real opposition candidates and Ortega, alongside Rosarillo 'Chayo' Murillo, his hugely popular wife and vice-president running-mate, had over half the country’s support. As expected on November 6, 2016, Daniel Ortega was elected to his fourth overall and third consecutive term as President of Nicaragua.
      A much more interesting battle in the general elections took place on the Caribbean Coast. Here, Yatama was running as an independent party for the first time, the only opposition party to the FSLN in the region. Yatama was hoping to send one or more regional candidates to the National Assembly, with five candidates (two Miskitu; two Kriols; and one mestizo) running for assemblyman in the North (RACCN) and South (RACCS) Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions. However, everyone’s attention was focused on one candidate from the North: Brooklyn Rivera.
       Rivera was both son and the highest leader of the Miskitu Nation. Rivera rose to power during the US-backed Contra War within the Sandinista revolution (1979-1990), and he used his position as a Contra military leader to fight for the Indigenous and Afro-descendant people’s regional autonomy. The Sandinista state passed the autonomy law (Law 28) in 1987, establishing two pluri-ethnic autonomous regions on the Caribbean Coast, the same year Rivera founded Yatama and became its long-term director.
      In 2007, Rivera (Yatama) made an alliance with Ortega (FSLN) that enabled him to serve for eight years as an assemblyman in the Nicaraguan National Assembly and as President of the Comisión de Asuntos de los Pueblos indígenas, Afrodescendientes y Regímenes Autonómicos. A year after Rivera broke the alliance in 2014, the FSLN-controlled assembly illegally deposed him. The assembly majority leader accused, tried, and found Rivera guilty of selling Indian lands, thus, criminalizing Nicaragua’s most respected and renowned Indigenous leader.
      Instead of this ending his political career, Rivera became stronger. The Caribbean peoples began to view him as a political martyr, a scapegoat used by the FSLN to disguise their own involvement in the internal colonization and the invasion of Indian lands. Now Rivera was back in 2016, running as an independent Yatama candidate. This would be quite a story if he could win back his legislative seat.
      The Yatama Campaign: Saneamiento
       At the Yatama campaign’s grand finale march in Puerto Cabezas-Bilwi over 10,000 people took to the streets where the local population numbers around 50,000. The growing support base for Yatama included new Indigenous and ethnic supporters (Indigenous Miskitu, Mayangna, and Rama; Afro-descendant Kriols and Garifuna; and Native-born mestizos). Some were opposed to the FSLN-approved, Chinese-backed inter-oceanic canal set to cut through Rama and Kriol territories. Many more were motivated to join Yatama because of the current land crisis on the Caribbean Coast.
      Mestizo colonists from the Pacific, seemingly unaware of Nicaraguan communal property law (Law 445), have illegally purchased titles and settled nearly half of the Indigenous and Afro-descendant ancestral lands. Miskitu people have organized in defense of their territories and now engage in periodic armed-conflicts with mestizo colonists near the middle-Rio Coco region. Most of the violence revolves around saneamiento (part of Law 445), which calls for the removal of all colonists and outside industries from Indigenous and Afro-descendent lands.
       Confidencial reported that since September 2015, colonists have killed 33 Miskitu men, injured 47, and kidnapped three with impunity. Most contentious was the Sandinista youth’s killing of Yatama leader Mario Leman, and still today, justice has not been served. The Sandinista government continues to look the other way and has not provided protection to Indigenous people or support to the 3,000 Nicaraguan Miskitu refugees that fled to Honduras.
      On the night of Sunday, November 6, election results on the Caribbean Coast indicated that at least one Yatama candidate—Rivera--had won an assemblyman position. Yatama planned a peaceful victory march the next day for their candidate. The victory march turned violent, as Yatama officials accused the FSLN of stealing at least one assemblyman position in the RACCN by voter fraud. The next day, one-hundred crowd control police arrived from Managua. Bilwi became militarized over-night. In the end, the FSLN allowed only Rivera (Yatama) to take a seat in the National Assembly.
      Below is the statement by Rivera, giving historic context to his victory as an independent candidate and to Yatama’s fight for representation at the national level.
      By Brooklyn Rivera ( En español )
      "The Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples of the Nicaraguan Miskitu Coast, who reside along the Caribbean Coast, represent about 5% of the national population. Although they elect their leaders in community assemblies, they also participate in Nicaragua’s electoral processes, at the municipal, regional, and national level. Yatama began in 1990 as an Indigenous organization, with formal leadership, a party logo, candidates in elections, and a ballot box (casillo 8). In 2000, Yatama became a political party, and it remains so today.
      Since the armed conflict in the country, Yatama has made consistent advances and gains in the country’s electoral processes at all levels, even though Yatama has been at a major disadvantage, without consistent, loyal national alliances and as always, beneath the control of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE). In the Nicaraguan general elections of 2001, Yatama had no alliance with a national party and failed to win one seat in the National Assembly. This reveals how both Sandinista and Liberal parties [from both the political left and right] have dominated the Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples of the region, since the so-called ‘reincorporation’ of Muskitia imposed from Managua in 1894. In this way, we have been invisible, forced to vote for national parties, absent from an authentic fight for our agenda in the national parliament.
      In the last national elections of November 2016, Yatama was called on to challenge the ruling national party, and we were at a great disadvantage in competitive strategies with the FSLN. This disadvantage was caused by our decision to run as an independent party after the ‘Mario Leman’ Assembly, when the people decided to ratify the breaking of the alliance with the FSLN. Yet unfortunately, we later were not able to make an alliance with national political parties like PLI or PLC. We were all alone.
       Without clear direction regarding Yatama’s running as an independent party, we proceeded forward. Our movement spontaneously ignited the spirit of the people. The people’s enthusiasm took over in the communities. As such, we became a regional political force participating on the national stage, in a battle to open a space and give representation to Indigenous Peoples. We had begun to challenge the powerful and hegemonic Sandinista state.
To confront the state, we stressed our common history and cultural and regional identity, and the rights and goals of our Muskitia homeland. Yatama officials began to work at the community level to include the political participation of Indigenous community members, who were formerly excluded from voting process. Common themes that motivated our supporters were the problem of the colonists; the killing of Mario Leman; and my ousting from the National Assembly. These themes were viewed by the people as part of the national government’s anti-Indigenous policies.
      In the recent elections, our Indigenous movement faced serious voting obstacles. FSLN voters were provided a clear path to vote, even multiple times, while the FSLN arbitrarily excluded our supporters at the voting precincts, so that they could not vote--the FSLN changed the voting precincts of many Yatama supporters, whose names were missing from the registries. Voting identification cards also were channeled toward FSLN youth, while they were denied to Yatama supporters. Additionally, the placement of our ticket, buried at the end of the voting ballot, confused Yatama sympathizers and encouraged them to mistakenly vote down ticket, following the FSLN party-line, effectively nullifying their vote.
       In these ways, the FSLN minimized our vote and stole at least one assemblyman position from Yatama in the RACCN. We had shown the popular support for the Indigenous movement during the Yatama campaign finale march on November 2 and in the Bilwi and Waspam voting precincts. The votes we garnered represent the demands of the people for saneamiento of the colonists illegally occupying our Indigenous and Afro-descendant territories; and for justice in the name of Mario Leman; and for my expulsion from the National Assembly. In these ways, the election results show the fortitude and growing strength of the Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples’ leadership and demands. And we will not be silenced."

      "Colombia: Sierra Nevada Indigenous leader murdered," Survival International, February, 10, 2017,, reported, " An indigenous leader has been shot dead in Colombia.
      Yoryanis Isabel Bernal Varela, 43, was a leader of the Wiwa tribe and a campaigner for both indigenous and women’s rights.
The Wiwa are one of four tribes that live on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta , a unique pyramid-shaped mountain in northern Colombia. The Sierra Nevada Indians believe it is their responsibility to maintain the balance of the universe.
       Bernal Varela is the latest victim in a long line of attacks against Sierra Nevada leaders, who have been at the forefront of the indigenous movement in South America. Many Indians have been killed by drug gangs, left-wing guerrillas and the army.
      In November 2012 Rogelio Mejía, the leader of one of the other Sierra Nevada tribes, the Arhuaco, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.
      José Gregorio Rodríguez, secretary of the Wiwa Golkuche organization, stated: “Indigenous people are being threatened and intimidated. Today they murdered our comrade and violated our rights. Our other leaders must be protected.”
      The problem is not limited to Colombia. Indigenous activists throughout Latin America are being murdered for campaigning against the theft of their lands and resources. The murderers are seldom brought to justice.
      In January, Mexican Tarahumara indigenous leader Isidro Baldenegro López was killed. In 2005 he had received the prestigious Goldman prize for his fight against illegal deforestation."

      Nicholas Casey, "2nd Colombian Rebel Group Steps Up to the Table for Peace Talks," The New York Times, February 7, 2017,, reported, " The National Liberation Army, Colombia ’s second-largest rebel group, joined the government for peace talks in Ecuador on Tuesday, moving Colombia closer to ending a 52-year guerrilla rebellion .

      Nicholas Casey and Patricia Torres, "Venezuela Muzzles Legislature, Moving Closer to One-Man Rule," The New York Times, March 30, 2017,, reported, " Venezuela took its strongest step yet toward one-man rule under the leftist President Nicolás Maduro as his loyalists on the Supreme Court seized power from the National Assembly in a ruling late Wednesday night.
      The ruling effectively dissolved the elected legislature, which is led by Mr. Maduro’s opponents, and allows the court to write laws itself, experts said.
       The move caps a year in which the last vestiges of Venezuela’s democracy have been torn down, critics and regional leaders say, leaving what many now describe as not just an authoritarian regime, but an outright dictatorship."        Following international and domestic pressue, the Venezuelan Supreme Court, a day later, began to revise its decision disolving the country's egislature. The court's new ruling, not finalized or entirely clear as of April 1, would seem hold the legislatuyre in contmpt, preventing it from passing laws, but not giving the Supreme Court the power to do so (Nicholas Casey and Patricia Torres, "Venezuelan Court Revises Ruling That Nullified Legislature," The New York Times, April 1, 2017,

      "New Maya Leadership Elected in Southern Belize," Cultural Survival, January 23, 2017,, reported, "
On January 20, 2017, while the United States watched the swearing in of one its most controversial and oppressive presidents ever elected, the Maya people of Southern Belize swore in new leadership under their traditional governance system, recognized under both Maya cultural authority and the State of Belize. The alcaldes were elected in a peaceful process by 39 villages. Cultural Survival congratulates the new leaders, including Mr. Santiago Quib, the newly president of the Toledo Alcaldes Association, and welcome a continued working relationship over the next two years in support of the realization of Indigenous rights in Belize.
Press release by the Maya Leaders Alliance:
      Punta Gorda Town, Toledo - Throughout history, the Maya people have provided examples of tolerance, order and respect in a community based life. A life that is deeply connected with our lands and sacred sites, and with very low incidents of crime. Key to this is the centennial work of the Alcaldes. For over a century now, the Alcaldes work together with the Maya villages as guardians of Maya values and norms. Entrusted by their communities, the Alcaldes are the authorities of the Alcaldes System established to maintain the order of the villages using traditional governance.
      Toledo Alcaldes Association, the representative body of the Maya Peoples of Southern Belize, applauds the 38 Maya villages for the peaceful transition of leadership. This Friday January 20 2017, marks the swearing in of 76 Alcaldes to traditional leadership roles. Elected by a majority of votes within each village, the Alcaldes will represent the members of their village over a term of 2 years, and act under the authority of both the Maya cultural tradition and the Constitution of Belize. The swearing-in ceremony was administered by Justice Antoinette Moore in representation of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin. At the time of the swearing in ceremony, the alcaldes also elected Mr. Santiago Quib, Alcalde of San Benito Poite, as the next president of the Toledo Alcaldes Association.
      The Alcaldes serve their communities in local and regional affairs and by working with local police and government bodies towards building a just, peaceful, and equitable Belize. At today’s ceremony Maya Elder Mr. Pio Coc J.P, Mr. Ernest Banner of the Ministry of Rural Development, Superintendent Clemente Cacho of the Punta Gorda Police Formation and Mr. Lawrence Bolon the President of DAVCO-Toledo offered words of wisdom and support to the newly elected Alcaldes.
      The Maya people of southern Belize takes the opportunity to also congratulate the State of Belize for their continued role in supporting and recognizing the authority of the Maya Peoples’ traditional governance, in accordance with international human rights frameworks such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and recommendations made under the Universal Periodic Review. Supporting the Alcaldes and the autonomy of the Maya people’s governance is a way of showing respect to our collective and peaceful way of living. Through the alcalde system, we have been able to hold our world together even in the most remote villages and in so doing contributing to the construction of a truly diverse and just Belizean society.
      The swearing in ceremony of the 76 elected Alcaldes took place at the Parish Hall in Punta Gorda Town, starting at 7:00am, with a traditional Mayan ceremony and culminating with the signing of oaths of office."

      "Power without the People: Averting Venezuela’s Breakdown, Latin America and Caribbean Report #36, June 19, 2017,, commented, " Violence is escalating in Venezuela, killing 70 people in over two months of ever-angrier popular protests against a government that is abandoning representative democracy. Regional states should avert a humanitarian catastrophe by pressuring the Maduro regime to withdraw plans to elect a phony constituent assembly on 30 July.
      Ven ezuela is in turmoil after more than two months of almost daily mass demonstrations organised across the country by the opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance. Almost 70 people have been killed; human rights groups ascribe at least a third of these deaths to excessive force by National Police (PNB) and National Guard (GNB) riot squads, sometimes accompanied by groups of gunmen on motorcycles (so-called colectivos). Thousands have been arrested – some in violent raids on residential properties carried out without warrants – and hundreds arraigned before military tribunals, in violation of the constitution. Systematic looting in several cities adds to the misery of daily life in a country suffering from chronic shortages of food, medicines and other basic goods. Armed thugs, either affiliated with or tolerated by the government, hold de facto authority in many areas.
      Venezuela has ceased to be a democracy. President Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro have systematically eroded constitutional checks and balances over nearly two decades. The government has suspended democratic elections and stripped the opposition-led National Assembly of virtually all its powers. It intends to rewrite the 1999 constitution, electing a 545-member constituent assembly next month under a specially designed system that almost guarantees a loyalist majority, despite the government’s low poll ratings. The assembly will be empowered to write a new constitution that sweeps aside existing institutions and installs a “communal state”. Government spokesmen have threatened to close the National Assembly, eliminating legislators’ parliamentary immunity and “turn upside down” the prosecution service ( fiscalía general) whose head – the former loyalist Luisa Ortega Díaz – now publicly opposes the president.
       Venezuela’s descent toward violent anarchy threatens not only its 31 million inhabitants but also the wider region, whose leaders are unable to agree on how to help their neighbour restore democracy, the rule of law and stability. A negotiated resolution remains the best hope for avoiding even greater bloodshed, but not by returning to the futile, time-c0nsuming “dialogue” of 2016. Negotiations should be rigorously structured, with an agreed timetable and agenda, and mediated by external actors able to act as guarantors. The active engagement of the Organization of American States (OAS) will be essential.
Negotiations should be rigorously structured [...] and mediated by external actors able to act as guarantors. The active engagement of the Organization of American States (OAS) will be essential.
      Since the present government has rejected such negotiations, however, there is little hope for progress without the emergence of significant fractures between pragmatists and hardliners within both the military and civilian leaderships. Carrots as well as sticks are needed. Chief among the former is a credible plan to restore peaceful democracy that offers guarantees to both sides, including a transitional justice scheme. But first the government must abandon its project for a constituent assembly, which would only intensify the conflict and make a solution even more difficult."
      "How to Prevent a Catastrophe
      Venezuela is immersed in a profound crisis that is not just political but also economic (see graphs 1 and 2 below). Per capita GDP has fallen by more than a third since 2012, the second worst economic collapse in recent Latin American history. Ten per cent of the population living in extreme poverty (around 1.5 million people) admits to obtaining food from the garbage. Infant mortality increased by more than 30 per cent between 2015 and 2016, and more than 11 per cent of children suffer from acute malnutrition. Most essential medicines are unobtainable. Domestic production has collapsed, with manufacturing firms operating at 20-30 per cent of installed capacity. Imports fell by 72 per cent between 2012 and 2016, and continue to plummet in 2017.
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Negative Growth. Venezuela’s national income plummeted in 2015. Although forecasts suggest some recovery, the economy is not expected to grow in real terms for years. (Change in GDP at constant prices). Data after 2016 are estimates. International Monetary Fund and Bloomberg.
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Economists forecast that Venezuela’s economy in 2019 will be roughly the same size it was in 1999. (GDP in real terms relative to 1996). Note: Data for 2016 is an estimate, reflecting IEA data showing a drop of 220,000 barrels a day that year. BP, International Energy Agency and Bloomberg.
       To pay its most urgent bills (especially the foreign debt) the government is selling off assets at massive discounts. Lack of food, medicines and other basic goods, along with a collapse in the purchasing power of wages, is driving tens of thousands to leave the country, especially to neighbouring Colombia and Brazil, straining their resources. The government’s response is to blame its enemies and radicalise its base – a recipe for further polarisation, violence and poverty. There is no indication that the group around Maduro, including both civilian and military leaders, has any intention of negotiating a return to democracy. Such a restoration will only take place if pragmatists in government and the judicial system gain the upper hand, or if the government collapses, either because it runs out of money, or because the armed forces withdraw support.
      The opposition sees little option but to maintain its campaign of non-violent demonstrations in a bid to persuade both the armed forces and/or civilians in key positions (especially the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the electoral authority and the ombudsman’s office) to break ranks. Offers of leniency to government members through a transitional justice bill passed by parliament could prove useful in that regard. Government hardliners may ultimately need to be offered safe passage to exile, since no feasible transitional justice system is likely to offer them immunity from prosecution for human rights violations or involvement in serious organised crime.
      Neither Venezuela’s neighbours nor the wider international community should remain on the margins. The region should put in place a “contact group”, ideally comprising four to six countries, including at least two allies of the Venezuelan government, to push for a negotiated solution. This effort will need to secure broad international support, including from major powers friendly to the chavista regime, such as China and Russia. Such a move already has been contemplated by a majority bloc within the OAS. But a consultative meeting of foreign ministers on 31 May failed to reach consensus, with the fourteen-nation CARICOM bloc of Caribbean states urging “non-interference”. The meeting was to reconvene just before the OAS General Assembly in Cancún, Mexico, 19-21 June 2017.
      If the OAS fails to set up a contact group, an ad hoc group of countries should step in to promote a negotiated solution. The most urgent task of either a contact or an ad hoc group would be to put pressure on the Maduro government to abandon plans for a constituent assembly, commit to free and fair elections, and begin complying with the four key commitments it made during the 2016 dialogue but never implemented. The powers of the National Assembly should be restored, political prisoners released, a humanitarian assistance program launched and steps taken to replace government loyalists in the Supreme Court and the electoral authority with independent, respected professionals in accordance with constitutional requirements.
       It is likely, as indicated above, that little progress will be made until the Maduro government runs out of alternative options, or is replaced by a more pragmatic leadership. Should neither persuasion nor protest force the government to change course, then the international community must be prepared to deal with the humanitarian consequences of even more intense conflict, including mass emigration, extreme hunger, and even more bloodshed.
      Should the government prove willing to negotiate in good faith, however, restoration of constitutional rule probably will require formation of a transitional government of national unity under a mutually acceptable interim president, pending regional elections (currently scheduled for December 2017) and presidential elections in December 2018 as required under the 1999 constitution. The constitution may need to be amended to reinstate adequate checks on executive power and reassure chavistas there will be no witch hunts under a future opposition presidency. Given the massive foreign debt and critical scarcity of foreign reserves, there is also an urgent need for debt relief and a swift injection of capital to restore financial viability. An emergency economic program should also include extensive welfare programs for the most vulnerable groups in society.
      There is still time to avert an outbreak of full-scale violence, but only if the government exercises restraint, the opposition shows leniency, and the international community presses both sides to cooperate while holding out the promise of immediate humanitarian relief and long-term economic aid."

      "Brazil: Government abandons uncontacted tribes to loggers and ranchers," Survival International, April, 29 2017,, reported, " All the government units currently protecting Brazil’s uncontacted tribes from invasion by loggers and ranchers could be withdrawn, according to information leaked to Survival International. The move would constitute the biggest threat to uncontacted Amazon tribes for a generation.
       Agents from FUNAI , the country’s indigenous affairs department, perform a vital role in protecting uncontacted territories from loggers, ranchers, miners and other invaders. Some teams are already being withdrawn, and further withdrawals are planned for the near future.
Thousands of invaders are likely to rush into the territories once protection is removed.
      There are estimated to be over 100 uncontacted tribes in Brazil , well over two-thirds of the global population of uncontacted people. Many of them live in indigenous territories, which total over 54.3 million hectares of protected rainforest, an area about the size of France.
       These territories are guarded by just 19 dedicated FUNAI teams. It is possible that all 19 teams could be eliminated from the Brazilian state budget, despite the fact that money spent maintaining these teams is equal to the average salaries and benefits paid to just two Brazilian congressmen per year.
      The proposals are the latest in a long list of actions from the Temer government, which came to power in 2016 after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, that could have catastrophic consequences for indigenous peoples.
      Indigenous activist Sonia Guajajara said: 'By cutting down the FUNAI budget, the government is declaring the extinction of indigenous people.'
      Paulo Marubo, an indigenous man from the Javari Valley in Brazil’s Amazon said: '“If the protection teams are withdrawn, it will be like before, when many Indians were massacred and died as a result of disease… If the loggers come here, they will want to contact the uncontacted, they will spread diseases and even kill them.'
      Campaigners have suggested that the government’s close ties to Brazil’s powerful ranching and agribusiness lobbies – which consider indigenous territories to be a barrier to their own expansion – could be part of the reason for the proposal.
       Major indigenous protests are taking place this week in Brasilia against government proposals to water down protection for indigenous rights.
      Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. Whole populations are being wiped out by violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.
      Survival International is leading the global fight for uncontacted tribes’ right to their land, and to determine their own futures.
      Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “ Cuts in government budgets to protect uncontacted tribes are clearly nothing to do with money – the sums involved are tiny. It’s a political move from agribusiness which sees uncontacted tribes as a barrier to profit and is targeting rainforest which has been off-limits to development. The reality is these cuts could sanction genocide.'”

      "Revealed: Genocidal plot to open up territory of uncontacted Amazon tribe," Survival International. April 11, 2017,, reported, "Survival International has learned that politicians from a notoriously violent town in Brazil are lobbying behind the scenes to open up the territory of a vulnerable uncontacted tribe .
      Councillors from Colniza in central Brazil, which is dominated by illegal logging and ranching and for years was Brazil’s most violent town, have met the Minister of Justice to lobby for the Rio Pardo indigenous territory to be drastically reduced in size. The minister is reportedly sympathetic to the councillors’ proposals.
       Their plan is for road-builders, loggers, ranchers and soya farmers to move in, despite the territory being home to the last of the Kawahiva tribe , one of the most vulnerable peoples on the planet .
      The Kawahiva depend entirely on the rainforest for survival, and have been on the run from loggers and other invaders for years.
      The Rio Pardo territory was only recognized in 2016, following a global campaign by Survival International and pressure within Brazil.
Thousands of Survival supporters contacted the then-Minister of Justice demanding action. Oscar-winning actor and Survival ambassador Sir Mark Rylance fronted a major media push, culminating in the signing of the decree that should have secured the Indians’ territory for good.
Now, however, vested interests in the region could undo much of that progress.
      Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: 'Brazil must respect the rights of its tribal peoples. Uncontacted peoples, like the Kawahiva, clearly want to be left alone and to live as they please. But Brazil’s current leaders are holding closed-door meetings with corrupt politicians, and kowtowing to the agribusiness lobby, expressly to deny them that right. The stakes could not be higher – entire peoples are facing genocide as a result of this callous approach.'
      Background briefing
      The Kawahiva are hunter-gatherers, who migrate from camp to camp through the Rio Pardo rainforest.
      Roads, ranches and logging all risk exposing them to violence from outsiders who steal their lands and resources, and to diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.
      All uncontacted tribal peoples face catastrophe unless their land is protected. Survival International is leading the global fight to secure their land for them, and to give them the chance to determine their own futures.
The current Brazilian government is attempting to roll back decades of gradual progress in the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights in the country. The Minister of Justice recently said: 'Enough of all this talk of land [demarcation] –land doesn’t fill anyone’s stomach.' And the new head of Indigenous Affairs Department FUNAI has said “Indians can’t be ‘fixed in time.’”

      "Brazilian politicians push for shutdown of Indian Affairs Department," Survival International, May 17, 2017,, reported, " An inquiry established by Brazilian parliamentarians who represent the powerful agribusiness lobby has just published a report calling for the closure of the Indian Affairs Department , FUNAI.
      Its findings have been met with outrage and incredulity in Brazil and beyond. Francisco Runja, a Kaingang spokesman said: “Killing off FUNAI is tantamount to killing us, the indigenous peoples. FUNAI is a crucial institution for us; our survival; our resistance; and it’s a guarantee of the demarcation of our traditional territories.”
      The report attacks indigenous leaders, anthropologists, public prosecutors and NGOs, including Survival International.
It alleges that FUNAI has become a “hostage to external interests” and calls for dozens of its officials to be prosecuted for backing what it calls “illegal demarcations” of tribal territories.
      Yesterday a group of 50 Indians was barred from attending the session in congress discussing the inquiry.
      The inquiry took 500 days and the report is over 3,300 pages long. It is a blatant attack on indigenous peoples and a crude and biased attempt to destroy their hard-won constitutional rights.
       It was headed by politicians representing Brazil’s powerful agri-businesses who have long coveted indigenous territories for their own financial gain.
One member, congressman Luis Carlos Heinze, received Survival’s Racist of the Year award in 2014 following his deeply offensive remarks about Brazilian Indians, homosexuals, and black people.
      Another member, congressman Alceu Moreira, called for the eviction of tribal people attempting to reoccupy their ancestral lands.
The increasingly hostile, anti-indigenous climate in many sectors in congress is fuelling violence against indigenous peoples. Last month, 22 Gamela Indians were injured following a brutal attack at the hands of local landowners’ gunmen.
       FUNAI has suffered severe budget cuts, which have resulted in the grounding of several teams responsible for protecting uncontacted tribes’ territories. This effectively leaves some of the most vulnerable people on the planet to the mercy of armed loggers and land grabbers.
      The organization has been greatly weakened. Many staff have been made redundant, and political appointees now run key departments.
      In the last five months, it has had three presidents. Earlier this month the second president, Antonio Costa was dismissed. In a press conference he strongly criticized President Temer and Osmar Serraglio, the Minister of Justice, stating that they 'not only want to finish off FUNAI, but also public policies such as demarcation of [indigenous] land… This is very serious.'
Yanomami shaman and spokesman Davi Kopenawa said: “FUNAI is broken… it is already dead. They killed it. It only exists in name. A nice name, but it doesn’t have the power to help us.'”

      "UN condemns Brazil’s “attack” on indigenous peoples," Survival International, June 9, 2017,, reported, " Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have condemned Brazil’s 'attack' on its indigenous peoples.
In a new statement, UN and IACHR experts have warned that Brazilian Indians are at great risk as politicians continue pushing to weaken their hard-won land rights.
       Brazil’s constitution states that indigenous territories must be mapped out and protected for the Indians’ exclusive use. But anti-indigenous politicians linked to Brazil’s powerful agribusiness lobby are calling for changes to the law which could enable them to steal and destroy these lands for large-scale plantations and “development” projects. This is the most serious attack Brazilian Indians have experienced in decades.
      Without their lands, indigenous peoples cannot survive. Tribes nationwide have united in protest against this onslaught on their rights. One indigenous leader, Adalto Guarani, said that the politicians’ plans “are like an atomic bomb… which could kill all the Indians in Brazil” and has called for people around the world to take action.
       Brazil is home to over 250 tribes, including over 100 who are uncontacted and reject contact with mainstream society. Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. They face genocide and will be killed by disease and violence brought by invaders if their land is not protected, but the teams charged with keeping outsiders away are paralyzed by recent budget cuts.
       The statement slams the “illegitimate criminalization” of indigenous peoples’ allies. The anti-indigenous agribusiness lobby instigated an inquiry whose recently published report attacked indigenous leaders, anthropologists, public prosecutors and NGOs, including Survival International. The report was met with outrage and incredulity in Brazil and beyond.
      The experts also highlighted that over the last 15 years, Brazil has seen 'the highest number of killings of environmental and land defenders of any country'. Dozens of indigenous leaders have been assassinated in recent years, following attempts to reoccupy their ancestral land, and last month, thirteen Gamela Indians were hospitalized after a violent attack by men armed with machetes in the Amazon.
       The UN and the IACHR have recommended that 'Brazil should be strengthening institutional and legal protection for indigenous peoples'.
      Survival has launched a campaign to defend indigenous rights in Brazil."

June 10, 2017,, reported, " Three United Nations experts and a rapporteur from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have joined forces to denounce attacks on indigenous and environmental rights in Brazil.
      'The rights of indigenous peoples and environmental rights are under attack in Brazil,' said the UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, on human rights defenders, Michel Forst, and on the environment, John Knox, and the IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli.
      Over the last 15 years, Brazil has seen the highest number of killings of environmental and land defenders of any country, the experts noted, up to an average of about one every week. Indigenous peoples are especially at risk.
      'Against this backdrop, Brazil should be strengthening institutional and legal protection for indigenous peoples, as well as people of African heritage and other communities who depend on their ancestral territory for their material and cultural existence,' the experts stated. 'It is highly troubling that instead, Brazil is considering weakening those protections.'
      The experts highlighted proposed reforms to the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), the body which supports indigenous peoples in the protection of their rights, and which has already had its funding severely reduced. A report recently adopted by the Congressional Investigative Commission calls for the body to be stripped of responsibility for the legal titling and demarcation of indigenous lands. The experts were also concerned with allegations of illegitimate criminalization of numerous anthropologists, indigenous leaders and human rights defenders linked to their work on indigenous issues.
       'This report takes several steps back in the protection of indigenous lands,' the experts warned. 'We are particularly concerned about future demarcation procedures, as well as about indigenous lands which have already been demarcated.'
      The Congressional Investigative Commission’s report also questions the motives of the United Nations, accusing it of being a confederation of NGOs influencing Brazilian policy through its agencies, the ILO Convention 169, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
      'The report also states that the UN Declaration presents a grave threat to Brazil’s sovereignty, and it further encourages the Brazilian government to denounce ILO Convention 169, claiming it manipulates the establishment of non-existent indigenous peoples in order to expand indigenous lands in Brazil,' the experts stressed.
      'It’s really unfortunate that instead of exemplifying the principles enshrined in the Declaration, the Congressional Investigative Commission questions the motives behind it and those of the UN itself, and waters down any progress made so far,' they said.
      Ms. Tauli Corpuz expressed particular alarm at accusations that her 2016 visit to Brazil intentionally triggered an increase in the number of indigenous peoples reclaiming their lands, exposing them to further violence. She highlighted the fact that some of these communities suffered attacks immediately following her mission.
      The human rights experts also noted that a number of draft laws establishing general environmental licensing that would weaken environmental protection were being circulated in Congress on Friday 2 June. For example, the proposed legislation would remove the need for environmental licenses for projects involving agri-business and cattle ranching, regardless of their size, location, necessity, or impact on indigenous lands or the environment.
       'Weakening such protections would be contrary to the general obligation of States not to regress in the level of their protections of human rights, including those dependent on a healthy environment,' they stressed.
       The experts warned that the proposed laws were at odds with the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples , which guarantees the rights of indigenous peoples tothe conservation and protection of the environment, and protects the productive capacity of their land and resources.

      Both the report and the draft legislation had been submitted by members of the 'ruralist' lobby group, a coalition representing farmers’ and ranchers’ associations, the experts noted.
      'Tensions over land rights should be addressed through efforts to recognize rights and mediate conflicts, rather than substantially reducing the safeguards in place for indigenous peoples, people of African descent and the environment in Brazil,' they said.
      The UN experts are in contact with the Brazilian authorities and closely monitoring the situation.
       Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz , Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples , Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders , and Mr. John H. Knox, Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
       Mr. Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, was elected on June 16, 2015, by the OAS General Assembly, for a 4-year mandate ending December 31, 2019. A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence."
      The UN Human Rights, country page is at:

      At least into the early days of the pro-anti environment business, post-Impeachment Regime , Brazil's environmental protection agency was deploying the Special Inspection Group, formed in 2014, to seek out and stop illegal logging. The nine member special forces and forestry trained 9 person policing team has been guided by satellite surveillance and has traveled by helicopter to stop illegal logging that it detects in the vast Amazon. Though a small group acting against a large problem in a vast area, it has made inroads into the illegal activity, and thus also helped Indigenous people  (Simon Romero, A Brainy SWAT Team Patrolling the Lawless Amazon," The New York Times, April 7, 2017).

      Brazil's Guarani people, once with a population of 1.5 million, now only a few thousand, mostly forced to live precariously along roadsides in their own lands, are in danger of complete genicide as Brazil's post-impeachment government moves away from Indigenous and environmental protections in favor of development (Lorenzi Brenna, "Ládio Veron. The Guaraní Kaiowà people could soon be wiped out," Lifegate, April 20, 2017,

      "Horrific: Ranchers attack and mutilate Indians who demanded their land back,"
Survival International May 4, 2017,,
Thirteen Brazilian Indians have been hospitalized after a brutally violent attack by men armed with machetes in the Amazon.
One man appears to have had his arms severed in disturbing photos released to Survival International.
       The attack was in retaliation for the Gamela Indians’ campaign to recover a small part of their ancestral territory. Their land has been invaded and destroyed by ranchers, loggers and land grabbers, forcing the Gamela to live squeezed on a tiny patch of land. The Gamela are indigenous to the area in Maranhão state in northern Brazil.
Powerful agribusiness interests – reportedly including the Sarney landowning family – have been in conflict with the tribe for some time. The family includes a former president of Brazil and a former governor of Maranhão state.
      Eyewitnesses say that the ranchers gathered at a barbecue to get drunk, before surrounding the Gamela camp, firing guns, and then attacking with machetes, causing grievous injuries. Local police are reported to have stood by and allowed the attack to happen.
      The Gamela have received death threats in response to their attempts to return to their land. In a declaration released by Brazilian NGO CIMI, they said: 'People are mistaken if they think that by killing us they’ll put a stop to our fight. If they kill us, we will just grow again, like seeds… Neither fear nor the ranchers’ bullets can stop us.'
       The attack came just days after massive indigenous protests in Brazil’s capital against proposed changes to Brazil’s indigenous laws, which could have disastrous consequences for tribal peoples.
       Land theft is the biggest problem tribal peoples face. Around the world, industrialized society is stealing tribal lands in the pursuit of profit.
Campaigners fear that the close ties between Brazil’s agribusiness lobby and the Temer government installed after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in 2016 could lead to further genocidal violence and racism against Brazilian tribal peoples.
      Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: 'Right now, we’re witnessing the biggest assault on Brazilian Indians for the last two generations. This truly horrific attack is symptomatic of a sustained and brutal onslaught which is annihilating indigenous communities across the country. Heinous acts like this won’t end until the perpetrators are prosecuted and Brazil starts enforcing tribal land rights as it should do under national and international law.'”

      "Talks begin at last over fate of uncontacted tribe," Survival Interantional, March 22, 2017,, reported concerning the Amazon Region in Paraguay," The area is home to the last uncontacted Indians outside the Amazon; • It has the highest deforestation rate in the world.
       Efforts to protect the territory of a vulnerable uncontacted tribe from rampant illegal deforestation have received a boost with the opening of talks between the Paraguayan government and tribal representatives.
      The uncontacted Ayoreo are the last uncontacted Indians outside the Amazon. Their territory, in western Paraguay, has the highest deforestation rate in the world.
       Contacted members of the tribe submitted a formal land claim in 1993, with support from local organization GAT . Since then vast swathes of their forest have been destroyed.
      The talks are the result of a formal request, submitted by local organization GAT to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), for the land be returned to its rightful indigenous owners.
       Government representatives will meet monthly with Ayoreo leaders for one year, in a process overseen by a U.N. official .
      The Ayoreo’s territory is occupied by a number of companies that are deforesting the land to make way for cattle. These include Brazilian ranching enterprise Yaguarete Porá S.A and Carlos Casado S.A (a subsidiary of Spanish construction company Grupo San José ).
       An unknown number of Ayoreo remain uncontacted. They live on the run, fleeing the rapid destruction of their forest home.
       Many, however, have already been forced out of their territory by outsiders. A number of them have contracted a mysterious TB-like disease which has killed several members of the tribe .
       In February 2016, the IACHR issued an emergency injunction ordering the Paraguayan government to stop any further deforestation and protect the vulnerable uncontacted Indians living in the region. The government, however, has not complied with the order . A recent satellite image shows that in 2016, the forests were still being cleared.
      Ayoreo land is some of the last remaining intact forest left in Paraguay.
      Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: 'The government has ignored the Ayoreo for far too long. If real progress is not made this year, their uncontacted relatives could soon be wiped out. The Ayoreo are best placed to protect their forest homes. Destroying the Ayoreo will also destroy some of the most biodiverse land in Paraguay.'
      Background Briefing
      - Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. Whole populations are being wiped out by genocidal violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.
      - They are the best guardians of their environment. And evidence proves that tribal territories are the best barrier to deforestation.
      - Ayoreo land is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
      - It is estimated that over 14 million trees are being cut down every month in Paraguay.
      - The U.N. has found that the Ayoreo are in a ‘state of emergency’ and has warned that the government’s failure to re'turn the land to its rightful owners puts the Indians’ lives in great dange."

      "Exclusive: Oil company pulls out of uncontacted tribes’ land under pressure from Survival," 15 March 15, 2017,, reported, " A Canadian oil company has told Survival International it will withdraw from the territory of several uncontacted tribes in the Amazon where it had been intending to explore for oil.
      The company, Pacific E&P, had previously been awarded the right to explore for oil in a large area of the Amazon Uncontacted Frontier , a region of immense biodiversity which is home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere else on Earth. It began its first phase of oil exploration in 2012.
      The move follows years of campaigning by Survival International and several Peruvian indigenous organizations, including AIDESEP , ORPIO , and ORAU . ORPIO is suing the government over the threat of oil exploration.
      Thousands of Survival supporters had protested by sending emails to the company’s CEO, lobbying the Peruvian government, and contacting the company through social media.
       Survival also released an open letter , protesting against the threat of oil exploration, which was signed by Rainforest Foundation Norway and ORPIO. Sustained campaigning helped bring attention to the issue within Peru and around the world.
      In a letter, Pacific E&P’s Institutional Relations and Sustainability Manager said that: “[The company] has made the decision to relinquish its exploration rights in Block 135… effective immediately… We wish to reiterate the company’s commitment to conduct its operations under the highest sustainability and human rights guidelines.”
      At a tribal meeting in late 2016, a man from the Matsés tribe, which was forced into contact in the late 20th century, said: 'I don’t want my children to be destroyed by oil and war. That’s why we’re defending ourselves… and why we Matsés have come together. The oil companies … are insulting us and we won’t stay silent as they exploit us on our homeland. If it’s necessary, we’ll die in the war against oil.'
       Oil exploration involves sustained land invasion which can dramatically increase the risk of forced contact with uncontacted tribes . It leaves them vulnerable to violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and to diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance.
      The announcement that it was not going ahead was welcomed by campaigners as significant in the fight to protect uncontacted peoples’ lives, lands and human rights.
      Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: 'This is great news for the global campaign for uncontacted tribes and all those who wish to halt the genocide that has swept across the Americas since the arrival of Columbus. All uncontacted peoples face catastrophe unless their land is protected and we believe they are a vitally important part of humankind’s diversity and deserve their right to life to be upheld. We will continue to lead the fight to let them live.'
      Background briefing
      ▪ Oil block 135 is within the proposed Yavarí Tapiche indigenous reserve. Peru’s national Indian organization AIDESEP has been calling for the creation of the reserve for over 14 years.
      ▪ Part of the oil concession is within the newly created Sierra del Divisor national park. The Peruvian government had awarded Pacific E&P rights to explore within the park.
      ▪ The Yavarí Tapiche region is part of the Amazon Uncontacted Frontier. This area straddles the borders of Peru and Brazil and is home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere else in the world.
      ▪ Peru has ratified ILO 169, the international law for tribal peoples, which requires it to protect tribal land rights.
      ▪ We know very little about the uncontacted tribes in the area. Some are presumed to be Matsés, but there are other uncontacted nomadic peoples in the region."

      "Peru: Last female speaker of indigenous Amazonian language murdered," Survival Internaional, December 22, 2016,, reported, " The last female speaker of the Resígaro language has been murdered in Peru . Her body was found decapitated at her home in the Amazon rainforest.
      Rosa Andrade, 67, lived with the Ocaina tribe. Her father was Ocaina and her mother Resígaro.
      The Ocaina and Resígaro tribes were victims of the rubber boom, which began at the end of the nineteenth century. Tens of thousands of Indians were enslaved by rubber barons intent on extracting rubber in the Amazon. Many indigenous people died from sheer exhaustion, or were killed by violence and diseases like flu and measles to which they had no immunity.
      The Resígaro tribe was eventually wiped out, and Rosa and her brother became the last remaining speakers of the language.
      Rosa was also one of the last speakers of Ocaina and was regarded as a pillar of her community. She knew a wide repertoire of songs and stories in both languages and had recently been designated, by the government, to teach children Ocaina
       Five thousand of the world’s six thousand languages are indigenous, and it is estimated that an indigenous language dies once every two weeks .
      There are over a hundred uncontacted tribes worldwide , and their languages are the most endangered. Survival International is campaigning for the lands of uncontacted tribes to be protected, for where their rights are respected, they continue to thrive .
      Rosa’s community suspects that an outsider, known for violent behavior, is responsible for the murder. However, the local prosecutor has declared that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute. The community is calling for a serious investigation to take place to find the culprit."

       Denmark has experienced a failed Indigenous policy in Greenland, paralleling similar failures in North America. Attempting to create an Inuit Elite that would allow them to thrive in the modern world, in the 1950s Inuit Children in Greenland were sent to boarding schools in Denmark to learn Danish ways. Separated from their elders, they lost much of their language and traditional culture. They were alienated from their people when returning home, leading to a social crisis. Seeing the problem, Danish authorities attempted to remedy the problem, ending the shipping out to boarding school. But appropriate action was not taken, as many Inuit in Greenland do not speak the fluent Danish necessary to hold good jobs. Many are homeless in urban areas, while many who remain in Denmark are marginalized ("Best Columns: Europe," This Week, May i9, 2017).

      International Crisis Group (ICG), Claudia Gazzini, Senior Analyst, Libya, "Traversing the Tribal Patchwork of Libya’s South West," Commentary/Middle East North africa, June 12, 2017,, reported, " Our Senior Analyst Claudia Gazzini travels to southern Libya and finds neglect, smugglers, a gold rush, and simmering tensions among a patchwork of ethnic, tribal and militia actors on the edge of the Sahara Desert. She also discovers much longing for a united, well-governed Libya.
      To understand the full extent of the impact of the civil war that has fractured the rest of the country into warring fiefdoms, it is critical to visit southern Libya. In April, I had my first chance in two years to get there. There are no commercial flights, no foreign aid missions and traveling 800km by car through a maze of militia-run checkpoints and eager kidnappers is simply not an option.
      By a stroke of luck, I am offered a lift by one of the few organisations still operating in south Libya and one of the most important players there: the National Oil Corporation (NOC). Despite recurrent fighting for control of oil fields, export terminals and pipelines, the NOC sustains the north-south flight link to maintain oil fields and keep production flowing.
      I check in at a now-bustling former military airfield in Metiga, in Tripoli’s eastern suburbs to join a shift of mostly northern Libyan oil workers on a 100-seat commercial jet. Since fighting in 2014 crippled the capital’s main airport, all domestic and international flights operate from here. My fellow travellers are quiet on what for them is a routine journey.
       But south Libya is hardly calm. A plane from the south’s main city, Sebha, was hijacked last year, forcing the closure of that airport. Indeed, the cycles of violence can be bewildering.
      Before my trip, the Libyan National Army (LNA), under the command of Gen. Khalifa Haftar, threatened to attack another Sebha airport, the Tamenhint air base, which at the time of my visit to the south was controlled by another faction, the so-called 'Third Force', originally from the northern city of Misrata. Tamenhint was subject to recurrent attacks by a militia backed by the LNA.
      Shortly after my trip, the Third Force took apparent revenge by attacking Haftar’s forces in the Brak al-Shati air base, 80km north of Sebha. They killed between 80 and 130 people (numbers are still disputed), mostly LNA soldiers, but also some civilians that were on the base or driving nearby. For the northern belligerents, Sebha and the south are strategic prizes in an ongoing conflict, and neither side will easily give up control.
      Luckily the NOC plane is flying me to somewhere else, the Sharara oil field, about 200km west of Sebha. All these places are deep in the Sahara Desert and are seldom visited by outsiders. Analysts like me usually focus on Libya’s long Mediterranean coastline and far more populated cities of Tripoli, Benghazi, Tobruk, Sirte and Misrata, which have been at the political and military core of the conflict.
       When Muammar Qadhafi, the self-styled 'Brotherly Leader' of Libya, was ousted in 2011, the shattering of his iron grip fractured the country into warring pieces. There are now three rival governments and parliaments, but barely any sense of a state anymore. The key players are a multitude of militias, none of which can control the whole country.
       I want to find out to what extent these centrifugal forces have split the tribes and ethnic groups that live in the urban oases and arid sands of the south. And how the local economy has evolved: while the collapse of central authority has turned the region’s desert routes to the Sahel into a crossroads for smugglers, migrants heading to Europe and jihadists, the south is also home to Libya’s great riches. These include not just oil, but also deep aquifers of water and gold as well.
      One Desert, Many Factions
       The main political-military actors from the north vie for influence in the south, especially control of main roads and key infrastructure. Haftar’s LNA works with the eastern government and parliament, whereas Misrata’s Third Force is nominally loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord headed by Prime Minister Faiez al-Serraj in Tripoli. Still others are aligned with a rival government in Tripoli headed by Prime Minister Khalifa al-Ghwell. The picture is further complicated by local factions that are loosely aligned with the above-mentioned centres of power. More often than not, these factions are internally split, with some of their members supporting one political-military grouping or another.
      Access to this region is so limited that few foreigners, including myself, can know with certainty what is happening on the ground. Libyan media coverage of events in the south tends to be politically charged, and often paints a distorted picture of reality.
      After a 90-minute flight, we touch down in Sharara. From the small oval airplane window I can see the shiny complex around the oil field. Even the oil sector workers who travel here rarely make it out of their well-groomed compound. Frustrated local communities often complain that those operating in Libya’s lucrative oil business have no understanding of local dynamics. One consequence is that armed groups or protesters living close to the oil fields or along the pipeline that transports crude oil to the north frequently shut down production as a way to lobby for their demands, adding to strains on the already fragile Libyan economy.
      At the airfield, I split off from the oil workers to follow the road less travelled. I’m with Abderrahim, my long-time driver in Tripoli, who accompanies me on my journeys. I speak Arabic and have known Libya for ten years, but his solid presence is an interface and reassurance for everyone I meet – and for me. He has a warm smile, is soft-spoken and somehow manages to get along with all Libyan interlocutors of different religious and political affiliations whom I meet across the country.
      It is vital to have local contacts as well, ready to receive me wherever I go in Libya. This is Tuareg country, so I have arranged for a Tuareg acquaintance to meet and look after us on the first leg of my journey. He is a trusted and well-connected civil society activist. We have been introduced by a very respectable Tuareg sheikh I have known for years. Like anywhere else in the country, you need to know who you can trust.
What I didn’t expect is for my contact to be accompanied by three cars and several gunmen. It is not uncommon for the Tuareg to carry weapons, and many residents –not necessarily professional soldiers – are armed. The men who escort me are discrete and do not flash their weapons ostentatiously, but I notice that aside from the ubiquitous semi-automatic AK-47 rifles, they also have PK heavy machine guns with belts of bullets. My guide explains it is just a precaution against kidnapping. Two Italian engineers were seized in a nearby town last year and he alleges that a ransom was paid for their release. Many locals, especially impoverished youth, could be seeking to replicate that to secure what locally amounts to a fortune. I’m in his hands.
      Given our arsenal, it’s not surprising that these men would not be comfortable going through checkpoints manned by members of other tribes. All of the checkpoints between Sharara and Obari, where we are headed, are under the control of Tuareg in military fatigues who say they take orders from a Qadhafi-era Tuareg commander, Ali Kana. So as long as I stay in this area, I am able to move around easily with my escort.
      Disinherited Tuaregs
      We reach my first stop, the town of Obari. Under Qadhafi, Obari was a hub for any traveller seeking to experience desert life in the Sahara. I myself had been here back in 2008, part of an archaeological mission from Oxford University researching rock art. Now there are battle-damaged buildings, the hotels are all closed and I am the closest thing to a tourist anybody has seen since a handful of journalists came here in 2016 to report on battles that broke out in the town. After I’m welcomed into a private home, I set out to find the Tuareg guides who took care of me during that two-week long mission in the desert plateau behind Obari. There is so little for anyone to do now, it’s not hard to track them down.
      They and others gradually fill me in on the downward spiral of commercial collapse, the gradual shutting down of links with the outside world and two years of war between two groups: the Tebu, a dark-skinned people who live in Sudan, Chad, Niger and Libya; and the Tuareg, a historically nomadic Berber people who straddle the borderlands of the Sahara across Niger, southern Algeria and Mali. In 2014, the Tuareg accused the Tebu of attempting to impose themselves militarily on Obari, which the Tuareg consider historically their territory. For their part, the Tebu claim that they had to attack Obari, where some Tebu also live, because it had become a hotbed for jihadists. The war ended in the summer of 2016 with a ceasefire but without a clear winner.
       On the surface at least, life seems normal. But the town is falling through the cracks of post-revolutionary Libya. Municipal services like electricity, water or schools barely function. Under Qadhafi, most Libyan Tuaregs served as a military force, paid for by the central state. But he didn’t give them official citizenship, and after the revolution their salaries were abruptly cut off. Unlike the Tuaregs of popular imagination, in their everyday life the Obari Tuaregs don’t wear mysterious wrappings of indigo-dyed desert robes or habitually ride camels. Some don military uniforms, reflecting the reality that most inhabitants align with one militia or the other simply in order to get paid. My friends wear tight jeans and sandals, and feel abandoned.
      The irony, though, is clear. There is great wealth in the southern oil fields, but it is funnelled to the north, helped by those same NOC flights that lift workers far above deprived locals’ heads.
      After two days in Obari, my contact passes me over to my next helper. My new guide is from a respected southern Arab tribe and is able to travel between Tuareg-controlled Obari and Sebha, which is mainly controlled by other factions. We set off on what is still a good asphalt road. The occasional checkpoints wave through ordinary cars, but trucks are getting stopped and their drivers have to pay tolls for their loads. This is the illicit economy in action.
      The Cracked Jewel of the South
       Sebha is not suffering from active conflict during my visit, but it looks battered after experiencing five rounds of local war between Arab tribes like the Qadhadhfa (Qadhafi’s tribe), the Awlad Suleiman and the Tebu. There are burned-out cars on the streets. The former main hotel sits lifeless and derelict. Migrants can be seen passing through, crowded onto the back of pickup trucks. Small wonder, perhaps, that on the road in from Obari I see green flags painted on the gates of some homes, showing occasional nostalgia for the old Qadhafi regime.
      There are no central government security forces. Fuel is being sold on the black market on many street corners. The city is carved up into neighbourhoods, with makeshift barriers serving as de facto border demarcations between various militias. No single faction is fully in command. Very few international organisations are now present in Sebha, just one or two offices stripped back to a nominal local presence.
      Despite the divisions and uncertainties, there is a kind of normality too. I am able to rent a flat for our stay. In my light veil and long clothes, I move about most parts of the city to meet the various factions and commanders. I don’t meet the people traffickers themselves, but speak to others who know what’s going on. I’m free to ask as many questions as I like about all aspects of the huge rise in the smuggling economy. Sebha’s residents know that in theory smuggling – including of people – is illicit, but most consider it legitimate, normal and profitable. These are just jobs, indeed the only way to make ends meet now that Libya’s economy is in ruins and cash is hard to obtain.
      A municipal council operates in an imposing building in downtown Sebha, but tensions among councillors are so high that some prefer to meet me in a more informal setting. Other friends arrange for me to pass into the shanty town dwellings of their poor quarter of Tuyuri, divided into one section where Tebu live and another with Tuareg. Others again are keen to show me Sebha’s old city, now uninhabited but once the heart of this oasis town. They even show me where the Italian school was in the 1930s.
      When there is no fighting, like now, schools and the local university are functioning. Electricity comes and goes (at times for more than 12 hours), but while I am there power seems steady. Drinking water still flows to many houses thanks to Qadhafi’s “Great Man-made River”, connected to fossil aquifers deep under the Sahara. Surrounded by desert, I even see some gardens that are lush and blooming.
      Some illegal immigrants can be seen in the streets, but they are evidently the lucky few. Many are kept in large warehouses, often in atrocious conditions, across town, until they change hands to other smugglers who take them one step further north in a long supply chain that ends in southern Europe. Others, unable to pay for their trip, are forced to stay put to cultivate land, load trucks or undertake other labour-intensive work to earn money for their onward journey. Organisations like the International Organization for Migration (IOM) report that in Sebha sub-Saharan migrants are being sold and bought by Libyan traffickers, a trade they denounced as being comparable to 'slave markets'. I did not see this and heard many Sehba residents complain that these accusations are exaggerated. But there is no doubt that these migrants I see have already endured a lot, and could suffer even beatings and rape in the next leg of their trip.
      Libya’s Wild West
      After three nights in Sebha, I’m on the road again, fortunately this time without an armed escort. The next destination is Murzuq, in territory that is dominated by the Tebu and which has not seen any fighting in recent years. A good Tebu friend in Tripoli sends his cousin to take me there.
      We pass many trucks filled with goods on their way to Chad and Niger. The Libyan government imports refined fuel and then subsidises it for local use, which makes onward sales to sub-Saharan Africa highly profitable for smugglers. I expect to see many more vehicles with migrants, but I am told that though we are also driving in the direction of the border to Niger, smugglers transporting migrants to Sebha take another route, slightly further east from where we are.
      As soon as we enter Murzuq, it’s clear the town is better off than Obari and Sebha. Luxurious houses rise in some streets and the atmosphere is clearly calm. An Ottoman-era fortress dominates the town. There are no hotels here, as in Sebha and Obari, so visitors like me have to stay in people’s homes. This works out better for me too, as I learn far more about daily life there than on my own or in hotels.
      The city has enjoyed relative stability primarily because there is just one dominant group, and also because the town’s two security chiefs – one loyal to Haftar, the other to Ghwell – have gone on with their respective jobs without picking a fight.
      The boom in gold mining in the area bordering Chad and Niger is also boosting the local economy, probably more so than human smuggling. My hosts here say as much as seven kilos of gold (worth nearly $300,000) passes through town daily on the way to outside markets, adding to a sense that this is Libya’s Wild West.
      Elusive Jihadists
      As I travel through the south, I am constantly aware of reports of Islamic State fighters transiting through the south, fleeing the major setback they were handed by a coalition of Misratan militias that drove them out of Sirte in December 2016 after a six-month battle. I see no sign of jihadists, but so many people tell me about them that it’s clear that some are passing through discreetly and most likely heading to one of the countries to the south, through the Salvador Pass on the Libya-Niger border.
      One reason for this could be that few southerners seem interested in ISIS ideology. Some young women I meet in Obari say that some of their relatives are with the Benghazi Revolutionaries’ Shura Council, a group that is fighting alongside the Islamic State against Haftar’s LNA. But they say these men are mainly motivated by anti-Haftar sentiment, and had already joined another anti-Haftar coalition formed in Tripoli in 2014. Few, if any, seem to have joined ISIS themselves, though some admit that, in the immediate aftermath of Qadhafi’s fall, they had joined armed groups that they later discovered were associated with al-Qaeda.
      With all the shifting allegiances, people find it difficult to work out who is supposed to be 'good' and who is 'bad'. They tell me that they want to be with the legitimate factions, but don’t know which those might be. They don’t see the strings being pulled behind the greater daily rush of political chaos. They have people they have to feed, and inadvertently risk aligning with a terrorist group or an illegitimate armed faction, just because that’s all what’s on offer at that time.
      A Libyan Enigma
      An easy return to Obari, then on to the Sharara oil field airfield, and a quiet flight back to Tripoli affords me time to reflect on what I’ve seen. The ethnic and tribal patchwork I have just criss-crossed seems chaotic, but it is not exponentially different from the rest of Libya. In fact, there is much that is still shared. Even if the economy is all about smuggling to neighbouring countries, it is based on Libyan factors like a policy of subsidising fuel imports that make reselling it so lucrative, a national currency that everyone uses and nationwide lines of supply for most of the goods in the shops.
       Many of the local ethnic and tribal groups remain at loggerheads despite ongoing efforts to heal these rifts – indeed local leaders tell me that they meet more often at conferences outside the country than at home. But these are still conferences about the south’s place in Libya, and it seems to me that rather than promoting an active separatist dynamic, tribal leaders and local military actors are simply filling a power vacuum. Government officials mostly sit at home, waiting for the political struggles in the big cities on the Mediterranean coast to produce a functioning state again.
       The bottom line for southerners is that they have an irresistible financial incentive to continue illicit economic activities, at least compared to the moribund legitimate economy. Profitability trumps legality wherever there are mouths to feed. Unless the legal economy is put back on track, it will be very difficult for interested powers to tackle the smuggling of goods and people. People are in need of salaries, services and security, and they await the moment a central state can once again offer that.
      If there is one thing that my trip confirms to me once again, it is a paradox. Despite all the divisions and neglect, Libya is not just a country of two halves, three governments and countless tribes. The Libyans I meet still see themselves as belonging to one country. When the right moment comes, ethnic and tribal divisions can one day be bridged again."

      Jeffrey Gettleman, "Quandary in South Sudan: Should It Lose Its Hard-Won Independence?" The New York Times, January, 23, 2017,, reported, " Tens of thousands of civilians dead, countless children on the verge of starvation, millions of dollars stolen by officials, oil wells blown up, food aid hijacked and as many as 70 percent of women sheltering in camps raped — mostly by the nation’s soldiers and police officers.
      Just a few years ago, South Sudan accomplished what seemed impossible: independence . Of all the quixotic rebel armies fighting for freedom in Africa, the South Sudanese actually won. Global powers, including the United States , rallied to their side, helping to create the world’s newest country in 2011, a supposed solution to decades of conflict and suffering.
Now, with millions of its people hungry or displaced by civil war , a radical question has emerged: Should South Sudan lose its independence?
       As international frustrations and worries grow, some momentum is growing for a proposal for outside powers to take over South Sudan and run it as a trusteeship until things calm down.
      Several academics and prominent opposition figures support the idea , citing East Timor, Kosovo and Bosnia as places where, they say, it has worked, though of course there are plenty of cautionary tales where outside intervention failed, like Somalia and Iraq."

      As of March 2017, the inter-ethnic group fighting was spreading in South Sudan, with peaceful areas vanishing and more Indigenous and other peoples being drawn into the conflict (Jeffery Gettleman, "A New Nation Cracking Apart," The New York Times, March 5, 2017).

      ICG, "Instruments of Pain (II): Conflict and Famine in South Sudan , Africa Briering #124, April 26, 2017,, commented, " War in South Sudan led the UN to declare 100,000 people are suffering famine, with a further 5.5 million at risk. This special briefing urges the country to work harder to establish parameters for a ceasefire. At the same time, humanitarian corridors from Sudan should be kept open and donors must fully fund the UN aid appeal.
       As South Sudan’s conflicts, which began in December 2013, have fragmented and expanded, the hunger crisis has deepened and widened. Over 40 per cent of the population is severely food insecure, 60 per cent higher than at this time last year. On 20 February, the UN declared that some 100,000 people are already living in famine conditions in Leer and Mayendit counties. But some 5.5 million are at risk unless urgent measures are taken to reduce conflict and enable humanitarians to deliver more aid safely.
      Conflict among various factions has prompted massive displacement that in turn has prevented farming, while looting and cattle rustling have destroyed many people’s assets. Some 1.9 million civilians are internally displaced persons (IDPs), 224,000 of whom have fled to UN peacekeeping bases. Another 1.6 million have found refuge in neighbouring countries. Currency depreciation, hyperinflation and insecurity have led to declining trade and soaring food prices.
      Addressing the humanitarian crisis is hugely expensive. In its 2017 appeal, the UN requested $1.6 billion; so far, only $439 million has been pledged. Helping starving people also is perilous; 82 humanitarian workers have been killed. In the absence of bolder policy decisions to reduce fighting, humanitarian actors will remain at the forefront of the myriad internal conflicts and, with their lives at risks and budgets under pressure, be able to do less as needs continue to grow.
      To mitigate the worst effects of the conflicts, the peace process oversight body – the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) – and its partners need to support ceasefire implementation, as well as local dialogue and negotiations between the government and warring factions. To prevent famine in the meantime, however, the humanitarian appeal needs to be fully funded. To ensure that the aid reaches those most in need, all actors should avoid politicising it. Finally, the two existing and third needed humanitarian corridors through Sudan must be kept consistently open.
       II. Civil War in South Sudan
      The origins and dynamics of the conflicts that are occurring across South Sudan differ dramatically. At the war’s outset, there were two main warring parties: the government and its allies on the one hand, and on the other, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) and affiliated groups. Despite the signing in August 2015 of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS), the disputes continue to evolve, with opposition groups simultaneously factionalising and localising. The government has offered amnesty to some armed groups, while maintaining military pressure on others. Though external policymakers have struggled to respond to these nuances, international political inertia prevails.
      Fortunately, relatively few locations have experienced sustained warfare, as military dynamics tend to suspend fighting for months or years at a time. This means most IDPs and other civilians are in relatively stable camps or other refuges, and humanitarian actors can provide basic services. However, many of the worst humanitarian situations occur in areas with ongoing conflict, where civilians are often deliberately targeted, thus creating the conditions for famine. Warring parties tend to view civilians as integral elements of their enemy’s economic, political and social support system. This is particularly evident during incidents of revenge violence, when civilians are likely to be treated not as distinct and protected but as part of an armed group. Following government combat operations or ambushes against government vehicles, it is common for soldiers to turn on local civilians. Rebels have also attacked civilians belonging to different ethnic communities.
The proliferation and fracturing of rebel groups give many of these conflicts increasingly local characteristics. The government’s strategy is to militarily pressure the disparate groups into political accommodation. Its own experience, during the two-decade liberation struggle with the government in Khartoum, leads it to believe that attrition will eventually create conditions for a political resolution. It is prepared to play a long game with what is seen as a predictable conflict trajectory, though one with an uncertain timeline.
      As opposition groups fracture and multiply, there is often no higher rebel authority than the commander on the ground. The government’s co-option of some former rebel leaders often divides communities, leading to a yet more chaotic situation, as in the ongoing conflict in Mayendit, one of the counties now experiencing famine.
       III. The Man-made Crisis in Southern Leich State
      Civilians in Leer, Mayendit and Koch counties in Southern Leich State (the former Unity state) have experienced extensive depredations since the civil war began. At its outset, the trigger to the humanitarian crisis was mistreatment by the armies of both sides, as well as their respective allies. Over the past year or so, the number of warring factions has multiplied, as the government has sought to peel off factions from the rebel coalition. The result is a host of armed groups, most nominally aligned with either the government army (the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army, SPLA) or an SPLA-In Opposition faction. In the absence of tactical command and control, pillage and raiding is common, devastating communities and further complicating the search for local political solutions. Armed groups repeatedly attack civilians, leaving them without productive assets; towns are not safe; and food markets are devastated. The insecurity constrains aid groups’ ability to sustain operations.
      The gender dynamics of violence confront families and communities with impossible choices for feeding themselves and their children, over 30 per cent of whom in these counties are severely malnourished. Men face considerable risk from armed groups if they travel to seek food, as they are often shot if they encounter opposing forces. This has forced women to take enormous risks for their families. When they encounter opposing forces, they are often subject to horrific sexual violence, but their chances of survival are higher. Women were raped by fighters from several different armed groups – including fighters belonging to factions they supported – as they fled fighting in Southern Unity en route to safety at the UN base in Bentiu Violence in Southern Leich state has pushed many far into the southern swamps along the Nile River, where food is unavailable and leaving to seek it is to risk attack.
       IV. War-exacerbated Drought and Economic Challenges
      Beyond Southern Leich, even peaceful areas such as the Aweil region on the Sudanese border in the north are at risk of famine. This is the outcome not only of drought (in both South Sudan and neighbouring countries) and other climatic challenges, but also of fighting elsewhere in the country. South Sudan’s economy deteriorated dramatically in 2016, as the government struggled to respond to the global drop in oil prices and borrowed heavily to fight the war. This triggered hyperinflation, even as spreading conflicts in places such as the formerly peaceful Equatorias contributed to 2017’s 40 per cent national decline in food production from the same February-April period in the previous year. More broadly, insecurity has increased costs for both traders and humanitarian actors. Poor people already living on the edge now face low food production due to erratic rainfall and far higher prices for what food there is in the markets.
After extensive negotiations with Khartoum, aid agencies opened two of three proposed humanitarian corridors through Sudan in an attempt to increase available imported food and reduce the cost of moving food aid to South Sudanese border areas. Sudan’s cooperation is a tangible, welcome outcome of its ongoing negotiations with the U.S. over sanctions relief. A priority now is to open a third corridor, to carry food into Aweil.
       V. Humanitarian Access
      The warring parties at times have sought to use humanitarian assistance as leverage over civilian populations by pressuring aid agencies to provide food for civilians in areas they control. At others, they have refused to halt fighting to enable access to those populations. Many combatants believe aid inevitably will support not only civilians, but also the opposing side’s fighting forces. Accordingly, both government and opposition groups have presented aid agencies with bureaucratic impediments. Still, South Sudan is one of the only conflict countries where humanitarian organisations are able to negotiate access directly and mostly successfully.
It is not easy. In addition to the government, the negotiations must involve neighbouring countries and dozens of rebel leaders. Yet, in part thanks to joint pressure from neighbours – Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda – as well as from the U.S., China, the African Union (AU) and UN, all warring parties endorse the principle of impartial humanitarian access.
This further illustrates that the primary access constraint, as well as cause of the famine, is the conflict. Where active fighting takes place, humanitarian workers face looting and harassment. They must frequently evacuate staff who do not receive the special protection from warring groups to which they are entitled and which they negotiate with the government and rebel leaders. Sometimes they are directly prohibited access to locations during and immediately after fighting. As a result, assistance can be inadequate or delayed. Some civilians fleeing constant violence are unable to remain in one place long enough to receive sustained assistance.
      There are other challenges as well. Food cannot be pre-positioned in conflict areas lest it be stolen. Humanitarian groups are the only international contacts some rebels have. In a handful of cases, humanitarian workers have brokered unpublicised local ceasefires in order to deliver aid. Negotiations take time and money, but more costly options can usually guarantee aid workers’ security. In some cases credible security guarantees cannot be made to enable access across front lines, for example, so expensive airdrops are necessary. At a time of shrinking budgets, however, trade-offs directly impact how many people will receive assistance. It is thus imperative that the UN’s humanitarian appeal be fully funded.
       VI. International Political Paralysis
Following the bitter July 2016 fighting in Juba, international actors struggled to influence internal peace and conflict dynamics. While the overall policy is to support the government, there has been little tangible engagement other than with the international institutions related to the 2015 peace agreement. Most donor funding goes to international peace and ceasefire monitoring bodies which have relatively little impact, while that for South Sudanese institutions, such as the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission, is almost non-existent. There are no simple solutions in South Sudan, and moves toward genuine peace require compromises both among South Sudanese and between international actors and the government. Given the multiplicity of factions, peace is more likely to be a local affair, in which progress in some areas may occur at the same time as stagnation in others. There is little appetite beyond South Sudan’s immediate neighbours to support local dialogue, however, whether to promote peace, reconciliation or humanitarian access.
      Recent statements from President Salva Kiir and the government in support of dialogue and a unilateral ceasefire are a welcome change in rhetoric. The modalities required for implementation are technically complex, however, and require direct international assistance as well as political will. Greater political support and ceasefire-oriented technical assistance could help mitigate the impact of the current crisis, provided they do not come at the expense of the funding and effort needed for humanitarian operations.
      UN officials and diplomats outside South Sudan have made high-level calls for a ceasefire. Yet, they have not put forward realistic ideas on how it might be negotiated among the government and multiple opposition factions, and no tangible work on a ceasefire is being done in-country. Such focus as there is has been on how a ceasefire might enable temporary humanitarian access. That would be welcome but by definition have limited utility. Any ceasefire, whether national or local, should be developed in such a way as to create conditions for dialogue and with an aim of achieving sustainability.
       VII. What Is Needed
To prevent further famine and related humanitarian catastrophe in South Sudan, the following steps are urgently needed:
  Donors should fully fund the UN’s humanitarian appeal.
        Sudan and South Sudan should keep open, and increase, humanitarian corridors from Sudan.
       Domestic and international actors should avoid politicising humanitarian assistance and support aid agencies in their efforts to deliver assistance to civilians in locations where civilians feel safe receiving aid, based on impartial negotiated access, and refrain from using the humanitarian situation for political leverage.
        To support President Kiir’s commitment to announce a unilateral ceasefire soon and hold the government to its word, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (JMEC) and its partners should provide technical assistance to the government to develop the modalities, with the aim of expanding that ceasefire to include opposition groups and become permanent.

       South Sudan’s partners should support local dialogue and negotiations between the government and warring factions."
      "Kenya: Victory for Ogiek tribe in historic court ruling," Survival International, June 7, 2017,, reported, " In a landmark decision, the African Court has ruled that the government of Kenya violated the rights of the Ogiek tribe by repeatedly evicting them from their ancestral lands.
      The court found that the government had broken seven articles of the African Charter and ordered it to take 'all appropriate measures' to remedy the violations.
The Ogiek had sued the government for violations to their right to life, natural resources, religion, culture, property, development and non-discrimination.
      The case was brought by the Ogiek Peoples Development Program (OPDP), the Center for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE) and Minority Rights Group International, and was first lodged eight years ago.
Daniel Kobei, director of OPDP said: 'For the Ogiek, this is history in the making. The issue of Ogiek land rights has finally been heard and the case has empowered them to feel relevant… This is a chance for the government to restore the Mau [Forest] and to restore the dignity of the Ogiek people'.
      The Ogiek are a hunter-gatherer tribe who have lived in the Mau Forest in Kenya’s Rift Valley since time immemorial.
      They have suffered a long history of discrimination and eviction from their land from colonial times to the present.
      Much of the Ogiek’s rich forest has been invaded and destroyed by outsiders, and converted into logging concessions. Some government officials even attempted to justify the evictions in the name of conservation, by falsely accusing the tribe of destroying the forest.
Evictions are often violent and Ogiek people have been killed and had their homes burned. They have never been consulted about the evictions nor received any compensation.
       Last month a UN body expressed its concern over Kenya’s treatment of hunter-gatherer tribes, and called on the government to: 'Ensure legal acknowledgement of the collective rights of the Sengwer, the Endorois, the Ogiek and other indigenous peoples to own, develop, control and use their lands, resources and communal territories'.

      It is hoped the ruling will set an important precedent for other indigenous land rights cases in Africa."
      ICG, Richard Moncrieff, Project Director, Central Africa, "Three Lessons About Burundi’s Crisis from Speaking to Those Who Fled It," Op-Ed/Africa, Janaury 20, 2016,, commented, " Burundi’s 327,000 refugees are not mere victims but also active citizens, many remaining actively engaged in the country’s problems .
       Burundi will soon mark two years since it was propelled into a political crisis by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s determination to be elected to a third term in power. As it stands, more than 327,000 of Burundi’s 11 million people have now sought refuge outside the country according to UN figures from early 2017 – nearly all fleeing since the crisis erupted.
      This calamity reverses a decade of refugee returns after the 1993-2005 civil war, and a new surge of people fleeing in late-2016 risks overwhelming the woefully underfunded humanitarian response.
      Most live in camps in neighbouring Tanzania, which has hosted Burundian refugees since the 1970s. Others are in Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo, while a smaller number live in urban centres, especially Kigali, where many are not registered as refugees.
      Despite many people fleeing, the Burundian government has been trying to project a sense of control, arguing that the crisis has passed. It claims that most refugees are either insurgents or have fallen victim to the economic problems brought about, in their eyes, by international sanctions.
      At the UN General Assembly in September 2016, Burundi’s foreign minister controversially claimed that many of its refugees are returning voluntarily and that the country was now stable enough for a policy of returns to be pursued.       However, the assassination of a government minister on 1 January, a failed attack on a government spokesman in November, and numerous less high-profile acts of violence and terror, show that Burundi remains deeply troubled.
      At the same time, East African Community mediation led by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa reached an impasse in December when he stated that the legitimacy of President Nkurunziza should not be questioned. The exiled opposition read this as blatant support for what they see as a dictatorial regime. The breakdown in mediation will further dent refugees’ hopes of an early resolution to the crisis and increase their frustrations.
      During the course of 2016, Crisis Group interviewed over 50 Burundian refugees from all walks of life, and from both Tutsi and Hutu ethnic communities, in Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and, for a few with some money and connections, Belgium. We asked three questions: How and why did you leave the country? What problems do you face in exile? And how do you envisage your future and that of your country?
From the responses, and drawing on long, field research-based knowledge of Burundi, three broad conclusions emerged.
      1) The refugee crisis is a result of political oppression
      Despite government statements, which some diplomats and international officials have been willing to believe, most exiles have fled a violent political crisis, many in fear for their lives. The impression of internal stability projected by the government is simply incompatible with the still-growing number of refugees.
      Nearly all we spoke to fled violence by the police, intelligence services or the ruling party’s militia, the Imbonerakure, who have been threatening, abducting and killing opponents (or so-called opponents) throughout the country.
      Repression spiked in the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup against Nkurunziza in May 2015 and after an attack on military camps in December 2015. Following the December assaults, security forces and the Imbonerakure increasingly targeted Tutsis.
      Some refugees left the country having been tipped off that their life was in danger, while others had already been attacked or had lost relatives. Police controls on the country’s borders increasingly forced refugees to pay their way through or sneak out at night.
      Some took children with them, others left family members behind. Some have friends in detention. We gathered accounts of rape, some ethnically targeted, and of torture. All this attests to political violence being at the heart of decisions to leave.
      2) Burundi’s human capital is draining away
       The flight of many of the country’s best educated and most entrepreneurial citizens, and a large number of its teachers, will cause significant long-term damage. It will also add to a growing economic crisis with traditional donors and investors shunning the country.
       A very small minority of refugees with social connections or economic capital have been able to start a small business or find employment with relatives. But many have lost their businesses and properties and are seeking out menial work far below their qualifications, generating frustration and hurt pride. Others have had to leave their land, in many cases only recently recovered after previous periods of exile. A number of refugees had fled the country before, in some cases up to five times.
       The energy and capacity formerly engaged in working to build up the Burundian economy or educating its future workforce is now absorbed by daily problems: feeding a family; dealing with administration; negotiating relations with local communities; finding employment; getting medical care, including dealing with psychological and physical trauma; accessing services in a foreign language; or, for the elite, trying to travel without an up-to-date Burundian passport.
      3) The refugee crisis will have long-term political consequences
       Burundi has spent over ten years recovering from a brutal civil war and trying to regain greater social cohesion. But the recent violence and oppression has brought the fractures of the past back to the surface, accentuated by and accelerating the outflow of refugees.
      As recent research shows, many of those who have fled were particularly vulnerable because they were never properly integrated when they returned after the civil war. Many were regarded as politically suspect and land restitution was very poorly managed.
       Despite their problems abroad, many are determined to stay politically active. One young exile in Kigali said that to not engage in politics would be a 'betrayal of those left behind'. He had joined the recently-formed International Movement of Burundian Youth (MIJB) to make sure the voice of young people in exile was heard in debates on the country’s future.
Such initiatives demonstrate a desire for solidarity, not just among refugees, but with those left behind. However, repression by the Burundian government, including assassination attempts, has spread to asylum countries, generating mistrust among Burundian exiles who often wonder who may be in the pay of the authorities in Bujumbura.
       A population of over 300,000 refugees – mainly young, some educated and with justified grievances against the government – is a ticking time bomb in a region where political causes often end up being fought for in the bush.
      Those we talked to saw their future with a mix of fear and uncertainty. The vast majority held President Nkurunziza responsible for the crisis and constantly underlined the problem of impunity. Many feared being forced to return. With time, this anger has led to a desire amongst some to take up arms. But despite this, some also expressed hope for their country, citing the low levels of ethnic violence since the end of the war.
      Most of all, our research shows that refugees are not mere victims but also active citizens, and while some may resign themselves to their fate or seek to move further abroad, many will remain actively engaged in their country’s problems. Their voices must be heard in future political dialogues."

      "Twentieth anniversary of eviction from Kalahari highlights Bushmen plight," Survival International, May 8, 2017,, commented, " Twenty years ago today, hundreds of Bushmen were ordered to abandon their homes deep in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).
      This was the first in a wave of evictions by the government, determined to open up their ancestral homes to diamond mining and tourism.
      The Bushmen of Xade community were given no warning and were ordered to leave their homes immediately. They were herded onto trucks and those who refused to go were told they would be shot by the army.
      Along with force, underhand tactics were employed: some Bushman children and their teachers were moved earlier, forcing anxious parents to follow them to the eviction camp, New Xade, which they soon dubbed “the Place of Death”.
       Life here, as witnessed by Survival campaigners and much of the world’s media, was bleak. Bushmen were housed in tents like refugees and were totally reliant on handouts from the government.
Many succumbed to HIV/AIDS and alcoholism introduced by outsiders, who flocked to the camp to profit from the Bushmen’s meager compensation money.
      From resilient hunters and gatherers with a strong sense of independence and identity, the Bushmen were reduced to a life of boredom, depression and hopelessness which continues to this day.
      For many observers, the government’s inhumane treatment of Botswana’s first people echoed neighboring South Africa’s apartheid regime, where black communities were systemically evicted from their homes and dumped into crowded slums on the outskirts of the cities.
      This was the latest chapter in centuries of persecution of southern Africa’s Bushman peoples by white colonists and Bantu peoples.
       Twenty years on, however, there have been some positive changes. Bushmen evicted from the reserve in 2002 won a landmark case with support from Survival International in 2006 in Botswana’s high court. The court ruled that they had been illegally evicted and had the right to live and hunt in the reserve.
      Today, hundreds of Bushmen have left the hated eviction camps and returned home. However, they continue to face harassment, beatings, and torture by wildlife scouts when they exercise their legal right to hunt .
      As Bushman spokesman Jumanda Gakelebone explains: “Bushmen are not poachers. We hunt to survive, we don’t kill animals in large quantities. We get what we want to survive.”
      Families are still being broken up, as the government says that only individuals who were applicants in the high court ruling are allowed to return to the CKGR. When their children turn 18, they have to get permits to visit their families in the reserve. This is causing enormous distress and hardship.
      Bushmen are worried that their land may be opened up to more exploration without their consent. Although the diamond mine in the Bushman community of Gope in the reserve has been scaled back recently, last month the government gave new diamond prospecting licenses to a joint Russian-British mining venture.
      In the last few years, the government has also given out fracking licenses in the CKGR.
      As one Bushman told Survival: 'Giving companies clearance to extract natural resources is at our expense and is against our human rights.'
      Survival is continuing to campaign for the rights of the Bushmen, having launched a global push in 2016, to coincide with the country’s fiftieth anniversary."

      ICG, "Instruments of Pain (I): Conflict and Famine in Yemen," Middle East & North Africa Briefing No. 52, April 13, 2017,, commented, " War is denying Yemenis food to eat. This special briefing, the first of four examining the famine threats there and in South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, urges the Saudi-led coalition not to assault Yemen’s most important port, Hodeida, and both sides to immediately resolve deadlock over the Central Bank.
       I. Overview
      Yemenis are starving because of war. No natural disaster is responsible. No amount of humanitarian aid can solve the underlying problem. Without an immediate, significant course change, portions of the country, in the 21st century and under the watch of the Security Council, will likely tip into famine. The projected disaster is a direct consequence of decisions by all belligerents to weaponise the economy, coupled with indifference and at times a facilitating role played by the international community, including key members of the Security Council such as the U.S., UK and France.
      Avoiding famine, if this is still possible, requires the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, supporting the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi against Huthi rebels and fighters aligned with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, to halt what promises to be a bloody battle for Yemen’s most important port, Hodeida. It also requires immediate action by both sides to put aside differences and enable central bank technocrats to address the liquidity problem, pay public-sector salaries nationally and regulate the riyal. For this to be sustainable, Yemenis need a ceasefire and a durable political settlement to have a chance at rebuilding the shattered economy.
       II. Famine and Conflict
       By numbers, Yemen is suffering from the largest food crisis in the world. According to the UN, an estimated seventeen million persons, 60 per cent of the population and three million more than were so afflicted at the start of the year, are food insecure and require urgent humanitarian assistance to save lives. Seven of the country’s 22 governorates are at a phase four emergency food insecurity level, one step away from phase five: famine. Areas affected include both government and Huthi/Saleh controlled governorates. UNICEF reports that 460,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
      The evolving hunger crisis has both a supply and demand side, with an underlying motif of combatants pursuing war by any means with little to no regard for the population. According to a prominent Yemeni entrepreneur, “the real story of the humanitarian crisis is that Huthi/Saleh forces and the corrupt people around President Hadi are all benefitting from the war economy while the people of Yemen suffer”.
      Saudi-led coalition allies repeatedly have hindered the movement of aid and commercial goods to the population. Huthi/Saleh violations are most egregious in the city of Taiz, where their fighters have enforced a full or partial blockade since 2015, with devastating humanitarian consequences. They routinely interfere with the work of humanitarians, at times demanding the diversion of aid to themselves or denying aid workers access to populations in need, revoking visas or even detaining them.They heavily tax all imports into their areas in part to finance the war effort and also run a black market in fuel, enriching military elites while driving prices up for trans­port of vital commodities.
      The Saudi-led coalition has strangled the flow of commodities into the country’s largest and most important port, Hodeida, which is under Huthi/Saleh control. Yemen is over 90 per cent dependent on imports for staple commodities such as wheat and rice; the UN estimates that 80 per cent of all imports for the north currently pass through Hodeida. Under the cover of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 (April 2015), which called for an arms embargo against Huthi/Saleh forces, the Saudi-led coalition aggressively imposed a naval blockade for the first year of the war. Three months after their military intervention, only 15 per cent of pre-war imports were entering the country, prompting UN humanitarian agencies to issue initial famine warnings. Following bureaucratic delays on the part of the Security Council, the coalition and the Yemeni government, the problem was partially resolved in May 2016 through a UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) that led to an easing of restrictions, but by then coalition airstrikes had already damaged the port’s throughput capacity, contributing to long queues and delays.
      The situation is about to become much worse, as the coalition appears determined to break a military stalemate that has largely held since September 2015 by attempting to capture the Red Sea coast, including Hodeida. It says that taking the port is necessary to stem the flow of weapons to Huthi/Saleh fighters and to bring them to the bargaining table. This reasoning is questionable, since the Saudi-backed Hadi government, not the Huthi/Saleh bloc, officially rejected the latest peace initiative of the UN special envoy, and the coalition’s navy and the UNVIM already monitor, albeit not perfectly, the port.
      In any case, the campaign’s humanitarian risks are clear. Unlike Aden and areas in the south, coalition forces would not be greeted as liberators, and Huthi/Saleh fighters have had ample time to prepare defensive positions. The battle would likely be protracted and could close and further damage this vital entrepôt. Even if the coalition is able to secure the city, it is far from clear it would have the will or capacity to ensure imports cross battle lines into Huthi/Saleh-controlled areas of the north, where the bulk of Yemen’s population resides. Indeed, there is widespread agreement among Yemenis that the Hadi government would use control of the port to further squeeze Huthi/Saleh-controlled areas economically in an attempt to break that alliance or engender an internal uprising against it, an outcome the Saudi-led coalition has long predicted. The costs of such a strategy would fall disproportionately on the civilian population, with Huthi/Saleh fighters being the last to starve.
      Humanitarians argue that even at its reduced capacity, there is no alternative to using Hodeida in terms of location and infrastructure. If the city is attacked and the port closed, it will become the most important choke point in what already is a massive hunger challenge.
      The more acute current problem, however, is on the demand side. Notwithstanding mounting challenges, food is still widely available in the markets, including Sanaa. Yet, Yemenis throughout the country increasingly are unable to purchase it. After two years of ground fighting and air bombardment, the economy is in tatters. Families and communities are approaching a breaking point, having sold their assets, spent their savings and exhausted extended networks of support. The situation is most severe for the more than three million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and residents of governorates like Hodeida, who were the poorest before the conflict. It also takes a particularly harsh toll on women and girls, who are typically the last to eat and in December 2016 made up 62 per cent of the four million people suffering from acute malnutrition.
      A critical component of the purchasing power crisis is the inability of the central bank to consistently pay public-sector salaries since August 2016. This is a product of shrinking state finances, an acute liquidity crisis and the bank’s inability to move financial resources between areas controlled by conflict parties. The issue has become deeply politicised. Prior to President Hadi’s 19 September decision to move the central bank from Sanaa to Aden, there had been a tacit agreement between the warring sides to allow the institution to function relatively free of interference. Diplomats and economists widely agreed that the bank had remained largely impartial, facilitating the import of an increasingly limited list of basic commodities, protecting the value of the riyal and paying public-sector salaries nationally under increasingly difficult economic circumstances. But this did not last. Without revenues from hydrocarbons, which accounted for approximately half the government’s budget in 2014, or donor support, both solvency and immediate liquidity came under immense strain.
      By moving the bank, the government argued, it could prevent the Huthi/Saleh bloc from using central bank funds for its war effort, while allowing the bank to dispense public-sector salaries nationally and stabilise the economy. The bank in Aden has printed much-needed currency to address the liquidity crisis (a move that was blocked by the Hadi government when the bank was in Sanaa); at least 160 billion Yemeni riyals (approximately $640 million) have been delivered to Aden as part of a 400-billion riyal ($1.6 billion) order from a printing company in Russia. However, there is little transparency as to how the money has been disbursed. Moreover, since the relocation, some salaries have been paid in the south but far fewer in the north, and the banking system has all but collapsed, putting additional pressures on the supply side, as commodity importers can no longer access letters of credit.
      More worrying yet, the government has not received a much-needed injection of foreign currency Hadi supporters expected would come from Gulf backers once the bank moved. The small amount of domestic revenue that is generated is not being deposited in central bank accounts, as the country’s various administrative centres are acting autonomously. Neither Huthi/Saleh-controlled territories nor Marib governorate, which is technically controlled by the Hadi government and is the main producer of oil and gas for Yemeni consumption, are making revenues available to the central bank in Aden. The Hadi government is also not depositing oil export revenues from the Masila basin in Hadramout, which came back online in August 2016, and is instead using an external account in Saudi Arabia with no oversight of expenditures. In the absence of access to foreign exchange, pumping additional riyals into the market would create inflationary pressures.
      Each side blames the other for the economic disaster. The government says it cannot pay salaries in Huthi/Saleh-controlled territories until these remit tax and other import revenues to the bank in Aden (nationally these revenues accounted for around 30 per cent of pre-war government income). The Huthi/Saleh authorities accuse the government of trying to starve the north and refuse to recognise or share accounts with Aden. As the two sides bicker, Yemenis across the country are slowly starving.
       III. What Is Needed
       Addressing the looming famine is a complex challenge that requires immediate action to prevent a worsening of the situation and to deliver lifesaving assistance to those most in need. Yemenis are set to starve as a result of the financial consequences of the war, but this trend can still be arrested and even reversed if political actors choose to do so. The following steps are urgent:
The Saudi-led coalition should halt plans to invade the port of Hodeida.
      The Huthi/Saleh authorities, the Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition should work with the UN envoy to reach a deal that allows technocrats in the central bank in Aden and Sanaa to devise a plan for the resumption of public-sector salaries nationally,
      disbursement of social-welfare cash transfers to the poorest Yemenis and performance of basic banking functions free of political interference until a comprehensive political settlement is reached. This compromise should contain several elements, including:
      cooperation between the central bank in Aden and the branch in Sanaa, where the majority of bank technocrats and infrastructure are still located;
      agreement by the Huthi/Saleh forces and the government not to interfere with decisions made by technocrats in the central bank, nor to divert the bank’s injections of liquidity for other purposes;
      commitment by all parties to ensure that hydrocarbon, customs and tax revenues are accurately deposited/reflected in the national central bank system; and that the central bank has access to at least some commercial banks and to foreign central banks where it has reserves on deposit. (Currently its accounts are blocked, in part as a result of uncertainties on the part of foreign central banks regarding the move from Sanaa to Aden and the appointment of a new bank management by President Hadi.)
      agreement to pay public-sector salaries nationally based on 2014 pay lists (these exclude any additions made by the Huthi authorities since the February 2015 coup); and
      Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should agree to help finance, along with the World Bank and other donors, the approximately $500 million needed to fund emergency cash transfers to the poorest Yemenis for one year using 2014 social-welfare lists.
      To be successful, these stopgap measures ultimately must be supplemented and supported by a ceasefire and peace agreement that allow Yemenis the chance to rebuild state institutions and the economy. To this end:
the Huthi/Saleh authorities and the government should reengage immediately with the UN special envoy to secure a ceasefire and resumption of talks based on the UN envoy’s roadmap; and
      the UN Security Council should take prompt action to rejuvenate the political track by passing a long-overdue new resolution under its mandatory Chapter VII authority demanding an immediate ceasefire, unfettered humanitarian access and a return to talks based on the existing UN roadmap, which requires compromises from both sides."

      Declan Walsh and Nour Youssef, "Widening Crackdown, Egypt Shutters Group That Treats Torture Victims Gear," The New York Times, February 9, 2017,, reported, " The Egyptian police on Thursday shut down the offices of an organization that treats victims of torture and violence in the latest escalation of a harsh government crackdown against human rights defenders and civil liberties groups."

      Joor Baruah, " On the Border of India and China, the Adi Face a Confluence of Issues," Cultural Survival, January 02, 2017, reported, 'It is never about resolving differences and working together. Never! It is always about India and China,' mourns an elder from Siskin village as he crosses a bridge close to the border of India and China. The Adi community collectively weaves these bamboo bridges every year across the pristine Siang River.
      The Siang River originates in Tibet, elegantly flows through the Himalayas, enters the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, and like a sacred thread connects the Tribes of the region, especially the Adi villages around the old town of Pasighat. The Adi lifeways are beautiful with shamanic chants of their mythologies of origin, animistic rituals around nature, and amicable resolution of disputes in their traditional courts.
       The people here have always faced conflicts. In 1962, soon after the Tibetan Uprising of 1959 when India granted asylum to The Dalai Lama, the Chinese army invaded this area of Arunachal Pradesh (also known as the land of the dawn lit mountains), on the pretext of a disputed Himalayan border. Beyond being subjected to territorial interest, these Indigenous people of the hills were struggling to build bridges with the people of the valley. “The Assamese in the valley used to call us Abhors, meaning uncontrolled savages. The British also continued calling us savages. We revolted; we wanted to be called Adi. In 1972 this area, the NorthEast Frontier Agency (NEFA) became a Union Territory of India and in 1987 a state. From then on we are Adi. Adi means hills. People of the hills,” explains Oshang Ering, a respected Adi elder, the first matriculate of the Tribe.
      With the memories of 1962 Sino-Indian War still fresh , China continues to reassert its territorial claim. 'We are a part of India. Though there is a strong history of neglect and alienation, Arunachal Pradesh and this Northeastern region is a part of India. Why will we part? If by chance China invades us again. I will be the first to run ahead and fight,' says the leader of the vegetable sellers in the women-driven Pasighat market. It is apparent that the Adi people want to be left alone. “We are generally cooperative people but during wars, we can be fierce warriors. However, we don’t fight unless it is decided in our Kebang (traditional court),” says Ering calmly. 'Our Kebang is the perfect form of democracy. Perhaps, democracy was born here,' says Kalim Borang, cultural analyst and writer, with beaming pride. However, it is unfortunate that the Kebang is not seriously consulted for decisions regarding Adi land and now water.
       On the Chinese side of the border, where the Siang River is called Tsangpo, multiple mega dams have been built. On the Indian side, there are plans to build even more. Flowing through the land of the Adi, the Siang meets the Lohit and Dibang Rivers downstream to form the mighty Brahmaputra River that touches the lives of millions of people as it flows through the Assam valley. The Siang is now a site for a Great Dam War. There seem to be no dialogue between India and China. “Well strategized run-of-the-river can help. But if the dams on Brahmaputra and its tributaries are not planned well, the flora and fauna of the entire region is it risk. There can be a Tsunami every night,' says environmentalist Pradip Bhuyan, whose activism and petition has resulted in the Green Tribunal ordering a detailed assessment of the dams. 'These dams are dangerous. We have our usual catastrophic floods in June and July. During that time if China opens the dams, then even without missiles, the Assamese people will be destroyed,' says Roti Pegu, a boatman ferrying people across the Brahmaputra, between Assam and Arunachal.
       In a few years, the 3.07-mile (4.94 km) Bogibeel Bridge connecting Assam and Arunachal will be complete and Roti along with many other boatmen will loose their livelihood. Perhaps the bridge was an influencer for the current government of India to include Pasighat as a potential smart city in its development agenda. The unending line of posts being constructed for the bridge seems to represent the vanishing point of Indigeneity.
      There is already an ongoing migration to this tribal land – both legal and illegal. And as a microcosm of the over two hundred ethnic and tribal communities of northeast India, the Indigenous identity of the Adis, is under threat. The Adi culture and way of life is fast changing. The animistic Donyi Polo (sun and moon God) rituals are being forgotten and the Miri (priests) who can chant the Abang (mythological chanting/oral history) are becoming rare
      'Adi does not have a script. It is an oral language. Young people today do not know how to speak Adi. The children of the rich people do not study here. They study far away. When they visit, they speak English and Hindi, though they are Adis. If we speak in Adi, we are stupid. If they can speak in English and Hindi we are stupid. That is what is happening. They forget their own language,' say the elders of Yagrun village over a Solung (Adi planting festival) dinner.
      With the Adi youth moving to bigger cities in pursuit of an urban life, the famers have to employ migrant workers. 'Apart from the challenge of paying wages, another problem is that some of these workers from the neighboring states are insurgents in disguise - United Liberation Front Of Assam (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) from Assam and National Socialist Council Of Nagaland (NSCN) especially in the Tirap/Changlang districts of the state,' says Jamo Tani, an Adi farmer and activist from the Pasighat area. Though Arunachal does not have a homegrown insurgency, various factors including insurgency in the interstate border have resulted in the imposition of the unpopular Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which provides special powers to the Indian army resulting in massive human rights violations. With Chinese and Indian army modernizing their warfare, AFSPA providing impunity to the Indian army and insurgency in the state borders, conflict has become a way of life.
       With the recent developments in 2016 - political unrest in the Arunachal Pradesh government, ruthless floods in the Assam valley, increase of Indian and Chinese armed forces to guard or expand territorial interests and the ongoing great dam war – it has become both important as well as urgent that India gives Arunachal Pradesh and the northeast the attention it deserves and the powers in New Delhi and Beijing engage in a serious constructive diplomacy and dialogue."
      See MediaNotes, below, on Adi: At The Confluence: an award winning documentary film that portrays the resilience and dives deep into this confluence of issues faced by the Adi people on the border of India and China.
      Edward Wong, "U.N. Human Rights Experts Unite to Condemn China Over Expulsions of Tibetans," The New York Times, February 27, 2017,, reported, " A half-dozen United Nations experts who investigate human rights abuses have taken the rare step of banding together to condemn China for expulsions of monks and nuns from major religious enclaves in a Tibetan region.
      In a sharply worded statement, the experts expressed alarm about 'severe restrictions of religious freedom' in the area.
       Most of the expulsions mentioned by the experts have taken place at Larung Gar , the world’s largest Buddhist institute and one of the most influential centers of learning in the Tibetan world. Officials have been demolishing some of the homes of the 20,000 monks and nuns living around the institute, in a high valley in Sichuan Province.
      The statement also cited accusations of evictions at Yachen Gar , sometimes known as Yarchen Gar, an enclave largely of nuns that is also in Sichuan and has a population of about 10,000."
       The government of Bangladesh, in February 2017, decided to move Rohingya refugees from Mynmar to the remote island of Thengar Char, that is underwater during monsoon season. The decision received strong criticism from around the world (Maher Sattar, "Bangladesh To Relocate Rohingya To and Island," The New York Times, February 4, 2017).

      "Bangladesh: Hundreds of Jumma houses torched by settlers – as army and police stand by," Survival International, June 8, 2017,, At least 250 houses belonging to Jumma tribal people , the indigenous inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, have been burnt to the ground by Bengali settlers. An elderly woman, Guna Mala Chakma, was trapped in her home and burned to death.
      The arson attack happened on June 2, after the body of Nurul Islam Nayon, a Bengali motorcycle driver, was found and local people blamed Jummas for his death.
       Eyewitnesses say that army and police personnel stood by and did nothing as settlers, protesting against Mr Nayon’s death, went on the rampage, setting fire to Jumma houses and shops in three different villages.
      The Bangladesh government has been moving Bengali settlers onto the lands of the Jumma tribal people for more than 60 years. The Jummas have gone from being practically the sole inhabitants of the Hill Tracts to now being outnumbered by settlers.
       Tensions between the communities remain high, and violence in one area can often trigger revenge attacks elsewhere.
       Settlers have often been allowed to carry out such attacks with impunity, with the security forces ignoring pleas for help from the Jumma community. It has been reported that on June 4, a peaceful protest against the arson attack was violently dispersed by the police and army. Soldiers punched Jumma protestors and beat them with sticks, after demonstrators had called for the perpetrators of the arson attack to be brought to justice.
       Survival International is calling for those responsible for the arson attack, and for the death of Nurul Islam Nayon, to be brought to justice. It’s also urging the Bangladesh government to urgently investigate the role of the security forces during the attack on the villages and the subsequent peaceful protest."

      "Indian authorities harass tribal leaders," Survival Internatiojnal, May 10, 2017,, reported, " The Indian government is harassing and attempting to silence the leaders of the Dongria Kondh tribe, famous for winning a 'David and Goliath' court battle against a British mining giant.
      The Dongria’s resistance to mining on their lands has continued since their landmark victory in 2014. Leaders including Dodi Pusika feel that the risk of mining remains as long as a refinery is operational at the foot of the Niyamgiri hills, an area which the tribe have been dependent on and managed for generations. A recent protest at the refinery was met with a baton-charge from police.
      Pusika’s daughter-in-law, Kuni Sikaka, was arrested in the middle of the night of May 3 and accused of links with armed Maoist rebels. In exchange for her release, Dodi Pusika and other members of his family were made to 'surrender'” as Maoists and paraded in front of the media.
       There has been an alarming increase in arbitrary, politically motivated arrests of tribal people who are resisting mining operations or government policies which endanger their lands and communities. Typically, those arrested are accused of Maoist links – usually without evidence.
      Human rights activist and doctor Binayak Sen and tribal teacher Soni Sori have both been imprisoned for alleged Maoist connections and only subsequently released after national and international campaigns.
       In April, the Home Ministry issued a report claiming that Maoists were 'guiding the activities' of the Dongria’s organization, the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS). On the contrary, Maoists instructed the Dongria to boycott the very meetings at which they delivered their decisive 'no' to mining.
      Lingaraj Azad, a member of the NSS, stated, ‘We have always opposed violence – either state violence or Maoist violence. We will not bow down, but continue our struggle to protect Niyamgiri from being mined.’
      Survival is calling on the government to drop these fabricated charges, stop this persecution of the Dongria Kondh, respect their decision about the Niyamgiri mine, and to uphold their right to protect their lands and determine their own futures."

      "BBC BANNED from India’s tiger reserves after 'shoot on sight' investigation ,"Survival International, February 28, 2017,, reported, " The Indian government has reportedly banned the BBC from filming in any tiger reserve nationwide for five years, after its South Asia correspondent investigated “shoot on sight” conservation in the country.
       Justin Rowlatt investigated the impact of deadly conservation tactics on tribal communities living around Kaziranga National Park for a report which aired in February 2017. The report documented instances of beatings, torture and death in the national park, where 106 people are estimated to have been killed without trial in the last 20 years, including a severely disabled tribal man.
      Rowlatt has also been threatened with having his visa revoked by India’s conservation authorities.
      A seven-year-old tribal boy was shot and maimed for life in the park in July. Guards are “fully ordered” to shoot any intruders, according to a guard interviewed in the film, and are given effective immunity from prosecution if they kill or injure suspects.      
      Despite interviews with park guards and tribal people affected by the policy, citation of a report from the park’s own director, documentary footage of violent evictions, and a refusal to condemn shoot on sight by a senior WWF-India official, conservation authorities have tried to claim that the report was 'grossly erroneous.'
      India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has complained that the report should have been submitted for “'obligatory previewing' at India’s Ministry of External Affairs, 'in order to remove any deviations.'
      They have also asserted that the film-makers should not have been 'filming after sunset' and 'deviated' from the original synopsis submitted to the Ministry of Environment.
      The park is currently being expanded , which could lead to tribal and other local communities being illegally evicted.
      Survival International was interviewed for the BBC film, and is leading the global fight against abuses in the name of conservation. Survival is calling for a conservation model which respects tribal peoples as the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world, and for an end to dangerous policies like shoot on sight.
      Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Censorship of the press is a hallmark of oppressive government regimes. This time it’s conservationists who want to clamp down on press freedom. It’s not surprising have a lot to hide. As Mr Rowlatt’s investigations exposed, India’s conservation authorities are responsible for gross human rights violations. Shoot on sight is illegal, immoral, and harming conservation efforts. It’s time the big conservation organizations condemned this madness.'”
      See also: "India: BBC report reveals shocking impact of shoot-on-sight conservation – and WWF involvement," Survival International, February16, 2017,

      "Tribe facing brutal eviction from 'Jungle Book country,'” Survival International, February 8, 2017,, reported, " Tribal villagers in India have made a desperate plea to be allowed to stay on their ancestral land in central India – a region which inspired Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book – in the face of threats from the local forest department to illegally evict them.
       The Baiga people from Rajak village in Achanakmar tiger reserve have been told that they must leave land they have been dependent on and managed for generations – despite there being no evidence that their presence there harms the environment. They have the right to stay under Indian and international law.
      Indian campaigners have previously alleged that 'corrupt officials can… siphon off money' from the funds the authorities make available for relocations.
       Elsewhere in India , tribes who have been 'relocated' from their ancestral land have been moved to inadequate government settlements or forced into lives of poverty on the fringes of Indian society.
      One Baiga man said: 'If somebody takes me from the jungle to the city then it is as if they are killing me.'
      In a letter to the forest department, the Baiga said: 'In Rajak the land is very fertile and we have been living here for generations. But because the village is in the core area [of the tiger reserve], we are continuously under pressure. We are being told to go to Bharatpur village. We have seen the land there, it is full of stones and it will not fulfill our needs. It is not suitable for us to raise our children there and their futures will be ruined.'
      Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: 'India’s forests are still being destroyed by industrial 'development' and tigers are still being poached. But forest officials choose to bully tribal people and throw them off their land. It’s a con, and it’ll harm the environment. It’s time the big conservation organizations condemned these fake 'voluntary' relocations and admitted what they really are, illegal evictions that lead directly to the destruction of entire peoples.'
      Background briefing
      - “Relocations” must be voluntary under Indian law. Despite this, tribal people are frequently bribed, threatened with violence and, in some cases, face arrest and beatings, torture and even death.
      - Achanakmar was originally established as a wildlife sanctuary and declared a tiger reserve in 2009. Its 914 square kilometers are home to tigers, leopards, sloth bears, elephants and striped hyenas, among other species.
      - Baiga means “medicine man.” Baiga people are known for their distinctive tattoos, and for their very close relationship to their environment.
      - Tribal people were evicted from Similipal tiger reserve in 2013, and were soon after found living in dire conditions under plastic sheets.
      - Many Baiga were evicted from the nearby Kanha tiger reserve in 2014. They received no land, houses, or support but were supposed to find land to buy with their compensation money, an alien concept for those who’d lived all their lives in the forest. They told Survival: “We got some money, but we are lost – wandering in search of land. Here there is only sadness. We need the jungle.”
      - In one tiger reserve in southern India where Soliga tribal people won the right to stay on their land, tiger numbers have increased at well above the national average.
Tribal peoples’ lands are not wilderness. Evidence proves that tribal peoples are better at looking after their environment than anyone else. They are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world.       They should be at the forefront of the environmental movement.
But tribal peoples are being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of conservation. The big conservation organizations are guilty of supporting this. They never speak out against evictions."

      "India: Tribe faces eviction from tiger reserve – but uranium exploration approved, Survival International, June 15, 2017, , reported, " Officials in India are threatening to evict a tribe from a tiger reserve in the name of conservation – but have just approved uranium exploration in the same reserve. The move has angered campaigners, who accuse the authorities of hypocrisy.
The Chenchu tribe in Amrabad tiger reserve have pleaded to be allowed to stay on the land which they have been dependent on and managed for millennia.
      They say: 'The forest department is planning to evict us from this place. We do not want to go anywhere. We protect our forest. If we go outside it is like taking a fish out of the water, it will die… But now the government, for their own profit, is separating the Chenchu from the forest, this is like separating children from their mothers.
      'The government is selling the forest to mining companies. If we go to the plains areas we will become addicted to alcohol and we will drink and die. In the future the Chenchu will only be seen in photographs and videos.
      'We live in the forest and we will die in the forest. The forest is our mother and our life. Wildlife is our life, without wildlife we cannot live.'
       Indian authorities justify their forced evictions of tribal people – which are illegal according to national and international law – on the grounds that any human presence in the reserves is harmful to tigers. However, in many tiger reserves in India , fee-paying tourists are allowed to visit in large numbers, and road-building, mineral exploration and even mining have all taken place.
      Background briefing
      - The Chenchu are just one of many Indian tribes facing eviction from their ancestral land. Many Baiga communities have already been evicted in central India, either thrown out to fend for themselves, or moved to government resettlement camps where living standards are frequently dire.
      - Indian law requires any evictions to be voluntary, and communities are supposed to be compensated. However, tribal people are rarely informed that they have a guaranteed right to stay, and are often threatened. Compensation money is rarely sufficient to allow them to adapt to life outside the forest, and people often don’t receive what they were promised.
      - Amrabad tiger reserve is in Telangana state in southern India.
      - The Chenchu lived by hunting and gathering in southern and central India for millennia, until hunting was banned in the 1970s. Government efforts to make them take up farming have been largely resisted by the tribe themselves.
      - The Chenchu have an incredible knowledge of their forest and the animals they share it with. They collect 20 different types of fruit and 88 different types of leaves. They see all the animals as both their relations and as gods. Their customs dictate that they should never take more than they need from the forest or waste anything. One Chenchu said: “If outsiders come inside the forest, they will cut all the trees and take away all the fruits; we don’t cut the trees and we take just the fruits we need.”
      Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: 'This is the ultimate in hypocrisy: the authorities want to evict the tribespeople who have managed this environment for millennia, on the pretext that tiger numbers will suffer if the people stay, but then allow in uranium prospectors. It’s a con. And it’s harming conservation. Tourists to Amrabad Tiger Reserve should realize they are supporting a system which could lead to tribal people, the best conservationists, being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands, and that uranium mines might one day take their place.'”

      Kimiko de Freytas-Tanura, "Pope Francis Rebukes Myanmar Over Treatment of Rohingya," The New York Times, February 8, 2017,, repored, " Pope Francis on Wednesday issued a fresh rebuke against Myanmar over its repression of the Rohingya minority group, just days after a United Nations report concluded that security forces had slaughtered and raped hundreds of men, women and children in a 'campaign of terror.'”

      "Myanmar: Kachin Christians Feared 'Disappeared': Urgently Report on Whereabouts, Well-Being; Allow UN Expert Access," Hman Rights Watch, January 17, 2017,, reported and commented, " Burmese authorities should urgently provide information on the whereabouts and well-being of two ethnic Kachin Baptist leaders who were apparently forcibly disappeared in Northern Shan State, Human Rights Watch and Fortify Rights said today. Langjaw Gam Seng, 35, and Dumdaw Nawng Lat, 65, who had guided journalists reporting on Burmese airstrikes that allegedly severely damaged a Catholic church, were last seen on December 24, 2016 traveling to a military base.
      The disappearances raise grave concerns for the safety of the two men and witnesses to the incident, the two organizations said. The Burmese government and military should immediately address these issues and allow the visiting United Nations human rights expert to visit the area.
       'The apparent enforced disappearance of these two Christian Leaders has created a climate of fear and terror in Northern Shan State, said Mathew Smith, chief executive of Fortify Rights ( 'The government should urgently investigate and report on this case and insure protection for those with information."
      On December 24 at about 5:30 p.m., Langjaw Gam Seng, a youth leader with the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) in Mong Ko, reportedly received a phone call from a person representing himself as a member of the Burmese military. The caller requested that Langjaw Gam Seng and his cousin Dumdaw Nawng Lat, an assistant pastor with the KBC, go to the Byuha Gon military base in Northern Shan State’s Mong Ko town, in Muse Township near the Myanmar-China border, to assist with the release of civilians detained there. Local residents last saw the two men that evening traveling by motorbike towards Byuha Gon base, where Burmese Army Battalions Nos. 99 and 55 are located.
      On January 3, representatives of the KBC and family members filed a missing persons report at Myo Ma police station in Muse Township. The KBC’s repeated inquiries to local government authorities have failed to elicit any information on the whereabouts of Langjaw Gam Seng and Dumdaw Nawng Lat.
      The government has subsequently denied that the military detained the two men. On January 10, presidential spokesperson Zaw Htay stated that, 'According to our ground report, they were taken by the Kachin Independence Army, not the military.' However, he provided no further information to substantiate that claim or the basis for his assertion.
      'The nature of the two men’s disappearance means the military has some serious questions to answer,' said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. 'This is a crucial case for Aung San Suu Kyi and other government leaders to demand cooperation from the army, which has continued to resist civilian authority.'
      Prior to their disappearance, Langjaw Gam Seng and Dumdaw Nawng Lat helped journalists document the destruction of civilian structures in Mong Ko during clashes in November and December 2016 between the Burmese military and the Brotherhood of the Northern Alliance (BNA), a coalition of four ethnic armed groups. On December 3, a journalist with The Irrawaddy , with the assistance of the two religious leaders, photographed serious damage to the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Mong Ko after it had allegedly been bombed by Burmese military airstrikes. The journalist reported that the Mong Ko township administrator subsequently contacted him and asked him not to publish the photographs of the church. However, the photographs surfaced on the internet several days later.
      On December 18, the Burmese defense ministry issued a statement denying allegations that military airstrikes were responsible for the damage to the church, saying it was 'fabricated news.' The ministry instead claimed that 'the rebels' had hidden explosives and ammunition in the church.
      Catholic Bishop Philip Za Hawng then published a letter stating that the Burmese military called members of the church to their outpost on December 8 and claimed responsibility for the bombing, agreeing to rebuild the church. Bishop Za Hawng described the church as 'badly destroyed by bombs…when the government military planes carried out several sorties of airstrikes' and rejected the defense ministry’s suggestion that the damage was due to weapons 'stored up' in the church, fearing the public might believe the church is 'collaborating' with 'the rebels.'
       Yanghee Lee, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, who has been a 12-day monitoring mission to the country, has been denied access by the government to conflict-affected areas of Shan State.
      Human Rights Watch and Fortify Rights called on the government to grant Lee and other human rights monitors unfettered access to Shan State and all other conflict-affected areas.
      Under international law, an enforced disappearance occurs when state officials or agents arrest or detain someone and refuse to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or conceal their fate or whereabouts, placing them outside the protection of the law. Enforced disappearances violate various rights protected under international law, including prohibitions against arbitrary arrest and detention; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; and extrajudicial execution. The authorities have a legal obligation to investigate alleged enforced disappearances and fully and fairly prosecute those responsible.
       Armed conflict in Kachin and Shan States has intensified since June 2011. In Mong Ko town, fighting increased between November 20 and December 4. On November 20, the BNA—comprising the Kachin Independence Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Ta-ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and Arakan Army—carried out attacks against the police in Mong Ko and reportedly fired unguided rockets into surrounding civilian areas. The Burmese government reported that 10 civilians died in the attacks, but that could not be confirmed. The BNA seized the town of Mong Ko for several days before the military drove them out in early December with airstrikes from helicopter gunships and warplanes as well as heavy artillery.
      For many years, Kachin and Shan civil society organizations have documented unlawful killings, torture, rape, forced labor, and other abuses committed by Burmese military forces against civilians in Northern Shan and Kachin States. In 2014, Fortify Rights documented the systematic use of torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment of more than 60 civilians by government forces during fighting in northern Myanmar from June 2011 to April 2014. In 2012, Human Rights Watch documented how army soldiers attacked Kachin villages , razed homes, pillaged properties, and forced the displacement of tens of thousands of people.
      On January 20, 2015 , the bodies of two female teachers with the Kachin Baptist Convention—Maran Lu Ra, 19, and Tangbau Khawn Nan Tsin, 20 —were discovered in a room they shared in Kaungkha village, Northern Shan State. The Burmese military subsequently threatened legal action against anyone alleging that the military was involved in the killings. A report issued by the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand and Legal Aid Network in January 2016 contended the women’s bodies showed signs of torture and sexual violence, implicating the army’s Light Infantry Regiment No. 503 in the killings. No one is known to have been arrested or prosecuted for the killings.
      'Perpetrators of grievous abuses in Kachin and Shan States need to be brought to justice,' Robertson said. “Atrocities won’t stop so long as the military can commit them against civilians with impunity.'
      For more information, please contact: In Bangkok, Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch, Deputy Asia Director, +66-85-060-8406,, Twitter: @reaproy. In Bangkok, Matthew Smith, Fortify Rights, Chief Executive Officer, +66 (0) 87.795.5454,; Twitter: @matthewfsmith, @FortifyRights; In San Francisco, Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch, Asia Director, +1-347-463-3531 (mobile); or Twitter: @BradMAdams."

      Richard C, Paddock, "After Aung San Suu Kyi’s First Year in Power, Dismay Swirls in Myanmar," The New York Times, April 8, 2017,, reportes, "The scene would have been unlikely a year ago . Tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets to protest a decision by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi ’s government to name a new bridge for her father.
      'Recognize the will of the local ethnic people,' protesters chanted last month as they marched along the waterfront of this historic city in southern Myanmar.
      Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate once celebrated as a champion of democracy, was insulting the Mon people, the dominant ethnic group in the area, protest leaders said, by naming the bridge for a Burmese leader infamous here for steamrollering over their rights."
      ”No one expected governing to be easy for Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who became the country’s de facto leader a year ago after her party won a landslide election that ended more than a half-century of military rule.
      Even so, her first year has been a disappointment to many.
She made it a top priority to end the long-running ethnic insurgencies that have torn the country apart, but her anemic peace effort has proved fruitless so far, and fighting between government forces and ethnic groups has increased.
      The world has been shocked by reports that the military has carried out atrocities , including rape and murder, against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in western Myanmar, but Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has said little on the matter and done even less.
       Her government’s growing suppression of speech on the internet seems perverse for a onetime democracy icon who spent 15 years under house arrest.
      Among the public, patience is wearing thin."


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